The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Peter

1 2 3 4 5

1 Peter 3

1Pe 3:1

Vv 1-6: Rules for Christian wives: Rules for wives occur in other locations in the NT (Eph 5:22; Col 3:18; 1Ti 2:9-15; Tit 2:4-5). The order for family life in NT times was still clearly patriarchal. Yet in religious matters women are co-heirs with men (v 7) when both come to faith. See Lesson, Sisters, the role of.

"A woman 'does the atonement' with her husband in submitting herself to him, as he must do to his employer (1Pe 2:18-20). This is a matter of the individual heart, of the individual mind. It cannot be bullied into existence. No man with any wisdom at all will stand over his wife and demand her subjection. Yet, many do this. God did not do this with Christ. His Son willingly yielded. No sister will fail to see the need to obey these words. They do not rely upon the quality or spirituality of the man, but are done in obedience to God, for God. The man benefits from her example. No men 'deserve' their wives' submission. She yields willingly, beholding her Lord's yielding in his giving of His life for her sake (1Pe 2:21-25). To strengthen his point, Peter speaks of Sarah, who called the man who uprooted her from the security of home, who endangered her life and honour twice, 'Lord' in spite of all his mistakes with her. Sarah 'did the atonement'; it wasn't an intellectual puzzle for her but a way of life. Sarah's daughters are in our ecclesias, 'doing the atonement' every time they struggle past the agonizing fraternal battles that erupt to bring a gentle message of hope and encouragement.

"Peter's words (1Pe 3:1-3), rightly, are taken to refer to a husband who is 'not in the Truth', an unbaptized man. But we can draw another exhortational conclusion. Many a wife in the Truth has watched a brother-husband walk down that dark wide road that leads away from God. In desperation many sisters have fallen prey to anxiety, to blinding fear that results in a kind of spiritual paralysis. Perhaps Sarah did not fear. Perhaps she believed God was with her, when Abraham did not. In the days of Abraham's failure Sarah may have been the one who was spiritually anchored. Today, a sister who sees her husband slipping can do no better than to remain constant and faithful to him and to the Truth, to God and to God's ecclesia. She can, if possible, continue to do the readings, attend the meeting, even if he will not, and strive to 'be in subjection' to him. It could turn him.

"Any man with even a remnant of a conscience will be moved to some action in the face of this kind of example. She will have saved his life by enacting the love of Calvary in her home. Some situations, it is true, cannot be recovered. Yet, if things do not work out, this sister who tries to 'do the atonement' will have pleased God, and have placed her feet in her Lord's footprints. And soon she will be in the kingdom" (DevRam).

IN THE SAME WAY: Ref back to the submission exemplified by Christ in 1Pe 2:18-25.

BE SUBMISSIVE: Gr "hupotasso": lit to be under military rule or order (used in 1Pe 2:13,18; 3:1,5,22; 5:5).

WON OVER: Gr "kerdaino" = gained. Used of conversion in Mat 18:15; 1Co 9:19-22.

WITHOUT WORDS: Or "without a word" (RSV), ie with no nagging or complaining.

BEHAVIOR: "Anastrophe" (sw 1Pe 1:15).

1Pe 3:3

ADORNMENT: Gr "kosmos" = outward arrangement: cp 1Ti 2:9. Adornments described in Est 2:9,13,15; Psa 45; Rev 19:6,7; Exo 28.

WEARING: Gr "perithesis": a wrapping around. That is, 'Don't be COVERED with...' Not an absolute prohibition of jewelry, but a warning against excessive use: cp Isa 3:18-24; Jer 2:32; 4:30.

See Lesson, Dress, makeup, jewelry. "Sisters are commanded to dress modestly and to eschew showy and costly apparel. They should be careful not to be led away by the example of the women of the world, who mostly aim at what the Bible forbids. Young sisters are esp prone to temptation in this direction, but a wise mother, whom many of them are privileged to possess, will check their natural weaknesses, and show unto them a more excellent way. The great thing to remember is that fine clothes do not commend us to Christ (nor do they to the bre and sisters who are of a Christ-like mind). He has told us what he looks for in his sisters -- the inward adornment of 'a meek and quiet spirit' and 'good works'. Time spent in attending to this kind of adornment is time well spent, and will procure for us beauty everlasting in the day of Christ's coming" (MF Grant).

