1 Peter 3:1
In 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,
(a) In the same way that Christ gave us an example to follow by laying down his life for us (see 1 Pet. 2:21, 24), husbands and wives are to yield and lay down their lives for each other. Speaking first to wives and then to husbands (see 1 Pet. 3:7), Peter encourages both to submit to each other in love.
(b) Be submissive. Putting the needs of the other first is the essence of love. “Love is not self-seeking” (1 Cor. 13:5). We give ourselves to those we love as an act of worship to the One who gave himself for us.
True submission stems from love, not power. It is saying, “Because I love you, I choose to put you first.” Submission is not forced on us from above; it is something we offer to another. It’s choosing to surrender because we want to, not because we have to.
(c) Disobedient to the word. Unbelievers; see entry for 1 Pet. 2:8.
In a healthy marriage, wives submit to husbands and husbands submit to wives and both submit to Christ (Eph. 5:21). But what if the husband is an unbeliever. What can the Christian wife do then? She can follow the lead of Queen Esther who won her husband with sacrificial love (see entry for 1 Pet. 3:5). A believing wife is a priest in her marriage. Through her loving deeds and gentle speech, she may lead her man to righteousness.
(d) They may be won for the Lord.
If your husband is an unbeliever, don’t write him off or settle for a second-rate marriage. Own the situation. Step up and take the lead. Pray for your husband. In your actions, reveal the unconditional love of the Father to him. Don’t love him more when he goes to church or less when he doesn’t. Unconditional love is winsome and it can melt hard hearts.
(e) Without a word. We can win people for Jesus through our loving actions.
1 Peter 3:2
as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
(a) Chaste means innocent, modest, and pure.
(b) Respectful. The original word (phobos) means fear, but the translation fits the context. A wise woman does not try to dominate or manipulate her husband. Instead, she listens and defers to him with genuine love and respect.
(c) Behavior. Actions speak louder than words.
1 Peter 3:3
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;
Not merely external. True beauty comes from a heart that is established in the love of the Lord (see next verse). What you wear or don’t wear is a secondary concern.
1 Peter 3:4
but 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.
(a) The hidden person. The inner you (your spirit and soul) which endures can be contrasted with the outer you (your mortal body), which fades away. See entry for Rom. 7:22.
(b) Imperishable quality. Our physical appearance will age, but true godliness lasts forever.
(c) A gentle and quiet spirit is gentle and meek like Jesus (Matt. 21:5). Being meek does not mean being a pushover. Meekness is the attitude that accompanies faith in God (see entry for Matt. 5:5).
(d) Precious in the sight of God. God is more interested in your heart than your hairdo (1 Sam. 16:7). A heart that pleases the Lord is one that trusts him and leans on him.
1 Peter 3:5
For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;
In former times. In the Old Testament godly women won over their husbands through gentleness and respect rather than external adornments and nagging. Esther is the stand-out example. “If it pleases the king…” (Est. 5:4). With five words and a gentle spirit, Esther turned the heart of her foolish husband.
1 Peter 3:6
just 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.
(a) Sarah obeyed Abraham. Abraham occasionally made some bad life choices but his wife stood with him through thick and thin.
Peter has been discussing godly wives submitting to unbelieving husbands (see 1 Pet. 3:1). Strangely the example he chooses is a man revered for being the father of the faith. But even good men miss the way from time to time and Abraham was no exception. He pretended his wife was his sister and allowed her to be taken into Pharaoh’s household (Gen. 12:11–15), and then he repeated his deception with Abimelech (Gen. 20:2). Yet even when Abraham acted foolishly, Sarah never called him a fool. She remained a faithful partner for better or worse.
(b) Calling him lord (see Gen 18:12). The point is not that Sarah served Abraham in the way a servant serves a master, but she submitted to him in the way a loving wife (or husband) submits to her husband (or wife). A wife may refer to her husband as “my king,” and a husband refers to his wife as “my queen.” But both do so out of love and affection rather than coercion and control.
(c) You have become her children. Just as Abraham is the spiritual father of all who have faith in God (see Gal. 3:7), Sarah is the spiritual mother of those who follow her godly example.
(d) If you do what is right. If you choose to love with the unconditional love that God has for you. (see 1 Pet. 3:1).
Equality and mutual respect are essential ingredients of a healthy marriage, but equality is never the goal; love is. A good marriage is a partnership between equals who don’t see themselves as equal. The husband loves his wife more than his own life, and the wife submits to her husband as to the Lord. Each prefers the other to themselves.
Further reading: “Equality is not the goal”
(e) Without being frightened. Let your actions be motivated by the love of Christ rather than the fear of man.
The children of God are meant to be fearless and there is no fear in perfect love. But there will be fear if your spouse is threatening, abusive or violent. The exhortation to be submissive should not be read as “let him (or her) mistreat you.” But as God has given you grace, sow grace into your marriage.
1 Peter 3:7
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
(a) You husbands in the same way. As Sarah obeyed and submitted to Abraham, husbands are to submit to and obey their wives.
Love is other-focused. Love trusts, obeys, and yields. Some men are familiar with the verse about wives submitting to their husbands, but they miss the bit where Peter says, “You submit too.” Or they rewrite his words. “Wives submit to husbands, while husbands merely honor their wives.” That won’t fly. “In the same way,” means in the same way. Whatever submission is expected of the wife is also expected of the husband. As Paul says to husbands and wives, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:21). Love is a two-way street (see entry for 1 Pet. 5:5).
(b) As with someone weaker. The original word for someone (skeuos) means vessel or container, and this is how the word is usually translated. “Honor the woman as the weaker vessel.” Husbands need to treat their wives with the same care as they would handle a valuable piece of pottery, not because she is fragile, but because she is precious and deserving of respect.
Peter is not saying females are feeble or more easily upset. The suggestion that women are in some way inferior to men stems from an ancient prejudice, but it was not one that Peter shared.
Every time he went to the Temple, Peter passed through the outer Women’s Court on his way to the male-only Court of Israel. Every time he attended the synagogue or saw a woman get stoned for adultery, Peter was reminded that women have not had a fair shake. From the day women were born, their rights were weaker, and their prospects bleaker. Taking his lead from Jesus, Peter spoke out against this injustice. He encouraged women to prophesy and speak as though speaking the very words of God (1 Pet. 4:11). He treated women with respect, and he instructed husbands to treat their wives as fellow heirs of grace.
(c) Weaker. Science tells us that women have better immune systems, better genes, and they live longer than men. They experience less stress and lower heart disease, and are much less likely to start wars. Companies run by women are more profitable, countries led by women do better at surviving pandemics, and women perform better academically (when given the chance). Women are surely different, but it’s inaccurate to say they are weaker. Yet many men think women are weaker, and this is the mindset that Peter is addressing. It’s not his view, but their view, and this is why their prayers are hindered.
(d) Show her honor. The original word for honor (time) means precious value (1 Pet. 2:7). It’s the same word that describes how God honors the Son (2 Pet. 1:17) and believers value the Lord (1 Pet. 2:7). While we may debate how women are “weaker”, there is no question that husbands are to honor their wives as highly-valued and equal in grace.
(e) A fellow heir. If you see yourself as superior to others, you are not walking in grace.
That wives were fellow heirs would have been a radical notion for first-century men. Even today some have trouble accepting their wives as equal partners in the Lord. Those who dismiss their wives as weaker or subordinate, will find their prayers hindered.
(f) Heir of the grace of life. Life is God’s gracious gift to humanity and women have just as much of a share in it as men. This is especially true when it comes to the gift of eternal life.
(g) So that your prayers will not be hindered. The prayers which are hindered are those that begin, “Thank God that I am not like other people” (Luke 18:11).
If you look down on your spouse or others, your prayer life will be impeded by your own infernal pride. You will have trouble receiving grace because your haughty heart has no room for it. You may not say it in so many words, but your attitude is, “They need grace, but I don’t.” Since your heart is in the wrong place, it will seem like heaven is closed to your prayers and God is resisting you (see 1 Pet. 5:5).
Further reading: “Are women weaker vessels?”
1 Peter 3:8
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
(a) To sum up. The secret to happy and healthy relationships is not complicated.
(b) Be harmonious. Be likeminded.
In any marriage, church, or organization there will be a diversity of viewpoints. Having harmony requires a commitment to compassion and love that exceeds any differences of opinion. Putting others first, means hearing what they say and feeling what they feel. It’s choosing to love and support them even if you do not love and support their viewpoint.
(c) Sympathetic. Compassionate.
(d) Brotherly. Treat believers like family.
(e) Humble in spirit. Where there is humility there is harmony. Where there is selfish ambition, there are quarrels and strife and all sorts of trouble (Jas. 3:16).
1 Peter 3:9
not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
(a) Not returning evil for evil. Any relationship that is based on keeping score is doomed. But a relationship that keeps no record of wrongs will endure any storm.
(b) Insult for insult. Trading insults is a fast track to discord and strife. Instead of repaying in kind, follow Christ’s lead and repay with kindness (Luke 6:27–29).
(c) Giving a blessing instead. Sow what you want to reap. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31). Paul said something similar (Rom. 12:17, 1 Thess. 5:15).
(d) You were called. When God called you out of darkness (1 Pet. 1:15, 2:9), it was for the purpose of including you in his family so that you might become an heir and inherit a blessing. See also the entry for 1 Peter 1:15.
(e) Inherit a blessing. In Christ we are heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14), heirs of eternal life (Matt. 19:29, Eph. 1:14, Tit. 3:7), and heirs of blessed and gracious life (Eph. 1:3, 1 Pet. 3:7, 9). In him, we are heirs of all things (John 17:10, Heb. 1:2).
See entry for Inheritance.
1 Peter 3:10–11
For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
(a) Life. The secret to a long and happy life is to pursue peace, and Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6). When we proclaim the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15), we are revealing the way of peace (Luke 1:79), which leads us to the God of peace (Rom. 15:33), who gives us life and peace (Rom. 8:6).
(b) Tongue. Someone with an old covenant mindset reads these words (from Psalm 34:12–14) as a collection of aphorisms and life hacks. “If you want a good life, learn to control your tongue.” But the tongue cannot be tamed (Jas. 3:8). The tongue is a restless evil, and all the effort in the world cannot cure it. Only the Holy Spirit can give us a new heart, a new tongue, and a new life.
The divine life that God offers is more than a collection of tips and tricks. The Christian life is the Prince of Peace living in us. Abide in Christ, and everything you say and do will be good.
(c) Do good. In the old covenant, doing good meant keeping the rules; but in the new covenant, doing good is what we do when we experience the goodness of God.
When Jesus said “those who have done good will rise to live” (John 5:28-29), he was speaking in the context of walking by faith in him (see John 5:24). Similarly, when Paul said God will give eternal life to those who persist in doing good, he meant the same thing (Rom. 2:6-7). Doing good in a spiritual sense is living in union with the One who is good, and allowing his goodness to flow through us to others.
Further reading: “Rewarded for doing good.”
(d) Peace is something to pursue, and in Christ you have it.
The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). If the message you’re listening to doesn’t reveal Jesus and the gift of his righteousness, you will never experience the peace and joy that comes with it. But if you receive the righteousness that comes by faith, you will be satisfied, content, and enjoy peace with God.
1 Peter 3:12
“FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.”
(a) The eyes of the Lord. Peter quotes an Old Testament scripture (2 Chr. 16:9) to make a new covenant point: The Lord is watching over you (1 Pet. 1:5), and he hears your prayers (1 John 5:15). You don’t need to fast and pray to get the Lord’s attention. His face is already shining upon you with love.
(b) The righteous are those who have humbled themselves before God and have received, by faith, the free gift of his righteousness. When the Lord looks at the believer, he sees someone who is 100 percent righteous. See entry for Righteousness.
(c) The Lord is against, or opposed, to the haughty and self-righteous.
An old covenant mindset reads this as “The Lord hates sinners,” but Jesus is the friend of sinners. It is not the broken sinner he opposes, but those who are proud and see no need for grace (1 Pet. 5:5).
(d) Those who do evil are the proud and ungodly who show contempt for God’s kindness (Rom. 2:2–5). They resist his Spirit and scorn the Son who might otherwise save them (2 Pet. 2:5).
1 Peter 3:13
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?
(a) Who is there to harm you? Why should you experience trouble if you are enthusiastic in serving the Lord? Christians make good citizens (1 Pet. 2:13).
(b) What is good. God is good (Mark 10:18). To be zealous for what is good is to be passionate about the goodness of God. It’s being so full of your Father’s love that you want others to experience his goodness too.
