1 Peter – Chapter Three IV

by Ed Urzi

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel–rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Our text from 1 Peter 3:3-4 now leads into a discussion regarding the comparative worth of internal and external beauty. Since a physically attractive person may still be an ugly individual, this passage reminds us that genuine beauty starts from the inside out. The Old Testament book of Proverbs draws our attention to this reality when it tells us, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

Despite this, many societies and cultures tend to prioritize external beauty above all else. For example, “looking good” is always a fashionable quality, while “being good” is much less so. Nevertheless, this does not mean it’s wrong to try to look our best. As one author observes, “Peter was not here condemning all outward adornment. His condemnation is for incessant preoccupation with the outward to the disregard of one’s character (v. 4; cf. 1Ti 2:9, 10).” (1)

Our passage from 1 Peter 3:3-4 emphasizes this point, as does the Biblical letter of 1 Timothy…

“And I want the women to make themselves attractive in the right way. Their clothes should be sensible and appropriate. They should not draw attention to themselves with fancy hairstyles or gold jewelry or pearls or expensive clothes. But they should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. That is more appropriate for women who say they are devoted to God” (1 Timothy 2:9-10 ERV).

Finally, it’s interesting to note that the word translated “adornment” is “kosmos” in the original language of this passage. This is the word from which we derive our modern-day word “cosmetics.” As one commentator explains…

“The word ‘adornment’ is the translation of the Greek word Kosmos which was used in classical Greek to refer to the adornment or the ornaments worn by women. The word in itself refers to an ordered system, namely, a system where order prevails…

Here the word refers to the adornment of the woman, and the genius of the word speaks of the fact that that adornment should be that which is fitting, congruous, not diverse from one’s character. That is, the adornment of the Christian woman should be in keeping with what she is as a Christian. She should not be a Christian at heart and her adornment be that of a person of the world.” (2)

(1) John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 1 Pe 3:3.

(2) Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament [1 Peter 3:3] Copyright © 1942-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.