1 Peter 3:1-7
Stephen Caswell © 2000
Take Him - As Is
Parson: Do you take this man for better or worse?
Mandy: He can’t be no worse, and there is no hopes of his gettin’ any better, so I takes him as is.
Young Son: Is it true, Dad, I heard that in some parts of Africa a man doesn't know his wife until he marries her?
Dad: That happens in every country, son.
Most people find marriage enriching or enslaving. It depends whether or not they obey God.
Today, Peter continues his theme on submission as he addresses marriage. Last Sunday we saw why Peter commanded Christians to be submissive. As citizens of heaven, God wants us to submit to His ordained authorities in society. Why is it so important for believers to submit to the appropriate authorities? Because people are watching us to see if our life matches up with our testimony. Peter starts chapter 3 with the phrase in the same manner or likewise. This refers us back to Peter’s discussion of the example of Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 2:21–25. Just as Jesus was submissive and obedient to God’s will, Christian husbands and wives must be submissive too. This message breaks into two parts.
I. The Wife's Submission & II. The Husbands Consideration
Firstly The Wife's Submission
When Christian couples try to imitate the world and get their standards from Hollywood instead of from heaven, there will be trouble in the home. But if both partners will imitate Jesus Christ in His submission and obedience, and His desire to serve others, then there will be triumph and joy in the home. A Christian psychiatrist said that the best thing a Christian husband can do is to pattern himself after Jesus Christ. In Christ we see a beautiful blending of strength and tenderness, and that is what it takes to be a successful husband.
Peter also pointed to Sarah as a model for Christian wives to follow. To be sure, Sarah wasn't perfect; but she proved to be a good helpmeet to Abraham, and she is one of the few women named in Hebrews 11. A pastor once made a visit to a woman who said she had marital problems, he then noticed a number of movie fan club magazines in the magazine rack. After listening to the woman’s problems, the pastor concluded that she needed to follow some Bible examples and models and take her mind off worldly examples. Peter gives three reasons why a Christian wife should submit to her husband, even if he is unsaved.
a. An Ordinance 1 Peter 3:1a Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands,
Firstly, God has commanded it. The word translated submission u&potassw is a military term that means to place under rank. Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18 give this same command. Wives submit to your own husbands as is fitting in the Lord. God has a place for everything; He has ordained various levels of authority. God has ordained it this way. Just like a ship has one captain and an army one general, a household needs one head. The Lord in His wisdom has ordained that the husband is to be head of the home. God did this for the benefit of the entire home; not just to favor men.
He has decreed that the husband should be head of the home and that, as he submits to Christ, his wife will submit to him also. Headship is not dictatorship, but the loving exercise of divine authority under the lordship of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:3 says: But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. Submission does not mean that the wife is inferior to the husband. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:7, Peter made it clear that the husband and wife are heirs together. The man and woman are made by the same Creator out of the same basic material, and both are made in God’s image. God gave dominion to both Adam and Eve, and in Jesus Christ Christian mates are one. Submission has to do with order and authority, not equality.
Jesus Christ set the example of submission for all of us to follow. Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Although Jesus Christ was equal with God He willingly submitted Himself to the Father's will. In like manner wives must submit to their husbands, because this is God's will.
b. An Opportunity
1 Peter 3:1b-2 that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
An opportunity for what? To win an unsaved husband to Christ. God not only commands submission, but He uses it as a powerful spiritual influence in the home. This does not mean that a Christian wife gives in to her unsaved husband in order to subtly manipulate him and get him to do what she desires. This kind of selfish psychological persuasion ought never to be found in a Christian’s heart or home.
An unsaved husband will not be converted by preaching or nagging in the home. The phrase without the word does not mean without the Word of God, because salvation comes through the Word. It means without talk, without a lot of speaking. Christian wives who preach at their husbands only drive them farther from the Lord. It is the character and conduct of the wife that will win the lost husband — not arguments, but such attitudes as submission, understanding, love, kindness, patience. These qualities are not manufactured; they are the fruit of the Spirit that come when we are submitted to Christ and to one another. A Christian wife with purity and reverence will reveal in her life the praises of God and influence her husband to trust Christ.
Monica Won Her Husband And Son - Augustine
One of the greatest examples of a godly wife and mother in church history is Monica, the mother of the famous St. Augustine. God used Monica’s witness and prayers to win both her son and her husband to Christ, though her husband was not converted until shortly before his death. Augustine wrote in his Confessions, She served him as her lord; and did her diligence to win him unto Thee... preaching Thee unto him by her behavior; by which Thou ornamentest her, making her reverently amiable unto her husband. A Christian wife must encourage her husband and help him grow strong in the Lord. If there are unsaved people in the home, they will be won to Christ more by what they see in our lives and relationships than by what they hear in our witness.
c. An Ornament
1 Peter 3:3-6 Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
The word translated adorning is kosmo" in the Greek, and gives us our English words cosmos, the universe, and cosmetic. It speaks of order and is the opposite of chaos. Peter warned Christian wives not to major on external decorations but on internal character. Roman women followed the latest fashions of the day, and competed with each other in dress and hairdos. It was not unusual for the women to have elaborate coiffures, studded with gold and silver combs and even jewels. They wore elaborate and expensive garments, all for the purpose of impressing each other. Ladies would never do this today, would they?
