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- In that society, a woman was expected to accept her husband’s religion. If a wife became a Christian, she was viewed as being insubordinate. Thus the conversion of women was a culturally explosive situation. Peter didn’t want to compound the problem with a wife’s defiant behavior. So he gives instruction on how Christian women could live with their unbelieving mates in a way that would bear witness for Christ.
- In every sphere of ancient civilization, women had no rights at all. Under Jewish law a woman was a thing; she was owned by her husband in exactly the same way as he owned his sheep and his goats; on no account could she leave him, although he could dismiss her at any moment. For a wife to change her religion while her husband did not was unthinkable.
- In Greek civilization the duty of the woman was ‘to remain indoors and to be obedient to her husband.’ It was the sign of a good woman that she must see as little, hear as little and ask as little as possible. She had no kind of independent existence and no kind of mind of her own.
Under Roman law a woman had no rights. In law she remained for ever a child. When she was under her father she was under the patira potestas, the father’s power, which gave the father the right even of life and death over her; and when she married she passed equally into the power of her husband. She was entirely subject to her husband and completely at his mercy. Cato the Censor, the typical ancient Roman, wrote: ‘If you were to catch your wife in an act of infidelity, you can kill her with impunity without a trial.’ Roman matrons were prohibited from drinking wine, and Egnatius beat his wife to death when he found her doing so. Sulpicius Gallus dismissed his wife because she had once appeared in the streets without a veil. Antistius Vetus divorced his wife because he saw her secretly speaking to a freed woman in public. Publius Sempronius Sophus divorced his wife because once she went to the public games. The whole attitude of ancient civilization was that no woman could dare take any decision for herself.83
- Under Roman law a woman had no rights. In law she remained for ever a child. When she was under her father she was under the father’s power, which gave the father the right even of life and death over her; and when she married she passed equally into the power of her husband. She was entirely subject to her husband and completely at his mercy. The whole attitude of ancient civilization was that no woman could dare take any decision for herself.83
The basic command to submission sounds strange to modern Western readers, and so it must be understood in its first-century and early Christian context. Submission to the husband was the custom of the time. For Jews it was based on the stories of the Creation and Fall where the woman, originally created to be a helper for the man (), is cursed by the pain of childbirth and submission to the rule of her husband ().
1 Peter 3:1 ESV
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
- Peter’s comments do not give warrant for a Christian to enter a marriage with an unbelieving mate. Scripture is clear that believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (; ; ). Peter was writing to women who had become Christians after marriage, but whose husbands were not yet believers.
In contrast, the Christian gospel emphasized that in the new situation brought about by the death and resurrection of Jesus ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (). Paul expresses the equality of husband and wife in as fundamental a matter as their physical sexual relationships (). He also stresses that they are mutually dependent (). This teaching clearly shows that the effects of the Fall are undone in the new creation that is manifested in the church.
1 Peter 3:1–2 ESV
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
1 Peter
1 Peter 3:1 ESV
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
(Likewise)
Remember the key theme has been submission
Submit to human institution.
Servants submit to your masters.
So “likewise” connects
Subject to your own husbands
Sub
Christian Submission to Authority
Note two things about authority and submission:
First, the purpose of authority is to protect and bless those under authority, not to benefit the one in authority
Second, God never tells husbands to get their wives to submit to them. All the commands to submit are directed to wives, not to husbands. A husband who focuses on his authority is out of line
Second, God never tells husbands to get their wives to submit to them. All the commands to submit are directed to wives, not to husbands. A husband who focuses on his authority is out of line
Submission: The Greek word is a military term meaning to place in rank under someone. But the biblical spirit of submission involves far more than just grudgingly going along with orders (as often happens in the military). Rather, submission is the attitude and action of willingly yielding to and obeying the authority of another to please the Lord.
Submission: The Greek word is a military term meaning to place in rank under someone. But the biblical spirit of submission involves far more than just grudgingly going along with orders (as often happens in the military). Rather, submission is the attitude and action of willingly yielding to and obeying the authority of another to please the Lord.
Submission involves an attitude of respect and a recognition of the responsibility of the one in authority. Rather than trying to prevent his will through manipulation or scheming, a submissive wife will seek to discover what her husband wants and do it to please him, as long as it doesn’t involve disobedience to God.
Christian wives are instructed to submit to their own husbands. They are not to submit to another man nor are they instructed to submit themselves to men in general. They are to be in submission to their own husbands.
