LESSON 5: The Place of Suffering Part 2 (1 Peter 3:1-7)

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(c) Submitting In Marriage (1 Peter 3:1-7):

Read Matthew Henry's Commentary on 1 Peter 3:1-7.

We have already seen that this section is dealing with Submission which comes from the greek word meaning 'to place oneself willingly under'. This will inevitably mean suffering for the sake of Christ. The primary goal of this suffering is to give glory to God and the secondary goal is 'salvation' (our own spiritual maturity , salvation of the soul, and the salvation of others).

Within the marriage relationship this principle is also relevant, particularly for the wife whose main responsibility in marriage is to Submit.

(i) Submission of the Wife...

(a) Returning To The Shepherd.

1 Peter 3:1-2 - This verse starts off with the word 'likewise' or 'in the same way'. The question is, 'In the same way as what ?'.

The context points back to 1 Peter 2:25 which talks about returning to the 'Shepherd and Overseer of your souls'. This is primarily referring to Jesus but also to those we are placed under the care of by the Lord. The husband is to be Shepherd to the wife, overseeing the state of her soul (mind,will and emotions).

(b) Submission To An Ungodly Husband So As To Win Him To Christ.

Read also Ephesians 5:22-24 and note how this submission of wife to husband is 'as to the Lord' - what does this show us ?

The husband is placed as head in the marriage relationship (this is his role and does not make him any greater). The woman can be seen as the 'heart' and the man the 'head'. Which is more important ? What is the difference ?

Read this article on the creation of woman.

As 'head' , man is the 'thinker' for the relationship and makes the final decisions. These decisions should be based on the Word of God. However, if his decisions are contrary to God's Word (he disbelieves and does not obey God's word) what does this verse say the wife should do ? Why ? (Read 1 Peter 3:1-2 again carefully before answering)....

This type of submitting (when the husband acts contrary to God's will) is where the wife will go through suffering. As we have seen, if she looks to the Lord for strength and equips her mind for suffering , she can go through this time with great joy and be a powerful testimony.

Think of some examples of such suffering of the wife and think about her proper reactions - again, the only time the wife cannot submit (as in the society and in the work place) is where the husband asks her to compromise in her worship to the living God.

In 1 Peter 3:1-2 verse 1b and verse 2 we see the purpose of the wife's suffering by submitting to an ungodly husband is to win him for Christ. Note that he is not won by her words but by her conduct (same greek word used in both verses).

What is the nature of this conduct ? Verse 2 says ' chaste conduct accompanied by fear'. This means that the wife should win an unbelieving husband by godly conduct with reverential fear ('phobos' - used of the fear of God).

(c) True Beauty That Is A Powerful Witness In Times Of Suffering.

1 Peter 3:3 - A wife's beauty (the Greek word 'kosmos' which means 'orderly arrangement') is not external (ie. her physical looks).

It is not to be the elaborate plaiting of the hair,

or of wearing gold ornaments all over the body,

or even putting on fine clothing that give true beauty. (See 1 Timothy 2:9-11 to see Paul's godly counsel to women concerning physical adornment).

See this article of True Inner Beauty.

Indeed, Scripture shows us we are to adorn ourselves spiritually with godly instruction and wisdom (See Proverbs 1:8-9).

Gold denotes the nature of God (faith purified - see 1 Peter 1:7) and we are to clothe ourselves with the garments of praise and the robe of righteousness (See Isaiah 61:10).

These are the true characteristics that make a wife beautiful and this beauty may win the unbelieving husband to the Lord (NB. Even Christian husbands sometimes do not believe and obey God's word and act in ways that can cause the wife suffering. Still she is to submit ).

1 Peter 3:4 - Meekness and quietness of heart is that quality that is truly of great price (precious) in the eyes of God. These are hidden qualities speaking of a lack of boasing and showing off. A humble disposition.

This kind of 'adornment' is imperishable or incorruptible and will not be burnt up in eternity. (See also Romans 2:29).

(d) The Example Of Sarah.

1 Peter 3:5-6 - Peter uses the example of godly (or chaste - the same root word is used) women of the past, here the example of Sarah is called upon.

