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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
1 Peter 3

 

 

Introduction

Outline Of :

Silent Preaching:

The Important Adornment:

Obligations Of A Husband:

Introductory Comments:

This section continues what was started at , ‘In the same way’ (3:1). Just as Christians are to be in subjection to the civil authorities (2:13), servants in subjection to masters (2:18), wives are to be in subjection to their own husbands, even if that husband is an unbeliever. Some have wondered why the instruction here to wives is so much longer than the instruction to husbands (3:7). One thought is that when only one mate in a marriage became a Christian, the Christian woman with a non-Christian husband was often in a more difficult situation than the Christian husband with a non-Christian wife. Barclay notes: ‘if a wife became a Christian, while her husband did not, she had taken a step which in the ancient world was unprecedented…In every sphere of ancient civilization, women had no rights at all…It was the sign of a good woman that she must see as little, hear as little, and ask as little as possible. She had no kind of independent existence and no kind of mind of her own…The whole attitude of ancient civilization was that no woman could dare to take any decision for herself.’ (pp. 258-259) ‘Aristotle writes that among barbarians (non-Greeks) women and slaves held the same rank; and though among the Greeks her position was not quite so degraded, they considered her as holding only an intermediate position between free persons and slaves, mother of her children, but not worthy to educate them, qualified to receive orders, but never to give them.’ (Woods p. 86)

At this point I believe it is essential to note that neither the Old Testament or the New Testament views women as things, objects or slaves. Grand passages praise the worth of a woman (Proverbs 31:1-31), and places obligations upon husbands to love their wives (Deuteronomy 24:5; Ecclesiastes 9:9). It was pagan ideas that degraded the status of women. In like manner, pagan feminism has succeeded in placing a heavy burden upon women in our own culture. Now a woman must work two jobs (mother and career) in order to be viewed as being worth something by the pagan elements in our society.

In contrast the Bible greatly elevates the status of women. ‘But what was probably surprising to the original readers is that here in a seemingly traditional ethical section wives are addressed at all. In that society women were expected to follow the religion of their husbands; they might have their own cult on the side, but the family religion was that of the husband….he addresses them as independent moral agents whose decision to turn to Christ he supports and whose goal to win their husbands he encourages. This is quite a revolutionary attitude for that culture.’ (Davids pp. 115-116)

In this section we learn another truth: Being in subjection (everyone is in subjection to something-i.e. ), is a tremendous responsibility. It isn’t a degrading position, rather, to be in subjection from the right motives is quite an art, it is a role that only can be filled by those with great character. A tremendous amount of good and influence can be generated by someone who demonstrates godly submission.

Outline:

Duties Towards Our Brethren:

Blessing Instead Of Retaliation:

How To Love Life And See Good Days:

How To Handle Suffering:

The Example of Jesus:

The Significance Of Baptism:


Verse 1

1 Peter 3:1 ‘In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,’

‘In the same way’-‘equally’ (Thayer p. 445). In like manner to our subjection to pagan civil authorities (), or submission to unreasonable masters or employers (2:18). Notice how this elevates women. God doesn’t give a lower moral standard for women than He gives for men. Men are to remain in subjection, even in the most trying circumstances, and so are women. Peter doesn’t say, ‘Wives, you are off the hook, because we all know you are too weak to handle this situation.’ Peter doesn’t view women are morally weaker than men. And neither does he view them as so delicate that they faint at anything and everything. ‘Particularly, the subject of the previous verses had been obedient subjection, even if one is mistreated.’ (Oberst p. 144)

‘be submissive’-‘subject oneself, be subjected, subordinated, obey’ (Arndt p. 848). Notice that submission doesn’t count, unless it is voluntarily given. ‘Peter sees the self as involved, voluntarily or volitionally…Voluntary submission because of our commitment to Christ does not demean, debase, or degrade one; such action on our part---wherever it is appropriate-exalts our God…(1 Corinthians 11:3).’ (Oberst p. 144) POINTS TO NOTE: 1. Christianity doesn’t erase the obligation between wives and husbands. Religious feminists who claim that Christianity releases a woman from the obligation to obey her husband, must also concede that such logic would release a husband from the obligation to support his family (1 Timothy 5:8), or love his wife (Ephesians 5:22-33). 2. Society cannot change the above truth. ‘Society cannot change this. Political theories and practices do not change it. Philosophical principles do not change it. Social movements cannot set it aside.’ (Hamilton p. 123) 3. And always remember that subjection doesn’t inherently imply inferiority. Husband and wife are both equal before God (Galatians 3:28). Grudem writes, ‘submission to a husband’s authority within a healthy marriage might not often involve obeying commands…for a husband may rather give requests and seek advice…Nevertheless, an attitude of submission to a husband’s authority will be reflected in numerous words and actions each day which reflect deference to his leadership and an acknowledgment of his final responsibility----after discussion has occurred, where possible---to make decisions affecting the whole family.’ (p. 137)

‘to your own husbands’-God is fair.

‘so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word’-‘Disobedient’-‘refuse or withhold belief’ (Thayer p. 55); ‘refuse to be persuaded, refuse belief ‘ (Vine p. 319); ‘more than a negative meaning, one who sets himself in direct opposition to the word of God.’ (P.P. Comm. p. 128); ‘so that if any of them reject the message’ (TCNT). ‘”obey not” is translated from a term which denotes a degree of antagonism in addition to disobedience, plus an element of stubbornness, means lit., not to allow one’s self to be persuaded.’ (Woods p. 87) 1. This says something regarding the person who rejects the gospel. One must work at not being converted when they are hearing the gospel message. Unbelief is more of a moral problem (a problem of not being honest, open and willing to accept what is right),than an intellectual problem. This is one reason why “unbelief” and “disobedience” as viewed as synonyms in the Bible (Hebrews 3:18-19; John 3:36). 2. Some wives may have thought that ‘subjection’ didn’t apply if their husband wasn’t a Christian. 3. This statement also proves that the non-Christian is completely under God’s marriage law. For that non-Christian husband, is the husband of this woman, in every sense of the word, including his authority. She is to be in subjection to him, just as much as she would be obligated to be in subjection to a Christian husband. 4. Carefully note that the wives are not told to leave their husbands. Hardship isn’t a cause for divorce (1 Corinthians 7:12 ff). 5. Listen to this quote: ‘they should not allow their freedom in Christ and domestic discomfort (with some understandable hurt and anger) to make them feel superior to their husbands and obey them less. Instead they are to be model wives. This seeking to please is far more likely to win their husbands over than continual nagging. It will also commend Christianity to the wider society.’ (Davids p. 116) 6. Also note that the soul of the other mate is more important than the temporary comfort or fulfillment of the Christian mate. Instead of thinking, ‘but what about my feelings’, we need to always think, ‘but what about their soul?’

‘even if any of them’-While some commentators suggest that most Christian women in this region were married to non-Christian men, the verse infers the opposite. Like today, the typical marriage involving Christians in the First Century, was between two Christians.

‘the word’-i.e. the Gospel Message. POINTS TO NOTE: 1. What makes one an unbeliever is disobedience to the Word (Mark 16:16). But some are trying to tell us that we can still be a believer in Christ, even though we don’t accept what the Bible says. 2. What makes one a believer isn’t feelings, ‘i.e. I feel like a believer’. Rather, it is a submissive and loving response to God’s message. 2. Evidently, someone had tried to reach this husband with the gospel, but he refused to hear it or accept it.

‘they may be won’-(Matthew 18:15; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22). Hence the expressions ‘soul winning’, ‘winning souls’, etc…are biblical terms.

‘without a word’-‘apart from the word’ (Wey) POINTS TO NOTE: 1. The phrase, ‘apart from the word’, probably refers to words coming from the wife. For a person can never be won apart from the Word of God (Romans 10:17; Romans 1:16; Mark 16:15). 2. ‘Rather than attempting to argue, verbally contend with, “talk down” or out-talk one’s husband with words regarding his spiritual needs, the apostle would instruct the wives to let their consecrated lives, their humble subjection, their meek and quiet spirit (v. 4) speak out in bold relief against his ungodliness and rebellion. Compare 2:12.’ (Oberst p. 146) 3. Notice that this rule applies where one has already attempted to get a class with someone, taught them, etc….but such attempts or endeavors have been rejected soundly. Carefully note that a good example-apart from the gospel won’t save anyone.

