1 Peter 3:1-7

1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

[Likewise] This chapter continues the theme of the previous chapter, behavior which glorifies God. In chapter 2 Christians are instructed to:
Submit to the laws of the land (v13),
Submit to civil authorities (v14),
Honor all men (v17),
Submit to our masters (in today's experience, our employers) (v18), and
Endure personal attacks with grace as did our savior, (vs21-23).

Such behavior is far from human nature but is the will of God for us (v15).

[Ye wives, be in subjection] Consider that your husband is, by God's appointment, the head and ruler of the house. Do not, therefore, attempt to usurp his government, for even though he obey not the word - is not a believer in the Christian doctrine - his rule is not thereby nullified, for Christianity does not alter civil relations. Your affectionate, obedient conduct will be the most likely means of convincing him of the truth of the doctrine which you have received.

[Coupled with fear] There are degrees of fear ranging from terror to reverence. In this context the intent seems to be reverence. See Ephesians 5:33.

3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

[Whose adorning] It is natural to desire to present a pleasant and attractive appearance to others and we should not ignore this instinct. However, God is instructing us that outward appearance should not become our primary concern. Flaunting personal wealth, or worldly goods or social status is rooted in pride and competitiveness and is the exact opposite of the meek and quiet spirit so valued by God. This issue is so important that the Holy Spirit directed both Peter and Paul to comment upon it. See also 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

[For after this manner] The holy women of old are held up as examples for modern women. They were just as human as any today and experienced the same longings for attention and a feeling of worth. They trusted God, developed their inner qualities, honored their husbands and received from God, "Well done!"

[And are not afraid with any amazement] A difficult phrase to translate into English. Some of the newer versions of the KJV Bible replace amazement by terror. Possibly another way to look at it would be to not let your reaction [amazement; astonishment; consternation; terror??] at the thought of this submission to your husband cause you to misbehave. Satan will tempt some to become rebellious and others to overreact in the other direction and become unhappy, passive non-participants in family affairs. Pray to find the proper balance.

7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

[Likewise ye husbands] God has rules for the husband to follow within the framework of the family.

[Dwell with them according to knowledge] Most men devote considerable time and effort to learning the craft for which they are employed. Similar effort should be expended learning to be a good husband and leader of the family.

[Giving honor unto the wife] As mentioned above, the wife is not looking to the world but to her husband for the genuine attention and value which all people need. She should never experience the dishonor of being ignored nor suffer the humiliation of having an unfaithful husband.

[Giving unto the weaker vessel] Using your superior strength and experience in her behalf, thus honoring her by becoming her protector and support.

[Giving being heirs together] Roughness and strength go hand in hand. So do beauty and frailty. The female has what the man wants - beauty and delicacy. The male has what the female wants - courage and strength. The one is as good in its place as the other, and by these things God has made an equality between the man and the woman so that there is properly very little superiority on either side. This union of complementary natures creates one whole. Matthew 19:4-6.

[Giving honor...That your prayers be not hindered] A unified Christian husband and wife have great power with God, Matthew 18:19. In verse 12 of this same chapter the apostle writes, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil."

For further study read Ephesians 5:22-33.

Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 02/18/2007

Copyright (C) 1999,2003,2006,2007 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved