1 Peter


2. Instructions on Christian living, 2:11-4:19

iii] Marital duties


Peter continues his instructions on appropriate behaviour for living within a secular / pagan environment. He now looks at behaviour of a wife and a husband within marriage. Leaving aside the inherently sexist nature of marriage in the first century, Peter encourages believing wives to defer to their pagan husbands and to focus on the development of inward qualities, "a gentle and quiet spirit", while at the same time, giving little weight to outward adornment. By this means a believing wife aligns herself with the heroines of faith, women like Sarah. Husbands, for their part, must be considerate and respectful of their wives, relating to them as joint heirs of eternity. A husband can't expect God to be considerate if he is not considerate.


i] Context: See 2:11-12


ii] Background: See 1:1-2. Specific to the issue of a wife uJpotassomenai, "being subject to", her husband, Peter writes within the context of a culture where a wife is held to be in a subservient position to her husband. A comparable modern day version can be found in conservative Islam. A wife who sought equality with a husband in the home would be regarded by her family, as well as her wider community, as unrestrained by convention, or morality. With regard to adornments, v3: In Roman, as well as Jewish society, a married woman was expected to present modestly and unadorned. Again, this tradition can be witnessed today in Islam. Adornments paraded in public were the domain of profligate women.


iii] Structure: Peter's instructions on marital duties:

Instruction for wives:

A believing wife should give due honour to her unbelieving husband, v1-2.

Focus on holy beauty rather than outward beauty, v3-4.

Sarah, a model for holy beauty, v5-6.

Instructions for husbands:

A husband should always show consideration and respect toward his wife, v7.


iv] Interpretation:

Peter's instructions continue to reflect his "visitor mind-set" - in this age we are visitors, awaiting the dawning of eternity. In this moment of time, as God's set-apart people, we have a purpose, namely, "to proclaim the mighty acts of him who called" us, 2:9. This perspective influences Peter's instruction that believers comply with societal mores, so promoting peace and the easy access of the gospel, eg., a believing wife being subject to her unbelieving husband. On a more practical level, Peter also addresses the social ostracism and hostility faced by believers in Asia Minor. His instructions provide a positive means for reducing that hostility, namely, by shaping the Christian community as a compliant and honourable participant in the life of the wider society, eg., believing wives being supportive of the existing cultural framework of marriage.

These contextual considerations blunt the sexist nature of the instructions, although Peter's words still lack Paul's sensitivity on the issue. Paul gives weight to Adam, the bi-sexual person who becomes man and woman, partners, rather than master and helper. For Paul, each is subject to the other, Eph.5:21. Paul does indeed recognise culture and so gives a nod to the when in Rome do what the Romans do reality of life, but a Christian wife is uJpotassw, "subject", to her husband within certain parameters: "A husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church", Eph.5:23, and a husband must love his wife "as Christ loved the church", Eph.5:25. A Christian wife is no mere chattel, and a Christian husband is no mere master. Ultimately, believers are to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ", Eph.5:21.

Peter's, fit in while passin thru attitude, shapes his instructions and serves to explain their nature, but we are reminded that conformity for a transformed people is easily corrupted. It seems likely that this is the very danger that Peter warns of in 2:11 before embarking on the instructions - be in the world, but not of the world!

Text - 3:1

Fitting in with the societal structure of marriage, v1-7: i] Wives, v1-6. A wife's acceptance of her subordinate role within traditional marriage, as practiced in the first century, may well lead to the conversion of an unbelieving partner.

oJmoiwV adv. "in the same way" - likewise. Comparative adverb. As slaves have responsibilities, in like manner wives / women have responsibilities. Peter is not saying that wives are to be submissive like slaves are submissive.

uJpotassomenai (uJpotassw) pres. mid./pas. part. "submit yourselves to" - [the wives] being submissive to, deferring to. Although often classified as an independent imperatival participle, it is technically attendant on the imperative verb uJpotaghte, "submit [yourselves]", 2:13. The meaning of the word is not overly clear. Weight can be put on "submit to", but it can mean "defer to." Peter may be giving weight to Genesis 3:16, a woman's subjection to her husband post fall, but as indicated above, he is likely giving more weight to social convention, given that in Christ we are all emancipated.

andrasin (hr droV) dat. "husband" - [the = their own] husbands. Dative of direct object after the uJpo prefix participle "submitting to."

iJna + fut. "so that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that, so that." Here the hina clause is followed by a future tense rather than a subjective; irregular, but sometimes found in Koine Gk.

