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Bible Commentaries
1 Peter 3

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-22

III 1-7 Duties of Husbands and Wives —Among all the nations of the 1st cent., after marriage a wife passed under the dominion of her husband and was subject to him. Here again the apostolic teaching did not interfere with the existing social order.

1. St Peter admonishes Christian wives to render due obedience to their husbands in everything that the law of God permits. Thus unbelieving husbands, who could not be won over to Christianity by argument, might be influenced by the ’conversation’, i.e. good example of their wives, when they reflected on their modest and respectful conduct towards themselves.

3. The Apostle stresses the need of modesty in dress and ornamentation, and points out that such outward adornment is insignificant, whereas inner beauty of character, such as is manifested by an unassuming and quiet disposition, is an enduring attraction to both God and man.

5. To prove how greatly God values such a disposition, he cites the example of the holy women of the OT. 6. Sara calls Abraham ’my lord’, Genesis 18:12. Let Christian wives do what is right, and with a calm spirit, and they will resemble Sara.

7. But the duties are not one-sided. Husbands are to dwell with their wives, and their association with them in the home is to be ’according to knowledge’, i.e. with a just recognition of the relative positions of husband and wife. They should make allowance for the natural physical weakness of women, and give them the regard which is due to them as ’ co-heirs of the grace of life’, i.e. equally destined to share eternal life. Such an attitude will help a man at prayer; when wives are unjustly treated, husbands may expect their prayers to go unheeded.

8-12 Mutual Duties of Christians —8. ’In fine’ indicates that the instructions which follow are applicable to all Christians. They are to be ’all of one mind’, i.e. adopt a similar viewpoint, and ’have compassion’, i.e. share one another’s sorrows and joys, and love one another with more than ordinary natural affection. Fraternal charity is the bond for both unity and sympathy, and will make them ’merciful’, i.e. tender-hearted and ’humble’, i.e. humble-minded in their dealings with one another.

9. Towards their pagan neighbours, who view them with suspicion and hostility, they must adopt an attitude of non-resistance, bear evil patiently without retaliating, even returning good for evil, and blessings for curses.

10-12. The quotation, Psalms 33:13-17, means that God will not overlook the man who controls his speech and does what is right, but will grant him a peaceful and happy life, and will answer all his prayers.

13-22 Suffering with Christ —Those who do good may look to God for protection, and whatever he allows them to suffer for the faith will be richly rewarded, Matthew 5:10-12. No reason, therefore, to be alarmed. Nothing can so well serve as an answer to the enemies of the Christian name as the holy lives of those who bear it.

16. When a vindication of their faith and hope is demanded, it is to be made with gentleness and respect, not in an overbearing manner, but fully conscious of speaking the truth. Thus will the accusers be ashamed when they recognize their upright conduct.

18. Christ’s passion and death offers encouragement, who, though innocent, died for the sins of mankind, that he might lead men to God. Physically he died, but his soul lived on. 19. ’In which’, i.e. state, while the soul was separated, from the body, ’he preached’, i.e. announced salvation—????sse?? without a qualifier in the NT refers to good news; and there is no instance in the NT where it implies bad news, Holzmeistcr, 300. ’To the spirits’, who cannot be the angels who sinned, 2 Peter 2:4; nor the souls of the lost, who are beyond the reach of salvation; but the souls of the just. ’In prison’, i.e. the place where the just souls were detained till heaven was open to them.

20. These souls ’had been sometime incredulous, when the patience of God waited’, i.e. for their conversion. This happened ’in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building’. During this period they persisted in their sinful state, but we must suppose that when the deluge came they repented. These persons perished in the waters of the deluge, but Noe and his family, totalling eight persons, were saved by entering the ark, not only ’from the water’, but ’by water’, i.e. the water carried the ark aloft.

21. Thus the water of the deluge is the type of the water of baptism, which saves you. Baptism, however, is not a washing of dirt from the body, but is ’the requirement of a good conscience towards God’, i.e. a conscience ready to do God’s will. This effect it has ’through the resurrection of Jesus Christ’, with whom Christians were buried in baptism and have risen to a new life, Romans 6:4. Another interpretation, which supposes that the author had in mind passages from the Book of Enoch, identifies the ’spirits’ with the progeny of the angels whose sin is supposed to be described in Genesis 6:1-4. Christ proclaimed to these evil spirits their defeat by his contains a symbolism that found great favour among the early Christian writers. The figure eight is the type of the new creation, ushering in a new world. Noe, as the type of Christ, is the father of a new race. The flood was a type of baptism, because this sacrament accomplishes a judgement—judging, destroying the ’body of sin’, as the deluge destroyed the old sinful world (cf. Daniélou, 97-112). 22. The words ’swallowing . . . life everlasting’ are wanting in all Greek MSS and in many of Vg. The angels in heaven are subject to Christ, cf.Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 1:6, Hebrews 1:13 f.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on 1 Peter 3". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/1-peter-3.html. 1951.
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