For the Lord's Sake
Beth and I will be celebrating 25 years together in marriage next month.
While thinking of this and how blessed I am to have such a wonderful wife I began to reflect on our relationship.
How did our relationship hold together for so long?
Some would say that Beth saw the potential in me, and helped me to be the man I am today (LOL!).
Others might say that since we were in the Army, every time things got a bit rough I would be deployed somewhere for a length of time, and when I returned we missed each other so much that we forgot about the earlier time.
Although these things may hold some merit, I think there is something else. And that leads me to my message today…
The Title of my message is: For the Sake of the Gospel – A look at 1 Peter 3, verses 1 – 7.
I can't tell you how many people questioned my wanting to preach this message on the first opportunity at my home church.
Everyone thought I was crazy for wanting to discuss a topic as controversial as this.
But I prayed about it and prayed about it. I questioned my motives, and prayed some more about it. When it was all said and done, I knew this is the topic God wants me to preach on.
I believe the reason why this scripture is so controversial is simply due to its being misunderstood.
There are two schools of thought on how this passage should be interpreted.
One is a woman should submit to her husband in the same way a slave does to his master.
The second is a woman should submit to her husband for the Lord's sake. Which is correct?
And when we speak of submission, what exactly does that mean?
To gain a proper understanding of this passage, we must determine whether 1 Peter 3:1 and 3:7 refer back to 1 Peter 2:18 or 2:13.
My hope (and my prayer) is that after this morning you will look at this topic in a whole new way.
So let's take a look at 1 Peter, chapter 3, verses 1 through 7.
[Begin with the ASV and so on, and so on…]
What's my point? My point is no matter how we try to dance around it, the word "submit" is there. But before you make any hasty judgments about where I'm going with this, let's take a look at this passage in more detail.
Overview & Historical - Cultural Background
· Written by Peter the Apostle in A.D. 63 or early 64 to the churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).
· Written to both Jewish and Gentile converts. "Resident Aliens" and "Visiting Strangers." (This is a whole other sermon!)
· The purpose of the letter
1. to teach and encourage Christians to live as good witnesses in a hostile land.
2. to teach Christians how to endure suffering for the gospel's sake.
· Roman society and culture revolved around pagan worship.
· Typical of wives to adopt their husband’s religion.
· Families worshipped together for appearances sake.
· When a woman converted to Christianity, she no longer worshiped images of false gods - her absence would have been very obvious and an insult to the husband's authority.
Side Note: During this time, women were more apt to convert to Christianity than men simply because of the way they were treated. Women were cherished in the Judeo-Christian world!
· Peter was instructing the Christians of this time to uphold family traditions in Roman society. Even so, they were still tormented and persecuted.
· Peter's response was to take on an attitude of deference and a behavior marked by respect.
· This didn't mean Christians should accept the religion of Rome, but it did rule out any retaliation.
Verse by Verse Exposition
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 1 Peter 3:1-2 (NIV)
· The adverb "in the same way" has been interpreted in several ways.
· I believe this is the key to a proper interpretation of this verse.
Ø It is meant as a simple connective introducing an item among other items in a list
Ø It is attached to "submit yourselves" in verse 2:18. In this view, the idea becomes as slaves are to subject themselves to their masters, so also wives are to subject themselves to their own husbands.
§ One major problem with this interpretation is it would mean the same thing in verse 7. But nowhere in scripture does it say a man should place himself under the authority of his wife.
Ø It refers back to 2:13. Peter is instructing wives to voluntarily submit to their husbands for the Lord's sake.
§ In this interpretation, the usage in verse 7 is consistent.
Side note: This is a good example of how we must read scripture in the context of the entire Bible. If a verse is inconsistent with another verse, than chances are good that we are taking it out of context.
· In the same way also refers us back to 2:21 - 25. Just as Jesus was submissive and obedient to God's will, so a Christian husband and wife should follow His example. [Read 2:21 - 24]
· This is the key point to understanding this passage! [Expound]
· The word "submit" is the next word. In the original language, the word is defined as "voluntary submission."
· Throughout the New Testament, the word is defined the identical way…even when referring to slaves.
· An interesting note about translations: In the RSV the word was translated differently. In verse 3:1 and 2:18 it was translated "Submissive" but in verse 2:13 it was translated as "subject." I think because of this, the norm was to take "in the same way" in verse 3:1 back to 2:18 and that's where the idea that a wife needs to submit to their husband as a slave to his master comes from. In the newer translations, the word is translated the same in all three verses and it is easier to see how it applies to 2:13 too.
· Another interesting point of this word is it does not mean to obey someone or to do the will of another person, but to lose or surrender one's own rights or will. In its original usage, the word described the submission and obedience of soldiers in an Army to those of superior rank. The term always implies a relationship of submission to authority.
Ø Isn’t this exactly what Christ did?
