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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

1 Peter 3

Verses 1-6

The Wife in Marriage


1Pet 3:1. The words “in the same way” with which chapter 3 begins, refer to a verse of the previous chapter (1Pet 2:18). Just like servants are to be submissive to their masters, even if it is a harsh master, a wife is to be submissive to her husband, even if she has a husband who doesn’t live according to the Word. The submissive attitude of the wife towards her husband is today completely abnormal. In the world the wife is being told not to be submissive at all, but that she has her own rights, with which she has to defend herself.

When in the marriage the husband doesn’t consider God and His Word, unfortunately the wife is often being used as a utensil. The believing wife finds the strength to, despite a humiliating treatment, be submissive to her husband out of her relationship with the Lord. Biblical submissiveness is a proof of great spiritual strength.

By her relationship with the Lord Jesus she will get strength to be of help to her husband, for which God has intended her (Gen 2:18). That means that the husband is the one who is the ‘needy one’. It is not an inferior position when you are a help. How could that be when you consider that God calls Himself the Help of His people (Deu 33:7; Psa 33:20)?

It is a good thing to always consider that Peter writes about relationships like they are in the kingdom of God. Those relationships radically contradict the relationships that are applied in the world. That also goes for the relationship in the marriage between husband and wife. When that relationship comes under pressure because the husband does not listen to the Word, the wife ought not to lecture her husband. How hard that may be for her, God’s Word says here that she ought not to do that.

She has another means available and that is her conduct, which means her way of life as a Christian woman in the daily care for the house management. Thereby the most important thing is not that she technically takes actions, like keeping the house clean and to make sure that husband and children eat well and are well taken care of. The most important thing is her mind in doing these things. Does she do these things reluctantly or with the love of the Lord in her heart?

It surely will be difficult to keep on nourishing her husband and children with the good mind without her ever receiving any nice compliment. It is also difficult, even when you know better, to still remain silent. The temptation is great to lecture her husband when he makes things difficult for her again. After all she knows from the Scripture how a husband is supposed to approach his wife. Nevertheless she may not do that. Unbelieving husbands or husbands who disobey the Word, really do not tolerate their wife to call them to account for their conduct.

The perfect model for the wife here is also the Lord Jesus. In every relationship He has taken the right place. Therefore He did not lecture the older people, but asked them questions and replied to their questions. He knew everything perfectly better, still He took the right place (Lk 2:47). That place He also took towards His fallible parents (Lk 2:51).

1Pet 3:2. There is another danger for the wife to fall into and that is making use of her natural charms to win her husband’s favor. That’s why Peter speaks about a “chaste conduct”, which means a pure conduct, a conduct that is free from the impurity that rules the world. She ought not to ignore her obligations by not giving her husband also in sexual view what is related to a marriage (1Cor 7:3-5). But she ought not to use the needs of her husband to manipulate him.

Because she has this means available and also knows how to use it, her conduct must “be respectful”, that she may do nothing that gives a wrong picture of the Lord and His Word. What God’s Word addresses here to the wives who find themselves in such a situation is not easy to follow, but it is certainly the way to be blessed. Such a conduct does not remain unnoticed by her husband and will cause that he “may be won” (1Pet 3:1) for the Lord.

1Pet 3:3. The adornment of the woman lies in the outer things which are natural for her. It is her weakness to even more strongly emphasize the beauty that she has by nature. In that way she is so occupied by her appearance that she hasn’t got the right view anymore of who she is for the Lord. It is about the wife here as a disciple of the Lord and the question is where the heart is focused on. Is her heart focused to please Him or to please the men? She is certainly allowed to adorn herself for her own husband, but she ought not to be coquettish. She must not stand out by receiving excessive attention for her appearance. The true adornment does not lie in the appearance.

You may ask yourself indeed what people notice, what moves them, when they have come into contact with you. Do you make an impression by your appearance, or by your brown skin that is tanned by the sun or by the sunbed? Or is it your eloquent speech or your well-shaped body? Or is it the rest and the joy in the Lord that you radiate?

As means for a wife to draw people’s attention to her appearance, Peter mentions the nicely braiding of the hair, the rings and the golden necklaces that a woman wears and the stylishly or maybe even provocative clothes. He warns that this is not to be so for the believing wife (1Tim 2:9-11).

