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Nave's Topical Bible - Commandments; Fear of God; Heart; Hope; Influence; Meekness; Quotations and Allusions; Reasoning; Speaking; Testimony; Thompson Chain Reference - Hope; Hope-Despair; Readiness; Readiness-Unreadiness; Service; Spiritual; Testimony, Religious; The Topic Concordance - Suffering; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Fear, Godly; Heart, the; Hope; Meekness; Missionaries, All Christians Should Be as;
Verse 15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts — To sanctify God may signify to offer him the praises due to his grace, but as to sanctify literally signifies to make holy, it is impossible that God should be thus sanctified. We have often already seen that αγιαζω signifies to separate from earth, that is, from any common use or purpose, that the thing or person thus separated may be devoted to a sacred use. Perhaps we should understand Peter's words thus: Entertain just notions of God; of his nature, power, will, justice, goodness, and truth. Do not conceive of him as being actuated by such passions as men; separate him in your hearts from every thing earthly, human, fickle, rigidly severe, or capriciously merciful. Consider that he can neither be like man, feel like man, nor act like man. Ascribe no human passions to him, for this would desecrate not sanctify him. Do not confine him in your conceptions to place, space, vacuity, heaven, or earth; endeavour to think worthily of the immensity and eternity of his nature, of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Avoid the error of the heathens, who bound even their Dii Majores, their greatest gods, by fate, as many well-meaning Christians do the true God by decrees; conceive of him as infinitely free to act or not act, as he pleases. Consider the goodness of his nature; for goodness, in every possible state of perfection and infinitude, belongs to him. Ascribe no malevolence to him; nor any work, purpose, or decree, that implies it: this is not only a human passion, but a passion of fallen man. Do not suppose that he can do evil, or that he can destroy when he might save; that he ever did, or ever can, hate any of those whom he made in his own image and in his own likeness, so as by a positive decree to doom them, unborn, to everlasting perdition, or, what is of the same import, pass them by without affording them the means of salvation, and consequently rendering it impossible for them to be saved. Thus endeavour to conceive of him; and, by so doing, you separate him from all that is imperfect, human, evil, capricious, changeable, and unkind. Ever remember that he has wisdom without error, power, without limits, truth without falsity, love without hatred, holiness without evil, and justice without rigour or severity on the one hand, or capricious tenderness on the other. In a word, that he neither can be, say, purpose, or do, any thing that is not infinitely just, holy, wise, true, and gracious; that he hates nothing that he has made; and has so loved the world, the whole human race, as to give his only-begotten Son to die for them, that they might not perish, but have everlasting life. Thus sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and you will ever be ready to give a reason of the hope that is in you to every serious and candid inquirer after truth. Most religious systems and creeds are incapable of rational explanation, because founded on some misconception of the Divine nature.
"They set at odds heaven's jarring attributes,
And with one excellence another wound."
The system of humanizing God, and making him, by our unjust conceptions of him, to act as ourselves would in certain circumstances, has been the bane of both religion and piety; and on this ground infidels have laughed us to scorn. It is high time that we should no longer know God after the flesh; for even if we have known Jesus Christ after the flesh, we are to know him so no more.
What I have written above is not against any particular creed of religious people, it is against any or all to whom it may justly apply, it may even be against some portions of my own; for even in this respect I am obliged daily to labour to sanctify the Lord God in my heart, to abstract him from every thing earthly and human, and apprehend him as far as possible in his own essential nature and attributes through the light of his Spirit and the medium of his own revelation. To act thus requires no common effort of soul: and just apprehensions of this kind are not acquired without much prayer, much self-reflection, much time, and much of the grace and mercy of God.
Instead of τονθεον, GOD, ABC, four others, both the Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, the Coptic, Vulgate, and Armenian, with Clement and Fulgentius, read τονχριστον, CHRIST. Sanctify Christ in your hearts. This reading is at least equal to the other in the authorities by which it is supported; but which was written by St. Peter we know not.
A reason of the hope — An account of your hope of the resurrection of the dead and eternal life in God's glory. This was the great object of their hope, as Christ was the grand object of their faith.
The word απολογια, which we translate answer, signifies a defence; from this we have our word apology, which did not originally signify an excuse for an act, but a defence of that act. The defences of Christianity by the primitive fathers are called apologies. Acts 21:1.
With meekness and fear — Several excellent MSS. add the word αλλα, but, here, and it improves the sense considerably: Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, BUT with meekness and fear. Do not permit your readiness to answer, nor the confidence you have in the goodness of your cause, to lead you to answer pertly or superciliously to any person; defend the truth with all possible gentleness and fear, lest while you are doing it you should forget his presence whose cause you support, or say any thing unbecoming the dignity and holiness of the religion which you have espoused, or inconsistent with that heavenly temper which the Spirit of your indwelling Lord must infallibly produce.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-peter-3.html. 1832.
3:13-4:19 SUFFERING FOR CHRIST’S SAKE
Example of Christ (3:13-22)
Persecution cannot really harm those who are eager to please God, because with such people persecution always results in greater spiritual blessing (13). Because they love what is right they may be persecuted by those who love what is wrong, but to suffer for such a reason is a cause for joy, not sorrow. If people are devoted to Christ and are always ready to give others an explanation for their devotion, they will not fear their persecutors (14-15). They should also try to avoid all forms of wrongdoing. Perhaps their enemies will see that they are persecuting without cause, and so feel ashamed of themselves (16-17).
As Peter thinks about those who suffer for doing good, he is reminded of the perfect example, Jesus Christ. The one who was perfect died for sinners to bring them to God. In his body he suffered the penalty for their sins - death. But he triumphed over death. His spirit, instead of being bound by those forces that lead to eternal condemnation, entered into fuller life. He then went to the place where evil spirits are imprisoned awaiting final judgment and announced his victory (18-19).
Those spirits had led people to rebel against God (as, for example, in the time of Noah; see Genesis 6:1-8), but Christ has now conquered all sin and rebellion. God’s saving of Noah and his family by means of the ark illustrates the salvation of believers. A corresponding illustration in the New Testament is baptism. Christ has died and triumphed over death, and therefore believers are, through him, cleansed from sin, made alive and brought back to God (20-22).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-peter-3.html. 2005.
but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear:
The prophecy of Isaiah has this: "Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread" (Isaiah 8:13). It is clear that Peter's thought in this and the preceding verses is clearly connected with the words of Isaiah, but there is a notable difference:
Peter here substituted the Saviour's name where the prophet wrote "the Lord of hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth" - a change which would be nothing less than impious if the Lord Jesus Christ were not truly God.
Sanctify ... Christ as Lord... What is meant by sanctifying the Lord? Mason tells us that linguistically it is closely akin to "hallowing" the name of the Father in heaven, as in the Lord's prayer (the only other place in the New Testament where this expression occurs), defining "to sanctify" as "to recognize, in word and deed, his full holiness, and therefore to treat him with due awe."
