“Be ready always to give an answer” is a verse that gets a lot of air time, little of which uses the verse in context. Often it is used as an encouragement to bolster people’s Bible studying so they can argue better. Sometimes it is used as an extremely happy example of evangelism.
The full verse says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
The verse has to do with giving a reason for why you have hope in you. This hope-filled life only occurs when we sanctify God in our hearts–set our hearts solely to Him.
We give an answer for when someone asks about the “hope that is in you.” So, what is this hope?
Colossians 1:27, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Christ is in you and Christ is the hope of glory. So if Christ is in you, then hope is in you. If Christ were truly lived in your life instead of your life, people would notice and you’d have some ‘splainin to do.
And, as the next verse makes clear, the answer of your hope will not be taken kindly, they will want to do evil to you. This verse has little to do with evangelism and much to do with suffering for “Christ in you” that is seen in our manner of life.
Giving an answer is not something we do when someone says, “How come you’re so smiley when you get sick? Tell me more about this hope I see in you.” Hardly.
Rather, you give an answer because people are trying to do evil things to you and discredit your testimony. If Christ is in you, the world will hate you. Be ready for it.