I Peter 3:1-7

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

THE RELATIONSHIP

OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES

INTRODUCTION:

 

What would you think of the following idea? Suppose at a wedding, immediately after the preacher says, I now pronounce you husband and wife, we sing a hymn like Sound the Battle Cry or The Fight Is On.

 

Unfortunately, as inappropriate as this sounds, it might be very fitting for some marriages. Do you suppose that God intended that a marriage should consist of one battle after another? I doubt that anyone really supposes this.

 

What bits of wisdom can we give people which will help them improve their marriages? It’s really fairly simple. I can teach the ladies to be godly women who are living in the center of God’s will for their lives. Likewise I can teach the men to be godly men who are living in the center of God’s will for their lives. By the way, this is precisely what I seek to do in every message I preach. I teach people how to be saved and how to be living for the Lord according to the Bible. There is no other message that they need.

 

When it comes to the subject of marriage, the Bible has some instructions for the wife as well as some instructions for the husband. In this message I want to show you some of these things which will make for a great marriage. Unfortunately, there is a built-in problem with any marriage, even a marriage between believers. It is that both husband and wife have old sin natures.

 

As we consider I Peter 3:1-7 , we see how wives who have been saved should behave toward their husbands, whether the husbands are saved or not. We also see how husbands who have been saved should treat their wives, whether the wives are saved or not yet saved.

First, we see –

    I.     THE RELATIONSHIP OF WIVES TO THEIR HUSBANDS – 3:1-6

 

Before I begin this section, let me say that God’s will for the wife is clear whether her husband is what God wants him to be or not. Regardless of what your husband is like, your responsibility as a wife before God is still the same. Of course, it makes it a whole lot easier for you to be the sort of wife God wants you to be if your husband is the sort of man God wants him to be.

 

However, if you are not the sort of wife God wants you to be, you cannot blame your husband for this. You are completely responsible for your own actions in being the sort of wife God wants you to be. Your husband is not responsible for this. He cannot force you to be the sort of wife God wants you to be.

 

I Peter 3:1-61 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives. 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

 

In verse 1 we see that –

            1.   Wives must be in subjection to their own husbands

 

This is God’s will for all saved women.

 

In verse 1 likewise points back to I Peter 2:13 where Peter admonished his readers to submit themselves to every ordinance of man (i.e. to every human authority) for the Lord’s sake and also to I Peter 2:18 where Peter admonished the household slaves to be subject to their own masters. It is used in the sense of so, in the same way, or similarly.

 

Ye wives specifically addresses this command to the group of saved women who are married. It is not limited to the group of saved wives who have unsaved husbands. It is referring to all saved wives as a class or group rather than as individuals; yet, what is good for the group as a whole, is good for each member of that group.

 

Be in subjection to represents the same word which was translated submit yourselves to in 2:13, be subject to in 2:18, and being in subjection unto in 3:5. It means obey.

 

Even though obey in 3:6 is a different term, Sarah’s obedience to Abraham is cited as an example of a holy woman of old time who was subject unto her own husband. The very fact that Peter instructs saved wives to be submissive to their own husbands suggests that at least some of them may not have been as submissive as they needed to be. The tense of be in subjection to indicates that the wife’s subjection is to be a continuing thing, a matter of habit. Furthermore, this subjection of herself to her husband is not a matter of choice on her part. It is a commandment. As a Christian, she is obligated to obey her husband. Also, this obedience is to be rendered to the husband whether he is saved or not. In fact, it may just happen that the individual wife’s willing obedience to her unsaved husband will be the very thing God uses to open his eyes to the gospel message. How much more impressive this individual wife’s living testimony will become to her unbelieving husband when all saved women as a whole are also seen to be submissive to their own husbands.

 

One must realize, however, that this command is intended for normal experiences. If the husband should ever command his wife to disobey the Lord in any way, she must always obey the Lord as an authority higher than her husband. This principle was laid down in Acts 4:18-20 when the apostles, after having been commanded not to speak at all nor to teach in the name of Jesus, replied that they could not but speak the things that they had seen and heard.

 

The purpose for which the Christian wives are to be in subjection to their own husbands is to win the lost husbands to the Lord. That is in order that or for the purpose that.

