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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Peter 3

Verse 1

1Pe 3:1. One definition of likewise is "moreover," denoting that the writer has something more to say, but not necessarily on the same subject he has been considering. The wives addressed are disciples who have husbands not members of the church. Wives are expected to be in subjection to their husbands regardless of their religious profession. But if the Christian wives show that they can live in obedience to their companions in marriage notwithstanding their religion, it will speak well for• their profession. Be won without the word. A man might not be interested directly by the written word, but when he sees the principles of that word as practiced by his Christian wife, he may thereby be led into obedience to the truth.

Verse 2

1Pe 3:2. This continues the thought in the preceding verse. Chaste means pure and conversation refers to the general life or conduct. Fear is used in the sense of a person who has respect for another and who is unwilling to do anything improper toward him. If a husband observes that his wife is that kind of woman, and that the religion she professes prompts her unto such an attitude toward him, he may become a disciple also as a result of such godly influence.

Verse 3

1Pe 3:3. One definition of adorning is "decoration," and means the general appearance of one that is arranged for the observation of another. One of the items that Peter forbids is putting on of apparel. He does not specify any certain kind of dress (as Paul does in 1Ti 2:9). However, we know the wife is not forbidden the putting on of clothing, hence the unavoidable conclusion is that she must not depend on the display of articles mentioned in this verse to interest her husband. Instead of a gaudy display of jewelry or showy garments, she will restrict herself within reasonable and modest bounds in her use of such feminine dainties, and rely on the better attractions named in the preceding verses and some others to follow. (See the comments on this subject at 1Ti 2:9-10.)

Verse 4

1Pe 3:4. It is right for a woman to display a proper attraction for the opposite sex, but it is much more important that she appear as she should in the eyes of God; the things that will please Him are described in this verse. Hidden man of the heart is a figure of speech to denote the opposite of the outward body that may receive material adornment. Not corruptible means something not subject to decay as is the material of bodily dress. Meek and quiet are virtually the same in effect. The first indicates a mind of humbleness and the second denotes the conduct that such a spirit manifests. In God's sight such qualities are of great price which signifies they are of much value. That is because they are durable and destined to outlast all temporal ornaments such as those made of gold and silver.

Verse 5

1Pe 3:5. The phrases holy women and trusted in God are expressed as being related, and account for the other statement that they adorned themselves according to the principles that are discussed in the preceding verses of the chapter. It should not be overlooked that the kind of women here described will be in subjection to their own husbands as those were in old time called "holy."

Verse 6

1Pe 3:6. Obeyed and lord are related in this verse, for both in the Old Testament and the New where this circumstance is recorded, the word lord means "ruler." It is therefore not used as a title of rank under royalty as the term is used in the East. Not afraid with any amazement. This means the wife must not obey her husband because she is "scared" or frightened into it, but should do it from a motive of modesty and respect. Such women are called daughters of Sara (Sarah in the Old Testament) because they are a generation of faithful wives like the wife of Abraham.

Verse 7

1Pe 3:7. Dwell with them according to knowledge means for the husband to act intelligently toward his wife. That will cause him to remember that she is the weaker vessel in that she belongs to the "weaker sex" physically, and therefore is not as rugged as he. But while there is this difference in their strength, yet they are equal heirs to the grace of life, which means the favors that the Lord has promised to those who live for Him. Prayers be not hindered. This phrase indicates that where husbands and wives are both disciples, they will engage in mutual prayer services in their homes. Yet such services would be hindered were their love not mutual also.

Verse 8

1Pe 3:8. The instructions are now directed more generally and apply to Christians in the various walks of life. To be of one mind means to be united upon the matters that pertain to the service of Christ, especially those which have to do with their treatment of each other. Having compassion one of another all comes from one Greek word which Thayer defines in part as "sympathetic." Love as brethren denotes the love one has for another because he is a brother in Christ. Pitiful is virtually the same as tender hearted, and courteous means to be friendly and kind.

