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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;
Ver. 1. Be in subjection to your husbands ] Yet with a limitation: subject the wife must be to her husband’s lawful commands and restraints. It is too much that Plutarch lays as a law of wedlock on the wife, to acknowledge and worship the same gods, and none else but those whom her husband doth. Serena the empress suffered martyrdom under her cruel husband Diocletian; and Elizabeth, wife of Joachimus, the Prince Elector of Brandenburg, was forced to flee to the court of Saxony, A. D 1527, from the perpetual imprisonment provided for her by her Popish husband (for receiving the sacrament of the Lord’s supper in both kinds), and died in banishment. (Luther in Epistol.)
Be won by the conversation ] κερδηθησονται , i.e. Be prepared for conversion, as Austin’s father and himself were, by the piety of his mother Monica. The Greek word for won signifieth gained, εποπτευοντες ; and seems to allude to those good servants,Matthew 25:20-23; Matthew 25:20-23 , who traded their talents, and doubled them with their good husbandry.
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
Ver. 2. Whiles they behold ] Curiously pry into. Carnal men watch the carriages of prolessors, and spend many thoughts about them.
Your chaste conversation ] When Livia the empress was asked how had she got such a power over her husband that she could do anything with him? She answered, Multa modestia, By my much modesty. (Dio in Aug.) A prudent wife commands her husband by obeying.
Coupled with fear ] Not slavish fear of blows, but reverent fear: 1. Of offending God, by using unlawful means to get their husband’s love, as by plaiting of the hair, &e. 2. Of offending their husbands by immodesty or frowardness.
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;
Ver. 3. Whose adorning ] Mundus muliebris. A woman’s world. See Isaiah 3:18 . Where the prophet as punctually inveighs against this noble vanity, as if he had viewed the ladies’ wardrobes in Jerusalem.
Let it not be that outward ] Vestium curiositas, deformitatis mentium et morum indicium est, saith Bernard. Excessive neatness is a sign of inward nastiness. It was a true saying of wise Cato, Cultus magna cura, magna est virtutis iniuria, They are never good that strive to be overly fine. Superfluous apparel, saith Cyprian, is worse than whoredom. Lysander would not suffer his daughters to wear gorgeous attire; saying it would not make them so comely as common.
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.
Ver. 4. But let it be the hidden ] Vestite vos serico pietatis, byssino sanctitatis, purpura pudicitiae. Taliter pigmentatae Deum habebitis amatorem. It is Tertullian’s counsel to young women, Clothe yourselves, saith he, with the silk of piety, with the satin of sanctity, with the purple of modesty; so shall you have God himself to be your suitor. (Lib. de Cult. Fem.) Plutarch speaks of a Spartan woman, that when her neighbours were showing their apparel and jewels, she brought out her children, virtuous and well taught, and said, These are my ornaments and jewels. Tit 2:4 In that which is not corruptible ] Or, In the incorruption of a meek and quiet spirit, &e., a garment that will never be the worse for wearing, but the better. Some wives may seem to have been molten out of that salt pillar into which Lot’s wife was transformed; these, as they please not God, so they are contrary to all men.
Of great price ] God makes great reckoning of a quiet mind, because it is like himself. He promiseth earth to the meek, and heaven to the incorrupt or sincere, and pure in heart.
5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
Ver. 5. Who trusted in God ] And therefore would not by unlawful means seek to get or keep their husband’s love and favour; but trusted God for that. So Hezekiah trusted in God, and pulled down the brazen serpent, 2 Kings 18:4-5 , opposing his presence to all peril.
6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
Ver. 6. Calling him lord ] See here, how in a great heap of sin, God can find out his own, and accept of it. There was no good word in all the whole sentence, but this, that she called her husband lord. God is pleased to single out this, and set it as a precious diamond in a gold ring to Sarah’s eternal commendation. So, Hebrews 11:31 , mention is made of Rahab’s entertaining the spies, and not of the lie she told: God lays the finger of mercy on the scars of our sins, as that limner a in the story.
