The opening verses of chapter 3 continue the exhortation to
submission. The apostle commenced this exhortation at 1 Peter 2: 13. In
verse 18 he applied it to those who
socially are in the subject place. Now he applies it to those who hold the subject place in that great
natural relationship which is the foundation of all human relationships.
The Christian wife is to be in subjection to her husband. If he is a Christian he
obeys the word and she
A most excellent and delightful arrangement made according to the
wisdom of God! Subjection, be it remembered, does not mean inferiority.
In business partnerships two men may be equal partners and yet one is
recognized as the senior with whom the final decision rests. So in the
marriage bond the man has been creatorially fitted for the senior,
directing place in the partnership, the woman for the subject place,
though she is an heir together with her husband of the grace of life,
and a sharer together with him in his exercises and prayers. If the
husband loves and honours his wife as a fellow-heir and partner, and
she honours and obeys him, an ideal marriage is the result.
But, as the first verse indicates, some believing women may have
husbands who, not being converted, do not obey the word. In this case,
the converted wife is still to act towards him as the word directs.
She, at any rate, is to be a Christian woman and let her Christianity
shine in her pure manner of life (v. 2), her avoidance of worldly
artifices for self-adornment and self-display (v. 3), her meek and
peaceful spirit, which is so great a thing in God's estimation (v. 4),
and her subjection to him, coupled with the doing of good and a spirit
of calm confidence in God (vv. 5, 6). By such "conversation" or "manner
of life" many a husband has been won "without the word."
The "church," dominated by the principles of the twentieth-century
world, may cut the word "obey" out of its marriage service, but see
what you Christian wives are going to miss if you cut it out of your
hearts and minds! Should your husband be unconverted you may miss the
joy of winning him. Should he be a Christian, how much of the grace of
life and of prayer may be forfeited.
Verse 8 brings us to the final word of the apostle in connection
with the matter of subjection. The gracious, gentle, humble spirit is
to characterize the whole Christian company. We are never to indulge in
evil or recrimination on the principle of tit for tat, but always to be
in the spirit of blessing since blessing we receive from God, and this
because we are left to pursue our pilgrim way under His holy government.
The principles of God's government of His people do not change. When
David wrote Psalm 34, it was the age of law and God's people were in
the place of servants. Today is the age of grace and we are before God
as His sons, as Galatians 3: 23-4: 7, shows. Yet the apostle Peter can
quote David's words from Psalm 34 as applying equally to us. We reap
what we sow in the government of God; and the way to "see good" is to
"do good," as verses 10 to 13 of our chapter show. Many a disagreeable
event in our lives is clearly the result of our own disagreeableness.
If we sowed more good we should reap more good.
At this point let us notice the remarkable way in which the apostle
has set before us in its main outlines the truth set forth typically
and in historical fashion in the books of Moses.
Genesis is the book of ELECTION. It shows us how God chose Abel and
Seth and not Cain, Shem and not Ham. Abram and not Nahor, Isaac and not
Ishmael, Jacob and not Esau, Joseph and not Reuben, Ephraim and not
Manasseh. Peter brings before us first of all God's electing mercy (1
Peter 1: 2).
Exodus is the book of REDEMPTION. Israel was redeemed out of Egypt,
and brought to God. Peter proceeds to tell us how we have been redeemed
with the precious blood of Christ and brought to God with our faith and
hope in Him (1 Peter 1: 18-21).
Leviticus is the book of the PRIESTHOOD. It contains directions as
to sacrifices for priestly guidance, and as to customs and cleanness
for priestly fitness. Thirdly, Peter sets before us the Christian
priesthood, its constitution and its privileges (1: 22-2: 10).
Numbers is the book of the WILDERNESS. It specially reveals the
wilderness journey of Israel with all its vicissitudes and lessons.
Fourthly, Peter instructs us as to our pilgrimage and the conduct that
befits us in it (1 Peter 2: 11-3: 7).
Deuteronomy is the book of the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. In it Israel were
warned of the consequence of their disobedience, the reward of
obedience. And we have just got to the part of the epistle in chapter 3
where Peter warns us that though we are as Christians set in the grace
of God we still come under His government and have to make our
reckoning with it.
Verse 14 introduces another consideration. We may of course suffer
for our own folly in the government of God. We may, on the other hand,
be receiving blessing in the government of God, and yet be called upon
to suffer for righteousness' sake. If so, God guarantees our happiness
in it and under it. We are not to be afraid of men but, sanctifying the
Lord God (or "Lord Christ" as it probably is) in our hearts, to testify
meekly to the truth while maintaining a good conscience by holy living.
Notice in passing how verse 15 makes manifest the true force of the
word "sanctify." It is not primarily "to make holy," for the Lord
cannot be more holy than He is. He can, however, in our hearts be
set apart in His own proper place of glory and supremacy and authority. To sanctify is to set apart.
Now no one ever suffered as Christ. He is our supreme Example. Yet
His sufferings as verse 18 presents them, were in a class by themselves
and altogether beyond us, for He suffered for sins as a Substitute-the
Just for the unjust ones. The actual word substitution does not occur
in our English version, but that which the word represents is very
clearly in this verse. Note the object of His substitutionary
sufferings-"that He might bring us to God," making us thoroughly at
home in His presence, having a fitness to be there. Are we all in our
own hearts and consciences happily at home with God?
The Lord Jesus suffered for sins even to death and He rose again by
or "in" the Spirit, the day of His flesh being over. In the Spirit also
He had preached before the flood to those who now are spirits in
prison. These people who now are spirits in prison once walked the
earth as men and women in Noah's day and through Noah's lips Christ in
Spirit (or, the Spirit of Christ) spoke. They were disobedient, hence
their present imprisonment in
hades, the unseen world. The
Spirit of Christ spoke in the Old Testament prophets, as we noticed
when reading 1 Peter 1: 11. He also spoke in Noah. If any of our
readers have doubts as to whether this is the correct explanation of
the passage, let them turn to Ephesians 2: 13 to 18. Having done so
they will find that the "He" of verse 16 (which "He" refers also to
verse 17) is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus. In verse 17, "you which were
far off" were Gentile: "them that were nigh" were Jews. The passage
states then, that having endured the cross the Lord Jesus
"came and preached peace" to the Gentiles. When?
How? Never, in a personal way. Only by the lips of the apostles and
others who were filled with His Spirit did He do so. Exactly the same
figure of speech is used in this passage as in the one we are
considering in Peter.
As a result of this ante-diluvian testimony of the Spirit of Christ
only eight souls were saved through the waters of the flood; a tiny
handful that, the merest remnant of the former age. Now baptism, which
is but a figure, has just that force. The flood cut off that little
remnant of the antediluvian age that through the waters of death they
might be disassociated from the old world and enter the new. The
converted Jews to whom Peter wrote were exactly in that position. They,
too, were but a small remnant, and in their baptism they were
dissociated from the mass of their nation that was under wrath and
judgment, that they might come under the authority of their risen and
glorified Messiah. Baptism is in figure dissociation by means of death
and in that sense it saves. The Jews as a nation were like a foundering
ship, and to be baptized was to formally cut one's last link with them
which meant salvation from their national doom. Hence Peter's words in
Acts 2: 40.
"Save yourself from this untoward generation." What followed? "Then they that gladly received his word were
Baptism accomplishes nothing vital and eternal, for it is "a
figure." It is, however, not a mere ceremonial washing as were Jewish
"baptisms." It is rather the "answer" or "demand of a good conscience
toward God," as we see with the eunuch and with Lydia (see Acts 8: 36;
Acts 16: 15). A good conscience gladly accepts it, and even demands it,
accounting it as faithfulness to the Lord to be in figure cut off from
the old life, even as He was actually cut off in death; and thus
identified with Him.
All, however, is only effectual "by the resurrection of Jesus
Christ." For if there were not really and actually a new world of life
and blessing opened for us by His resurrection who would cut their
links with the old? It was by the resurrection that these Christians
had been begotten again to a living hope, as 1 Peter 1: 3 told us. They
would cheerfully go down into the waters of baptism, and so bid a
formal goodbye to the old Jewish footing with its impending judgment
(See 1 Thess. 2: 14-16), in view of the vast range of grace and glory
with its living hopes, that stood revealed to them and secured for them
in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Not only is Christ risen, however, but He is gone into heaven and is
already at the right hand of God, which signifies that He is the
appointed Administrator of all God's will. A man of large business
interests who has someone of great ability acting for him and carrying
out his wishes, will often speak of him as "my right-hand man." The
Lord Jesus is indeed the "Man of Thy right hand" of whom the Psalmist
spoke (Ps. 80: 17), and we have been baptized to Him and come under His
authority. To Him all angels and authorities and powers are subject.
How great an encouragement for us! All these verses (15-22) have
sprung, remember, out of the thought that we may have to suffer for
righteousness' sake. It was just when the converted Jew formally
severed his links with Judaism by being baptized that he did suffer.
But then being baptized to the Lord Jesus he came under the authority
of the One who sat in the place of supreme authority and administration
and since all powers were subject to Him, no power could touch them
without His permission.
Similarly, when we, who are converted Gentiles, cut our links with
the world, we have to taste suffering, but we, too, are under the
mighty authority of Christ and need have no fear.