Ready always to give an answer ... Mason regarded this admonition as having special reference to the occasion of a Christian's "being called into a law court to give an account." There is no reason, however, to limit the meaning in such a way. All Christians, at all times, should have the full grasp of the rational basis for espousing the holy religion they have accepted, as well as possessing a thorough knowledge of the great doctrines of the New Testament; for there will be countless occasions in every life when such knowledge and understanding can be made a vehicle for enlisting others in the holy faith.
Concerning the hope ... The primacy of hope in the motivation of Christians shines in this, there being a glorious sense in which "We are saved by hope" (Romans 8:24). The meaning here is exactly the same as "concerning the faith," both expressions referring to "the Christian religion."
Yet with meekness and fear ... Why this? There are many reasons: (1) Christians should manifest meekness at all times. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5); but in addition to this, there is no situation in life that demands such an attitude any more than that which appears on an occasion of religious questioning and response. (2) A lack of meekness can prejudice judges, if one is in a court of law. (3) A lack of it can antagonize earnest questioners whose seeking after the truth can be easily frustrated by an arrogant, overbearing, or discourteous attitude. And why fear? (1) In all situations where a Christian is attempting to answer the questions of others, or to restore one who has fallen into sin, there is danger to the Christian himself. As Paul put it, "Restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). (2) There should be fear that the answers might not be given in the right spirit, or that they might not be correct. The failure of many really to know the truth about their own religious views is widespread; and every teacher should concern himself to know the right answers, to avoid becoming himself a teacher of falsehood. Fear is a proper motive for all who presume to teach the word of the Lord.
 B. C. Caffin, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22,1Peter (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 131.
 A. J. Mason, op. cit., p. 418.
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-peter-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts - In Isaiah Isaiah 8:13 this is, “sanctify the Lord of hosts himself;” that is, in that connection, regard him as your Protector, and be afraid of him, and not of what man can do. The sense in the passage before us is, “In your hearts, or in the affections of the soul, regard the Lord God as holy, and act toward him with that confidence which a proper respect for one so great and so holy demands. In the midst of dangers, be not intimidated; dread not what man can do, but evince proper reliance on a holy God, and flee to him with the confidence which is due to one so glorious.” This contains, however, a more general direction, applicable to Christians at all times. It is, that in our hearts we are to esteem God as a holy being, and in all our deportment to act toward him as such. The object of Peter in quoting the passage from Isaiah, was to lull the fears of those whom he addressed, and preserve them from any alarms in view of the persecutions to which they might be exposed; the trials which would be brought upon them by people. Thus, in entire accordance with the sentiment as employed by Isaiah, he says, “Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” That is, “in order to keep the mind calm in trials, sanctify the Lord in your hearts; regard him as your holy God and Saviour; make him your refuge. This will allay all your fears, and secure you from all that you dread.” The sentiment of the passage then is, that the sanctifying of the Lord God in our hearts, or proper confidence in him as a holy and righteous God, will deliver us from fear. As this is a very important sentiment for Christians, it may be proper, in order to a just exposition of the passage, to dwell a moment on it:
I. What is meant by our sanctifying the Lord God? It cannot mean to make him holy, for he is perfectly holy, whatever may be our estimate of him; and our views of him evidently can make no change in his character. The meaning therefore must be, that we should regard him as holy in our estimate of him, or in the feelings which we have toward him. This may include the following things:
(1) To esteem or regard him as a holy being, in contradistinction from all those feelings which rise up in the heart against him - the feelings of complaining and murmuring under his dispensations, as if he were severe and harsh; the feelings of dissatisfaction with his government, as if it were partial and unequal; the feelings of rebellion, as if his claims were unfounded or unjust.
(2) To desire that he may be regarded by others as holy, in accordance with the petition in the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:9, “hallowed be thy name;” that is, “let thy name be esteemed to be holy everywhere;” a feeling in opposition to that which is regardless of the honor which he may receive in the world. When we esteem a friend, we desire that all due respect should be shown him by others; we wish that all who know him should have the same views that we have; we are sensitive to his honor, just in proportion as we love him.
(3) To act toward him as holy: that is, to obey his laws, and acquiesce in all his requirements, as if they were just and good. This implies:
(a)That we are to speak of him as holy, in opposition to the language of disrespect and irreverence so common among mankind;
(b)That we are to flee to him in trouble, in contradistinction from withholding our hearts from him, and flying to other sources of consolation and support.
II. What is it to do this in the heart? Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; that is, in contradistinction from a mere external service. This may imply the following things:
(1) In contradistinction from a mere intellectual assent to the proposition that he is holy. Many admit the doctrine that God is holy into their creeds, who never suffer the sentiment to find its way to the heart. All is right on this subject in the articles of their faith; all in their hearts may be murmuring and complaining. In their creeds he is spoken of as just and good; in their hearts they regard him as partial and unjust, as severe and stern, as unamiable and cruel.
(2) In contradistinction From a mere outward form of devotion. In our prayers, and in our hymns, we, of course, “ascribe holiness to our Maker.” But how much of this is the mere language of form! How little does the heart accompany it! And even in the most solemn and sublime ascriptions of praise, how often are the feelings of the heart entirely at variance with what is expressed by the lips! What would more justly offend us, than for a professed friend to approach us with the language of friendship, when every feeling of his heart belied his expressions, and we knew that his honeyed words were false and hollow!
III. Such a sanctifying of the Lord in our hearts will save us from fear. We dread danger, we dread sickness, we dread death, we dread the eternal world. We are alarmed when our affairs are tending to bankruptcy; we are alarmed when a friend is sick and ready to die; we are alarmed if our country is invaded by a foe, and the enemy already approaches our dwelling. The sentiment in the passage before us is, that if we sanctify the Lord God with proper affections, we shall be delivered from these alarms, and the mind will be calm:
(1) The fear of the Lord, as Leighton (in loc.) expresses it, “as greatest, overtops and nullifies all lesser fears: the heart possessed with this fear hath no room for the other.” It is an absorbing emotion; making everything else comparatively of no importance. If we fear God, we have nothing else to fear. The highest emotion which there can be in the soul is the fear of God; and when that exists, the soul will be calm amidst all that might tend otherwise to disturb it. “What time I am afraid,” says David, “I will trust in thee,” Psalms 56:3. “We are not, careful,” said Daniel and his friends, “to answer thee, O king. Our God can deliver us; but if not, we will not worship the image,” Daniel 3:16.
(2) If we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, there will be a belief that he will do all things well, and the mind will be calm. However dark his dispensations may be, we shall be assured that everything is ordered aright. In a storm at sea, a child may be calm when he feels that his father is at the helm, and assures him that there is no danger. In a battle, the mind of a soldier may be calm, if he has confidence in his commander, and he assures him that all is safe. So in anything, if we have the assurance that the best thing is done that can be, that the issues will all be right, the mind will be calm. But in this respect the highest confidence that can exist, is that which is reposed in God.