‘by the behavior of their wives’-‘Here is an example where “silent eloquence” is more effective than vigorous debate.’ (Woods p. 87). POINTS TO NOTE: 1. Never underestimate the power of your example! 2. We need to realize when the ball is in our court. If one is married to a non-Christian, the most powerful influence upon your non-Christian spouse (besides the Word of God), is your example. Not the example of other Christians-but your example. 3. The examples and efforts of other Christians cannot make up for the example that you must set. 4. Hence the advice which any elder, preacher or member needs to give to someone who says, ‘Help, my mate doesn’t care about spiritual things, they don’t care about the spiritual needs of myself or my children.’ Is, ‘Go home, and be the best example of a husband or wife, which that mate could never hope to have.’ 5. ‘Act like a Christian in your marriage’ often can accomplish more than any amount of marriage counseling or other outside help.


Verse 2

1 Peter 3:2 ‘as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.’

‘observe’-‘look upon attentively’ (Thayer p. 246) ‘Christian’s life is being examined, scrutinized, watched and “eyed” by the nonbeliever.’ (Oberst p. 147) The world often claims that it isn’t paying any attention to Christians, but often the opposite is true. Christian, you are being watched!

‘chaste’-‘pure’ (Arndt p. 12), Modest, innocent, blameless. ‘means “pure, free from moral defilement”, and serves as another reminder that the submission Peter commands must never go so far as to include obedience to demands to do something that is morally wrong.’ (Grudem p. 139) This includes purity in all realms, including motivation.

‘respectful’-Respect for the husband and especially respect for God. POINTS TO NOTE: 1. This suggests that even non-Christians can ‘see’ the truthfulness of biblical principles. 2. ‘The attractiveness of a wife’s submissive behavior even to an unbelieving husband suggests that God has inscribed the righteous and beauty of role distinctions in marriage on the hearts of all mankind…The unbelieving husband sees this behavior and deep within perceives the beauty of it. Within his heart there is a witness that this is right, this is now God intended men and women to relate as husband and wife. He concludes, therefore, that the gospel which his wife believes must be true as well.’ (Grudem p. 139) 3. The above statements mean that she practices her religion.


Verse 3

1 Peter 3:3 ‘And let not your adornment be merely external---braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses.’

‘And let not your adornment be merely external’-Peter mentions the mistake that women in the world often make, i.e. trying to change their husband, keep their husband, or attract a man by placing all the emphasis on external beauty and adornment. ‘Women have often internalized the male tendency to view them as sexual objects or as possessions whose appearance displays the wealth and power of the male. This comes out in dressing to attract the notice of men or in competing with other women in the richness of their dress. Peter, like the NT in general, will have none of this.’ (Davids p. 117) POINTS TO NOTE: 1. ‘Merely external’-The NASV translators supply the word ‘merely’ after the word ‘external’. This catches the right thought of the phrase. For if Peter is forbidding absolutely everything in this verse, then it would be wrong for a woman to wear even a single braid in her hair, just one item of jewelry (even a wedding ring), or the putting on of any dress. Hamilton notes, ‘If there is a prohibition of wearing any gold jewelry, then by the same logic one would have to argue that no garments can be worn (for the word ‘dresses’ NASV, simply means ‘clothing’ (Arndt p. 376)’ (p. 127) Oberst also notes, ‘Not that he condemns in absolute terms all regards to neatness and elegance in dress and appearance, but only an undue attention to those things….The way in which the apostle uses the negative participle in this text, is a decisive proof that this is his true meaning; it extends to every member of the sentence; and by consequence, if it prohibits the plaiting of the hair, it equally prohibits the putting on of apparel..’ (p. 151)

‘braiding the hair’-‘from the historians of the period in which Peter wrote, we learn that women were disposed to go to extreme lengths in braiding and plaiting their hair, often arranging massive whorls of it several inches above the head into which has been woven twisted strands of gold and chains of pearls which glistened and scintillated in the light…..Clement of Alexandria says that many women of his time dared not touch their heads for fear of disarranging their hair, and that they regarded sleep with terror lest during it they should destroy their waves.’ (Woods p. 89) ‘Figures of harps, coronets, wreaths, diadems, emblems of public temples and conquered cities being formed.’ (Manners/Customs. Freeman p. 468) Points to Note: 1. Obviously this isn’t forbidding braids of any sort. Pigtails are hardly a mark of extravagance. 2. The emphasis is upon what is to be the true source of a woman’s beauty (Proverbs 31:10-31) 3. Carefully note these passages are not an excuse to become a slob. And neither does the Bible look down upon or ignore physical attractiveness (Genesis 29:17; Genesis 12:11).

‘wearing gold jewelry’-(1 Timothy 2:9-10). Christians are to have some common sense or modesty. ‘Forbidden is any lavish display of artificial adornments and all gaudiness contributing to the vanity of those participating.’ (Woods p. 89) ‘Seneca spoke of women with two or three fortunes in their ears.’ (Barclay p. 262) Again, there is nothing wrong with wearing jewelry, nothing wrong with having good taste or liking nice things. But part of having ‘good taste’ is knowing where to place the emphasis.

‘or putting on dresses’-‘Although the RSV speaks of “fine clothing”…the Greek text does not include an adjective modifying “clothing”…and the text literally says, ‘..or putting on of clothing.’ It is incorrect, therefore, to use this text to prohibit women from braiding their hair or wearing gold jewelry, for by the same reasoning one would have to prohibit “putting on of clothing”.’ (Grudem p. 140)


Verse 4

1 Peter 3:4 ‘but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.’

‘but let it be’-Language of choice. Every woman can truly be a woman which reflects the image of God (Genesis 1:26). This is within the reach of all who desire to be a woman that pleases God. Hence, the picture of the worthy woman isn’t a ‘super-woman’.

‘the hidden person of the heart’-‘Hidden’-‘concealed, secret’ (Thayer p. 362); ‘hidden personality of the heart’ (Mon); ‘the inner life’ (TCNT); ‘inner loveliness of the heart’ (Nor).

Points to Note: 1. This is the same as the ‘inner man’ (2 Corinthians 4:16; Romans 7:22) the ‘soul’ (Matthew 10:28) or the ‘spirit’ (Hebrews 12:9). Men and women are dual beings having both a physical outward form and an inward soul or spirit..

‘of the heart’-‘Behavior that reflects the influence of the gospel and gains men for Christ begins within…..When Christ rules the heart He rules the conduct. It’s all a matter of faith, what Christ is to a man determines what that man will be for Christ…and what he will be to others.’ (Plain Talk). The inner person is hidden in the sense that you can’t see the soul. But the heart is revealed (always) through actions, attitudes and words (Mark 7:20-23; Matthew 15:18). ****Often people say, ‘I don’t like my personality’. We need to realize that we cannot separate our personality from the spiritual condition of soul. Or the condition of our heart. Our present personality is who we really are! The real you isn’t something different from your personality.

‘with the imperishable quality’-‘lasting charm’ (Tay) ‘Not liable to corruption or decay’ (Thayer p. 88). Clothing and jewelry will wear out, fade and one will find that even the most expensive things tend to go out of style. No amount of time, makeup and effort can hide the aging of the human body. But a wonderful and godly personality is something that won’t fade with time. ‘the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit will last for eternity.’ (Grudem p. 140) ‘Her primary cultivation is to be of the inner person, that of the heart. Let that be her distinction and adornment most admired and attended.’ (Oberst p. 150) (See Proverbs 11:16; Proverbs 11:22; Proverbs 12:4; Proverbs 14:1; Proverbs 19:13-14; Proverbs 31:30).

