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In Christ, every aspect of our lives is woven together. The demeanor that receives the salvation offered to us is a demeanor that relates to husbands, wives, and everyone else in that same way. The spirit you have toward God is not turned off when you face your fellow man. Your spirit in dealing with your husband and wife does not switch off when you kneel in prayer. If you think it does, you are just pretending.
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price . . .” (1 Peter 3:1–22).
Summary of the Text
Remember that word likewise. Likewise, you wives be in subjection to your husbands. Some of them are not obedient, and this is the most effective way to win them (vv. 1-2). Without a word. Adorn yourself, but not with all the carnal tricks (v. 3). Adorn yourself in the heart, using the jewelry of a meek and quiet spirit (v. 4). This is what the holy women in older times did, trusting in God (v. 5). This is how Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (v. 6; Gen. 18:12). You are her daughters if you follow in her footsteps, and stay clear of fear (v. 6).
Likewise, you husbands, honor your wives, just as they are, and protect your prayers (v. 7).
All of you together, share the Spirit of Christ in your midst. Be of one mind, be compassionate, be loving, kind and courteous (v. 8). Do not pay people back in their own coin (v. 9). The blessings you inherit will be the unmerited blessings you render back to other people. You want a good life, good days? Then stop lying (v. 10). Turn away from evil and do what is good (v. 11). Remember the omniscience and omnipresence of the God who answers prayers (v. 12). Who can touch you if you are doing right (v. 13)? And if someone seems like they can “touch” you, don’t worry about it (v. 14). Set apart the Lord in your hearts, and always have an apology for your hope ready (v. 15), in meekness and fear. Keep a good conscience, so that their lies about you embarrass them (v. 16). If you have to suffer, do it for righteousness’ sake (v. 17).
Christ suffered in that way, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God (v. 18). He was crucified, and then in the Spirit He went and preached to the spirits in prison (v. 19). These were those who were disobedient during the times of Noah, prior to the Flood, when eight souls were saved through water (v. 20). Baptism is the antitype of the ark, and you are saved through baptism as an appeal of a good conscience to God, empowered by the resurrection (v. 21). This risen Lord is in Heaven now, with angelic powers and authorities all in subjection to Him (v. 22).
We may all acknowledge that there are extreme cases when a wife with a disobedient husband needs to call the cops, or call the elders. That does happen. But let us also acknowledge that an apostle of Jesus is talking about a real kind of situation here, one that he believed to be common enough that it needed to be included in Scripture. Notice that Peter assumes that the wife in his scenario is in the right, and that her husband is disobedient and in the wrong. His counsel surely applies some time.
His counsel amounts to this. Adorn yourself with a necklace that is priceless in the sight of God, who sees all. Women, a meek and quiet spirit is something that God considers to be altogether lovely. And if God thinks you are lovely, then at some point your chump of a husband might catch on. Generally speaking, women have no idea how alluring and winsome this gentle and quiet spirit is. Is this counterintuitive? You bet. Deep in your heart, you believe that the Holy Spirit is encouraging you to itemize his many deficiencies. But He is not.
Husbands are to live in a counterintuitive way as well. Likewise, husbands are to dwell with their wives “according to knowledge.” That knowledge includes the fact that she is weaker than you are. But men, naturally competitive, do what with weakness. Whenever they see it, they want to use it, exploit it, and compete with it. What does Peter say to do. Honor it. When you refuse to do so, your prayers get all gummed up. And why? Because God is treating your weakness the way you treat hers.
Keep Your Lips from Guile
Peter does not say that we should refrain from speaking lies unless we have first deceived ourselves. Lying to yourself is where all lying begins. Do you want to love your life? Stop lying. Do you want to love good days? Stop kidding yourself. Do you want to know why your prayers are hindered? Cease from guile. Do you want to understand your husband accurately? Stop weaving stories for yourself.
You lie to yourself when you go along with the way of the world. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (1 Cor. 3:18–20). You lie to yourself when you fail to put your knowledge of Scripture into action. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jas. 1:22). You deceive yourself when you suppress knowledge of your own sins and failings. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8, 10).
That He Might Bring Us to God
The fundamental message of good news is a message of exchange. Peter says it plainly here—the just for the unjust (v. 18). The reason He did this is because He had a mission assigned to Him by His Father. He came to earth, and went to the cross “that He might bring us to God.” But we cannot be brought to God without being made like Him. And we are made like Him because we are being made like the one who is bringing us to Him. And follow the Word closely here, because an understanding of this principle will suffuse all the exhortations in this epistle. Remember that Christians are being exhorted to holiness under pressure. And the principle is this: we cannot be made like Him without being made like Him. And when we are made like Him, we are like Him in every place, and in every relation.