1 Peter – Chapter Three III

by Ed Urzi

“In the same way, wives, be subject to your own husbands. Then, even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, when they see your pure and reverent conduct” (1 Peter 3:1-2 NET).

As we close our look at this passage, we should note that this verse applies to women and their “own husbands.” Thus, our text does not impose a universal obligation upon women to submit to men, with the exception of their husbands.

These verses also recognize the general truth behind the adage, “actions speak louder than words.” For example, consider the following translation of this passage: “Some husbands may not obey God’s word. Their wives could win these men for Christ by the way they live without saying anything” (GW). In making this statement, 1 Peter 3:1-2 offers a strategy that God-honoring wives might employ for the benefit of their non-Christian husbands.

While our words are undoubtedly important, our character and God-honoring behaviors often exert a greater influence upon others than anything we might say. One Biblical commentator summarizes this idea in light of the cultural framework that underscored this passage…

“In ancient Roman culture, the wife was expected to adopt the religion of her husband, and some of the Christian women in the Asian churches apparently had unbelieving spouses. Peter urges these Christian wives to avoid insubordinate behavior even as they remained believers in the Savior. Rather, their gentle responsiveness will commend the gospel to their unbelieving spouses. The enduring principle involved in this statement is not strict verbal silence (v. 15), but a submissive demeanor and sensitivity to the concerns of the unbelieving husband (see v. 2) so that the gospel may be presented in the best light.” (1)

Finally, we have this seemingly unusual reference to “chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (NKJV). As mentioned in our earlier look at 1 Peter 1:17, the word “fear” often communicates an attitude of respect when used in a Biblical context. Thus, a wife who adopts an attitude of reverence for God’s Word in this matter may prompt a reciprocal attitude of respect from her husband.

However, we might approach this verse from another perspective. For instance, this passage may address wives who are fearful of what their husbands might demand if they were to put this verse into practice. In such instances, it may be helpful to recall another old adage: “If we fear God, we need fear nothing else.”

(1) R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 2246.