‘of a gentle’-‘the opposite of self-assertiveness or self-interest.’ (Vine pp. 55-56); ‘Gentle, humble, considerate’ (Arndt p. 699); ‘not characterized by self-will, envy, pride, presumption, or obstinacy.’ (Woods p. 90) Points to Note: 1. The same as the word ‘meekness’ (Matthew 5:5; Matthew 11:29; Galatians 5:23; Galatians 6:1). ‘It means “not insistent on one’s own rights”, or “not pushy, not selfishly assertive”, “not demanding one’s own way”.’ (Grudem p. 140) 2. Barclay notes that gentleness or meekness is opposed to arrogance and pride. It is the word in which strength and gentleness are perfectly combined. The attitude in which real learning takes place, i.e. humble enough to admit your own ignorance (James 1:21) ‘The root meaning…is self-control…. It is when we have ‘gentleness’ that we treat all men with perfect courtesy, that we can rebuke without rancor, …that we can face the truth without resentment, that we can be angry and yet sin not, that we can be gentle and yet not weak.’ (Flesh and Spirit p. 121)

In practical terms this means: Even though your husband is a non-Christian you are not given the right to become arrogant, engage in manipulation, make his life miserable, become rude or caustic, or become cold or distant.

‘quiet spirit’-‘tranquil’ (Thayer p. 281). ‘The sense of being calm, peaceful, and tranquil as opposed to restless, rebellious, disturbed, or insubordinate.’ (Davids p. 119) In practical terms this means: That such a woman have complete trust in God (Isaiah 30:15). When she responds to something foolishly said by her husband that she responds with calmness, confidence and respect. That she doesn’t run throughout the congregation telling everybody about all her marital problems, or trying to get everyone to take her side. That she doesn’t use the sins of her husband to justify her own sinful actions, or spiritual weakness. This woman is willing to listen to advice, especially the commands in this section. She also realizes that out-talking her husband or out-whiting him won’t accomplish what God desires most-i.e. the salvation of her husband’s soul. And that this is no place for harshness, resentment or bitterness. Too many husbands and wives think that the most important thing in any disagreement with their mates is to win the argument. Winning them to God is the important thing! This is the woman who isn’t flustered by the unfaithfulness of her husband. She doesn’t pity herself, she is involved as any other member in the congregation, for her trust is in God, and her God will supply all her needs (Matthew 6:33). And maybe most importantly, a woman with a meek and quiet spirit won’t resent the teachings in these verses or any other verses found in the Word of God. She won’t roll her eyes when this verses are discussed and she won’t think of 100 reasons why this teaching is unrealistic, idealistic or bound to fail.

‘which is precious in the sight of God’-Even more precious than gold. ‘Precious’-very expensive. Human estimation of value and Divine estimation are not always the same (Isaiah 55:8-9; Philippians 3:7). Someone once said, ‘Remember, gold is street paving material in heaven.’

‘Tertullian mentions the modest garb worn by Christian women as indicating their consciousness of their new spiritual wealth and worthiness. They exchanged the temples, theaters, and festivals of paganism for the home, labored with their hands, cared for their husbands and children, graciously dispensed Christian hospitality, nourished their spiritual life in the worship service of the church, ministered to the sick. Their modesty and simplicity were a rebuke to the reaction from the shameless extravagances and immoralities of heathenism. That they were the most conspicuous examples of the transforming power of Christianity is manifest from the admiration and astonishment of the pagan Libanius who exclaimed, “What women these Christians have”.’ (ISBE p. 3103)


Verse 5

1 Peter 3:5 ‘For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.’

‘For in this way’-i.e. the meek and quiet spirit. This isn’t new or novel instruction and neither is God placing more upon the shoulders of these women than the women in past generations. These women are not alone in their struggle! They have the privilege to walk in the footsteps of a long line of heroines of the faith.

‘the holy women’-Women who had dedicated themselves to serving God. The faithful female Christian is just as must of a heroine as was Hannah, Ruth or any other great example of faithfulness.

‘who hoped in God’-Present tense. This is what made them ‘holy’. Holiness is rooted in trusting God. One will never be successful against the temptations of this world (1 John 2:15; Romans 12:2) until they really believe that God is good, God has their best interest in mind, following God is following the path to true happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction, and that when God says ‘no’, God is trying to keep us from harm and misery. But too many women and men place their hopes in the fact that their mate will change, and change into what ‘they’ want him or her to be. Men and women who ‘hope in God’ don’t need others to be faithful, so they can be faithful. Stop hoping for the ‘ideal’ mate or that your mate will start treating you exactly in the way you want to be treated. Rather, start placing your trust and hope in God.

‘used to adorn themselves’-Hence, a meek and quiet spirit isn’t anything new. The imperfect tense is used, they did this as a habit.

‘being submissive to their own husbands’-Which reveals that if a woman resents the idea of being in subjection, the problem isn’t her husband, rather the problem is that she doesn’t have a meek and quiet spirit.

An Example From The Past:


Verse 6

1 Peter 3:6 ‘Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.’

‘Sarah obeyed Abraham’-‘Peter does not seem to be referring to any one specific incident here, for the main verb and both participles in verse 5 all indicate a continuing pattern of conduct during one’s life.’ (Grudem p. 141)

‘calling him lord’-‘lord’-a designation of any person in a position of authority, i.e. Fathers (Matthew 21:30); government official (27:63). Sarah recognized the ‘authority’ which Abraham held being her husband. Christian wives are under direct command to show respect to their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). While it is fine to poke fun at each other’s funny habits, tendencies or ways. It is quite another to run down your mate, call them stupid, dim-witted, etc….The woman who acts like, or boasts that she can do everything better than her husband, that in fact, she can do just fine without him, is far from the woman with whom God is impressed. Joking is fine, disrespect and contempt are sinful.

‘and you have become her children if you do what is right’-Points to Note: 1. As Sarah was the mother of physical Israel (Isaiah 51:2), she is the true spiritual mother of every faithful Christian woman. This should have a lot of meaning for women then and women today. For ‘there had been many times in which following Abraham had meant trusting God in uncertain, unpleasant, and even dangerous situations (Genesis 12:1; Genesis 12:5; Genesis 12:10-15; Genesis 13:1; Genesis 20:2-6; Genesis 22:3).’ (Grudem pp. 141-142) 2. Another verse which demonstrates that Christians compose the true Israel of God (Galatians 3:26-29).

‘if you do what is right’-There isn’t a woman, and never has been a woman who was born with an inherent personality trait which prevented her from being what God wanted her to be. Doing right in this context includes being in subjection to your husband. Doing right is a choice. Having a meek and quiet spirit is a choice. The tense is present active, ‘doing’. The Christian female from a Gentile background, and yet who was in subjection to her husband, was more of a daughter of Sarah, than any Jewish woman in town. The Gentile women would consider this a great honor. There are all sorts of women’s clubs, and some are quite prestigious. But there is no higher honor than what is described in this section of Scripture. No fraternal club or order can match this dignity.

‘without being frightened by any fear’-‘struck with fear, seized with alarm’ (Thayer p. 655) (Proverbs 3:25); ‘terrifying, intimidation’ (Arndt p. 727) ‘yield to no panic’ (Mof); ‘let no anxious thoughts disturb you’ (Knox). Points to Note: 1. A woman who has her hope placed in God is not terrified by a disobedient husband. She doesn’t abandon her faith in order to please him. She is not intimidated by his ridicule. 2. Her behavior and attitude must be calm, courageous, and deliberate. 3. ‘They are subordinate, but their subordination is revolutionary in that they are subordinate not out of fear or desire for social position or other human advantage but out of obedience to Christ…’(Davids p. 121) 4. Her subjection is not to be motivated by a cringing fear of her husband (Matthew 10:28). He may say, ‘I’m going to kill you if you walk out that door and go to church’, and in perfect calmness she must response, ‘Whether you do or don’t, either way, today I will be in God’s presence.’ 5. In view of such statements, how can anyone contend that the Bible presents a degrading view of women? Notice the strength which God expects of Christian women! Notice the character and faith that is required! Notice the dignity which God has bestowed upon them. What a far cry from the so-called liberated woman who lives in fear of men. God doesn’t want these women to stand in dread of their unbelieving husbands.

The Godly Husband:


Verse 7

1 Peter 3:7 ‘You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.’

‘You husbands’-Peter may not spend as much time talking to husbands, but he speaks just as forcefully. Especially in view of the fact that everyone doesn’t have a good husband, Christian husbands need to step forward and treat their wives in a manner which will catch the attention of the world (Matthew 5:13-16).

