1 Peter 3:1-7
Today we’re going to be in 1 Peter 3, but before we go there, I want to return briefly to Ephesians, chapter 5 and verse 33. Ephesians 5:33, this is Paul’s conclusion to the instruction on the biblical roles of the husband and wife, which we covered last couple weeks. In Ephesians 5:32, speaks of the unveiling of the mystery of marriage. We talked about that. “This mystery is profound,” Paul says. It’s the mystery of a man leaving his father, mother, being united to his wife and the two becoming one flesh. That mystery is profound.
There’s something in that relationship, and in that structure, that institution of marriage that, “refers,” Paul says “to Christ and the church.” And he sums up everything he’s been teaching in that chapter with this, in verse 33, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” That’s how he wraps it up.
The word that is used to transition between verse 32 and verse 33, the ESV uses the word, “however, however let each one of you love his wife” and “the wife see that she respects.” Other translations, translate that same word. It’s the word plen in Greek, but others say nevertheless, or to sum up.
And the idea is to portray a little bit of a contrast between verse 32 and verse 33. And I see, the contrast being like this. It’s a contrast between God’s work in verse 32 and our work in verse 33. God is responsible for the unveiling of the mystery of marriage. We are responsible for carrying out our specific roles in marriage.
This is true, the true beauty of marriage. Beauty of marriage is akin to any other station in life. Basically, as we go about simply obeying what God commands, God does his part, he sovereignly fulfills a greater work that is way beyond us. Just by our simple obedience, when Christians live like Christians. Obeying his word, God does a mighty work to save and to sanctify his people. He glorifies himself through that, he puts himself on display. He puts his power on display.
When each man loves his wife as himself, when the wife respects her husband, God is there painting a picture on a canvas of a real life, a real marriage. He paints the picture of Christ and a love relationship with the church. So, verse 32, God is doing his part, verse 33, we are doing our part. God works in us, through us, in and through our marriages, and he shines a spotlight on Christ in his redeeming work.
That, my beloved, should put a spring in your step, should put joy in your heart, and motivate you as a husband and a wife to embrace your role, which God defines in Scripture. He doesn’t leave it to you to define what a wife is, what a husband is, he writes it out for us, explains it fully, illustrates it over and over, and he wants you to obey, for your good, for your blessing.
So, let God’s greater work of what he’s doing in your marriage and through your marriage, imperceptible to you, but it’s what others are observing, what others are seeing, whether it’s inside the church or outside the church, God is fulfilling his good work in and through the life that you live together as a married couple.
So, with renewed vigor, maybe with a sense of joy, with a hopeful outlook about the future, with great anticipation, let that motivate you in your marriage. Such a deep sense of satisfaction, and joy it is to realize God designed our marriages to shape and to sanctify us. It’s an institution. That’s what institutions do. They shape us, they form us, they sanctify us.
It’s a joy to know that our marriage is through procreation, are designed to shape the next generation as well. They’re designed to go out and influence society, change communities.
It’s amazing to see his work, but it’s even more satisfying to know that in practicing marriage and just practicing our daily life as a married couple, a husband’s role, a wife’s role, we are putting the relationship of Christ and his church, his bride, on display. It gives real significance to this temporary institution, doesn’t it? As John Piper called it, “t”his momentary marriage.
It is an earthly institution, it’s a human institution. We will not be married in all of eternity, and time and eternity. But this human institution is important, significant, nonetheless. It has redemptive significance because it points others to Christ and that motivates us to excel still more in our marriages.
In this summary statement in verse 33, the summary of our roles there in verse 33, the husband’s role, the wife’s role, husbands you’re to love your wife as yourself. Love your wife as yourself, that harkens back, all the way back to Leviticus 19:18 that says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, we husbands, we’re to see our wife, she is our most intimate neighbor. She is the closest neighbor that we have, so you’re to love her as your neighbor, you’re to love your neighbor as yourself, and you’re to love your wife as yourself. But it also takes us even further back as we’ve discussed. To the excitement that Adam expressed when he first met his wife; “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh since she was taken out of me. She’s therefore part of me. I want her back.” That’s the idea.
So, husbands, you are to love your wife as yourself and you have the example of Christ who loved his bride. The church is being part of himself, he being the head of the church and the bride being the body. He loved his wife as being part of himself.
We saw in Ephesians 5:25 to 27, he said his will to love her. He decided to love her. He made a choice. Love that’s described there, in those verses is a, is a love that is sacrificial, it’s purposeful. It’s a love that involves communicating, speaking, relationship. It involves intimacy, it involves communicating truth.
“Obeying his word, God does a mighty work to save and to sanctify his people.”Travis Allen
So, the “washing of water with the word,” that’s how Christ loved his church by speaking to her, not being the strong silent type, but talking. He loved his bride, verse 27, nourishing and cherishing her, it says in the text. That is to say, he loved her in a way that was nourishing, to build her up, strengthen her, develop her in her role, feed her strengths. Cherish her as well. That means to love her tenderly, to be gentle with your wife, be patient, kind. Speak in a way that’s loving and tender to her. That’s a husband’s duty.
Wives, it says in Ephesians 5:33, “You’re to respect your husband,” respect. Respect is the word we have in our ESV. It’s the most popular word in the English translations, modern English translations as well, but it’s really not the correct one. The word is phobeo, phobeo in the Greek, it means to fear.
Harold Hoehner says this, he’s right when he says this. He says, “In modern times, people have a tendency to shy away from the stronger idea of fear. At times they even have difficulty with a milder concept of respect. He says, however, the philological evidence of this word never carries the idea of respect. But always the idea of fear.”
In some contexts, in Scripture, we can see this phobeo, the idea yirah in the, in the Hebrew. But phobeo in the Greek, it conveys this biblical concept of fear, which does have a spectrum of meaning, it has a semantic range. But it can convey the idea of tremble, shake, feel terror, which is appropriate in the face of a God who is holy and righteous, and a just and exacting judge.