(3) There will be the assurance that all is safe. “Though I walk,” says David, “through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me,” Psalms 23:4. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:1. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble: therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof,”Psalms 46:1-3; Psalms 46:1-3. Let us ever then regard the Lord as holy, just, and good. Let us flee to him in all the trials of the present life, and in the hour of death repose on his arm. Every other source of trust will fail; and whatever else may be our reliance, when the hour of anguish approaches, that reliance will fail, and that which we dreaded will overwhelm us. Nor riches, nor honors, nor earthly friends, can save us from those alarms, or be a security for our souls when “the rains descend, and the floods come, and the winds blow” upon us.
And be ready always - That is:
(a)Be always able to do it; have such reasons for the hope that is in you that they can be stated; or, have good and substantial reasons; and,
(b)Be willing to state those reasons on all proper occasions.
No man ought to entertain opinions for which a good reason cannot be given; and every man ought to be willing to state the grounds of his hope on all proper occasions. A Christian should have such intelligent views of the truth of his religion, and such constant evidence in his own heart and life that he is a child of God, as to be able at any time to satisfy a candid inquirer that the Bible is a revelation from heaven, and that it is proper for him to cherish the hope of salvation.
To give an answer - Greek, “An apology,” (ἀπολογίαν apologian.) This word formerly did not mean, as the word apology does now, an excuse for anything that is done as if it were wrong, but a defense of anything. We apply the word now to denote something written or said in extenuation of what appears to others to be wrong, or what might be construed as wrong - as when we make an apology to others for not fulfilling an engagement, or for some conduct which might be construed as designed neglect. The word originally, however, referred rather to that which was thought not to be true, than that which might be construed as wrong; and the defense or “apology” which Christians were to make of their religion, was not on the supposition that others would regard it as wrong, but in order to show them that it was true. The word used here is rendered “defense,” Acts 22:1; Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:17; answer, Acts 25:16; 1Co 9:3; 2 Timothy 4:16; 1 Peter 3:15; and clearing of yourselves in 2 Corinthians 7:11. We are not to hold ourselves ready to make an apology for our religion as if it were a wrong thing to be a Christian; but we are always to be ready to give reasons for regarding it as true.
To every man that asketh you - Anyone has a right respectfully to ask another on what grounds he regards his religion as true; for every man has a common interest in religion, and in knowing what is the truth on the subject. If any man, therefore, asks us candidly and respectfully by what reasons we have been led to embrace the gospel, and on what grounds we, regard it as true, we are under obligation to state those grounds in the best manner that we are able. We should regard it not as an impertinent intrusion into our private affairs, but as an opportunity of doing good to others, and to honor the Master whom we serve. Nay, we should hold ourselves in readiness to state the grounds of our faith and hope, whatever maybe the motive of the inquirer, and in whatever manner the request may be made. Those who were persecuted for their religion, were under obligation to make as good a defense of it as they could, and to state to their persecutors the “reason” of the hope which they entertained. And so now, if a man attacks our religion; if he ridicules us for being Christians; if he tauntingly asks us what reason we have for believing the truth of the Bible, it is better to tell him in a kind manner, and to meet his taunt with a kind and strong argument, than to become angry, or to turn away with contempt. The best way to disarm him is to show him that by embracing religion we are not fools in understanding; and, by a kind temper, to convince him that the influence of religion over us when we are abused and insulted, is a reason why we should love our religion, and why he should too.
A reason of the hope that is in you - Greek, “an account,” (λόγον logon.) That is, you are to state on what ground you cherish that hope. This refers to the whole ground of our hope, and includes evidently two things:
- The reason why we regard Christianity as true, or as furnishing a ground of hope for people; and,
(2)The reason which we have ourselves for cherishing a hope of heaven, or the experimental and practical views which we have of religion, which constitute a just ground of hope.
It is not improbable that the former of these was more directly in the eye of the apostle than the latter, though both seem to be implied in the direction to state the reasons which ought to satisfy others that it is proper for us to cherish the hope of heaven. The first part of this duty - that we are to state the reasons why we regard the system of religion which we have embraced as true - implies, that we should be acquainted with the evidences of the truth of Christianity, and be able to state them to others. Christianity is founded on evidence; and though it cannot be supposed that every Christian will be able to understand all that is involved in what are called the evidences of Christianity, or to meet all the objections of the enemies of the gospel; yet every man who becomes a Christian should have such intelligent views of religion, and of the evidences of the truth of the Bible, that he can show to others that the religion which he has embraced has claims to their attention, or that it is not a mere matter of education, of tradition, or of feeling. It should also be an object with every Christian to increase his acquaintance with the evidences of the truth of religion, not only for his own stability and comfort in the faith, but that he may be able to defend religion if attacked, or to guide others if they are desirous of knowing what is truth. The second part of this duty, that we state the reasons which we have for cherishing the hope of heaven as a personal matter, implies:
(a)That there should be, in fact, a well-founded hope of heaven; that is, that we have evidence that we are true Christians, since it is impossible to give a “reason” of the hope that is in us unless there are reasons for it;
(b)That we be able to state in a clear and intelligent manner what constitutes evidence of piety, or what should be reasonably regarded as such; and,
(c)That we be ever ready to state these reasons.
A Christian should always be willing to converse about his religion. He should have such a deep conviction of its truth, of its importance, and of his personal interest in it; he should have a hope so firm, so cheering, so sustaining, that he will be always prepared to converse on the prospect of heaven and to endeavor to lead others to walk in the path to life.
With meekness - With modesty; without any spirit of ostentation; with gentleness of manner. This seems to be added on the supposition that they sometimes might be rudely assailed; that the questions might be proposed in a spirit of evil; that it might be done in a taunting or insulting manner. Even though this should be done, they were not to fall into a passion, to manifest resentment, or to retort in an angry and revengeful manner; but, in a calm and gentle spirit, they were to state the reasons of their faith and hope, and leave the matter there.
And fear - Margin, “reverence.” The sense seems to be, “in the fear of God; with a serious and reverent spirit; as in the presence of Him who sees and hears all things.” It evidently does not mean with the fear or dread of those who propose the question, but with that serious and reverent frame of mind which is produced by a deep impression of the importance of the subject, and a conscious sense of the presence of God. It follows, from the injunction of the apostle here:
(1)That every professing Christian should have clear and intelligent views of his own personal interest in religion, or such evidences of piety that they can be stated to others, and that they can be made satisfactory to other minds;
(2)That every Christian, however humble his rank, or however unlettered he may be, may become a valuable defender of the truth of Christianity;
(3)That we should esteem it a privilege to bear our testimony to the truth and value of religion, and to stand up as the advocates of truth in the world. Though we may be rudely assailed, it is an honor to speak in defense of religion; though we are persecuted and reviled, it is a privilege to be permitted in any way to show our fellow-men that there is such a thing as true religion, and that man may cherish the hope of heaven.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-peter-3.html. 1870.
