Living at Home
1 Peter 3:1-12
In 1 Peter 2, we observed that God’s motivation for believers’ suffering was that the world would see their example and come to faith in Christ. In chapter 3, Peter turns to the family, particularly the husband/wife relationship. In this country, it is obvious that many adults need to learn about and use better ways of relating to their spouses. Look no further than the high divorce rate, even among Christians! Adults are to relate in positive ways to their own spouse and/or to other married people. For married adults, this means relating to their own spouse in ways that spotlight their faith in Christ. For all adults, this means relating to other married people only in ways that affirm others and their marriages.
Peter begins chapter 3 with a familiar subject: submission. As submission to superiors in the workplace is necessary, submission is critical in the family arena, starting with the wife’s submission to her husband. In Peter’s day, a woman becoming a Christian without her husband also becoming saved was often viewed with suspicion. Some viewed it as an act of defiance. Yet, Peter calls on the Christian wives to submit to their unsaved husbands that they may be saved by their godly behavior. Submission does not suggest women are inferior to men, as is clear from Galatians 3:27-28. But they do have different roles from men. Peter’s point here is that the wife’s godly behavior is the most valuable testimony to open the husband’s heart to the gospel.
In 3:7, “in the same way” refers again to the Christian’s duty of submission, but this time it is the believing husband who submits to serve his wife. That was a novel idea for Peter’s day, as husbands generally viewed their wives as property and were uninterested in friendship or serving them. In contrast, Christian husbands are called to live with their wives in an understanding way, which means they must be considerate. The wife being “weaker” does not mean the wife is intrinsically weaker in character or intellect, but generally is physically weaker than the husband. The husband is to be a companion for his wife as a fellow heir sharing in the grace of life. Thereby, the husband’s prayers will not be hindered.
In 3:8-12, Peter wraps up his discussion on the Christian’s conduct with a call to be harmonious. Believers are to live in harmony together, being committed to the truth of the gospel that produces unity with one another. Christians must be ready to sympathize with the pain of others, even of those they do not know. Believers must not be insensitive or indifferent, even toward the lost. That wins the respect of a watching world.
- Lessons in the ETB series for the fall quarter are being written by Alex Sands, pastor of Kingdom Life Christian Center, Greenville.