For unbelievers to tremble, shake in craven fear over a God who is going to call them to account for every sin, that’s understandable. In this context, that’s, that’s not what we see here. That’s not the context here. Context here, the word clearly refers to showing reverence. And reverence is right in the sweet spot of the semantic range of this word for fear.
So, it’s to be in awe of, to hold in high esteem, to regard very highly. The King James version actually uses that word revere. Reverence, which is good. That’s a good translation. The Bible does not command, never commands, never condones, never commends wives living in craven terror of their husbands, ever. Let alone to endure any kind of physical abuse, from anyone, let alone a husband. Bible condemns any husband who would make his wife afraid, who tries to make her afraid. That’s satanic.
Any man who is treating his wife in such, in such a way, in such a demeaning manner, intimidating manner, that perverts a clear demonstration of God’s love in Christ. The duty of a husband is to love his wife and to do so tenderly. What the Bible commands is that a wife ought to show reverence to her husband because of his position as a husband.
In her attitudes, her words, her actions, she should demonstrate a reverence for her husband because he is her husband. Hoerner puts it this way. He says a reverence, he, “She should act in reverence for her husband position as head of the home. This is her, this is her duty before the Lord.”
It’s not something the husband is to coerce, it’s not something the husband is to command or demand. It’s certainly not something he is to get angry about when he doesn’t feel he’s respected enough. It’s what the wife is to offer to him freely, voluntarily, in the outworking of her love and devotion to Jesus Christ and obedience to him.
What Paul summarized there in Ephesians 5:33 is such a contrast with the world, isn’t it? Ungodly wives seem to delight in showing disrespect for their husbands, even scorn for their husbands. They roll their eyes, criticize, make little muttering sounds under their breath, correct him, scold him, treat him like a child.
Listen, Christian wives ought never to act like that. They should never even think like that. That’s not only abhorrent, even childish behavior, it’s foolish and destructive behavior as well. Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Don’t tear down your house, ladies.
Husbands don’t make it hard for your wives to submit and respect you. Be a respectable man, pursue holiness, and fidelity to the truth. Make it easy for her to follow your leadership. And ladies, build up your home, using encouraging words for your husband. Let that be driven by reverent attitudes, honoring attitudes in your heart.
Ladies, you’ve got to know, your husbands, you may think that your words don’t matter, but they’re not that big of a deal, at all. It’s just a, it’s just a throwaway comment. Listen, your husbands wither under your criticism, and they thrive on your encouragement and your respect. Set a watch on your attitudes in your heart, guard your words, govern your actions, and in doing so you will revere your husbands as you revere Christ.
Again, when each husband loves his wife as himself, when each wife reveres her husband, when we do the what, that which God has commanded us to do, God is at work to do great and wonderful things. Using our marriage is to portray Christ relationship with love for his church and listen, we will be blessed.
He doesn’t command us to put a chain around our necks and a heavy burden that will weigh us and crush us to the ground. He gives us, as Jesus said, a light and easy yoke. He wants us to carry it forward that will be blessed, will be fruitful, productive, joyful. All of this, listen beloved, all of this is preparing us to learn what Peter is going to teach us in 1 Peter 3.
So, let’s go over to 1 Peter 3, and see what Peter has to say. That’s maybe just a little bit of a different shade, same material, but it’s a little bit of a different shade than what Paul teaches. I’ve titled today’s message, Christian marriage in real life.
So, what we’re going to do is take some of the abstract principles of love and submission and make up a little bit more concrete. We’ll start working the principles of marriage into marriage as it actually is. As marriage actually is. What do I mean by that? Marriage is as it actually is? I mean, we’re talking about, aren’t we, two sinners joined together in marriage, with all their weaknesses, with all their sins, all the baggage that they bring into it, the inevitable conflicts that arise between two sinners bound together. OK?
Once two people come together in the bond of holy matrimony, and by bond, I mean bond. I do mean to emphasize the inescapable nature of that union ‘till death do you part.’ When the inev, inevitable conflict comes between those two people, the only way forward is when two sinners embrace the duty, the responsibility to be obedient to Scripture.
When they embrace the duty, then to learn together, to be obedient in the context of that marriage together, to grow and mature together, each one in obedience to Jesus Christ. That is what Peter describes in 1 Peter 3, marriage in real life.
The entirety of 1 Peter is talking about Christianity under trial, under affliction, under difficulty, and so when we come to marriage, we’re seeing marriage also under trial and difficulty, as well.
Look at 1 Peter 3:1. “Likewise wives.” “Likewise,” what’s that referring to? It’s referring back to the principle of submission to the institution and to authority, that’s set up in all institutions, whether government, whether workplace, which is the principle of Christ submitting to God. “Likewise,” in that same way, “wives be subject to your own husband, so that” and here’s the conflict part, “even if some do not obey the word.” Hmm. I don’t think that applies to any women in here that have a husband who occasionally may disobey the word.
I know your husbands are superior, superlative, examples of Christian fidelity, and grace, and kindness. I mean, they are the very presence of Christ in your home. But in case they have a bad day, and they may perhaps, perchance disobey the word, let’s keep reading. “Be subject to them anyway,” Peter says, in order that, “they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Don’t let your adorning be external. The braiding of hair, the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing that you wear, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
“But this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good, do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise,” so pointing back once again, “Likewise husbands,” pointing back to the principle of submission to the institution that God has designed and given to the, to the earth, given to humanity for our good, for our formation, our shaping, our maturation, our sanctification. Likewise, husbands, you don’t define your role, Scripture does. And God says, “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel since they are heirs with you of the grace of life. So that your prayers may not be hindered.”
As I said, Peter’s marriage counsel comes in the flow of a letter written to Christians who are undergoing suffering, and some of them significant suffering. Christians, listen, we should never be surprised about suffering in a fallen world. We should never be surprised when conflict arises in a follow, fallen world. Whether it comes from the world outside, and listen, we’re living here in America, Judeo Christian foundation to our country, we’re living in an anomaly, historically.
