V11In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any [of them] are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,. The words “in the same way” with which chapter 3 begins, refer to a verse of the previous chapter (1Pet 2:1818Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.). Just like servants are to be submissive to their masters, even if it is a harsh master, a wife is to be submissive to her husband, even if she has a husband who doesn’t live according to the Word. The submissive attitude of the wife towards her husband is today completely abnormal. In the world the wife is being told not to be submissive at all, but that she has her own rights, with which she has to defend herself.
When in the marriage the husband doesn’t consider God and His Word, unfortunately the wife is often being used as a utensil. The believing wife finds the strength to, despite a humiliating treatment, be submissive to her husband out of her relationship with the Lord. Biblical submissiveness is a proof of great spiritual strength.
By her relationship with the Lord Jesus she will get strength to be of help to her husband, for which God has intended her (Gen 2:1818Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”). That means that the husband is the one who is the ‘needy one’. It is not an inferior position when you are a help. How could that be when you consider that God calls Himself the Help of His people (Deu 33:77And this regarding Judah; so he said,
“Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah,
And bring him to his people.
With his hands he contended for them,
And may You be a help against his adversaries.”
; Psa 33:2020Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
It is a good thing to always consider that Peter writes about relationships like they are in the kingdom of God. Those relationships radically contradict the relationships that are applied in the world. That also goes for the relationship in the marriage between husband and wife. When that relationship comes under pressure because the husband does not listen to the Word, the wife ought not to lecture her husband. How hard that may be for her, God’s Word says here that she ought not to do that.
She has another means available and that is her conduct, which means her way of life as a Christian woman in the daily care for the house management. Thereby the most important thing is not that she technically takes actions, like keeping the house clean and to make sure that husband and children eat well and are well taken care of. The most important thing is her mind in doing these things. Does she do these things reluctantly or with the love of the Lord in her heart?
It surely will be difficult to keep on nourishing her husband and children with the good mind without her ever receiving any nice compliment. It is also difficult, even when you know better, to still remain silent. The temptation is great to lecture her husband when he makes things difficult for her again. After all she knows from the Scripture how a husband is supposed to approach his wife. Nevertheless she may not do that. Unbelieving husbands or husbands who disobey the Word, really do not tolerate their wife to call them to account for their conduct.
The perfect model for the wife here is also the Lord Jesus. In every relationship He has taken the right place. Therefore He did not lecture the older people, but asked them questions and replied to their questions. He knew everything perfectly better, still He took the right place (Lk 2:4747And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.). That place He also took towards His fallible parents (Lk 2:5151And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all [these] things in her heart.).
V22as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.. There is another danger for the wife to fall into and that is making use of her natural charms to win her husband’s favor. That’s why Peter speaks about a “chaste conduct”, which means a pure conduct, a conduct that is free from the impurity that rules the world. She ought not to ignore her obligations by not giving her husband also in sexual view what is related to a marriage (1Cor 7:3-53The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.4The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband [does]; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife [does].5Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.). But she ought not to use the needs of her husband to manipulate him.
Because she has this means available and also knows how to use it, her conduct must “be respectful”, that she may do nothing that gives a wrong picture of the Lord and His Word. What God’s Word addresses here to the wives who find themselves in such a situation is not easy to follow, but it is certainly the way to be blessed. Such a conduct does not remain unnoticed by her husband and will cause that he “may be won” (verse 11In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any [of them] are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,) for the Lord.
V33Your adornment must not be [merely] external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;. The adornment of the woman lies in the outer things which are natural for her. It is her weakness to even more strongly emphasize the beauty that she has by nature. In that way she is so occupied by her appearance that she hasn’t got the right view anymore of who she is for the Lord. It is about the wife here as a disciple of the Lord and the question is where the heart is focused on. Is her heart focused to please Him or to please the men? She is certainly allowed to adorn herself for her own husband, but she ought not to be coquettish. She must not stand out by receiving excessive attention for her appearance. The true adornment does not lie in the appearance.
You may ask yourself indeed what people notice, what moves them, when they have come into contact with you. Do you make an impression by your appearance, or by your brown skin that is tanned by the sun or by the sunbed? Or is it your eloquent speech or your well-shaped body? Or is it the rest and the joy in the Lord that you radiate?
As means for a wife to draw people’s attention to her appearance, Peter mentions the nicely braiding of the hair, the rings and the golden necklaces that a woman wears and the stylishly or maybe even provocative clothes. He warns that this is not to be so for the believing wife (1Tim 2:9-119Likewise, [I want] women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,10but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.).
V44but [let it be] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.. All outer adornments are corruptible, transient. The inward of the hidden person, the “gentle and quiet spirit”, is not transient, but everlasting. That is precious to God and therefore incorruptible. It is about things that remain and not about things that are transient.
We live in a time wherein outer beauty is being adored. People consider the looks of a person as very important. Do not focus on a youthful beauty. That is just temporary. Try to carefully realize that the outer man will decay. By growing older all youthful beauty fades away and turns into wrinkles. Therefore it is important to realize that God sees the heart.
The most beautiful thing about a man is his inner beauty that consists of meekness and a quiet spirit. Someone’s character is much more the true man than his appearance. You can learn gentleness from the Lord Jesus (Mt 11:2929Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.). A quiet spirit is also typical of Him, Who also inwardly never resisted against the circumstances wherein He was.
V55For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;. This imperishable adornment is not an invention for the time Peter and his readers live in. In former times this was the adornment of women who did not live in the here and now, but for the future. That means that it is about timeless matters here. These women are called “holy women”, for they lived in isolation from the world and focused on God, in Whom they “hoped” for the future.
Such a mind of separation from the world and trusting in God is still important today as it was in those days. If you possess that, it is not difficult to be submissive. Your conduct will then be determined by what God has said. He is more than worthy to be trusted by you. When He has determined your place in marriage as a place of submission and you really take that place, the true adornment becomes visible, “which is precious in the sight of God”.
V66just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.. Out of the ‘holy women’ from the past Peter mentions an example. He points to Sarah and says about her that she “obeyed Abraham, calling him ‘lord’” (Gen 18:1212Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”). This example is not intended to make known that the wife should address her husband as ‘lord’. The point is that Sarah did not think it was embarrassing to call her husband ‘lord’. Therefore it is much more the intention to make clear that the wife ought to adapt an attitude towards her husband, which expresses the respect that she owes to him. Therefore, the fact that she obeyed him does not mean that she was his servant.
The submission or obedience of a wife doesn’t mean that a husband ought not to listen to his wife. Wives are given to their husbands to keep them from foolishness. We also have an example of that from the life of Abraham. Sarah once told him to do something. When he refused to listen to her, God told him that he had to listen to her (Gen 21:1212But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.).
This example is an illustration of the relationships in the marriage of the Christian and here it is specifically of the Christian woman. When she takes the attitude towards her husband like Sarah did towards Abraham, she looks like Sarah in spiritual view and therefore can be called one of “her children”. She therefore shows her nature and mindset. Therefore wives who follow Sarah in this, will also show that by doing good. Thereby they do not have to be “frightened by any fear”, for he who does good and therein does the will of the Lord, can be sure to be guarded by God.
Now read 1 Peter 3:1-6 again.
Reflection: What do you like most about a Godly wife?