1 Peter 3:5

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 1 Peter 3:5

Peter has instructed women to not focus on the externals for their adornment, but on the inner beauty of the person. Now, he gives a firm and reliable reason for this through example. He begins with, “For in this manner.” In other words, in the manner in which I just told you to conduct yourselves, which is to “not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (verses 3:3, 4).

It is this expectation that Peter likens to the women of “former times.” Peter is not going to arbitrarily pull out examples from his family or of some lore passed down by Jewish tradition. Rather, he will refer to a key example from Scripture, and have her stand as representative of “the holy women who trusted in God.”

In other words, there is a record in Scripture which is then used as an example for other women to emulate. As God saw it sufficient to include this example in Scripture, then it is obviously something that He finds noteworthy and deserving of emulation. Such women “adorned themselves” as Peter noted in the previous verses (cited above).

The word “adorned” is in the imperfect tense in the Greek. What this means is that it was their habitual and continuous way of conducting this aspect of their lives. In this, they weren’t fashioning themselves for all to see and lust after, but rather they remained “submissive to their own husbands.”

Remember, it is wives who Peter is addressing. If a woman is married, and yet she is purposefully dressing in a manner that is intended to attract the attention of other men, it means that she is not being submissive to her husband, but rather she is being solicitous of the attention of other men. It is a note to the world that she is not satisfied with him and she is seeking more from the men to whom she has no right to be with. She bears a resemblance not to the godly women of the past, but to the crafty harlot described in Proverbs 7 or to the ruthless and yet seductive Jezebel who knew how to coerce men through a painted face and flattery –

“Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window.” 2 Kings 9:30

Life application: Peter is not implying that a woman is to dress blandly or shun away from any of the external treatments. However, those things aren’t what she should be relying on to catch her husband’s attention. If she is, then sadness and dissatisfaction will result.

These things are temporary and fading, and people get old and wrinkly. The day is coming when the finery no longer works and the wrinkles are all that’s left. When that day arrives, then what is left but emptiness and loneliness? But when a woman adorns herself with her inner beauty, trusts in God, is gentle and respectful, and – yes – submissive to her husband, she has a firm and lasting foundation set for the love and approval of her husband.

Is being submissive meant to be degrading to a woman? Of course not! God made women the “weaker vessel,” and it is the man’s duty and responsibility to care for and protect her. He is to honor his wife as his lifelong partner and to look first and foremost at her true inner beauty.

Only a perverse person would reject a godly, submissive, and gentle wife for someone who is glitzy, finely dressed, and as shallow as a wading pool. In the end, he is destined to drown in his own tears and sorrow. But a man who respects the beautiful, kind, and gentle wife of God is a man who will live in true happiness and contentment.

Heavenly Father, may we look to the pattern You have set for our marital relationships. Give us joy and contentment in the husband or wife of our youth and may we revel in the bond You established on the day we vowed our souls to one another in Your presence. Amen.

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