1 Peter 3 Bible study

Living Word Magazine

Chapter 3


Peter continues to give instructions about right Christian relationships. Having dealt with slaves and masters, he now turns to husbands and wives.


Husbands and Wives


3:1-2  In the same way, wives, be subject to your own husbands. Then, even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, when they see your pure and reverent conduct.


The wife must be submissive to her husband. That is, she is to "subordinate herself as being secondary to and dependent upon him and adapt herself to him" AMPNT. As she does this, if her husband is not a Christian, she may win him to Christ without a word being spoken. He may be won over as he sees the purity and modesty of her life, together with the deep respect and reverence that she has for him. The AMPNT defines the word "fear" used here as: to respect, defer to and revere, which is, to honour, esteem, appreciate, prize and in the human sense adore (i.e. admire praise, be devoted to, deeply love and enjoy your husband).


3:3  Let your beauty not be external — the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes —


A godly woman (although this is especially written to wives it applies to all) should not adorn herself with a beauty that is merely outward and passing, the kind which is produced by the braiding of ones hair or the wearing of jewellery or expensive clothes.


3:4  but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God's sight.


Instead, she should cultivate a gentle and (submissive) quiet spirit, which has a beauty that will never pass away and which is precious in God's sight, since it is in the likeness of His Son.  Matt 11.28-30.


3:5  For in the same way the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands,


It was in this way that holy women of the OT adorned themselves and were submissive to their own husbands. They were women who trusted God - and are examples to Christian women today.


3:6  like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so.


A shining example is Sarah, who acknowledged the authority of her husband Abraham by submitting to him and obeying him. She called him lord. Those who follow her example will be her true daughters if they do what is right and do not give way to hysterical fear, letting anxiety unnerve them.


3:7  Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honor as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way nothing will hinder your prayers.


Just as the wife is submissive to the husband, so the husband should be considerate of his wife, recognising and making allowances for her weaknesses. He is to at all times to honour her as equally sharing with him in the grace of life, that is, in salvation. We are all equal at the foot of the cross, since we owe all to the One who died for us. If the husband does not keep this fact in mind and act accordingly then his prayers will not be answered.



Right Relationships in the Church


3:8-12  Finally, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble. Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others because you were called to inherit a blessing. For the one who wants to love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from uttering deceit.  And he must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the Lord's face is against those who do evil.


Having spoken to husbands and wives, Peter, still talking about relationships, addresses "all of you". He tells us how we ought to behave toward the church of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ.


We are to be united in spirit (One mind).


We are to show compassion, pitying one another.


We are to love as those who are born of the same Spirit and who have the same Father.


We are not to be hard hearted to each other, but tender-hearted. This will mean we are open and vulnerable.


We are to be humble minded and always polite.


We are not to do evil in repayment for evil done to us (Note: especially in the church)


We are not to return insult for insult, but we are to bless and to seek the benefit of the one that has insulted or wronged us. Pray for them and love them. By God's grace we will overcome, and as we prove ourselves to be his children, will receive His blessing. Matt 5.44,45.


Peter quotes Psalm 34.12-16. Anyone who wants to enjoy a good life and live many days under God's blessing must act in a way that pleases God. He must not speak lies, curses or any other evil thing. He must turn from what is wrong and do good. And he must eagerly follow the ways that bring peace. God has promised to watch over the righteous and to hear and answer their prayers., but he will sternly oppose all who do evil.



Suffering as Christians in a Sinful World


3:13  For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good?


Is there anyone that will harm us if we are eager to do good? Who has the right to do so? Even if we are harmed or threatened by men we can leave the matter in God's hands. He sees that we do right, and He is the judge. When we suffer for doing right, we will be blessed in accordance with what Christ said in Matt 5.10-12.


We are not to fear those who abuse us nor be anxious about what they threaten to do.


3:14  But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken.


3:15  But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.


Instead, we are to make up our minds to still obey Jesus as Lord, in spite of any opposition this may bring. We must always be ready to give a simple and clear answer to those who ask the reason for the hope that we have, which we must do with courtesy and respect.


3:16  Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.


By doing this we will keep a clear conscience so that when we are falsely accused, those who threaten us abusively and revile our right behaviour in Christ may come to be ashamed (of slandering our good lives) AMPNT


3:17  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil.


It is better to suffer wrongfully for doing what is right; if that should be God's will; than to suffer justly for doing wrong AMPNT



Christ's Death and Resurrection- the means of our Salvation


3:18  Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.


Peter again points to Christ as our example. He never did anything wrong, yet he suffered. He is the only righteous one, but He gave up His life to reconcile us, the unrighteous, to God. He died, but after three days was raised to life again by the Holy Spirit.


3:19  In it he went and preached to the spirits in prison,


It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that, during the three days that Christ's body lay in the tomb, His spirit descended into Hades (the place where the spirits of the dead are and preached the gospel to those who were there. These were the ones, says Peter, who had disobeyed God in the days before the flood. Although God had warned Noah that he would destroy the world because of mans' wickedness, the majority of people did not believe Noah's warnings, and only eight persons were saved in the ark. It appears that those who perished in the flood were given, when Christ descended, an opportunity to hear the gospel, believe and be saved.


3:20  after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed. In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water.


3:21  And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you — not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God — through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,


The flood is a picture to us of water baptism, which is not a means of our being washed physically clean, but which identifies us with the death and resurrection of Christ. By raising Christ from the dead, God has raised us too. He has given witness to the fact that Christ's death is sufficient ground for our salvation. It is by our faith in Him that we are justified - that is, our sins have been forgiven and we have a clear conscience before God.


3:22  who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him.


Christ having been raised from the dead has gone into heaven and has sat down at the right hand of God, having been given absolute power and authority over all created things, whether visible or invisible.

Further Reading Resources for you - Peter

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