‘likewise’-‘in the same way, equally’. The question is--- in the same way to what? 1. The husband also has his duties to others and God. 2. Being a good husband involves making himself a servant at times to the needs of his wife (Ephesians 5:21). ‘so husbands are to conscientiously and responsibly attend to the needs of their own wives…the idea is that he must be as considerate and careful to maintain his God-given relationship to his wife, as she is in maintaining her rightful relationship to him.’ (Oberst p. 155) 3. In like manner, the husband must treat his wife properly, regardless of how she treats him. 4. Barclay notes, ‘The great characteristic of the Christian ethic is that it is what may be called a reciprocal ethic. It is an ethic which never places all the responsibility or all the duty on one side….in the Roman moral code all the obligation is on the wife, and all the privilege is with the husband. It is the mark of the Christian ethic that is never grants a privilege without a corresponding obligation.’ (pp. 263-264)

‘in an understanding way’-‘according to knowledge’ (ASV); ‘intelligent recognition of the nature of the marriage relation’ (Vincent p. 651); ‘in accordance with Christian knowledge’ (Arndt p. 163). Points to Note: 1. Which means that he must be sensitive, considerate and understanding to the feelings of his wife. ‘should live considerately with their wives’ (TCNT). 2. ‘The meaning is that the husband should interact with his wife on the basis of an intelligent comprehension of her needs as a person and as a woman. He must ever strive to understand those matters…Several suggestions come to mind: He would encourage her to communicate her perceived needs to him, and listen carefully to what was shared. He would inquire into her particular physical, emotional, and spiritual needs and how he might best address them. He would be willing to change, adapt, and adjust his life with a view to his wife’s happiness and well-being. He would recognize her unique qualities and virtues, and appreciate her for herself, not making comparisons with others of her sex. In short, the man who dwells with his wife on the basis of ‘gnosis’ (knowledge)-understanding-is willing to be informed and aware of his wife’s needs---and address them! Ignorance is not bliss in a marriage, but deadly.’ (Oberst p. 156) 3. This demands that the husband place the needs of his wife, ahead of his own (Philippians 2:3-4). J.H. Jowett wrote, ‘Don’t let thy personal wish have the first and last word…Be thoughtful and unceasingly considerate.’ (Oberst p. 156) 4. The above phrase also infers that definite ‘knowledge’ is needed for how to live with a woman in the relationship of marriage. Too many people just assume that they will naturally know how to get along. This statement also infers that women and men are different. Both men and women get into trouble and many marriage problems start when we assume that the needs of our spouse are identical with our own. Women have different needs then men, and the smart man will find out what his wife really needs and wants---and not what he wants.

‘as with a weaker vessel’-From , we already know that she isn’t morally, intellectually, spiritually or even emotionally weaker than her husband. Grudem notes, ‘but the context would make it appropriate for him to have in mind any kind of weakness of which husbands would need to be cautioned not to take advantage . This would certainly include the idea that, by and large, women are physically weaker than men (i.e. if men tried they usually could overpower their wives physically). But the context also shows that women are ‘weaker’ in terms of authority in the marriage (1,5-6), and Peter therefore directs husbands that instead of misusing their authority for selfish ends they should use it to “bestow honour” on their wives.’ (p. 144)

‘vessel’-This doesn’t imply inferiority, for the man is also a vessel (2 Timothy 2:21). Rather it reminds us that we are created beings, subject to frailty and accountable to a personal God (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Ecclesiastes 12:12-13).

‘since she is a woman’-‘woman’-‘translates a rare word (meaning, more literally “the feminine one”). It suggests that Peter looks to the characteristic nature of womanhood or femininity and suggests that a wife’s “femaleness” should itself elicit honor from her husband.’ (Grudem p. 143)

‘and grant her honor’-‘grant’-‘assign, show, pay’ (Arndt p. 97); ‘present active, to assign, to portion out’ (Robertson p. 110) ‘Honor’-to value, esteem, respect. Points to Note: 1. This honor would include ‘kind and affirming words both privately and public, and high priority in choices regarding the use of one’s time and money.’ (Grudem p. 143) 2. Included also would be listening to her views, advice or opinions, encouraging her to give imput on important decisions. 3. Also, really listening to her when she is speaking. 4. Taking her problems and worries very seriously. Not speaking down to her or treating her as a child. 5. Realizing how much she does for the family, and realizing how much it would cost you to replace her, if you had to pay for a full-time nanny, cook, housekeeper, maid, etc…’It was, and still is, no uncommon sight in the East to see the man riding on a heavily-laden donkey while the woman trudges by his side. It was Christianity which introduced chivalry into the relationships between men and women.’ (Barclay p. 265) 6. This plays into the idea of ‘weaker vessel’. ‘If a man has a valuable and expensive vase…he takes more care and caution that it might not be broken or cracked…That he be in many ways her shield, protector, and defender.’ (Oberst p. 157) 7. How a man treats his wife is exactly how that man views the value of his wife. You cannot separate how a man views his wife and how he treats her. A great myth of the 20th Century is that I can ignore my wife, fail to provide for her, etc…and yet still love her. If a your wife is truly ‘always on your mind’, then you will act like it.

‘as a fellow heir of the grace of life’-co-inheritor, ‘heirs equally with yourselves’ (Mof). ‘Grace of life’-i.e. God’s gracious gift of eternal life.

Points to Note: 1. Your wife stands on equal ground before God with yourself. She is a Christian, and God takes any mistreatment against her-very personally (Matthew 25:31 ff; Acts 9:5). 2. My goal as a Christian husband is to treat my wife in such a manner that when all of this is over and time is gone that she can say to me in heaven, ‘Thank you for being so supportive of my attempt to serve God while on earth.’

‘so that your prayers may not be hindered’-‘Hindered’-‘to be cut off’ (Thayer p. 196). Points to Note: 1. ‘The sighs of the injured wife come between the husband’s prayers and God’s hearing.’ (Barclay p. 265) 2. ‘As the closest human relationship, the relationship to one’s spouse must be most carefully cherished if one wishes a close relationship with God.’ (Davids p. 123) 3. WOW!!! Keep this verse in mind before you snap back at your mate or get into an argument that is already out of control. If you have a disagreement with your mate, you should conduct yourself, and treat them in such a manner that you can prayer afterward-and God will hear that prayer. God is so serious about how men treat their wives, that He is willing to cut off spiritual blessings to men who mistreat their wives. 4. It should be understood that the man who physically, sexually or emotionally abuses his wife is going to hell, unless he repents. 5. Here is a way to check your spiritual standing before God. If you can’t apply Christianity to your marriage relationship, then you are failing as a Christian.


Verse 8

1 Peter 3:8 ‘To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;’

‘To sum up’-This isn’t the end of the letter, rather it sums up a section dealing with our obligations to others. Besides obligations to civil government, masters, husbands and wives, we also have an obligation to our brethren.

‘let’-Christians have the ability to remain united. Unity is a choice. God hasn’t given the Church an impossible task (Ephesians 4:1-3). There are doctrines which are essential for unity (Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 John 1:9) and there are also attitudes.

‘all’-Every Christian has an obligation in this area. It isn’t the exclusive task of the elders, deacons, older members or preacher to keep the peace.

‘harmonious’-‘like-minded, united in spirit’ (Arndt p. 569); ‘unity of thought and feeling, from “one and the same”, and “the mind”.’(Vincent p. 652) (1 Corinthians 1:10; Romans 12:16; Romans 15:5; Philippians 2:2; Philippians 2:20). ‘sharing the same thoughts and attitudes, thinking harmoniously’ (Grudem p. 146) Points to Note: 1. ‘Some think this is an instruction to do the impossible because people have all sorts of ideas and dispositions.’ (Hamilton p. 143) But God doesn’t command the impossible. 2. ‘Such unity will only come when Christians are humble and bold enough to lay hold on the unity already given in Christ and to take it more seriously than their own self-importance and sin.’ (Barclay p. 268) 3. This commandment infers that the Word of God is so clear and powerful that honest hearts from different backgrounds, with different prejudices and pre-conceived ideas, can come to the same conclusions concerning the truth when they encounter the Bible. 4. But unity will not happen when people insist on cherishing beliefs and attitudes which aren’t in harmony with the will of God.