And are not afraid, &c. ] Fear they must, 1 Peter 3:2 , and yet they must not. Fear God, but not their husband’s undeserved checks or threats for obeying God. One fear must expel another, as one fire drives out another.
a A painter, esp. a portrait painter. ŒD
7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
Ver. 7. Likewise ye ] Officium ascendit, amor descendit.
According to knowledge ] Where should wisdom be but in the head? This must be showed Uxoris vitium aut tollendo, aut tolerando, said Varro, either by curing or at least covering his wife’s weaknesses.
As unto the weaker vessel ] Glasses are to be tenderly handled; a small knock soon breaks them. So here. Vipera virus ob venerationem nuptiarum evomit, saith Basil, The viper, for the honour of coupling with his mate, casts up his poison; et tu duritiem animi, tu feritatem, tu crudelitatem ob unionis reverentiam non deponis? and wilt not thou for the honour of marriage cast away thy harshness, roughness, cruelty to a consort?
As being heirs ] Souls have no sexes, Galatians 3:28 .
That your prayers be not hindered ] Isaac prayed in the presence of his wife. This course of praying together, apart from others, being taken up by married couples, will much increase and spiritualize their affection one to another. But jarring will make them leave praying, or praying leave jarring.
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Ver. 8. Be courteous ] Gr. φιλοφρονες , friendly minded, ready to any good office. Christianity is no enemy to courtesy, but includes it. See the practice of it in Abraham and the Hittites, Boaz and his reapers, the angels’ and apostles’ salutations, the primitive Christians’ holy kiss, in use in Irenaeus’s time, and Tertullian’s, till taken away from the abuse it grew rote; as likewise their love feasts.
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Ver. 9. Railing for railing ] Convitium convitio regerere, quid aliud est quam lutum luto purgare? saith one. To render railing for railing, is to think to wash off dirt with dirt.
That ye should inherit a blessing ] Blessings by words, properly, ευλογιαν . They that will speak good words to men, shall hear good words from God; they shall have his good word for them in all places, and in the hearts of their greatest enemies, as Jacob and Job had.
10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
Ver. 10. Love life ] Man is ζωον φιλοζωον , a creature that loves life, saith Aristotle. Who is the man that willeth life? saith David, Psalms 34:12 . And hereunto every man will be ready to answer, Ego, I do, as Austin observeth. But when the condition shall be added, Cohibe linguam, &c., Refrain thy tongue, &c., then, saith he, scarce any will appear or accept the motion.
And see good days ] That is, prosperous and peaceable days; for all the days of the afflicted are evil, Proverbs 15:15 , a joyless life is no life. Rebecca was weary of her life, and so was Elijah when he sat under the juniper. Multi etiam magni viri sub Eliae iunipero sedent. For many great men have sat under Elijah’s juniper tree. It is many a good man’s case.
11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
Ver. 11. Seek peace and ensue it ] A contentious man never lacks woe. Ut habeas quietum tempus, perde aliquid, was a proverb at Carthage, as Austin relates it; Et concedamus de iure ut careamus lite. For a quiet life let a man part with his right sometimes.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
Ver. 12. For the eyes of the Lord ] Should not God see as well as hear, his children should want many things. We apprehend not all our own wants, and so cannot pray for relief of all. He, of his own accord, without any monitor, is wont to aid us.
His ears are open unto, &c. ] Gr. His ears are unto their prayers; q.d. though their prayers are so faint that they cannot come up to God, God will come down to them. He can feel breath, when no voice can be heard, Lamentations 3:56 . Fletu saepe agitur non affatu.
13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
Ver. 13. And who is he that will, &c. ] Natural conscience cannot but do homage to the image of God stamped upon the natures and works of the godly; as we see in the carriage of Nebuchadnezzar and Darius toward Daniel. I have known some (saith Mr Bolton) the first occasion of whose conversion was the observation of their stoutness under wrongs and oppressions, whom they have purposely persecuted with extremest hate and malice.
