1 Peter 3:1-22 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Do Not Fear What They Fear
Comments for Study 3

1 Peter 3:1-22
Memory Verse: 14


I. Wives and Husbands (3:1-7)

Peter had just stated the need for submission for the sake of the gospel, the church's witness to the hostile and ungodly world. He had given a specific instruction to slaves in 1 Peter 2:18-25. Now he is going to give a specific instruction to wives, especially if one is not a believer in Jesus, and then instructions to husbands. Later in the letter (1 Peter 5:5) Peter gives the same instruction to young men. Peter upholds societal norms for the purpose of the church's witness in a society that was presently hostile towards Christians. (See introduction for the nature of the hostility.) His sympathy here is clearly with the woman, slaves, and young men. Peter advocates submission to authority to silence the charges that Christianity is subversive to society. This charge was apparently one of the charges the local government was using to justify the persecution.

Two Modes of Witness

>1. What is a good reason why a Christian should remain married to an unbeliever? (1-2)

* 1 Peter 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."

* "Wives" -Peter is addressing wives. He is not addressing husbands. These instructions are for a believing wife, a Christian woman who is also a wife. Therefore, the submission here is their choice and should not be used by a husband to force his wife to submission. A husband is never to treat his wife as a slave or even as his child. If Jesus is not forcing his people whom he purchased, then surely and completely a husband is not to force his wife to submission. Peter is only addressing wives who are believers in Jesus.

* "in the same way" -Peter had given specific instructions to slaves in the previous chapter. Now he is going to give instructions to wives.

* "be submissive" -Peter uses the same word three times in this letter addressing; slaves, wives, and young men. The nature of the word means a person is willing to submit, not forced to submit to authority.

* "so that" -Peter is now going to write about one type of wife, a specific case in matrimony is coming next. Peter is not proclaiming submission for no reason. He is not saying submit for submission sake.

* "if any of them do not believe the word" -In the next point, Peter is not writing to wives whose husband is a believer in Jesus. He is addressing wives whose husband does not confess Jesus as Savior and Lord. The believing wives Peter is writing to must have witnessed to their unbelieving husbands who had not yet accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord. If their husbands had not believed the words of the gospel, the wives' submission to their husbands were to follow Jesus example of submission. Jesus submission to his Father is a silent witness to us. The wives submissions to their unbelieving husbands would be a silent witness so that perhaps their husbands may be saved.

Again, at this point Peter is not writing about a couple who are both believers in Jesus. Paul writes about a Christian marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33.

* "without words by the behavior of their wives" -Peter does not state that we shouldn't use words to witness. In fact it is understood that words were used first in these cases. Several wives must have heard the gospel and accepted it before their husbands. Then they went to their husbands and told them to gospel. However, the husbands did not accept the word. So now Peter is saying, "Wives, you've witnessed to your husbands. They did not accept and in some cases the rejection was joined with hostility. However, there is another way you can witness to the blessing of the gospel. You can be a silent witness."

* Peter was in a marriage when Jesus called him. Peter did not break the marriage. He obeyed Jesus' word and did not divorce. (1 Corinthians 9:5)

* I have been married now for over twenty years. My wife and I have had good times and times where we have had problems. We have been through times that her and/or I have briefly thought it would be easier to avoid a trouble spot by getting out of the marriage than working through it. Is marriage worth enduring the trouble spots? Yes. Peter did not encourage the wives to divorce their unbelieving husbands. Rather he had them endure and work through the trouble spot for the sake of the gospel and their husband's salvation.

* A believer in Jesus is not to marry someone who does not believe in Jesus. Peter is not writing about before marriage, but after marriage. Deuteronomy 22:10 states, "Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together." Paul agrees with Deuteronomy making the point very clear. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." (2 Corinthians 6:14-16) Paul extends this to any sex outside of marriage writing, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit." (1 Corinthians 6:15-17)

>What does "if" imply here?

"if" -Peter is addressing all Christian wives about being submission within marriage. However, now he is going to write about a specific case within this directive.