Though this is a new precept, it yet depends on what is gone before, for he requires such constancy in the faithful, as boldly to give a reason for their faith to their adversaries. And this is a part of that sanctification which he had just mentioned; for we then really honor God, when neither fear nor shame hinders us from making a profession of our faith. But Peter does not expressly bid us to assert and proclaim what has been given us by the Lord everywhere, and always and among all indiscriminately, for the Lord gives his people the spirit of discretion, so that they may know when and how far and to whom it is expedient to speak. He bids them only to be ready to give an answer, lest by their sloth and the cowardly fear of the flesh they should expose the doctrine of Christ, by being silent, to the derision of the ungodly. The meaning then is, that we ought to be prompt in avowing our faith, so as to set it forth whenever necessary, lest the unbelieving through our silence should condemn the religion we follow.
But it ought to be noticed, that Peter here does not command us to be prepared to solve any question that may be mooted; for it is not the duty of all to speak on every subject. But it is the general doctrine that is meant, which belongs to the ignorant and the simple. Then Peter had in view no other thing, than that Christians should make it evident to unbelievers that they truly worshipped God, and had a holy and good religion. And in this there is no difficulty, for it would be strange if we could bring nothing to defend our faith when any one made inquiries respecting it. For we ought always to take care that all may know that we fear God, and that we piously and reverently regard his legitimate worship.
This was also required by the state of the times: the Christian name was much hated and deemed infamous; many thought the sect wicked and guilty of many sacrileges. It would have been, therefore, the highest perfidy against God, if, when asked, they had neglected to give a testimony in favor of their religion. And this, as I think, is the meaning of the word apology, which Peter uses, that is, that the Christians were to make it evident to the world that they were far off from every impiety, and did not corrupt true religion, on which account they were suspected by the ignorant.
Hope here is by a metonymy to be taken for faith. Peter, however, as it has been said, does not require them to know how to discuss distinctly and refinedly every article of the faith, but only to shew that their faith in Christ was consistent with genuine piety. And hence we learn how all those abuse the name of Christians, who understand nothing certain respecting their faith, and have nothing to give as an answer for it. But it behoves us again carefully to consider what he says, when he speaks of that hope that is in you; for he intimates that the confession which flows from the heart is alone that which is approved by God; for except faith dwells within, the tongue prattles in vain. It ought then to have its roots within us, so that it may afterwards bring forth the fruit of confession.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-peter-3.html. 1840-57.
Shall we turn now to First Peter chapter three as Peter addresses himself to the wives? This particular section goes back to verse thirteen of chapter two,
Submit yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to king as supreme; governors, unto them sent toward the punishment of evildoers, so is the will of God, that in well doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men ( 1 Peter 2:13-15 ):
So the idea of submitting to one another in love. And so he talked about, first of all, the servants submitting themselves unto their own masters, Christ leaving us an example. And now, to wives.
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they may also without the word be won by the conversation or behavior of the wives ( 1 Peter 3:1 );
Or the lifestyle of the wife. This particular Greek word is a difficult word to translate. The old English word was conversation, which doesn't mean verbal but it means your lifestyle. And so it's a word that has lost its meaning through the years when this translation was made. So you can translate that "behavior" or "lifestyle" or "manner of living." So as Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, I don't need that anyone should write letters of commendation for me because you are my living epistles known and read of all men.
Our lifestyle testifies to what we believe. And more people are brought to Christ by the observing of the Christian life as you live it, than are converted through just someone laying the four spiritual laws on them.
We were talking with a missionary who is in the Philippines and has a ministry basically to the Moslems. And he talked of the difficulty of the converting of a Moslem because for a Moslem, it is a capital offense to convert to Christianity. He is and can be put to death by his family members if he leaves the Islam faith and becomes a Christian. It is a capital offense to convert a Moslem. But, he said, in order to convert a Moslem, they must see Christianity in action in your life. You can't do it with words; they have to see the Gospel demonstrated in your life. They watch. They observe, and then, he said, they have to see a miracle and answer to prayer. And these are the things that convince the Moslem of the truth of Christianity.
So Paul is declaring that our lifestyle is all-important. You wives who have unbelieving husbands, you're more apt to convert them by your lifestyle than you are by putting tracts in their peanut butter sandwiches. So that when they bite into the sandwich, they get the word and they pull it out of their mouth and they read, God loves you, you know. So it is the lifestyle, the way we live becomes the witness of what we declare.
One of the weaknesses of the church is the lack of the positive lifestyle of the believer, professing one thing and living another. That, of course, we call hypocrisy and that has been the bane and the curse of the church. So how we live is extremely important, just as important as what we say.
While they behold your chaste lifestyle with reverence. Whose adorning [or beauty] let it not be the outward the fancy hairstyles, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of fancy clothes ( 1 Peter 3:2-3 );
I could get in big trouble at this point. Not my wife, I'm not thinking about her. I'm thinking about a television station locally here. "Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning with the fancy hairstyles, the wearing of gold, putting on of fancy apparel."
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, a meek and a quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is very valuable ( 1 Peter 3:4 ).
The true beauty is an inner beauty, not an outward beauty. Now, there are some women who are outstanding artists, and they can paint a beautiful face. It takes them awhile; it takes longer as the years go by. There's an Old Swedish proverb, Good looks don't last, good cookers do. And the idea is to encourage the young men not to look for a pretty face but to look for a good cook.
But the true beauty, beauty that doesn't fade, the beauty that grows with years is that inner beauty. Some of the most beautiful people in the world, that beautiful inner beauty; you love to be around them because there's just such a beauty that comes forth from their lives. And Peter is saying recognize that that is the true beauty. The true beauty isn't that which you put on outwardly but the true beauty is that which is inward, which shines out.
I do not believe that Peter is intending here to issue a prohibition against the ladies looking nice. I don't think that this is a prohibition as some have interpreted it to be of wearing gold apparel or things of this nature. Not intended as that at all. The intention is just that you recognize that true beauty is inward. That which God values, the meek, the quiet spirit which in the sight of God is very valuable.
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord ( 1 Peter 3:5-6 ):
Now I don't expect that you women are going to go this far as to call your husbands "lord", unless it's tongue-in-cheek. And interestingly enough, Sarah had and asserted her place, too. I mean, it wasn't a --it was a two-way street. When she was upset over Ishmael mocking her little boy, she said to Abraham, "You get rid of that woman and her child." And Abraham, though it hurt him, got rid of Hagar and Ishmael. So you, husbands don't try to pounce on this scripture and use it as a club to beat your wives in submission. Marriage is a give-and-take proposition and it is an understanding.
Now of course with Peter, interestingly enough, has quite a bit to say to the wife. And if you read it in Amplified, I think these guys were male chauvinists because they really jump onto this and amplify it almost to an extreme. Peter has quite a bit to say to the wives but he has very little to say to the husbands. Interestingly enough, Paul shares pretty much equally; has quite a bit to say to the wives but then he has also quite a bit to say to the husbands, as far as the marriage relationships, interpersonal relationships within marriage. But,
you are the daughters of Sarah, as long as you do well, and are not afraid with any amazement ( 1 Peter 3:6 ).
Now that's a peculiar phrase, "Not afraid with any terror," and I don't understand what Peter is saying by that. Maybe some of you have some ideas you can share with me.
Having devoted six verses to the wives, he now devotes one to the husband.
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto a weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered ( 1 Peter 3:7 ).
