The theme of submission continues in chapter 3. Peter has addressed all people to government (here), slaves to masters (here), and now he will address wives to husbands. This all falls under the greater umbrella of Christian conduct.
Not quite the same
Peter has just finished speaking of the master/slave relationship using the word submission. He will use the same word to refer to the husband/wife relationship. This could leave someone with the impression that wives are nothing more than property. However, Peter mitigates this in two ways:
1. The word likewise. The specific Greek word Peter uses compares something that is similar, but not exact. Thus Peter is not saying the husband/wife relationship is exactly the same as a master/slave relationship.
2. Verse 7. Unlike the earlier two commands of submission, here Peter gives commands to the one who is to be submitted to. Again showing a different type of relationship than earlier.
The basic command of this section is wives submit to your own husbands (v. 1). The word submit means to voluntary put your will under another. Wives are to voluntarily place their will under the will of the husband.
So that you can win your husband to the Lord. Peter gives one particular reason why wives should submit to their own husbands. The reason is that their husbands might be won to Christ.
The scenario is a husband who has heard the gospel and commands of the Christian faith. The husband does not need to be taught these rather he needs to obey them. Peter says in this case the submission of a wife to her husband can motivate that husband to obey what he has heard and become a Christian. The conduct of the wife is directly connected with the conversion of the husband.
Peter then provides two other qualities that should be seen in the Christian wife (v. 2). The first is she needs to be chaste. This has to do with sexual purity. The second is she needs to respect her husband. Modern psychology has affirmed that respect is a “love need” for men. God in his wisdom commanded it within the marriage relationship. The wife is to respect the husband because of the responsibility given to him by God.
Proper Adornment (Not Outward)
Peter’s address to wives continue with how wives are to be adorned. Peter gives a negative and then a positive command. The negative command is that they are not to adorn themselves with (v. 3):
1. Braided hair. Ancient historians describe the elaborate hair-dos of ancient women as being overly extravagant and showy. In fact, some women would not lie down after there hair was done in order to not mess it up.
2. Jewelry. Pictures show us women who wore gold up and down their arms, legs, and necks. Again there was a certain extravagance to the adornment.
3. Garments. The word simple means clothing. It seems best again to understand Peter as referring to “showy” or “extravagant” dress.
One might ask is this an absolute command, meaning is it always sinful for women to braid their hair and wear jewelry. When one recognizes that Peter also says they should not wear clothing, then we realize that Peter is not condemning the simple wearing of hair or jewelry, but rather extravagant outward adornment.
Proper Adornment (Inward)
In its place the wife is to adorn herself with hidden qualities that are not perishable (v. 4). Instead of people knowing Christian women for their dress they should be known for inward qualities of a gentle and quiet spirit. Gentle means having power but controlling it, which would be necessary if the wife is to fulfill the command to submit. Quiet means the absence of strife.
Peter drives home the point he is making with two illustrations (v. 5, 6).
1. Holy women. He described the first group as holy women hoping in God. All women should want to be characterized as such. So how did these women act? They submitted to their husbands. So if women today want to be holy women hoping in God, then they also will submit to their husbands.
2 Sarah. The second example is Sarah. She is both an example of submission (she obeyed her husband) and she is an example of being respectful (she called him lord). Those who want to follow Sarah’s example (and all women should) are commended to do the same.
In God’s design for the home wives are to submit to their own husbands. When this is done the home is how it should be and there is great potential for converting unbelieving husbands.