‘sympathetic’-‘suffering or feeling with another’ (Thayer p. 596) (Romans 12:15) ‘It is descriptive of one who so identifies with the feeling of another that he or she responds with similar feelings or emotions..Hebrews 13:3.’ (Oberst pp. 160-161) ‘One thing is clear, sympathy and selfishness cannot co-exist. So long as the self is the most important thing in the world, there can be no such thing as sympathy. Sympathy depends on the willingness to forget self, to step outside self, and to identify oneself with the pains and sorrows of others.’ (Barclay p. 268) Sympathy also ‘acts’ (Matthew 9:36). It is much more than saying, ‘Oh, what a sad situation.’

‘brotherly’-‘full of brotherly love’ (TCNT); ‘Philadephos’-fond of one’s brethren; ‘lit., brother lovers’ (Woods p. 94) (1 Peter 1:22; John 13:34; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:20). The Bible is very direct and frank. ‘The simplest test of the reality of our religion is whether or not it makes us love our fellow-man.’ (Barclay p. 269) And this is an essential element in any discussion on unity. Christians who really love each other, will make tremendous sacrifices to resolve differences, even doctrinal differences.

‘kindhearted’-‘compassionate, tender-hearted, lit., of good heartedness.’ (Vine p. 185) (Ephesians 4:32). ‘The conditions of modern twentieth century life it is easy to lose the cutting edge of pity, and it is still easier to be satisfied with a sentimentalism which feels a moment’s comfortable sorrow, and which does nothing about it.’ (Barclay p. 269)

‘humble in spirit’-having a modest and honest opinion of oneself (Romans 12:3). A true estimate of our abilities, limitations, weaknesses, etc…The opposite of arrogance (Proverbs 29:23). Unity is impossible to preserve as long as people are more in love with their own ego’s than with God. ‘Brethren who are thus minded will not seek to vindicate themselves by irritable behavior in inflicting on others like treatment when they feel they may have been wronged.’ (Hamilton p. 145)


Verse 9

1 Peter 3:9 ‘not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.’

‘not returning evil for evil’-‘to give up or back’ (Vine p. 277) Peter has been talking about acting like a Christian in all our relationships. We may not be a slave with a hard master (1 Peter 2:18), but we face similar situations. We must be prepared to act like a Christian even when we find ourselves the subject of slander or abuse. Points to Note: 1. We are not given the right to take revenge (Proverbs 20:22; Romans 12:21). 2. No pay backs! We are not to get ‘even’. Because we can never get even. Paying back evil for evil, doesn’t make us even, rather, it makes us both lost! 2. Taking personal revenge is “evil”. It is just as “evil” as what was done to you. 3. Paul revealed that in many lawsuits the person suing is often motivated by the same evil attitudes as the person that initially wronged them (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).

‘or insult for insult’-‘hard words with hard words’ (Knox). Revenge is wrong, whether that revenge is in deed or words. ‘The NT….go far beyond simply not taking vengeance and leaving it to the Lord; the command is, instead of attacking or insulting those who attack and insult…to bless the persecutor.’ (Davids p. 126)

‘giving a blessing instead’-‘to invoke blessings upon one’ (Thayer p. 259); ‘lit., to speak well of’ (Vine p. 132). The present tense. 1. ‘The reason given in the gospels is that they ought to imitate the goodness of God even to undeserving sinners (Matthew 5:45; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:35-36).’ (Grudem p. 147) 2. See also (1 Corinthians 4:12; Romans 12:14). ‘The idea is to “call down God’s gracious power”…to invoke gracious things from God.’ (Hamilton pp. 146-147). 2. This doesn’t mean that we call ‘evil-good’ (Isaiah 5:20). And neither does it mean that we excuse the sins of others. Rather, giving a blessing would include praying for them, that they could also be saved (Matthew 5:44). Someone has said that it is hard to keeping on hating a person while you are praying for them. 3. This statement also reveals our true worth and value. Anyone can curse, swear and threaten. But not just anyone can ask God for a blessing. Have you ever looked at yourself in that light? You can bring happiness and blessings into the lives of others, even your enemies!

‘for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing’-In obeying the call of the gospel message (2 Thessalonians 2:14), we have inherited tremendous blessings (Ephesians 1:3), and still have blessings to obtain in the future (1 Peter 1:4). God already has and will bless us further, even though we were His enemies (Ephesians 2:1-3). Likewise, we are obligated to treat others in the way that God has treated us (Ephesians 4:32).


Verse 10

1 Peter 3:10 ‘For, let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile’

‘For’-This is a quotation from Psalms 34:12-16 :

‘means to love life’-‘He that would enjoy life’ (TCNT) ‘Who wishes to live as that he will not weary of life, so that he may love it so that he may have a life worth living, to love life wisely, not selfishly.’ (P.P. Comm. p. 131)

‘see good days’-experience days of happiness. ‘days of happiness, usefully and worthily spent.’ (Woods p. 95) Points to Note: 1. We are responsible for the ‘good’ that happens in our life. If we are miserable, then we have made the choice to be unhappy. 2. ‘to love life does not mean that one has a trouble-free life…It rather suggests an enjoyment of life and contentment in the life God has given, no matter what the outward circumstances (Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 4:4; Philippians 4:7; Philippians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).’ (Grudem p. 150) 3. For the Christian, ‘good days’ would also include our future life with God. But the present verses do promise happiness in this life to the person who places their trust in God. And especially, the person who offers a blessing instead of verbal attacks upon his or her enemies. What misery we cause for ourselves by holding on to grudges and by insisting that we get satisfaction right now.

‘Refrain his tongue from evil’-We can control our tongues (James 1:26). ‘Refrain’-‘to cease or desist, restrain’ (Thayer p. 496); ‘lit., let him make it cease’ (P.P. Comm. p. 131)

‘speaking guile’-‘his lips from deceitful words’ (TCNT). (1 Peter 2:1) When people take matters into their own hands, and ‘strike back’ with a verbal assault, they usually end up saying things that aren’t true. Unfortunately, slander is often countered with more slander. Before you say, ‘Oh yea…….’, in response to an accusation, realize that you probably are about to say something equally untrue.


Verse 11

1 Peter 3:11 ‘And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it’

‘let him’-The language of choice.

‘turn away from evil’-‘shun wrong’ (Mof) (Proverbs 4:14-15). Evil isn’t impossible to avoid. Temptation can be resisted (1 Corinthians 10:13). You don’t have to strike back or retaliate! Nothing forces you to respond in that manner, except your own stubbornness.

‘do good’-More is required than simply abstaining from evil. Too many people practice a negative goodness. (2 Timothy 2:22; Galatians 5:22-23)

‘Let him seek peace and pursue it’-‘Seek’-‘seek after, strive after, aim at’ (Thayer p. 272). ‘Peace’-peace with his or her brethren (), and peace with enemies (Romans 12:18). ‘Pursue’-‘seek after eagerly, earnestly’ (Thayer p. 153). ‘strive for, aspire after’ (Arndt p. 201). ‘Searching for peace and going after it with all his heart’ (Bas); ‘try to live in peace even if you must run after it to catch and hold it’ (Tay). ‘”Seek peace” addresses motive; one is not looking for a fight but has an earnest search for concord.’ (Hamilton p. 151) The child of God must be a peace-maker (Matthew 5:9).

Peter gives three arguments to motivate people towards godly living: 1. It secures happiness in this life. 2. It finds favor and protection of God (). 3. It commonly disarms the malice of men (3:13). Peace with others is no accident.


Verse 12

1 Peter 3:12 ‘For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’

‘eyes of the Lord upon the righteous’-‘Upon’-in a favorable sense. ‘the righteous’-i.e. those who practice the will of God, and especially in this context, verses . ‘he is looking after them for good, recognizing and meeting their needs (note the affirmations of God’s timely care in Psalms 34:7-8; Psalms 34:10; Psalms 34:17-20; Psalms 34:22).’ (Grudem p. 150)

‘attend to their prayer’-‘ears are attentive to their prayers’ (TCNT). More than simply attending, but listening with pleasure (Proverbs 15:8).

‘is against those who do evil’-(Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 59:1-2).

The Christian Response To Suffering:

It is so easy to feel sorry for ourselves, without realizing that others are enduring their own trials. Slaves () and wives with non-Christian husbands (3:1) have their trials. But these aren’t the only hardships found among Christians.


Verse 13

1 Peter 3:13 ‘And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?’

‘And’-In view of the fact that God watches with favor upon and eagerly listens to the prayers of the righteous. (Romans 8:31).