Getting along; you know our prayer life can be hindered by friction within the home. And so it's important that there be a harmony within the house. There's an important, that the husband recognize the weaknesses of the wife and honor her as a weaker vessel; watching over her, taking care of her, shielding her.
As I have said, basically in marriage God has two rules: one for the wife, one for the husband. In giving two rules, He keeps it simple so that it's almost impossible to say, Well, I forgot the rule. He's giving you just one so you can't forget. And in giving the rule, God was thinking of the other.
So when He said, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church" ( Ephesians 5:25 ), He knew that a woman's greatest need was that of knowing that she is loved supremely by her husband. And the woman is always fishing for the affirmation of this. Honey, do you love me? Honey, do I look nice? Do I look sharp tonight? Is this, you know, do you like this outfit? And she's always fishing for "Honey, you're beautiful. I love you. You're everything to me." She's needing this assurance and she fishes for this assurance because she needs the security of knowing that she's loved.
Now Peter is saying, Honor her knowing that she's weaker. Give her that security; give her that strength. You are the strong one, give her that strength. Let her feel the protection; let her feel secure; your big, strong arm around her. And she feels that security and she needs to feel that security.
And then the Lord said to the wives, "Submit yourself unto your own husbands" ( Ephesians 5:22 ). And God knew that guys have this stupid male macho image of themselves and that they've got to feel that they're strong and powerful and in control; that they're running the show. And a challenge of their authority is a real threat to their manhood. And so in the challenging of the authority, they then feel they have to assert their manhood. And big boys don't cry; that is, big boys aren't emotional.
And so to assert my manhood, I become very strong, cold and aloof. "I'm running the show and I don't need you and I don't need anybody else. I can do it myself," you know. Oh boy, what that does then is just compound the insecurity of the wife that cause her to challenge you in the first place. And you can get a horrible cycle going here as it works against the marriage to destroy it. Because the more cold and aloof you are, the less secure she feels. The less secure she feels, the more she challenges your decision. The more she challenges your decisions, the colder you become and, you know, and so you can just tear a marriage apart.
And so these are important rules. They're basic to a good marriage, because the more the wife submits to her husband, the easier he finds it to show his love. The more he shows his love, the easier she finds it to submit to him.
Now he may be stupid, he may lose everything, but he's here and he loves me and, you know we're together, we'll make it. But if you're cold and aloof; this jerk making a stupid mistake and he's probably going to take off when he has lost everything. He'll be gone and then I won't have anything. What am I going to do? And she feels secure so she has to challenge everything that you do, everything that you say.
So these are basic simple rules. And always as far as the wife, it is subjection to the husband. To the husband, it is the honoring and the loving of his wife. And when it is working, it becomes a beautiful combination, and your lives can be enriched and your prayers effective. "Heirs together. We are heirs together of the grace of life."
There is no kind of a hierarchy in the spiritual realm. The men do not have an advantage over the women or vice versa; as far as in Christ, we are all one. So anybody who's looking for the superior sex or anything else, you will never find it in Christianity. For in Christianity, it removes any kind of barriers that exists between people. And we all come the same way to the same Lord to receive the same grace. And we are all one, heirs together of the grace of God. We share together equally in the things of the Lord. "For there is neither male nor female, bond or free: Christ is all and in all" ( Colossians 3:11 ).
Finally [addressing now both], be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brethren, be pitiful ( 1 Peter 3:8 ),
Now that word has changed in the usage, too. It would better be translated "full of pity." You see that's what it's actually saying, pity-full. But we've come to, you know, think of pitiful, as you know a poor cat that's lost an eye or something. So "be full of pity", or another translation of the Greek word is tenderhearted. Be a softie; be tenderhearted. I pray that God will always grant to me a tender heart, a heart of compassion. To be like Jesus I must have it.
How many times you read in the Gospel, "And Jesus looked upon them and had compassion on them." He was tenderhearted. He was a soft touch. Anybody could get to Him. He was always moved by the needs of people. And may God help us to be tenderhearted, not to become callused or indifferent to the needs of people around us but that we might have tender hearts, full of pity.
and be courteous ( 1 Peter 3:8 ):
Beautiful Christian trait: courtesy. It doesn't hurt, but it pays big dividends. How important to be courteous.
Not rendering evil for evil ( 1 Peter 3:9 ),
Now that's what the natural man would like to do, isn't it? I'll get even with you. "Evil for evil."
or railing for railing ( 1 Peter 3:9 ):
Some woman really railed on me this morning, now it isn't the first time. Every time they let her out, she comes around here and rails on me. Couple of Sundays ago, she was throwing clay pots out on the patio railing. This morning, she came as I was greeting people at the end of the second service. And I was greeting couple of young men first time they were here, and they were telling me how much they enjoyed the service. She comes up and grabs me and starts calling me a filthy viper and all kinds of stuff, you know. Just really railing on me. And it would have been easy to have railed back but the poor woman is mentally disturbed.
But this poor young kid didn't know what happened, you know. I mean, his eyes got big and he just --he was just telling me, you know, how much he'd enjoyed the message and how it spoke to him, and all, and she comes up with all of this and his eyes get big and all. And John got hold of her and dragged her off as she was railing, going around the corner, you know. John dragging her. And this kid said, I didn't know what was going on, I was --I was ready to do something. He said, Boy, you really handled that well, you know. Well, the thing is I know the woman; I know her problems. But it is so easy to rail back. But there's an interesting proverb that says, "A soft answer turns away wrath" ( Proverbs 15:1 ).
Now I had an interesting experience several years ago. It was during the height of the hippie thing around here where these hippies had these old vans and held together with bailing wire, you know; material things didn't mean anything to them, paint all over them. And I was going down Fairview and one of these hippies pulled out in front of me. And one of these old vans --and it died, just as he got in front of me. And he, it was dangerous moving, I mean, he shouldn't have pulled out in front of me, but he did and the thing died. And there were traffic coming on my left where I couldn't get around him, so I just laid on my horn. And I was really upset. And this hippie kid, you know the beard and the whole thing, got out of his van and he looked back at me and just came with a peace sign, you know.
You know suddenly I felt real terrible about laying on my horn and the attitude that I had. I mean, here's a --here's a kid, you know, high in LSD telling me, Peace, brother. And here I'm supposed to be a minister telling people how to have peace, and I'm all upset because of this stupid move of his. And it really ministered to me how that a soft answer turns away wrath. I mean, I was ready to tear him apart. And just how it all vanished. Just you know, if he had gotten out railing, I'm sure I would have jumped out of the car and ran up and grabbed him and told him what a stupid move that was, you know. But his attitude was such that, you know, I --I just sort of chuckled to myself and said, Well, why not have peace, you know.
So don't render "railing for railing". That only creates, you know, that only builds and let's you read, you know --there's so many nuts on the highway today. You know you get out and rail at someone, this guy's going to pull a gun at you. Have you heard some of these things that are happening on the road? I mean, it's getting dangerous living.
contrariwise blessing ( 1 Peter 3:9 );
And really, that's what the kid did; Bless you, peace, brother, shalom.
knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing ( 1 Peter 3:9 ).
