The first several verse in this chapter are about the relationship between husband and wive, that of the marital relationship. Before we get to the study of these verses , lets take a look at the history of marriage first. I need to say this up front, I just wish that the many couples that plan to get married spent as much time and effort planning the marriage as they do planning the wedding. The wedding is just a few minutes out of one day that is supposed to be a the beautiful beginning of a life time together. The sad fact is the divorce rate is almost the same for those in the church as it is outside the church. Today most states have “no fault” divorce- you can simply hire a lawyer and tel the judge you want out of it- and you are. The biblical standard is marriage is for life except in the case of one being unfaithful or one abandoning the other. Marriage is a holy institution ordained by God from the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. Ok , enough of my ramblings – lets get to the history of marriage then a few verses from 1 Peter 3.
“Marriage is defined as the formalization and sanctification of the union of man and woman for the procreation of children”. ( NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible) There are two Hebrew words to consider here, and they need to be seen in the context of being related – one is the Hebrew word, laqa- which means “to take in marriage” the other word is, ba al , which means, to be master, rule, or possess in marriage. Now we have to remember that in biblical times, marriages were arranged and the couple usually had no say in it. It was the fathers responsibility to find a suitable bride for his son. Isaac’s marriage was arranged between his father’s servant and his future wife’s brother. Only then was she consulted and that was probably only done because her father was no longer living. This is just one example of how marriages were arranged and many scholars believe that Joseph and Mary were in an arranged marriage. Which brings us to the betrothal , similar to, but much more binding than our cultures engagement period. The betrothal had a legal status attached to it that made it almost identical to marriage. A one year betrothal period was the norm and it was considered a part of the permanent marriage relationship. The groom was exempt from military service for one year after being married so the marriage could be established properly and on good solid ground. Perhaps we need to take a lesson in this! The bride’s father already used the term “son-in-law”during the betrothal period. This enhance family solidarity. We could learn from this example too! Normally in Jewish tradition there was a tendency to strongly discourage divorce and there even a fine of “divorce money” that was very substantial. This was to serve a deterrent. The status of the wife was not very high and the bill of divorce or what we would call a divorce decree could be a simple statement from the husband such as ” She is not my wife and I am not her husband” But lets go now to the scriptures and see how Peter says to keep the marriage together!
1 Peter 3
Submission to Husbands
1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 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. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
A Word to Husbands
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and asbeing heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Apparently Peter believed in “Ladies First” since he addresses the wives first, He calls wives to be “submissive” to their husbands. Ladies, this does not mean to be a door mat for anyone. What Peter is talking about here is that wives should related to their husbands the same way that citizens relate to governing authorities, and the same way employees relate to employers, that is to place yourselves willingly under the guidance and control of your husband and have respect for your husband. That you should live in such a way that your husband is challenged to live in obedience God’s truth. A godly wive does not preach to her husband with words but with the beauty of a Christlike life. ( don’t worry Peter has somethings to say to husbands in few verses!) One of the goals here to see an unbelieving husband become a Christian. The word fear here refers to respect for God. Chaste conduct simply means living a moral life .
Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel
Peter is not condemning women who wear jewelry, but is making the point that a woman’s character is more important than outward beauty.
We will finish up the passage next time. In the meantime I would encourage everyone to read 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 5:23-33 , Remember the relationship between a husband and wive is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is the bride.
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Have a safe and blessed week!