‘who is there to harm you’-Points to Note: This could mean two things: 1. Usually people who do the right thing are not harmed. ‘Harm’ is not the normal expectation for those who do what is right. 2. Or, even if we are afflicted, our persecutors can never permanently harm us (Matthew 10:28).

‘prove zealous’-‘A man may have more than one attitude to goodness. Goodness may be to him a burden; goodness may be to him a bore; goodness may be to him something which he vaguely and sentimentally and nebulously desires, but the price of which he is not willing to pay in sweat and effort….”Love goodness with that passionate intensity with which the most fanatical patriot loves his country”. Sir John Seeley said, “No heart is pure that is not passionate; no virtue is safe which is not enthusiastic.” It is only when a man falls in love with goodness that the wrong things lose their fascination and their power.’ (Barclay p. 271)

Zeal is to be a mark of the Christian (Titus 2:14; 1 Corinthians 14:12). Unfortunately, the cause of Christ suffers when professed Christians are more zealous for their jobs, hobbies, etc…than a relationship with God. Oh, if we were just as fanatic about God as we are about lesser things. Are you a ‘zealot’ for the will of God? Are you a ‘zealot’ for goodness?

‘prove’-It isn’t enough to wish or dream that you would do the right thing.


Verse 14

1 Peter 3:14 ‘But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,’

‘But’-The Bible is quick to keep us from jumping to the wrong conclusion. Doing the right thing won’t always keep you from being persecuted. Jesus, Paul, Timothy and others suffered, even though they were zealous for good (1 Timothy 3:11;2 Timothy 3:12). God is always up front and honest with us (Matthew 5:10-12).

‘for the sake of righteousness’-i.e. for what is right and good. Instead of suffering because we deserve to suffer (; 4:15).

‘you are blessed’-‘Fortunate, privileged, recipient of divine favor’ (Arndt p. 486) (Matthew 5:10). In view of what Jesus did for us (3:18), the Christian should consider it an honor to suffer for His cause (Colossians 1:24). We need a change of attitude towards suffering that comes because we stand for what is right. Instead of being tempted to quit, or fall into despair. We need to realize that such suffering means that we are doing our job, like the soldier who is itching to get where the fighting is at. We often may sacrifices for family, loved ones, the company or our country. Why don’t we have the same attitude towards the gospel?

‘And do not fear their intimidation’-Quotation from Isaiah 8:12. ‘do not be alarmed by their threats’ (Wey). The fear that is forbidden is the type of fear that paralyzes the Christian or moves the Christian to abandon what is right. The hero is just as afraid as any other man in the outfit, the difference is, he doesn’t allow such fears to keep him from doing what is right.

‘troubled’-‘disturb, unsettle, throw into confusion’ (Arndt p. 805). (John 14:27) 1. God wants His people to face persecution with calmness and confidence. Suffering doesn’t give us the right to act in an ungodly manner, give up or stop doing the right thing. Our God is bigger than all our opponents!

Intelligent Responses In The Midst Of Suffering:


Verse 15

1 Peter 3:15 ‘but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;’

‘but’-Far from being intimidated into silence or inaction.

‘sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts’-“Sanctify”-‘treat as holy, reverence’ (Arndt p. 9). Which means recognize that Jesus is the Lord, that He is in control of this world, even when we find ourselves in the midst of suffering. Points to Note: 1. ‘The alternative to fear is to focus attention on someone else…means truly to believe that Christ, not one’s opponents, is truly in control of events.’ (Grudem pp. 152-153) 2. In addition this means that we don’t have to worry about ‘getting even’, for God will take care of that. We reverence Jesus, and we feel sorry for our opponents who are blindly and uselessly attacking something which they were never be able to destroy. 3. In the Old Testament, the expression was ‘Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify’ (Isaiah 8:13). What is ascribed to Jehovah in the O.T. is ascribed to Jesus in the New Testament, which infers His Deity (Colossians 2:9).

‘always being ready’-Christians are to be a prepared people (2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 3:1) Teaching opportunities are sadly wasted when we haven’t done our homework (Hebrews 5:12-14). This verse infers that the Bible is so clear that it can prepare every Christian to answer the objections and questions posed by unbelievers (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

‘to make a defense’-‘Defense’-‘verbal defense, speech in defense’ (Thayer p. 65); ‘an answer back’ (Robertson p. 114) (Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:16). Which means that everything that God stands for-can be defended when questioned and even when attacked.

‘to everyone’-No one can defeat God in a debate. Jesus’ dealing with the Pharisees (Matthew 22:1-46); and the way Jehovah responded to Job (Job 38:1-41), should teach us that much. We have the truth, and therefore we shouldn’t be intimidated by anyone’s questions or arguments. In addition, even our opponents need an answer, they also have a soul that needs to be saved.

‘who asks you’-And people will ask! It’s not as if the questions may or may not come.

‘give an account’-‘reason’ (Vine p. 252). ‘It is significant that the words ‘defense’ and ‘account’ in the text are closely related in meaning: To everyone who asks an “account” we are to give an “account”.’ (Woods p. 98)

‘for the hope that is in you’-Points to Note: 1. The passage doesn’t say, ‘Tell people about your hope’. Rather, it says, ‘Give a reason or reasons why you have this hope in God, etc…’ 2. This demands that “reasons” exist, objective evidence exists which the Christian can point to and say, ‘This is why I believe in God’, ‘This is why I believe the Bible is the Word of God’, ‘This is why I believe Heaven exists’, ‘This is why I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.’ 3. ‘Peter must be assuming that the inward hope of Christians results in lives so noticeably different that unbelievers are prompted to ask why they are so distinctive (cf. )’ (Grudem p. 153) 4. This also demands of the Christian a good knowledge of the Word of God. ‘It is said that every citizen in Athens was expected to keep himself sufficiently informed in civic affairs to be able to participate intelligently in any discussion thereof.’ (Woods p. 98) 5. Barclay observes, ‘In a hostile and suspicious world it was, and still is, inevitable that the Christian will be called upon to defend the faith he holds….(this defense)…must be reasonable…To do so we must know what we believe; we must have thought it out; we must be able to state it intelligently…Our faith must be a first-hand discovery, and not a second-hand story…The Christian must go through the mental and spiritual toil of thinking out his faith, so that he can tell what he believes and why he believes it.’ (p. 273)

‘yet with gentleness and reverence’-ready, but not over-ready, i.e. not arrogant. ‘Gentleness’-‘an attitude free of scorn, haughtiness and bitterness.’ (Woods p. 98). ‘Reverence’-‘yet argue gently and cautiously’ (Wey); ‘in a humble and reverent manner’ (Nor). See 2 Timothy 2:24. ‘His defense must be given with gentleness. There are many people who state their beliefs with a kind of arrogant belligerence….The case for Christianity must be presented with winsomeness….His defense must be given with reverence. That is to say, any argument in which the Christian is involved must be carried on in a tone and in an atmosphere which God can hear with joy.’ (Barclay pp. 273-274) This also suggests, ‘not attempting to overpower the unbeliever with the force of human personality or aggressiveness.’ (Grudem p. 153) If we present the gospel with conviction, in a logical and reasonable fashion with persuasiveness, and humility, then we are doing our job. This verse also reveals that we aren’t given the right to abuse our audience when we present the truth to them. You don’t have to be rude or caustic in order to win people to Christ.


Verse 16

1 Peter 3:16 ‘and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.’

‘and keep a good conscience’-‘keep’-present tense. Points to Note: 1. No matter how good, wise, or fervent the “reason” given, if the life is inconsistent with the defense what good is it? ‘”A saint”, as someone has said, “is someone whose life makes it easier to believe in God.”’ (Barclay p. 274) 2. A good conscience is a real possibility. This means that man can observe the commands given in the Bible (1 John 5:3). People can know when they sin. And those sins can be repented of, confessed and forgiven (1 John 1:8-10). 3. In contrast, those who contend that the Bible is an insufficient guide, or that you are always going to be guilty of violating something because of ignorance, must contend that a good conscience is an impossibility.

‘so that’-Some people won’t be convinced by the truth. There have always been those who have slandered Christians and have invented the most outlandish accusations against Christianity. The way to prove them wrong, is to live a godly life. They may not be won over, but others who listen will realize that their accusations are untrue.

