I Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
The word “likewise” in verse 1 tells us that this is a continuation of what Peter was given by the Lord in chapter 2. We noted in chapter 2 that we, those who are saved, were as sheep going astray. Every saved person was at one time a lost sheep. We were all going astray. We were going in the wrong direction. We were going against God’s design for man. By God’s mercy and grace, He provided the Shepherd and Bishop Who alone is able to turn us around. We, those who are saved, have been given eternal life. This is a gift from God.
Based on this fact, wives are addressed next. Wives, godly wives, who by the way are always women, need to be in subjection to your own husbands. A wife is not subject to all men. A girl, who becomes a woman, steps out from under her father’s role as her provider and protector, and places herself under the care of her husband. The “feminist” idea, with all its subtleties and nuances, is anti-God.
God showed us His design for humanity in Genesis 1& 2. He created Adam first and then He put man to sleep and took a rib from his side and used that rib as part of the makeup of the woman. Any godly woman understands that she needs to be under the care of a man. This care does not mean that a single woman cannot get a job and provide for her material needs. However, she needs wise counsel in decisions that she needs to make. God designed fathers to be there to guide their families, as they, fathers, seek God’s direction and wisdom in their own lives. The unmarried woman needs the direction of her father until he dies.
In our text, God is addressing the married women. The context is speaking to saved and godly women. As noted, any married woman would do well to be in subjection to her own husband. This subjection refers to both physically, but also in spirit. The wife is not to submit to her husband while he is in her presence, and then defy him when he is not around.
We see here that even if the husband is not obedient to God’s Word, the godly woman needs to be in subjection to her own husband. This does not mean she needs to allow her husband to beat her. God addresses the role of husband and wife in various texts. A godly couple will be a part of a Biblical, true church. In that church there will be a godly pastor who will teach God’s Word. He is a good source of help in all things. In a true church there will also be others who can help others. That is what true fellowship is all about.
God knows that not all women are going to be obedient to God and some will marry outside of God’s will. Some saved women will choose to marry an unsaved man. God does not say that if the woman marries wrong, that she should leave her husband. On the contrary, He commands that the woman is to set a godly example before her disobedient husband. There may also be the situation where both husband and wife are unsaved when they got married, but then the wife gets saved, but the husband is not yet saved. Again, the solution is not for the wife to leave her husband claiming they are no longer compatible. The wife needs to learn how to walk as a godly woman who has been given the gift of eternal life.
A key factor in the testimony of the godly wife, is to know how to be quiet. The normal tendency for us as people is to fight back. It does not matter if it is a man or a woman. We want to stand our ground. Some people are more aggressive than others. Some people are normally quiet and more easygoing.
Obviously from our text, we see that there is a need for the godly woman to learn how to live with a disobedient husband. If the husband does not want to obey “the word”, which would be God’s Word, the wife will not win him over by nagging at him. She will drive a different wedge into the relationship. There is already a spiritual wedge between the believing wife and the unbelieving husband. The godly wife needs to guard against widening that gap by interfering in the work of the Holy Spirit in the husband’s life.
A godly woman does not need to be physically stronger than her husband in order to reach him. She needs to walk in the spiritual strength that God provides for His child. God has a way of getting the attention of a disobedient man. He can do that far better than we can.
In verse 2 we see that a disobedient husband cannot ignore the testimony of a godly wife. The word “chaste” refers to “modest, clean, innocent”. That is a tall order for any saved person. God again shows us here that He changes His child in ways that are not normal. It is a beautiful thing to see how God works in His child for His glory. God has His ways of making His goodness stand out. The disobedient husband will not be able to ignore the powerful testimony of a godly woman.
We should note as well in verse 1 that the word translated as “conversation” means “behaviour, manner of life”. Again this is obvious because it speaks of reaching her husband without using words. She needs to learn how to live for God before her husband. There is a time to speak and there is a time to be quiet and pray.
We see that the godly woman is also governed by fear. This is not the fear of man, but rather the fear of God. We know this because this chapter begins with the word “likewise”. God is talking of more than physical things here.
In verse 3 we are further told that the important factor is the inner man. We will see that further in verse 4. A godly woman needs to keep herself clean and presentable to her husband. That is a given. Children need to be taught how to wash up after meals and how to take baths properly and brush their teeth and comb their hair, etc. These are all things that children need to practice. The godly woman needs to go beyond that in her relationship to her husband. She does not need to make an appointment with the hair dresser to have a different hairdo to try to draw attention to herself. She does not need to see a makeup artist to learn how to put makeup on to dazzle her husband. The husband may have allowed himself to be manipulated by outward appearances, but those are fleeting things. If he is inclined to think that way, he has a problem and the wife will always need to be changing to try to satisfy his vain appetite.
In verse 3 we are told that the godly wife does not need to major on the minors. In verse 4 we are told what she does need to work on. She needs to work on her heart. Her heart has been changed by God at the moment of salvation. We noted in chapter 2 that every born again Christian needs to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.
As the godly woman listens to God and develops that godly character that He wants of her; that can never be corrupted. That will never lose its value. If she entertains worldly things, she will be corrupted. However the woman that pays attention to the need of her soul, will be growing in the Lord. Even if her husband never grows to appreciate that, God certainly does. That is what matters most.
We see that the godly woman has the meek and quiet spirit. Meekness refers to humility and quiet refers to that undisturbed inner man. The husband may complain about his wife’s spiritual growth and he may curse and swear, but the godly woman does not fight back. She does not pick up a fry pan to whack him over the head. She prays and enlists the help of others to pray with her for her husband.
We see further in verse 4 that this meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God. As we mentioned, even if her husband never learns to appreciate the woman that God gave him, she can be pleasing in God’s sight.
Everything that saved people do needs to be done for the glory of God. That is what makes it worthwhile. God knows how to reward His faithful servant.
God will give the grace needed to be His faithful servant. The important factor is to be His faithful servant. If you are a woman living in a difficult relationship with your unsaved husband, submit yourself to the will of God first of all. Submit yourself to your husband. Be sure you are in a good church where you can get the help you need. Feed on God’s Word and grow in Him and rejoice in His blessings to you. Pray for your husband and trust God to bring him to his knees in repentance and true faith. That will be a blessing for you and for him and for the children if there are any. Be careful not to fight against God. You will never win that fight.