Translations: Chinese GB Big5

1Peter 3:1-12 (web)

Submission II

Being a Christian at Home

3:1 In like manner, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands;
so that, even if any don't obey the Word,
they may be won by the behavior of their wives without a word;
3:2 seeing your pure behavior in fear.
3:3 Let your beauty be not just the outward adorning of braiding the hair,
and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on fine clothing;
3:4 but in the hidden person of the heart,
in the incorruptible adornment of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is in the sight of God very precious.
3:5 For this is how the holy women before,
who hoped in God, also adorned themselves,
being in subjection to their own husbands:
3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord,
whose children you now are, if you do well,
and are not put in fear by any terror.

3:7 You husbands, in like manner,
live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman,
as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life;
that your prayers may not be hindered.

3:8 Finally, be all like-minded, compassionate,
loving as brothers, tenderhearted, courteous,
3:9 not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but instead blessing;
knowing that to this were you called, that you may inherit a blessing.

3:10 For, "He who would love life, And see good days,
Let him keep his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit.
3:11 Let him turn away from evil, and do good.
Let him seek peace, and pursue it.
3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And his ears open to their prayer;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Discussion Questions

vs 1 Should wives be submissive only if their husbands are Christians?
vs 2 What type of behavior of wives may help in leading their husbands to Christ?
What are practical ways or examples in which wives may submit to their husbands?
vs 3-6 What is a gentle and quiet spirit?
What is so beautiful about a gentle and quiet spirit?
vs 6 How do fears conflict with this spirit?
How is reverent fear (vs 2) different?
vs 7 In what ways are the wives the weaker partner and how might husbands show consideration with these in view?
What are practical ways or examples in which husbands may honor their wives?
vs 8 What attitudes tend to promote unnecessary disunity?
What can believers do to develop the attitudes Peter mentions in vs 8?
vs 9-12 How does humility and empathy help us to respond properly to persecution?


The Wife to be Submissive

1Peter 3:1,2  Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

As servants are to be submissive to their masters, so also are wives to their hubands. God designed the marriage relationship not to be egalitarian but to reflect the relationship between Christ and his Church. For it is written, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Eph 5:22 And furthermore for the wive to practice submission to her husband gains for her an influence upon him. And this is generally the case in any vertical relationship. The subordinate gains influence primarily through submission.  It can influence unbelieving authority figures in leading them to Christ and provoke even believers unto further obedience.

It is unfortunate that the feminist culture so pervasive today has largely mislead women on a number of points, this being one of them. Consequently women today are largely hostile to the concept of submission, even  among Christians. And today the role of husband is not a recognized role of authority even in many Christian circles. Much of modern Christianity has deviated from Biblical Christianity over these issues. However, while what the Bible says concerning the subordination of wives to their husbands is contrary to today's feminist culture, this is one area where Christians - and Christian women in particular - can shine.

Should wives only submit if their husbands obey the word? No. Here Peter indicates they should submit even if their husbands do not obey the word. This is paralleled with the command given slaves, "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh." 1Peter 2:18

Now  notice also Peter's allusion to "behavior" here - a behavior that wins over even unbelieving husbands. What behavior is he talking about? A submissive, compliant behavior. What he's saying is that a wife's submission to her husband is a measure of her purity and reverence. If you're a wife, consider how you measure up? And notice also that it is by behavior, and not so much by words, a wife can influence her husband. Likewise Paul says, "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence." 1Tim 2:9-12

A Wife's Inner Beauty

1Peter 3:3,4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Not that he's forbidding women concerning outward adornment, but rather instructing them to not be as the Pharisees of whom Jesus said, "You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean." Mt 23;27

However, Paul likewise instructs "that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works." 1Tim 2:8,10 Rather than obsessing over clothing and outward appearance, women who want to beautify themselves should do so by developing a godly attitude and a corresponding behavior which results in good works.