kai "-" - and = even. Here ascensive; "so that even if ..."

ei + ind. "if" - if [as is the case, certain are disobedient to the word, then, because of the conduct / behaviour of the wife, they will be gained without a word]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true.

tw/ logw/ (oV) dat. "[do not believe] the word" - [are disobedient to] the word. Dative of direct object after the verb apeiqw, "to disbelieve, disobey." Presumably "the word" is the gospel, indicating that the husband is not a believer, rather than a disobedient believer.

kerdhqhsontai (kerdainw) fut. "they may be won over" - they will be gained, won over. In the sense of become a believer. "There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty", Peterson.

aneu + gen. "without" - without [a word]. Peter is suggesting that a wife who plays her role as expected within society and the home may, by her lifestyle, prompt a positive response toward the Christian faith. Obviously, hearing and believing a "word", namely the gospel, is a necessary step toward repentance and faith, but it is the wife's lifestyle which has made the gospel accessible to her unbelieving husband.

dia + gen. "by" - because of. Causal, expressing means.

twn gunaikwn (h koV) gen. "of their wife" - [the conduct, behaviour, way of life] of the wife. The genitive is adjectival, either verbal, subjective, or possessive. "You will win them over by what you do", CEV.


An unbelieving husband may well be opened up to the gospel by the behaviour of their wife, that is, by observing the wife's respectful and pure life.

epopteusanteV (epopteuw) aor. part. "when they see" - having seen, observed. The participle is adverbial, usually treated as temporal, "once they have seen", as NIV, but possibly causal, "because he will see", CEV, or instrumental, "by observing your chaste, respectful behaviour."

aJgnhn adj. "the purity" - [the] pure [conduct, lifestyle of you]. Conduct without moral defect, but possibly just "chaste".

en + dat. "[and reverence]" - in [fear = reverence = respect]. Here introducing an adverbial phrase of manner functioning as an adjective limiting the noun "conduct, lifestyle"; "respectfully" = "respectful conduct." "They will be captivated by your life of holy beauty", Peterson.


Peter defines the behaviour that may well win over an unbelieving husband as "your chaste, respectful behaviour" = "your holy beauty." In v3-4 he explains what this means; what it doesn't mean, v3, and what it does mean, v4. In today's world, Peter's mansplain doesn't sit well with feminists, but in his world, it fits well. The task we face entails drawing out the propositional truths within Peter's words and applying them in a culturally appropriate way - Good Luck!

w|n gen. pro. "your beauty" - whose holy beauty. Dubis suggests "whose" serves as an objective genitive modifying an assumed kosmoV, "adornment", "let not the adornment that consists of ........... be your adornment", ie., "be that which beautifies you." Elliott suggests that the antecedent is "you wives", v1, so lit. "yours"; "let not your adornment ...."; the genitive would then be possessive. Possibly reference / respect, "of which" = "concerning which Christian women"; "and you Christian women must not be marked by .....", Selwyn. It seems more likely that we have an ellipsis here with the repetition of thn en fobw/ aJgnhn, assumed after w/n, "whose holy beauty let not be outward adornment, of braiding of hair, ......" = "Don't let your holy beauty be outward adornment, such as braided hair ...." In this case the genitive w|n would be adjectival, possessive, referring to the holy beauty belonging to the Christian wives, as NIV.

ouc "not" - [let] not [be]. With all, "but", in v4, this negation forms a counterpoint construction, "not this ..... but that." "The beauty to be found in you, ought not to reside in any outward adornment - ........ - No, it ought to lie ...", Cassirer.

oJ exwqen adv. "outward" - the outward [adornment]. The adverb here serves as an attributive adjective limiting "adornment", so "outward adornment", but possibly as an adverb, "let not your adornment be outward", or even as an improper preposition + gen., nominalised by the article oJ, so "the outward braiding of hairs, the outward putting on of gold, or the outward wearing of garments."

emplokhV (h) gen. "such as elaborate" - of braiding. The genitive, as with periqesewV, "the act of putting on" = "wearing", and endusewV, also "the act of putting on" = "wearing", is adjectival, epexegetic, specifying the "adornment", so Zerwick, Dubis, ... "What matters is not your outward appearance - the styling of your hair, the jewellery you wear, the cut of your clothes - but your inner disposition", Peterson.

trixwn (ix icoV) gen. "hairstyles" - of hairs [and putting on of gold and wearing of garments]. The genitive, as with crusiwn, "of gold (gold jewellery)", and iJmatiwn, "of clothing", is usually classified as verbal, objective, but adjectival, attributed is possible, "fancy hair, adorned gold, and expensive cloths", CEV (adjusted).


