My Notes on I Peter 3
1 Peter 3
This chapter remarkably fits our own time: how does the believer live in a hostile, pagan world? It highlights some prophetic aspects of “the days of Noah”... It starts with the primary spiritual fortification: The Marriage.
Instruction in Marriage
1] Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2] While they behold your chaste conversation [coupled] with fear.
3] Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4] But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5] For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6] Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
Submission (1 Peter 3:1-6)
Twice in this paragraph Peter reminded Christian wives that they were to be submissive to their husbands (1 Peter 3:1, 5). The word translated “subjection” is a military term that means “to place under rank.” God has a place for everything; He has ordained various levels of authority (see 1 Peter 2:13-14). He has ordained that the husband be the head of the home (Eph. 5:21ff) and that, as he submits to Christ, his wife should submit to him. Headship is not dictatorship, but the loving exercise of divine authority under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Peter gave three reasons why a Christian wife should submit to her husband, even if the husband (as in this case) is not saved.
Submission is an obligation (v. 1a). God has commanded it because, in His wisdom, He knows that this is the best arrangement for a happy, fulfilling marriage. Subjection 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 (Gen. 1:28), and in Jesus Christ Christian mates are one (Gal. 3:28).
Submission has to do with order and authority, not evaluation. Christ Himself became a servant and submitted to God’s will. There is nothing degrading about submitting. If anything, it is the first step toward fulfillment. And Ephesians 5:21 makes it clear that both husband and wife must first be submitted to Jesus Christ.
Husbands and wives must be partners, not competitors. After a wedding ceremony, one could say to the bride and groom, “Now, remember, from now on it’s no longer mine or yours, but ours.” This explains why Christians must always marry other Christians, for a believer cannot enter into any kind of deep “oneness” with an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
Submission is an opportunity (vv. 1b-2). 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 a 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 (John 5:24). It means “without talk, without a lot of speaking.
Peter is saying that 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 (1 Peter 2:9) and influence her husband to trust Christ.
In a Christian home, we must minister to each other. A Christian husband must minister to his wife and help to “beautify her” in the Lord (Eph. 5:25-30). A Christian wife must encourage her husband and help him grow strong in the Lord.
Parents and children must share burdens and blessings and seek to maintain an atmosphere of spiritual excitement and growth in the home. 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.
Submission is an ornament (vv. 3–6). The word translated “adorning” is kosmos in the Greek, and gives us our English words “cosmos” (the ordered universe) and “cosmetic.” It is the opposite of chaos. Peter warned the Christian wife not to major on external decorations but on internal character.
Roman women were captivated by the latest fashions of the day, and competed with each other in dress and hairdos. They wore elaborate and expensive garments, all for the purpose of impressing each other.
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. God is concerned about value, not price.
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. It is possible to wear jewelry and still honor God.
Peter closed this section by pointing to Sarah as an example of a godly, submissive wife. Remember Sarah was written in the Hall of Faith Heroes in Hebrew chapter 11.
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.
7] Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
Why did Peter devote more space to instructing the wives than the husbands? Because the Christian wives were experiencing a whole new situation and needed guidance. In general, women were kept down in the Roman Empire, and their new freedom in Christ created new problems and challenges. Furthermore, many of them had unsaved husbands and needed extra encouragement and enlightenment.
As Peter wrote to the Christian husbands, he reminded them of four areas of responsibility in their relationship with their mates.
Physical—“dwell with them.” This implies much more than sharing the same address. Marriage is fundamentally a physical relationship: “They two shall be one flesh” (Eph. 5:31).
The husband must make time to be home with his wife. One survey revealed that the average husband and wife have thirty-seven minutes a week together in actual communication!
“Dwell with them” also suggests that the husband provide for the physical and material needs of the home.
Intellectual—“according to knowledge.” Somebody asked Mrs. Albert Einstein if she understood Dr. Einstein’s theory of relativity, and she replied, “No, but I understand the Doctor.”