It is a gentle and quiet spirit in a woman which is not only of great value to God, but to men. But that which is valuable is also rare. It is contrary to the woman's nature. The word "gentle" is the same Greek word "meek" in Mt 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth." "Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. ... Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all." Online Bible Greek Lexicon

"quiet" here is "tranquil". It describes one who tries to live peaceably with others, as in 1Tim 2:2."The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Pr 14:1 How?  "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day" Pr 27:15 And it's "better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife." Pr 21:19 

Timeless Beauty

1Peter 3:5,6 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Submissiveness is the most attractive feature of a woman, even to ungodly men. And this is particularly true today when it is so rare. Outward beauty fades. That is inevitable. But this is not necessarily true of inward beauty - that of a gentle and quiet spirit. But again there is no guarantee that these also will not become corrupted if one doesn't take care. For the world can easily influence and corrupt Christians both men and women, molding them into feminists. But a gentle and quite spirit makes a woman of great value especially in the sight of God. God is looking for a few godly women to influence both the Christian culture and the world's values. But be forewarned, if you practice submission you will be persecuted by the rebellious. Other women will make fun of you. Feminists will treat you with contempt. But you will find honor among the godly.

While many today in the feminist culture in which we live dismiss instructions given Christian women in name of "culture" saying "that was then, this is now", in fact the Bible instructs us that this principle of the subordination of wives is timeless. There's an inherent ugliness to women who are characteristically rebellious towards their husbands, disrespecting them and wives who subject their husbands to public humiliation. Conversely when the role relationships are reversed - as they are largely today - and women rule over their husbands, what do we learn from the historic precedents. To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life." Gen 3:17 And to what might we attribute the Arab-Israeli conflict but Sarah's failure to live up to godliness and instruct her husband,  she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. Gen 16:2  Isaiah prophecies, "Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path." Isaiah 3:12 Children learn rebelliousness when they see their mother rebelling against their father. Feminist mothers, by their example, teach their children to be rebellious.  But as was the case in Isaiah's time so today. For those who have marginalized their Christian life by complying with the demands of the feminist culture in which we live, "Your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path." For there are even church leaders and husbands who lead their subordinates astray on this matter.

But also insecurity is often a source of rebelliousness among women. To submit requires allowing someone else to be in charge. But today women tend to be trained by the world to have a contemptuous attitude towards their husbands. And if they think their hubands are incompetent fools, then submitting to incompetent fools is not only humiliating, but also threatens their security. Women often "take charge" not because they're brave but because they're cowards. "You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." Godly women should be courageous. The first people listed in Rev 21:8 of those who will get thrown into the lake of fire are the "fearful" or "cowards". Such should not be characteristic of the redeemed.

Husbands to be Considerate

1Peter 3:7  Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Women and men are inherently different, and not just physically. Husbands, being the leader of the family, need to take such into consideration. One of the weaknesses women have which husbands need to take into consideration is their tendency to be misled. Paul for example speaks of "old wives‘ tales" 1Tim 4:7, and instructs the church not to assign them as teachers of men "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent" 1Tim 2:12, one reason being because, "Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." 1Tim 2:14 Consequently husbands need to instruct their wives. Concerning wives Paul writes, "If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home." 1Cor 14:35a But also don't expect much of them as students, as they tend to have an allegiance to their personal feelings over that of ideas.

Also with regards to submission, while it is a command given to wives, husbands need to realize that submission does not come as easy to women as to men. You get a bunch of men together and they form a hierarchy, while a bunch of women will form a committee. Men more easily embrace the idea of being under authority and don't find such a position as humiliating as women apparently do. This is likely due to the nature of the fall in which a women usurped authority over a man and that precedent then became inherent in the nature of women. So husbands need to give their wives some room in regards to submission as it is so contrary to their nature.

Also obvious, though I don't know where it comes from, is the woman's weakness with regards to self-image. To me it's just pride, but for some reason women are extremely sensitive to what you think about them. Men get together and criticize and even jokingly insult one another just to help each other maintain a proper level of humility. But don't dare do that with women. (And woe to the women who criticizes a man without expecting to get criticized in return) To say it the way it apparently is, women generally are much weaker with regards to the sin of pride than men, and as such husbands have to be careful to give them proper respect as the weaker partner in this regard.

To treat them with respect is to be considerate in view of their weaknesses.  But to be considerate is not to condone their sinfulness, anymore than Christ's consideration towards us condones our sinfulness. Indeed it says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." Eph 5:25-27 Thus, just as Christ loves us by dealing with our sinfulness, so husbands need to take into consideration the sinfulness of their wives and deal with it considerately. Granted that may involved having lower expectations towards your wife than you have toward your fellow man, given that women are weaker, but as with your children so with your wife. Respect the fact that your wife is of the weaker gender and don't hold her to the same standards to which you hold yourself and other men. For Christ also tolerates a good deal of our weakness in the process of sanctifying us. But at the same time, he does expect us to progress.