1Pe 3:4

// 1Sa 16:7: "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

YOUR INNER SELF: "The hidden man of the heart" (AV), adorned inwardly with Christ (Eph 3:17; 5:24; Rom 12:2 -- this is true attractiveness.

UNFADING: Gr "aphthartos" = undecaying: sw used of our inheritance (1Pe 1:4), the seed or word of God (1Pe 1:23), and a woman's spiritual beauty (here).

A GENTLE AND QUIET SPIRIT: A way of life, not weak, but humble: see 1Pe 5:5; Isa 66:2; 2Co 12:18; Gal 5:16.

GENTLE: See Lesson, Gentleness.

WHICH IS OF GREAT WORTH IN GOD'S SIGHT: An attitude God highly values. Today, when the world's values governed by materialism, self-assertion, and sex obsession are seeping into the ecclesia, Peter's words need to be taken seriously.

"Neither Christ or his brethren have any of that 'beauty' which the vulgar eye admires, not any of that external glory which ambition courts; and we look forward to the time when man's renovated taste will recognize what true beauty is, for the regenerated heart will see that it is not looks, nor outward appearance, but thoughts, desires and deeds, that are beautiful in the sight of God. It is moral beauty that is real beauty. External and material beauty is only a transient type, an evanescent shadow of that which is real and enduring forever; therefore to us, Christ will even in his humiliation be altogether lovely, and our All in All. True beauty is all from within and not from without, for under a very fine form there may lurk a very bad heart. It is the inner work that is beautiful. It is the light, radiance and warmth of the inner man shining from the countenance that constitutes true beauty. May the Lord grant us the beauty of holiness and the adorning of a meek and quiet spirit" (Alice Hopkins, 'Lessons from Nature').

1Pe 3:5

THE HOLY WOMEN OF THE PAST... USED TO MAKE THEMSELVES BEAUTIFUL: The major characterization of these women who were "holy" because they were set apart to God was their hope in God. They trusted the promises of God and longed for the messianic salvation (1Pe 1:3,13; 3:15; Heb 11:13). In so doing, they were habitually adorning ('kosmeo': cp v 3) themselves with an inner beauty.

SUBMISSIVE: Gr "hupotasso": lit to be under military rule or order (used in 1Pe 2:13,18; 3:1,5,22; 5:5)

1Pe 3:6

SARAH, WHO OBEYED ABRAHAM AND CALLED HIM HER MASTER: The great model of womanly submission is Sarah, whose respect and obedience to Abraham extended to her speech -- she "called him her master." Such terminology was not uncommon in the ancient world (Gen 18:12,15 -- at the time when Isaac's birth was prophesied). Peter does not hesitate to apply Sarah's example to his readers: "You are her daughters if you do what is right." The norm for wifely conduct should be submission to God and devotion to the development of Christian character. Moreover, wives are "not [to] give way to fear"; their submissive trust in the living God will keep them from undue apprehension.

YOU ARE HER DAUGHTERS: "Daughters of Sarah" // "sons of Abraham", as in Joh 8:39; Rom 4:16-24; 9:8; Gal 3:29; 4:23; etc.

1Pe 3:7

"What man can read these words without cringing? Men 'do the atonement' by dwelling with their wives according to knowledge. Perhaps this could mean that all our Biblical 'knowledge' and understanding is of no value if it is not demonstrated where we dwell, in our homes, in every interaction we have with our wives. The atonement is acted out in married life. We dwell with them and give HONOUR [respect: NIV] to them. This word is used in 1Pe 2:17 in connection with a man's responsibility to all men and to the king. It means 'to value with the highest degree of respect, to value as precious, to revere and lift in one's esteem'. This is how we must treat our wives; this is how we must treat the women around us and our sisters in the ecclesia. How strikingly out of step this principle is with the natural ways of flesh. A man cannot demand submission and honour his wife at the same time. He is not commanded to demand submission of her; this is her responsibility to look after. He is commanded to esteem her highly, to honour her as he would honour the king, all men, and Christ ('unto you which believe he -- Christ -- is PRECIOUS (sw translated 'honour'): 1Pe 2:7). My wife is Christ to me. I do not always treat 'Christ' and honour him as I ought to. Do you, brother?" (DevRam).

TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT: "Giving honour" (AV). The sw as used of the honor that should be given to Christ, and the "king" elsewhere!

THE WEAKER PARTNER: The woman is called the "weaker partner"; but this is not to be taken morally, spiritually, or intellectually. It simply means that the woman has less physical strength. The husband must recognize this difference and take it into account.

PARTNER: Gr "skeuos" = "vessel", or receptacle, ie for holding the gospel message (2Co 4:6,7). Also used metaphorically of believers in Rom 9:21-23; 1Th 4:4; 2Ti 2:20,21.

HEIRS WITH YOU: Women will have an equal share in the new age; and even now in the life of the new age, they experience the grace of God equally with men (Gal 3:28).

YOUR PRAYERS: "Your" is plural: husbands AND wives.

"She is the weaker vessel, implying that we are both vessels (containers for faith, Christlikeness, godliness, and the gospel). And she is not, as some foolish brothers maintain, weaker in spiritual things. Oftentimes, sisters can be far stronger in Spiritual things than the brethren around them. It can only mean that she is not as physically robust as the man, and that he must not overload and overtask her, a thing we are prone to do as Christadelphian men. Do you expect your wife to care for the children unassisted, keep an immaculately clean home, and to be calm and even-tempered at all times? If so, what's wrong with you, brother? And lest you, in your arrogant stupidity, should ever imagine that Peter was hinting that she is less than you, he hammers the point home to the contrary by reminding you that we are 'heirs together', equals in our hope and in our value in God's sight. She is not inferior to you. Never treat her as if she were otherwise. Never treat a sister as if she is a second-class citizen in the ecclesia. Never treat a woman anywhere as if she is a 'thing'. The men of this world often view women as toys, pleasure playthings. We imagine ourselves better than those men, until we realize the degree to which chauvinism can indeed live on in our wicked, fleshly hearts. It can demonstrate itself in a callous disregard for the concerns or the suggestions sisters raise in our meetings, suggestions which are as valid and as useful as those offered by any brother. Sisters are our equals. Yes, we must guide and lead. We must teach in the mixed congregation. But we must honour them. They refrain from public teaching -- not because they are unable to -- but in obedience to Scripture. This differentiation in our roles will be removed in the kingdom entirely, will it not? This order of things is an interim arrangement, the acceptance of which honours God.

"But if we do not honour our wives (and our sisters), God will not listen to our prayers. We must be united with our wives in prayer. Many couples kneel together and pray at day's end after talking together about things which should be raised to the Almighty. Then the husband offers the prayer, a prayer of concerns, praise and request from them both. This requires unity, and a putting away of pride. Disunity and pride render our prayers invalid. And the brother bears responsibility for this, it seems. A brother 'does the atonement' at home, where charity must begin. This continues in the workplace and in the ecclesia, so that we, men and women together can fulfill Peter's guidance to 'sanctify, in your hearts, Christ as Lord...' (1Pe 3:15 RV)" (DevRam).

1Pe 3:8

"The five virtues have many illustrations in the life of Jesus and parallels in the other epistles. They are qualities every person united to Christ should manifest... On 'harmony', see Rom 12:16; Phi 1:27; 2:2; on 'be sympathetic', Rom 12:15-17; 1Co 12:26; on 'love as brothers', 1Th 4:9-10; for 'be compassionate', see Christ's example in Mat 11:29; and concerning 'humble', see Christ's example as set forth in Phi 2:6-8)" (EBC).

HARMONY: Lit "one mind", because it is the "mind of Christ" (Phi 2:5).

LOVE AS BROTHERS: "Philadelphos".

1Pe 3:9

1Pe 3:9.

DO NOT REPAY EVIL WITH EVIL OR INSULT WITH INSULT: Here Peter turns to Christ as the pattern for relating to a hostile pagan society. The natural response to hostility is retaliation. But Jesus in his teaching (Mat 5:44) and in his practice responded to hostility with grace, even under the most extreme provocation (Luk 23:34; 1Pe 2:21,22).

