Intro: Following along with the series of messages I am preaching through 1 Peter, as Peter writes to the dispersed and persecuted church in exile throughout Asia Minor, he encourages them by writing, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12). In chapter 2 verse 13 through chapter 3 verse 8 he gives us three specific ways that we are able to have “honorable conduct”, even while living in an environment that is hostile to God and the gospel. Those three ways all involve submission to authority in different realms of our daily interactions. We are to be (1) submissive citizens, (2) submissive servants, and (3) submissive spouses.
As we look at these three focal points for submission, I’ve titled this devotional series “Our Mission is Submission – 1 Peter 2:13-3:8.”
Today we begin to look at the role of the wife:
(3) Submissive Spouses – 1 Peter 3:1-7
Wives, Be Submissive – vs. 1
Now then, in verse 1 we see how this begins to work its way out in the family. He writes, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”
The first role he addresses within the family is the role of the wife. She is told to submit to her husband. He said, “Wives, likewise,” just as in these other instances and examples of submission, you also, submit to your own husbands. He does not tell the wife that she is her husband’s servant. He tells her to be submissive to him. He is not the master and she the servant. She, in order to fulfill her God designed role and live in obedience to Christ is to be submissive to her own husband. Paul expressed the same design within the family in Ephesians 5 starting with verse 20 were he tells us we are to be, “20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”
In Colossians 3:18 he gave the instruction again, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Do this because doing this is appropriate, it is fitting as a servant of the Lord.
He does specify by the way, that wives are to submit to their own husband. This can mean that she need not submit to multiple husbands, but I have yet to meet a woman who wanted more than one (although I am sure they are out there)!
Some twist this and say that this means that a wife cannot submit to any other man on the planet except to her own husband (or to her father if she is not married). But that simply cannot be substantiated from Scripture. We disprove that notion simply by reading 1 Peter chapter 2 where we all have been commanded as male or female to submit to governing authorities and to submit as servants to our masters. Hebrews 13 also tells us that all members of the church are to be submissive to those God has given oversight in the church, to obey the elders.
Scripture is not saying here that a wife can only ever submit just to her husband and not any other man, but that within the structure of the home with God designed roles for the husband and the wife, she is to submit to her husband. Understand also that this does not mean that the man is the head of the home – Christ is head of the home! Both husband and wife serve Him.
Another abuse of this text would tell us that a wife is to obey her husband in whatever he tells her to do – even if he tells her to disobey God. We must apply the same principles to all relationships where we are being submissive – we submit to God and if we are told by any in authority over us to disobey God then we refuse and we obey God being willing to pay the price if need be for our disobedience to human authority.
Tomorrow we will see what Peter says to Christian wives married to unsaved husbands.