“Husbands don’t make it hard for your wives to submit and respect you.”Travis Allen
Christians are never popular ever in society. We’re always marginalized, put to the side. And when we’re mostly ignored, we, we thrive in that condition. But listen, sometimes they start to pay attention to us. They shine a spotlight on us. They look at the truth that we preach, and they say, hate speech, then they say you know what, the problem in society is these Christians and these principles which are hateful and harmful.
And so, then they turn, and I think we’re coming to that more in our country right now, we’re going to join the rest of human history. We’re going to join the rest of church history and know what it’s like to suffer for the sake of the name. Praise God. Praise God because you know what happens when the church suffers, when it’s afflicted, when it’s put und, put under persecution, it thrives. God cuts away everything from our hearts, that’s unimportant, and he gives us a singular focus.
Our hearts are united in fearing his name, and we find joy, like in these testimonies in the baptismal waters this morning, we find joy in those things, not in material things, not in psychological happiness, we find joy in the power of God’s work in a life. So, Christians don’t be surprised at any suffering. Don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeal that comes upon you as if something strange were happening.
This is normal. Normal Christianity, is a Christianity that undergoes suffering and God shows his power in our weakness when we suffer. Don’t be surprised that when conflict comes up, don’t be surprised even when conflict comes up among fellow Christians. Christians were redeemed sinners, and when it comes to relationships, put the emphasis on the sinner, cause there’s still a lot of sin there that needs to be sanctified, needs to be repented of, needs to be mortified in our lives.
We come into the church out of the culture, don’t we? Out of the world, and so we bring worldly thinking a lot of times with us, that needs to be purged, and mortified, and killed, and we need to have our minds renewed by the pure water of Scripture. We need to change and grow. Conflict will arise among fellow Christians. Conflict arises here in our blessed fellowship of this church as well, and even in the context, yes, you guessed it, of marital bliss.
When sin shows up, when cutting speech pours forth from the beautiful lips of that angelic creature that you got married to, when your knight in shining armor tarnishes his afterglow with a bit of abrasiveness, harshness, don’t let that throw you off your game. Don’t let that trouble you, expect it. You got a Bible that says, “All have sin and fallen short of the glory of God,” don’t you? That includes that person that you just got married to. You got a theology that teaches you about total depravity, that teaches you about pride in the heart, it teaches you about the fallen condition of mankind and womankind too.
This is no time to abandon your post. It’s no time to stop playing your position just because you deal with a little sin that comes up, emerges, shows itself. Peter says back in 1 Peter 2:13, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,” which includes the marriage institution as well.
Peter’s gonna show wives here in our text, he’s going to show wives what reverent submission looks like with their husbands, even disobedient husbands as well. How do I live with a disobedient husband? How do I win over a husband who’s even, maybe not even a Christian? Peter’s also gonna show husbands what love looks like with wives, even disobedient ones.
This marriage, is a marriage that’s conducted in real life. This marriage is a marriage, that’s though, it’s not perfect, it’s growing, though it’s not perfect bliss, it is changing and maturing, and it’s deeply meaningful. It’s profoundly joyful, because we get to live out our Christian life in the context, of blessed institution of marriage.
So, two points for today, they’re very easy, one for the wife, one for the husband, number one, first for the wives. Wives, number one, put on reverence submission. Wives put on reverent submission. There are six verses for the wives here, which are going to breakdown into three sub-points, two verses each, but six verses for the wives and only one for the husbands. Why is that? Is because wives have so much more work? Well, in a sense, look who they’re dealing with right? So, they need a little more help and instruction.
Husbands, you get one verse because your wife is easy. You say no, she’s not, well, you just kind of exposed yourself that you’re actually the weak one. We’ll get to that, we’ll get to all that. Six verses for the wives, three sub-points here, two verses each, starting with verses 1 and 2.
Li, “Likewise, wives be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” So first, here’s a first sub-point, here’s how you win over your husband. Sub-point A we’ll call it. Let him see how you live.
It’s a very simple point. Let your husband see how you live. Let your husband see what a godly Christian woman looks like. Let him see how a godly Christian woman thinks, behaves, acts, speaks. That’s your role.
Peter is emphasized the conduct of the wife in the home, he repeated that word conduct twice. End of verse one, end of verse two. The word conduct is the word anastrophe, which literally means, that word literally means turning about in a place. So, you can imagine, you can just imagine a, a woman in her home twirling about the house doing her work. She’s whirling around the house.
I’ve watched this in my home. I’ve watched this with my mother-in-law, who lives with us. I’ve watched it with my wife. I’ve watched it with my mom. I just watch them going through the house, doing their work, and that’s really the, the picture here. But it refers to a way of life, refers to a manner of living life.
So, Peter is saying that by your manner of life, your regular, normal conduct, by your everyday behavior, the way you conduct yourself, you set an example for your husband. You give him an undeniable testimony, even if he’s a husband who’s disobedient to the word, even if he’s disobeying what’s clear in Scripture and you can see it. I mean, you’re no dummy, you’ve got a Bible, you could read, you know what his role is. He’s, you’re reading his verses too.
He’s disobedient, even if he is an unbelieving husband. Let me say this without any sense of jest or joking, even if he’s the very worst of husbands, one who intimidates, one who makes you afraid, one who harms you physically, and let me just pause and say this, if any of you women are, are being harmed physically by your husbands, this is what we tell women who are in that condition, dial 911, and if you don’t do it, we’re going to. This is a time for, that when that violence ought not to be happening in a home and we are going to help you through that. We’re going to help you through that, but it’s going to be through, law enforcement, is going to get involved if there’s abuse going on.
But listen, the testimony to even a disobedient man, the, is the righteous conduct of a godly wife. It’s a very powerful testimony that can win that man. A wife may feel powerless, a wife may esteem herself lowly. She may think of her life as really having no effect tucked away hidden in the home where no one can see it. She may assume her place in the home is hidden, her work is invisible, her influence is negligible, all those judgments, though, are according to how things seem to her. It’s according to how she feels, not according to what God says.
