Bible Commentaries
1 Peter 3

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-7



1, 2. “Likewise ye wives, being submissive to your own husbands, in order that if any obey not the Word they shall be gained through the deportment of their wives without the Word, seeing your holy deportment which is with fear.” The infidel is the hardest soul to save this side the pit, from the simple fact that he utterly rejects the Word of God, the normal medium of salvation. The extremes include all intervening cases. Hence, if this wife can save her infidel husband without the Word, she can certainly save her husband unconditionally. Though in his infidelity he may utterly reject the Bible, yet he reads in the holy character of his wife an incarnation of the living Word, is convicted and brought to repentance, when his infidelity takes wings and flies away, leaving him in the arms of Jesus, gloriously saved, along with his wife, rejoicing in God, delighted with His Word.

Verse 3

3. “Whose beauty let it not be the outward adornment of plaiting the hairs and wearing of gold or the putting on of garments.” This verse negatively describes that wonderful and paradoxical wife who has power to save her husband, even though he be an infidel. We see that she does not prodigalize her time nor feed her vanity by curling her hair. Neither does she wear gold nor any kind of jewelry. This description is obligatory on all, having the full force of a divine commandment, as God commands us all to be holy. Neither does this woman put on extra garments for mere show, but she is simple and neat in her personal apparel, free from the disgusting and expensive gaieties, vanities and follies of needless station.

Verse 4

4. “But the hidden man of the heart in purity of a meek and quiet spirit which before God is perfection complete.” This verse describes the charming wife in positive characteristics, clear and unmistakable. This “hidden man of the heart” is none other than the new creature created in the heart by the Holy Ghost in regeneration. The “purity of a meek and quiet spirit, which before God is perfection complete,” is a duplicated and powerful statement of Christian perfection, the second work of grace. Hence the Holy Ghost says that the constituents of her beauty, i. e., regeneration and entire sanctification, constituting “the beauty of holiness,” throw into eclipse all the phantasmagoria of jewelry, finery, artistic fashions and diabolical styles, which would only bankrupt and disgust her husband, leaving him unsaved, ruin her health, inflate her vanity and send her own soul to hell.

Verses 5-6

5, 6. “For in this way the holy wives who had hoped toward God were also accustomed to beautify themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose children ye have become, doing good and fearing no calamity.” Like the saintly mothers of Israel, who walked with God in the “beauty of holiness,” these charming wives are endued with the perfect love which casts out fear. Oh, that the thousands of Christian women living with unsaved husbands would avail themselves of these infallible promises, appropriate the “beauty of holiness” and save their homes from Satanic power and perdition’s doom.

Verse 7

7. “Likewise ye husbands, dwelling with the wife as the weaker vessel, in harmony with knowledge extending unto them honor as truly your fellow heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers be not hindered.” While the wife is the husband’s physical inferior, we see here that she is his fellow heir in the grace of life, clearly involving the conclusion of her spiritual equality with her husband as to the rights and privileges in the kingdom of God.

Verses 8-12



8. “But finally, all be like minded.”... When God created Adam He gave him His own mind. When he yielded to Satan he forfeited God’s mind and received that of the devil, i. e., the carnal mind. “Enmity against God.” The sinner has but one mind, and that is Satan’s. The sanctified have but one mind, i. e., the mind of Christ. The unsanctified are James’ “double minded” people, whom he exhorts to get rid of their double mindedness by purifying their hearts (James 4:8). Hence there is but one way to obey our Lord’s commandment that all Christians shall be like minded, and that is for all to get rid of the carnal mind and possess only the mind of Christ. In regeneration the mind of Christ is imparted; meanwhile the carnal mind is conquered and grace given to keep it in subjection so it may not break out in actual transgression. In sanctification the carnal mind is utterly destroyed (Romans 6:6), leaving the mind of Christ to reign without a rival.

9. When you have the mind of Christ to the exclusion of the carnal mind, you are gloriously saved from retaliatory predilections and flooded with benedictions for all.

10, 11. These verses are replete with beautiful, amiable commandments, despised by the wicked, kept with difficulty by the unsanctified Christians, but the literal delight of God’s holy people.

12. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” The verification of this wonderful verse constitutes the eventful history of all ages contrastively exhibitory of God’s righteous administration over saints and sinners. Soon after the launching of Methodism, A.D. 1739, a popular sensation to see and hear the Methodists, about whom all had heard so many paradoxical reports, swept England like a tornado, thrilling the rabble with curiosity. One bright day Archibald Vickars, a very humble lay preacher of John Wesley, walks into Selma, an old English rural town of five thousand inhabitants, takes his stand on the milestone in the center of the city and sings the grand old Methodist songs till, attracted by his stentorian voice, a great crowd, gaping with curiosity, look him in the face. Then he proceeds to preach the Gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. John Hancock, Esquire, the great man of the city officially and influentially, gets awfully mad, rushes into the crowd, orders him to hush, repeats the unheeded order, then laying hands on him violently pulls the preacher down from the mile-post, beating him with his club. Of course the man of God journeys on to another field of labor. At the same hour Mother Halam, who had lived more than ninety years, now at the point of death, sends a messenger calling Esquire Hancock to her bedside; lifting up her feeble voice she says, “They tell me you pulled the Methodist preacher down from the milepost.” “I did, and beat him, and if he comes again I will give him worse.” She looks him in the face with her dying eyes, meanwhile, responsive to the spirit of prophecy coming on her, she says, “Yes, and God will pull you down.” Her spirit flew to the bosom of God. Though the magistrate was the great man of the community, prosperous in wealth, office and influence, his money took wings and flew away; his influence dying a natural death, of course they took his office from him. Years roll away, the decrepitude of age finds him a miserable vagabond, begging from door to door, eating out of slop buckets about kitchens, clothing himself with thrown away rags, and lodging in stables. One morning he is found dead in a cow stall. While they carry him on a rattling bier to a pauper’s grave passing by the milestone the remark is heard, “This man’s trouble and downfall began when he pulled the Methodist down from the milestone.”

Verses 13-16



If you are a Christian you have Christ in your heart. If you are not sanctified wholly, you have others there who rival and antagonize Him. This is your shame and His grief. It is your glorious privilege and inalienable duty to put everything out except Jesus and have him to reign in your heart without a rival. To sanctify means to purify. A purification is always effected by elimination. When you sanctify your growing crop, you take out all the weeds, brambles and filth, leaving the crop to encumber the ground alone.

13. “Who is he who shall harm you if you may be zealous of good?” The Greek word zeelootes, “zealot,” means a red-hot enthusiast. You need never fear Holy Ghost fire. Keep all you have and take all you can get.

15. “Always ready for an apology to every one asking you a reason for the hope that is within you, but with meekness and fear.” You see from this Scripture that we are always to have our testimony at tongue’s end, ever ready to give our experience and corroborate it by the Word of God. However, our promptitude and fidelity in testimony should ever be adorned with the beautiful grace of Christian meekness, i. e., perfect humility, and accompanied by becoming reverence for Him whose cause we are permitted in our weakness and ignorance to represent. We should be careful to keep self out of sight in our testimony, lest the enemy revive the old self life, zealously rendering prominent the Giver of our experience and conferring all possible honor on His blessed name.

16. “Having a good conscience in order that whatsoever you are calumniated those traducing your good deportment in Christ may be ashamed.” Amid all the vilifications, abuses and persecutions, which our enemies can heap on us, we may rest assured that God will bring glory and victory out of all.

Verses 18-20



The Apostolic Fathers all believed that the human soul of Christ was in Hades, while His body hung on the cross and lay in the sepulcher. The old versions of the Apostles’ Creed have the clause, “He descended into hell.” In the English both Gehenna and Hades are translated “hell.” In the Revised Version, Gehenna only is translated “hell,” hades being transferred, as we have no synonymous word. Hades is from alpha, not, and eidoo, to see. Hence, it simply means unseen, i. e., the invisible world, including both heaven and hell. The rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:0) both went to Hades, the former to burning Tartarus, and the latter to Abraham’s Bosom, i. e., the Intermediate Paradise, in which all of the Old Testament saints accepted the translated abode till Christ “led captivity captive.” The Greek and Roman poets and philosophers (who had descended from the house of Noah) all corroborate Luke in the location of both the good and bad in the lower world, the latter in the fire of Tartarus and the former in Elysium, which means a place of unmingled bliss. The Old Testament recognizes all, both good and bad, as descending into hades. When King Saul failed to destroy Agag, i. e., to get sanctified, like all others, he utterly apostatized. In his desperation, sorely pressed by the Philistines on the battlefields of Mount Gilboa, forsaken of God, who answered him no longer in dreams, or visions, nor by urim nor thummim, he strolls away in the night to consult the Witch of Endor, who, in her panegyric of bringing up Samuel from the dead, pursuant to Saul’s request, exclaimed aloud, “I saw God ascending out of the earth.” 1 Samuel 28:13. Thus at that moment God brought up Samuel to deliver his final prophecy to Saul, “And tomorrow thou and thy sons shall be with me” (1 Samuel 28:19), thus abundantly confirming the conclusion that in the old dispensation all the dead, good and bad, went to Hades, the former to Paradise, and the latter to fiery Tartarus. Samuel was God’s holy prophet, and of course had gone to Abraham’s Bosom, the Intermediate Paradise. He tells Saul, the hopeless apostate and suicide, that he and his unconverted sons shall be with him after they are slain in Mount Gilboa, i. e., they would all be in the same place, Hades, like the rich man and Lazarus; Samuel in Paradise and Saul in Tartarus. Jesus said to the dying thief, “This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” That Paradise was not heaven, for Jesus testified to the women on the Resurrection morn, that He had not yet gone up to His Father, whereas He had met the thief in Paradise on the preceding Friday. While Paul lay dead under the shower of stones at Lystra, he ascended up to the third heaven, ( i. e., to heaven proper, as the firmament is the first heaven, astronomical worlds the second, and the home of the glorified the third). This third heaven is also Paradise 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. Of course the thief did not go to this Paradise, but to Abraham’s Bosom, the Intermediate Paradise. Acts 2:31:

