Skip to Main Content

1 Peter 3.1-12 NOTES



Continuing Theme - Respect for Others 2:13-3:12


1. Wives' respect for their husbands 3:1-6


INTRODUCTION:  This section of the letter clarifies what it means to function obediently as God's people in a hostile world. It contains one of the tables of household duties in the New Testament (1 Peter 2:13 to 1 Peter 3:7; cf. Eph 5:21 to Eph 6:9; Col 3:18 to Col 4:1). Luther referred to these sections as Haustafeln, and some scholars still use this technical term when referring to these lists. However, this one begins with instructions regarding the Christian's relationship to the state, which is similar to Romans 13:1-7. It is particularly our duties in view of suffering for our faith that concerned Peter, as is clear from his choice of material.

vv. 1-2: In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your pure and respectful behavior. "In the same way" refers to the spirit of deference that Peter had already advocated regarding our dealings with government authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17) and people in direct authority over us (1 Peter 2:18-25). Primarily he meant as Christ submitted to the Father (1 Peter 2:21-24).

  ▪ "The opening words ["in the same way"] are not intended to equate the submissiveness due from wives with that expected from slaves. Rather, as in [verse] 7, the Greek adverb (homoios) harks back to 1 Peter 2:13, implying that the patriarchal principle of the subordination of the wife to her husband is not a matter of human convention but the order which the Creator has established . . ."

  ▪ Clearly Peter was speaking of the relationship of wives to their husbands, not the relationship of women to men generically. Neither was he addressing only wives with unsaved husbands, as is clear from the clause "even if any are disobedient." He said "your own men" (i.e., your husbands). A wife has a special relationship to her husband in that she "belongs" to him, which is not true of the relationship of all women to all men generally. Even more specifically, Peter was referring to wives whose husbands were "disobedient to the word" (i.e., unbelievers, cf. 1 Peter 2:8).

  ▪ Today many Christians believe wives are equal in authority with their husbands under God (the egalitarian position). Note that other admonitions to be submissive surround this section in which Peter called on wives to submit to their husbands (1 Peter 2:13; 1 Peter 2:18; 1 Peter 2:23; 1 Peter 3:8). Wives are not the only people Peter commanded to be submissive. Submission should characterize every Christian. The Greek word hypotasso ("to submit") has in view the maintenance of God's willed order, not personal inferiority of any kind. [Note: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, s.v. "hypotasso," by Gerhard Delling, 8 (1972):44.]   This word may denote either voluntary or forced behavior, but not any sense of inferiority. [Note: Gordon Dutile, "A Concept of Submission in the Husband-Wife Relationship in Selected New Testament Passages" (Ph.D. dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1980), pp. 81-82.]

  ▪ Peter did not state the reason wives should submit to their own husbands in this passage, nor did he give the reason we should submit to rulers or masters, other than that this is God's will (cf. Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-15; Titus 2:4-5). God gave another reason elsewhere in Scripture, however (Genesis 2:18-23; Genesis 3:16; cf. 1 Timothy 2:13-14). This reason is that God has so ordered the human race that we must all observe His structure of authority so that peace and order may prevail.

  ▪ As all employees should submit to their masters, even the unreasonable, so all wives should submit to their husbands, even the unbelieving. In view of his terminology "be won" (1 Peter 3:1), it seems clear that Peter had in mind the spiritual conversion of an unsaved husband. Peter did not promise that unbelieving husbands would inevitably become Christians as a result of the behavior he prescribed. That decision lies with the husband. Nevertheless the wife can have confidence that she has been faithful to God if she relates to her husband submissively. For a classic example of a Christian woman leading her husband to faith in Christ through her virtuous example, see The Confessions of St. Augustine.

  ▪ Should a Christian wife submit to her husband even if he directs her to sin? Some evangelicals answer yes and appeal to Ephesians 5:24 for support. [Note: E.g., Mrs. Glenn R. Siefker, "God's Plans for Wives," Good News Broadcaster, February 1975, p. 24.] Others say no but argue that submission should extend to everything except sin. [Note: E.g., Marilyn Vaughn, "When Should a Wife Not Submit?" Moody Monthly, October 1977, p. 107; James R. Slaughter, "Submission of Wives (1 Peter 3:1a) in the Context of 1 Peter," Bibliotheca Sacra 153:609 (January-March 1996):73-74; idem, "Winning Unbelieving Husbands to Christ (1 Peter 3:1b-4)," Bibliotheca Sacra 153:610 (April-June 1996):203; Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, p. 139; and Paul E. Steele and Charles C. Ryrie, Meant to Last, pp. 32-33.] The examples of suffering that Peter cited as good models for Christians in 1 Peter 2:13-25 did not involve sinning. He said wives should submit "in the same way" (1 Peter 3:1). Furthermore the wife's behavior is to be "chaste" (1 Peter 3:2) or morally pure (Gr. agnos).  ▪ Peter held up Sarah as an example (1 Peter 3:6) not because she submitted to Abraham by even sinning in Genesis 12, 20, but because she submitted to him. She called him her lord in Genesis 18:12. Ephesians 5:24, which calls on wives to submit to their husbands in "everything" (Gr. pas), does not mean in every thing including sin (cf. Colossians 3:25). Nevertheless short of sinning Peter urged Christian wives to obey their husbands. A primary responsibility of every Christian is to obey God.

  ▪ It is specifically the wife's behavior in contrast to her speech that Peter said may be effective in winning an unsaved husband. "A word" includes preaching as well as the Word of God. Peter was not forbidding speaking to unsaved husbands about the Lord or sharing Scripture verses if the husband would be receptive to those. His point was simply that a godly wife's conduct is going to be more influential than anything she may say. 

  ▪ "Chaste" is a general term describing her purity while "respectful" reflects her attitude toward her husband that rises out of her attitude toward God's will.

  ▪ Submission involves at least four things. First, it begins with an attitude of entrusting oneself to God (cf. 1 Peter 2:23-25). The focus of our life must be on Jesus Christ. Second, submission requires respectful behavior (1 Peter 3:1-2). Nagging is not respectful behavior. Third, submission involves the development of a godly character (1 Peter 3:3-5). Fourth, submission includes doing what is right (1 Peter 3:6). It does not include violating other Scriptural principles. Submission is imperative for oneness in marriage.


NOTE:  Having explained before how Christians should conduct themselves in the world, Peter next gave directions about how Christian wives and husbands should behave. He did this to help his readers identify appropriate conduct in family life during times of suffering as well as at other times.

Peter discusses husbands and wives, and unlike the Pauline Haustafeln, he omits references to children. The reason for this omission is simple: He probably did not consider children who had one believing parent outside the true people of God (i.e., the nations), whereas the husbands of some Christian women certainly were. Peter's concern at this point is not life within the Christian community, but life at those points where the Christian community interfaces with the world around it.

