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Bible Commentaries
1 Peter 3

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-22

1 Peter 3:1-6 . Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands. The same words occur in Ephesians 5:22. Col 3:18 . The excellence of piety is pleaded here, as the first ornament of a wife. Wisdom connected with the culture of the mind and all the adornings of the christian temper; a chaste behaviour, a fear, and a cautious prudence. These will gain a husband to the Lord more than the monthly fashions of dress. The example of Sarah is adduced, whom all the Hebrew women revered as a model of virtue. A woman devoid of wisdom, and of female graces, only renders her folly more conspicuous by splendour of dress. Proverbs 11:22. It is a standing complaint against religious women of the present age, that their dresses are too expensive, and often bordering upon immodesty.

1 Peter 3:8-9 . Be ye all of one mind. Unity is the glory of the church. While fear and self-interest bind the world in chains, love reigns among the saints. Antichrist has many children, restless spirits, and disturbers of all repose. All is wrong, according to them, in government, in commerce, and in the church, because the sceptre of the world is not in their hands.

1 Peter 3:10-13 . He that will love life, and see good days, let him avoid evil, do good, and pursue peace. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous; they are his children, and the heirs of glory. He delights in them, and calls them by his own name. The Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. His face is against all that do evil. Who then is he that shall harm [hurt] you, if you are followers of that which is good?

1 Peter 3:15 . Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh, a reason of the hope that is in you, or the ground on which your faith is built. The candidates for baptism were well-instructed in the christian faith by catechists. In this age, our unbelievers are well-read in books hostile to revelation, and nothing can be more imprudent than to let our young men go out into the world unarmed. What can we expect but an abdication of the faith they were never taught to defend? The best books I know on this subject are, Jenkins’ reasonableness of christianity, Addison’s evidences, bishop Bull’s analogy, and bishop Watson’s defence. Paley’s abridgment of Lardner is written on socinian principles. Calmet’s Dictionary, once so excellent, is now empoisoned with English unitarianism, and German neology.

1 Peter 3:18-19 . Quickened by the Spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison. The apostle here asserts that those who obstinately perished in the flood of Noah, were in the prison of hell; and for this assertion he knew he had the consent of the jewish nation. The sanhedrim taught that the generation of the flood have no portion in the world to come, neither shall they stand up in judgment; for it is said my Spirit shall not always strive with man. Hence Peter intimates that the Spirit which strove with the old world was the Spirit of Messiah. See note on chap. 1 Peter 4:6. Dr. Lightfoot. The plain interpretation of this passage, observes bishop Pearson, is the true one; namely, that Christ preached to those men who lived before the flood, even while they lived, and consequently that He was before it. For though this was not done by an immediate act of the Son of God, as if he had personally appeared on earth, and actually preached to that old world; but by the ministry of a prophet, by the sending of Noah, a preacher of righteousness; yet to do anything by another, not able to perform it without him, as much demonstrates the existence of the principal cause, as if he did it of himself without any intervening instrument.

1 Peter 3:21-22 . The like figure, even baptism, doth now save us. Some important ideas must here be associated, to illustrate the allusion. We are not saved by the putting away of corporeal defilement, but by being buried with Christ by baptism unto death, and by rising with him to newness of life. Thus in 1 Corinthians 10:2, the Israelites are said to be baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They came out of the sea and out of the cloud, as it were, a new people, sprinkled with the blood of the covenant. The atonement of Christ, offered up in the end of the world, had a retrospective influence, and removed all their sins. The washing of the new birth, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, lead to righteousness of life, which is the correspondence of a good conscience, by keeping our garments unspotted from the flesh. This new life is associated with seeking the things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of the Father. Such are the arguments used by the apostle in several places. Colossians 3:1; Colossians 3:4. Romans 6:3; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Timothy 3:5.


The moral obligations of the christian life are here enforced with weighty reasons, and paternal dignity. Certainly, as the world have no means of judging of the work of grace on the heart but by our actions, we ought to walk worthy of the Lord unto all well-pleasing. Christianity should produce domestic happiness; the heads of families being well instructed in domestic duties, felicities follow in every form, and the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife.

The religiously educated female seeking to please the Lord, and to value mental accomplishments, will place dress in a humble scale of her enjoyments. If she can but walk the streets unnoticed, or appear in the congregation with decency, she obtains the boon of all her wishes. Why decorate the flesh, which very soon shall be the feast of worms? If we delight in the Lord, he also will delight in us. The church is his family, his garden, his temple, where he delights to dwell. His eyes are over the righteous for good, and his cares are unremitting. He neither slumbers nor sleeps.

And why should we seek to please the world? They slander us as evildoers, we have daily to endure their reproaches, and the best answer we can give is that of a blameless life. The model of all passive, and of all suffering virtues, is in the Saviour. The jewish priesthood pursued him through life for evil, and he pursued them for good. He most luminously answered all their arguments against his miracles, wrought on the sabbath day. He impartially reproved their sins in order to conversion; and when they requited all his labours of love with the pains of the cross, he meekly bowed his head, and gave his life for our redemption. Yea, he descended into the lower parts of the earth, and was quickened by the same Spirit which he has sent down to quicken our souls from the death of sin to a life of righteousness.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-peter-3.html. 1835.
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