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 it is especially dangerous in marriage. 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. 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.
Emotional—“giving honor unto the wife.” Peter did not suggest that a wife is “the weaker vessel” mentally, morally, or spiritually, but rather physically. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, the man is the stronger of the two when it comes to physical accomplishments.
“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.
The husband must be the “thermostat” in the home, setting the emotional and spiritual temperature. The wife often is the “thermometer,” letting him know what that temperature is! Both are necessary. 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.
Spiritual—“that your prayers be not hindered." If unconverted people can have happy homes without prayer (and they do), how much happier Christian homes would be with prayer!
After talking about marriage, Peter talks about loving life. Even in the midst of the persecution where believers were being crucified upside down, Peter encourages his readers to love life.
8] Finally, [be ye] all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, [be] pitiful, [be] courteous:
9] Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Finally introduces a new section rather than a summary of what he had said earlier. Peter now addresses everyone giving practical principles for living peacefully in a pagan society.
Verse 8 is a listing of Christian characteristics that keep a tongue from evil.
“Like-minded” is translated Harmony. Christians are urged live in harmony, to be sympathetic, to love as brothers, to be compassionate, and humble.
Verse 9 is taken from Psalm 34:14, do not repay evil with evil (also refer to Rom. 12:17). Turning from evil (1 Peter 3:11) requires that there be no retaliation for ill treatment. Jesus taught this same law of love: “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39
10] For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11] Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
12] For the eyes of the Lord [are] over the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord [is] against them that do evil.
It is when the hard times come that we need to watch our tongues. It’s very easy to begin complaining, “Why me? Why this? Why now?” Peter tells us that if we want to love life and see good days, we are to refrain our tongue from evil—literally to keep from complaining.
1 Peter 3:10 (b)
…and his lips that they speak no guile.
While speaking evil implies speaking against God, “speaking guile” means manipulating situations to make it easier on oneself. This happens most easily when times get tough, as we begin to twist the truth, saying things that put us in a better light. We manipulate the situation to our own advantage.
1 Peter 3:11 (a)
Let him eschew evil, and do good…
In other words, “Turn your back on evil and, instead, do good.” This is the idea that we are to do good for others. When hard times come, it’s easy to think that it’s not our fault. Peter tells us that if we want to love life and see good days, we must not let our guard down. This isn’t meant to put a legalistic burden upon us, but rather to be a wise and loving guide for us.
1 Peter 3:11 (b), 12
…let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
Peter continues quoting another who experienced brutal days.
What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. Psalm 34:12–16
With Saul out to kill him, David found himself seeking refuge in the Philistine city of Gath. When he realized that he was recognized as the one who had slain Goliath, David knew he was again in danger. In order to make it out of Gath alive, he clawed at the gates of the city, ranting and raving like a lunatic as he feigned insanity. When the king heard there was a crazy man within his gates, David was allowed to go his way. (1 Samuel 21:10–15)
Psalm 34 was written while David was running for his life. Yet he says, “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth, for I have tasted and seen in the midst of this difficulty that the Lord is good.”
Who will love life and see good days? Society says it’s the one who can make his life problem-free, who insulates himself from difficulty, who escapes adversity. David says just the opposite. He says it’s when you’re wondering how the next bill will be paid, or if the marriage will work out that the Lord makes Himself most real to you. He says it’s when you’re trapped in Gath that suddenly you see God.
If we really embraced what Peter is saying, what David is declaring, and what James’ injunction to “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (see James 1:2), we would not try to make our life easier. Instead, we would be those who say, “It’s in the day of difficulty, in the years that are hard for me that I’m going to have the opportunity to taste and see that the Lord is good.”
We all know people who are insulated from problems, who don’t have challenges, who succeeded in making their lives as easy as they possibly could.
Yet the easier it gets for them, the less joy there is within them.
