Faith in Relationships
1 Peter 2:11-12; 3:1-7
Why is God showing you this lesson?
In 1 Peter 3:1-7, Peter addresses Christian wives married to non-Christians husbands (3:1-6) and Christian husbands married to Christian wives (3:7). God may be showing you this lesson in order to provide wisdom for your own marriage or the marriage of a friend needing biblical counsel.
Peter begins by commanding Christian wives to submit to their non-Christian husbands’ authority (1 Peter 1:1a). Biblical submission entails voluntarily humbling oneself under the authority of another. Peter later references Sarah as an example of submission in her reverent address to Abraham (1 Peter 3:6; Genesis 18:12).
Submission does not imply an inferiority on the wife’s part, for the husband and wife are equal (both are co-heirs of salvation, 1 Peter 3:7; both are created in God’s image, Genesis 1:26-27). Nevertheless, each fulfills a unique role within the marriage relationship (Ephesians 5:22-24). A similar type of equality-submission relationship may be seen in Christ’s relationship with his Father (John 14:28b, 31; 1 Corinthians 15:28).
Peter’s primary aim in commanding Christian wives to submit to their non-Christian husbands is evangelistic (3:1b). He understands that a Christian wife’s lifestyle can provide a powerful witness to her pagan husband.
In 1 Peter 3:2-4, Peter provides further explanation of the kind of witness he envisions for Christian wives who seek to win their lost husbands. Though not forbidding them from clothing themselves in beautiful apparel or wearing their hair in a stylish manner, he does discourage them from following the world’s tendency for showy and seductive dress. Instead, Christian wives should display respect for their husbands by living a life marked by inner purity, reverence toward God, and gentleness, for God deeply values these traits (3:4).
How does this lesson connect to what God is doing in and around you?
Christian wife, Peter’s command regarding submission still applies today. However, there are occasions when one should not submit. For example, you should never submit if submission involves disobeying God’s will (e.g., Daniel 3:12; 6:10; Acts 4:19).
Unmarried Christian woman, in light of Peter’s teaching on submission, seek a Christian husband who displays the following characteristics: 1) a clear knowledge of what God requires of a husband in regard to his wife (3:7a); 2) a genuine respect for women in his behavior and speech (3:7a); 3) an understanding of his wife as an equal partner (1 Peter 3:7b; Genesis 1:26-27); 4) a selfless, sacrificial love toward others (Ephesians 5:25-33); 5) a humble, gentle spirit marked by a slowness to anger (Proverbs 15:18); and 6) a biblical understanding of authority (e.g., shows gentleness toward those under his authority, fears God).
- Lessons by Michael Bryant, assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University. Bryant has a B.S. in history from Charleston Southern and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Southeastern Seminary.