1Pet 3:4. All outer adornments are corruptible, transient. The inward of the hidden person, the “gentle and quiet spirit”, is not transient, but everlasting. That is precious to God and therefore incorruptible. It is about things that remain and not about things that are transient.

We live in a time wherein outer beauty is being adored. People consider the looks of a person as very important. Do not focus on a youthful beauty. That is just temporary. Try to carefully realize that the outer man will decay. By growing older all youthful beauty fades away and turns into wrinkles. Therefore it is important to realize that God sees the heart.

The most beautiful thing about a man is his inner beauty that consists of meekness and a quiet spirit. Someone’s character is much more the true man than his appearance. You can learn gentleness from the Lord Jesus (Mt 11:29). A quiet spirit is also typical of Him, Who also inwardly never resisted against the circumstances wherein He was.

1Pet 3:5. This imperishable adornment is not an invention for the time Peter and his readers live in. In former times this was the adornment of women who did not live in the here and now, but for the future. That means that it is about timeless matters here. These women are called “holy women”, for they lived in isolation from the world and focused on God, in Whom they “hoped” for the future.

Such a mind of separation from the world and trusting in God is still important today as it was in those days. If you possess that, it is not difficult to be submissive. Your conduct will then be determined by what God has said. He is more than worthy to be trusted by you. When He has determined your place in marriage as a place of submission and you really take that place, the true adornment becomes visible, “which is precious in the sight of God”.

1Pet 3:6. Out of the ‘holy women’ from the past Peter mentions an example. He points to Sarah and says about her that she “obeyed Abraham, calling him ‘lord’” (Gen 18:12). This example is not intended to make known that the wife should address her husband as ‘lord’. The point is that Sarah did not think it was embarrassing to call her husband ‘lord’. Therefore it is much more the intention to make clear that the wife ought to adapt an attitude towards her husband, which expresses the respect that she owes to him. Therefore, the fact that she obeyed him does not mean that she was his servant.

The submission or obedience of a wife doesn’t mean that a husband ought not to listen to his wife. Wives are given to their husbands to keep them from foolishness. We also have an example of that from the life of Abraham. Sarah once told him to do something. When he refused to listen to her, God told him that he had to listen to her (Gen 21:12).

This example is an illustration of the relationships in the marriage of the Christian and here it is specifically of the Christian woman. When she takes the attitude towards her husband like Sarah did towards Abraham, she looks like Sarah in spiritual view and therefore can be called one of “her children”. She therefore shows her nature and mindset. Therefore wives who follow Sarah in this, will also show that by doing good. Thereby they do not have to be “frightened by any fear”, for he who does good and therein does the will of the Lord, can be sure to be guarded by God.

Now read 1 Peter 3:1-6 again.

Reflection: What do you like most about a Godly wife?

Verses 7-12

Husbands and All of You


1Pet 3:7. After the teaching for the wives, now follows the teaching for the husbands. Also this teaching starts with “in the same way” (see 1Pet 3:1), for also the husband ought to be submissive. It applies to him that he ought to be submissive to the institution of the marriage and ought to take his place therein that is in accordance to God’s thoughts.

The husband has to “live … in an understanding way” with his wife. The word ‘live’ means all his dealings with her and not only the sexual contact. In his dealings with her he is not to be led by his lusts, but by the insight he has in her person. Therefore he has to gain ‘understanding of’ her. He must be willing to invest in her, doing his best to understand her.

It is a well-known and at the same time shameful fact that husbands often have more insight in technical matters than in their wives. That’s also due to their selfishness. Husbands think that wives are like themselves and are very miserable in sympathizing with the emotions of their wives.

The wife is “someone weaker” or “a weaker vessel”. By ‘vessel’ is meant ‘body’ (2Cor 4:7; 1Thes 4:4). The wife is weaker in physical and emotional sense, but not in spiritual sense. Think of a woman like Deborah who led an army. The point here is that she is weaker of the body and the emotions that are related to it. Husbands should be aware of the fact that a woman is different therein and that’s what should determine their attitude towards them. It is not supposed to give them a feeling of superiority that makes them arrogantly look down on their wife. No, the husband has to understand that she has got a lot that he is missing and therefore he should honor her.

