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Monday, October 2nd, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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1 Peter 3

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-6

Submission Applied to Wives

Peter continues, in 1Pe_3:1 , to give instructions on submission, as the word "likewise" would indicate. In 2:13 he dealt with government and in 2:18 with masters. God knew that in any endeavor where more than one person was involved someone would have to take the lead, so, in marriage he made the husband the head over the wife ( Eph_5:22-29 ; Col_3:18-19 ; Tit_2:5 ).

Husbands are directed to love their wives, so this submission should be a happy one. This is especially true since they are to love their wives as they do their own body and as Christ loved the church and died for it. The submission enjoined by Peter is particularly directed to the Christian woman whose husband has not obeyed the gospel. Woods tells us, "Do not obey" "is translated from a term which denotes a degree of antagonism in addition to disobedience, plus an element of stubbornness. It means, literally, not to allow one's self to be persuaded." Such men will refuse to hear their wife's pleadings, but may be persuaded to obey by the good example they see in her daily Christian living.

Thayer says the word "observe" means, "to look upon, view attentively; to watch." Evidently this unbelieving husband is watching his wife to see what impact Christianity will have on her. So, her reverent (meaning of fear) subjection to him will make a good impression ( 1Pe_3:2 ). Woods notes that verses 3-4 should be regarded as a Hebraism, which is a figure of speech used to encourage others to do a good work. Just as Joh_6:27 does not forbid Christ's followers from working for their daily bread but encourages them to count spiritual meat as far more important, so does this verse encourage a Christian woman to be most concerned with her inward, spiritual beauty. She should not give over much attention to outward appearance, but should devote herself to adorning the inward man ( Rom_7:22 ; 2Co_4:16 ). This apparel will not perish with this earth, but will last through eternity. Her jewelry should be a mildness of disposition and gentle spirit. Such a person would not be selfish, proud, or stubborn. A yielding and patient attitude will truly adorn her life. God counts such women a prized possession.

In support of his previous point, Peter recalled the lives of faithful women of the past who placed their trust in God and hoped for His promises ( Heb_11:11 ; Heb_11:23 ; Heb_11:35 ).

They cloaked their lives in quiet subjection to their husbands and service to God. Coffman does well to point out that Sarah thought of Abraham as Lord even to herself when no one else was around ( Gen_18:12 ). Her calling him Lord simply shows she was in subjection. Woods says, "whose daughters you are" is literally, "whose daughters you became." The idea is that when they put on a meek and quiet spirit and lived in subjection they became Sarah's daughters by being like her in action. Christian women continue to be Sarah's daughters as long as they do the Lord's will and do not let someone terrorize them into failing to continue in calm obedience ( 1Pe_3:5-6 ).

Verse 7

Husbands' Treatment of Wives

As in 3:1; 2:13 and 18, Peter, in 3:7, is encouraging proper conduct so the world will see Christ in Christians' lives. Unlike heathen outside of Christ, Christian husbands should have knowledge of God's law and treat their wives with love and consideration (see 1Co_7:3-4 ; Eph_5:25-31 ; Col_3:19 ).

They should count their wives as precious, which is the meaning of the word translated, "giving honor." It has the same meaning which was observed in 1:19. It is not popular with some women but still true that man is generally physically stronger than women. (Coffman reminds us of the men's and women's tees at a golf course.)

Woman is also an heir to eternal life through Jesus Christ ( Rom_6:23 ; Gal_3:28 ). Thus, she is spiritually equal to the man and worthy of honor. Where Christianity has grown, women have generally seen their lot improve because of its teachings. Peter enjoins husbands to treat their wives in such a manner so that their prayers will not be interrupted. Discord in the family can break into our prayer life, as can any wrong treatment of a brother ( Mat_5:23-24 ).