We ought to be seeking to bring blessings to people. So "bless those that curse you," Jesus said. "Do good to those who despitefully use you" ( Matthew 5:44 ). This is what we've been called to do.
For he that will love life, and see good days ( 1 Peter 3:10 ),
Now here Peter goes back and just quotes a portion out of the psalms. And again, it is interesting to me because it shows us Peter's good working knowledge of the Scriptures. And as he is writing in his own little exhortations here, he goes back and he quotes a portion of Psalm 34 , about three or four verses out of Psalm 34 . "He that would love life, and see good days,"
let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him turn away from evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil ( 1 Peter 3:10-12 ).
You want to have a good life, you want to see good days, these are --these are the rules: Just "keep your tongue, refrain it from evil, speaking evil, and your lips from speaking deceitfully. Turn away from evil, do good. Seek peace, pursue it." You'll have a good life.
And who is he that will harm you, if you are followers of that which is good? But and if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled ( 1 Peter 3:13-14 );
He's moving into a new section in which he is going to be talking about suffering, and for the most part suffering wrongfully, suffering for righteousness' sake. You remember when Peter was arrested for the preaching of the Gospel and they beat him and told him not to preach anymore in the name of Jesus Christ? And Peter and his friends went away rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer that kind of persecution for Jesus.
Now Peter's telling us the very same thing. In other words, Peter is not preaching something he didn't practice, but he did this very same thing himself. When he was suffered for righteousness' sake, he rejoiced, "Happy are you." Jesus said, "Blessed are ye," and the word "blessed" is happy; "when men persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven" ( Matthew 5:11-12 ). There's where you have to get the right perspective. You have to look onto the heavenly future.
"if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts ( 1 Peter 3:14-15 ):
Give a special place for God in your life.
and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you for the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and reverence ( 1 Peter 3:15 ):
So live the kind of a life that is an example that will provoke people to question you. What makes you different? Why is it that you are not upset over this? "Be ready to give to every man an answer for that hope that you have."
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they may speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good behavior in Christ ( 1 Peter 3:16 ).
Or lifestyle in Christ.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that you suffer for well doing, than for evil doing ( 1 Peter 3:17 ).
That's always a better thing. If you suffer for evil doing, you've got it coming. But if you suffer for well doing, then that is a better thing.
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins ( 1 Peter 3:18 ),
He's referring, of course, to the cross. Jesus went to the cross and died there for your sins.
the just [died] for the unjust ( 1 Peter 3:18 ),
"God made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" ( 2 Corinthians 5:21 ). "The just for the unjust,"
that he might bring us to God ( 1 Peter 3:18 ),
The purpose of the cross is to put away our sin, which had separated us from God. The effect of sin is always alienation from God. You see, God created you in the beginning for fellowship. He wanted you to be one with Him, but a holy, pure, righteous God cannot be a part of sin, inconsistent with the nature of God. So man fell into sin; as the result, lost fellowship with God. The purposes of God was thwarted by sinful man.
So in order that man might have fellowship with God, these purposes of God restored, Jesus suffered once for our sins, "the just for the unjust", that He might be able to bring you to God. That He might be able to wash and cleanse you from your sin in order that you might have the purposes of God accomplished in your life as you fellowship with God.
being put to death in the flesh, but he was made alive by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits that were in prison; Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by the water ( 1 Peter 3:18-20 ).
Jesus preached to the souls in prison. Now in the prophecy concerning Jesus, in Isaiah 61 , says, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach the good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those that are bound" ( Isaiah 61:1 ).
What is he talking about? The prison was death by which men were bound. They were held captive. Jesus came to open the prison to those that are bound, or to open up Hades to those people who were bound there, who died before Jesus died for our sins. So when He died, He descended into hell. And He preached to those souls that were in prison. And when He ascended out of hell, He brought with Him those who had been captive.
In Ephesians chapter four, Paul tells us that "He who has ascended is the same one who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth. And when he ascended, he led the captives from their captivity" ( Ephesians 4:8-9 ).
Luke's gospel, the sixteenth chapter, Jesus describes what hell was like prior to His death: Two compartments, no capacity of crossing from one to the other. One was a place of torment, the other was a place of comfort. Those who died in faith went to the place of comfort and were comforted by father Abraham. They are the ones to which Jesus preached when He descended into hell. But "God did not leave his soul in hell, neither did he allow the Holy One to see corruption," but this same Jesus has God raised from the dead ( Acts 2:27 ).
And Matthew's gospel chapter twenty-seven tells us that the graves of many of the saints were open and they were seen walking in the streets of Jerusalem after His resurrection from the dead. He led the captives from their captivity. So opening the prison.
The like figure ( 1 Peter 3:21 )
That is, "the eighth --eight souls saved by water," "The like figure"
whereunto even baptism doth also now save us ( 1 Peter 3:21 )
So they were saved by the water or by the ark in the water. Even so, "Baptism," Peter says, "saves us." But then lest people make a mistake, he points out; it isn't the physical ritual.
(it isn't the washing away of the filth of the flesh, but it is the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ ( 1 Peter 3:21 ):
So the true baptism is a matter of my heart.
Now I do believe that every one who believes in Jesus Christ should be baptized in water. I definitely believe in water baptism and I personally believe in water baptism by full immersion. But I do believe that water baptism by full immersion is only a symbol of the work of the Spirit that has transpired within my heart. The old man being dead now buried in water and the new life that I now have, the life of the Spirit through Jesus Christ. Baptism becomes a beautiful symbol of that. As I go down in the water, it's being buried. The old life just being buried; and as I come up out of the water, it's that new life in the Spirit, in Christ. And it becomes a beautiful symbol.
But if it has not happened in my heart, it cannot happen by the ritual. The ritual itself cannot save me. Now you may be baptized by sprinkling, by dunking, by full immersion, and still not be saved. You know, they could hold you down until you drown and it still won't save you. The rite of baptism doesn't save. It symbolizes that which has already transpired in my heart. If it hasn't transpired in my heart, then baptism is meaningless. In fact, it's worse than that; it is --it's almost condemning to me.
Such as communion is condemning to the person who doesn't believe. The partaking of the bread and the cup, if you --if you don't believe in Jesus Christ, you're actually partaking your own damnation. You're witnessing against yourself. And "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to his own soul, not discerning the Lord's body" ( 1 Corinthians 11:29 ).
So the same if you go through the rite or the ritual of water baptism and it hasn't happened in your heart; it's only a witness against you. It doesn't save you. So I do not believe in what is called baptismal regeneration. I do not believe that if a person is not baptized, then they are not saved. I can't believe that; you're saved by believing in Jesus Christ. Now because I believe in Jesus Christ, I want to obey Him and thus I am baptized as a sign of what has transpired already within my heart. But should I never get around to being baptized by some unfortunate accident or circumstances of some kind, I will still be saved. I have every confidence of that. "It isn't the putting away of the filth of the flesh," but it's that work of the Spirit within my heart, "the good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"
Who is gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him ( 1 Peter 3:22 ).