BUT WITH BLESSING: What does it mean to "bless" our enemies? "Bless" translates "eulogountes" , which lit means "to speak well [of someone]." The word occurs over four hundred times in the LXX, often in opposition to cursing. May ref to active prayer and intercession (ie, Act 7:60; 1Co 4:12). The great desire of Christians must not be revenge but for God to grant the gift of repentance to those who do not know him.

TO THIS YOU WERE CALLED: Believers are called to: liberty (Gal 5:13); blessing (1Pe 3:9); peace (1Co 7:15); and glory (2Pe 1:3).

Four "callings" in 1Pe: "out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1Pe 2:9); "to suffering for well-doing" (1Pe 2:20,21); "to render blessing for evil" (1Pe 3:9); "to his eternal glory" (1Pe 5:10).

1Pe 3:10

WHOEVER WOULD LOVE LIFE: ...And who wishes to inherit eternal life...

MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL...: As did Christ (1Pe 2:21-25), and in ct Peter at denial of Christ (Mat 26:69-74).

1Pe 3:11

TURN FROM EVIL: // Rom 12:21. "Hate evil we must. But we must hate it most in ourselves. Evil in ourselves can do two terrible things to us: it can rob us of the peace of God now, and it can banish us forever from His love and presence at the last great day of account" (GVG).

1Pe 3:12

See Lesson, Peter's use of Psa 34.

1Pe 3:13

"While suffering and unjust treatment have been in the background (1Pe 1:6,7; 2:12,15,19-25; 3:9), now they come to the fore. In the Greek, v 13 begins with 'and' (kai), which shows the connection with the preceding section. If Christians have the zeal for good that Psa 34 speaks of, who will do them harm? The 'harm' Peter alludes to must be understood in the light of Paul's rhetorical question, 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Rom 8:31) and his ref to Christians as being like 'sheep to be slaughtered' and yet being 'more than conquerors' (Rom 8:36-37)' " (EBC).

When men speak ill of you, live so that no one will believe them.

1Pe 3:14

YOU ARE BLESSED: Ref the Beatitudes, esp vv Mat 5:10-12: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Such a person realizes the purpose of patient endurance: to prepare one to receive the crown of life (Jam 1:12; 1Pe 1:7; Act 5:41; Rom 5:3).

V 14b and v 15a are a quotation of Isa 8:12,13.

1Pe 3:15

AV has "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." The TR has support for "theos" here, but many mss have "Christos". The passage is citing Isa 8:13: "The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy."

SET APART: "Sanctify", by constant remembrance and prayer.

"How am I to sanctify Jesus Christ? It is the same word used in the Lord's Prayer as 'hallowed.' We sanctify or hallow one who is holy already when we recognize the holiness and honor what we recognize. So the plain meaning of the commandment here is: 'Set Christ in your hearts on the pedestal and pinnacle that belongs to him, and then bow down before him with all reverence and submission. Be sure you give him all that is his due, and in the love of your hearts, as well as in the thoughts of your mind, recognize him for what he is -- the Lord. Many of us only see a part of the whole Christ. He is our Creator [true enough in the sense of the "New Creation" in Christ: GB] as well as our Redeemer, our Judge as well as our Savior. Forgetting that, some do not hallow him enough in their hearts as Lord. Embrace the whole Christ, and see to it that you do not dethrone him from his rightful place or take from him the glory due his name" (MacL).

TO GIVE AN ANSWER... FOR THE HOPE: One of the distinguishing marks of Christians is their possession of hope ("elpidos", cf 1Pe 1:3,21; Rom 4:18; Eph 2:12; Tit 2:13). Christian hope is so real and distinctive that non-Christians are puzzled about it and ask for a "reason" (logos , "account"). The type of questioning could be either official interrogations by the governmental authorities -- the word for "answer" (apologia) can relate to a formal court inquiry (Act 25:16; 26:2; 2Ti 4:16) -- or informal questioning.