But what was probably surprising to the original readers is that here in a seemingly traditional ethical section wives are addressed at all. In that society women were expected to follow the religion of their husbands; they might have their own cult on the side, but the family religion was that of the husband. Peter clearly focuses his address on women whose husbands are not Christians (not that he would give different advice to women whose husbands were Christians), and he addresses them as independent moral agents whose decision to turn to Christ he supports and whose goal to win their husbands he encourages. This is quite a revolutionary attitude for that culture." [Note: Davids, pp. 115-16.]

This section, like the preceding one addressed to slaves, has three parts: an exhortation to defer (1 Peter 3:1-2; cf. 1 Peter 2:18), an admonition about pleasing God (1 Peter 3:3-4; cf. 1 Peter 2:18-20), and a precedent for the advocated attitude or action (1 Peter 3:5-6; cf. 1 Peter 2:21-25). The section on respect for everyone (1 Peter 2:13-17) contains the first two of these parts (1 Peter 2:13-17) but not the third.

vv. 3-4: Your adornment must not be merely the external-braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on apparel; 4 but it should be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. -Peter was not telling wives to refrain from giving attention to their physical appearances (specifically, coiffure, jewelry, and dress), as the NASB makes clear. His point was that this should not be their total or primary concern. He urged the cultivation of the inner person as well. Beauty is more than skin deep. He contrasted what human society values and what God values. A gentle disposition and a tranquil spirit can make even a plain woman very attractive not only to God but to men (cf. 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Timothy 2:9-10). The Greek word for "adornment" (kosmos) is the one from which we get our word "cosmetics." 

vv. 5-6: For in this way the holy women of former times, who hoped in God, also used to adorn themselves, being subject to their own husbands, 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; and you have proved to be her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. - Peter's concern is that the church not be known for its production of rebellious wives who have an attitude of superiority, but of women who, because they know God will reward them and set everything right, demonstrate the virtue of gentle submission where Christianly possible." [Note: Davids, p. 120.]

  ▪ Sarah is a good example of such a woman. We see her attitude of respect in the way she spoke to Abraham (1 Peter 3:2). "Lord" sounds servile to us, but an equally acceptable translation of the Greek word is "sir." The point is that she verbally expressed her submission to him in a way that was appropriate in her culture. [Note: See James R. Slaughter, "Sarah as a Model for Christian Wives (1 Peter 3:5-6).  Women who behave as Sarah did show that they are her daughters in spirit. Such behavior demonstrates trust in God and holiness, separation from sin to God's will.   Peter's argument is from the greater to the lesser:  if Sarah 'obeyed' Abraham and called him 'Lord,' the Christian wives in Asia should at least treat their husbands with deference and respect." [Note: Michaels, p. 165.]

  ▪ "Without being frightened by any fear" (1 Pet 3:6) is not a condition for becoming a true daughter of Sarah in addition to doing what is right. It is rather the consequence of adopting the behavior that Peter advocated. If a Christian wife was suffering for her faith because of her conduct, she could gain great confidence by doing what Peter counseled and what Sarah practiced. She could understand that any suffering that came her way was not a result of her sinful behavior but in spite of her godly behavior (cf. 1 Pet 2:20; Prov 3:25).

  ▪ The sense is that these Christian women are to let nothing terrifying frighten them from their course. Pagan women may disdain and insult them because they have adopted a nobler wifehood, they yet remain unafraid. Pagan husbands may resent their Christianity; this, too, does not frighten them." [Note: Lenski, p. 136.]


2. Husbands' respect for their wives 3:7


v7: You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with [c]someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. - Why did Peter write more about the conduct of women (vv.1-6) than of men (v. 7)? He evidently did so because his concern was for Christian wives who were married to pagan husbands.  A Christian wife married to a pagan husband was in a more vulnerable position than a Christian husband who was married to a pagan wife in that culture. Normally pagan women married to Christian husbands would adopt their husbands' faith. In Roman society a wife would normally adopt her husband's religion.  Peter's emphasis throughout is on those points at which the Christian community faces outward to confront Roman society. Probably for this reason he omits children and parents altogether; the parent-child relationship (at least in regard to younger children) is not normally one in which belief and unbelief confront each other . . ."

The Roman author Cato wrote, "If you were to catch your wife in an act of infidelity, you can kill her with impunity without a trial; but, if she were to catch you, she would not venture to touch you with her finger, and, indeed, she has no right." [Note: Cited by William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, p. 264.]

The Christian wife's new freedom in Christ created new problems and challenges for her. Perhaps Peter also wanted to communicate more encouragement (1 Peter 3:5-6) and tenderness to the women, not because he believed they were greater sinners than their husbands. What follows in 1 Peter 3:7 is just as challenging as what we have read in 1 Peter 3:1-6.

  ▪  It's evident that Peter does not consider the possibility of a husband with a non-Christian wife, for if a family head in that culture changed his religion it would be normal that his wife, servants, and children also changed." [Note: Davids, p. 122.]

  ▪  In 1 Peter 3:1-6 Christian wives are instructed to behave with deference as they encounter the difficulties of living with an unbelieving husband. Similarly in 1 Peter 3:7 Christian husbands are told to honor their wives in unfair circumstances brought about by the wife's being the weaker vessel." Another possibility is that these husbands were suffering for their faith.

  ▪ As with his instructions to wives, Peter began his counsel to the husbands with a command to think right first (cf. 1 Peter 3:1-2). He said men should cultivate understanding. This brief charge carries profound implications. It requires active listening to the wife as well as study of her temperament, emotions, personality, and thought patterns. It is a tall order to know one's wife, to understand her, even to be understanding with her. However the knowledge in view is probably primarily knowledge of God's Word concerning the proper treatment of one's wife. [Note: Ibid., pp. 178-80.]

  ▪ By comparing a wife to a weaker vessel Peter was not implying that wives or women are inferior to husbands or males or that they are weaker in every way or most ways. Obviously, in many marriages the wife is the stronger person emotionally, mentally, spiritually, morally, socially, and or physically. Nevertheless physically the wife is usually weaker than her husband. Men tend to choose as their wives women who are not as strong or muscular as they are. Furthermore generally men are stronger than women physically. In view of this, husbands need to treat their wives with special consideration. Both the husband and the wife are vessels, but husbands are more typically similar to iron skillets whereas wives resemble china vases, being more delicate. They are equally important but different.

  ▪ Peter banished any implication of essential inferiority with his reminder that the wife is a fellow-heir of God's grace just as much as the husband. God deals with both types of people the same when it comes to bestowing grace on them. He shows no favoritism or partiality because of their genders. Wives may normally be more delicate in some respects than their husbands, but spiritually they are equal. "Life" probably refers to both physical life and spiritual life since husbands and wives share both equally.

  ▪ The husband who does not treat his wife with honor will not get answers to his prayers the way he could if he did treat her with honor (Mt 6:14-15). In other words, disobedience to the will of God regarding how a man treats his wife hinders the husband's fellowship with God.  So, a man's selfishness and egotism in his marriage will hurt his relationship with God as well as his relationship with his wife.

  ▪ As the closest human relationship, the relationship to one's spouse must be most carefully cherished if one wishes a close relationship with God." [Note: Davids, p. 123.]