Jesus, before He ascended into heaven said to the disciples, "All power is given to me in heaven and earth" ( Matthew 28:18 ). Have you ever imagined how much power that must be? Look at the universe. Think of the power that brought it into existence. "All power," He said, "is given to me in heaven and in earth." And so He ascended to the right hand of God; the angels, the authorities, the powers, the ranking of angels are all subject unto him. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/1-peter-3.html. 2014.
1. Suffering for doing good 3:13-17
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-peter-3.html. 2012.
Rather than being fearful we should commit ourselves afresh to Christ our Lord (Yahweh of armies, Isaiah 8:13) by purposing to continue to live for Him. We should also have the reason we are living as we do on the tip of our tongues so whenever an opportunity arises we can explain why we behave as we do (cf. Acts 22:1; Acts 25:16). Our inquisitive questioner may not ask about our hope per se. Nevertheless our hope is the root cause of our behavior and should be the subject of our answer. We should give this answer with a gentle spirit to those asking and in a reverent spirit toward God.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-peter-3.html. 2012.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,.... Still referring to Isaiah 8:13 not by making him holy, which need not, nor cannot be, he being essentially, infinitely, and perfectly holy; but by declaring and proclaiming his holiness, as the seraphim in Isaiah's prophecy, and the four living creatures in the Revelation did; and by glorifying of him, praising and applauding all his perfections, and among the rest, this of his holiness, and giving thanks at the remembrance of it; which he has so much displayed in the works of creation, providence, redemption, and grace; hence the Arabic version renders it, bless the Lord God in your hearts: the Lord God is sanctified by his people externally, when they regard his commands, attend his ordinances, and call upon his name, and praise him; but here an internal sanctification of him, a sanctification of him in their hearts, is intended, and what is opposed to the fear of men, and unbelief, and lies in the exercise of the grace of fear upon him; see Isaiah 8:13 and which has for its object his goodness, and is a fruit of the covenant of his grace, and is a child like and godly fear; and in the exercise of faith upon him, upon his covenant and promises, his faithfulness, and power to help, assist, and preserve; whereby glory is given to him, a witness borne to his truth, and he is sanctified: some copies, as the Alexandrian, and one of Stephens's, read, sanctify the Lord Christ; and so read the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions; and certain it is that he is intended in Isaiah 8:13 as appears from 1 Peter 3:14 compared with Romans 9:33
and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear; by the hope that is in the saints, is not designed the grace of hope itself, which is given to them, and implanted in them in regeneration; the reason, ground, and foundation of which are, the love, grace, and mercy of God, through Christ, and his person, blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and redemption; but the Gospel, the whole Christian doctrine, the doctrine of faith, and which the Syriac version here calls the "hope of faith"; and the profession of Christianity, called in Hebrews 10:23, the profession of hope; in which persons profess their hope of eternal life and happiness through Christ, as doctrine of the Gospel directs them to. Now, a "reason" of this is to be given; not that they are to account for the Gospel, upon the foot of carnal reason; for that is not of men, nor according to the carnal reason of men; nor is it to be thought that every Christian should be capable of defending the Gospel, either in whole, or in part, by arguments and reasons, in a disputatious way, or to give a reason and argument for every particular truth; but that he should be well acquainted with the ground and foundation of the Christian religion; at least, with the first principles of the oracles of God, and be conversant with the Scriptures, and be able to point out that in them, which is the reason of his holding this and the other truth, though he is not able to give a gainsayer satisfaction, or to stop his mouth: and this is to be done with meekness and fear; with meekness, before men; in an humble modest way; not with an haughty air, and in a morose and surly manner, which serves only to irritate and provoke: and with fear; either of God, and so the Ethiopic Version renders it, with the fear of the Lord; considering the subject of the argument, and the importance of it, and how much the honour of God is concerned in it; and taking care lest the answer should be delivered in a light, trifling, and negligent manner, and that no part of truth be dropped or concealed, in order to please men, and be screened from their resentments; or with all due reverence of, and respect to men, to superiors, to the civil magistrates, who may ask the reason; for they are to be treated with honour and esteem, and to be answered in an handsome and becoming manner, suitable to the dignity of their persons and office; as the sanhedrim was by Stephen; and as Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, by the Apostle Paul: and this answer, or reason, is to be given to every man; that has authority to ask, and that asks in a modest manner, and with a reverence suitable to the subject; for the phrases, "with meekness and fear", may respect him that asks the reason, as well as him that gives the answer; for that which is holy is not to be given to dogs, to impudent persons, mockers and scoffers, nor are pearls to be cast before swine, filthy and irreverent persons; see Matthew 7:6 the Alexandrian copy, and some others, and so the Vulgate Latin version, read, "but with meekness and fear"; for if it is not asked in such a way, there is no obligation to give an answer: and this is to be given "always"; whenever it is asked in such a manner, and by proper persons; when there is a necessity of it, and as opportunity offers: and saints should be always "ready to" give and therefore it becomes them daily and diligently to search the Scriptures, meditate on them, and get all the help and assistance they can, to lead them into an acquaintance with them, that they may be so; for though the apostles had extraordinary assistance promised them, and therefore were bid not to consider beforehand what they should say, when brought before kings and princes; yet this is not to be expected by ordinary persons, nor in ordinary cases. Agreeably to this is the advice of R. Eleazar z;
"be diligent to learn the law, and know what thou shouldest answer to an Epicure,''
or heretic: says R. Jochanan a,
"in every place where the Sadducees object, תשובתן בצידן their answer is at their side,''
or ready; that is, in the same Scriptures on which they form their objections.
z Pirke Abot, c. 2. sect. 14. a T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 38. 2.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-peter-3.html. 1999.
|Duties towards Friends and Enemies.||A. D. 66.|
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
The apostle here passes from special to more general exhortations.
I. He teaches us how Christians and friends should treat one another. He advises Christians to be all of one mind, to be unanimous in the belief of the same faith, and the practice of the same duties of religion; and, whereas the Christians at that time were many of them in a suffering condition, he charges them to have compassion one of another, to love as brethren, to pity those who were in distress, and to be courteous to all. Hence learn, 1. Christians should endeavour to be all of one mind in the great points of faith, in real affection, and in Christian practice; they should be like-minded one to another, according to Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5), not according to man's pleasure, but God's word. 2. Though Christians cannot be exactly of the same mind, yet they should have compassion one for another, and love as brethren; they ought not to persecute or hate one another, but love one another with more than common affection; they should love as brethren. 3. Christianity requires pity to the distressed, and civility to all. He must be a flagrant sinner, or a vile apostate, who is not a proper object of civil courtesy, 1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 John 1:10; 2 John 1:11.