Sarah trusted (literally - hoped and expected for God's best) in God and adorned or beautified herself by submitting herself to Abraham (think about their story and how she did this).

She called Abraham 'Lord' (See Genesis 18:12). What does this reveal about her submission to Abraham ? How does Genesis 12:12-20 show Sarah's obedience to Abraham even when he was probably making an unwise decision that Sarah may not have agreed with ?

She obeyed her husband (literally 'listened under his authority'). Wives who follow this pattern are 'daughters' (i.e of the godly seed) of Sarah if they do good(live according to the revealed will of God to reach out in love)..

Here Peter says that the fear ('phobos') the wives have (see 1 Peter 3:2) must not be with terror (literally 'alarm'). This is the kind of dread that causes them to run away.

What he seems to be saying is that the godly wife must endure mistreatment from ungodly husbands and not run away. By her gentle actions of love she may win him to Christ (are there exceptions to this ? Talk about it with someone).

(ii) Submission of the Husband...

1 Peter 3:7 - Again the term 'likewise' or 'in the same way' is used. This means that just as the wife is to submit to the husband so is the husband to submit to the wife. But this submission is not to compromise to his role as the head of the relationship.

Just as at times the head must submit to the heart (a heart felt prompting which goes against current reasoning) so the husband is to be willing to submit to the wife's wise counsel of the heart.

(a) Dwelling With Understanding:

Husbands are to dwell with (literally 'live together as a united family') their wives. This rules out times of separation because he cannot stand her nagging (can you think of any situation where separation cannot be avoided ?).

God is for marriage and will do everything to bring a marriage into harmony as long as we are willing to cooperate!

This dwelling together is to be with 'understanding' (literally according to knowledge) - not seeking to be understood but rather to understand (the comment 'she doesn't understand me' should not be uttered by the husband!). It is to be based on knowledge of the Scriptures (especially, in this instance, the meaning of Ephesians 5:25).

(b) Giving Honour To the Weaker Vessel:

This is similar to 1 Thessalonians 4:4. Husbands are to give (literally 'to apportion out that which is due) honour (literally 'treasure as precious') to their wives.

This means that husbands are to treat their wives as very precious, giving them the needed attention and time (see also 1 Corinthians 12:22-24 and comment).

'As heirs together of the grace of life' - The wife is not just excess baggage in the marriage to do the 'dirty work' - she has as much part in God's ministry (inheritance) as the husband. The husband and wife should be a team ministering in the grace of God together.

(c) That Their Prayers May Not Be Hindered.

A husband's or wife's prayers to God may be hindered if they are not living in the truths outlined above.

(eg. a husband who is 'lording it over' his wife in a over-controlling way may find his prayers only hit the ceiling and don't break through to heaven. Also a wife who is unsubmissive and rebellious will find her intercessions to God empty and without life.)

This passage also shows that it's God's desire for a husband and wife to pray together (a couple that prays together stays together).


You can discuss the following case studies with your firends and apply these principles above...

(1) A Christian woman is married to an unbeliever who is very violent and has beat her up a few times. One day he threatens to beat her up if she does not go and buy him cigarettes and alcohol. What should she do ?

(2) A Christian husband has a wife who disrespects his authority and is very controlling. She has just gone behind his back and got another job in another town. Now she is demanding they sell their house and move to the new town. What should be the husband's correct course of action ?

(3) An unbelieving husband will not allow his believing wife to go to Church on Sundays. He usually sleeps very late on Sundays and it would be possible for the wife to slip out unnoticed and go to Church. He also demands that she come with him to the Temple, not to worship but just to accompany him as he worships. What should she do ?

(4) A believing wife insists she is more spiritual than her believing husband and she should make the main spiritual decisions (i.e. what church meetings to go to, mission/ministry trips etc..). She actually prays more, has deeper spiritual insights and know more about the Bible. She feels God’s called them to go on a particular church camp but the husband doesn’t want to go and says you need to stay at home with him to look after his needs.

What should the wife do ? What does the husband need to do more of ?

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