A Christian wife with an unsaved husband might think that she must imitate the world if she is going to win her mate; but just the opposite is true. Glamour is artificial and external; true beauty is real and internal. Glamour is something a person can put on and take off, but true beauty is always present. Glamour is corruptible; it decays and fades. True beauty from the heart grows more wonderful as the years pass. A Christian woman who cultivates the beauty of the inner person will not have to depend on cheap externals. God is concerned about values, not prices. This inner beauty is revealed through her character. A kind word, loving smile and a gracious manner all reveal an inner beauty.
Of course, this does not mean that a wife should neglect herself. It simply means that she is not majoring on being a fashion plate just to keep up with the crowd. Any husband is proud of a wife who is attractive, but that beauty must come from the heart, not the store. We are not of this world, but we must not look as though we came from out of this world! Peter did not forbid the wearing of jewelry any more than the wearing of apparel. The word wearing in 1 Peter 3:3 means the putting around, and refers to a gaudy display of jewelry. The key word here is balance. Christian wives must major on the internal beauty and be on the more conservative side when it comes to clothes and jewelry.
Peter closed this section by pointing to Sarah as an example of a godly, submissive wife. You can read Genesis 18 for the background. Christian wives today would probably embarrass their husbands if they called them lord, but their attitudes ought to be such that they could call them lord and people would believe it. This is in fact submitting to her husband as unto the Lord! The believing wife who submits to Christ and to her husband, and who cultivates a meek and quiet spirit will never have to be afraid. The fear in this verse means terror, while in 1 Peter 3:2 it means reverence. God will watch over her even when her unsaved mate creates problems and difficulties for her.
Firstly, God has made an ordinance, wives are to submit to their husbands. Do you submit to your husband as God commands? Do you honor and obey him? Secondly, submission is an opportunity to win the lost. Thirdly, submission can be worn as an ornament. Is your life such that unbelievers can be won over without a word?
Do you concentrate on internal or external beauty? Are you trying to look like a million dollars inside, or outside? Are you developing that gentle, quiet spirit precious to God?
Secondly The Husbands Consideration
Bible Quote Over Jury Duty
A Houston newlywed used a Bible quotation to be excused from jury duty: When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business; but he shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken. Duet 25:5 The judge sent him home.
As head of the home, husbands have responsibilities in marriage also. They must be considerate of their wives. Husbands must consider their physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs.
a. Physical - Live With Her 1 Peter 3:7a Husbands, likewise, dwell with them,
Forward To Silver Anniversary
In Coventry, England, a man called at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and asked to have his wife traced. It transpired that they had parted three days after their wedding nearly 25 years before, and hadn’t seen each other since. Asked whether he was thinking of a divorce, the man replied, Oh, no. I was just thinking it would be nice to get together to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary. That's not a marriage, just a legal agreement!
The phrase dwell with them implies more than living under one roof. It means to cohabitate. This speaks of union and intimacy. After all God has always intended that the marriage relationship be very personal. Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. To dwell with refers to the fact that we become one flesh. The physical union of husband and wife was intended by God from the beginning. Of course, Christian mates enjoy a deeper spiritual relationship, but the two go together. A truly spiritual husband will fulfill his marital duties and love his wife. The husband must make time to be home with his wife. To care for her and give her security.
Dwell with them also suggests that the husband provide for the physical and material needs of the home. The husband is to spend time in the home where his wife is. She is in the home as God intended. While it is not wrong for a wife to have a job or career, her first responsibility is to care for the home. It is the husband who should provide for the home, not the wife. Adam worked in the field whilst Eve cared for the children at home. Many wives are frustrated today because they put their careers before their home life. God knows best when it comes to home life. After all He made us!
b. Intellectual - Understand Her 1 Peter 3:7b with understanding
The word understanding gnwsi" means knowledge. It is amazing that two married people can live together and not really know each other! Ignorance is dangerous in any area of life, but especially so in marriage. God wants husbands to understand their wives. This takes time. Women are more emotional than men and we need to realize this. They don't always see things the way that we do.
A Christian husband needs to know his wife’s moods, feelings, needs, fears, and hopes. He needs to listen with his heart and share meaningful communication with her. Husbands must take the time to talk things through and find out their wife's feelings on the issues they are going through. There must be in the home such a protective atmosphere of love and submission that the husband and wife can disagree and still be happy together. This requires the husband to give and take in marriage.