"That which is precious in the sight of God is the immortal, imperishable beauty of the inward life, not the riches of outward adornment", Beare.

all (alla) "instead / rather" - but let not your beauty be. Strong adversative. See ouc v3. Instead of defining her holy beauty by kosmoV, "outward adornments", the wife should define it by her inward being.

thV kardiaV (a) gen. "your inner self" - [the hidden man = self] of the heart. Selwyn, so Zerwick, suggests the genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, making specific the sense of "the hidden man." Possibly better taken as adjectival, idiomatic / of place; "No, it ought to lie in what are hidden features of the human being which have their dwelling place in the heart", Cassirer, cf., Wallace, 124/5.

en + dat. "-" - in. Possibly expressing association, "with", so Achtemeier, but better local, sphere, with the particular sense "found in, expressing itself in ("consisting in", Eph.2:15)", Selwyn. Somewhat epexegetic, so Dubis. Possibly leaning toward instrumental; "Rather, let your holy beauty be defined by your hidden being which ..........., expressing itself in/by the/your imperishable beauty of (that is) a gentle and quiet spirit."

tou .... pneumatoV (a atoV) gen. "of [a gentle and quiet] spirit" - [incorruptible, imperishable qualities ("unfading trait", Dubis)] of the [gentle and quiet] spirit. The genitive is probably epexegetic, making the sense of "imperishable" more specific; "that of a gentle and tranquil spirit", Cassirer. "The spirit" being ones inner being.

o{ pro. "which" - The antecedent is unclear; presumably tw/ afqartw/, "the imperishable quality / the beauty that lasts", that is, our gentile and quiet spirit. So, in a sense "the entire proceeding clause", Beare

enwpion + gen. "in [God's] sight" - [is expensive = precious] before [god]. Spacial; "before, in front of." When used of God, "in God's sight / in the eyes of God"; "which is precious as far as God is concerned."


In much the same way as Greek writers would refer to the example of heroines of the past to support an argument, Peter refers to the saintly women of the Old Testament who hoped in God, those women who ekosmoun, "adorned" (kosmoV, "outward adornment", v3), themselves, not with hairstyles, gold jewellery or fine cloths, but by submission. They willingly submitted to their husbands; they put "their husbands first", CEV, they were "loyal wives to their husbands", Peterson. Sarah was just such a person. She recognised Abraham as her "Lord", Gen.18:12. Peter may have in mind the situation Abraham and Sarah faced in Egypt, Gen.20. They found themselves as strangers in a godless and hostile environment and Abraham's actions were, at least, disobedient to God's word, but Sarah implicitly obeyed Abraham, cooperating with his ill-advised plan; See Kiley, Like Sara, The Tale of Terror behind 1 Peter 3:6, JBL, 106. It is worth noting that Sarah was no wallflower, and that on at least three recorded occasions, Abraham did what she told him to do, Gen.16:2, 6, 21:12; Context is everything!

gar "for" - for. More reason than cause, a kind of "let me illustrate the point I am making"; usually left untranslated.

ouJtwV adv. "this is the way" - thus, in this way. Comparative adverb; probably referring back, as NIV, but possibly forward to the participial construction "submitting themselves to their own husbands", as ESV, ie., "in like manner the holy women who hoped in God adorned themselves, namely, by submitting to their husbands."

pote "of the past" - at one time, formerly. Indefinite temporal particle.

kai "-" - and = also [the holy women]. Here adjunctive; "for this is also how the holy women", NAB. The use here serves to provide a link with the women Peter is addressing in Asia Minor.

aiJ elpizousai (elpizw) pres. part. "who put their hope" - the ones hoping. The participle is adjectival, attributive, as NIV.

eiV + acc. "in" - into [god]. Virtually here interchangeable with en, "in". The whole phrase "hoping into God" means much the same as "believing into / in God" = "trusted God", "put their faith in God."

ekosmoun (kosmew) imperf. "used to adorn" - were adorning [themselves]. The use of the imperfect may serve to emphasise aspect, it was their custom, but most translations think tense is the issue, namely, past tense, as NIV.

uJpotassomenai (uJpotassw) pres. mid./pas. part. "they submitted" - submitting to. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing manner, or instrumental expressing means, "by submitting to", or consecutive expressing result, "with the result that / so that", so Achtemeier.

toiV .... andrasin (hr roV) dat. "to [their own] husbands" - to the = their own husbands. Dative of direct object after the uJpo prefix verb "to subject to."


In using the example of Sarah, Peter is not developing a complex theology. He locks onto a single word from Genesis 18:12, namely, "lord". Sarah deferred to her husband, even though she was both amused and doubting of his capacity to father a child, and Christian wives do well to follow her example. A Christian wife is in a sense a daughter of Sarah if (NIV, concessive??; See below) she follows her example of submission / deference (does good / what is right) and doesn't succumb to fear, entrusting herself to a faithful creator, cf., 4:19.

wJV "like [Sarah]" - as [sarah]. Comparative; here introducing a concrete example, BDAG, 897.4a; "Sarah, for example, ...."

tw/ Abraam dat. "who obeyed [Abraham]" - obeyed [abraham]. Dative of direct object after the verb uJpakouw, "to obey."

kalousa (kalew) pres. part. "and called [him]" - calling [him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to obey", as NIV.

kurion (oV) "lord" - lord, master / sir. Accusative complement of the direct object "him".

h}V gen. pro. "her" - of whom [you became children]. The genitive is adjectival, relational.

agaqopoiousai (agaqopoiew) pres. part. "if you do what is right" - doing good [and not fearing]. The intent of the participles "doing good" and "fearing" is unclear. Most translations treat the participles as adverbial, conditional, as NIV, so CEV ("if you do right"), Phillips ("as long as you too live good lives"), Cassirer ("provided you lead honest lives"), ..... Michaels discounts a conditional sense, contra Kelly, as well as an epexegetic sense, contra Beare, "in that they do good", because "nowhere else in 1 Peter is Christian conversion or redemption identified with, or made dependent on, anything but the initiative of God in Jesus Christ." Michaels' argument certainly discounts an instrumental sense as well, "by doing good", REB. Michaels suggests it is an independent imperatival participle; "do good, then, and let nothing frighten you." This certainly fits with the way Peter is using participles, ending this passage the way he began it. Another possibly is adverbial, temporal, "when you do what is right ..." Dubis opts for the "majority opinion, which takes these participles as conditional"; "if you continue to live well, and if you refuse to allow anything to reduce you to frightened panic", Barclay.

ptohsin (iV ewV) "[and do not give way to fear]" - [no = any] terror. Hapax legomenon, once only use in the NT. With mhdemian introducing the accusative direct object of mh foboumenai. Possibly a cognate / epexegetic accusative, so Selwyn; "do not fear, that is, don't be terrified." Most commentators suggest that the phrase is likely drawn from Proverbs 3:25, "and you (son) shall not fear the terror"; referring to the "the possible intimidation of their non-believing spouses (or masters)", Elliott. So, Peter uses the quote here to encourage "the wife to do what is appropriate for her as a Christian even within the confines of a marriage to a non-Christian husband, a husband who may use fear and intimidation in the attempt to compel activity inappropriate for her as a Christian", Achtemeier; "intimidation that might be attempted by a husband displeased with the wife's new faith", Beare. Yet, this seems something to be very fearful of. Selwyn may be closer to the mark when he suggests the sense is "let the Christian wives do good in serenity of spirit, and leave all else calmly in God's hand: then they will shew themselves true daughters of Sarah."


ii] Husbands, v7. Peter continues to press home his desire that the believers in Asia Minor conduct themselves honourably among the Gentiles, 2:12. In dealing with husbands, he doesn't intrude on social order by suggesting that husbands should submit / defer to their wives, but in this packed verse, he leaves husbands in no doubt, not of their headship rights, but of their responsibilities, of consideration and respect / honour (love???, Eph.5:25) toward their wives. Wives and husbands are on a spiritual par, as far as God is concerned, each sharing mutual responsibilities. So, a failure to behave responsibly will have its consequences.

This verse unpacked presents as follows: "Husbands, likewise, live with the female (your wife) according to knowledge (considerately) as (since she is) a weaker vessel (physically weaker). Show honour to the females as (since they are) those who are joint heirs of the grace / gift of life, in order that / with the result that your prayers may not be / are not hindered."

oJmoiV adv. "in the same way" - [the husbands] likewise, in like manner. Comparative, but comparative with what? Jobes suggests "likewise with all respect", cf., 2:18, but more likely with the instruction to wives in mind, "husbands, in turn ...", Elliott; "correspondingly", Dubis.