God says, “You matter.” God says your testimony is powerful. Just keep your head down doing what God has commanded you to do and trust him for the results. God says even if some husbands are disobedient, they may be won by the conduct of their wives.
Wives, God is the one who works mightily in and through your life. The way he works is through your submission to your husband. As we said, as a voluntary, intelligent, thoughtful, informed, biblically informed submission. Make no mistake. You need to understand and take it from Peter, what Peter has written here, the husband is watching. He is observing whether you think he is or not.
The word in verse 2, epopteuo, is literally to keep an eye on. What that’s saying is the husband is watching, whether you’re aware of it or not. Quiet testimony of your conduct is a powerful influence of what is right, and good, and pure, and holy. And listen, husbands notice. Believing husbands take notice and they rejoice, but even unbelieving husbands too. They see something remarkable there. Something inexplicable in any other way than the power of God.
Really interesting expression, the end of verse 2, it says, “When they”, receive, “see you’re respectful and pure conduct.” The word respectful makes it sound like she’s showing respect to her husband and she is doing that, obviously, certainly in submission to her husband, but that’s not Peter’s point here.
The word respectful is actually a, it’s a prepositional phrase in the original. So, the clear expression, if we’re translated, kind of, wooden literally, is when they see you’re in fear, pure, way of life.
So, in fear is the what they render, is respectful. Or when they see your holy, free from sin, way of life, in fear. In other words, the wife’s purity is due to the quiet pursuit of holiness in view of fear, not of her husband, but in the fear of God. Godly conduct, because of God, is critical. That reveals a theme, really that runs all the way through Peter’s letter, through his counsel.
In verse 4, it’s, look in verse 4, it says she’s concerned to act in a way that is very precious. Where? In the sight of her husband? Well maybe, but then he’s not in the point here. Very precious in God’s sight. That’s how verse 5, that’s how the holy women of old conducted themselves, they looked beyond their husbands, they looked above their husbands, and they hoped in God.
The wife exercises a voluntary submission to her husband because of her role as a wife. She turns her eyes upward. She looks at God’s greater authority, God’s greater power, God’s greater goodness and wisdom above her husband. She knows that whatever happens here, whatever happens on ‘terra firma’, where I live in my home, conducting myself through life, twirling through my house, whatever happens here, he is watching over me. He notices, he cares, and he’ll take my conduct and work it into this home. Work it into my husband.
So, wives, let your husband see what a godly Christian woman looks like. Let your husband see how a godly wife behaves, godly conduct in the fear of God. There’s a second sub-point. And this sub-point has to do with how you please the Lord. How you please Lord. Sub-point B, adorn your life with kindness and peace. Adorn your life with kindness and peace. Look at verses 3 and 4, “Don’t let your adorning be external.”
We could say merely external, “the braiding of hair, the putting on of gold jewelry, the clothing you wear, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable beauty.” Listen, let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart, but the imperishable quality “of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” The principle at work in this issue of adornment once again is the fear of the Lord. Fear the Lord.
Women who lived in Peter’s day were no different than women of our day. There’s a timeless, eternal, universal, truth, about women. It’s not much of a newsflash. Women like to look pretty. And you know what? Husbands like that. They like their wives to look pretty too. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a good thing. So, wives don’t get married and let yourself go thinking your husband isn’t paying attention. And husband, if your wife, you think she’s starting to let her go, you go talk to her and say, “You are beautiful. I am so thankful for you. You cause my heart to rejoice. I love you. You are remarkable to me, you’re stunning. I love that dress.” There’s nothing wrong with husbands admiring the beauty of their wife. And a wife, putting on her dress, makeup, jewelry, all that stuff.
Peter’s not confronting merely external things. He’s confronting an attitude here, a behavior here, and I want to be clear about something. He’s not advocating frumpiness. He’s, he’s not saying that godly women are to dress the plainest manner possible, sewing all their own clothing, not wearing makeup, not wearing deodorant, or perfumes, or jewelry, or whatever. That’s not good. Don’t do that.
God has given us certain things to mitigate the curse, and one of them is deodorant, you know, so wear, wear it, if you need it, wear it. Peter is identifying, what he sees in his day, he’s identifying the elaborate and expensive practices of women in his day, and we see it in our day as well.
Talks about braiding their hair, plaiting their hair, they would weave expensive ornaments of gold and jewelry into their hair and walk around out there, in society. They add gold ornaments, jewelry to accent their outfits, they dress up in fine apparel. He’s talking about them putting on all of that to grab attention. Bring attention to themselves. All that time and energy and attention and cost indicates, when a woman lives like that, and acts like that, it indicates a very serious misplace, placement of priority. Misplacement of, of resources, of energy, of interest even.
Putting so much attention on adorning the body, this could be true of both men and women, but these women want to present a pleasing appearance. Yeah, in order to please their husbands, but really, to win the attention of everyone. It was a look at me. Look at me, let me be the object of your desire, let me be the object of your, can I say it this way, worship. They want to make themselves feel good by the attention and the worship of others.
Problem comes when the concern over external adornment takes a higher priority over internal growth, taking more time, more energy, more attention, it’s contrast there between verses 3 and 4. It’s the external versus the internal. There’s a concern for what men can see, what people could see on the outside, versus what only God can see. What concerns are foremost on your mind, body or soul? What takes highest priority in your life? What, with what are you most preoccupied, the physical or the spiritual? That’s the issue here. Doesn’t mean walk around frumpy, and that’s a mark of godliness. The word for adorning, in the, fact I’ll prove it here, the word for adorning or adornment, it’s the word kosmos. Some of you may recognize the Greek word there, kosmos is the word for world, it’s true. So, the word for world.
The most basic sense though of kosmos, which is why it’s used here, it refers to something that’s well arranged, well ordered. We’d say that woman’s put together, very put together.
Peter’s point, then, is not to rebuke a woman’s desire to beautify herself or beautify the environment of her home or whatever. He’s not trying to make her feel guilty for wanting to present a well arranged, well ordered, put together appearance. What he’s rebuking here is a focus on external adorning over and against the adornment of the heart that God can see.
