1 Peter 3:1-7

SubmitButtonLikewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Observation

  • Wives are to be subject to their husbands.
  • Wives are to be subject to their husband even if their husband does not obey Christ’s commands.
  • Wives are to be subject to their husbands so their husband may be won to Christ.
  • Wives are to live in a way that their husbands may be won simply by their wife’s conduct.
  • When a husband sees their wife’s respectfulness and pure conduct they can be won to Christ.
  • A wife is not to let her adorning be external but internal.
  • Examples of external adorning are fancy hairdos, jewelry and clothing.
  • A wife should adorn the hidden person of the heart.
  • Examples of adorning the hidden person are a hidden quite spirit, and gentle spirit.
  • A gentle and quiet spirit is precious in God’s sight.
  • Holy women who hope in God adorn themselves by submitting to their own husbands.
  • Sarah is an example of how a wife should submit to her husband.
  • Sarah referred to Abraham was her lord.
  • Christian women are Sarah’s children if they do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
  • Husbands are to live with their wives.
  • Husbands are to be understanding with their wives
  • Husbands are to show honor to their wives and women in general.
  • Husbands are to show honor to women because they are heirs of the grace of life.
  • Men are also heirs of the grace of life.
  • Men are to show honor to women, and to be understanding, so their prayers will not be hindered.

Interpretation

There are passages in scripture that western culture reviles. Preaching or teaching them brings all the wrath that the culture can be mustard. This is one of them. It has reach the point, when it is taught, there is much more attention given to the husband than to the wife in an attempt to mollify those who disagree and viciously attack those who dare even read these verses in public.

The words and their meaning are basically clear. But we often ignore the greater context.

Peter has just finished saying that we are to be subject to governmental authority. It does not matter rather that authority is just or unjust. We are to be subject to governmental authority. Servants are to be subject to their masters. It does not matter if the masters are just or unjust. Servants are to be subject to their master. It is in this context Peter says wives be subject to your husbands. In this context we may rightly assume he means it does not matter if the husband is just or unjust, wives, be subject to your husbands. I can hear you yell. “Well I don’t believe that. That’s can’t right! Women are just as smart, just as valuable as men. A wife is not the property her husband.” What does it say? It says nothing about intelligence. It says nothing about value. It says nothing about being owned. Those are all things we read into the words. Those are inferences we make. But it is not what it says.

We in our western culture may not like it. We may rail against it. We may argue against it. But what do the words say? They say “Likewise, wives, be subject to your husbands.” Wives are to be subject to their husbands as servants are to be subject to their masters, as we all are to be subject to governmental authority. Then Peter goes on and gives a reason. The reason is the same reason we are to be subject to governmental authorities. Wives are to be subject to their husbands even if they are not believers so that their husbands might be won without a word. They are won by the conduct of their wives. They are won because they see the respect their wives have because of their wife’s belief and trust in Christ.

In other words this commandment has nothing to do with the value of one person over another, but the authority of Christ over us all. We are to be subject for the sake of Christ. Our priority is Christ not our natural inclination to set ourselves above another. Christ is subject to the Father, but not less than the Father. The Holy Spirit is subject to both the Father and the Son but not less than either of them. So too, the wife is to be subject to her husband but not less than him.

Others form an understanding of Christ by watching us. If we are rebellious and insisting on our own ways we are communicating an incorrect doctrine of Christ to the world.

Peter’s comment in verse 3 about the wearing of gold jewelry has often been taken out of its context and made to stand alone. The outward appearance is contrasted to the inward beauty. Peter is not condemning the wearing of jewelry or the attempt to appear physically attractive. The comments are made as a contrast. If verse 3 were to be taken in a literal wooden since, women would not be allowed to wear clothing. Peter adds to clothing to the list of things not to be adorned with “or the clothing you wear.”

Peter encourages the readers to adorn themselves with gentleness and a quiet spirit.

Men would be happy if Peter had not written verse 7. But he undoes the arguments of those who claim the Apostle teaches women are being made less than men in one sentence. Men are to live with their wives in an understanding way and men are to show women honor. If women were less than men, men could not show honor to them. We only honor those who are of great value.

Women and men together and jointly are given grace from God.

Men receive a great warning, a warning that is actually a little frightening. Our prayers to God may actually be hindered if we do not honor our wives.

Application

Yes, the bible says wives be subject to you own husbands.

Yes, we are to teach it.

Yes, it is not popular in our culture today.

But let us not forget the immediate context of Peter and the greater context of all of scripture. We are all under authority. We are to be subject to authority unless forbidden to do what God commands or commanded to do what God forbids for God is the ultimate authority. Second we are to be subject so that those in authority might be won.

As I was rereading this it all of a sudden hit me, the reason we reject the teaching of wives being subject to husband is we also reject the context as well. We do not accept authority of any kind. Or we accept it begrudgingly or reluctantly. We want to be autonomous. This was the sin of Adam. He wanted to be God. That is our sin as well. We reject authority because we want to be God.

Those in authority are not in authority for their own benefit but for the glory of God. They are responsible for the caring and wellbeing of those under their authority.

Regardless of your role you play it for the glory of God.

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