And husbands need to take heed to Peter's instruction lest they sin by failing to do so and thus lose God's ear. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear." Ps 66:18

Get Along

1Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

"Living in harmony" here is literally "being of the same mind". Living in harmony is largely a function of practicing humility. Humility is prerequisite to being sympathetic and compassionate as such requires one to see things from someone else's perspective. Even concerning arguments, if one side has demonstrated that they have seriously considered the other person's point of view, though disagree with it, that goes a long way to settling differences. Compassion also invokes good works. Those without compassion are often at a loss as to what good works to do. Such people require some kind of personal incentive to do good. But a compassionate person does good from the heart. Note the example of the good Samaritan of Luke 10:30-37 "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion." Like Jesus "when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd." Mt 9:36 Compassion also invokes forgiveness, "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt." Mt 18:27 Developing compassion may require we go through similar experiences. Even of Jesus it was said, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Heb 2:18 Thus living in harmony is not simply agreeing to a doctrinal statement. It involves an attitude of love and humility.

React with Love

1Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

You can generally tell a person's level of humility by how they respond to criticism, whether such criticism is justified or not. Responding to insults with insults or evil with evil is the knee-jerk reaction of the flesh. But a thoughtful sympathetic person would react firstly by considering why the person thinks or feels that way. May it be due to a prejudice the person had developed based on prior indoctrination or negative experiences they had? Or is it an overreaction to something of legitimate concern? In any case the idea is to respond with the person's best interest in mind. Afterall there are consequences involving eternal torment for those who do evil, so if nothing else, that should more than satisfy one's desire for revenge. In fact shouldn't that fact evoke a sense of compassion? "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men." 2Cor 5:11 And there is good reason to fear for their future. ." Jesus said, "Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Mt 10:28

There is a blessing to reacting to unjustified hostility with grace. Realize that with the compensation Christ gained by suffering unjustly he paid for the sins of the world. God's judicial nature demands that unjustified suffering be compensated for, and it will.

The Fruit of Righteous Living

1Peter 3:10-12 For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Here Peter is quoting Psalm 34:12-16, which goes on to say, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him." Ps 34:17-22

This is a proverbial truism not only concerning our present life, but our eternal life. Christ suffered and died at the age of about 33 and yet the prophecy says, "it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied" Is 53:10,11a Life doesn't end at physical death, and thus even if one dies through unjustified suffering, there is still compensation. It was true of Christ and it is true of all who suffer unjustly.

So leave off revenge and bitterness. "God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you" 2Thess 1:6 and "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. Rom 12:19

Verse 12 is a transition into next section in which Peter will elaborate on the concept of responding properly to persecution. His point here is to reckon that God is watchful and aware and empathetic for his children. A common effect that those who are persecuted experience is a sense of abandonment. When Jesus was on the cross he empathized with people in such situations in quoting the first verse of Psalm 22, "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?" And we read such things in David's Psalms and in the book of Job. Peter's words are an encouraging reminder that though the world hates us, God doesn't.

1Peter 3:1-12 RAP

3:1 Wives should submit though your husbands are not saved
To win them not by words, but by how you behave
2 When they see how pure you live your life 
And the reverence you have rather than strife. 
3 Let not your beauty come from outward things 
Like hair and clothes and wearing rings 
4 Your inner self is of greater merit 
If you have a gentle and quiet spirit 
5 For this is the way holy women of old 
Gained favor by doing what they were told 
6 Like Sarah who obeyed and called her husband master. 
Do right, fearlessly is what she'd say if you asked her. 
7 Husbands treat them with respect 
Or else with God you won't connect 
8 Be of one mind sympathize with each one 
Loving and humble, just like the Son 
9 Repay not with evil those who insult you 
But rather with blessing and inherit one too 
10 If you want to see good days and live for quite awhile 
Keep from speaking evil and your lips from speaking guile 
11 Repent and do the good you know you really ought to do 
And seek the peace of God that's what you really must pursue 
12 The Lord sees and hears the righteous of the land 
But when face to face with God, the evil will not stand 

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015