To focus on the outside to the exclusion of the inside is like putting lipstick on a pig. The longer in life a person goes, whether it’s man or woman, neglecting the hidden person of the heart, the longer that goes, the more pig like that person becomes, the more hideous and frightening a dressed-up monster appears. Some point becomes impossible to cover over the ugly character of makeup and clothing and all the rest. We see that all the time, don’t we? We see that in our media, we see that in Hollywood, we see it in politics, people with very bad character, trying to dress it up. And it looks hideous. It’s not Christians.
Wives, if you give primary attention, from now on, to this, to let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart or the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Listen, godly character will set the direction for propriety, all propriety, both in behavior and in external ex, appearance, what you wear, with how you appear.
Let me just clear up a little confusion about that expression, “gentle and quiet spirit.” Some people have taken that wrongly to refer to a woman whose kind of like a, a mouse like woman, who never says anything. She’s to be seen not heard. That’s not the idea here. This isn’t a woman who’s a doormat or a shrinking violet, a woman with no backbone. It’s not the idea here.
Maybe a better word for gentle is the word meek, the word kind. That’s the idea. This is a woman who has a friendly disposition. She’s characterized by a temperate, temperate attitude, she has temperance in life. She’s measured, she’s careful. The quiet spirit is one that’s governed by the peace of God.
The peace that passes all understanding guards the heart and the mind in Christ Jesus. This is a woman who possesses an inward calm through all the trials, and all the afflictions, and all the difficulties, of life. That’s the idea.
She’s far from unruly. She’s not ill at ease, she’s not disturbed or anxious. Instead, she is in the strictest sense of the word kosmos, she is a well-ordered woman. She is disciplined in her mind, she’s self-controlled over her impulses and her desires. That’s what Peter is describing.
And listen, I’ll tell you, there is nothing more beautiful than an older, dignified woman, a godly woman who knows what true beauty consists of, how she ought to conduct herself, the way she dresses herself is an extension of what she really is on the inside. And so how she dresses herself, she’s adorning her external frame as an extension of that hidden person of the heart of what she truly is and who she truly is. That is real beauty and we know it when we see it, don’t we?
More importantly, the beauty of body and soul, soul is first. And that’s in God’s sight, very precious. That’s the aim of her life. Is to please the God who loves her, the God who watches out for her, the God who cares for her in every way and most often in a marriage, God is caring for her using that husband with her. To provide for her needs, to protect her from danger, from harm. Providing insurances and things to plan for the future, savings, and all that stuff.
So, whether she is married to a disobedient husband, who doesn’t fear God, and God has to circumvent that man in order to bring his care to her, for her, or whether his care comes by the means of a kind of godly husband, as a conduit of his kindness, conduit of his love for her. The God-fearing woman, doesn’t matter to her. She entrust herself to God.
Best example, a woman can look to is really that of Jesus Christ, who entrusted his soul to a faithful God. Jesus possessed a gentle and meek spirit, a quiet, composed spirit. He is the model for all of us, whether husband or wife, whatever state we’re in. He is the model for all of us.
Peter tells wives to consider other models as well. Human models. Brings us to a third point, which is really ladies, how you could stay encouraged in your work as a wife. This is sub-point C. We’ll say follow the, follow the example of godly women. Sub-point C, follow the example of godly women. Surround yourself with godly women.
Start by keeping company with saints of the past. Let them be your closest friends. It says in verses 5 and 6, “This is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You’re her children, if you do good, and you do not fear anything that is frightening.” Join the company of holy women of the past, those women whose lives of submission to their husbands are recorded as a matter of biblical, historical record. God’s word on the matter, his mind, his judgment, his thoughts, all put down black and white in Scripture.
Every married woman in Scripture, like Sarah who’s mentioned here, but you can think of other godly women as well, Eve, Leah, Hannah, Ruth, Abigail. Think about the mothers of Agur and King Lemuel in Proverbs. Think about Elizabeth, Mary, Priscilla, who’s the wife of Aquila, on and on it goes. For every married woman in Scripture, they are all examples of biblical submission to their husbands. Peter points to Sarah as an, a, example of submission, demonstrating her obedience and her verbal respect for her husband. She obeyed Abraham. What does this say? Calling him lord. She verbalized her honor, her respect for him.
The word “obey,” you understand is different than submit. Submit is, hypotasso, to line up under, obey is, hypakoe, means to yield to what you hear from your husband, to obey his leadership.
But for a wife, submission, yes, it involves obedience, but submission involves thoughtful, understood, lining up under authority. Wives when they’re brought into the counsel of their husbands, and they understand Scripture, they are the best helpmates for you men. Listen, make sure they are learning.
That’s why you can bring, bring your, you, bring your family here every Sunday. That is the first mark of godly leadership, is to be attentive and faithful, to the regular ministry of the word in the church. So, wives listen, learn, understand.
I believe Peter, referring here to the testimony of Sarah’s life, he’s talking about her life in general and not just to a specific instance of obedience. And when you look back at Genesis, where, we’re not really have time to go through all of this, but look at Genesis 12, not, not right now, but Genesis, write down Genesis 12 and Genesis 20.
Those are two remarkable examples of Sarah’s obedience to Abraham in her submission to her husband. Because both of those instances Sarah came very close to getting swept up into the harems of two kings. One was pharaoh in Egypt and the, in the first instance, and then Abimelech in Gerar in the second instance. She came very close. In each case, her faith is tested and, in each case, God kept Sarah safe. He protected her. He even rewarded her faith, rewarded Abraham for her faith.
Sarah, like her husband, she was not a perfect believer, she committed sins. She, remember she entrusted Hagar her, her maid servant to Abraham, saying, OK, let’s, I’m barren in my womb and my faith in God’s ability to bring a child through me is a little shaky. Let’s try her. Gave Hagar to Abraham but that didn’t turn out well. We’re still living through that in the Middle East, aren’t we?