Verses 8-9

Being A Blessing In the Lives of Others

Peter concludes his discussion of the Christian's treatment of others by telling all to have five special attitudes. First, Christ's followers should be united in thought under the same Lord, baptized by one baptism into one body, through one Spirit, looking forward to one home in heaven, proclaiming one gospel and worshipping one God ( Eph_4:1-6 ; 1Co_1:10 ; 1Co_12:13 ). Second, a conscious effort should be made to feel with others in joy and sorrow ( 1Co_12:26 ; Rom_12:15 ). Third, it is the duty of Christians to love each other as brothers from the same family ( Joh_13:34-35 ; 1Th_4:9 ; 1Jn_3:14 ). Fourth, believers are to be tenderhearted, or pitiful. The word here is the same as in Eph_4:32 .

Christians should be especially sensitive to the suffering of others ( Heb_13:3 ). Fifth, God's children are to be courteous, or humbleminded, which is the opposite of a haughty, proud spirit. The first concern should be directed to the needs of others ( 1Pe_3:8 ; Php_2:3-4 ; Rom_12:10 ).

Christians should not seek revenge, or to pay someone back for a wrong they may have committed against them ( Rom_12:19-21 ; Mat_5:38-44 ).

Neither are they to speak evil about someone who has spoken evil about them. Instead, they should speak well of them, when possible, and call upon God to help them ( 1Pe_3:9 ; Mat_5:44 ; Luk_23:34 ; Act_7:60 ).

Remember, Christians were called by God when they were his enemies. He sent his Son to die for them, and because of Christ's blood, forgives them. Therefore, each should bless his enemies and forgive them repeatedly.

Verses 10-12

God's Watchful Care for His Children

Next, Peter quoted Psa_34:12-16 in an effort to encourage his readers to follow the admonitions of verses 8-9. Those who would have a productive life on earth and desired eternal life in heaven should do the things the Psalmist describes ( 1Pe_3:10-12 ).

First, he must stop his tongue from evil and deceitful speaking. Second, he should avoid evil and seek to do good ( 1Th_5:21-22 ; Rom_12:9 ; Gal_6:10 ). Third, he must not only be a peacemaker, but also one who actively pursues it ( Mat_5:9 ; Heb_12:14 ). Woods notes that the words "on" and "against" in verse 12 are both from the same Greek word which means "upon". The Lord's eyes and ears are upon the righteous for their well-being. He watches out for their good ( Mat_6:33 ; Mat_28:20 ) and keeps his ears tuned to hear them express their earnest desires ( Mat_7:7-11 ; Joh_14:13-14 ). The Lord's face is upon those that do evil also, but with displeasure ( Isa_59:1-2 ; Psa_66:18 ; Pro_15:29 ; Isa_1:10-15 ).

Verses 13-17

Suffering for Right and Wrong Reasons

Where the New King James puts "followers of what is good, the A.S.V. puts "if ye be zealous of that which is good." More than just a follower, this individual is an enthusiastic worker who puts his whole self into doing good. Who can really hurt such people? Ultimately, the answer is no one. They may put such to death but through Christ the grave will be overcome and the victory won ( 1Pe_3:13 ; Mat_10:28 ; Mar_10:29-30 ; Rev_2:10 ; 1Co_15:54-58 ).

Lest they assume that they would face no difficulties, Peter tells them an inner peace belongs to those who suffer because of right living ( Mat_5:10 ). Some would persecute Christians and cause them to be terrified, but Jesus' followers could remain calm because the Lord was on their side ( Rom_8:31-39 ). The last part of verse 14 and first part of 15 come from Isa_8:12-13 . Instead of fearing their persecutors, Peter would have Christians to set apart in their "hearts Christ as Lord" (A. S. V.). Also, he urged Christians to be ready to defend and give reasons for their hope to anyone who asked. The Christians' hope is for a home in heaven. The answer should be given without haughtiness toward the person asking and with a proper fear of God because the teaching comes from his word.

Of course, such an answer would be worthless if one's life was inconsistent with the truth he was defending. If one followed the course Peter outlined, they might speak against him as an evil doer and bring wild accusations against him, but his life and manner of answering will put them to shame ( 1Pe_3:16 ).

Those who suffer for wrong doing know they are getting what they deserve. It is better to suffer for doing what is right because one can then know God will only chasten him for his betterment ( Heb_12:7-11 ). Notice Peter does not state such suffering would absolutely be within God's will, but indicates it might be ( 1Pe_3:17 ).

