1 Peter 3



Husbands and Wives (3:1-7)

1-2 Just as all Christians should submit to their rulers, and all workers to their employers, so in the same way should wives be subject to their husbands. In a family, the husband is the head of the wife (see 1 Corinthians 11:3,7-9; Ephesians 5:22-24 and comments; General Article: Christian Marriage).

If a husband is an unbeliever—one who does not believe the word—he may oppose the Gospel. He may be harsh with his Christian wife. But let the believing wife of such a man not quarrel or complain against her husband. Rather, let her live quietly in purity and reverence, showing respect for both her husband and for God. In this way her unbelieving husband, seeing her good behavior, may in time be led to repent and believe in the Lord. Behavior is always more effective than words in winning people to our side. Indeed, the best way to bring people to Christ is through our good behavior.5

3-4 There are two kinds of beauty (or adornment): outer or physical beauty, and inner or spiritual beauty. True beauty is inner beauty, the beauty ofthe inner self; this is the beauty that God sees. Inner beauty is the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (verse 4). This kind of beauty is of great worth in God’s sight. Let the beauty or adornment of the believing wife be like that.

However, to dress attractively is not a sin. A Christian woman doesn’t have to wear tattered, worn-out clothes. Let the believing wife dress suitably and modestly (see 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and comment).

In New Testament times, ungodly and worldly women customarily braided their hair and wore expensive clothes and jewelry. Therefore, it was unsuitable for Christian wives in Peter’s time to dress and wear their hair in this manner. To do so would give the appearance that they too were ungodly and worldly, and this would bring dishonor to God.

But in other countries, it is customary for ordinary godly people to braid their hair and wear gold jewelry. In these countries, then, it would be suitable for Christian wives to do the same. The main rule is this: whatever a woman wears must be pleasing and honoring to God. Let the Christian wife’s main concern be to adorn herself spiritually, to adorn her inner self. Let her remember God’s words to Samuel: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

5-6 To illustrate his teaching, Peter cites the example of godly Old Testament wives, whose beauty consisted in their submissive and obedient spirits. Peter’s main example is Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who called her husband master. In calling Abraham “master,” Sarah showed that she submitted to her husband. Just as Abraham is called the “father” of those who believe, so Sarah can be called the “mother” of those who obey.

7 Now Peter gives some instructions to Christian husbands. Husbands must be considerate as they live with their wives (see Ephesians 5:25,28 and comment). Husbands must treat their wives with respect. Because women are physically weaker than men, husbands must protect their wives, and be kind and gentle with them.

However, in spiritual things, wives are not behind their husbands. The husband may be stronger than his wife physically, but spiritually they are equal. The wife receives the same grace her husband does; she receives the same salvation her husband does. Husband and wife are heirs together of the gracious gift of life.

If a husband treats his wife harshly or if a wife refuses to submit to her husband, the spiritual fellowship between them is broken. When this happens, their prayers are hindered. Let this not happen. A husband and wife must remember the words of Jesus: “… if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). Think of the prayer power that a husband and wife possess together! Let nothing hinder it!

There is something else the husband and wife (and all of us) must remember. When the husband and wife pray together, they can know that Jesus is present with them. Jesus said: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). When the fellowship between husband and wife is broken, their fellowship with Jesus is also broken. Husbands and wives, let this not happen!

Suffering for Doing Good (3:8-22)

8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another (see 1 Corinthians 1:10). This doesn’t only mean that we should avoid arguing with each other; it also means that we should think and care deeply about the same things together, the things of Christ (Colossians 3:1-2). As Christ’s mind was, so should our mind be (see Phil-ippians 2:5).

In order to be of one mind and live in harmony together, we need to be sympathetic toward one another, and love each other as brothers; we need to be compassionate with one another. This means that we must share each other’s joy and sorrow. It means that we must always be trying to please our brother (Romans 12:15; 15:2).

In addition, we must be humble. Ifsome in the church think that they are better or more worthy than others, then there can be no harmony or unity of mind in that church (see Romans 12:3,16; Ephesians 4:2-3; Philippians 2:1-4 and comments).

9 Christians must never take revenge.6 Rather, we must repay evil with good (see Luke 6:27-31; Romans 12:14,17-21; 1 Corinthians 4:12-13; 1 Peter 2:23). God gives blessings7 to the evil as well as to the good (Matthew 5:44-45); therefore, so should we. As much as we show mercy and forgiveness to others, that much will God show mercy and forgiveness to us (see Matthew 5:44-45; 6:12,14-15; 18:32-35; Mark 11:25; Luke 6:35-38; Ephesians 4:32).

… because to this you were called. We were called to endure injustice and to do good to those who wrong us. If we do this, we will inherit a blessing—namely, our inheritance in heaven (see Romans 8:17-18; 1 Peter 2:21).

10-12 To show that God blesses those who do good and opposes those who do evil, Peter here quotes from Psalm 34:1216. Notice in verse 11 that we must not only turn from evil, but we must also do good. We must not only seek peace; we must also pursue it (see Romans 12:18; 14:19; Hebrews 12:14).

13 If we do good, no one can really harm us, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous (verse 12). Yes, men can give us trouble in this life—they can even kill our body. But in the end they can do us no spiritual harm. We do not need to fear those who can only kill the body (Matthew 10:28; Romans 8:31,35-39).

14 In the world, believers must expect to face suffering (2 Timothy 3:12); but for those who love God and walk in His will, such suffering will in the end be for the believer’s benefit (Romans 8:28; 1 Peter 1:67). If we suffer for the Lord’s sake, we will be blessed (Matthew 5:10-12).