GENTLENESS: Christians should respond with care. "Gentleness" (or "meekness") is the quality that trusts God to do the work of changing attitudes (2Ti 2:24-25; cf also Pro 15:1: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger"). See Lesson, Gentleness.

RESPECT: Gr "phobos" = fear. Here, reverential awe of God (1Pe 1:17; 2:17; 3:2).

1Pe 3:16

CLEAR CONSCIENCE: Relates to the liberty and boldness that come from living before God in purity (Act 24:16; 1Ti 1:19). So in the case in which non-Christians slander believers the statement of the truth may shame them into silence (Luk 13:17).

SLANDER: Gr "epereazontes": used by classical writers of false accusations. Also occurs Luk 6:28. What was done to Christ will be done to his followers (Mat 10:24,25; Joh 15:20).

1Pe 3:18

FOR CHRIST DIED FOR SINS ONCE FOR ALL: Stresses the definitive and final work of Jesus in salvation (Rom 6:10).

FOR SINS: A phrase describing the reason for his death (Rom 4:25; 1Co 15:3; Gal 1:4; Heb 10:12), to declare the righteousness of God (Rom 3:23-26).

THE RIGHTEOUS FOR THE UNRIGHTEOUS: Jesus as the Righteous Servant of Isa 53 (Acts 3:13-16; cp Act 7:52), who suffers for the sinners (Isa 53:5,6,11-12).

TO BRING YOU TO GOD: For the verb "bring" (prosagage), see Luk 9:41; Act 16:20. The noun form (prosagoge ) is used by Paul of Christ's work of opening the way to God (Rom 5:2). Christ as the mediator: Eph 2:14-18; Heb 4:15,16.

MADE ALIVE BY THE SPIRIT: Given new life, eternal life, in a body of Spirit: Rom 6:4; 8:11.

1Pe 3:19

THROUGH WHOM: It was the "spirit of Christ" in the prophets -- ie, the teachings about the coming Messiah -- that led them to proclaim his coming, and his victory over sin and death. Cp the preaching of Noah: 2Pe 2:5; Heb 11:7; Gen 6:3.

SPIRITS IN PRISON: Man's "spirit" (mind, etc -- Mar 2:8; Luk 1:47,80; 2Co 7:1) is imprisoned (cp 1Ti 4:1; 1Jo 4:1-3), not just his body! Or, alternatively, "to those who were alive (then), but are now long dead [cp 1Pe 4:6] -- ie, in the prison of death" (Isa 42:6,7; 49:9; 61:1; 9:2; Psa 68:18; Zec 9:11,12). See Lesson, Enoch and the spirits in prison.

1Pe 3:20

WHO DISOBEYED LONG AGO: That is, in the days of Noah (Gen 6:3; Mat 24:37).

EIGHT: The number of circumcision (Luk 1:59; Gen 17:12; 21:3,4; Lev 12:3). Circumcision: a cutting off of the flesh, a new birth, a new beginning. Cp Col 2:11; Rom 2:29; Phi 3:3.

SAVED THROUGH WATER: Notice: not just saved "from" water, but saved "through" water: the point of baptism!

1Pe 3:21

THAT NOW SAVES YOU: What saves us? Grace (Eph 2:8,9). Hope (Rom 8:24). Belief (Mar 16:15). Baptism (1Pe 3:21). Gospel, and its memory (1Co 15:1,2). Blood of Christ (1Jo 1:7). Faith (Rom 5:1). Works (Jam 2:24). Ourselves (Act 2:40). Endurance (Mat 10:22). What saved the "drowning man"? The rock, the rope, another man, himself...or all of them?

NOT THE REMOVAL OF DIRT FROM THE BODY: Baptism is not for physical cleansing, but for the cleansing of the heart and mind and conscience and spirit!

PLEDGE: Not "answer", as KJV.

1Pe 3:22


WITH ANGELS, AUTHORITIES AND POWERS IN SUBMISSION TO HIM: Therefore the believer need not fear harm from any human authorities or rulers!

IN SUBMISSION: Gr "hupotasso": lit to be under military rule or order (used in 1Pe 2:13,18; 3:1,5,22; 5:5).

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