An extra reason to honor her and not to treat her as an inferior, is the fact that together with him she is “a fellow heir of the grace of life”. She also received part of life by grace. This life will be fully lived in the millennial kingdom of peace, which is the inheritance. God makes no difference between men and women, regarding the part of the inheritance that He has given to each of His own. Husbands often behave themselves like rulers and forget that they are the head. They also forget that ruling is still to come and that then also the wives will be ruling. If women have served the Lord more faithfully, they will receive a greater part in ruling. This is how husbands are to look at their wives, like how God sees them.

The “prayers”, that is the contact with God, will be “hindered” when the husband does not relate well to his wife. When the wife is being slighted by the husband, it will negatively affect the prayer life. Then the prayer will have no power or it will be totally ignored. That is a serious situation. It is God’s intention that husband and wife serve the Lord together, being occupied with His work, whereby each of them personally has a part. In a sound marriage they will talk together about it and pray for it. That will prevent them from living at cross-purposes. The common prayer of husband and wife is therefore of great importance.

1Pet 3:8. With the words “to sum up”, after the servants (1Pet 2:18) and the marriage partners (1Pet 3:1-7) the last group is being addressed. It regards “all of you”, that is the companionship of all believers. It goes without saying that also the previous groups belong to those. All are addressed on their conduct, on how they connect to one another.

The most important thing is that they are “harmonious” or “of one mind”. The believers find themselves in a hostile world. The enemy is seeking to tear believers apart. The only way to be armed against that, is to be of one mind, which means that they all have the same goal and that is to glorify Christ. When the believers are focused on the Lord Jesus and continually seek His interests in their dealings with one another, the enemy will have no chance to succeed to sow division. On the contrary, in this way they will gain victories over the enemy.

Their mind will make them “sympathetic” with believers who are suffering and also with people who are lost. To have compassion is to sympathize with others who are in need and trying to be of support for them. That especially applies towards fellow believers. We ought to love them with “brotherly” love. It is a true joy to belong, in the midst of a hostile world where blind hatred and cold feelings determine the climate, to a companionship where love abundantly determines the atmosphere.

When believers meet one another at meetings or at their homes, they should have the same experience like one has when he is freezing outside, enters a room where the warmth overwhelms him like a blanket. This is the experience an unbeliever also should have when he comes into contact with a believer.

The companionship of believers ought to radiate ‘kindheartedness’ to anyone who is there. It is the contradistinction of an attitude that stirs up fear and rejection. It is a conduct that others feel attracted to and feel accepted.

That conduct does not fit with arrogance that makes the other person feel to be given a favor. No, kindheartedness goes hand in hand with ‘humbleness in spirit’, for a believer knows that he himself is an object of the kindheartedness of God and the Lord Jesus. Everything that is asked here of the believers is perfectly seen with the Lord Jesus.

1Pet 3:9. He also did not return “evil for evil” or “insult for insult”. His response to every evil that was done to Him and all the words by which people insulted Him, was blessing. If you want to look like Him, pray to Him that He may enable you to respond like that.

An extra exhortation to look like Him in this view, is that you may know that you “were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing”. You also did not partake of that in your past. Now you do. Do you also desire that others take part in that? The Lord certainly desired that for you. Then you must follow Him in this view and wish for other people that they will also have part of the blessing of the millennial kingdom of peace, for that is the meaning of inheriting the blessing.

1Pet 3:10. The blessing of the kingdom of peace is not only something that we will enjoy in the future. It is now already possible to enjoy the true life and to see good days. Who wouldn’t want that? Even the unbelievers would want that. You can hear that wish in the salutation that we as people use by saying ‘good day’ to one another. In order to have really good days according to the rich content that is meant here and through which it is only possible, Peter quotes from Psalms 34 (Psa 34:13-17).

Do you want “to love and see good days”, then it is necessary that you do not use your mouth for speaking evil and deceitful things. That is quite something, isn’t it? In any case, it excludes that a man who has no new life, can ever enjoy the true life and see good days. Only those who have that new life, that is the life from God, can bring that into practice. When you stay close to the Lord, you are able to fulfill that.