  ▪ One of a husband's primary responsibilities in a marriage is caring for his wife. Caring requires understand-ing. If you are married, what are your wife's greatest needs? Ask her. What are her greatest concerns? Ask her. What are her hopes and dreams? Ask her. What new vistas would she like to explore? Ask her, and keep on asking her over the years! Her answers will enable you to understand and care for her more effectively.

  ▪ In order to be able to love deeply, we must know each other profoundly. If we are to lovingly respond to the needs of another, we must know what they are.  

v. 8: To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble; - "To sum up" concludes the section on respect for others (1 Peter 2:13 to 1 Peter 3:12). This verse deals with attitudes. Again we note that Peter regarded attitudes as foundational to actions (cf. 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:7; James 3).

"Harmonious" implies cooperation when there are individual differences. These differences can have a pleasing rather than an irritating effect. We do not all need to sing exactly the same tune, but our tune should harmonize with those of our brethren. We should be able to work together as the different parts of an athlete's body work together to reach our common goal victoriously.

"Sympathetic" means suffering with another by entering into and sharing the feelings of others rather than by having compassion on another person from a distance. It implies bearing one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2).

  ▪ "Brotherly" looks at the special love that unites believers (cf. 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 2:17).

  ▪ "Kind-hearted" means feeling affectionately, compassionately, and deeply for someone else.

  ▪ "Humble in spirit" is a person willing to put someone else's interests and needs before his or her own. This would apply to God's purposes as well as the needs of other people.

  ▪ In short, Christians are to be emotionally involved with each other.  Therefore, these five qualities are vital to effective interpersonal relationships as well as being indispensable for maintaining oneness in marriage. 


3. The importance of loving enemies 3:9-12


NOTE:  Peter concluded this section of instructions concerning respect for others with a discussion of the importance of loving our enemies.

v. 9: not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you would inherit a blessing. - Like Jesus and Paul, Peter urged his readers not to take revenge. We should return positive good deeds for evil ones (1 Peter 2:23; cf. Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:9-18; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:15).

  ▪ As Christians we can live on one of three levels. We can return evil for good, which is the satanic level. We can return good for good and evil for evil, which is the human level. Or, we can return good for evil, which is the divine level. Jesus is the perfect example of this latter approach (1 Peter 2:21-23)." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:412.]

The ground for the Christian's good will to others, even our enemies, is the mercy we receive from God. God blessed us when we were His enemies (Romans 5:10). Our blessing (Gr. eulogein, lit. to speak well) may be verbal or tangible. Peter's reference to inheriting a blessing reminds us of the inheritance he spoke of earlier and urged us to keep in view (1 Peter 1:4). However, God will give us this part of our inheritance only if we faithfully do His will (cf. Hebrews 12:17).

  ▪ The type of relationship in which we return insult for insult is one that intends to hurt the other person with remarks or actions. This approach springs from an unforgiving and hardened heart attitude. We can insult another person by hiding (the quiet method) or by hurling verbal or physical abuse (the noisy method). An insult can lead another person to clam up or to blow up. Both claming up and blowing up produce bitterness and isolation. The insult for insult response often occurs when two people develop habits of reacting in certain ways in certain similar situations. Therefore it is often helpful to analyze the circumstances that seem to produce this response inevitably.

  ▪ The blessing for insult response, however, is one in which we react kindly when we suffer ill treatment. It springs from an attitude of forgiveness. It has its focus on God and the promises of His Word. Instead of reacting in anger, we respond with forgiveness. The consequences of taking this approach in interpersonal relationships are getting a blessing, having a full life, and walking with God (1 Peter 3:9-12).

How does one give a blessing instead of an insult? We refrain from speaking evil, walk away from it, do positive good, and seek to make peace rather than trouble (1 Peter 3:10-12). Our attitude is crucial. What kind of relationship will you seek to develop and maintain with your mate? The insult for insult type results in isolation, but the blessing for insult type results in oneness in marriage. [Note: Family Life . . ., pp. 145-48.]

vv. 10-12: For, "THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE ADN SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. 11 "HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. 12 "FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT TEH FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL." - To strengthen his case Peter again cited an Old Testament passage that supported what he said (Psalms 34:12-16). However the primary purpose for this quotation seems to be more clarification than proof. Really 1 Peter 3:8-9 are Peter's exposition of the psalm passage that he now quoted. Evil (1 Peter 3:10) hurts, and guile misleads. God will judge those who do any kind of evil (1 Peter 3:12). This quotation (1 Peter 3:10-12) appropriately summarizes all Peter's instructions concerning proper Christian conduct during persecution (1 Peter 2:11 to 1 Peter 3:12).

10a: "THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, - This, with what follows here and in the two next verses, are taken out of ( Psalms 34:12-16 ) and are produced as a proof of what is before said; that it is a good man's duty not to do or speak evil in return for what is done or said to him; but on the contrary, it becomes him to avoid evil, do good, and seek peace as much as possible, and leave it with a righteous God to vindicate him and his cause, who will not fail to do it; and that such shall inherit the blessing both here and hereafter: in the psalm, these words are put by way of question, "what man is he that desireth life?" that wills it with pleasure, that loves it with a love of complacency and delight? and which is to be understood, not of natural life; for what man is there that do not love that? love of a natural life is natural to men;

  ▪ It is a first principle in nature to desire life, and a preservation of it, and to a great length; a man will give all that he has for it, as Satan said, ( Job 2:4 ) , but both of a spiritual life, a life of faith on Christ, communion with him, and holiness from him; the life of God, or to live soberly, righteously, and godly, which carnal men are alienated from, and enemies to, and cannot desire, only spiritual men; and of an eternal one; and so some of the Jewish interpreters F21 understand by life and good days, in the psalm, such as are both in this world, and in that which is to come:

v. 10b: TO LOVE ADN SEE GOOD DAYS; - not the days of this life, which are evil, even the days of a good man, ( 47:9 ) and the more so, the longer he lives; for the days of old age are evil days, in which there is no pleasure, ( Eccl 12:1), unless such days are meant, in which much good is done to the honour and glory of God, and in which gracious souls enjoy much of God, and see and taste of his grace and goodness in the land of the living; though, rather, the good days of eternity, even length of days for ever and ever, which holy men of God shall see, and enjoy in the other world, when they shall be possessed of fulness of joy, and of pleasure for evermore: in the psalm it is, "and loveth [many] days, that he may see good"; desires a blessed eternity of good things:

v. 10c: MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT; - bridle that unruly member, which has a world of iniquity in it; let him keep it as with a bit, from the vices incident to it; from all obscene words, filthy and corrupt communication, whatever is unsavory and unedifying; from lying, cursing, swearing, and particularly from railing and evil speaking, in return for such language, which is chiefly meant; as well as from belching out blasphemies against God, and damnable heresies among men; for whoever would be thought a religious man, and lays no restraint on his tongue, his religion is a vain thing, ( James 1:26 ) and his lips that they speak no guile; as flatterers do, who speak that with their mouth which does not agree with their heart, and so beguile and deceive persons; and as false teachers, who use dishonest arts, walk in craftiness, handle the word of God deceitfully, use ambiguous phrases, and words of double meaning, and with their good words, and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple but such things do not become persons that seek for glory, honor, and immortality; that profess to be Israelites indeed; in these guile should not be found in their lips, nor in their lives.