* Clearly there were families where only one of the spouses was a Christian. A few years back I was in a Bible study group where there was two women who accepted Jesus as their savior after they were married. However, their husbands had not believed yet. This hurt them greatly. One claimed, "My husband and I were so close in everything. We had a great relationship, sharing everything. Now I have something my husband does not share in. I believe in Jesus, go to Sunday worship and Bible studies. He instead goes golfing." She was sad for two reasons, her husband did not believe yet and this caused a separation in their relationship. However, the woman was not without hope. She was following the very instructions that Peter gives here and all the time silently praying for her husband's salvation. I remember several years after the Bible study group I saw that her husband started to attend church. Eventually her husband became a believer.

* A long time ago in and shortly after my college days I use to witness to college students when walking around campus. Once I came across a fellow Christian who was not happy that I was inviting other students to a relationship with Jesus and Bible study. He believed that the type of evangelism I was engaging in (witnessing to strangers) was not good. He believed I was turning people off to Christians. He believed only in witnessing by silent witness through good deeds. Clearly Peter believed in both, with the first witness to be verbal.

Wedding under canape

>Why might it be hard to be submissive?

* Everyone has the fallen nature of ego and self importance.

* Everyone has the fallen nature of self independence.

* Everyone has the need to be in a society and be accepted by that society.

* Husbands and wives usually start their relationship with some kind of love for each other. Thus, they want to be together and share life together.

* Part of the curse for women given because of Eve's sin is, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." (Genesis 3:16)

* Often people confuse submission with surrendering one's identity. A long time ago before I was married two wives and I were discussion the subject of marraige. One was having some marital problems. She said, "Why should a woman change her last name to that of her husbands?" I stated, "Jesus said, 'The two will become one flesh. (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31)'" She replied, "Which one do they become?" meaning one of the two loses their identity to the other. I replied, "They become neither of the two, but a new flesh." Marriage does not mean that one of the two loses their identity. Rather, together the two become a new entity. The two must work together in Christ to help the new identity to grow and mature. Thus the three; Jesus, the husband, and the wife work together for a entirely new and unique unit. The unique unit remains alive as long as the two are in the flesh. When one dies the marraige identity ceases. (Luke 20:34-38) What happens when one become a believer in Christ and the other does not?

What happens when the marraige sours and/or one of them doesn't like what they've become? What happens when one stumbles and breaks the marriage vow? Show me a married couple and together we'll look at two people who will have marital problems at different times in their relationship. Show me a couple whose been married fifty years and we'll see that that couple has had fifty trouble spots, struggles, differences, and conflicts. When Adam and Eve sinned they did it under the canopy of marriage, and so all marriages suffer. Yet in all marriages there is hope. Anything worth marrying for is worth fighting to keep.

* What if a believer has an unbelieving spouse and they tell them to kill, steal, commit adultery, or any other sinful activity? Are they to be submissive? No. A believer no matter what the situation should not be submissive to sin and a person who tells us to sin even if they have a place of authority.

Ancient Egyptian Women

>How can purity and reverence move a spouse to accept Jesus as their personal Messiah and Lord? (Prov. 12:4, 19:13-14)

* Proverbs 12:4 "A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones."

* Proverbs 19:13-14 "A foolish son is his father's ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD."

* As stated above, all husbands and wives usually start their relationship with some kind of love for each other. Those embers of love can be fanned into a roaring fire through acts of self denial. Remaining pure says, "I consider your embrace and companionship of more worth than the promises of another." Reverence contains awe and respect, characteristics that dwindles the ill effects of the fallen nature.

* A wife can have a positive or a negative influence on her husband whether they are a believer or not. What if a wife cries every morning or evening in front of their unbelieving husband saying she is so sad he is not a believer? Or what if she nags her unbelieving husband to go to church on Sunday and he is forced to go to a place he does not want to go? Are these woman going to force her husband to accept Christ. No. She is only going to give him a reason to avoid anything to do with Christ. However, what if she follows Peter's words of becoming a silent witness? Yes, that woman will be a positive influence on her husband.

* Paul agrees with Peter. 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 states, "To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?"

>2. Does verse 3 forbid outward adornment in day to day life? (1 Cor. 11:3-16)

* 1 Peter 3:3 "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes."

Ancient Greek Women

* 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head--it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God."

