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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
1 Peter 3

 

 

Verses 1-22


The Blessedness of Christ's People, Though They Should Suffer Like Christ

B (iii). 1 Peter 3:1-6. Another divinely created ordinance of man is marriage. One of the purposes of Christianity was to teach chivalry towards women: this is part of the 'grace' which men can exercise. But to this must correspond the modesty and graciousness of women. The Israelites had already been taught that; and women, when they enter the Christian society, become daughters of Abraham, heirs both of the honour and of the womanliness of the women of the Jewish Church. A quiet and holy married life tends, like all other parts of Christian life, to the salvation of the heathen.

With this and the next paragraph cp. Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18.

1. Likewise] cp. 1 Peter 3:7, the whole household is to be one family; the subjection of servants to masters has a like excellence with the subjection of wives to husbands. Without the word] 'Perhaps the Spirit of Christ pours itself abroad more widely than our interpretations allow' (Erasmus).

4. The hidden man of the heart] cp. Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16.

In that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit] RV 'in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit.'

5. Trusted] RV 'hoped.' Hope, the Messianic spirit, was characteristic of the OT. saints.

6. Lord] RV 'lord': cp. Genesis 18:12.

Ye are] RV 'ye now are'; RM 'ye are become.' They became Abraham's daughters when they became Christians, but, if they are to continue such, perseverance is required, which the coming persecution will make difficult: cp. 2 Peter 1:5. Afraid with any amazement] RV 'put in fear by any terror': cp. Proverbs 3:25.

B (iv). 1 Peter 3:7. Husbands, in like manner, must be chivalrous and chaste. Nature itself teaches all men that, but Christians have a deeper insight into the grace and dignity of life, and an eternal hope in their marriage.

7. The weaker vessel] cp. 2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:4. It would appear from 2Esther 4:11; Esther 4 :2 Es 7:88 RV, that the human body is meant by 'the vessel.' The grace of life] is the loveliness, partaking of the divine, which God adds to His servants' life. That your prayers be not hindered] RV 'to the end that,' etc. Prayer is access to God, which is the aim of all Christian life. All faults in married life hinder it: cp. 1 Corinthians 7:5; Colossians 3:19.

B (v). 1 Peter 3:8-12. The general behaviour of the whole body of Christians is summed up in the love which makes them consider others more than themselves, hold fast together in their brotherhood, and be patient towards those without. By peace-making they inherit the blessing which was promised to them in the Psalm.

With this paragraph cp. Romans 12:14-21 and James 3.

8. Having compassion one of another] RV 'compassionate'; EM 'Gr. sympathetic': cp. Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 10:34, Tenderness towards even the feelings of others is implied.

10-12. Quoted from Psalms 34, in Psalms 34:8 of which blessing is promised to the man that trusts in God. The whole Psalm promises salvation in persecution, and describes just the situation in which St. Peter's faith sees his readers placed—in danger, but with the angel of the Lord encamping round about them, and all things working out a blessing for them if they trust in Him.

11. Eschew] RV 'turn away from.' Ensue] RV 'pursue.'

12. Over.. against] RV 'upon.. upon.' God's aspect is the same to each, it is man who turns 'grace' into 'wrath': cp. Exodus 14:24.

C (i) 1 Peter 3:13-22;, deals chiefly with faith, (ii) 1 Peter 4:1-6 with conduct. It brings out deeper and deeper doctrine as it proceeds about the purpose and meaning of suffering. 'Who will harm you if you are zealous for the good? Even if you should suffer for the righteous cause you would be blessed. Take the ancient encouragement of Israel to yourselves. Enter into its fullest meaning by using the interpretation of the old words which Christ's life has given, and sanctify Him in your hearts, though in visible form you cannot see Him, as the Lord of whom the Psalmist spoke. Be ready to give answer to any one that asks you about this hope which is in you, and which seems so strange to him; but answer meekly, and remember that though you need not fear him, you do fear God. Have therefore a good conscience. Your own hope will die away if you have not that, but with it you will find that the very slanders you suffer from will turn out to be the means of doing good to your enemies. Even as Christ did, for He suffered, the just for the unjust, that He might thus bring us who were among the unjust to God. His sufferings were the means of His doing so. Through suffering death in His flesh He entered into a wider life in His spirit, and went a journey that none could go in the flesh, and as a spirit preached to spirits. For us another way of salvation is appointed. The time when those spirits lived on earth prefigured the times of Christ. As then God prepared a place of safety from destruction, by directing Noah to build an ark into which eight persons were brought into safety through the dangerous waters of the flood, so now we have the fellowship of Christ into which we are brought by baptism, that is, through the resurrection of Christ which was the outcome of His painful death. Baptism, itself a painful step for the convert in a heathen land to take, is indeed our sharing in Christ's death and resurrection; not so, however, if we look upon it as a mere form, but truly so, if we receive it with a good conscience, which, as we submit to the symbolic washing, appeals to God to accept it through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has completed His redeeming work by ascending into heaven in the perfection of His human and divine nature, and sits supreme, as the Psalmist prophesied, at the right hand of God.'