 

If any obey not the word means if any are not saved. It is a simple condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. Therefore, if is to be understood in the sense of since some do not obey the word, inasmuch as some do not obey the word, or assuming that some do not obey the word.

 

The word is the gospel message. Now, the very fact that Peter mentioned that wives should seek to win their husbands to the Lord by their behavior, rather than by their nagging, indicates that in their zeal some wives may have been going about witnessing to their lost husbands in the wrong way and, therefore, were not achieving the desired result.

 

Any is plural. There may have been many husbands whose wives had been saved. Some of these husbands may also have been saved, but some had not yet been saved.

 

To obey the word is to obey the gospel message, and to obey the gospel message is to believe it. To disobey it is to disbelieve it. It frequently happens that, after a couple is married, the wife gets saved. She may then find herself desiring to live for the Lord but having a husband who has no interest in the things of the Lord. In her zeal to see her husband saved, she speaks to him often; but contrary to her wishes, she finds her husband resentful of her newfound love for the Lord. Peter is recommending that she win him to the Lord by her actions rather than by her words. If she is the sort of wife she ought to be, her husband will hopefully see the change in her life and come to realize that what brought it to pass was her acceptance of Christ as her Savior. Hopefully, this will also lead him to accept Christ as his personal Savior.

 

The first use of the word refers to the gospel message. The second use of the word refers to her talk and should be understood in the sense of without a word. The does not appear before the second use of word in the Greek text. What will convince the husband is the life of the wife rather than her talk. That this second usage of the word does not mean the gospel message is clear, not only from the fact that the does not appear before word in the Greek text, but also from the fact that no one can be saved apart from believing the gospel message. Somehow each unsaved husband must hear and understand the gospel message in order to be saved, but his own wife does not need to keep constantly harping on it. By her not nagging him continuously, she can be expected to be given an opportunity to tell him how to be saved and have him listen. Otherwise, he can be expected to tune her out. It’s like being around a barking dog. Eventually you don’t pay any attention to it.

 

Be won by the conversation of the wives indicates that a husband will be won by his wife’s godly living rather than by her incessant nagging. It is not necessarily the conversation of only his own wife but also the conversation of the entire group of other Christian wives as well.

 

Be won is be gained.

 

Conversation is not limited to one’s talk. It is understood as one’s manner of life or behavior. Her changed behavior will be more convincing than her talk because it will show her husband that it has really worked in her life and will work in his life as well. Also, when an individual husband sees this difference in behavior in all the Christian wives as a whole, he will hopefully be even more convinced that there is something to this Christianity after all.

 

In verse 2 we see that –

            2.   Wives must have a chaste conversation coupled with fear

 

This is also God’s will for all saved women.

 

Verse 2 says –

I Peter 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

 

While they behold indicates that the unsaved husbands as a group are observing the behavior of all the saved wives as a group. It may be understood in the sense of after they behold or in the sense of because they have beheld. In either case, their beholding the pure lifestyle of all the saved wives may have to take place before the husband will be won to the Lord.

 

Your is plural and refers to the class of saved wives as a whole. It is not limited to those saved wives whose husbands are unsaved. Thus, an unsaved husband may not only observe the excellent behavior of his own wife, but from a distance he may also observe the excellent behavior of other Christian women as well.

 

Chaste is pure or holy.

 

Conversation is repeated from verse 1 and means manner of life or behavior as it did there.

 

Coupled with fear is simply with fear and indicates that the wife’s pure manner of life is based on her holy fear of God or on her reverential awe of God. Her pure manner of life lived out of her reverential respect for God will hopefully serve to influence her husband to accept Christ as his own personal Savior. When coupled with the fact that the group of Christian ladies as a whole also has a pure manner of life lived out of their reverential respect for God, this will show a man that this is the norm for Christianity. Hopefully, these unsaved husbands will then be saved.

 

In verses 3-6, we see that –

            3.   Wives must have a meek and quiet spirit

 

This is also God’s will for all saved women.

 

I Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel.

 

Verses 3 and 4 go together as one commandment. Verse 3 gives the negative side; whereas, verse 4 gives the positive side. Although many women decorate themselves externally, the beauty of the Christian lady is to be internal rather than merely external, especially in terms of worldly fashion. Her adornment should reflect her Christian life rather than reflecting the life of an unsaved woman. Perhaps, she may be tempted to win her husband to the Lord by dressing in a way which would appeal to his sensuality. Although this may appeal to him, it may have the opposite of the desired effect and negate whatever testimony she had.