II. He instructs us how to behave towards enemies. The apostle knew that Christians would be hated and evil-entreated of all men for Christ's sake; therefore,
1. He warns them not to return evil for evil, nor railing for railing; but, on the contrary, "when they rail at you, do you bless them; when they give you evil words, do you give them good ones; for Christ has both by his word and example called you to bless those that curse you, and has settled a blessing on you as your everlasting inheritance, though you were unworthy." To bear evils patiently, and to bless your enemies, is the way to obtain this blessing of God. Learn, (1.) To render evil for evil, or railing for railing, is a sinful unchristian practice; the magistrate may punish evil-doers, and private men may seek a legal remedy when they are wronged; but private revenge by duelling, scolding, or secret mischief, is forbidden Proverbs 20:22; Luke 6:27; Romans 12:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:15. To rail is to revile another in bitter, fierce, and reproachful terms; but for ministers to rebuke sharply, and to preach earnestly against the sins of the times, is not railing; all the prophets and apostles practised it, Isaiah 56:10; Zephaniah 3:3; Acts 20:29. (2.) The laws of Christ oblige us to return blessing for railing. Matthew 5:44, "Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those that persecute you. You must not justify them in their sin, but you must do for your enemies all that justice requires or charity commands." We must pity, pray for, and love those who rail at us. (3.) A Christian's calling, as it invests him with glorious privileges, so it obliges him to difficult duties. (4.) All the true servants of God shall infallibly inherit a blessing; they have it already in a great degree, but the full possession of it is reserved to another state and world.
2. He gives an excellent prescription for a comfortable happy life in this quarrelsome ill-natured world (1 Peter 3:10; 1 Peter 3:10): it is quoted from Psalms 34:12-14. "If you earnestly desire that your life should be long, and your days peaceable and prosperous, keep your tongue from reviling, evil-speaking, and slandering, and your lips from lying, deceit, and dissimulation. Avoid doing any real damage or hurt to your neighbour, but be ever ready to do good, and to overcome evil with good; seek peace with all men, and pursue it, though it retire from you. This will be the best way to dispose people to speak well of you, and live peaceably with you." Learn, (1.) Good people under the Old and new Testament were obliged to the same moral duties; to refrain the tongue from evil, and the lips from guile, was a duty in David's time as well as now. (2.) It is lawful to consider temporal advantages as motives and encouragements to religion. (3.) The practice of religion, particularly the right government of the tongue, is the best way to make this life comfortable and prosperous; a sincere, inoffensive, discreet tongue, is a singular means to pass us peaceably and comfortably through the world. (4.) The avoiding of evil, and doing of good, is the way to contentment and happiness both here and hereafter. (5.) It is the duty of Christians not only to embrace peace when it is offered, but to seek and pursue it when it is denied: peace with societies, as well as peace with particular persons, in opposition to division and contention, is what is here intended.
3. He shows that Christians need not fear that such patient inoffensive behaviour as is prescribed will invite and encourage the cruelty of their enemies, for God will thereby be engaged on their side: For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous (1 Peter 3:12; 1 Peter 3:12); he takes special notice of them, exercises a providential constant government over them, and bears a special respect and affection to them. His ears are open to their prayers; so that if any injuries be offered to them they have this remedy, they may complain of it to their heavenly Father, whose ears are always attentive to the prayers of his servants in their distresses, and who will certainly aid them against their unrighteous enemies. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil; his anger, and displeasure, and revenge, will pursue them; for he is more an enemy to wicked persecutors than men are. Observe, (1.) We must not in all cases adhere to the express words of scripture, but study the sense and meaning of them, otherwise we shall be led into blasphemous errors and absurdities: we must not imagine that God hath eyes, and ears, and face, though these are the express words of the scripture. (2.) God hath a special care and paternal affection towards all his righteous people. (3.) God doth always hear the prayers of the faithful, John 4:31; 1 John 5:14; Hebrews 4:16. (4.) Though God is infinitely good, yet he abhors impenitent sinners, and will pour out his wrath upon those that do evil. He will do himself right, and do all the world justice; and his goodness is no obstruction to his doing so.
4. This patient humble behaviour of Christians is further recommended and urged from two considerations:-- (1.) This will be the best and surest way to prevent suffering; for who is he that will harm you?1 Peter 3:13; 1 Peter 3:13. This, I suppose, is spoken of Christians in an ordinary condition, not in the heat of persecution. "Ordinarily, there will be but few so diabolical and impious as to harm those who live so innocently and usefully as you do." (2.) This is the way to improve sufferings. "If you be followers of that which is good, and yet suffer, this is suffering for righteousness; sake (1 Peter 3:14; 1 Peter 3:14), and will be your glory and your happiness, as it entitles you to the blessing promised by Christ" (Matthew 5:10); therefore, [1.] "You need not be afraid of any thing they can do to strike you with terror, neither be much troubled nor concerned about the rage or force of your enemies." Learn, First, to follow always that which is good is the best course we can take to keep out of harm's way. Secondly, To suffer for righteousness sake is the honour and happiness of a Christian; to suffer for the cause of truth, a good conscience, or any part of a Christian's duty, is a great honour; the delight of it is greater than the torment, the honour more than the disgrace, and the gain much greater than the loss. Thirdly, Christians have no reason to be afraid of the threats or rage of any of their enemies. "Your enemies are God's enemies, his face is against them, his power is above them, they are the objects of his curse, and can do nothing to you but by his permission; therefore trouble not yourselves about them." [2.] Instead of terrifying yourselves with the fear of men, be sure to sanctify the Lord God in your hearts (1 Peter 3:15; 1 Peter 3:15); let him be your fear, and let him be your dread,Isaiah 8:12; Isaiah 8:13. Fear not those that can only kill the body, but fear him that can destroy body and soul,Luke 12:4; Luke 12:5. We sanctify the Lord God in our hearts when we with sincerity and fervency adore him, when our thoughts of him are awful and reverend, when we rely upon his power, trust to his faithfulness, submit to his wisdom, imitate his holiness, and give him the glory due to his most illustrious perfections. We sanctify God before others when our deportment is such as invites and encourages others to glorify and honour him; both are required, Leviticus 10:3. "When this principle is laid deeply into your hearts, the next thing, as to men, is to be always ready, that is, able and willing, to give an answer, or make an apology or defence, of the faith you profess, and that to every man that asketh a reason of your hope, what sort of hope you have, or which you suffer such hardships in the world." Learn, First, An awful sense of the divine perfections is the best antidote against the fear of sufferings; did we fear God more, we should certainly fear men less. Secondly, The hope and faith of a Christian are defensible against all the world. There may be a good reason given for religion; it is not a fancy but a rational scheme revealed from heaven, suited to all the necessities of miserable sinners, and centering entirely in the glory of God through Jesus Christ. Thirdly, Every Christian is bound to answer and apologize for the hope that is in him. Christians should have a reason ready for their Christianity, that it may appear they are not actuated either by folly or fancy. This defence may be necessary more than once or twice, so that Christians should be always prepared to make it, either to the magistrate, if he demand it, or to any inquisitive Christian, who desires to know it for his information or improvement. Fourthly, These confessions of our faith ought to be made with meekness and fear; apologies for our religion ought to be made with modesty and meekness, in the fear of God, with jealousy over ourselves, and reverence to our superiors.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-peter-3.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11