v. 11a: HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD- Avoid all kinds of evil, hate it, abstain from the appearance of it, and have no fellowship with it; and particularly should avoid rendering evil for evil, or taking revenge on persons for doing him.

v. 11b: AND DO GOOD-everything that is good, all good works, according to the will of God, in the exercise of faith, from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God; and without trusting to them, and depending upon them for life and salvation; and particularly do good for evil; do good to all men, acts of kindness and beneficence, even to enemies, and especially to them that are of the household of faith. The Jewish interpreters on the psalm from whence these words are taken observe, that in the first of these clauses are contained all the negative precepts, whose number with them is three hundred, sixty, and five; and in the latter of them, all the affirmative precepts, which amount to two hundred and forty eight:

v. 11c: HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT- "or pursue it"; let him seek after it, in the world, and with all men, as much as possible, yea, with his very enemies; and live a peaceable and quiet life, in the kingdom, city, town, and neighbourhood where he is; and particularly in the church of God, and with the saints; which he should seek with all diligence and eagerness, and pursue with all rigour to the utmost of his power; and endeavour to cultivate all he can, and follow the things which make for it. The note of one of the Jewish commentators F24 on this passage is, "seek peace", in thine own place; "and pursue it", in another place.

v. 12a: FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, - Who are so not merely in the sight of men, but of God; nor in their own account, and by their own works, but in the esteem of God, through the imputation of the righteousness of his Son unto them: and because he loves this righteousness, and is well pleased with it, seeing by it his law is magnified and made honourable, therefore his countenance beholds with pleasure and delight those righteous ones who are clothed with it; his eyes of omniscience, love, care, and protection, are always upon them, watching over them, delighting in them, running to and fro in the earth on behalf of them; he sees every injury done them, and in his own time and way will do them justice; which is a reason why they should not take vengeance themselves, but leave it with him, whose it is:

v. 12b: AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER; - or "prayer"; in the Hebrew text, "to their cry"; he is a God hearing prayer, and his righteous ones have his ear; he hears them while they are speaking, and will sooner or later answer, and avenge his elect, who cry unto him day and night; for as he has an ear to hear their cries, which is not heavy, he has an arm to save them, which is not shortened; and this is another reason why they should behave as before directed, and which is still strengthened by what follows;

v. 12c: BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL; - It is added in the psalm, "to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth": by "the face of the Lord" is meant, as the Jewish writers F25 interpret it, the anger of the Lord; it intends, not his kind, pleasant, and loving countenance, but his angry one with the former he beholds the upright, and with it he looks upon his righteous ones; but the latter is upon and against the wicked, and is dreadful and intolerable, and the consequence of it is everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

vv. 10-12 extra Commentary: In the previous two verses, Peter has called on Christians both to live in harmony together and to refuse to seek revenge. Even when insulted or treated with evilness, this is simply not an acceptable option for the believer. In fact, God commands Christians to give a blessing in exchange for evil treatment. In verses 10 through 12, Peter furthers his case by referencing Psalm 34:12-16. David's words from the Old Testament still hold true. Those who want to love life and see good days should make some very specific choices about how they live today. Is Peter saying that if we live as he is about to describe, we will love our lives and see good days on this side of heaven? Or is he referring only to the promise of "good days" in the life to come? Probably both are true to a point.

v. 10:  Writing in Psalms, David was making a wisdom statement: a general principle. His claim was that making these particular choices tends to lead to more and better days in this life. Peter affirms David's statement, in the context of his own train of thought. Christians who live this way will make the most of this life and receive rewards in the life to come.

So, what choices can we make, which will lead to such life-loving good days? It's all about what we as Christians refuse to do and what we insist on doing. First, we refuse to allow ourselves to speak evil or to be deceitful with our words. Peter probably means this in the context of getting even with those who speak evil and lie against us. God calls Christians to take those options off the table. We must refuse to use our words to harm, no matter how great the temptation.  Peter continues this thought, and his reference to the Psalms, in

the next two verses.


v. 11: This verse continues Peter's reference to King David's words in Psalm 34:12-16. These verses describe the very specific choices made by those who want to love life and see good days. Peter mentions this statement from David after declaring, in verse 9, that Christians must not seek revenge. Even when insulted or treated with evilness, we should give a blessing in return. David's words show how that is to our benefit. Those who want to love life and see good days refuse to use words to harm. This, even against those who have harmed us (1 Peter 3:10). Peter continues to say that, instead, we should turn away from evil and do good. This "turning away" is probably two-fold. To the extent that we are able, we move away from the hurt done to us. Even more so, though, we turn away from our natural response to do evil to others in return.  But we cannot simply turn "away," in general. We must turn "toward" something. God's set-apart people are called to turn toward doing good. For us, when confronted with evil, God means for our response to become, "What good can I do?" More specifically, we are to ask, "Where is the peace?" Or, "How can I help create peace?"  Notice the word "pursue." Finding peace, making peace, will not always be easy. It will often require searching and chasing. Escalating conflict, the sequence of revenge, is always the easier, more naturally human path. Turning from evil to do good and make peace will always be the more difficult choice. But that's what God's people are called to do, and that's the path to loving life and seeing good days. This applies both between brothers and with strangers who wish to hurt us.


v.12:  This verse continues Peter's reference to David's Psalm 34, verses 12-16. What David wrote describes the very specific choices made by those who want to love life and see good days.   Peter cites David's words after declaring that Christians must not try to "even the score," when insulted or treated with evil intent. Instead, we must give a blessing in exchange (1 Pet 3:9). In these verses, Peter shows how this is to our benefit. Those who want to love life and see good days refuse to use words to harm even those who have harmed them (1 Pet 3:10) and, instead, turn from evil and do good, searching for and chasing peace (1 Pet 3:11).

Finally, in this verse, Peter affirms David's statement that God sees all of this. He is watching. He is paying attention. He knows, and He cares about those set apart for His purposes. Specifically, God is paying attention to the righteous. Peter has already made it clear that Jesus, perfectly righteous, paid the penalty for our sin when he died on the cross (1 Peter 2:22-24). Paul adds that those who trust in Christ have been made righteous by what He has done for us (Romans 3:21-25). 

So God is paying attention to all Christians, to all who are His people in Jesus. His ears are open to our prayers. He is ready and willing to hear us as we reject the option to repay evil with evil, and choose instead to give good. We are to seek peace. But God also notices those who do evil. David's and Peter's words are meant as a comfort: God does not simply ignore the hurtful actions of those who bring suffering to His people. His face is against the evil ones. Justice will come (Romans 12:19).








3:1-2:   In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.