Verses 18-20

Christ's Preaching In the Days of Noah

Christ's suffering included dying for us. Jesus certainly is an example of one who suffered for doing what was right. He was a righteous person suffering for those who are not righteous ( Ephesians 2:1-6, 13:16 ). He suffered "once for all" time, which is the more literal meaning of the word translated "once." His only purpose in that death was to bring man back to God. Jesus died physically, but he was "brought to active life in the realm of the spirit" (Woods). The spirit is that eternal part of man in contrast to his fleshly body, which is temporary.

The "spirits in prison" would have to be the disembodied spirits of the disobedient God waited on in the days of Noah. Their prison would be the Hadean realm where they awaited the day of judgment (compare 2Pe_2:4-5 ; Jud_1:6 ). Just as Christ is said to have preached to the Gentiles through the apostles ( Eph_2:17 ), he preached to the people before the flood through Noah ( 2Pe_2:5 ).

There is no indication these spirits were in prison when preached to, only that they were in prison when Peter wrote. Since all men will be judged based upon the deeds done in their body, the doctrine of a second chance after death is a false one ( 1Pe_3:18-19 ; 2Co_5:10 ; Mat_25:31-46 ).

When these spirits were still in the body, they disobeyed God's will. Particularly, they were disobedient during the period when God waited for the ark to be prepared, which could have been one hundred years ( Gen_5:32 ; Gen_7:6 ). Noah was a preacher of righteousness, so God waited for them to repent. Compared with the multitudes who drowned, eight souls were certainly few. Those eight were saved in the ark by the very water that destroyed the disobedient. The water was the instrument God used to exercise his saving power ( 1Pe_3:20 ).

Verse 21

Baptism, the Antitype

Through the water, Noah and his family were taken from a world full of wickedness to a newly cleansed world. They were saved from the destruction brought on by man's sin. They were separated from wicked men. Baptism in water is a figure, or "antitype," of that. Thayer says of the word translated "antitype", "a thing resembling another, its counterpart; something in the Messianic times which answers to the type...prefiguring it in the Old Testament."

How appropriate then that baptism should take one from his own sinful state to a new life ( 1Pe_3:21 ; Rom_6:3-4 ; Act_22:16 ). He is thus saved from the destruction his own sin has earned ( Rom_6:23 ; Act_2:38 ). He is also separated for God's service in that watery surrender to God's will ( Rom_6:16-18 ).

Since Noah and his family were saved through water, with it being the instrument of God's saving power, it is important to recognize that the water of baptism is the instrument of God's saving power in the Christian age, too. Baptism is not a bath to take away filth from the body.

Having given the definitions of "an inquiry" and "a demand" for the word "answer", Thayer says, "As the terms of inquiry and demand often include the idea of desire, the word thus gets the signification of earnest seeking, i.e. a craving, an intense desire." Thus baptism is our calling out to God with an intense desire for a good conscience. This is accomplished "through the resurrection of Jesus Christ," which would stand for all involved in his sacrificial death, burial and resurrection. In baptism, man dies to sin, is buried and raised to walk in a new life ( Col_2:12 ).

Verse 22

Preparing to Suffer

The resurrected Christ has now returned to heaven ( Act_1:9 ), where he is seated at God's right hand. Such a seat symbolizes the honor and power that is now his ( Psa_110:1 ; Rom_8:34 ; Heb_1:3 ; Heb_12:2 ). Having assured his readers that Christ suffered for them ( 1Pe_3:18 ), Peter urges them to prepare for troubles ahead. His words bring forth the image of a soldier getting his weapon, when he tells them to arm themselves with Christ's attitude toward suffering. The one who suffers persecution for Christianity has given up the life of sin. Thus, sin no longer lures him through lusts that appeal to sinful men. Instead, he is drawn by the will of God to live the right life. A Christian's time for living in sin is past ( 1Pe_3:22 ; 1Pe_4:1-2 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/1-peter-3.html. 2014.
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