She’s no perfect person. She tried to solve problems on her own, she trusted in her own judgment. But through it all, what we do see in Sarah’s life, is her practice of submission to her husband. She stayed close to the biblical prescription of a wife serving her husband. Even in times when you kind of question it, you’re wondering what in the world. She stayed safe on the path of fearing God.
She feared God even from the inside of potential inclusion in a haram, and God was there to protect her. I mean, imagine the lessons she learned and trust in God, believing in him, trusting in God, looking above at him, above her husband, she obeyed her husband. She followed his leadership, she showed respect to him as her authority. The only reference we find of Sarah calling Abraham, lord, we don’t see him, we don’t see her running around saying, hey lord this, lord that, but it wouldn’t have been uncommon in that day for, just a, a wife to speak to her husband that way.
But we see back in Genesis 18:12, that she does use the term “lord” to refer to Abraham. You may remember the scene that there, um, the angel of the Lord, comes to Abraham, comes to his tent, and he promises Abraham in Genesis ah, 18:12, “I will surely return to you about this time next year. Sarah, your wife shall have a son,” so he’s reiterating the promise of a son. The promise of Isaac.
And then we read in in verses 11 and following, now, “Now, Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of the women, of women had ceased to be with Sarah.” That is to say, she’s not really able, you know, anymore to ah, get pregnant and so verse 12 says, ab, uh, “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I am worn out, my body is worn out, and my lord is old.’”
There it is right there, calling him lord. “‘Shall I have this pleasure?’ The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say,’ ‘Shall I indeed bear a child now that I’m old?’ ‘Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time, I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.’ But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I didn’t laugh,’” for she was afraid. And “he said,” Oh, “‘No, but you did laugh.’” Can anything be hidden from God? No.
What’s commended by Peter, or by Scripture, it’s not her laughter. Her laughter was really an expression of unbelief. What’s commended, is not her lie that she used to cover over her embarrassment, her fear for being exposed in her sin. But even in this moment of weakness in sin, though she lied to cover over her sin, Peter sees something commendable in Sarah. What is it? It’s in what God chose to record here for Peter to see. Peter sees that Sarah voiced respect for her husband. Reverence for her husband in private for where, where she thinks she’s hidden in the tent. She thinks no one is listening, no one sees her, and in private, in her heart when she thinks no one else is listening, she voices respect for her husband. God heard it. God recorded it in Scripture.
Husbands just take a, write down a footnote on this. Take a page out of Peter’s playbook here. Don’t fail to see this. Your wife may fail from time to time. She is after all, a sinner like you are. She may have moments of weakness, she may have times of fearfulness, embarrassment.
“Can anything be hidden from God? No.”Travis Allen
You see what Peter did here? Did he magnify that in Scripture, in his writing to the husband? No, he chose, chooses to focus on the trajectory of Sarah’s life, the characteristic testimony of her life and behavior. That’s what he chooses to write about. It doesn’t highlight periodic stumbling, even in our moments of failure, he finds a reason to commend her respect for her husband, reverence for him. That’s what characterizes her. Wives, how does that sound to you?
When you fail occasionally, would you prefer your husband to overlook a periodic, uncharacteristic slip up here and there? Would you prefer for him to let you know about it all the time? Anyone want to vote on that? Or would you like him to set aside things that don’t characterize you and instead focus on your deeper commitment to submission, and reverence, and fearing God, and practicing faithfulness in your home?
Godly women today, you become the offspring of Sarah, you become her children when you follow her example of obedience, and reverence, and submitting to your husband’s simple commitment, just to submit to your husband. It puts you on a trajectory of blessing and care under God’s sovereign watchfulness over your life. You become Sarah’s children, verse 6, “If you do good and don’t fear anything that’s frightening.” Keep doing what’s good. Keep doing what’s right. As Peter has been explaining, even if you’re tempted to be afraid, turn away from your fear. Put your hope in God.
Peter uses this verb, to do good, repeatedly. In the New Testament, six of the eleven uses of this verb about doing good are here in this epistle. Doing what’s good, doing what’s righteous in full and view in plain sight of evil and unrighteousness in the world. That is, Peter’s main message to Christians who live in times of trial and persecution. Do not shrink back in evil times.
Whatever institution becomes a persecuting institution, whether it’s the government or the workplace or even the home itself, we are not to give in to fear, to intimidation. We’re not to hide, we’re not just shrink back. That’s one of the chief sins of women, by the way, fear, anxiety, worry, foreboding about the future.
When they think about the future, are they always worried about it? We’re going to run out of money, we’re not going to have this, we’re not gonna have that, the kids are going to be messed up, all those things. That’s not how we think about the future, if we trust the Lord. We trust the Lord; we know that he wins. He, we know, know that he prospers his people, he protects them, he blesses them, he strengthens them.
The future for a believer is good. So don’t fear, stand firm, do what is good, do what is right. We are to let the wicked see us doing it. “But this is the will of God,” 1 Peter 2:15, “that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” Whether the folly comes through the laws of the government, the policies in the workplace, or the bad decisions of a husband.
Therefore, 1 Peter 4:19, “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful creator, while doing good.” So, it’s what holy women do, they fear God, they hope in him like the holy woman of the past, and when they do so, they find God to be their advocate, their protector, their provider, their most intimate friend. Fearing him, they fear no one else, trusting and hoping in him, they are under his constant protection and care.
So, ladies, love the holy women of the past. Be in their company. Don’t find the coolest girlfriends, those women around you who want to stroke your ego, who want to encourage you to disrespect your husband, have the most fun, live it up now. Befriend the holy women of old, those who hoped in God, those who left you a legacy to follow and look for likeminded women of today. And I’ll, I’ll tell you where you’re going to find them. You’re going to find them among the senior saints. Those who have raised children well, those who’ve experienced loss, those who are widowed, those who’ve suffered. They submitted to their husbands, they will pass on the testimony of their life and their submissions to you. They’ll talk you about, talk about the commitment to doing what’s good.
No matter what, join a sisterhood that is immortal and eternal, one that is precious in the sight of God, one that is honored before men. God records it here in scripture. One that’s left a legacy for others, becoming a record of oral history in the family, and written history in Scripture. That’s for the wives.
Our second point today is Peter’s message to the husbands, number two, husbands put on tender affection, husbands put on tender affection. Wives, if you’re sitting next to your husband, make sure he writes that down. Right? Right now. Don’t let him get away with you taking the notes, don’t let him delegate that.
Husbands put on tender affection. Look at verse seven, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” May be harder to see in our English translations, but there are basically, in this text, two imperatives, two commands, two verbs in the imperative form, and each of them is supplied with a reason to obey.
There’s a motivation there for obedience, and then the final clause completes the motivation, finishing it off with an ultimate motivation for obedience. OK, so two imperatives, we’ll kind of construct what we say to the men off those two imperatives.
So, first command, sub-point A, men live gently with your wife. Live gently with your wife. She is weaker, physically weaker than you are, she is more delicate, therefore handle her with great care. Her emotions and the way she is relationally, perfectly suits her for the raising of children, for conducting herself in the home, for being your helpmate, but there are certain things she is not equipped in designed for. You respect that, you treat her with great care.
“Live with your wives” there, it doesn’t mean be roommates. It means, it’s a command there to intimacy. Your wife is far more than a roommate. She’s not your mother living with you, picking up your socks and all that stuff. She’s not just another human being living under the same roof, sharing the workload of life.
As important as those things are, your wife is your complementary helpmeet. She is designed by God to be a fitting and suitable helpmeet for you in particular. She is the one whom God has chosen for you. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” Proverbs 18:22. “He obtains favor from the Lord.” She’s the reason you left mom and dad, to be joined together with her, glued together with that woman, your wife, in a relational bond of intimacy to share in that one flesh union for the rest of your life.
Your response to God’s gift of a wife should mirror the excitement of Adam, when he said, “This at last. She’s part of me, bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.” Love your wife as your own body. Nourish her, cherish her, Ephesians 5:29, you bring that girl in close, underneath the armor because that is her natural spot of origin. She was originally taken from Adam’s rib.
You also live with her literally, says according to understanding, living with your wives in an understanding way, literally that’s according to knowledge. The word gnosis. Some of jo, joked that understanding a woman is the stuff of gnostic knowledge, you know, gnosis, esoteric, obscure, going through many doors and mirrors, smoke and all that elevating into higher realms. That, but that, listen, that is a bunch of nonsense. Men if you’re a husband, you have the privilege of knowing that woman, knowing that wife.
Your wife is going to tell you everything about herself you’ll ever want to know. Just ask her. You need to develop it. Listen man, I’m serious about this. You need to develop a curiosity about your wife. Don’t be, what do I, what do I say? A stick in the mud, don’t be a bump on a log, don’t be a dead rock. When you come home don’t just kick your feet up and just turn off your brain, turn off your mouth. You talk to that woman. You ask her about her day.
You ask her about the things that interests her. You take a curious interest in your wife. Be patient to listen to her, you be loving and gentle when you interact with her. Never scorn her, never make her feel stupid, talk to her and you listen.
In addition to knowing another precious soul, so intimately like that, this partner of yours in marriage, you’re going to come to a greater appreciation of her weaker nature. And the more you understand her weaker nature, the more you’re going to appreciate how delicately God has woven her together, how intricately he’s designed her, made her so special.
You’re also going to see how sin has cut some of those delicate little threads in her life. How sin is affected her nature, how it’s exacerbated some of her tendencies toward fear, made her more vulnerable to anxiety. And so, as you learn those things about your wife, you will become more tender toward her. Let your knowledge of your wife, and your understanding of Scripture in the command to love her, tenderize your heart. Become a soft man, not a hard man. Let that transform you into more patient, gentle, kind, husband and treat her with honor and regard.
Second command here, sub-point B, show honor to your wife. Show honor to your wife because she’s your equal. She’s your equal by creation, by design, but she’s also a joint heir of eternal life. She’s a equal with regard to creation and regard to redemption. You treat her with honor. You treat her with honor. This reaches back obviously to Genesis 1 26:27, the equality of the woman, the equality of the woman and the man, both created in the image of God, both bearing God’s image in themselves, both equally corrupted, yes in the fall, but both graciously redeemed in salvation. So that, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free. There is no male or female, for your all one in Christ.
So, honor your wife as a child of God, she’s ransomed, “with the precious blood of Christ,” 1 Peter 1:19, just as you are. She’s ransomed by the blood like a lamb without spot or blemish. She doesn’t belong to you. She belongs to God in Christ. Treat her that way. She’s just been entrusted to you as a temporary gift by God. She’s been put under your care, under your protection, she’s to be provided for by you. You’re a steward, then, of her valuable gifts. You’re a steward of her strengths. You’re a tender protector who covers over her weaknesses. You’re steward of her wise counsel she gives to you. You’re steward of her gift, of the gift that she is to you, of her voluntary submission.
She’s giving that to you freely. She’s given that to you voluntarily, in obedience to her Lord. Don’t take it lightly. She’s offering up to God in her service to you. It’s an act of worship to her God. Don’t mess with that. Not only is it utterly unfitting for you to disregard this gift of a wife or to selfishly use her. It’s unrighteous for you to take the offering of her submission and to file it by any domineering, abusive authority.
What is fitting in this regard is honor. Honor, honor her. For honoring, you by saying yes and entering into a marriage covenant with you before God. Honor her for that. Honor her for honoring you with her submission, with her obedience, with her respect, and her reverence toward you. Honor her for being there to comfort you, to love you, to give herself to you physically, giving her body for the bearing of your children. Honor her for that. Honor her for raising your children. Honor her for keeping your home, for caring for your needs, helping you to do your job. Honor her for partnering with you in life and in ministry. Honor her for giving you sound counsel. Honor her for showing loyalty to God first, and then you because of her, honor to God.