1Pet 3:11. Also the other conditions in this section are important. They consist of something that is negative and of something that is positive. The negative thing is that you should turn away from evil and the positive thing is that you do the good thing. You see that the negative thing is followed by the positive thing. It is not the intention that your life is marked by everything that you do not do, but that it is marked by doing what is good.

Then you read about what the good consists of. The point is that you should seek peace intensively. You are to pursue it; therefore you should fully commit yourself to do it. Peace is not only the absence of war. It is the inward rest as a result of the fellowship with God in going His way, with the confidence that He takes care of what is needed and protects against dangers. This peace is constantly under pressure, for circumstances can take away that peace from you. That’s why you are to pursue it.

1Pet 3:12. To encourage you in this, the quote follows that you should focus on the Lord. You may realize the fact that His eyes are always on you. He sees that you desire to enjoy what He gives to you. He also knows that there are forces and powers that threaten you and that they are much stronger than you are. When you are also aware of that, you will call on Him for help. You may know that His ears are open to your prayers. He hears you and defends you against those who seek to harm you.

Now read 1 Peter 3:7-12 again.

Reflection: How can you be a blessing to your environment?

Verses 13-18

Suffer For Righteousness


1Pet 3:13. After the promise in the previous verse you might be thinking that nothing can happen to you. That’s how Peter also puts it in 1Pet 3:13. As soon as you make an effort to do good (or: for the Good, that is the Lord Jesus) the Lord will stand beside you. Nevertheless it can happen that while you are doing good and are living righteously, you do not see good days. Sometimes even the reverse seems to be true from what Peter says here, for you see that people who do good are suffering and that people who do evil are doing well. That has to do with the way God rules the world.

The reign of God could best be called an indirect way of reigning. That is in connection with the fact that the Lord Jesus does not openly reign yet, as that will actually be in the millennial kingdom of peace. Then He will directly judge the evil and directly reward the good. As things currently are right now, you presently live as a righteous one in the midst of unrighteous people who also are in control.

1Pet 3:14. It would be a normal thing that the government rewards the right and punishes the wrong. However, more often the opposite happens. You see that in this verse. But that does not mean that your fate depends on what unrighteous people do to you. Your life is in God’s hand to Whom you have entrusted your life. When you look at your circumstances in this way, you know that nothing gets out of hand, but that He is above everything.

Then it may seem that you are the loser, but you know that you belong to Him Who is the Conqueror. That will ultimately become visible. Also with the Lord it seemed like everything went the wrong way, but He has triumphed. It still does not seem to be like that when you look around, but when by faith you look up and look forward, you know that God ultimately will punish all evil and reward all the good.

After all, whatever harm men can do to you, it still only affect the body (Mt 10:28). Your soul has been bought by the blood of the Lord Jesus and that’s how you became His property that nobody can ever snatch out of His hand (Jn 10:28-29). In that sense it is therefore surely true that nothing can happen to you. You can say by faith: ‘If God is for me, who can be against me?’ (Rom 8:31).

So it can happen that you still suffer, because you live righteously in an unrighteous world. The world doesn’t want to see you live in that way, for that confronts her with her own unrighteousness. That’s the reason that she will persecute you. Then you suffer for the sake of righteousness. Do not let yourself be intimidated by God-hating people. They try to scare you, while they themselves are acting out of fear.

The world itself is afraid of what is going to happen, although people are shouting their fear down. They do that by all kinds of arrogant slogans about their own strength, with which they will defend themselves against God. The world has a reason to fear for the judgment, you haven’t. You do not need to be troubled about the course of matters in the world and in your life.

1Pet 3:15. Your rest does not lie in having control over your life, like the people of the world want to control their life after their own wishes. You see how things are getting out of hand with man. Your rest lies in a sanctuary outside this world and that is in Christ (Isa 8:12-13). The Lord Christ rules over everything. When you sanctify Him in your heart as Lord, which means when you give Him the all-ruling place, you will be able to fearlessly face life in the here and now and in the future. With ‘heart’ is meant the center of your existence, the control chamber where all your motives and deeds are originated (Pro 4:23).

Your mouth follows after your heart. It is important to confess Him also with your mouth (Rom 10:9-10). You not only ought to give account to God, but also to people. They may ask you: ‘Why do you live like that? How come that you allow people to make you suffer like that? Why do you choose to be despised?’ Then you have an occasion to testify of the hope that you have for glory after the suffering. That is what the Lord Jesus also did (Lk 24:26). Just look at Moses. Moses was expecting the reward and therefore chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God (Heb 11:24-26). In that way you may testify that it is worth it to suffer, because you expect the glory that is to come.

Giving a defense must actually happen “with gentleness” and not by threatening in the sense of: ‘My time will surely come.’ Therefore give a defense of that with “reverence”, because of your own sinful nature that is still in you. Do not boast on that great future in a way that gives the impression that you own it already and therefore you do not have to care about anything. Therefore the certainty of the hope is not supposed to make you a careless or arrogant Christian.

1Pet 3:16. Therefore, be sure to give your testimony “with a good conscience”, which means, with a conscience that does not blame you for not having pure motives by giving your account. When you give such a defense of the hope that is in you, those who revile you because of your “good behavior in Christ will be put to shame”. They may say whatever they want and they may speak of you as an evildoer, but there will be a moment that they will have to admit to their own disgrace and shame that your life is related to Christ.

1Pet 3:17. That you live in relation to Christ must of course be the cause of their reviling of your conduct and not a wrong conduct that you may possibly show. When you suffer, it ought to be by God’s will. You don’t have to look for the suffering. But when you happen to find yourself in a situation where you clearly see the guidance of the Lord to testify of Him, then do it, even when it means that you burden yourself with defamation.

Not each testimony produces suffering. Sometimes you even receive honor for what you say and do. The point is that you should not suffer because of evil things. The only right way to suffer is because of doing good. When Christians suffer, it doesn’t happen without the will of God. When doing good results in suffering, be sure that it does not happen outside the will of God, yes, it is indeed God’s will too. Then it can only be good, for His will for us is always a blessing.

1Pet 3:18. God wants to bring us to Himself. With a view to that, Christ had to suffer once. The Lord Jesus has suffered and indeed the heaviest suffering. It was a suffering we never would be able to endure and also never have to endure. It is also a one-time suffering that never has to be repeated. The suffering that He went through for sins has an everlasting effect. Due to what He has suffered, the sins of all who believe in Him have forever been removed and by His sacrifice they all have been made perfect forever (Heb 10:14).

He has taken the place of the unjust. He could take that place because He Himself was the Just. He did not have to suffer for His own sins, for He committed no sin (1Pet 2:22). Therefore He was perfectly suited to endure the sufferings for the sins of others. In this way He opened the way to God for sinners. He was willing to endure this suffering to bring you to God, in His presence, where you would never have been able to come or would have dared to come.

The suffering of the Lord Jesus meant to Him to suffer till death. But He did not remain in death, He was made alive again. He could be “put to death in the flesh”, because He came in the flesh (1Jn 4:3-4), meaning that He, Who is the eternal Son, became Man. God sent Him “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3). It goes without saying that ‘the flesh’ here indicates ‘the body’ and not the sinful flesh. His appearance on earth in a body has given man the opportunity to kill Him. Man didn’t want Him, Who so perfectly lived for righteousness.

God absolutely wanted Him. Due to His perfectly dedicated life to God, God could do nothing else – and it was also the joy of His heart – than make Him alive. He did that by His Spirit, the Holy Spirit (Rom 1:4). While the world doesn’t see Him anymore and thinks that He is dead, you know Him not according to the flesh (2Cor 5:16), but according to the Spirit, meaning through the Holy Spirit and in a spiritual way.

Now read 1 Peter 3:13-18 again.

Reflection: How can you suffer for the sake of righteousness?

Verses 19-22

Baptism and Its Consequences


1Pet 3:19. The Jews whom Peter writes to, need to learn to look upon Christ by what the Holy Spirit is showing them (Jn 16:13-14). That Christ is not physically present, but works by His Spirit may be strange to them. But that is not a new thought. As an illustration for that Peter refers to Noah and the work of the Spirit in his time. Christ preached in the Spirit through Noah to the people in the midst of whom he lived (Gen 6:3).