· The thing to remember here is God has a place for everything. He has ordained various levels of authority. [Read 2:13 and 14]
· He has ordained that the husband be the head of the home. [Eph 5:21 - 24]
· As the husband submits to Christ, his wife should submit to him.
· Headship is not dictatorship, but the loving exercise of divine authority under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
· Peter’s instructions to submit to authorities (1 Pet 2:13–17) and to husbands (1 Pet 3:1–6) involved normal and not abusive situations.
· The key point here is that Peter is instructing wives to submit to their husband for two reasons:
· Submission is an obligation: according to God's wisdom, this is the best arrangement for a happy fulfilling marriage.
Ø A wife must keep in mind that she submits to her husband not for his sake (to appease her husband’s vanity or to boost his social image), nor for her own sake (to boast in her martyrdom). Rather, she submits to him for the Lord’s sake (2:13).
· Submission is an opportunity: God uses a wife's submission as a powerful spiritual influence in a home.
Ø This doesn't mean the wife should preach to her husband, but rather through her character and conduct win the husband to Christ.
Ø The term "without words" does not refer to without the Word of God, because salvation comes through the Word.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 1 Peter 3:3-6 (NIV)
· What Peter is saying is a Christian woman should be adorned with the Christian attributes.
· Roman women were addicted to extravagance in the adornment of their hair.
· Peter is exhorting Christian woman not to adorn themselves in the same way as a pagan woman.
· If they did, the husbands would only see their Christian wife imitating the ways of the world. Where is the attraction to Christ?
· The example of Christ would be overshadowed by worldly adornment.
· Instead a Christian woman's adornment should reflect her inner spiritual nature. [Fruit of the Spirit]
· This does not mean a woman should neglect herself. It simply means she should not worry about following the world of glamour.
· A Christian woman has a beauty that radiates from within.
· The believing wife who submits to Christ and to her husband, and who cultivates a “meek and quiet spirit” will never have to be afraid.
· God will watch over her even when her unsaved mate creates problems and difficulties for her.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)
· In this passage, Peter is talking to Christian husbands.
· Again, "In the same way" is referring back to 2:21-24.
· The term "considerate" is from the Greek word "gnosis" and refers to an intelligent recognition of the marriage relation.
· Peter seems to be saying husbands need to be considerate of their wives or their prayers will be hindered.
· But 1 Peter 3:7 is not talking strictly of the prayers of the husband, but rather the prayers of the husband and wife.
· Jesus taught in Matthew 18:19 that “if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
· Marriage is the most intimate relationship God can bless. And if that relationship is not right, the prayers of husband and wife would surely be “hindered.
Peter wrote of four areas of responsibilities we have in our relationship with our wife.
· Husbands have the responsibility to Live with their wife.
a. [Ex: My life BC in the NCO Club compared to after Christ and home]
· Husbands have the responsibility to be considerate of their wife.
Ø In other words, know your wife's moods, feelings, needs, fears, and hopes.
Ø Listen with your heart and have meaningful communication with them.
Ø Treat your wife with respect. In this passage, Peter's reference to the weaker vassal is speaking of a woman's physical stature. A husband should treat his wife like an expensive, beautiful, fragile vase which contains a precious treasure.
· Husbands have the responsibility to “Giving honor.”
Ø This means that the husband respects his wife’s feelings, thinking, and desires. He may not agree with her ideas, but he respects them.
Ø Ex: Beth and I always discuss things before making a major decision. But if we are in disagreement as to the best way to proceed, I have the obligation to make the final decision. Truth be known? I usually follow Beth’s suggestion…;)
Ø Ex: How many times have I heard men talk about “the wife” or the “little woman?” Is this showing respect?
Ø Often God balances a marriage so that the husband needs what the wife has in her personality, and she likewise needs his good qualities. An impulsive husband often has a patient wife, and this helps to keep him out of trouble! [Boy is that the truth in our marriage!]
· They should likewise view them as fellow heirs of the grace of life.
Ø In Roman times, women’s inheritance rights were normally subordinate to those of men, all God’s people shared the same inheritance in the world to come.
Ø By emphasizing the wives’ spiritual equality, Peter prevents the husbands from taking his instructions to the wives as grounds for the husbands to subordinate them. The husband who failed to keep this in mind would hurt his own relationship with God in prayer.
· Husbands have the responsibility to be the Spiritual leaders in their homes.
Ø Husbands and wives need to pray together. In addition to our personal time, we need to pray together.
Ø This can be a tough one. I pray out loud and with emotion. Beth prays silently to herself. She is uncomfortable in this.
At this point a word about mutual submission seems appropriate.
Ø When husbands and wives are thoughtful and considerate toward one another, they are in keeping with the teachings in Scriptures. In this manner, this allows for the husband to maintain his leadership role, and gives the wife the responsibility to submit to his authority.