Peter turns to the domestic problems which Christianity inevitably produced. It was inevitable that one marriage partner might be won for Christ, while the other remained untouched by the appeal of the gospel; and such a situation inevitably had difficulties.


It may seem strange that Peter's advice to wives is six times as long as that to husbands. This is because the wife's position was far more difficult than that of the husband. If a husband became a Christian, he would automatically bring his wife with him into the Church and there would be no problem. But if a wife became a Christian while her husband did not, she was taking a step which was unprecedented and which produced the acutest problems.


In every sphere of ancient civilization, women had no rights at all. Under Jewish law a woman was a thing; she was owned by her husband in exactly the same way as he owned his sheep and his goats: on no account could she leave him, although he could dismiss her at any moment. For a wife to change her religion while her husband did not was unthinkable.


In Greek civilization the duty of the woman was "to remain indoors and to be obedient to her husband." It was the sign of a good woman that she must see as little, hear as little and ask as little as possible. She had no kind of independent existence and no kind of mind of her own, and her husband could divorce her almost at caprice, so long as he returned her dowry.


Under Roman law a woman had no rights. In law she remained for ever a child. When she was under her father she was under the patria potestas, the father's power, which gave the father the right even of life and death over her; and when she married she passed equally into the power of her husband. She was entirely subject to her husband and completely at his mercy. Cato the Censor, the typical ancient Roman, wrote: "If you were to catch your wife in an act of infidelity, you can kill her with impunity without a trial." Roman matrons were prohibited from drinking wine, and Egnatius beat his wife to death when he found her doing so.

Sulpicius Gallus dismissed his wife because she had once appeared in the streets without a veil. Antistius Vetus divorced his wife because he saw her secretly speaking to a freed woman in public. Publius Sempronius Sophus divorced his wife because once she went to the public games. The whole attitude of ancient civilization was that no woman could dare take any decision for herself.

What, then, must have been the problems of the wife who became a Christian while her husband remained faithful to the ancestral gods? It is almost impossible for us to realize what life must have been for the wife who was brave enough to become a Christian.


What, then, is Peter's advice in such a case? We must first note what he does not advise.

He does not advise the wife to leave her husband. In this he takes exactly the same attitude as Paul takes ( 1 Corinthians 7:13-16). Both Paul and Peter are quite sure that the Christian wife must remain with the heathen husband so long as he does not send her away. Peter does not tell the wife to preach or to argue. He does not tell her to insist that there is no difference between slave and freeman, Gentile and Jew, male and female, but that all are the same in the presence of the Christ whom she has come to know.


He tells her something very simple--nothing else than to be a good wife. It is by the silent preaching of the loveliness of her life that she must break down the barriers of prejudice and hostility, and win her husband for her new Master.


She must be submissive. It is not a spineless submission that is meant but, as someone has finely put it, a "voluntary selflessness." it is the submission which is based on the death of pride and the desire to serve. It is the submission not of fear but of perfect love.


She must be pure. There must be in her life a lovely chastity and fidelity founded on love.

She must be reverent. She must live in the conviction that the whole world is the Temple of God and that all life is lived in the presence of Christ.




3:3-6:  Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.


Bengel speaks of "the labour bestowed on dress which consumes much time." Such labour is no modern thing. We have already seen that in the ancient world women had no part in public life whatsoever; they had nothing to pass their time; for that reason it was sometimes argued that they must be allowed an interest in dress and adornment. Cato the Censor insisted on simplicity; Lucius Valerius answered: "Why should men grudge women their ornaments and their dress? Women cannot hold public offices, or priesthoods, or gain triumphs; they have no public occupations. What, then, can they do but devote their time to adornment and to dress?" Undue interest in self-adornment was then, as it still is, a sign that the person who indulged in it had no greater things to occupy her mind.


The ancient moralists condemned undue luxury as much as the Christian teachers did. Quintilian, the Roman master of oratory, wrote: "A tasteful and magnificent dress, as the Greek poet tells us, lends added dignity to the wearer: but effeminate and luxurious apparel fails to adorn the body, and only reveals the sordidness of the mind." Epictetus, the philosopher, thinking of the narrow life to which women were condemned in the ancient world, said, "Immediately after they are fourteen, women are called 'ladies' by men. And so, when they see that they have nothing else than to be bedfellows of men, they begin to beautify themselves and put all their hopes on that. It is, therefore, worthwhile for us to take pains to make them understand that they are honoured for nothing else but only for appearing modest and self-respecting." Epictetus and Peter agree.


There is at least one passage in the Old Testament which lists the various items of female adornment and threatens the day of judgment in which they will be destroyed. The passage is Isaiah 3:18-24. It speaks of the "finery of the anklets, the headbands and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks and the handbags; the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the

turbans and the veils."


In the world of the Greeks and the Romans it is interesting to collect the references to personal adornments. There were as many ways of dressing the hair as there were bees in Hybca. Hair was waved and dyed, sometimes black, more often auburn. Wigs were worn, especially blonde wigs, which are found even in the Christian catacombs; and hair to manufacture them was imported from Germany, and even from as far away as India. Hairbands, pins and combs were made of ivory, and boxwood, and tortoiseshell; and sometimes of gold, studded with gems.


Purple was the favourite colour for clothes. One pound weight of the best Tyrian purple wool, strained twice through, cost 1,000 denarii, 43.50 British pounds. A tyrian cloak of the best purple cost well over 100 British pounds. In one year silks, pearls, scents and jewellery were imported from India to the value of 1,000,000 British pounds. Similar imports of luxury came from Arabia.


Diamonds, emeralds, topazes, opals and the sardonyx were favourite stones. Struma Nonius had a ring valued at 21,250 British pounds. Pearls were loved most of all. Julius Caesar bought for Servilia a pearl which cost him 65,250 British pounds. Earrings were made of pearls and Seneca spoke of women with two or three fortunes in their ears. Slippers were encrusted with them; Nero even had a room whose walls were covered with them. Pliny saw Lollia Paulina, wife of Caligula, wearing a dress so covered with pearls and emeralds that it had cost 450,000 British pounds.


Christianity came into a world of luxury and decadence combined.


In face of all this Peter pleads for the graces which adorn the heart, which are precious in the sight of God. These were the jewels which adorned the holy women of old. Isaiah had called Sara the mother of God's faithful people ( Isaiah 51:2); and if Christian wives are adorned with the same graces of modesty, humility and chastity, they too will be her daughters and will be within the family of the faithful people of God.

A Christian wife of those times lived in a society where she would be tempted to senseless extravagance and where she might well go in fear of the caprices of her heathen husband; but she must live in selfless service, in goodness and in serene trust. That would be the best sermon she could preach to win her husband for Christ. There are few passages where the value of a lovely Christian life is so vividly stressed.




3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with [c]someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.


