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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
1 Peter 3

 

 

Verses 1-7

Husbands and wives

1 Peter 3:1-7

1 Peter 3:1. In the preceding chapter the apostle speaks of giving honor, obedience, and respect to kings, magistrates, and people who hold an office or a position of leadership and authority. This chapter begins with ‘likewise’ (in the same manner) as the husband is the leader and ruling authority in the home, the wife is to be in subjection. Other scriptures dealing with this subject are Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3, and Ephesians 5:22-24. A woman who desires to be in God’s will shall love her husband, speak respectfully of him and to him, and seek to carry out his wishes in family affairs.

Peter explains that one reason for this is that, if the husband is not a believer, he will be impressed by the behavior and spiritual attitude of his wife and will seek the mercy of the Lord. Peter is not teaching that a man is saved without hearing the gospel; but it is not the arguments, nagging, and talking of religion by the wife that impress him, but her godly attitude and conduct.

1 Peter 3:2. When the unbelieving partner observes the modest and holy conduct of his wife, along with her love for and faith in Christ, together with a reverence for his authority, he will be impressed and may be led to seek the Lord. A rebellious, contentious, and bossy wife can never impress an unbelieving husband. Her religion is vain (James 2:18-20).

1 Peter 3:3. ‘Whose adorning.’ Let it not be only outward such as the hair, jewelry, and clothing of the body. The apostle is not condemning the proper care and beauty of the hair. There were women among the Jews whose business it was to plait and care for women’s hair. He is not forbidding the moderate use of jewelry. (The daughters of Abraham were supplied with such things—Genesis 24:22; Genesis 24:30; Genesis 24:47; Genesis 24:53.) He is not forbidding neat, attractive, modest clothing which is suitable to age, character, and station in life; but he is saying that believing women should not so much regard and be so intent on the adorning of their bodies and the outward signs of beauty as they should be concerned with the beauty of a godly character, attitude, and personality. The beauty of the heart and mind and soul is real beauty (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

1 Peter 3:4. Women (and men), let your care and concern be toward making beautiful the inward person (called ‘the hidden man’ because it is not seen with the natural eye as the corruptible, outward ornaments are seen). Far better to be known for the inward beauty of a meek and quiet spirit which lasts eternally than to impress people for a while with corruptible ornaments and outward beauty that will soon fade and wither away (Luke 16:15; Matthew 23:25-28).

1 Peter 3:5. This is the example set for us by all the women of the past who trusted in God. Their adorning and marks of beauty came not from outward wardrobes, Jewelry, and hairstyles; but they were in subjection to the law of God, submissive wives, and good mothers (Titus 2:3-5). Nothing is less attractive or uglier than a woman trying to rule a home or a church (1 Timothy 2:8-15).

1 Peter 3:6. Sarah journeyed with Abraham wherever he went, did the things he asked her to do, and respectfully called him her Lord. You women can be called the true daughters of Sarah as you follow her example, not being shaken by fear for your security, your rights, your pride, or your station in life. After all, you are not seeking the praise of people but the praise of the Lord.

1 Peter 3:7. Likewise (in the same manner), there is an honor, respect, and recognition to be given to the wife by her husband.

1. ‘Dwell with your wives according to knowledge.’ Use wisdom and good sense. Your wife is not a slave, but a loving companion. She is not a subject to be ordered about by a rod of law, but apart of you to be instructed in love.

2. ‘Give honor to the wife.’ There are several honors that crown the head of a woman. She was created by God as she is in order to bring joy, companionship, and comfort to man (1 Corinthians 11:9). She is a man’s wife. There is no one closer or of more importance to him on this earth (Genesis 2:24). She is a mother (Genesis 3:20). What could carry more honor, respect, or recognition as far as this world of flesh is concerned than to bring forth a son or a daughter?

3. ‘Treat her as a weaker vessel;’ that is, with tenderness, gentleness, and kindness. Real strength shines brighter when it can carry a great load and at the same time caress a flower. The man who holds his wife in contempt holds God in contempt, for she is a gift from God.

