1 Peter -Lesson 3
1. How is Peter’s instruction to wives “like” his previous instruction to servants? How do you perceive this instruction? How does the world perceive this instruction? (see John 15:18-21)
Peter connects his previous instruction to submit to authority with his instruction for wives to submit to husbands, even unbelieving husbands. In both relationships, submission serves as the most effective evangelizing tool for the unbelieving. Take the example of Christ. He forfeited none of His deity, none of His power, majesty, or sovereignty by submitting to the authority of God the Father for the sake of you and I. He was humiliated and died so that we could have life everlasting.
The world will tell wives not to submit to their husbands. Submission is a counter-cultural phenomenon. It connotes gentleness that the world interprets as weakness. But God sees gentleness as a fruit of living a life in sync with Christ. We must remember that we live to please God, not people.
2. Describe the “submitting” wife according to Peter (see 1 Peter 3:1-6).
I love to talk. But my husband is known to be a man of few words. For better or worse, I have had to make a concerted effort not to preach. As Peter exhorts, husbands are “won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” My husband is a believer but still he needs cajoling with quiet cooperation. The less I say, the more he listens! Does that mean my opinion and perspective has no merit or value? Absolutely not. I am free to voice myself whenever I want. But I have made a point to improve the dynamics of our relationship by letting my husband lead, chiming in along the way. We love to converse. We love to have fun together and laugh. But there’s a foundation on which that kind of relationship is firmly established. And a husband who feels respected by his wife establishes such foundation. He is emboldened knowing she thinks he’s got it under control; that she trusts him.
Women want to be admired for their outer beauty. But God cares about our inner beauty. Beauty that comes from the “hidden person of the heart” never fades. A beautiful heart develops through a life dedicated to obedience to Christ. Exterior beauty eventually grows old. If we have established our identity and worth on our façade, we will be left empty and wanting.
3. Is there a reciprocal component to the submission of wives to their husbands? (See 1 Peter 3:7) (see also Psalm 34:15)
Just as Peter connects his instruction for wives to be “like” his instruction to servants, he connects his instruction for husbands to be “like” his instruction to wives. Peter uses the same Greek adverb homoios to qualify each instruction, which means “in the same manner” implying a reciprocal submission. Peter acknowledges that both the woman and the man are joint heirs of the grace of God through Christ. Neither is greater or more worthy of salvation in God’s eyes. Thus, neither should treat the other as less worthy. The kind of submission Peter asks of us is a submission born of reciprocal love. But husbands, be warned, the instruction to honor your wives comes with a consequence. If husbands do not honor their wives as joint-heirs of the grace of life, their prayers will be hindered. Sin separates us from God and creates static in the lines of communication with Him. Clear the static through obedience in every aspect of your life.
4. Who is Peter addressing in Chapter 3, verses 8-12? How would you summarize his instruction? (See Matthew 7:12) What four blessings does this passage promise for those who obey God by doing good despite persecution?
Peter ends his exhortation on submission by addressing all believers in relationship with the world. No believer, in whatever position one finds oneself in life, is exempt from the admonition to treat others the way he or she would want to be treated. Peter gives us practical steps for obedience. And he starts with the admonition to control our tongue.
Scripture says out of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 15:18). You may rationalize that you do not slander. But be assured, if you gossip, you slander because you do not have all the information. Only God knows. Likewise, if you respond to feelings of jealousy with verbal sabotage, you are doing the work of the Devil, not of God.
I’ve heard so many people try to justify their slander with “But I truly thought that [fill in the blank]” or “But I was going through a bad time.” While grace covers even these sins, these excuses to not pass spiritual muster in a developing and maturing believer. As Christians, we are called to turn from evil no matter what we feel or believe. No matter what we suffer, we leave justice to God. We actively pursue peace and do good; anything less risks closing God’s ears to our prayers and turning God’s face away from us.
It’s true that when believers suffer for doing good the reward is heavenly. But that does not mean we cannot experience some of our inheritance in this life. God wants us to have blessings now; to have life and have it abundantly. Thus, Peter reveals four very specific blessings waiting for believers who obey this instruction. They will have 1) a happy life, 2) good days, 3) God watch over them and 4) God’s ears open to their prayers.
5. For what does Peter say we will be blessed? (verses 13-17) (See John 15:18-25 and Romans 8:28)
Peter rhetorically asks what harm can truly befall those who do good for righteousness’ sake. The reality is that much “harm” may befall those who resist the world system. Many people suffer in this life even if they do good. His rhetorical statement is intended to make the point rather than elicit an answer. The point? That the only “real” harm we can experience comes from disobedience to God, rejecting His free gift of grace, and spending an eternity separated from Him in Hell. So why not do good in this life no matter what we suffer, knowing that even our suffering is for good when it is according to God’s will.
6. What response does Peter say is elicited from those who witness our righteous suffering? (See Romans 8:31)
Peter says that those who witness believers doing good for no personal gain, but in response to their faith in Christ, may ask about their motivation. Peter wants us to use our Christian conduct to open the door to our words about our faith. The world doesn’t understand altruistic motives. Society has been conditioned to look out for themselves. It’s important for Christians to speak out about the fact that they need look no further than the God of the universe for security. But speaking out starts with our actions.
Our conduct speaks volumes about our faith. The adage “actions speak louder than words” corresponds with Peter’s lesson here. Submitting and staying quiet does not mean we are not witnessing our faith. We must always preach the Gospel, but only sometimes using words.
7. According to verse 18, why did Christ suffer?
Christ suffered for us (unrighteous sinners) so that we can be reconciled with our Creator, the true longing of our hearts.
8. What did Christ do after he was made alive in the spirit?
This is a mysterious passage. Few theologians agree on its interpretation. On its face, it seems to say that Jesus’ spirit went and proclaimed the Gospel to other spirits. These spirits were not free, but in prison, implying a sub-earthly abode of captivity. We know these spirits were not saved because verse twenty implies that Jesus needed to proclaim to them because they formerly did not obey. These were spirits alive during the days of Noah since the scripture notes that God waited patiently during these days while the ark was being prepared. Other commentaries take the view that Christ in spirit through Noah preached to the people alive during Noah’s day before they had died. Bottom line, we can rest in the assurance that God is patient, he always provides a way out to safety, and He gives everyone a chance to accept Him.
9. How does Peter describe baptism?
Peter compares baptism to Noah’s family being brought safely through water. He clarifies that although washed with elemental water, the purpose is not for cleaning off dirt, but as an outward sign of our concerted effort to trust God with the plan for our redemption through Jesus Christ. Notice how verse 22 reaffirms all of Jesus’ position and power as sovereign Lord even though He submitted to God and died for us.
Lord, Help us to treat others with gentleness, submitting in love and reverence to Christ. Go with us and light a path for doing good no matter our circumstances. Let our lives glorify you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Personal Application Questions:
1. How do you view Peter’s exhortation for wives to submit to their husbands? Do you agree/disagree? How have you seen this play out in your family? In other families? In the world? Did today’s lesson on reciprocal submission change your opinion in any way?
2. Have you ever been asked why you would respond with love to someone who persecutes you? How about doing good when there’s no self benefit? How have you answered?
3. How did you come to faith?