14. If ye suffer] RV 'if ye should suffer.' The persecution has not yet begun: cp. 1 Peter 3:17.

15. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts] RV 'sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord': cp. Isaiah 8:12.

17. If the will of God be so] RV 'if the will of God should so will'—a rugged but emphatic expression.

18. Once] i.e. once for all: cp. Hebrews 9:26, Hebrews 9:28. That he might bring us to God] cp. Romans 5:2. Access to God was the end to which all the Levitical sacrifices were directed, but till Christ offered Himself this end was never attained; as the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches. Quickened] i.e. made to live. By the Spirit] RV 'in the spirit.' This fuller life came to Christ through, or in the sphere of, His human spirit: cp. 1 Peter 4:6; Luke 23:46.

19. By which] RV 'in which.' In prison] cp. Revelation 20:7, i.e. the place where such disembodied spirits were kept waiting for the end of the present order of things: see on 'heaven,'

14. This is the hell, or Sheol, of OT.: cp Psalms 16:10; Psalms 49:14; (RV) Isaiah 14:9. Our Lord refers to it, Luke 23:43, and in Luke 16:22., where the blessed dead are described as separated from the 'disobedient.'

20. Sometime] RV 'aforetime.' The whole passage clearly means that Christ, as a spirit, preached to certain spirits, who had been disobedient to the end of their earthly life. This preaching took place between His death and resurrection, and its purpose was that, by hearing the gospel, these men might have an opportunity of repentance. St. Peter does not say that a place of repentance is still left for men after death. That is neither affirmed nor denied in NT but this passage makes rather against than for such a hope; for the point is that these men did receive such an opportunity, because they had not heard the gospel in their earthly life. St. Peter considered that the Jews, unlike the men of Noah's time, had known something of Christ: cp. 1 Peter 1:10. It should, however, be noticed that 'once,' which in AV seems to limit the reference very strictly, is omitted in RV, and perhaps that time is specially mentioned because it affords a type of baptism.

Wherein few.. were saved by water] RM 'into which few.. were brought safely through water.'

21. The like figure, etc.] RV 'which also after a true likeness' (RM 'in the antitype') 'doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation,' (RM 'inquiry or appeal') 'of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection.' 'The like figure' = Gk. 'antitype.' The type is the seal, the antitype the impression. Here we think most of the impression as the purpose or reality of the seal, in Hebrews 9:24 of the seal as the origin of the impression. The interrogation (RV) of a good conscience may refer to the question asked of the convert before baptism: cp. Acts 8:37; (AV and EM), Hooker, V. lxiii. 3; but RM makes better sense—the appeal of the convert to God might be expressed in the gospel words, 'I believe, help thou mine unbelief: cp. 1 John 3:20. By (RV 'through') the resurrection should be taken with the whole v., not with 'the appeal' nor with 'doth save' alone: cp. Romans 6:4. Colossians 2:12. It corresponds to 'through water,' 1 Peter 3:20 in each case that which seemed to be destruction proved the means of safety.

22. On the right hand of God] from Psalms 110:1. The words that follow show that St. Peter has Ephesians 1:20. in his mind. Like St. Paul, he speaks in general terms of the heavenly powers, which the Jews of those days described with unwarrantable detail: cp. Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 2:18.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/1-peter-3.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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