4. She is to be looked upon as a joint-heir with you of the grace of God. She is a daughter of our blessed King; therefore, to abuse her, mistreat her, and to treat her with contempt is to incur the wrath of her Father and to hinder your prayers and fellowship with him (Ephesians 5:25).


Verses 8-14

He that will love life and see good days

1 Peter 3:8-14

1 Peter 3:8. ‘Finally.’ Having finished the subject respecting citizens and magistrates, servants and masters, husbands and wives, Peter sums up the whole matter with the following words:

‘Be ye all of the same mind’ whatever difference in sex, station, position, or age. Be of the same mind toward God; seek his will, his glory, his acceptance. Be of the same mind toward one another; we are all children of his family. Be of the same mind toward the good and growth of his church. ‘He that is not for me is against me.’

‘Have compassion one of another.’ Sympathize, not criticize! Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.

‘Love as brethren.’ That is, love ALL of the believers, love as Christ loved us, love without hypocrisy in deed, not in word only, and love continually, for true love never dies. How will this love be expressed? In praying for one another, in forgiving one another, in sharing with one another both temporal and spiritual needs, and in seeking out one another for fellowship and encouragement.

‘Be pitiful.’ The word here is compassionate and tender (Ephesians 4:32).

‘Be courteous.’ Be friendly, seeking those things which are most agreeable and beneficial to others. Avoid moody pouting, stiffness, and pride.

1 Peter 3:9. ‘Not rendering evil for evil.’ That is, if you feel that someone has slighted you, ignored you, or wronged you, do not get even by returning the same treatment or attitude; rather, forgive them and love them. It could be a total misunderstanding on your part; but even if not, we are to forgive others as God forgives us.

‘Or railing for railing.’ That is, do not return harsh language and tongue lashing to such as have given it to you. It is a terrible temptation to answer back in the way we have been addressed; but it is not the way of our Lord, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again.

‘Knowing that you are thereunto called.’ You are called. You are called to love, not hate; to bless, not curse; to forgive, not revenge; to mercy, not Judgment; to demonstrate the Spirit of Christ, not the spirit of evil. You are called to inherit a blessing and to be a blessing.

1 Peter 3:10-12. This is taken from Psalms 34:12-16. It is referring to the man who desires to live a true spiritual life, who desires communion with God, who wants the blessings of Christ on him, and who wishes to be like Christ.

1. Let him refrain his tongue from lies, slander, gossip, harsh words, criticism, and boasting.

2. Let him turn away from evil and seek righteousness, avoid the company and conversation of evil men and seek the company of believers, avoid the appearance of evil and do good.

3. Let him not only desire peace with God, himself, and his fellow-men, but let him pursue it with strong resolution! Too many sit back and talk of their willingness to love, forgive, and show kindness if someone would like to have it. Don’t be just a friend of peace and good will–be a promoter!

4. The eyes of the Lord are upon us. He knows our thoughts, our motives, and our attitudes; and his ears are open to hear those who seek peace and righteousness. We may deceive others and even ourselves, but not our Lord. It is not nearly so much action as it is attitude and spirit which bring the Lord’s wrath; for his face is against those who have a bitter spirit, a self-righteous spirit, a proud spirit, and an unforgiving spirit. Let us remember 1 Samuel 16:7. This is perhaps the greatest error of today’s religionist and is the place of greatest danger for the true believer–forgetting that God sees, knows, and measures the hearts of men!

1 Peter 3:13. What harm can possibly come to you for walking with God, fulfilling the will and commandments of God, and seeking to imitate the Spirit and mind of Christ? (Romans 8:31-35; Psalms 1.)

1 Peter 3:14. But in case you should suffer for the truth you believe, and for the humble spirit of Christ you demonstrate, and for returning good for evil, consider yourself to be blessed and even to be envied (Matthew 5:10-12). Do not be afraid of the opponents of truth or troubled by their hatred. The presence and blessings of the Lord are upon his own! His special blessings are upon them when they suffer for righteousness!


Verses 15-22

A good conscience toward God

1 Peter 3:15-22

1 Peter 3:15. ‘Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.’ (Leviticus 10:3.) God is essentially, infinitely, and perfectly holy. We do not make him so; but we declare, proclaim, and regard him to be our Holy and sovereign Lord in two ways.