 

Whose refers to the group of saved wives and is not limited to those with unsaved husbands.

 

Adorning refers to their external appearance.

 

Let it not be is a negative prohibition forbidding the continuation of an action already going on. These ladies as a group were already adorning themselves externally rather than internally, and they were in need of making a change in this area of their lives. Although some of the ladies may have been doing as they should, Peter is concerned that the group of saved ladies as a whole was not. Otherwise, there would have been no necessity for his writing this.

 

Outward adorning is that adorning which is external. Today one would think of things such as hair style, jewelry and other accessories, make-up, and clothing. Peter mentions three: plaiting the hair, wearing of gold, and putting on of apparel.

 

Plaiting the hair is braiding the hair. Lavish hair styles were common in the Roman empire where the hair would be piled up high on a woman’s head and interwoven with expensive gold jewelry.

 

Wearing of gold is the wearing of gold ornaments or of gold jewelry.

 

The putting on of apparel is the wearing of clothing. That Peter did not mean it to be sin for the woman ever to braid her hair or ever to wear any gold jewelry is clear from the emphasis on the contrast in the next verse as well as from the fact that it is certainly not sin for the woman to wear clothing. In fact she would be sinning if she did not wear clothing. Peter’s point is that she should not be dressing lavishly as if her beauty were entirely external. Instead, as the next verse will show, her real beauty as a believer is internal rather than external.

 

I Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

 

Rather than adorning themselves with external beauty aids, the Christian ladies are commanded, Let it be the hidden man of the heart.

 

The idea of let it be is carried over from verse 3. It is a commandment rather than a suggestion, and its present tense indicates that this is to be a continuous, ongoing, habitual matter.

 

Man is generic. It is the hidden person of the heart.

 

Hidden implies secret. The hidden man of the heart is what the lady is like deep down inside. Rather than external beauty, the Christian lady should be far more concerned with what is deep down inside the innermost recesses of her heart than she is with her external beauty.

 

In that which is not corruptible is with that which is not corruptible. She should be adorned with something which is not subject to decay or death, with something that is imperishable, incorruptible, or immortal rather than with things which will perish, such as a lavish hairdo, jewelry, or an expensive wardrobe.

 

Lest there be any doubt regarding what imperishable inner beauty should be found in her heart, Peter specifies it as of a meek and quiet spirit.

 

As is indicated by the italics, even the ornament has been supplied by the translators.

 

Meek means gentle, humble, considerate, or unassuming. It pictures an individual who is not concerned with self.

 

Quiet suggests that the wife is not to be loud, boisterous, argumentative, or belligerent.

 

Spirit is used in the sense of disposition. This meek and quiet disposition is the inner beauty of the Christian lady.

 

It is described by the phrase which is in the sight of God of great price.

 

Which refers to spirit, particularly to a meek and quiet one; and the tense of is indicates that this is a timeless truth.

 

In the sight of God implies before God, in the presence of God, in the opinion of God, or in the judgment of God. Of course, God’s judgment is the only judgment which really matters.

 

Of great price means expensive or costly and suggests the idea of value. Only God’s estimation really matters, and in His estimation the value of a meek and quiet disposition far exceeds the value of plaiting the hair, of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel. Hopefully, it will also be of more value in the unsaved husband’s estimation and will influence him to be saved.

 

I Peter 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.

 

In verse 5 Peter states that holy women in Old Testament times adorned themselves with a meek and quiet spirit while being in subjection to their own husbands. In verse 6 Peter cites Sarah as a particular example to follow.

 

For introduces an explanation of what Peter has stated in verses 3 and 4.

 

After this manner is in this manner, thus, or so. The adornment of these holy women of old had this imperishable quality of a meek and quiet disposition about which Peter has written in verse 4.

 

In the old time is at some time or other (of the past), once, or formerly. By specifying Sarah as an example, the context suggests that in the old time refers to Old Testament times.

 

The holy women refers to the class of holy women as a whole. Thus, the reference is to the saved women of the Old Testament.