Ø The husband has a unique leadership role in the family that he should not abdicate.
· However, the evangelical feminists have a different view of submission.
Ø They use the term “mutual submission” and view it as wives submitting to husbands and husbands submitting to wives in exactly the same way. In this way, the husband has no “unique authority” or leadership in the marriage.
Ø Feminists look to Ephesians 5:21 which reads, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” as justification for this view. They seem to ignore Ephesians 5:22 which says “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
· Another point is husbands are never told to submit to their wives. Nowhere in scripture does it say husbands should submit to their wives.
· And finally, the evangelical feminists change the meaning of the word submit, giving it a completely erroneous meaning.
Ø They define it as “‘be thoughtful and considerate; act in love’ (toward another), without any sense of obedience to an authority.”
Ø But as we said discussed earlier, this term, “always implies a relationship of submission to an authority.”
· A healthy marriage will have elements of mutual consultation. A husband and wife will seek wisdom, and most decisions will come by consensus between them and will most likely not involve obeying actual commands or directives.
· In many ways, the contemporary feminist movement has done the church a favor by forcing it to reevaluate what the Bible actually teaches about the husband-and-wife relationship in marriage.
· It has forced theologians to take a harder look at this passage and to truly understand the author’s original intent.
a. As one theologian writes in his article, this additional focus has brought renewed attention to “a long-standing abuse of the doctrine by misguided men whose prejudices blinded them to the truth.”
· Here we are talking of two types of abuse:
1) Men taking the verse to an unhealthy extreme. Using it to abuse women.
2) The opposite is true also. Rush Limbaugh calls it the feminization of America. Men have given up their God-given authority to woman. And we can’t blame them. If the men won’t take responsibility, the women have to!
· Men need to take their responsibilities to heart. If we don’t, what kind of legacy are we passing on to our sons and daughters?
· Peter's instructions to newly converted Christian wives of unbelieving husbands and to Christian husbands is just as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.
In his commentary, Scot McKnight sums it up best when he writes that we have placed the wrong emphasis on submission. He says, “The Biblical injunction is that the wife ought to give her life to her husband, ‘to serve and cherish him’, and the husband ought to lay down his life for his wife. According to him, if this were done the issue of submission would never materialize. After all, as he says, “The focus of biblical marriage is on love and service of one another.”
The obvious application to this passage falls just as much on the husband as it does the wife. If we live our lives in the way Christ commands us, then the love a wife shows her husband will be more than submissive.
Again McKnight says, “They will be so loving that the term ‘submission’ can hardly describe their relationship.” When a husband and wife focus on submission, McKnight says “the image of marriage is distorted.” But when they focus on “the mutual responsibility to love and serve one another, the image of marriage is clear and beautiful.”
· In the larger context, Peter is saying how we live our life is what will attract unbelievers to Christ.
· When we take these passages and apply them in our daily life, we will attract the attention of unbelievers.
· Yes, we will be different than the world around us. But even so, we must engage the society we live in. We cannot hide from it.
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:12 (NIV)
· When Christ returns, we will ALL know the truth; believers and unbelievers!
For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 1 Peter 2:15 (NIV)
And how do we accomplish this?
By following the example Christ gave us on chapter 2.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed”.
1 Peter 2:21 and 24 (TNIV)
As I said in the beginning, Beth and I will be celebrating 25 years together in marriage next month. In today’s society that is quite an accomplishment in of itself. But what makes it even more amazing is the fact that when Beth and I were married, she was a born-again Christian and I was not. I think it was because Beth modeled herself after 1 Peter 3:1 and through her loving way, led me to the Lord.
I'm not standing here telling you that our 25 years together has been a bed of roses, far from it. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. All the struggles and trials along with the joys and victories. If I say any more I'll lose it.
Let me just say there is no doubt that God has blessed our marriage.
The bottom line is simple. God has designed marriage to be a blessing when the husband and wife put Jesus Christ at the center. And 1 Peter 3 gives us a great example of what that should look like.
When we look at this passage and how we apply it, we must be honest with ourselves and admit that we can't do it ourselves. But, if we look to Christ as our example, and realize that he suffered for us, then we can follow in his footsteps. And through God's teaching, and help from the Holy Spirit we can live a Godly life and love each other as we are called to.
We cannot follow Christ’s example unless we first know Him as our Savior, and then submit to Him as our Lord.
We must spend time with Him each day, meditating on the Word and praying; and a Christian husband and wife must pray together and seek to encourage each other in the faith.
When we do these things, we will see marriages that are strong in love and faith.
We talk a lot about community here at Ancient Path. But being a part of a loving Christian community must begin at home. When we live out our lives at home for God, we will see our Christian love extend out into the community. And we should do that for the sake of the Gospel.
And that is the reason I wanted to preach this message to you today.