1. Externally. The Lord is sanctified by his people externally when they obey his commands, worship him together, praise and call upon him, and declare publicly his glory.

2. Internally. This verse exhorts us to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts. Unless we truly love, believe, praise, and worship him in our hearts, all of our outward forms and claims are hypocrisy! It is mockery to talk of God’s sovereignty and glory with my lips if I do not believe it and bless God in my heart.

‘Be ready to give an answer.’ When a person asks you to tell him why you believe your sins are pardoned, why you believe that your name is written in heaven, and why you believe that you are not under condemnation but hope to reign eternally with Christ, be ready always to give him a scriptural answer. It is because Christ Jesus is your righteousness before the law, Christ Jesus is your justifier by his blood, and Christ Jesus is your mediator before God’s throne!

Give that answer in a humble fashion, for we are what we are by the grace of God. Give that answer with ‘the fear of the Lord,’ being careful that he gets all the glory for your blessings. Give that answer courteously and respectfully; it may be that the person is a true seeker.

1 Peter 3:16. If we are going to profess before men that we are the sons of God, if we are going to lay claim to a part in the family and body of Christ, let us make sure that we have a true inward communion with him. It is with the heart that man believes unto righteousness. They may slander you, revile you, and ridicule you; but if your relationship with Christ is genuine, you will be vindicated (Matthew 5:44). In behaving humbly and graciously before your enemies, you will cause them to be ashamed of their attitude and conduct toward you.

1 Peter 3:17. All things are ordered by the will of God (Daniel 4:35), even the sufferings and afflictions of his people (which is the reason these afflictions should be borne with patience). So if it is the will of God for you to suffer for righteousness, it is certainly better than suffering for evil, as all men shall who know not God! (Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 3:12.)

1 Peter 3:18. We can approach this verse from two directions.

1. Christ, our example. If we as believers (sincere and honest in our faith before God and before men) are ridiculed, misunderstood, and called upon to suffer unjustly, remember that Christ, the Just, Holy, and sinless Son of God, was despised and hated of men. He suffered not for his sins but for our sins, that he might bring us to God, that he might fulfill God’s eternal will.

2. Christ, our redeemer. God is holy, righteous, and just! He will in no way and under no circumstances clear the guilty. His law must be honored, and his justice must be satisfied. If God chooses to justify and forgive us, he must do it in a way consistent with his holiness and righteousness. This is why Christ came, why he obeyed the law in the flesh, why he died on the cross, that God might be just, holy, and righteous in the display of his love and mercy (Romans 3:19-26).

1 Peter 3:19. Christ was put to death in his human body; but he was raised from the dead by his divine nature, by his eternal spirit. Christ existed in his eternal nature and spirit before the worlds, before Abraham, in the days of Noah. Christ (by his spirit and nature in which he became our surety, our representative, by which he was raised from the dead) preached to men who are now in the regions of the damned. The gospel of God’s Lamb is no new message. It is the word of faith in and by the Spirit of Christ that all the prophets preached (Acts 10:43; Romans 1:1-2).

1 Peter 3:20. Christ (by his spirit) went in the ministry of Noah (the preacher of righteousness) and preached to those wicked, disobedient people. Noah preached and built an ark before their eyes. This was not just Noah alone, but the Spirit of God speaking, warning, teaching!

1 Peter 3:21. The baptism of a believer is a picture or figure like the ark of Noah. The family of Noah went into the ark and were shut in by God, representing a burial. They were covered by water from above and beneath (immersed in water). They came out as in resurrection, delivered from death and judgment which claimed all others. When a believer is baptized, it is a figure of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and of our death to sin and self, our burial with Christ, and our being raised with Christ to walk in newness of life. It is not baptism that saves but whom baptism represents! It is not the cleansing of the flesh, but a living union with Christ in the heart (1 Corinthians 1:17-18).

1 Peter 3:22. Christ is seated on the right hand of God; and all angels (good and bad), all authorities, kings, governors, rulers, demons, power in heaven, earth, and hell, and all flesh are subject to him (John 17:2; Matthew 28:18).

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/1-peter-3.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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