Peter says something absolutely shocking—at least to the ears of our culture: “In the midst of suffering, difficulty, and challenges, don’t seek to fix the problem. Don’t make it easier. Instead, choose to do good and seek peace. Don’t murmur; don’t complain. You’ll find that you love life because God will meet you in the midst of your difficulty.”
13] And who [is] he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
14] But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
The context of Peter’s question makes it almost rhetorical or symbolic. Though the adversary, through physical suffering or material hardship, would distress those who were eager to do good, no real harm can come to those who belong to Christ.
For even if suffering should occur, Christians are happy / blessed and thus should not be frightened. The word here translated “blessed” (makarioi; cf. 4:14) was used by Jesus (Matt. 5:3-11). To be “blessed” in this context does not mean to “feel delighted” but to be “highly privileged.” Christians are not to be afraid of what men can do to them.
In other words, no matter how the devil and his workers seek to injure believers, there can no evil befall the righteous that is not “Father-filtered” (Rom 8:28, 31-39). This includes persecution, sickness, financial distress—all of which God uses to sanctify for good.
15] But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Our hearts must be separated unto Him.
And ready to give every man an answer for the hope that is in us.
16] Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
A believer’s testimony should not be given in an arrogant manner but with gentleness and respect. Christians who are not afraid in the face of persecution are able to witness respectfully to their faith in Christ. They then keep a clear conscience. Peter may have been alluding to the occasion when he denied Christ out of fear, in words that were neither gentle nor respectful.
Christians who suffer unjustly and keep a clear conscience put to shame those who slander their good behavior in Christ. Once again Peter encouraged his readers with the fact that good behavior is their best defense against unjust punishment and persecution.
17] For [it is] better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
It is also interesting to realize that it is our justified hurts that are the most dangerous in developing into that “root of bitterness” . These hurts can so easily defile us. (Heb 12:15)
Peter pointed out that it may be God’s will for them to suffer for doing good. As Peter wrote earlier, This “is commendable before God” (2:20) and so is better than deserved suffering for doing evil.
18] For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
After His body and Spirit had been separated in death, He was raised again by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:11).
19] By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20] Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
1. Clement of Alexandria, about 200 A.D., taught that Christ was sent to Hades in his spirit to proclaim the message of salvation to the souls of sinners who were imprisoned there since the flood. This view is inconsistent with Scripture: there is no conversion after death.
2. Augustine, about 400 A.D., said that the preexistent Christ proclaimed salvation through Noah to the people who lived before the flood. However, when you look at this view, Augustine departs from the context of v.18.
3. “Preached”: in the Greek also can mean proclaim, make known, preach, proclaim; this doesn’t necessarily imply repentance as its object: it can include simply declaring His victory.
The “spirits”, is a term usually applied to supernatural beings but also used at least once to refer to human “spirits”(Heb 12:23) are described in 1 Peter 3:20 as those who were disobedient when God waited patiently for Noah to finish building the ark.
These people had rebelled against the message of God during the years the ark was being built. God declared He would not tolerate people’s wickedness forever, but in longsuffering, extended the life of Methuselah, delaying the judgment by 120 years (Gen 6:3).
Since the entire human race, except Noah (Gen 6:5-9), was evil, God determined to “wipe mankind from the face of the earth.” The “spirits” referred to in 1 Peter 3:20 may be the souls of the evil human race that existed in the days of Noah. Those “spirits” are now “in prison” awaiting the final judgment of God at the end of the Age.
The problem then remains as to when Christ preached to these “spirits.” Peter’s explanation of the resurrection of Christ (3:18) “by the Spirit” brings to mind the suggestion that the preincarnate Christ was actually in Noah, ministering through him, by means of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ preached through Noah to the ungodly humans who, at the time of Peter’s writing, were “spirits in prison” awaiting final judgment.
