As unto the Lord: Devotional Commentary for February 23-29
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
1In 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,
2as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
Peter opens the third chapter of his first letter with a very interesting phrase. He exhorts wives to conduct themselves "in the same way". That is, in a similar way as he had already declared in previous chapters and verses of this same letter. Here we notice Peter reiterating the same instructions he gave to servants, exhorting wives to submit themselves to their husbands whether the husband believed in Christ or not.
We must exercise utmost caution here, lest we presume this statement from Peter gives husbands a personal and an impermeable governing authority over wives. The message is particularly to wives to do the right and godly thing in the family as the emissaries of God and His Truth. The wife is encouraged to understand her status in the family and conduct herself accordingly.
The wife is not just a spouse. She is also a child of God, a vessel of service to God. Her chaste demeanor and modest bearings reflect the Glory of God and His Lordship in the family. She is the witness of the Gospel to her husband and her children. Therefore, she is admonished to submit herself to her husband as unto the Lord so that even the disobedient and unbelieving husband might see God in her and believe. Her silent witness is a powerful tool in the hands of God.
3Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;
4but 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.
5For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;
6just 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.
Peter's exhortation to be submissive goes beyond encouraging wives to view their husbands with deference. Besides asking them to be humble and respectful toward their husbands, Peter urges wives to be austere in their appearance so that their inner beauty would shine through and reflect the adorning presence of God in them.
The conspicuous embellishment of one's external appearance with attractive hairdos, sparkling jewelry, and glamorous attire would present only oneself as the object of attention instead of God. But modesty, humbleness, and respectfulness give room for the exaltation of God in one's life and testimony. Peter cited the women of old and Sarah as examples of wives who were adorned with humbleness and respect to their husbands.
Sarah called her husband Abraham lord, and the godly women of old submitted themselves to their husbands without any fear because their hope and faith were fixed on God. Peter concluded that, if wives are to be Sarah's children of faith, then, they should do likewise, humble themselves and glorify God in their relationship with their husbands.
In this way, wives are able to effectively reflect their inner beauty adorned with imperishable godly qualities of a gentle and quiet spirit. Then, wives would be able to draw their husbands' attentions toward God by simply doing the right thing humbly and respectfully.
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.
Peter gives a similar instruction to husbands as he had exhorted wives and servants, live with their wives "in the same way". Husbands must reciprocate their wives' deference and submission with total commitment reflecting love, care, and understanding. Peter's objective is to fulfill the true purpose of marriage: one cohesive familial unit out of two different individuals.
Peter identifies two conditions that husbands must keep in mind in their relationship with their wives: her weakness and her faith in God. Once again, we must be very careful when we interpret this profound truth. The weakness of wives mentioned here by Peter does not in any way imply that wives are lesser than husbands in worth, dignity, or any other aspect of human value.
When God created Adam and Eve, He tasked the man with the menial chores of life requiring servile skills and intrepid capabilities. But He created Eve to be Adam's helpmate with a more sensitive demeanor given to care-giving, nurturing, stabilizing the family, and keeping the home in order. Husbands must be aware that, viewed from their own mannish perspective, wives could appear weaker to them, simply for being different. Therefore, husbands must relate to their wives as God created them instead of as they see them. Both husbands and wives are sinners saved by Grace.
Husbands must live with their wives "in the same way", with submission and deference to God expressed in Love, care, and understanding. They must make every effort to understand their wives' femininity, their sentiments, and make up, so there would not be discord in the family displeasing God. Peter urges husbands to obey God so that their prayers are not hindered. A heart that is disobedient to God cannot expect to offer prayers to God except in repentance out of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
Peter’s teaching in this passage is diametrically opposed to the predominant outlook of today’s culture. As all the forces of human institutions descend upon the scripturally uneducated public, the Christian family finds itself in a whirlwind of controversy challenging us to give up such presumably primitive practices of submission, deference, love, care, understanding, and faithfully observing God's ordered structure for life, service, and relationships. Submission has become a word that we are reluctant to mention or even quietly ponder. No one wants to submit to authority. The result is a barely contained anarchy that defies everything that Peter asks believers to observe.
The family has not escaped the onslaught of rebellion within its own walls—children who defy parents, wives who demand that their husbands submit to their superior position as child-bearers and wage-earners, and husbands who relinquish their God-given position in the family. No longer is the home a sanctuary from the tedium of the restless world. It is simply another battleground upon which its hapless members constantly falter in the turmoil of roles and responsibilities that dare not be more clearly defined.
Against this disconcerting power struggle, Peter advises submission especially within the home. As believers, we must all subject ourselves to God whether it is in the family or the marketplace. Yet, perhaps there is no place where such obedience is more needful than in our families, and especially in our relationships with our spouses, as outlined in this passage. Love? Of course. Respect? Definitely. But submission? Absolutely.
Submission does not weaken or diminish the believer’s strength or identity. In fact, the opposite is true. The more submissive one is to the Lord God and His ordained order, the more strength God provides for the tasks and adversities faced. True power and strength is found in an obedient life that yields to the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
God’s Word cannot be more specific in its instructions to those who have been redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the intervention of the Holy Spirit. There in the very Word of God, we find all that is needful for life and service to God. There in the Word of God, we learn the precepts which guide us to observe the order which God set in motion, with a surrendered heart and a reverent mindset. As those renewed in Christ, we defy our own old nature and submit ourselves to God and the order He instituted. We live to glorify Him, husbands and wives alike, in submission, deference, love, care, and understanding.