‘those who revile your good behavior in Christ’-Nothing has changed. People still complain about the godly behavior of Christians. People resent our lasting marriages, obedient children, clean lifestyle, stewardship with our earthly possessions, views concerning right, wrong, sin, heaven and hell, etc…

‘may be put to shame’-‘proved to be liars’ (P.P. Comm. p. 132) Hopefully, they will be shamed to the point that they honestly admit that they also need God in their lives. That their accusations aren’t grounded in the truth, rather, they are grounded in envy, jealousy, self-pity and dishonesty (1 Peter 2:12; Matthew 5:16; Romans 12:20-21).


Verse 17

1 Peter 3:17 ‘For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.’

‘if God should will it so’-Even when we are in the midst of suffering, God is still in control. God has not forsaken us, rather, He has only permitted the suffering to happen. In addition, we also know that we are up to handling whatever God permits (1 Corinthians 10:13). In addition, we should always be aware that suffering for what is right becomes a powerful tool in bringing others to Christ. For people are always on the look out for something that will enable them to handle life even at its most difficult moments.

‘for doing what is right’-(,19-20).

The Example Of Jesus:

God gives us incentive and encouragement to face such suffering with confidence. Lest we are tempted to say, ‘Why should I suffer, when it isn’t even my fault! Why should I suffer, when I haven’t done anything wrong? Shouldn’t doing the right thing be rewarded?’ All such complaining ceases, when one remembers that Jesus suffered for our sins.


Verse 18

1 Peter 3:18 ‘For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;’

‘For Christ’-Lest anyone think that suffering for the right thing is a vain and thankless task. Suffering for doing the right thing can accomplish much! Jesus is the ultimate example of suffering for righteousness (); being zealous for what is good (3:13); suffering for well-doing (3:17), and we are to follow in His steps (2:21-25).

‘died for sins’-For the sins of others (John 1:29; Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 53:8; Isaiah 53:11). So let us stop complaining when we suffer because someone else abused their freewill. Jesus also suffered for the wrong and selfish choices of others!

‘once for all’-‘used of what is so done as to be of perpetual validity and never need repetition’ (Thayer p. 54) (Hebrews 9:28 ‘so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many..’). Points to Note: 1. Jesus remains the only sacrifice for sin-in any time or in any culture (Mark 16:15-16). Christianity therefore will remain the only relevant and real way to eternal life. 2. Nothing will replace the sacrifice of Jesus. Another remedy for sin will not be found. 3. Jesus died and suffered ONCE. Thus the Lord’s Supper is not a re-sacrifice of Jesus. It is not a ‘mass’. Rather, it is a remembrance. 4. Another route or Savior will not be given for those who reject Jesus. 5. The sacrifice of Jesus doesn’t lose it’s effectiveness with the passing of time. His sacrifice is just as powerful in the 21st Century as it was in the First Century.

‘the just for the unjust’-(Romans 5:6-8). He suffered for what others had done. He had no sins of His own (2:22). We will never realize the true evil and selfishness of our own sins, until we accept the fact that the punishment Jesus endured, was the punishment we deserved. Remember those truths next time you are tempted to sin or tempted the downplay the significance of a sin.

‘in order that He might’-Notice the word “might”. There will be people who refuse God’s offer of salvation. Jesus didn’t die for a select group of people destined for salvation. Rather He died for all (1 Timothy 2:6), He died for people who might or might not accept Him.

‘bring us to God’-‘Bring’-‘to open a way of access’ (Thayer p. 543) (Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:16-18; Hebrews 10:19-20). Jesus remains the only means of access to the Father (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

‘having been put to death in the flesh’-Jesus really died on the cross. An illusion wasn’t on the cross, rather, Jesus suffered all the pain associated with being in a physical body. His death was painful and real! (John 1:14) I think that even some Christians erroneously think that being crucified wasn’t as painful for Jesus as it would be for mere humans. That isn’t true. Jesus didn’t go into some state of mental meditation which enabled detachment from His body (John 19:28).

‘but made alive in the spirit’-Points to Note: 1. What died on the cross was His body “the flesh”. By the way, note that the word “flesh” doesn’t inherently mean something that is sinful. 2. What was inside that body didn’t die, i.e. the spirit (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46). 3. When Jesus re-entered that body in the tomb, life returned to His physical body. ‘the spiritual nature of Christ’ (Vincent p. 656). 4. The passage is not teaching that only the ‘spirit’ of Christ was resurrected, for the spirit of Christ never died! Rather, Jesus is an eternal, self-existent spirit (Hebrews 9:14), Who can re-enter a dead physical body at will (John 10:18 ‘…I have authority to take it up again.’)


Verse 19

1 Peter 3:19 ‘in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison’

‘in which’-Must refer back to the last statement of . ‘In which spirit’.

Point to Note: A popular denominational view on these verses has been that they are teaching that after His death, Jesus preached to the lost souls in hell. And this preaching took place between His death and resurrection. This interpretation has been furthered by the unfortunate rendering of ‘hell’ in Acts 2:27 (KJV). First things first! The word in Acts 2:27 is ‘Hades’, not ‘Hell’. The spirit of Jesus went to Hades (Luke 23:43; Luke 16:19 ff). In addition, these verses are not talking about what Jesus did after His death, rather, they are talking about what happened during the days of Noah (3:20).

‘also He went and made proclamation’-As Jesus had spoken through the prophets in time past (); He had long before that, spoken to Noah’s generation, through Noah (2 Peter 2:5 ‘..a preacher of righteousness’). The activity of Jesus didn’t start with the incarnation. Rather, Jesus had been serving mankind long before that. See also Ephesians 2:17. Consider John 14:18 ‘..I will come to you’. And yet it was the Holy Spirit Who came. Even though the Holy Spirit inspired the apostles (John 16:13), it is always assumed that what is being revealed comes from Jesus (1 Corinthians 14:37; Hebrews 1:2). Hence, the Holy Spirit was guiding Noah, as He would do for other prophets (1 Peter 1:20-21), and yet Jesus was the source of the information being spoken.

‘to the spirits now in prison’-Points to Note: 1. Death ends all chances to change (2 Peter 2:9 ‘keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment’; Luke 16:19 ff). 2. The unrighteous experience conscious suffering. 3. Notice the word ‘now’. When Peter wrote these people were in prison, but they were not in prison when they heard the proclamation that originated with Jesus. They were alive, and they were in the flesh. ‘the time when this preaching was done is clearly stated in the next verse’ (Woods p. 101) 4. In addition, WHO ARE THESE SPIRITS is also defined and specified. 5. The Jehovah Witnesses contend that man doesn’t have a soul or spirit. And that the word ‘spirit’ means ‘life-breath’, or something physical that keeps the body alive. Insert that definition into this passage!


Verse 20

1 Peter 3:20 ‘who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.’

‘who once were disobedient…in the days of Noah’-1. The ‘spirits’ mentioned in are specified. The spirits in the previous verse are not every lost soul since the Creation. Rather, they were the people alive when Noah was constructing the Ark. 2. When Jesus preached is defined. Hence, when Jesus preached to these people they were alive on the earth. When Peter wrote this letter, they were now in prison, i.e. they rejected the message that Jesus brought through Noah. 2. Notice the statement ‘once were disobedient’. Disobedience and rebellion end at death! The lost sinner isn’t allowed to engage in rebellion after he dies. Hell isn’t a place where people continue to engage in their sins. Hell isn’t a big ‘party’. And the inhabitants in hell won’t end up running hell, like inmates run a prison.

‘disobedient’-Disobedient people end up lost! God doesn’t change His mind, God doesn’t act differently than what is stated in His revelation to mankind (Acts 17:30-31).

‘when’-‘marks distinctively the time intended by the word “once”’ (Alford p. 1654). This marks the time of their disobedience and the time when Jesus preached to them.

‘the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah’-God gave Noah’s generation 120 years of ‘grace’ (Genesis 6:3). The flood happened after years of long-suffering and mercy. In the same way, already the Second Coming has been preceded by centuries of God’s patience (2 Peter 3:8-9). How can anyone claim that God is cruel or unfair, in view of such patience? How many of the opponents or critics of Christianity are willing to wait for justice? Wait for vindication? Wait for wrongs to be righted? Rather, how many of the same people who complain about the ‘strictness’ of the God revealed in the Bible, demand instant revenge?