Do not fear what they fear” is a quotation from Isaiah 8:12. Peter’s meaning is that we believers should not fear the things that other people fear. Other people fear the loss of their wealth. Or they fear the loss of health—they fear death. These are things that believers in Christ do not need to fear.

15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. In our hearts Christ must be the Lord. It must not be we who reign in our hearts, but Christ. No longer can we Christians do what we want; we must do only what He wants. We are no longer the ruler of our lives: He is.

Christ is the ruler, and we are His messengers or ambassadors. In a sense, we are His lips and tongue here on earth. Therefore, we must always be ready to witness to Christ. Peter says here that we must give people the reason for the hope that we have. Christ is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1). Paul writes: Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). If anyone asks us about our hope, about our Lord, let us be ready at once to give that person an answer. If someone shows even a little interest, let us be ready to share our faith with him. Most Christians remain silent. Why? Are we ashamed of our Lord? Are we afraid of man?

But when we witness to others, let us do so with gentleness and respect. We do not need to speak forcefully. We must never put others down. We must never argue, or give offense. Because if a person is offended by our manner of speaking, he will not listen to the words we speak.

Surely, as Peter wrote this verse, he remembered his own experience. Three times Peter had denied His Lord. He had been afraid then. He certainly had not been ready to witness to Christ. He answered those who questioned him neither with gentleness nor with respect—nor with truth! (see Mark 14:66-72). Therefore, let us not be discouraged when we fall; if Peter could overcome his early sins and weaknesses, so can we.

16 We must keep a clear conscience. If

our conscience is unclean—that is, if sin is hidden in our hearts—we will not be able to witness to others. All Christians have had this experience (see Acts 24:16; 1 Timothy 1:5,19 and comments).

If our conscience is clean—if we have repented of our sins and are obeying God’s will—then those who speak against us will in the end be ashamed (see Titus 2:7-8; 1 Peter 2:12,15 and comments).

17 Suffering will come to us; but let it come because we’ve done good, not because we’ve done evil. If we are punished for doing evil, there is nothing praiseworthy about that. Only when we suffer for doing good will we receive praise from God (see 1 Peter 2:19-20 and comment).

18 Whenever we suffer for doing good, let us remember that Christ Himself walked the road of suffering before us. He is for us an example (1 Peter 2:21). Christ suffered for doing good. He did not deserve the suffering He received. But God had appointed Him first to suffer, and only after that to enter into glory (Luke 24:26). Christ’s suffering was completely in accordance with God’s will; the Old Testament prophets had written about it (Luke 24:45-46). Thus when we suffer for doing good we can rejoice, because we know we are following in Christ’s footsteps and will enter into His glory (Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 3:10-11).

In one way, Christ’s suffering and our suffering are similar. But in another way, Christ’s suffering was special and unique, because He was the sinless Son of God. Through His suffering Christ brought men to God; that is, through His suffering He saved them. Christ died for sins once for all. The RIGHTEOUS man died in the place of unrighteous men (see 1 Peter 2:24 and comment). The innocent Christ offered Himself as a perfect and unblemished sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). His sacrifice will never have to be repeated (see Hebrews 9:26-28; 10:10-14 and comments). Christ took upon Himself the punishment for our sins. Now we are free forever from the condemnation of sin (see Romans 8:1 and comment).

As soon as Christ died, He was made alive again by the Spirit. He conquered death (Romans 6:9-10). But not only that, He also delivers us from death, the punishment for sin (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:14-15).

19 From this verse (and from Ephesians 4:9) comes the section in the Apostles’ Creed where it says: “He descended into hell.” After Jesus died and was made alive in spirit, three days passed before His body was resurrected. During that time He went and preached to the spirits in prison. It is not certain what spirits Peter is talking about here. Some Bible scholars believe that they are the spirits of men who died in the flood in Noah’s time without ever hearing about Jesus. Other scholars believe that these spirits are fallen angels (see 2 Peter 2:4-5; Jude 6).

20 The flood in Noah’s time was a sign both of judgment and salvation. God waited patiently while the ark was being built. That is, He gave the evil men of Noah’s time a chance to repent. But when they did not repent, God destroyed them all by sending a flood upon the earth (2 Peter 3:5-7,9). But Noah and his family—eight people—were saved by the flood (Genesis 7:11-12,17-23). They were saved through water. They were saved not only from the water but also through the water, because the water lifted up the boat Noah had built and thus enabled Noah and his family to escape drowning.

Except for those eight people, every other person on earth was destroyed by that flood. Consider this: To follow the majority of people is neither good, nor wise, nor safe. It’s better to follow the eight people in the boat! (see Matthew 7:13-14 and comment).

21 The water ofthe flood is an illustration or symbol of our BAPTISM into Christ. Just as those eight people who entered the boat were saved from judgment and death, so those who enter into Christ through faith are saved from judgment and death. The ceremony of baptism in itself does not save us; it is Christ who saves us. Christ saves us from death, because He Himself overcame death through His resurrection. In order to receive this salvation, all we have to do is to believe in Christ (Romans 10:9).

The meaning of baptism is this: When we are baptized, we die with Christ. … all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death8 (Romans 6:3). With Christ we die to sin (see Romans 6:6,10-11 and comment). True baptism is not an outer washing; it is an inner spiritual washing. In baptism our sins are washed away, our consciences are cleansed, and we are raised with Christ (Romans 6:5).

22 How great and deep is the meaning of baptism! How great is our Savior Christ! Christ has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand. All things have been placed under His authority (see Romans 14:9; Ephesians 1:20-22).