“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands” (1 Peter 3:1, NKJV)
Peter now turns his attention to wives. His address begins with the word “likewise.” That means his admonition is connected to what he has already stated. It’s like saying, “Your brother has to clean his room. Likewise, you have to clean yours as well.”
To what is Peter’s word to the wives connected? If we look back at verse 19 of chapter two we see that Peter addressed servants, urging them to be subject to their masters. But even further back we see Peter urging those who are Christians to be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, and then references kings and governors specifically (2:13). If we look ahead we see Peter addressing husbands (3:7), and then “finally, all of you” (3:8).
In these relationships Peter is urging us to Kingdom conduct in the way we comport ourselves in this world as sojourners and pilgrims. As he has stressed, we are to be holy because our God is holy. Our primary concern is that our actions honor our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondarily, Peter will remind us that our Kingdom conduct may well provoke those we relate to to ask us why we live as we do (3:15), as so give us opportunity to bear witness to Christ and the gospel.
As he said with citizens and servants, Peter focuses on the character and conduct of wives in respect to their husbands. The beauty Peter calls for in wives is not mere outward or cosmetic, but inward and substantive, what he terms “an incorruptible beauty” (3:4).
Peter’s main concern in this section is the adornment of the godly woman for the advancement of the gospel. He calls for deference of wives to their own husbands, even if those husbands are not believers and even if they do not deserve that deference. Why would wives do that? Because their chief desire is for God and their will is devoted to Jesus Christ.
As with all of us in all of our roles, we are not to live for ourselves but for Christ. That calls not for superficiality or lip-service but for the sacrifice and submissiveness modeled by Him who loved us.
REFLECTION: The centrality of Christ governs, guides, and glorifies all of our relationships.
Unless noted otherwise, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.