“Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
Imagine living in a time when women had no rights in a marriage. The husband had absolute rights and the wife was inferior. If the husband caught his wife in an act of adultery, he could kill her on the spot, but if the roles were reversed, she could not do anything. This was the reality of the Roman world that the dispersed church was living in. Peter’s teaching was radical!
He tells husbands “In the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way…” Christian living is the same for all of us. We are to follow Christ’s example. Peter tells them they are to be understanding. I love how David Guzik explains it in his commentary. “A godly husband lives with his wife. He doesn’t merely share a house, but he truly lives with her. He recognizes the great point of Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5: That husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself (Ephesians 5: 28).”
Peter calls her the “weaker partner”. Other versions translate this as the “weaker vessel”. This is a reference to physical build and strength. No matter what the world and modern culture may try to say, there are physical differences between men and women. God created both males and females in his image. Genesis 1:26-27 reads, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.” Therefore, I do not believe that Peter is using this to say that women are inferior to men. Edmund Clowney writes in his commentary, “While the wife is of the weaker sex in muscular strength, her role in the gift of physical life is surely not less! In relation to the gift of spiritual life, the woman is in no sense weaker, for in Christ there is no longer male and female. No less than her Christian husband, the Christian wife is a living stone, ‘being built into a spiritual house’ in the Lord (2:5).” Remember what Paul writes in Galatians 3:28-29. “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.”
He writes that husbands are to honor wives as coheirs of the grace of life. Again, this is revolutionary for this time! One commentary I read described the men of this time having many other women for their pleasure, and wives were there to produce heirs. The words of Peter and Paul showed a very different view of family life. Husbands were to have one wife and they were to be faithful to her. In Ephesians, Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for herto make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word” (5:25-26). And in Colossians he writes, “Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them” (3:19). Here, Peter tells husbands to honor your wives. Clowney writes about this word, “Respect is not strong enough. Peter uses the word translated ‘precious’ in 2:7; literally it means ‘preciousness’. The honour or preciousness that the husband must bestow on his wife is not only the recognition of her place in God’s ordinance of marriage: it is the honour that is hers as one of God’s precious and holy people.”
Peter wraps up this verse with this warning – “so that your prayers will not be hindered.” This is a strong warning to husbands! If they do not live with their wives in an understanding way, if they do not honor their wives, God will not listen to their prayers. Wayne Grudem in his commentary says it perfectly. “So concerned is God that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he interrupts his relationship with them when they are not doing so.” God cares about how husbands and wives treat each other. When marriage works according to God’s plan, it is a beautiful thing.
This wraps up the specific instructions to groups of people. Next Peter will cover the obligations for all Christians. I’ll give you a hint-we are to be united, of one mind. Stay tuned to see what that looks like!
Grace be with you!
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