Why did Peter say to women, "But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious"? What is the context?


1 Peter 3:4

ESV - 4 But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

Clarify Share Report Asked February 05 2018 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
In this passage (1 Peter 2:11-3:12), Peter was advising various segments of his Christian audience (who, as noted in 1 Peter 1:1, were located in dispersed portions of the Roman Empire) as to how they should conduct themselves in the specific roles in which they could be living (whether as subjects of the Roman Empire, servants, wives, or husbands), or in any interactions with others. His emphasis was on their providing a witness of their faith through their submission to others (even to non-Christians), which was an internal matter of attitude and behavior, rather than anything related to external appearance. 

As citizens (1 Peter 2:11-17), they were to be willingly subject and obedient to human political institutions at every level, whether local governors or the Roman emperor, and even if those same institutions were opposing them or persecuting them because of their faith. By doing what was right from a legal standpoint; by not abusing their Christian freedom through using it as a pretext for evil; by loving other Christians; and by fearing God, they would be able to refute any false accusations made against them by their enemies.

Servants (1 Peter 2:18-25) were to be submissive to their masters irrespective of how those masters treated them. Peter reminded Christian servants that their patient endurance of any unjust suffering that they might undergo would earn God's approval, and would be following the example of the way in which Jesus bore His innocent suffering without retaliating or threatening, but trusted in God the Father all the way to the point of His own crucifixion and death, so that He could redeem humanity, and so that those who believed in Him could die to sin and live to righteousness.

Christian wives (1 Peter 3:1-6) were also to follow Christ's example by being submissive to their husbands (even if their husbands were not Christians), so that they might win their husbands to Christ through their own behavior and example of Christian conduct. As noted in the verse cited in the question, they were not to devote undue priority, attention, time, or resources to external considerations, such as the braiding of their hair, and the acquisition and wearing of gold jewelry or of the robes in which they dressed themselves, which could be indicative of a vain or prideful spirit. Instead, they were to humbly follow the example of women of faith such as Sarah, who referred to her husband Abraham as her "lord" (Genesis 18:12); to cultivate a gentle and quiet disposition; and to do what was right, without fear of how their husbands might react.

Christian husbands (1 Peter 3:7) were to be considerate of their wives, and to bestow honor upon them (rather than exercising control over them based on the husband's generally greater physical strength), since they were both equal as joint heirs of eternal life, and so that the husbands' prayers to God would not be impeded or hindered.

Finally, Peter told all his readers (1 Peter 3:8-12) to cultivate various characteristics, including unity of spirit; sympathy; mutual Christian love; tenderness; humility; and not retaliating against enemies or opponents who afflicted or persecuted them, but offering those adversaries a blessing instead. 

In short, then, I would say that Peter was not being selective or sexist in his advice to Christian women or wives regarding submission, but was applying the same standard (which had originally been modeled by Jesus) to Christians irrespective of gender, and in whatever societal role(s) they might find themselves.

February 06 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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