With “spirits [now] in prison” is not meant the spirits of dead unbelievers, but just simply the people who lived in the days of Noah. It is foolish to presume that Christ still has a preaching for dead people (cf. Lk 16:23-26). That there is mention of ‘spirits in prison’ means that these people were under the power of the great evil spirit, the devil. The devil was holding their spirit in prison (cf. 2Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2). He who has control over somebody’s spirit, has power over the whole person. The preaching of Noah through the Spirit of Christ was addressed to these people who were the spiritual prisoners of satan.

1Pet 3:20. Noah warned them of the judgment of the flood that was going to come over these disobedient people or unbelievers). Each day that his preaching lasted, was a testimony of the “patience of God”. The judgment had to come, but God was still waiting, while the ark was being prepared, that each one that would want to come, could enter and be saved. And what was the ‘harvest’? Only “eight persons” entered the ark. Peter emphasizes the small number by mentioning again that there were “a few”, for millions of people already then lived on earth.

This all had to serve as an encouragement for the readers. They also were with a few. They could not share their faith in a glorified and also invisible Lord with the masses of their compatriots. On the contrary, they were an object of persecution and mockery of their compatriots.

The intention of this section is to encourage you when you have to suffer because of ungodly people, slanderers and mockers. Noah preached for a long time, but he did not give up. God is patient and therefore He was waiting. That applies also to you. When you suffer, you know that the reason for that is the patience of God. With a view to the salvation of the ungodly, God tolerates it when you have to suffer. If you find it hard at times and when the (apparently) easier life of the world is attracting you, I ask you if you would want to change with the ungodly. In order to make a well-considered choice you must watch the end of those who seem to be prosperous.

Asaph, who also had an inner struggle like that, writes about that in Psalms 73. Just read that psalm when you also wrestle with these issues. I can tell you that I would rather not stand on the side of those who have a big mouth now, for they will surely be judged after that and end up in hell. I would rather stand on the side of Christ and suffer, in order to be later on with Him in glory.

Noah was “brought safely through [the] water”, that is the water of the flood through which the rest of the people died. The water of the judgment was a means for him to be transferred from the old world to the new world. He was able to be saved in this way because he had a protection against the judgment and that was the ark. In such a way you have also been transferred into a new world. Concerning you the judgment went over Christ. Because you are in Him you have not died in the judgment.

1Pet 3:21. Of this event baptism is a type. Baptism is called an ‘anti-type’, because it is a type of another type, that of the flood. Baptism and flood belong together. The water of baptism and the water of the flood have the same meaning. Both waters speak of death. We are being saved by the means of which baptism is a type: the judgment of death. How can a person be saved through death? That is possible when another person goes into death instead of him. That is what the Lord Jesus did. Through baptism you show in a type what has happened to you when Christ died for you.

Through baptism you publicly give a testimony that you have transferred from the one party, that of satan, to the other party, that of the Lord Jesus, the rejected One. The suffering that you are going through is the consequence of that. The water of baptism doesn’t give any meaning for the body as such. The question is your conscience towards God. When you are baptized, you place yourself before God and you say to Him that you want to follow the Lord Jesus. You also ask Him to keep you from doing anything that is unrighteous, because you want to have a good conscience and you want to keep it like that.

From then your way stands in relation to the resurrected Jesus Christ. You have left the world and sin behind you. They symbolically are buried in the water grave of your baptism (Rom 6:3). The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is now the connection that determines everything. Through His resurrection a new world of blessing and life has been disclosed for you. How can it be possible that you would still want to live in connection with the old world over which you have acknowledged the judgment?

1Pet 3:22. The fact that this is all still in faith, doesn’t diminish anything of its reality. It will all soon become visible for the natural eye too. Up till that moment you may be sure that He, with Whom you are now related, is at the right hand of God in heaven. He has taken the place of the highest authority. All things are subjected to Him. You still cannot see that around you, but you see Him to Whom all things are subjected (Heb 2:8). Is the greatest motive to endure suffering that you sometimes may have to go through at times, not to look upon Him in all His glory and majesty?

Now read 1 Peter 3:3:19-22 again.

Reflection: What is the meaning of baptism and what are the consequences of baptism?

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Peter 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-peter-3.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.