This interpretation seems to fit the theme of this section (1 Peter 3:13-22)—keeping a good conscience in unjust persecution. Noah is presented as an example of one who committed himself to a course of action for the sake of a clear conscience before God, though it meant enduring harsh ridicule. [Can you imagine having this strange structure in your driveway for all that time?!]
4. Friedrich Spitta, in the last decade of the 19th century, applied Christ’s proclamation to the fallen angels of Gen 6:2 (Cf. 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6).
Vandenhoeck around the same time also stated that ,Christ did passed through the realm where the fallen angels are kept and proclaimed His triumph over them (Col 2:15; Eph 6:12).
There are many good scholars on opposing sides as to what verse 19 is referring to. The Spitta explanation probably has the smallest following. I do believe the Spitta view ties up more loose ends on some of the other controversial verses dealing with the same subject. It also answers the questions of what some of signs in the future will mean.
Next year when we get into the study of Genesis, I'm sure there will be great conversations on these issues detailed in Genesis 6.
“The longsuffering of God waited”: the flood was postponed for 120 years. [Cf. 2 Pet 3:9, “The Lord...is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish...”] Noah was a preacher of righteousness (fourth generation warning of the coming judgment); he preached Christ, as we are also called to do.
Noah did not fear men but obeyed God and proclaimed His message. Noah’s reward for keeping a clear conscience in unjust suffering was the salvation of himself and his family, who were saved through water, being brought safely through the Flood.
Some Prophetic Lessons from the Flood
“As the days of Noah were, so shall the days of the Son of Man be” (Mt 24:37).
Three classes of people facing the Flood of Noah:
1. Those that perished in the flood;
2. Those preserved through the flood: Noah, his three sons, and their four wives;
3. Those removed prior to the flood (Enoch).
Enoch was but one person. Yet, the Church, too, is one person: “the Body of Christ!” Like Enoch, this Body, His Church, will be translated to be with the Lord before that great and terrible Day of Lord shall come (cf. Rev 3:10; I Thess 4:16-18; et al.). This may also be in view in Revelation 12:5.
Something happened to Enoch when his son, Methuselah, was born. “After he begat Methuselah he walked with God 300 years (Gen 5:22).
It was not easy in those days to be a believer: widespread wickedness was reaching its peak. He was not at all “politically correct.”
His walk was not a casual stroll. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Enoch named his son, “His death shall bring.”
Muth, (used 125 times in the Old Testament ) means “his death”.
Shelach means “shall bring.”
The year that Methuselah died, the judgment of the flood came. Enoch son was a prophecy.
Walking, in the way it is used here, means moving forward making progress and also communion. What is interesting is that Enoch was preaching the Second Coming of our Lord (Jude 14,15).
When his message was finished, he was “translated” (raptured if you will).
Because of His walking with the Lord, I believe that he also knew his “translation” was coming, and walked in its daily expectation of it.
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death...” (Heb 11:5).
Faith in what?
Now note that he did not withdraw from his temporal life, but he “occupied or do business until I come” Luke 19:13):
An example of him occupying is the fact that Methuselah begat sons and daughters (Gen 5:22).
The example for us is Enoch, which is symbolic of the church. The example of Noah is for the nation Israel. Both lived in times of considerable persecutions.One was tken away prior to the flood, one was pertected through the flood.
Enoch and Noah both occupied. As Brother Wicker has said so many times, "just keep on keeping".
In Peter’s Second Epistle, he will apply some prophetic implications to both Noah and Lot.
21] The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Baptism represents a complete break with one’s past life. As the Flood wiped away the old sinful world, so baptism pictures one’s break from his old sinful life and his entrance into new life in Christ.
It is not the going into the water that saves us, but that of which the baptism speaks: the resurrection of Christ from the dead..
Baptism is the symbol of what has already occurred in the heart and life of one who has trusted Christ as Savior.
22] Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
He is enthroned at God’s right hand, the seat of supreme honor, to rule and reign over all creation.