Verse of the Day Devotion. 1 Peter 3:1
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,” – 1 Peter 3:1
This particular verse has often been seen as derogatory toward women, but those who believe this have taken this verse out of context. Let us look at our focus verse more closely. First, Peter says, ‘In the same way, you wives’. This tells us what follows is directed not to all women, but to Christian wives specifically. It then goes on to say ‘be submissive to your own husbands’. This is the part that many take out of context. In the culture of the ancient world it was almost unthinkable for a wife to adopt a different religion than her husband. Christian women who came to Jesus before their husbands needed instruction. Often they would ask, ‘Should I leave my husband?’ or ‘Should I change my behavior toward my husband because I am now a follower of Christ?’ The answer to both of these is an emphatic no. And the reason given was so that ‘they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” 1 Peter 3:1b-2.
The above verse shows that the purpose of this ‘submission’ was not so that they would be the slaves of their husband, but that they, by their actions, could convert unbelieving husbands to the Christian faith. And this was Peter’s reason for telling them this. The idea is that what the wife is to do, through their Godly behavior, is to show him the reality of her faith in Christ. And by doing this she will show him her desire for him to become a Christian as well. And her ways and attitude should be such that he sees an inward reality, and not just outward behavior. Theologian Wayne Grudem put it this way, “The attractiveness of a wife’s submissive behavior even to an unbelieving husband suggests that God has inscribed the rightness and beauty of role distinctions to include male leadership or headship in the family and female acceptance of and responsiveness to that leadership… The unbelieving husband sees this behaviour and deep within perceives the beauty of it. Within his heart there is a witness that this is right, this is how God intended men and women to relate as husband as wife. He concludes, therefore, that the gospel which his wife believes must be true as well.” And I wish to add that this may not happen quickly, but he is more likely to accept this life if He sees her living it consistently from her heart.
Now, Peter was speaking to wives here, but I truly believe husbands have the same responsibility. If a man is saved before his wife does, he must also live according to God’s word, according to what is right and holy such that his wife sees his behavior and chooses to get saved as well. Either side who is a Christians should love their spouse such that they desire them to become one as well. God is no respecter of persons; He desires all to be saved. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
One other thing, submission in verse one does not mean they are to be submissive to their husbands regarding sinful actions or wrongdoing. If she were to submit to him regarding sin, he would be less likely to accept her beliefs for his own. For instance, if He were to tell her to steal something from their neighbor, she does not have to follow his order, but is obligated to refuse. The purpose for submission is to shine the light of Christ in order for him to see it and accept Christ as Lord himself. The whole reason Peter said this was so that her holy behavior will turn his heart toward God. And sinful behavior will not make this happen.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.