1 Peter 3:14
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,
(a) To suffer for the sake of righteousness is to suffer for being a Christian (1 Pet. 4:16). Trials and tribulations are a normal part of the Christian life. See entry for 1 Pet. 1:6.
(b) You are blessed because God is in your corner; your persecution proves it. If you belonged to the world, you would not be suffering for the sake of righteousness. You are a citizen of an eternal kingdom. Your unjust and temporary afflictions are evidence of that.
(c) Do not fear. The children of God can face trials and tribulations without fear because they know God has the last word (Jas. 5:8–9). No matter what happens the Risen Lord is mighty to save.
(d) Intimidation. The original noun (phobos) is related to the verb fear (phobeo), so Peter is saying the same thing as Isaiah 8:12: “Do not fear what they fear.” When trials come, the unbeliever has no choice but to fear. But when you are resting in the Lord, your heart will be untroubled and you will smile at the storm (John 14:1, 27).
1 Peter 3:15
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
(a) Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Honor Jesus as the Lord of your situation.
When you are suffering through trials or afflictions, the temptation is to think that God doesn’t know and doesn’t care. But the Guardian of your soul is watching over you and his power protects you (1 Pet. 1:5, 3:12).
To say, “Jesus is Lord,” is to declare, “He is greater than what I am going through.” It is having the confidence that he will bring you safely to the other side (Is. 41:10).
(b) Being ready. What looks like persecution may actually be an opportunity to reveal the love of God to those who are attacking you (1 Pet. 2:21).
(c) Defense. Be ready to explain why you have hope in a hopeless situation. Be ready to talk about the Risen Lord who gives life and hope to those who are as good as dead (1 Pet. 1:3).
(d) The hope that is in you. If faith is the confidence we have for today, hope is the confidence we have for tomorrow. Jesus is the Source of our faith and hope, and is the reason we can be fearless in the face of death (see entry for Rev. 2:10).
1 Peter 3:16
and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
(a) Keep a good conscience. Don’t let lies and false accusations get to you.
Walk in grace and you will be accused of being anti-law and pro-sin. You will be dismissed as extreme, unbalanced, or hyper-grace, as though that were a bad thing. Heed the voice of these accusations and you risk casting away your good conscience and shipwrecking your faith (1 Tim. 1:18–19). The best response to slander is to reassure your heart that your heavenly Father knows you and loves you (1 John 3:20–21). If God justifies you, who can condemn you (Rom. 8:31–33)?
(b) Conscience. The conscience makes judgments based on knowledge, and the most reliable source of knowledge is the Spirit of Truth. When the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that this is the way to go, and your conscience heeds this instruction, your conscience will be good and clear.
Further reading: Conscience
(c) Slandered; see entry for 1 Pet. 2:12.
(d) Your good behavior in Christ. Good behavior is what you display when you have been apprehended by the goodness of God. Anyone can do good deeds, but good deeds in Christ are what you do when you are living from your union with Jesus the Righteous One and are living for righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
(e) Put to shame. When the truth comes out, those who slandered you will be embarrassed over the shoddy way they treated you.
1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
(a) If God should will it. Some read these words as though God was the cause of their suffering. “God gave me this trial to teach me character.” But the context is unjust suffering for the sake of righteousness (1 Pet. 3:14). Why would God persecute you for being a Christian? Why would a good God punish those who do right?
A just God cannot author unjust suffering and it is not his will for his children to be abused or mistreated. God redeems our suffering; he doesn’t cause it.
If the wrong way to read this verse is, “Sometimes it is God’s will for you to suffer persecution,” what is the right way to read it? Peter is saying the same thing he says in the next chapter where he talks about suffering for doing God’s will. He’s talking about being persecuted for being a Christian (see 1 Pet. 4:19).
(b) Suffer for doing what is right. It is better to suffer for being a Christian than to suffer for being a criminal (1 Pet. 4:15–16).
(c) Doing what is right; see entry for 1 Pet. 2:15.
(d) Doing what is wrong; see entry for 1 Pet. 4:15
1 Peter 3:18
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
(a) Died for sins once for all. All our sins – past, present, and future – were dealt with, once and for all time, at the cross (Heb. 10:12).