14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye : and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
Ver. 14. But and if ye suffer ] q.d. Say you meet with such unreasonable men, made up of mere incongruities and absurdities, that will harm you for well doing, yet you shall be no losers, 2 Thessalonians 3:3 .
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Ver. 15. Sanctify the Lord God ] Consider and conceive of him, as he stands described in the Scriptures, and as related to his people, resting upon his power and love, for safety here, and salvation hereafter.
Ready always to give an answer ] Gr. To make apology, a bold and wise profession of the truth, with due observation of just circumstances. To dissemble is ever a fault; but not to profess is then only a fault, when a man is silent, Intempestive et loco minime idoneo, at an unfit time and place. Let me be counted and called proud, or anything, Mode impii silentii non arguar, said Luther, so I be not guilty of a sinful silence.
To every man that asketh ] Christians should in this case stay till they are asked. Cyprian reproveth the rashness of those in his time, that would go of their own accord to the heathen magistrates, professing themselves Christians; whereby they were put to death. This made one of the persecutors cry out, O miseri, si libet perire num vobis rupes aut restes desunt? O wretches, can ye find no way else to despatch yourselves, but that I must be thus troubled with you Christ, saith Cyprian, would have us rather confess than profess our religion, Now, he confesseth, that doth it being asked; as he professeth, that doth it of his own free accord.
A reason of the hope ] Not every trifling question or malicious cavil. Christ answered the governor not a word to some things, and yet he witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate, 1 Timothy 6:13 .
With meekness and fear ] Lest you should dishonour a good cause by an ill carriage. Austin professeth this was that which heartened him, and made him to triumph in his former Manichism, that he met with feeble opponents, and such as his nimble wit was easily able to overturn. Carolostadius also had the right on his side, but was not able to make it out and maintain it against Luther.
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
Ver. 16. Having a good conscience ] Which you cannot have if you deny or but dissemble the truth. George Marsh, martyr, being examined before the Earl of Derby, kept himself close in the point of the sacrament. But after his departure, thus he writes: I departed much more troubled in my spirit than before, because I had not with more boldness confessed Christ, but in such sort as mine adversaries thereby thought they should prevail against me; whereat I was much grieved, for hitherto I went about, as much as in me lay, to rid myself out of their hands, if by any means, without openly denying Christ and his word, that could be done. (Acts and Mon.)
As of evildoers ] Malefactors, not martyrs.
They may be ashamed that falsely accuse ] This is an excellent way of stopping an open mouth. Oh, these real apologies are very powerful. Thus did the primitive Christians plead for themselves, Non aliunde noscibiles quam de emendatione vitiorum pristinorura, saith Tertullian (ad Scapulam), known from all others by their reformed lives. Thus did those old Protestants the Waldenses; In moribus sunt compositi et modesti, &c., said that Popish inquisitor their professed adversary. Their doctrine, said he, is naught, but their lives are unblameable. The man’s life (saith Erasmus concerning Luther) is approved of all men; his worst adversaries cannot accuse him of anything in point of practice. Louis king of France, having received certain complaints against the Protestants of Merindol and Chabriers, sent certain to inquire into the business, and hearing what they related to him, he swore a great oath that they were better men than either himself was, or any other of his subjects. (A.D. 1513.)