So you have a constant tug of war going on. That’s not the biblical pattern for husbands or wives. The biblical pattern is for the wife to yield control to the husband and to do all she can to please him and make him prosper. The husband is not to dominate, but to do all he can to bless and protect his wife so that she prospers in the Lord.
Here’s the catch: You can’t wait for your partner to come up to some acceptable level of performance before you start to do your part. You must obey what God has told you to do and let Him take care of your partner.
Christian wives are instructed to submit to their own husbands. They are not to submit to another man nor are they instructed to submit themselves to men in general. They are to be in submission to their own husbands.
Peter says that the disobedient husbands may be won without a word as they observe (not, “hear about”) the pure and reverent behavior of their wives. By “without a word” he doesn’t mean that a wife is to be mute. He means that she must not nag or preach to her husband. Nothing will drive a man further from the Lord than a nagging wife. Solomon said it 3,000 years ago, and it’s still true, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (). And, “the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping” (). Nagging will drive your husband crazy, but it won’t drive him to Christ.
Willingly yielding to!
So that even if some do not obey the word
So that even if some do not obey the word
- Peter’s comments do not give warrant for a Christian to enter a marriage with an unbelieving mate. Scripture is clear that believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (; ; ). Peter was writing to women who had become Christians after marriage, but whose husbands were not yet believers.
Peter says that the disobedient husbands may be won without a word as they observe (not, “hear about”) the pure and reverent behavior of their wives. By “without a word” he doesn’t mean that a wife is to be mute. He means that she must not nag or preach to her husband. Nothing will drive a man further from the Lord than a nagging wife. Solomon said it 3,000 years ago, and it’s still true, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (). And, “the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping” (). Nagging will drive your husband crazy, but it won’t drive him to Christ.
Peter says that the disobedient husbands may be won without a word as they observe (not, “hear about”) the pure and reverent behavior of their wives. By “without a word” he doesn’t mean that a wife is to be mute. He means that she must not nag or preach to her husband. Nothing will drive a man further from the Lord than a nagging wife. Solomon said it 3,000 years ago, and it’s still true, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (). And, “the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping” (). Nagging will drive your husband crazy, but it won’t drive him to Christ.
News Flash, even believers don’t obey the word!
This is the core of the text!
They may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
Peter says that the disobedient husbands may be won without a word:
Peter says that the disobedient husbands may be won without a word as they observe (not, “hear about”) the pure and reverent behavior of their wives. By “without a word” he doesn’t mean that a wife is to be mute. He means that she must not nag or preach to her husband. Nothing will drive a man further from the Lord than a nagging wife. Solomon said it 3,000 years ago, and it’s still true, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (). And, “the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping” (). Nagging will drive your husband crazy, but it won’t drive him to Christ.
By “without a word” he doesn’t mean that a wife is to be mute. He means that she must not nag or preach to her husband. Nothing will drive a man further from the Lord than a nagging wife.
Solomon said it 3,000 years ago, and it’s still true,
The Message (MSG)

Do Your Best, Prepare for the Worst

Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.
Proverbs 21:9 ESV
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
The Message (MSG)
13 A parent is worn to a frazzle by a stupid child; a nagging spouse is a leaky faucet.
Proverbs 19:13 ESV
A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.
Peter says that the disobedient husbands may be won without a word as they observe (not, “hear about”) the pure and reverent behavior of their wives. By “without a word” he doesn’t mean that a wife is to be mute. He means that she must not nag or preach to her husband. Nothing will drive a man further from the Lord than a nagging wife. Solomon said it 3,000 years ago, and it’s still true, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (). And, “the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping” (). Nagging will drive your husband crazy, but it won’t drive him to Christ.
“It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (). And, “the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping” (). Nagging will drive your husband crazy, but it won’t drive him to Christ.
When they see your respectful and pure conduct.
.
Peter’s instruction is not merely negative, forbidding Christian wives to verbally pressure their husbands to come to faith in Christ. Rather, in place of her words, wives are to witness to their husbands through their works. Husbands should be able to observe that their wives are different than they were before they came to faith.
1 Peter 3:
1 Peter 3:3–4 ESV
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
- In the days in which Peter lived, those with the means to do so went to great extremes in dress, cosmetics, and hair styling to look good to others:
- Image is everything
- Spending money on the external!
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
“Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”
Let your
- If you want to focus on something, let it be the hidden person of the heart…
- The imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit! External fades but internal last forever…
- Which in God’s sight is very precious!
My attractions are changing!
As a man:
English Standard Version (ESV)
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
- My attractions are connected to the house I live in!
English Standard Version (ESV)
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.
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