God doesn’t do partial redemptions. On the cross, Jesus took away the sins of the whole world and no further sacrifice for sin remains (Heb. 9:26, 10:18, 1 John 2:2).
(b) The just for the unjust. God justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5). This is the astonishing announcement of grace. Whether you are a good sinner or a bad sinner or the worst sinner who ever lived, God has done everything to make things right, and if you accept that with humility and thanksgiving, you are 100 percent right with God.
(c) In the flesh. In the body.
(d) Made alive in the spirit. Jesus was raised to life by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11).
1 Peter 3:19
in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,
(a) The spirits now in prison. Those who are dead. It seems Jesus, after he died and was buried, went and preached to those who had died before him.
Although the prophets glimpsed God’s plan for salvation (1 Pet. 1:10), most Old Testament people had no idea what was coming (Heb. 9:8). Since they died without hearing the gospel, how could they obey the gospel? Someone had to tell them and it seems that Jesus did (see Eph. 4:9). But this is far from certain.
Some say that Jesus went and preached to fallen angels, but the angels who abandoned heaven are being confined in darkness until Judgment Day (Jude 1:6). It seems more likely that the imprisoned spirits refer to people, and Peter seems to confirm this (see 1 Pet. 4:6).
(b) Made proclamation. He announced or declared the good news (see entry for 1 Pet. 1:12).
(c) Prison. The context suggests that the prison is the grave – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek. It is the abode of the dead and should not be confused with Hell.
See also the entry for Matt. 16:18.
1 Peter 3:20
who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.
(a) Who once were disobedient. Dead unbelievers (1 Pet. 4:6), including those who were destroyed in the time of Noah (2 Pet. 2:5). See entry for 1 Pet. 2:8.
(b) The patience of God kept waiting. The God who is not willing that any perish (2 Pet. 3:9), waited for the ancients to repent.
(c) The days of Noah. Noah, the heir of righteousness, condemned the ancient world (Heb. 11:7); Jesus, the king of righteousness, showed them the way of righteousness so that they might be saved.
(d) Eight persons. Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives were saved through the flood (Gen. 7:13).
1 Peter 3:21
Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
(a) Corresponding to that. Noah’s salvation through water is a prophetic picture of spiritual baptism.
(b) Baptism now saves you. The baptism that saves is the baptism done to every believer by the Holy Spirit. The moment you came to Jesus, you were baptized, or placed, into his body by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12–13). This is the one baptism that counts (Eph. 4:5). See entry for Baptism.
(c) Appeal. The original word (eperotema) means inquiry or question. It can also mean earnest seeking or demand. It does not mean answer or pledge (as some translations have it). When we make a sincere appeal for salvation – “God, have mercy on me” – God responds with an immediate action. He baptizes us into Christ’s death and raises us with Christ and seats us in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). “We have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
(d) A good conscience is what you have when you are walking in step with the Holy Spirit (Rom. 9:1).
(e) Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not a dead savior of no use to anyone; he is the Risen Savior who saves to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25).
1 Peter 3:22
who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.
(a) At the right hand of God. The Son shares his Father’s throne (Heb 10:12). See also the entry for Matt. 22:44.
(b) Having gone into heaven. Jesus is no longer in the grave but has returned to heaven in triumph with “captives” (Old Testament saints) in his train (Eph. 4:8).
(c) Authorities and powers. Who are the authorities and powers that influence the affairs of men? We do not need to know. All that should concern us is that all angels and authorities and powers are subject to King Jesus. To be effective in prayer, we only need to lift up the Name that is above all other names.
(d) Subjected to him. The One who was despised and rejected by men has been made Lord of all, even if we don’t see it yet (Heb. 2:8). See also the entry for 1 Peter 4:11.
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- 1 Peter 3:1
- 1 Peter 3:2
- 1 Peter 3:3
- 1 Peter 3:4
- 1 Peter 3:5
- 1 Peter 3:6
- 1 Peter 3:7
- 1 Peter 3:8
- 1 Peter 3:9
- 1 Peter 3:10-11
- 1 Peter 3:12
- 1 Peter 3:13
- 1 Peter 3:14
- 1 Peter 3:15
- 1 Peter 3:16
- 1 Peter 3:17
- 1 Peter 3:18
- 1 Peter 3:19
- 1 Peter 3:20
- 1 Peter 3:21
- 1 Peter 3:22