 

Trusted in is hoped on. Whereas in present-day English something one hopes for may or may not happen, in the New Testament our hope in Christ is certain of fulfillment. It is an expectation which can be counted on.

 

God was the object of their hope.

 

The holy women . . . adorned themselves means that this was a continuous, habitual thing they did in past time. This was not something which happened only once; it was their normal custom.

 

Being in subjection is a term which was also found in 2:13, 2:18, and 3:1. It means subjecting themselves, being subjected, being subordinated, or obeying. It implies that their subjection was voluntary.

 

Unto their own husbands indicates the ones to whom these wives were voluntarily obedient. Each wife was obedient to her own husband.

 

I Peter 3:6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

 

In verse 6 Sarah is cited as a specific example of these holy women of old who were submissive to their own husbands.

 

Even as is as or just as.

 

Obeyed is a different word from the one translated be in subjection unto in verse 5, though the meaning is the same: obeyed, followed, or were subject to.

 

Sarah obeyed her husband Abraham, calling him lord.

 

Lord, when applied to Abraham, implies sir and indicates submission and respect. It is also placed in a position of emphasis.

 

Calling him lord is addressing him as lord or designating him as lord, and its tense indicates customary or habitual action. Sarah showed her respect for her husband by regularly addressing him as sir.

 

Whose refers to Sarah.

 

Daughters is literally children; but, inasmuch as ye refers to the wives of verse 1, female children are obviously what Peter intended. It is the saved wives who are referred to as daughters of Sarah, but what does it mean to be Sarah’s daughters? Does it mean to be a saved woman? Does it mean to be like Sarah, i.e. to be a submissive wife who is respectful toward her husband as Sarah was? Are all saved women Sarah’s daughters at all times following their salvation, or are there times when all saved women might not be Sarah’s daughters, or are some saved women not Sarah’s daughters at all?

 

In view of the fact that the tense of are suggests the meaning become and implies a change in condition, it seems best to understand it as referring to submissive wives who are respectful toward their own husbands. They have the characteristics of Sarah.

 

As long as ye do well and are (not) afraid are to be understood as if you do well and if you are (not) afraid, as when (or while) you do well and when (or while) you are (not) afraid, or as by doing well and by not being afraid.

 

Similarly, as long as in English may imply as long a time as or on the condition that. On the other hand, these statements may both be used to show the means by which these saved women become Sarah’s daughters in the sense that they become Sarah’s daughters by doing well and by (not) being afraid.

 

Ye do well is you (plural) do what is right.

 

And are not afraid with any amazement is and do not fear any terror (or intimidation). These women are Sarah’s daughters as long as they do not fear any intimidation. It means that they are Sarah’s daughters as long as their husbands do not have to intimidate them into submission. Their submission to their husbands must be voluntary; if it is not, their husbands may determine to try to force them into submission by some act of intimidation. This would not be pleasant for them or for their husbands, and it would not serve as an encouragement for a husband to place his trust in Christ. It would instead appear to him that Christianity had done nothing for his wife and, therefore, that he need not bother with it.

 

But a wife may say, Well this is not the way I am! Yes, but you don’t have to tell us that. We already know it. It is apparent. What you need to do is ask God to help you to be the sort of wife He wants you to be.

 

But a husband may say, My wife is not like this. What am I supposed to do? Remember that no wife is perfect. Forget about your wife’s not being what she is supposed to be, and concentrate on being the man God wants you to be.

Finally, we see –

  II.     THE RELATIONSHIP OF A HUSBAND TO HIS WIFE – 3:7

 

Before I begin this section, let me say that God’s will for the husband is clear whether his wife is what God wants her to be or not. Regardless of what your wife is like, your responsibility as a husband before God is still the same. Of course, it makes it a whole lot easier for you to be the sort of husband God wants you to be if your wife is the sort of woman God wants her to be.

 

However, if I am not the husband God wants me to be, I cannot blame my wife for this. I am completely responsible for being the sort of husband God wants me to be. My wife is not responsible for this. She cannot force me to be the sort of husband God wants me to be.

 

I Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

 

In verse 7 Peter turns from addressing the wives as a group and addresses the husbands as a group.

 

Husbands must –

            1.   Dwell with them according to knowledge

 

This is God’s will for all saved men.