Verse 9

1Pe 3:9. The first half of this verse means not to return evil for evil, but to return good for evil. It is the same thought that Paul teaches in Rom 12:19-21. Ye are thereunto called. When the Gospel call was made to them it was with the understanding they would conduct themselves after this manner. Disciples must be willing to bless (do good) their brethren in Christ if they expect to inherit a blessing from Him.

Verse 10

1Pe 3:10. This is a quotation from Psa 34:12 and is made a part of the apostle's letter to Christians. It is presented as a higher basis for an enjoyable life than the popular standards of the world. An evil tongue is one that speaks to the injury of another's good name, and to speak guile is to use speech that is deceitful.

Verse 11

1Pe 3:11. Eschew evil denotes that one avoids it and does that which is good instead. Seek peace expresses the mere desire for it while ensue it is a stronger term and means to take active steps to accomplish it.

Verse 12

1Pe 3:12. The Lord sees everything at all times and in all places, hence the word over is used in a special sense here. The connection shows it means He has his eyes upon the righteous for their good, even as a faithful guardian keeps watch over his charge. On the same principle His ears are ready to listen to the prayers of His righteous servants. But the Lord will not even look toward the doers of evil; He will "turn his back to them." An ancient prophet expresses the same thought (on the favorable side) by the words, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa 66:2).

Verse 13

1Pe 3:13. This verse is similar in thought to Gal 5:23. It does not mean that nobody will oppose those who do good, for they will. They might even do a person some bodily damage which would be considered as harmful. However, in the end the true servant of God will be the victor and hence no actual harm will result. Jesus taught this in Mat 10:28 where he showed that real harm is that which affects the soul. Our verse means therefore that if we do that which is good, nothing harmful can happen to us even if we do lose our temporal lives.

Verse 14

1Pe 3:14. This is virtually like the preceding verse as to the security of the righteous; they have much for which to be thankful. Enemies may threaten us but we need not be afraid of them. At the worst they can only-kill the body while the soul may con tinue to live and be with "God who gave it."

Verse 15

1Pe 3:15. Sanctify is from HAGIAZO and Thayer's first definition is, "To render or acknowledge to be venerable [sacred], to hallow." The reader should carefully note that the word has a twofold meaning, namely, either to cause another to become holy (which can be done to man by the Gospel), or to recognize another to be already that way (which can be done only to the Lord who is the author of the Gospel). The passage instructs disciples to recognize the Lord as holy and entitled a permanent place in their hearts. The way this can be done is made clear in Eph 3:17 by the words, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." Add to this the statement as to the source of faith (Rom 10:17) and the subject is complete. We should make ourselves so familiar with the word of God that He will be in our hearts (minds) all the time. If all this is done we will be prepared to comply with the rest of the verse. Answer means an explanation that shows the basis for believing anything that might be called in question. When any man asks us to show that basis we must be prepared to do so. Neither is this to be done at stated times only or after we have "brushed up" our memory on it, but we are to be ready always. This will be possible if we have obeyed the first part of the verse which will have made us acquainted with the word of God. With meekness and fear. We should be humble and not overbearing when someone asks us to defend our position. We should have great respect for the subject and answer the questions according to Him who is living in our hearts and whom we fear or reverence.

Verse 16

1Pe 3:16. This verse implies that at least some who call for an explanation of our faith may be unfriendly. They may approach us with a "chip-on-the shoulder" attitude, which explains why the preceding verse instructs us to be meek and respectful; if we observe all these instructions we can have a good conscience. When the critics make their approach with the questions, they often imply that no good reason can be given for the conduct of the disciples because they (the disciples) are evildoers so they will say. But when the reasons are shown to be well founded in the word of God it will put to shame the false accusers. Good conversation means their conduct or manner of life is good and in harmony with the word of God.

Verse 17

1Pe 3:17. If a person suffers for well doing it may be considered as a persecution, and such an experience will be something in which to rejoice. The early disciples found joy in suffering shame for the sake of Christ (Act 5:41). But if one suffers on account, of his evil doing it is to be regarded as a chastisement, and in such a case the guilty one may well be ashamed of himself.