sunoikounteV (sunoikew) pres. part. "be .... as you live with" - dwelling with [a female]. The participle is usually treated as an imperative, often classified as an independent imperatival participle, but better attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the imperative verb uJpotaghte, "submit", 2:13, although Achtemeier suggests it is attendant on the imperatives in 2:17; "Likewise, husbands live with your wives ......", ESV.

kata + acc. "considerate" - according [to knowledge, understanding]. Possibly expressing a standard; ""you husbands, in sharing your lives with your wives, must treat them in a manner which accords with true knowledge (divine knowledge????)", Cassirer. Yet, it is more likely that the prepositional phrase is adverbial; "live considerately / understandingly with your wive", Barclay, Berkeley.

tw/ gunaikeiw/ (oV) dat. "your wives" - the female. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to live with." Achtemeier, Jobes, ... have noted that this term may be used to apply to all women in the household, rather than just the wife. It has also been noted that not all these women are necessarily believers, although given social pressure, they would present as Christians (nominally Christian, inwardly pagan) given that the head of the home was a believer.

wJV "as" - as. Peter commonly uses this particle in two way: comparative, "as if / as it were", or, "in the manner of / functioning as" (but see Dubis 1:14, p24). Both Achtemeier and Michaels suggest that here wJV + part. is adverbial, causal, providing the reason for the action. The two constructions headed by wJV in this verse each modify the leading participial construction. So, "live considerately with the / your female (the women in your household / wife ????) for she is the weaker vessel." "Weaker vessel" in the sense of "a physically weaker person", just as some pottery is physically weaker because of its construction. Followed by the second participial construction which is also modified by an adverbial construction introduced by wJV; "showing honour / respect to the/your females for they are also fellow heirs of the gift of life."

skeuei (oV) dat. "the [weaker] partner" - [a weaker] vessel, object = a physically weaker person. Dative in agreement with gunaikeiw/, "female", the dative of direct object of "dwelling with."

aponemonteV (aponemw) pres. part. "and treat them with [respect]" - showing / imparting to the female [respect, honour]. Again, best treated as an attendant circumstance participle, imperatival, as above; "and show honour to the females" = "and render them honour."

wJV "as" - as. Here probably causal, as above; "since they are heirs with you of the grace of life", ESV. Other adverbial possibilities present themselves, eg., temporal, "while being aware at the same time that God's life giving grace is a possession you both share", Cassirer.

kai "with you" - and = also. Here adjunctive, "also", providing a link with the reader; "since they are also joint heirs."

sugklhronomoiV (iV ewV) dat. "heirs with you" - being joint heirs, co-inheritors. Dative in agreement with an assumed gunaikeiw/, "female", the dative of direct object after the apo prefix verb "to show." Of course here it would be "females", pl.

As Elliott notes, joint heirs of divine grace does not equate to social equality in this age. It can be argued that it is appropriate to implement, as far as possible, the realities of the heavenly kingdom in this age, although Peter seems more inclined to a visitor mind-set; See "Interpretation" above, and 2:11-12. That the husband and wife are joint-heirs implies that the wife is a believer, although this may not be the case. The wife may be a pagan who defers to her husband's religion and so is nominally a believer, although does this give her the right to share in "the gracious gift of life"?

Peter may be reflecting the practice of the early church, recorded in Acts, where the faith of the head of the household prompts the salvation of the other members of his home, cf., Acts 11:14, 16:15, 31, 34, 18:8 (of course, a promise to a particular person at a particular time is not necessarily a promise to all people at all times). Household salvation / baptism reflects the principle that God works in families, the centre of which is the one flesh union of marriage, a unique relationship covered by a creation ordinance. So, if the wife doesn't oppose her husbands faith, but goes along with it out of respect for her husband, it may well be the case that she too shares in the gift of eternity. The issue remains a matter of conjecture.

caritoV (iV ewV) gen. "of the gracious gift" - of the gift, grace. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective. The sense "gift" is intended, probably "the gift of grace", Beare.

zwhV (h) gen. "of life" - of life. The genitive is adjectival, probably epexegetic; "the gift of grace, which is life", Beare, Elliott, ... Eschatological "life" is surely intended; "eternal life."

eiV to mh + inf. "so that nothing [will hinder]" - into not [to be hindered]. This construction is used to introduce a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that your prayers are not hindered", but possibly better here consecutive expressing result, "with the result that ....", so Wallace. If we can't be considerate toward those who are dependent on us, why should God be considerate toward us when we call upon him?

uJmwn gen. "your [prayers]" - [the prayers] of you. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, but it can be classified as verbal, subjective. Presumably the husband's prayers are in mind.


1 Peter Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]