Most of all, honor her for who she is, as a fellow image bearer and as a fellow Christian. She’s united to you, by the covenant of marriage, yes, but she’s united to you more deeply as a sister in Christ. That’s actually more fundamental and primary. In a relationship with you, means she’s your equal in every way.
What’s the ultimate reason Peter gives here? It’s the result. Maybe you could, say of living gently with your wife and showing her honor. Peter says here, “so that your prayers will not be hindered.” In other words, men, the health of your prayer life, the vitality of your relationship with God, it depends on the proper exercise of your authority and your leadership in the home.
I’ve seen this kind of thing so often through the years. I’ve seen a man will elevate in public ministry. Whether it’s inside the church or outside the church, but he’ll elevate that public ministry over and against the private ministry of loving his wife. He’ll count the one as much higher than the other. He’ll think that what he does, whether it’s in the pulpit, or whether it’s out on the streets in evangelism, or whether it’s in counseling, or whatever it is, writing books, preaching, sermons. He’ll think that that’s more important than his commitment to love his wife like this. Honor her, respect her, be kind to her, gentle to her.
Look, any ministry that’s going to be successful in God’s definition of success, is going to mean a ministry, isn’t it, bathed in prayer? If it’s not bathed in prayer, what is it? It’s ministry done in the flesh. It’s ministry done according to human works. Does God bless human works in and of themselves? Does he, does he bless what’s done in the flesh? No, he does not. He curses it, he frustrates it.
So, ministry that’s not bathed in prayer, depending on God’s spirit for power, depending on God’s blessing, depending on God’s working, that ministry is doomed. It’s not blessed by the Lord, it will be frustrated by him.
A man may lose his ministry sometimes for reasons good, sometimes for reasons bad. But in losing his ministry, he can keep his wife and his family, but a man may not lose his family and keep his ministry. That’s why the qualifications for eldership and the diaconate feature, managing the household well.
God watches, he’s always watching about how a man treats his wife. And he either blesses him for it, or he, he withholds his blessing. Don’t mess around with that. Men, how you treat your wife, it affects your prayer life, either there helps or hinders your relationship with God. He either brings his blessing or prevents his blessing for your life, your work, and your ministry.
That is because of this principle. All through Scripture, God cares for those under authority. God cares for them. God has compassion on those who suffer under bad leadership. Just think of the Egyptians over the Israelites. They oppresed them, they abused them, they caused them to suffer. And who did God have compassion for? Powerful or those who are suffering?
He extracted them, didn’t he? He extracted them and decimated Egypt. God cares for those under authority. He has compassion on those who endure hardship of a sinful, self-centered, impatient, harsh leadership. He watches out for those who suffer under abuses of authority, abuses of power. Why would God listen to the prayers of abusers? Why would God answer the prayers of a loveless, harsh and self-absorbed husband, who thinks it’s all about him?
Men, I know that’s not you. It’s not you. I’ve seen so many good examples in this church, of you loving your wife and loving her, well. Excel still more in this. Excel still more. John writes this, 1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he’s a liar.” OK, principle? I think John would permit us to apply that to marriage. If anyone says I love God and he’s not tender toward his wife, he’s a liar. For he who does not love his wife, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. We want to grow in loving our wives. Gents, look to Christ. Look to Christ.
See how he used his authority; see how he used his almighty power. In him we have the perfect model to follow, we have the perfect example, the perfect guide. We have his indwelling spirit changing us, motivating us, renewing our mind, teaching us. The spirit is within us. He’s growing within us. The fruit of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Those are things that should permeate your life and ministry to your wife.
And then, when we pray for help as husbands should, when we pray for wisdom as we must have, God is so pleased to hear our prayers. He watches how we care for our wife, and he is pleased to grant us help, mercy, wisdom, for our every need. He’ll help us with our leadership. Listen, we’re not born leaders, we’re born with the stuff to become leaders, but listen, we get married, aren’t we kind of knuckleheads, right? We have so much to learn. God is there to visit over the grace, wisdom, if we’ll just ask. Doesn’t matter how your wife responds, doesn’t matter whether she notices how you are with her or not, whether she loves you back or not, love, as we said before last week, love is your decision to make. It’s your choice.
Doesn’t depend on the worthiness of the person that we are loving, just depends on us making a righteous decision before God. Your ultimate motivation is heavenward. Your ultimate concern is for God’s favor, God’s blessing. God blesses those who use the authority that he’s delegated to them to be tender and kind toward their wives, honoring the redeemed daughters of God, those who are heirs of the grace of life. So, let each one of you love his wife as himself. Let the wife see to it that she show reverence to her husband. Amen?
Let’s pray. Our father, who among us is not ah, feels some weight of conviction under this text and understand that we have not always done what’s right, we’ve not always been obedient. A wife and her relationship to her husband, the husband relationship to his wife. There’s so much opportunity for our failing, stumbling, falling. And we admit that up front, in fact, we entered into the service in, prayer of confession. Come before you admitting our sin, admitting our weakness and our need.
And so, Father, I just asked that you would encourage all of our hearts to know that you are tender and compassionate toward us. And when we live and play out our roles in marriage, we are mirroring and echoing your heart toward us in the way you’ve treated us. Father help us to do that more and more faithfully. Help us to be more informed from what we’ve learned from Scripture and that, let us be motivated to put it into practice, knowing that you are so kind and ready to bring us truth, and wisdom, and understanding, and motivation, and blessing. So, we ask that you would do that in us.
For all those who are here who are not in a married condition, unmarried for whatever reason. We asked that they would also glean from this, from what Peter has taught us, and they would observe in our church, husbands loving their wives, and wives showing reverence to their husbands. And let them be duly instructed, and shaped, and formed, and encouraged, and motivated, toward greater obedience in their own life, in whatever, in whatever way you use them. Father may our lives, our testimony, our church, individually, collectively, corporately, we pray that you would help us to bring praise and honor and glory to you in the name of our savior Jesus Christ,ame