1 Peter 3:1-2

“In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives.”

Submit – to give over or yield to the power or the authority of another.

Submission. This is such a hard concept for us as humans. We don’t want to do it! And yet, as Christians, we are called to do it. We see it throughout the Bible. We are to submit to God (Hebrews 12:9; James 4:7). The church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:24). The entire universe will submit to Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22). As Christians, we are to submit to government authority (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13). And we will see here (and in other verses) that wives are to submit to their husbands.

Why is submission such a difficult thing? It comes down to one thing. Pride. and we can trace that back to the very beginning. What did Satan tempt Adam and Eve with in the garden? You can be like God! And once they sinned, there were consequences. I like the NLT version of the verse in Genesis that explains it. “Then he said to the woman, ‘I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you’” (Genesis 3:16) Our pride got us into this mess, and it continues to make a mess of things.

Let’s look at today’s verses. Peter starts with the phrase “In the same way… “ Peter is continuing his letter to the church and he is writing about how we are to submit. He has written about submitting to government, then to masters, now he is moving into family life.

Wives are told to submit to their own husbands. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.” Marriage is a beautiful picture of the Bride of Christ.  He writes this in Colossians 3:18. “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” when we submit to our husbands, we are submitting to God. When we don’t, we are rebelling against him. It’s as simple as that. And one last reason is that we are an example for younger women. In Titus we read, “In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered” (2:3-5).

There are groups who have abused these scriptures. The Christian Patriarchy movement is an example of this. They teach that women are to submit to all men. The family is set apart from the local church, often only worshipping with other families that believe the same way they do. Women are to only work in the home and focus on being wives and mothers. Gotquestions.org has a good article on this and explains why this is a dangerous teaching. What are the Quiverfull and Patriarchy movements? | GotQuestions.org But when we read 1 Peter 3:1-2, we see that this teaching is false. Peter clearly writes, ‘Submit to your own husband…” Nowhere does it say that women are to submit to all men. And we see that there were many women who worked in the New Testament. Joanna and Susanna provided for the disciples out of their resources (Luke 8: 1-3). In Acts, we read about Lydia, the seller of purple dye. And in Romans, we read about Phoebe. Paul trusted her to carry his letter to the church there. Paul describes her as a deacon, which is also translated as a servant, minister, and courier. He also says she was a benefactor to him and many others. My point is that women were esteemed in the New Testament and had jobs far above what the patriarchal movement allows.

So wives are to submit to their own husbands. This is God’s commanded principle for the home, not society. Some mistakenly believe that because the wife submits to the husband, she is inferior to him. This is not true. Wayne Grudem explains it this way. “Yet it must be remembered that submission to authority is often consistent with equality in importance, dignity and honor- Jesus was subject both to his parents and God the Father, and Christians who are highly honored in God’s sight are still commanded to be subject to unbelieving government authorities and masters. Thus the command to wives to be subject to their husbands should never be taken to imply inferior personhood or spirituality or lesser importance.” I am equal in value to my husband but my role is different. I am under the leadership of my husband. That doesn’t mean I don’t tell him my opinions or my thoughts on any given issue. But ultimately, if we have a disagreement over an issue, I will defer to him because that is pleasing to God.

I am fortunate that I have a godly husband and he makes good decisions. But what about unbelieving husbands? Peter addresses that. He goes on in the same verse “…so that even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives.” In the early church, there were probably many Jewish and Gentile women who became followers of Jesus, even though their husbands weren’t. The fact that Peter is addressing them goes against the culture of that day. Paul Barnett writes in 1 Peter: Living Hope, “This is a most unusual statement since a wife was expected to adopt the beliefs of her husband, the all-powerful paterfamilias. According to Peter’s near contemporary, the Gentile Plutarch (AD 46-120): It is becoming for the wife to worship and know only the gods that her husband believes in (Advice to Bride and Groom 19; Loeb edition).” Earlier, I gave reasons why we are to submit to our husbands. Here Peter adds another. By submitting to her husband, he may be won over to Christ by her behavior.

As Christian wives, we are to live pure and reverent lives. We are to treat our husbands with respect. I always laugh when I read Proverbs 21: 9. “Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.” I don’t want my husband to want to live on the corner of a roof! We can set examples as Christians by our pure and reverent conduct. If our spouse isn’t a Christian, then our actions toward him, by loving him, honoring him, submitting to him, may win him over without a word. I understand that this is a hard thing to do. I have friends in this situation and I watch them living this out in a beautiful way. And for those of us that do have believing spouses, then our behavior toward them should be an example to others. Non-Christians should see something different in our marriages.

I will end with this verse from 1 Peter 2:12. We’ve already covered it before, but it fits here also. People don’t understand the concept of submission and will ridicule us when we talk about it. So instead let’s live it out.

“ Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God on the day he visits.”

Grace be with you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: