1 Peter 3 Commentary

In the home and the church (3:1-12)

Another sphere where Christians should display the character of Christ is the home. Wives can display a Christlike character through an attitude of submission to their husbands, even though the


husbands may be unbelievers. By the wives’ good conduct and quiet spirit, the husbands may be won for God (3:1-4). Some women of Old Testament times, in particular Sarah, are good examples of a wife’s conduct (5-6).

Christian husbands should not act thoughtlessly or harshly towards their wives, partly because women are physically weaker, but more importantly because women receive God’s blessings equally with men. Tension between husbands and wives hinders their prayers (7).

In the church likewise believers must have consideration for one another. They must show love and kindness to all, even to those whom they find hard to like. Only as they act towards one another in love will they obtain the blessing that God desires for them (8-9). They will find true enjoyment in life as they turn away from insincere speech and hurtful actions, and concentrate instead on doing good and promoting peace. They will also find that such a life is assured of God’s constant help (10-12).


Example of Christ (3:13-22)

Persecution cannot really harm those who are eager to please God, because with such people persecution always results in greater spiritual blessing (13). Because they love what is right they may be persecuted by those who love what is wrong, but to suffer for such a reason is a cause for joy, not sorrow. If people are devoted to Christ and are always ready to give others an explanation for their devotion, they will not fear their persecutors (14-15). They should also try to avoid all forms of wrongdoing. Perhaps their enemies will see that they are persecuting without cause, and so feel ashamed of themselves (16-17).

As Peter thinks about those who suffer for doing good, he is reminded of the perfect example, Jesus Christ. The one who was perfect died for sinners to bring them to God. In his body he suffered the penalty for their sins – death. But he triumphed over death. His spirit, instead of being bound by those forces that lead to eternal condemnation, entered into fuller life. He then went to the place where evil spirits are imprisoned awaiting final judgment and announced his victory (18-19).

Those spirits had led people to rebel against God (as, for example, in the time of Noah; see Gen 6:1- 8), but Christ has now conquered all sin and rebellion. God’s saving of Noah and his family by means of the ark illustrates the salvation of believers. A corresponding illustration in the New Testament is baptism. Christ has died and triumphed over death, and therefore believers are, through him, cleansed from sin, made alive and brought back to God (20-22).

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