“Foreseeing he spoke concerning the resurrection of Christ, that He may not be left in Hades nor did His flesh see corruption,”

thus revealing most unequivocally that our Savior’s human soul was in Hades while His body lay in the sepulcher, He ascending out of Hades to receive His body instead of descending down from heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 vividly describes the descension of our Lord “into the lower parts of the earth,” which never could mean the sepulcher in which He was deposited, which I have frequently visited. It is not in the lower parts of the earth, but on the surface, excavated out of a great rock in the mountain side, and entered horizontally. No grave is in the “lower parts of the earth,” much less our Savior’s sepulcher.

18. “Because Christ died once for Sins, the just for the unjust, that He may lead us to God, indeed being put to death in the flesh but quickened in the spirit.” Spirit here in the Greek does not begin with a capital as in the English, since it does not mean the Holy Spirit, but he human spirit of Christ. This is evident from the antithesis with flesh, which is utterly destroyed by the English translation. Our Savior is perfect God and perfect man. His perfect humanity consists of a perfect human soul and body. While His body was put to death on the cross, His human soul received a powerful quickening by the Holy Ghost;

19. “By which also having gone, he proclaimed to the spirits in prison.” On this transaction the Roman Catholic purgatory has been utterly erroneously founded, as well as other false dogmata, promising sinners a second probation. The English translation “preach,” which is utterly untrue, has been made the pillar of these heretical superstructures. The Greek is erkeeruxen, which does not mean preach the Gospel at all, but proclaim as a herald; euangelein being the word, which always means to preach the Gospel.

20. The Revised Version should have corrected this error, having “proclaim” instead of preach. Of course these wicked antediluvians were with the devils in hell. Rest assured there is not a ray of hope for disembodied sinners in this passage. When our Savior came on the earth in a human body, all hell was stirred as never before. Satan and his myrmidons in their utter spiritual blindness, despite their transcendent intellects, leaped to the conclusion that if they could kill the man-Christ they would put finale to a four thousand years war, defeating the plan of salvation, achieving ultimate victory, winding up the conflict and adding earth to hell. Therefore Satan lays under contribution all the powers of the pandemonium to kill Jesus as quickly as possible. When they succeed in the seduction of Judas, a black courier wings his flight to hell with the joyous news. Meanwhile all hell is jubilant over the victory even now in sight; another courier arrives with the thrilling news of his condemnation by the grand Sanhedrin and the signature of his death warrant by Annas, the Roman high priest, and Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest. While the pandemonium is roaring and reverberating with jubilant shouts, another fiend sweeps in on black pinion, vociferating the ravishing tidings, “Both Herod and Pilate, our loyal servants, the chief autocrats of all the land, have signed His death warrant. Hence no power in all the earth can deliver Him out of our hands.” Never in all the ages was Tartarus so vociferous with shouts of victory. Now King Diabolus, encumbering his ebony throne in the great Stygian palace, orders ten thousand tall demons mounting up to superscribe in glowing candles around the pandemonium, “Victory.” Meanwhile other fiends arrive with the news, “He is nailed to the cross, bleeding and dying.” Beelzebub now arrives, testifying, “It is done. I stood by the cross and saw it all done. The grim monster has Him in his dark grip. He is dead!” and millions of devils vociferate the regions of woe with shouts of victory. Hark! A stentorian thunder-clap shakes the pandemonium from center to circumference! A light above the brilliancy of ten thousand noonday suns sweeps in from the portal, revealing all the dark, dismal dens of hell’s gorgon horrors. It is none other than the human soul of Christ; having evacuated the crucified body on the cross, He has come down, the herald of His own victory in all the regions of woe. The light radiant from His glorified soul reveals Him to every devil in the abyss. Paralyzed by panic they fall and acknowledge Him conqueror. With His own hands, as around the dark walls of the pandemonium, moving with the tread of a conqueror, He pulls down the prophecies of four thousand years’ successful warfare, and treads them beneath His feet. Now He proceeds to Satan, tremulous and quaking, on his throne, seizing him by the throat, dragging him down, puts His foot on his neck, verifying the first promise made in Eden, i. e., “the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” Having triumphed over all hell, He crosses over the deep chasm, chasma, impassable to all mortals (Luke 16:26), and before midnight enters the intermediate Paradise, called Abraham’s Bosom. Oh, how the thief runs to Him with a shout, “You said you would meet me in Paradise today and, glory to God, here you are!” Here comes Father Abraham with a tremendous shout, and takes Him in his arms. Job comes with an uproarous hallelujah. Isaac, Jacob, Caleb, Joshua, Daniel, and all the prophets, martyrs and saints, who have trodden the earth, shining, shouting and suffering for God the last four thousand years, rally around Him, rending the vaults of paradise with tremendous shouts of glory. Such an ovation that Intermediate Paradise had never known. Saturday passes by amid tremendous rejoicings. Meanwhile He marshals them all preparatory for the evacuation of the intermediate elysium, for the home of the glorified angels and redeemed saints, encircling the throne of God.

