Read 1 Peter 3
3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own 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, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, 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. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7 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.
Suffering for Doing Good
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
Peter begins this chapter by addressing Christian wives and reminding them that God calls us to live in alignment with the order and roles He designed. Submission is a theme in Peter’s writing. In the previous chapter, he calls all believers to live in submission to all human authority, so this chapter is a continuation of that thought and instruction. The definition of submission reads “the act or instance of submitting, yielding control…”. Submission is always a choice. It’s not an act of coercion, nor is it value-based. It’s voluntary. It’s an opportunity to trust God and yield to His design for a wife to live in alignment with her husband. Notice, submission is for a wife with her husband. It is for the roles in marriage to function optimally. Submission has a purpose. Peter says, “submit so that…”. Submission is an instrument used by God to advance the gospel. Submission influences those who don’t know the hope of Jesus.
Wives are not the only ones given instruction in this text. Christian husbands are called to care for their wives physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Physically to live with them, be present with them. Intellectually to consider them. The ESV translation of scripture says to understand them. Emotionally to honor and respect them as equals (co-heirs). Spiritually in prayer.
Then, Peter addresses all believers to live in harmony (or unity), be sympathetic, love, be compassionate and humble. Repaying evil with a blessing. He says, “Because to this you were called.” We’re living in a time in history when it feels like we’ve thrown verses 8 and 9 out the window. For many of us, we’ve never seen division among believers like we do now. So many “believers” repay insult for insult, live in division, lack mercy, and have an arrogant spirit about them. They desire to be right rather than righteous. We don’t get a free pass on what we are called to do. We are called to love, to have compassion, and humility so that our lives will look different than the unbelieving world around us. Our suffering and service to others opens up the doors for us to share the gospel, to declare the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Service and suffering paves the way for us to tell our story of hope and life.
Peter wraps up the chapter reminding us that all of our actions (submission, service, sacrifice, and suffering) are under the banner of Christ who is our example. In fact, Jesus was more than our example; He was our substitute. He submitted His life to God so that our future can be secure. And, security breeds courage. Courage to submit. Courage to Serve. Courage to Suffer. Courage to tell our story. Courage to change the world with the hope of Jesus.
- If you are married, what do you learn about your role as husband/wife from this passage? How will you apply that?
- What area(s) do you sense the Holy Spirit convicting you?
- Taming your tongue (v. 10)
- Turning from evil (v. 11)
- Doing what is right and good (v. 11)
- Pursuing peace (v. 11)
- What do you learn about God in this passage? What do you learn about yourself?
“Without the help of the Spirit, without a continual refilling of your soul’s tank with the glory and love of the Lord, such submission to the interests of the other is virtually impossible to accomplish for any length of time without becoming resentful.”-Tim Keller
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