Short as this passage is, it has in it much of the very essence of the Christian ethic. That ethic is what may be called a reciprocal ethic. It never places all the responsibility on one side. If it speaks of the duties of slaves, it speaks also of the obligations of masters. If it speaks of the duty of children, it speaks also of the obligations of parents (compare Ephesians 6:1-9; Colossians 3:20-25; Colossians 4:1). Peter has just laid down the duty of wives; now he lays down the duty of husbands. A marriage must be based on reciprocal obligation. A marriage in which all the privileges are on one side and all the obligations on the other is bound to be imperfect with every chance of failure. This was a new conception in the ancient world. We have already noted the woman's total lack of rights then and quoted Cato's statement of the rights of the husband. But we did not finish that quotation and we do so now: "If you were to catch your wife in an act of infidelity, you can kill her with impunity without a trial; but, if she were to catch you, she would not venture to touch you with her finger and, indeed, she has no right." In the Roman moral code all the obligation was on the wife and all the privilege with the husband. The Christian ethic never grants a privilege without a corresponding obligation.

What are the obligations of the husband?

(i) He must be understanding. He must be considerate and sensitive to the feelings of his wife. Somerset Maugham's mother was a very beautiful woman with the world at her feet but his father was unhandsome. Someone once asked her: "Why do you remain faithful to that ugly little man you married?" Her answer was: "Because he never hurts me." Understanding and considerateness had forged an unbreakable bond. The cruelty which is hardest to bear is often not deliberate but the product of sheer thoughtlessness.

(ii) He must be chivalrous. He must remember that women are the weaker sex and treat them with courtesy. In the ancient world chivalry to women was well-nigh unknown. It was, and still is, no uncommon sight in the East to see the man riding on a donkey while the woman trudged by his side. It was Christianity which introduced chivalry into the relationship between men and women.

(iii) He must remember that the woman has equal spiritual rights. She is a fellow-heir of the grace of life. Women did not share in the worship of the Greeks and the Romans. Even in the Jewish synagogue they had no share in the service, and in the orthodox synagogue still have none. When they were admitted to the synagogue at all, they were segregated from the men and hidden behind a screen. Here in Christianity emerged the revolutionary principle that women had equal spiritual rights and with that the relationship between the sexes was changed.

(iv) Unless a man fulfils these obligations, there is a barrier between his prayers and God. As Bigg puts it: "The sighs of the injured wife come between the husband's prayers and God's hearing." Here is a great truth. Our relationships with God can never be right, if our relationships with our fellow-men are wrong. It is when we are at one with each other that we are at one with him.




3:8-12:  To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For, "THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.  11 "HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. 12 "FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL."


Peter, as it were, gathers together the great qualities of the Christian life.

(i) Right in the forefront he sets Christian unity. It is worth while to collect together the great New Testament passages about unity, in order to see how great a place it occupies in New Testament thought. The basis of the whole matter is in the words of Jesus who prayed for his people that they might all be one, as he and his Father were one ( John 17:21-23). In the thrilling early days of the Church this prayer was fulfilled, for they were all of one heart and of soul ( Acts 4:32). Over and over again Paul exhorts men to this unity and prays for it. He reminds the Christians of Rome that, though they are many, they are one body, and he pleads with them to be of one mind ( Romans 12:4; Romans 12:16). In writing to the Christians of Corinth, he uses the same picture of the Christians as members of one body in spite of all their differing qualities and gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). He pleads with the quarrelling Corinthians that there should be no divisions among them and that they should be perfectly joined together in the same mind ( 1 Corinthians 1:10). He tells them that strifes and divisions are fleshly things, marks that they are living on purely human standards, without the mind of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 3:3). Because they have partaken of the one bread, they must be one body ( 1 Corinthians 10:17). He tells them that they must be of one mind and must live in peace ( 2 Corinthians 13:11).

In Christ Jesus the dividing walls are down, and Jew and Greek are united into one ( Ephesians 2:13-14). Christians must maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, remembering that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all ( Ephesians 4:3-6). The Philippians must stand fast in one spirit, striving together with one mind for the faith of the gospel; they will make Paul's happiness complete, if they have the same love and have one accord and one mind; the quarrelling Euodias and Syntyche are urged to be of one mind in the Lord ( Php_1:27 ; Php_2:2 ; Php_4:2 ).


All through the New Testament rings this plea for Christian unity. It is more than a plea; it is an announcement that no man can live the Christian life unless in his personal relationships he is at unity with his fellow-men; and that the Church cannot be truly Christian if there are divisions within it. It is tragic to realize how far men are from realizing this unity in their personal lives and how far the Church is from realizing it within herself. C. E. B. Cranfield writes so finely of this that we cannot do other than quote his whole comment in full, lengthy though it is: "The New Testament never treats this agreeing in Christ as an unnecessary though highly desirable spiritual luxury, but as something essential to the true being of the Church. Divisions, whether disagreements between individual members or the existence of factions and parties and--how much more!--our present-day denominations, constitute a calling in question of the Gospel itself and a sign that those who are involved are carnal. The more seriously we take the New Testament, the more urgent and painful becomes our sense of the sinfulness of the divisions, and the more earnest our prayers and strivings after the peace and unity of the Church on earth. That does not mean that the like-mindedness we are to strive for is to be a drab uniformity of the sort beloved of bureaucrats. Rather is it to be a unity in which powerful tensions are held together by an over-mastering loyalty, and strong antipathies of race and colour, temperament and taste, social position and economic interest, are overcome in common worship and common obedience. Such unity will only come when Christians are humble and bold enough to lay hold on the unity already given in Christ and to take it more seriously than their own self-importance and sin, and to make of these deep differences of doctrine, which originate in our imperfect understanding of the Gospel and which we dare not belittle, not an excuse for letting go of one another or staying apart, but rather an incentive for a more earnest seeking in fellowship together to hear and obey the voice of Christ." There speaks the prophetic voice to our modern condition.


(2) THE MARKS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (vv. 8-12 continued)


(ii) Second, Peter sets sympathy. Here again the whole New Testament urges this duty upon us. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep ( Romans 12:15). When one member of the body suffers all the other members suffer with it; and when one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it ( 1 Corinthians 12:26), and it must be so with Christians, who are the body of Christ. One thing is clear, sympathy and selfishness cannot coexist. So long as the self is the most important thing in the world, there can be no such thing as sympathy; sympathy depends on the willingness to forget self and to identify oneself with the pains and sorrows of others. Sympathy comes to the heart when Christ reigns there.

(iii) Third, Peter sets brotherly love. Again the matter goes back to the words of Jesus. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.... By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" ( John 13:34-35). Here the New Testament speaks with unmistakable definiteness and with almost frightening directness. "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love remains in death. Any one who hates his brother is a murderer" ( 1 John 3:14-15). "If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar" ( 1 John 4:20). The simple fact is that love of God and love of man go hand in hand; the one cannot exist without the other. The simplest test of the reality of the Christianity of a man or a Church is whether or not it makes them love their fellow-men.