Speaking the truth in love is the solution to the communications problem. It has well been said that love without truth is hypocrisy, and truth without love is brutality. We need both truth and love if we are to grow in our understanding of one another. How can a husband show consideration for his wife if he does not understand her needs or problems? To say, I never knew you felt that way! is to confess that, at some point, one mate excommunicated the other. When either mate is afraid to be open and honest about a matter, then he or she is building walls and not bridges.
c. Emotional - Honor Her
1 Peter 3:7c giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel,
Husbands must honor their wives as weaker vessels. Peter did not suggest that a wife is the weaker vessel mentally, morally, or spiritually, but rather physically. Generally speaking women aren't as strong physically as men. They are made of more delicate clay. Husbands need to realize this. Husbands must honor them for the special blessing that they bring into a home. Women have other skills that more than compensate for their lesser physical strength. That's the way that God has made them. They have strengths in other areas. They have a beauty all their own. To be honest I wouldn't like Sandy to have bulging muscles anyway.
Chivalry may be dead, but every husband must be a knight in shining armor who treats his wife like a princess. The husband should treat his wife like an expensive, beautiful, fragile vase, in which is a precious treasure. When a young couple starts dating, the boy is courteous and thoughtful. After they get engaged, he shows even more courtesy and always acts like a gentleman. Sad to say, soon after they get married, many a husband forgets to be kind and gentlemanly and starts taking his wife for granted. He forgets that happiness in a home is made up of many little things, including the small courtesies of life.
Giving honor means that the husband respects his wife’s feelings, thinking, and desires. He may not agree with her ideas, but he respects them. Often God balances a marriage so that the husband needs what the wife has in her personality, and she likewise needs his good qualities. An impulsive husband often has a patient wife, and this helps to keep him out of trouble! A husband shouldn't criticize his wife to others. He should always speak well of her and praise her accomplishments. The husband who is sensitive to his wife’s feelings will not only make her happy, but will also grow himself and help his children live in a home that honors God.
d. Spiritual - Pray With Her
1 Peter 3:7d and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Husbands and wives should also encourage each other spiritually. They can pray together and talk over spiritual truths. They should pray for their family and seek God's help to raise their children. These are concerns that both partners share. A joint quiet time can help this. Another truth that comes out of this is spiritual unity. Peter assumes that husbands and wives would pray together. Often, they don't; and this is the reason for much failure and unhappiness. If unconverted people can have happy homes without prayer, how much happier Christian homes would be with prayer! In fact, it is the prayer life of a couple that indicates how things are going in the home. If something is wrong, their prayers will be hindered. If God desires unity amongst His people, how much more does this apply to a Christian marriage.
Jesus said that if two or three believers agree on anything it will be done. So when a husband and wife are in disagreement their prayers will be hindered. A husband and wife need to have their own private, individual prayer time each day. They also need to pray together and to have a time of family devotions. How this is organized will change from home to home, and even from time to time as the children grow up and schedules change. The Word of God and prayer are basic to a happy, holy home.
It might be good if husbands and wives occasionally took inventory of their marriages. Here are some questions, based on what Peter wrote.
1. Are we partners or competitors?
2. Are we helping each other become more spiritual?
3. Are we depending on the externals or the eternals? The artificial or the real?
4. Do we understand each other better?
5. Are we sensitive to each other’s feelings and ideas, or taking each other for granted?
6. Are we seeing God answer our prayers?
7. Are we enriched because of our marriage, or robbing each other of God’s blessing?
Honest answers to these questions might make a difference!
a. Physical - Live With Her - Do you share times of intimacy? Are you sharing your lives with each other? Do you provide a loving, secure home? Do provide for your families needs?
b. Intellectual - Understand Her - Do you understand your wife's moods, hopes, feelings and fears? Do you take the time to communicate with her? Do you listen to her views?
c. Emotional - Honor Her - Do you honor your wife? Do you praise her? Do you treat her like a queen? Are you a gentleman? Or do you take your wife for granted?
d. Spiritual - Pray With Her - Do you pray together with your spouse? Do you have a quite time together? Do you pray together for your family? If there is discord in your marriage your prayers will be hindered!
Today we have seen that harmony in the home requires two things:
I. The Wife's Submission & II. The Husbands Consideration
I. The Wife's Submission
Firstly, wives are to submit because God has ordained it. Secondly when wives submit they have the opportunity to win the lost to Christ by their behavior. Finally a submissive wife has an inner beauty that is precious in God's sight.
II. The Husbands Consideration
As head of the home the husband must consider the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs of his wife. This requires time and commitment. Let us honor the Lord in our homes by practicing submission and consideration.
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.