 

Likewise was also used in 3:1. It means in the same way, similarly, or so.

 

Ye husbands addresses the husbands as a group.

 

Dwell with them is a command which means be living with them, and its tense indicates a continuing relationship.

 

Them refers to the wives as a group. This is a general truth. The husbands as a whole are to be dwelling with the wives as whole.

 

Of course, each husband is to be living with his own wife; but it is to be according to knowledge or with reference to knowledge. This means that the husbands should be living with the wives with certain knowledge, but Peter does not specify what this knowledge is. Is it Christian knowledge where he knows that he is to be the spiritual leader in the home, where he is also to be well-acquainted with the Scriptures and with doctrine? Is it knowing what a woman is like in her emotional and physical makeup? Since Peter does not say, was any limitation intended to be understood by the readers, or was no limitation intended; and is all knowledge in general what Peter intended? Although we cannot be absolutely certain, it seems that Peter is saying that a husband should be a godly man with an understanding of what a woman is like and with an understanding of the nature of marriage.

 

Husbands must also –

            2.   Give honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel

 

This is also God’s will for all saved men.

 

Giving honor unto the wife means assigning, showing, or paying honor to his own wife. Its tense indicates a continuing action on the part of the husband. He is always to be giving honor unto his wife, and the meaning of giving implies that this is done deliberately. Honor suggests that the husband has evaluated his wife’s worth and considers her worthy of his honor, reverence, or respect. She is not just a slave or just an object for his pleasure. Some men seem to give more honor unto other women than they do unto their own wives, and this is not good.

 

As unto the weaker vessel gives the first of two reasons the husbands should give honor unto their wives. It is that she is the weaker vessel.

 

Vessel is understood in the sense of instrument. The fact that Peter referred to the wife as the weaker vessel indicates that the husband is also a vessel and implies that he is the stronger of the two vessels. In what way is the wife the weaker vessel? In general women are weaker physically than men. In general women are more emotional, whereas men are more logical. Is she the weaker vessel spiritually? Is the man the stronger vessel as the spiritual leader of his home? He should be the spiritual leader in his home. Unfortunately, many men are not the spiritual leaders in their homes.

 

And as being heirs together of the grace of life indicates a second reason the husband should be giving honor unto his wife. It is because he and his wife are heirs together of the grace of life.

 

Being heirs together is inheriting together. Saved husbands and wives are fellow-heirs or joint-heirs of the grace of life.

 

Grace is a gift; and the grace of life is the gift which is life, i.e. the grace of life is the gift which is eternal life. A husband and a wife who are both saved are fellow-heirs of eternal life. For this reason a husband should treat his wife with respect.

 

In the phrase that your prayers be not hindered, who is meant by your? Is it the men who are addressed at the beginning of the verse whose prayers will be hindered, or is it the individual husband’s and wife’s prayers that will be hindered? Peter’s language permits either understanding of this phrase. Although a poor relationship between a husband and his wife will certainly have an adverse effect on their prayers, it must be remembered that the verse is addressed to the husbands; and your seems best understood as referring to ye husbands from the beginning of this verse.

 

Hindered is used in the sense of thwarted. Its tense along with the negative indicates that this condition is already going on and should be stopped. Apparently, the husbands as a group were not giving honor unto their wives as they should have been, and their prayers were consequently being hindered. If the husbands in general would start giving respect unto their wives as they should be doing, their prayers will then stop being hindered by their own actions.

 

But a husband may say, Well this is not the way I am! Yes, but you don’t have to tell us that. We already know it. It is apparent. What you need to do is ask God to help you to be the sort of husband He wants you to be.

 

But a wife may say, My husband is not like this. What am I supposed to do? Remember that no husband is perfect. Forget about your husband’s not being what he is supposed to be, and concentrate on being the lady God wants you to be.

CONCLUSION:

 

We have seen that God’s will for saved wives is that they all be in subjection to their own husbands, that they all have a pure lifestyle before God, and that they all have a meek and quiet disposition.

 

Ladies, ask God to help you be the sort of lady He wants you to be.

 

We have also seen that God’s will for saved men is that each one lives with his wife with understanding and that each one values his wife highly and treats her as precious as the weaker vessel in the marriage.

 

Men, ask God to help you be the sort of man He wants you to be.