(iv) Fourth, Peter sets compassion. There is a sense in which pity is in danger of becoming a lost virtue. The conditions of our own age tend to blunt the edge of the mind to sensitiveness in pity. As C. E. B. Cranfield puts it: "We got used to hearing on the radio of a thousand-bomber raid as we ate our breakfast. We have got used to the idea of millions of people becoming refugees." We can read of the thousands of casualties on the roads with no reaction within our hearts, forgetting that each means a broken body or a broken heart for someone. It is easy to lose the sense of pity and still easier to be satisfied with a sentimentalism which feels a moment's comfortable sorrow and does nothing. Pity is of the very essence of God and compassion of the very being of Jesus Christ; a pity so great that God sent his only Son to die for men, a compassion so intense that it took Christ to the Cross. There can be no Christianity without compassion.

(v) Fifth, Peter sets humility. Christian humility comes from two things. It comes, first, from the sense of creatureliness. The Christian is humble because he is constantly aware of his utter dependence on God and that of himself he can do nothing. It comes, second, from the fact that the Christian has a new standard of comparison. It may well be that when he compares himself with his fellow-men, he has nothing to fear from the comparison. But the Christian's standard of comparison is Christ, and, compared with his sinless perfection, he is ever in default. When the Christian remembers his dependence on God and keeps before him the standard of Christ, he must remain humble.

(vi) Lastly, and as a climax, Peter sets forgiveness. It is to receive forgiveness from God and to give forgiveness to men that the Christian is called. The one cannot exist without the other; it is only when we forgive others their sins against us that we are forgiven our sins against God ( Matthew 6:12; Matthew 6:14-15). The mark of the Christian is that he forgives others as God has forgiven him ( Ephesians 4:32).

As was natural for him, Peter sums the matter up by quoting Psalms 34:1-22, with its picture of the man whom God receives and the man whom God rejects.





EW Commentary - 1 Peter 3:1-12

A. Submission in the home.  

1. (3:1-2) The heart of a godly wife.

1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

a. Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands: The godly wife will be submissive to her husband. This submission isn't a reward for the husband's good behavior; as the proper order of the home, God commands it.

            i. The teaching about submission was especially relevant to a first century married woman who had begun to follow Jesus. She would ask questions such as "Should I leave my husband?" or "Should I change my behavior towards him?" or "Should I assume a superior position to him because now I am in Jesus?"

             ii. In the culture of the ancient world it was almost unthinkable for a wife to adopt a different religion than her husband. Christian women who came to Jesus before their husbands needed instruction.

b. Likewise: Proper submission in the home follows the same principles of submission as towards government or our employers. It is submission not only of the actions, but also of the heart - as demonstrated by the surrendering heart of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-25).

             i. The call for submission is not merely a call for love and considerate action. It is a call to take the place of submission to authority. The ancient Greek word translated submission was used outside the New Testament to describe the submission and obedience of soldiers in an army to those of superior rank. It literally means, "to order under."

             ii. Yet submission to authority can be totally consistent with equality in importance, dignity, and honor. Jesus was subject to both His parents and to God the Father but was not lower than either of them. "Thus the command to wives to be subject to their husbands should never be taken to imply inferior personhood or spirituality, or lesser importance." (Grudem)

   iii. Of course, submission in marriage follows the same principles as submission in other spheres. We submit to God appointed authority as our obligation before God, unless that authority directs us to sin. In that case it is right to obey God rather than men (Acts 4:19-20).

c. Be submissive to your own husbands: Peter carefully observed that wives are called to submit to their own husbands and not to all men in a general sense. Male headship is God's commanded principle for the home and the church, not for society in general.

       i. The principle of submission is presented in many different ways in the New Testament.

  • Jesus submitted to His parents (Luke 2:51).
  • Demons submitted to the disciples (Luke 10:17).
  • Citizens should submit to government authority (Romans 13:1 and 5, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13).
  • The universe will submit to Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:27 and Ephesians 1:22).
  • Unseen spiritual beings submit to Jesus (1 Peter 3:22).
  • Christians should submit to their church leaders (1 Corinthians 16:15-16 and 1 Peter 5:5).
  • Wives should submit to husbands (Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, 1 Peter 3:5, and Eph 5:22-24).
  • The church should submit to Jesus (Ephesians 5:24).
  • Servants should submit to masters (Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18).
  • Christians should submit to God (Hebrews 12:9, James 4:7).

       ii. None of these relations are reversed. For example, masters are never told to submit to servants, Jesus is never told to submit to the church, and so forth. So while there must be a servant-like love and attitude on the part of those in positions of authority, that does not eliminate the concept of God's order of authority and the corresponding submission.

d. That even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives: The benefit of submission is shown in the way that it affects husbands for God. A wife's submission is a powerful expression of her trust in God. This kind of faith and obedience can accomplish great things, even without a word.

        i. Wives may want to shape their husbands, either guiding them to Jesus or guiding them in Jesus through their words. Peter reminds them that God's plan is that wives impact their husbands not through persuasive lectures, but through godly submission, chaste conduct, and the fear of God.

        ii. There is a sense in which a wife's efforts to shape her husband through her own words and efforts may hinder the power of God's working on the husband. It is much more effective to submit in the way God says to, thus demonstrating trust in Him, and to let God have his way with the husband.

iii. "The attractiveness of a wife's submissive behaviour even to an unbelieving husband suggests that God has inscribed the rightness and beauty of role distinctions to include male leadership or headship in the family and female acceptance of and responsiveness to that leadership... The unbelieving husband sees this behaviour and deep within perceives the beauty of it. Within his heart there is a witness that this is right, this is how God intended men and women to relate as husband as wife. He concludes, therefore, that the gospel which his wife believes must be true as well." (Grudem)

e. Do not obey the word: This refers to an unbelieving husband, but it is a stronger idea than merely "do not believe." It has the idea of someone in active disobedience to God's word. Even these husbands can be won through the godly conduct of loving wives.

2. (3:3-4) The true beauty of a godly woman.

Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

a. Do not let your adornment be merely outward: Peter did not forbid all adornment. But for the godly woman outward adornment is always in moderation, and her emphasis is always on inward adornment.

i. Arranging the hair: According to William Barclay, in the world Peter lived women often arranged and dyed their hair. They also wore wigs, especially blonde wigs made with hair imported from Germany. Peter had this in mind speaking of the adornment that is merely outward. Peter did not forbid a woman fixing her hair, or wearing jewelry, any more than he forbade her wearing apparel (fine is not in the original).

b. Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart: Real beauty comes from the hidden person of the heart. It isn't something you wear or primp before a mirror to have. It is something you are.

i. The real question is "What do you depend on to make yourself beautiful?" Peter's point is not that any of these are forbidden, but that they should not be a woman's adornment, the source of her true beauty.

c. The incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit: The inner beauty of a godly woman is incorruptible. This means that it does not decay or get worse with age. Instead, incorruptible beauty only gets better with age, and is therefore of much greater value than the beauty that comes from the hair, jewelry, or clothing.

d. A gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God: Peter described the character of true beauty - a gentle and quiet spirit. These character traits are not promoted for women by our culture; yet they are very precious in the sight of God.

3. (3:5-6) Examples of submission.

