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Honoring your wife, that your prayers may not be hindered
1 Peter 3:7
God calls us to honor our wives as both co-heirs with us and as weaker vessels in order to know Him better.
Published March 11th, 2019
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Main point summary
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 ESV A few reasons I chose this verse: -represents a life goal: to live in an understanding way, showing honor to my wife -captures something that is core to who I am as a Christian and seminarian: 1 John 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot [ a ] love God whom he has not seen. -captures my failure as a man, husband and Christian -captures the theme of my first year of seminary -expresses something of the beauty of complementarity Likewise Peter is using “likewise” to compare a husband’s submission submission seen in other institutions that contain an authority figure (government-citizen, slave-master, wife-husband). This “likewise” is important because there is no verb in v.7. The verb seems to be implied with the likewise, pointing us back to Ὑποτάγητε (aorist passive imperative 2 nd plural) found in 2:13. H ow this “submit” verb is carried out is clarified with the participial phrases. This “likewise” seems different than the previous likewise that is directed specifically towards women in v. 1 in two ways: 1) The woman is being told to be in submission to the husband, much like Christians are told to submit to government, and slaves to masters. Husbands are not commanded to submit to wives. 2) Furthermore, in the previous exhortations for submissions, the submission is in the context of opposition to God (secular government, evil masters and pagan husbands). I think Paul is changing his pattern here, which matters for interpretation (re: heirs of the grace of life). So women are told to submit to the human institution of marriage for the Lord’s sake in one way, and men are to submit to marriage in another way. What is the way husbands are to submit to the “human institution” of marriage “for the Lord’s sake”? live according to understanding: in essence, we should be men who know our wives. We need to know what makes them tick, how to honor them, which gets to our next point. showing honor: there is a book I would highly recommend on this topic called Cherish by Gary Thomas. I often recognize that Christian marriage entails sacrifice and faithfulness. But marriage should be more than that. It shouldn’t just be clenching our teeth and saying: “well this is hard but I’m just going to hold fast with white knuckles.” It should be cherishing, delighting in and honoring our spouses. -Eph. 5:29: For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. -Romans 12:10: 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. I have discovered in my marriage that making my wife feel honored has much more to do with what my wife think is “honoring” than what I think will honor her in my own head. How do we honor? As the weaker vessels: σκεύε can be a euphemism for sexual organs. However, it can also mean bodies as in 2 Cor. 4:7, where Paul says “we have this treasure in vessels of clay.” Paul seems to be saying: women are generally physically weaker than men. We should be eager to take as many burdens away from our wives as possible. My flesh wants to compare my service to my wife: “She didn’t do as much as me!” Instead, I should be saying: “No she is weaker. Let me take on more of the burden of the kids, etc.” As fellow heirs of the grace of life : My wife may be weaker physically, yet, my wife is just as much an heir of grace as I am. -Gal. 3:28: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave [ g ] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Inheritance is normally for men in Paul’s day. Though my wife is weaker physically, she is just as much a child of the king as I am, and has just as much value and significance in God’s eyes as I do. Some commentators want to say that “heirs of the grace of life” is talking about the common grace of life as in existence, heart beating, breathing air. This relates to the “likewise” we saw before. But I don’t think Paul is talking about just showing honor to your non-Christian wives who exist. This is for 3 reasons: -1 peter. 1:4: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, - Heirdom seems to point to something that has not yet arrived. -Paul is clearly breaking his pattern of talking about ministering to authority figures by means of a righteous life. In v. 7, Paul is talking about the ministry by an authority figure. Thus, there is no reason to assume Paul is continuing the pattern of ministry to an unbeliever, which was the pattern from 2:13 until v. 7. I think this verse beautifully captures something of Christian complementarity. Both men and women are in submission to God's created institution--marriage. Both men and women are weak (women are weaker, but men are still weak. Peter could have said: "honor women since you are stronger," but he chose to say "they are weaker"). Both men and women are heirs of the gracious gift of eternal life. Yet, God makes men and women very different from each other. Women are weaker than men. Men are called to lead their families and spouses not women. This view is nuanced and a far cry from total androcentric or feminist perspectives. “So that your prayers may not be hindered” -This last part is a constant reminder to me that my upward spiritual life is directly connected to my horizontal spiritual life. In other words, my love for God is really only as deep and true as my love for my wife. If I am harsh, dishonoring, critical and selfish towards my wife, I cannot expect to turn around and worship God with an honest heart. Peter goes on cite Psalm 34, and in that quotation it says: 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12 ESV Brothers, with the Lord’s help, let us outdo one another in honoring our wives, and in honoring each other.
Main point summary
Be subject to the institute of marriage by understanding and honoring your wives so your prayers won't be hindered.
1 Peter 3:7
Οἱ ἄνδρες
[Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution... 1 Peter 2:13 ESV ]
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution,
[Ὑποτάγητε πάσῃ ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει... 1 Peter 2:13 NA28 ]
liv(ing) with your wives in an understanding way,
living with your wives in an understanding way,
συνοικοῦντες κατὰ γνῶσιν
showing honor to the woman as the weaker t vessel,
showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel,
ὡς ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει τῷ γυναικείῳ,
since they are heirs with you 1 of the grace of life,
since they are heirs with you of the grace of life,
ἀπονέμοντες τιμὴν ὡς καὶ συγκληρονόμοις χάριτος ζωῆς
so that your prayers may not be hindered.
so that your prayers may not be hindered.
εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐγκόπτεσθαι τὰς προσευχὰς ὑμῶν.
1 Peter 3:1-22
Wives and Husbands 3 1 Likewise, wives, k be subject to your own husbands, so that l even if some do not obey the word, m they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your n respectful and pure conduct. 3 o Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be p the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, q calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and r do not fear anything that is frightening. 7 Likewise, s husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker t vessel, since they are heirs with you 1 of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake 8 Finally, all of you, u have unity of mind, sympathy, v brotherly love, w a tender heart, and x a humble mind. 9 y Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, z bless, for a to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For b “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Now c who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 d But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. e Have no fear of them, f nor be troubled, 15 but g in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, h always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and i respect, 16 j having a good conscience, so that, k when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For l it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also m suffered 1 n once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, o that he might bring us to God, being put to death p in the flesh but made alive q in the spirit, 19 in which 1 he went and q proclaimed 2 to the spirits in prison, 20 because 1 they formerly did not obey, r when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, s while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, t eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, u now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but v as an appeal to God for a good conscience, w through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and x is at the right hand of God, y with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
1 Peter 2:13
Submission to Authority 13 n Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, 1 whether it be to the emperor 2 as supreme,
1 Peter 2:13
13 Ὑποτάγητε πάσῃ ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει διὰ τὸν κύριον, εἴτε βασιλεῖ ὡς ὑπερέχοντι,
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.