That falsely accuse your good conversation ] We should so carry ourselves, saith Jerome, ut nemo de nobis male loqui absque mendacio possit, that no man might speak evil of us without a manifest lie. Nec hostes reperiant quod calumnientur.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
Ver. 17. That ye suffer for well doing ] The cause, and not the pain, makes the martyr. Together with the Lord Cromwell was beheaded (in Henry VIII’s time) the Lord Hungerford, neither so Christianly suffering, nor so quietly dying for his offence committed against nature. (Speed’s Chron.) What a sad thing was that related by Eusebius, that the cruel persecution under Diocletian was occasioned chiefly by the petulance, pride, and contentions of the pastors and bishops! which gave occasion to the tyrant to think that Christian religion was no better than a wretched device of wicked men. Lactantius to the like purpose crieth out, Nunc male audiunt castiganturque vulgo Christiani, quod aliter quam sapientibus convenit vivant, et vitia sub obtentu nominis celent: Christians are hardly spoken of, and deeply censured by the common people, because they live not as becometh wise men; but cover their vices under pretence of their religion. (De Opific. Dei, Proaem.)
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Ver. 18. That he might bring us ] To reconcile and bring men again to God was the main end of Christ’s coming and suffering. This is the wonderment of angels, torment of devils, &c.
The just for the unjust ] Oh, the vile dulness of our hearts, that cannot be duly affected herewith! Behold, here was piety scourged for the impious man’s sake, wisdom derided for the fool’s sake, truth denied for the liar’s sake, justice condemned for the unjust man’s sake, mercy afflicted for the cruel man’s sake; life dies for the dead man’s sake. What a suffering was that, when the Just suffered for the unjust, with the unjust, upon unjust causes, under unjust judges, and by unjust punishments, &c. Euripides saith it is but righteous that they that do things not good should suffer things not pleasant; but what had that innocent "Lamb of God" done?
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
Ver. 19. He went and preached ] Righteousness, i.e. repentance, 2 Peter 2:5 , and the faith of the gospel, 1 Peter 4:6 , whereby some of those many that perished in the waters arrived at heaven, Nunquam sero, si serio. Christ went to them as an ambassador sent by his Father, and spake to their hearts.
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Ver. 20. Which sometimes were disobedient ] Gr. unpersuadable, uncounsellable. They jeered where they should have feared, and thought Noah no wiser than the prior of St Bartholomew’s in London, who upon a vain prediction of an idle astrologer, went and built him a house at Harrow on the Hill, to secure himself from a supposed flood, foretold by that astrologer. (Holinshed.)
21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Ver. 21. Baptism doth also now save ] It is of permanent use, and effectual to seal up salvation whensoever a man believes and repents. Hence we are once baptized for all. See Ephesians 5:26 ; Titus 3:5 . The pope’s decree says, that confirmation is of more value than baptism, and gives the Holy Ghost more plentifully and effectually. How fitly might the gloss have set upon this decree Palea, or Hoc non credo, as they use to do, when anything in the decrees pleaseth them not!
Not the putting away ] That none bear himself bold upon his Christendom. Unregenerate Israel is to God as Ethiopia, Amos 9:7 . A man may go to hell with baptismal water on his face.
But the answer ] επερωτημα , the stipulation, or confident interrogation, such as is that of the apostle, Romans 8:33-35 , and of Jeremiah pleading with God, Jeremiah 12:1 , and reasoning the case with him. David from his circumcision promised himself victory over that uncircumcised Philistine; so may we from our baptism, against all spiritual wickednesses; bring but this confident answer of a good conscience, and the devil will never be able to abide by it. Luther maketh mention of a certain holy virgin, who usually quenched the devil’s fiery darts with the water of baptism. For whensoever he tempted her to evil, she confidently answered Christiana sum, I am a Christian, I have been baptized, and therein promised to renounce the devil and all his works. a For to that custom of asking the party to be baptized, and taking his answer ( Credis? credo; abrenuncias? abrenuncio ), the apostle seemeth here to allude; or, as others are of the opinion, to the manner of John’s baptism, wherein people confessed (renounced) their sins, and asked him what they should do, Luke 3:10 .
a Intellexit hostis statim virtutem baptismi, &c., et fugit ab ea. Luther.
22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Ver. 22. Angels and authorities ] Psalms 68:17 . The word rendered angels signifieth seconds, as being second to Christ, or next to him. See Daniel 10:13 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27