For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

a. In former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves: Peter reminds women that he did not call them to a new standard; but to something that was practiced by holy women of former times.

b. Who trusted in God: When women submit to their husbands and when they do not put trust in their outward adornment, they are like the holy women of former times who trusted in God. They powerfully demonstrate their faith.

       i. A woman can trust her own ability to influence and control her husband, or she can trust God and be submissive. A woman can trust her outward beauty and adornment, or she can trust God and cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit. It all comes back to trust in God; so she should be like the holy women who trusted in God.

c. As Sarah obeyed Abraham: Two things demonstrated Sarah's submission to Abraham. First, she obeyed Abraham even when it was difficult and even when he was wrong (as in Genesis 12:10-20). Second, she honored Abraham by calling him lord. It is possible to obey someone without showing them the honor that is part of submission. True submission knows the place of both obedience and honor.

      i. "An attitude of submission to a husband's authority will be reflected in numerous words and actions each day which reflect deference to his leadership and an acknowledgment of his final responsibility." (Grudem)

d. If you do good and are not afraid with any terror: True submission, full of faith in God has no room for fear or terror. It does good and leaves the result to God and not to man.

      i. The words "do good" remind us that true submission is not a sulking surrender to authority. It is an active embrace of God's will, demonstrating trust in Him.

4. (3:7) The heart of a godly husband.

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with [c]someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

a. Dwell with them: A godly husband lives with his wife. He doesn't merely share a house, but he truly lives with her. He recognizes the great point of Paul's teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5: that "husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself" (Ephesians 5:28). The godly husband understands the essential unity or oneness God has established between husband and wife.

b. With understanding: A godly husband undertakes the important job of understanding his wife. By knowing her well, he is able to demonstrate his love for her far more effectively.

     i. When a husband has this understanding, God directs him to use it in that he is to dwell with his wife with understanding. He is supposed to take his understanding and apply it in daily life with his wife. This is where many men have trouble following through. They may have understanding about their wives, but they don't use it as they dwell with them.

c. Giving honor: A godly husband knows how to make his wife feel honored. Though she submits to him, he takes care that she does not feel like she is an employee or under a tyrant.

      i. In giving honor to the wife, the word in the ancient Greek language for the wife is a rare word, meaning more literally "the feminine one." It suggests that the woman's feminine nature should prompt the husband to honor her.

      ii. This was a radical teaching in the world Peter lived in. In that ancient culture a husband had absolute rights over his wife and the wife had virtually no rights in the marriage. In the Roman world, if a man caught his wife in an act of adultery he could kill her on the spot. But if a wife caught her husband, she could do nothing against him. All the duties and obligations in marriage were put on the wife. Peter's radical teaching is that the husband has God-ordained duties and obligations toward his wife.

d. As to the weaker vessel: In this context weaker speaks of the woman's relative physical weakness in comparison to men. Men aren't necessarily stronger spiritually than women, but they are generally stronger physically. As Peter brought in the idea of the woman's feminine nature with the words the wife, he continues in appreciating the feminine nature and how a husband should respond to it.

      i. Therefore, a godly husband recognizes whatever limitations his wife has physically and he does not expect more from her than is appropriate and kind.

e. Heirs together: A godly husband realizes that his spouse is not only his wife, but also his sister in Jesus. Part of their inheritance in the Lord is only realized in their oneness as husband and wife.

     i. Heirs together: This "reminds husbands that even though they have been given great authority within marriage, their wives are still equal to them in spiritual privilege and eternal importance: they are 'joint heirs.'" (Grudem)

f. That your prayers may not be hindered: The failure to live as a godly husband has spiritual consequences. It can and it will hinder prayer.

      i. Some have thought that Peter has in mind here the prayers that husbands and wives pray together. But since he addresses husbands only, and because he says your prayers, he refers to the prayers of husbands in general.

       ii. Peter assumed that the fear of hindered prayer would motivate Christian husbands to love and care for their wives as they should. Many Christian men have such a low regard for prayer that this warning may not adequately motivate them.

iii. "Indeed, to true believers prayer is so invaluable that the danger of hindering it is used by Peter as a motive why, in their marriage relationships, and household concerns, they should behave themselves with great wisdom. He bids the husband 'dwell' with his wife 'according to knowledge,' and render loving honor to her, lest their united prayers should be hindered. Anything which hinders prayer must be wrong. If any management of the family, or want of management, is injuring our power in prayer, there is an urgent demand for an alteration." (Spurgeon)

B. Godliness in suffering.  

1. (3:8-9) A plea for unity and love among God's people.

8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not

returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

a. Be of one mind: Most of us are willing to have one mind, as long as that one mind is my mind! But the one mind is to be the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Our common mind is to be Jesus' mind.

      i. This command brings us back to the need to know God's word. We can't be of one mind, the mind of Jesus, if we don't know what His mind is. The word of God shows us the mind of Jesus.

b. Be of one mind: This speaks to the essential unity of God's people. We are one; but we are not all the same. While we should all be of one mind, we can't expect everyone to be like us. God has built both unity and diversity among His people.

      i. Every cell of your body is different, and each one has its role to play. But every cell in your body has the same DNA code written in it, the master plan for the whole body. Every cell in your body has the same "mind."

      ii. We could say that Christians should be like a good choir. Each one sings with his own voice and some sing different parts, but everyone sings to the same music and in harmony with one another.

c. Having compassion... tenderhearted... courteous: Peter described the kind of warm love that should be among the people of God. We should be compassionate, brotherly, tenderhearted, and even polite.

      i. Remember that this was the measure Jesus gave to the world to identify His true disciples: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). Jesus did not command us to like our brothers and sisters in Christ. But we are commanded to love them; and once we start loving them we will start liking them.

d. Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing: The greatest challenge to our love for others comes when we are wronged. At those times we are called to not return evil for evil, but to give a blessing instead.

      i. No dispute, argument, or personality conflict among believers should linger. Even if one Christian gets out of line, the loving response of other Christians should keep the problem small and short-lived.

     ii. The natural response to hostility is retaliation. This is what the terrible ethnic conflicts all over the world are all about - one group wrongs another, and dedicates the rest of its existence to repaying that wrong. Only the love of Jesus for our enemies can break the terrible cycle.

iii. Jesus reminded us that it is no great credit if we love those who love us in return; the real test of love is to demonstrate compassion to our enemies (Matthew 5:44-47).

e. That you may inherit a blessing: We love one another, but not only for the sake of Jesus, whose body we are members of. We love one another, but not only for the sake of our brother or sister for whom Jesus died. We also love one another for our own sake - by blessing those who have wronged us, we will inherit a blessing. If you can't love for the sake of Jesus, or for the sake of your brother, then do it for your own sake!

2. (10-12) Quotation from Ps.34:12-16 demonstrates the blessing that comes to those who turn away from evil and do good.


a. Let him turn away from evil and do good: Doing good is often difficult because as a general rule, evil is rewarded immediately and the reward of doing good is often delayed. But the rewards of good are better and far more secure than the rewards of doing evil. God promises this in the passage quoted by Peter.