* Women were subordinate to men in most ancient societies. In many ancient societies women were oppressed, suppressed and in some cases treated as sub-humans. In Peter's time most societies considered a married woman as having no rights and the property of her husband. This was very true in Jewish society of Peter's day. (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47) Jesus however treated women much differently than the other religious leaders. (Matthew 27:55; Luke 23:49, 55; John 4:9, 8:10-11) Jesus was the first woman advocate, even having women as disciples something totally unheard of in ancient societies. The first congregations reflected the new understanding of a woman's place in society and a marriage. This offended the unbelievers and the unconverted. Here Peter was saying it such societies it is best for Christian women to refrain from the new rights that Jesus showed them.

Ancient Greek Women

* The three illustrations to the right show ancient women adornment; the top Egyptian, the bottom two Greek. Hair was braided in elaborate manners even using hair not their own (a fade in the USA in the 1960s), and well-to-do women strove to keep up with the latest expensive fashions. The gaudy adornments of women of wealth including jewelry in their hair, meant to draw attention to themselves, were repeatedly condemned in ancient literature and speeches whether Christian or otherwise. Peter's readers would assume that his point was meant in the same way as these other sources. (Bible Background Commentary - The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.)

* "such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes" -Since many ancient societies considered wives as a husband's possession and since mankind is selfish most ancient husbands did not spend any money on his wives outward appearance. This is why there was no beauty parlors in ancient societies such as there are today. Only a single woman or an extremely rich women would have beauty treatments. There were two kinds of single women who braided their hair and wore fine clothes; a young maiden hoping in a husband and a prostitute trying to entice a prospect. Since the woman in congregations where experiencing new freedoms in Christ, they began spending money on their outward beauty. The unbelievers did not like their influence. So they started to use the Christian women's actions as reasons to put an end to anything to do with Christians. Peter and Paul for this reason encouraged Christian women to give up these rights for the sake of the gospel. Not only women, but they encouraged all to follow Jesus' examples and give up any and all rights and privileges for the sake of Christ, the gospel, and our local congregation. Humility is an example we can learn from Jesus, the Way.

* As a side note all people should refrain from tatoos for health reasons, a modern status symbol on the rise.

* Jesus said, "When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face," meaning we should do our best, whether man of woman to look clean and proper on the outside. However, we should not draw attention to ourselves, whether man or woman.

>What kind of beauty does not pass with time? (4)

* 1 Peter 3:4 "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."

* "your inner self" -The soul sometimes also refered to as our heart.

* "the unfading beauty" -Peter means that the ornament of the soul is not like a fading flower, nor consists in vanishing splendor, but is incorruptible. (Calvin's Commentaries)

* "a gentle and quiet spirit" -A placid and a sedate temper of mind that stems from the cleansed heart.

* "of great worth in God's sight" -God does place different value on different qualities of the heart.

* See also Matthew 6:17-18, 23:27 and 1 Timothy 2:9-10 for similar teachings about not seeking attention of men, but attention from God.

* Ancients considered a meek and quiet spirit a prime virtue for women, and many moralists advised this attitude instead of dressing in the latest fashions to attract men’s attention, a vice commonly attributed to aristocratic women but imitated by those who could afford to do so. (Bible Background Commentary - The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament)

* Ask yourself, "Is this vanity?" And, "Is this an excess?"

* It may be now asked, whether the Apostle wholly condemns the use of gold in adorning the body. Were any one to urge these words, it may be said, that he prohibits precious garments no less than gold; for he immediately adds, the putting on of apparel, or, of clothes. But it would be an immoderate strictness wholly to forbid neatness and elegance in clothing. If the material is said to be too sumptuous, the Lord has created it; and we know that skill in art has proceeded from him. Then Peter did not intend to condemn every sort of ornament, but the evil of vanity, to which women are subject. Two things are to be regarded in clothing, usefulness and decency; and what decency requires is moderation and modesty... Besides, ambition, pride, affectation of display, and all things of this kind, are not indifferent things. Therefore they whose minds are purified from all vanity, will duly order all things, so as not to exceed moderation. (Calvin's Commentaries)

* It is most important for believers to acknowledge the fact that because Christ Jesus came to the world clothed in humility, He will always be found among those who are clothed with humility. He will be found among the humble people. (The Tozer Quotable II: More Wise Words with a Prophetic Edge)

* The best ornament, jewelry, clothes, surgery, and make-up cannot made a sour character beautiful and appealing. The moment a sour character opens its mount peo