Verse 18

1Pe 3:18. No unjust person could suffer and die on behalf of another like him, hence it was necessary for the just Christ to do this. Put to death in the flesh. In order to die it was necessary for Christ to take on a fleshly body. He was quickened or returned to life by the Spirit. The italicized phrase is an important key to the passage of several verses. The Deity or Godhead is composed of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These are all equal as being divine and pure, but the Father and Son are the makers and preservers of all things. They accomplish their wonderful works through the services of the Spirit. It should therefore be understood that the leading thought in this and the following verse is what was accomplished for Christ through the instrumentality of the Spirit.

Verse 19

1Pe 3:19. By which (Spirit). The services of the Spirit is still the subject that was introduced in the preceding verse. Christ (in cooperation with his Father) did some preaching through the agency of the Spirit. But since the Spirit never speaks directly to sinful man concerning his personal duty, it is necessary to have also the services of a human preacher. That preacher was Noah, for 2Pe 2:5 says he was "a preacher of righteousness," which would. mean he did the right kind of preaching. The connection shows that the ones to whom he preached were disobedient persons, hence the preaching consisted in exhortation and call to repentance. In prison. This is a figure of speech drawn from the direct preaching that Jesus did in person to sinners while He was on earth. In Isa 42:7 Isa 49:9 it is predicted that Jesus would preach to people in prision (of sin), and by that same figure the ones to whom Noah preached might be called "spirits in prison."

Verse 20

1Pe 3:20. The preceding verse tells what was done--that some preaching was done to people in the prison house of sin. The present verse tells when it was done, namely in the days- of Noah. The reason given for the preaching is that they were disobedient. A fuller description is given in Gen 6:5 which says "every imagination [purpose] of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." The length of time during which God labored or "strived" with man (through Noah) is explained by the longsuffering of Him. The period of longsuffering included the time necessary for the building of the ark. One of Thayer's definitions of the original Greek word for soul is, "That in which there is life; a living being," hence it is used in this passage to mean the eight members of Noah's family. Saved by water. Being heavier than the ark and its contents, the water bore them on its bosom and thus kept them safe from the revages of the flood. 1Pe 3:21

Verse 21

Like figure. The only comparison the apostle makes is between the water of the flood and that of baptism. No writer in the New Testament ever refers to the ark as a type of the church. The fact that Peter does specify the one item and call it a figure, but makes no mention of any other comparison shows it was not because he was so far away from the subject. There are too many items that are against the theory. The people are said to have been saved by water, yet that element came after the people entered the ark, while baptism is necessary before people can enter the church. Again, there were unclean beasts taken into the ark, while only those who are saved or clean are added to the church (Acts 2:47). Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh. This statement indicates that baptism is a washing of the whole body. No one would have formed the erroneous idea that baptism was intended as a cleaning bath for the body had the rite been performed by sprinkling, for all would know that such an act would not cleanse anything. The explanation is suggested by the practice in Old Testament times of washing the bodies of animal sacrifices in water. Answer is from EPEROTEMA and Thayer defines it at this place as folio s: "A demand; earnest seeking, i.e. a craving, an intense desire, to long for something." That which is desired is a good conscience toward God. When a sinner is taught that he must be baptized for the remission of sin, and he has the desire to do right, he will not have a good conscience until he obeys this command. The above explanation is inserted to avoid an erroneous idea about baptism, after which the writer resumes the subject of salvation by baptism. The information is added that the salvation is accomplished by the resurrestion of Jesus Christ. Had He not come from the dead it would not have availed anything for a man to be baptized.

Verse 22

1Pe 3:22. After Jesus accomplished his work on earth for the redemption of man, He ascended to heaven as the great Conqueror. Just before He left the earth he told his apostles that "All power [authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth." That truth is here repeated by the apostle, and suggests the beautiful language of David in Psa 24:7-10.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-peter-3.html. 1952.