‘during the construction of the ark’-1. Noah was a real person. 2. The whole account in Genesis 6:1-22; Genesis 7:1-24; Genesis 8:1-22; Genesis 9:1-29 about the Ark and the flood is historically accurate. It isn’t a myth. And the ark didn’t represent something besides an actual ark. The flood isn’t an allegory. 3. Before we demand God to act right now! We need to think. God’s patience with sinners, also gave Noah and his family time to build the ark. God’s patience also works for our salvation and the salvation of our children.

‘in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water’-1. Another detail is confirmed. The man Noah in Genesis doesn’t represent a nation or something else. Rather, Noah was a real man. The story is literal. Eight people were saved, eight literal people, no more, no less (2 Peter 2:5; Genesis 7:13). This is just one of many “minor details” in the Old Testament which is confirmed as being historically accurate. 2. Jesus preached to a whole generation through Noah, and yet, Noah only influenced 7 other people! 3. How can we get discouraged, when the Church in our generation is growing much faster than the results that Noah received.

‘safely through the water’-God can use something to accomplish two different purposes at the same time. On the one hand the water meant disaster for the disobedient. On the other hand, water meant deliverance for Noah and his family from a corrupt society. The Second Coming will mean eternal life for Christians, but it will mean eternal damnation for non-Christians.

Point to Note: Years ago someone noted the elements which contributed to Noah’s deliverance: 1. God saved Noah (2 Peter 2:5). 2. Noah was saved by his faith (Hebrews 11:7). 3. Noah was saved by God’s grace (Genesis 6:8). 4. The ark saved Noah (Hebrews 11:7). 5. Water saved Noah (1 Peter 3:20). 6. Obedience saved Noah. 7. By entering the ark, in a sense, Noah saved himself.


Verse 21

1 Peter 3:21 ‘And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you---not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience---through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,’

‘Corresponding to that’-‘Corresponding’-‘resembling another, its counter part’ (Thayer p. 51); ANTITUPOS-lit., a striking back, copy, corresponding type (Vine pp. 95-96). ‘corresponding to something that has gone before. “means baptism, which is a fulfillment (of the type) now saves you, i.e. the saving of Noah from the flood is a foreshadowing of baptism, i.e. our salvation’ (Arndt p. 76) ‘Baptism is presented as corresponding to (pre-figured by) the deliverance of Noah’s family by water.’ (Robertson p. 119). ‘Literally, “antitupos” means an impression corresponding to the “tupos”. The die, mold, or pattern makes an impression, which is the “antitupos”…Hence, the antitype is that which is left after something has been impressed by the model or mold.’ (Hamilton p. 191)

Point to Note: How can anyone argue that baptism is non-essential? Water baptism in the New Testament is the original pattern, which various Old Testament practices and events foreshadowed, i.e the flood, crossing the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2); and the laver which the priests washed in prior to serving in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:18-20/Titus 3:5). In addition see the following passages (Mark 16:15; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Ephesians 4:5 ‘one baptism’-one unimportant and optional baptism???

‘baptism’-Right here some try to argue that the baptism under consideration is Holy Spirit baptism: Points to Note: 1. But the context is ‘water’. Why would God parallel Holy Spirit baptism with an event which involved more water than any other event in human history? Is God trying to confuse us? 2. The salvation in the context is connected with water ( ‘brought safely through water.’) 3. The baptism associated with salvation is water baptism (Acts 8:36-38). 4. Holy Spirit baptism doesn’t save a person (Acts 10:44-48).

‘now saves you’-from what? Obviously from the eternal consequences of your sins (Acts 2:38). Man says that baptism has nothing to do with salvation. Why then did Jesus and the Apostles constantly link baptism with salvation, and constantly placed baptism prior to salvation? (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Baptism doesn’t save us from hardship, suffering, persecution or trials.

Consider the parallels: 1. The waters of the flood delivered Noah from a corrupt society to a new world----water baptism brings one into a state of newness of life (Romans 6:3-5). 2. Water delivered Noah from a condemned world---baptism delivers us from condemnation (Mark 16:16). 3. The flood separated the saved from the lost---baptism is the line between lost and saved. 4. The flood wasn’t the Savior, but the instrument or means of deliverance---water baptism isn’t the Savior, rather it is the last condition prior to salvation.

Other things are connected with salvation, and people don’t consider them to be non-essential (i.e. faith, Mark 16:16; Acts 2:21; Jesus Christ, Acts 4:12; grace, Acts 15:11; the blood of Christ, Romans 5:9; confessing Christ, Romans 10:9; the gospel message, 1 Corinthians 15:2; the love of the truth, (2 Thessalonians 2:10). ‘Most interpreters would agree that whatever element or action is specified in the above passages as necessary for being “saved” should not be omitted from the teaching of salvation. To omit any item that “saves” us would be to leave out hope, belief, grace, the blood of Christ, confessing Christ, and Jesus Himself! When therefore the Scriptures also tell us baptism “now saves you”, one is hard pressed to shrug it off as “nonessential” to salvation.’ (Oberst pp. 183-184)

‘not the removal of dirt from the flesh’-‘dirt’-filth, ‘removing of dirt from the body’ (Arndt p. 738).

Points to Note: 1. This separates water baptism from the Jewish ceremonial washings. Baptism doesn’t deal with mere external ceremonial defilement. It is not a ritual cleansing bath. 2. And this also reveals that there isn’t something magical in the water. Any sort of water can be used for baptism. Carefully note that we never find the apostles first blessing the water in which people were to be baptized. A body or pool of water by the side of road will work just fine (Acts 8:36-38). 3. Another angle on the passage, proposed by some is to view ‘dirt/filth of the flesh’ as sin. That Peter is saying, ‘baptism is not just a removal of sin, but also….’ I’m still thinking about that one.

‘but an appeal to God for a good conscience’-‘Appeal’-‘earnest seeking, i.e. a craving, an intense desire, long for something’ (Thayer p. 230); ‘primarily a question or inquiry, denotes a demand or appeal’ (Vine p. 268); ‘request, appeal, an appeal to God for a clear conscience’ (Arndt p. 285). ‘the craving for a conscience right with God’ (Gspd); ‘it means the ability to face God with a clear conscience’ (Phi). ‘is another way of saying “a request for forgiveness of sins and a new heart”. When God gives a sinner a clear conscience, that person has the assurance that every sin has been forgiven…(Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:22).’ (Grudem p.163)

Points to Note: 1. Obviously, baptism only applies to those who are old enough to personally make an appeal to God for a clear conscience! 2. Since baptism is always placed prior to forgiveness (Acts 2:38), we must reject any idea that a person can have a clear conscience prior to baptism. Hence the statement, ‘an appeal to God for a good conscience’, cannot be interpreted as meaning ‘an appeal to God made out of a good conscience’. 3. The person who wants a clear conscience realizes that baptism is the final step between them and such a condition. In addition, in being baptism one also pledges to live before God in a good conscience, i.e. to obediently conform to His laws.

‘through the resurrection of Jesus Christ’-Which gives meaning to baptism. For if Jesus wasn’t raised, then neither are we raised to newness of life following baptism (Romans 6:3-6). We can have confidence in being baptized! If God raised up Jesus, then certainly He will cleanse us from our sins when we submit to Him in the waters of baptism (Colossians 2:12-13).


Verse 22

1 Peter 3:22 ‘who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.’

‘who’-Jesus.

‘is at the right hand of God’-(Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3). ‘In the ancient world, to sit at the right hand of a king signified that one acted with the king’s authority and power…as an indication of Christ’s present universal authority, the finality of his completed work of redemption, and his immeasurable worthiness to receive our praise.’ (Grudem p. 165)

‘having gone into heaven’- Acts 1:11

‘after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him’-Some see this verse as including both good and evil powers in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:10; Colossians 2:15). 1. Jesus presently sits and reigns as King. While evil still operates (1 Peter 5:8), it cannot overpower the Christian against their will and it will only succeed as far as God permits it to succeed. 2. This last statement ties this whole context together. Christians may suffer for doing what is right, but never fear, so did Jesus. And look what suffering accomplished! And look how the Father exalted Jesus after such suffering!

 


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Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-peter-3.html. 1999-2014.

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