1 Peter 3
Get along with each other
Wives, obey your husbands1Wives, defer to your husbands like slaves submit to their masters. This humble behavior could win over some unbelieving husbands. Those husbands might never have been convinced by words, but they could be convinced without words—by seeing how you live. 2Your good and godly life will capture their respect.
3Don’t obsess over how good you look dressed up in your fancy braided hairdos, gold jewelry, and stylish clothes. 4Dress up on the inside. Let God see a precious heart of never-ending beauty and a spirit gentle and soft-spoken.
5Women devoted to God lived like this long ago. They dressed up inside by deferring to their husbands. 6Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him “master.” You are Sarah’s daughters if you aren’t afraid to do what you know is right.
Everyone, show some understanding7Now, as for you husbands, honor your wives and show some understanding. The ladies aren’t as strong as you, but they’re part of you. The two of you are living as one couple, and each of you has inherited the gift of eternal life. Do what I said, so your prayers get to where they’re going.
8Everyone, listen up. Get your heads together and stay united. Show your fellow believers some understanding, love, compassion, and humility. 9Don’t retaliate when someone insults you or does you wrong in some other way. Instead, reward them with kindness. That’s what God asks of you. In return, he’s reserving some extra kindness for you. 10Our Bible says this:
Anyone who wants to have a wonderful life, which they love living, needs to follow this advice:
Keep your tongue out of sin’s business
Keep your lips from lying.
Do something good, instead.
Look for peace. Chase it till you catch it.
12The Lord’s eyes are always on his good people.
His ears are tuned to their frequency.
But people who live to sin
Aren’t doing what God wants to see or hear.
Defend your faith when asked about it13If you spend time doing good things for others, who’s going to hurt you for that? 14But even if you suffer for doing good, consider yourself blessed. Don’t be afraid of folks making threats. 15Stay devoted to Christ, who’s the boss of your life.
When people ask why you are so hopeful, be ready to tell them. Defend your hope. 16Do it gently and respectfully. Live your life with a clear conscience. Then people who badmouth you for the good you do as a Christian will one day be ashamed of themselves.
When it hurts us to do good17If God wants you to do something good and you end up suffering because of it, that’s better than suffering for doing something bad. 18Christ suffered for doing good. He was righteous, and he suffered for the unrighteous—for us. He suffered for our sins once and for all. He did this to bring you to God. He got killed for it. But he rose from the dead, through the Spirit’s power.
Jesus, heaven’s boss19Then he went to spirits in prison and preached to them. 20These were the spirits who ignored God who patiently waited on them while Noah built the boat. The water lifted that boat and carried eight people safely through the Flood. 21Water saves you too. Baptism doesn’t save you by washing dirt off your body. It represents a clean conscience—which is what you get when you’re honest to God.
You owe all of this to the resurrected Jesus Christ. 22Jesus is in heaven now, ruling at God’s right hand. All angels, spirit authorities, and powers of every kind answer to him.
Peter simply says, “In the same way” wives should defer to husbands. But he’s likely referring to what he said a few sentences earlier: “Slaves should obey their masters” (2:18). Women in many cultures today would push back on what Peter says. But in Bible times, when a man ruled his household like a king rules a nation, the unwritten household code put wives in their place. Yet there was room for back and forth. Paul told couples, “Defer to one another” (Ephesians 5:21).
Scholars debate and theorize about when this happened, where Jesus went, who he preached to, and what he told them. One common guess: It happened when Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. Jesus went to the place where dead folks waited for judgment. There, he preached to people who gave Noah a hard time while he built a huge boat apparently on a site that didn’t warrant much more than a canoe. Some scholars say the prison camp was probably underground. Others place it at a secure location in heaven. Some commentators say Peter sounds like he had been influenced by the Jewish books of 1 and 2 Enoch. Enoch went to the place of the dead to tell the spirits “who have left the high heaven” (1 Enoch 12:4) that there was no hope for them. But it’s all just a collection of educated guesses. To some folks, the guesses might sound like a sci-fi plot built on one sentence that makes no sense to anyone, including the director.
Noah’s family. Noah and his wife, along with their three sons and three daughters-in-law.
The literal translation says baptism produces “a good conscience to God,” whatever that means. Scholars debate it. Does it mean baptized people come to God with a clear conscience, or does baptism represent their promise to live the kind of life that results in a clear conscience? Or maybe baptism, as a symbol of a person’s commitment to Jesus, marks the start of a do-over with a clean slate. Who knows?
React to Peter’s advice to Christian wives: “Defer to your husbands like slaves submit to their masters. This humble behavior could win over some unbelieving husbands” (3:1). Pick one of the following statements that best reflects your reaction. Or add your own statement.
- Thank goodness my husband is already a believer.
- Clearly, Peter never met the likes of my husband.
- His words reflect a time and culture in which men were men and everyone else was pitifully less.
- Peter wasn’t writing his letter to us, thank heavens.
Peter tells women, “Don’t obsess over how good you look dressed up in your fancy braided hairdos, gold jewelry, and stylish clothes. Dress up on the inside” (3:3–4). How do you react to this advice?
- Amish much?
- We do tend to overdo it.
- Marketing has captured our money, our soul, and our common sense.
- Spoken like a man in a man’s world.
Peter had some advice for husbands too: “Honor your wives and show some understanding. The ladies aren’t as strong as you, but they’re part of you. The two of you are living as one couple” (3:7). Should this advice have made it easier for the ladies to take what he said earlier, about them needing to defer to their husbands?
Peter has some cool lines of advice in 3:8-12. Which statement catches your attention? Why?
React to this statement from Peter: “Live your life with a clear conscience. Then people who badmouth you for the good you do as a Christian will one day be ashamed of themselves” (3:16).
What do you think Peter meant when he said Jesus “went to spirits in prison and preached to them” (3:19)? What spirits?
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter tells wives, “Defer to your husbands like slaves submit to their masters. This humble behavior could win over some unbelieving husbands” (3:1). Paul said much the same: “Every husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. And every wife should respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). What do you think Peter would tell a wife who is abused by a husband who does not show any indication of loving her?