On Sunday morning begins that wonderful ascension (Ephesians 4:8-10), in which He leads captive all the occupants of Abraham’s Bosom, now that the Abramic covenant has been verified, and sealed with His blood, thus opening heaven to all the blood-washed. Wonderful is the rapture of that triumphant ascension, accompanied by all the Old Testament saints. He comes up to the sepulcher and receives His body on the third morn. As this mighty host of Old Testament saints were all disembodied, of course they were invisible to mortal eyes. Jesus, the only one seen, because He only had His body. Meanwhile this mighty host accompany Him in His abiding forty days with His disciples, and constitute His triumphal procession when from Mount Olivet He ascended up to the glorified home of His Father in heaven. Jesus must be the first fruits of them that slept. His glorified body, the eternal confirmation of the redemptive scheme, must first of all enter heaven. Though a number of others were raised from the dead before Christ, we have no evidence that their bodies were transfigured. Hence Jesus was the first one to raise from the dead, receiving the resurrection body. It was pertinent that all the Old Testament saints should be detained in that Intermediate Paradise till the plan of salvation was literally consummated by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. David (Psalms 24:0) catches a prophetic vision of this wonderful ascension. Having risen from Mount Olivet with the velocity of lightning, they sweep through ethereal space, passing rolling worlds, glittering sphere, luminous comets and flaming suns, till now the celestial metropolis, in its ineffable glory, bursts upon their enraptured vision. “Lift joyous heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and let the King of glory come.” “Who is this King of glory?” “The Lord mighty to save, He is the King of glory.” The celestial portals all open wide, while millions of angels pour out to greet them with loud shouts: “Welcome home, ye blood-washed.” Now the King of glory entered amid the enraptured songs of the seraphim, the thrilling paeans of the cherubim, the golden harps of the archangel and the tremendous hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts, accompanied by the innumerable procession of the Old Testament saints, on and on they sweep around the clarion jubilations of countless millions, till halting before the effulgent throne, the Son salutes the Father: “Behold, I and the children whom Thou hast given me.” Such a testimony meeting as heaven has never seen now follows. Father Abraham leads the way, followed by Job, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, the prophets, patriarchs, saints and martyrs, to the ravishing delight of the angels.

Verses 21-22



21. “Which antitype baptism even now saves us, not putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” This passage has suffered terribly in the hands of Satan’s preachers, Papistical and Protestant, who have done their utmost to drag it into conservatism to the soul-destroying heresy of baptismal regeneration, whereas it positively certifies the very opposite. Throughout the Bible water symbolizes the Holy Ghost, while the water of the deluge destroyed the wicked antediluvians, it carried up the ark from the doom of the dying world, thus saving Noah and his family. The Greek erroneously translated “like figure,” is antitype, and should be transferred as in the Revised Version. As water is a type of the Holy Spirit, it follows as an irresistible sequence that the Spirit Himself is the Antitype. Hence the plain teaching of this passage is that the baptism of the Holy Ghost under the Gospel dispensation saves us. “Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,” i. e., not water baptism, as it is a plain allusion to the removal of ceremonial defilement under the Levitical law, by sprinkling the water of purification (Hebrews 9:10), which was water baptism. “But the answer of a good. conscience.” While Peter certifies that this antitype baptism is not water baptism, he simultaneously tells us it is the “answer of a good conscience,” i. e., when God baptizes us with the Holy Ghost, He thereby gives His answer to our conscience, assuring us that it is good.

22. Christ having perfected the plan of salvation, ascending up to heaven, is lovingly received by the Father and crowned Mediatorial King, amid the ovations of the celestial universe.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".