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THIS chapter embraces the following subjects:—

I. The duty of wives, 1 Pe 3:1-6. Particularly

(a.) that their conduct should be such as would be adapted to lead their unbelieving husbands to embrace a religion whose happy influence was seen in the pure conduct of their wives, 1 Pe 3:1,2.

(b.) In reference to dress and ornaments, that they should not seek that which was external, but rather that which was of the heart, 1 Pe 3:3,4.

(c.) For an illustration of the manner in which these duties should be performed, the apostle refers them to the holy example of the wife of Abraham, as one which Christian females should imitate, 1 Pe 3:5,6.

II. The duty of husbands, 1 Pe 3:7. It was their duty to render all proper honour to their wives, and to live with them as fellow-heirs of salvation, that their prayers might not be hindered; implying,

(1.) that in the most important respects they were on an equality;

(2.) that they would pray together, or that there would be family prayer; and,

(3.) that it was the duty of husband and wife so to live together that their prayers might ascend from united hearts and that it would be consistent for God to answer them.

III. The general duty of unity and of kindness, 1 Pe 3:8-14. They were

(a.) to be of one mind; to have compassion; to love as brethren, 1 Pe 3:8.

(b.) They were never to render evil for evil, or railing for railing, 1 Pe 3:9.

(c.) They were to remember the promises of length of days, and of honour, made to those who were pure in their conversation, and who were the friends of peace, 1 Pe 3:9,10.

(d.) They were to remember that the eyes of the Lord were always on the righteous; that they who were good were under his protection, 1 Pe 3:12; and that if, while they maintained this character, they were called to suffer, they should count it rather an honour than a hardship, 1 Pe 3:13,14.

IV. The duty of being ready always to give to every man a reason for the hope they entertained; and, if they were called to suffer persecution and trial in the service of God, of being able still to show good reasons why they professed to be Christians, and of so living that those who wronged them should see that their religion was more than a name, and was founded in such truth as to command the assent even of their persecutors, 1 Pe 3:15-17.

V. In their persecutions and trials they were to remember the example of Christ, his trials, his patience, and his triumphs, 1 Pe 3:18-22. Particularly

(a.) the apostle refers them to the fact that he had suffered, though he was innocent, and that he was put to death though he had done no wrong, 1 Pe 3:18.

(b.) He refers them to the patience and forbearance of Christ in a former age, an age of great and abounding wickedness, when in the person of his representative and ambassador Noah, he suffered much and long from the opposition of the guilty and perverse men who were finally destroyed, and who are now held in prison, showing us how patient we ought to be when offended by others in our attempts to do them good, 1 Pe 3:19,20.

(c.) He refers to the fact that notwithstanding all the opposition which Noah met with in bearing a message, as an ambassador of the Lord, to a wicked generation, he and his family were saved, 1 Pe 3:21. The design of this allusion evidently is to show us, that if we are patient and forbearing in the trials which we meet with in the world, we shall be saved also. Noah, says the apostle, was saved by water. We, too, says he, are saved in a similar manner by water. In his salvation, and in ours, water is employed as the means of salvation: in his case by bearing up the ark, in ours by becoming the emblem of the washing away of sins.

(d.) The apostle refers to the fact that Christ has ascended to heaven, and has been exalted over angels, and principalities, and powers; thus showing that having borne all his trials with patience he ultimately triumphed, and that in like manner we, if we are patient, shall triumph also, 1 Pe 3:22. He came off a conqueror, and was exalted to the highest honours of heaven; and so, if faithful, we may hope to come off conquerors also, and be exalted to the honours of heaven as he was. The whole argument here is drawn from the example of Christ, first, in his patience and forbearance with the whole world, and then when he was personally on the earth; from the fact, that in the case of that messenger whom he sent to the ungodly race before the flood, and in his own case when personally on earth, there was ultimate triumph after all that they met with from ungodly men; and thus, if we endure opposition and trials in the same way, we may hope also to triumph in heaven with our exalted Saviour.

Verse 1. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands. On the duty here enjoined, See Barnes "1 Co 11:3, seq.; See Barnes "Eph 5:22".


That, if any obey not the word. The word of God; the gospel. That is, if any wives have husbands who are not true Christians. This would be likely to occur when the gospel was first preached, as it does now, by the fact that wives might be converted, though their husbands were not. It cannot be inferred from this, that after they themselves had become Christians they had married unbelieving husbands. The term "word" here refers particularly to the gospel as preached; and the idea is, that if they were regardless of that gospel when preached—if they would not attend on preaching, or if they were unaffected by it, or if they openly rejected it, there might be hope still that they would be converted by the Christian influence of a wife at home. In such cases, a duty of special importance devolves on the wife.

They also may without the word be won. In some other way than by preaching. This does not mean that they would be converted independently of the influence of truth—for truth is always the instrument of conversion, (Jas 1:18; Joh 17:17;) but that it was to be by another influence than preaching.

By the conversation of the wives. By the conduct or deportment of their wives. See Barnes "Php 1:27".

The word conversation, in the Scriptures, is never confined, as it is now with us, to oral discourse, but denotes conduct in general. It includes indeed "conversation" as the word is now used, but it embraces also much more—including everything that we do. The meaning here is, that the habitual deportment of the wife was to be such as to show the reality and power of religion; to show that it had such influence on her temper, her words, her whole deportment, as to demonstrate that it was from God.

{a} "be in subjection" Eph 5:22 {*} "subjection" "Be subject" {+} "conversation" "Behaviour"

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