Thursday, 14 November 2019
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7
Peter now turns to the husbands. He has steadily worked up the level of authority within the house from servants, to wives, and now to husbands. His words to them are short, comprising only this one verse. And so he begins with, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding.”
The word “likewise” is stated to show that the same care and attention of the preceding thoughts should be given by the husband as was stated for the servants and wives. From there, he instructs them to dwell with their wives in an intelligent way concerning the relationship which grasps the differences between the sexes.
The word translated here as “understanding” signifies knowledge which is obtained from firsthand experience. In other words, the husband has to pay attention to the differences between himself and his wife, and then to use wisdom in how to attend to those differences. One of them, which Peter relays as a specific duty, is that he is to give “honor to the wife.”
Peter uses the same word as he did when speaking of Christ in 1 Peter 2:7 –
“Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious…”
There is to be a value assigned to the wife, showing her as precious in the husband’s eyes. She is not merely someone to serve the husband or to accomplish the tasks for him which are otherwise demeaning. Rather, he is to grasp that she has a special value in the relationship which is unique and benefiting to it. Peter then notes the state of the wife in this capacity by writing that she is “the weaker vessel.”
In other words, the fact that she is weaker is a reason for assigning a special value to her. If someone has a mug made of durable plastic, he can haphazardly place it anywhere without worry that it could be damaged. However, if he has a special mug made of porcelain, he will treat it with extra honor and care. Because it is a weaker vessel, it does not mean it isn’t precious. Rather, it is far more precious and deserves special attention because of that.
Though not stated by Peter, it is obvious that the weakness of the woman is not limited to her physical nature, but emotions are obviously normally tied in as well. There are always exceptions, but the nature of the woman is to be intelligently evaluated by the husband to ensure her fragile nature is taken into consideration.
Peter then adds in that this attention to the needs of the wife are especially significant because both the husband and the wife share a common bond when they are united in their belief in Christ. This is that they are “heirs together of the grace of life.”
It is understood by Peter here that there is an absolute equality between men and women in regards to salvation and all that is tied together with it. Though there are differences between men and women which are intended for this life, there is no distinction between men and women in the spiritual benefits of being in Christ. This is stated by Paul in Galatians 3 –
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29
This idea of equality has, unfortunately, been taken to an unintended extreme by liberal-leaning theologians and churches. Both Paul and Peter are speaking of an equality in regards to position in Christ, not position in this world. Peter has just noted that women are the weaker vessel. He has given different instructions to the husband and to the wife.
Paul, likewise, gives specific instructions for men within the church and for women within the church. There are things women are explicitly stated to do, and things women are forbidden to do. The equality of position and salvation in Christ does not mean equality in all matters at all times. This is a fundamental error of liberal theology. The grace of life, that of being in Christ and in the expectation of eternal glory for both husband and wife, is what is being referred to now.
Lastly, Peter gives a concrete reason for the proper treatment of the wife by the husband. It is so “that your prayers may not be hindered.” If there is ill-treatment of the wife, she will be bitter in her heart and spirit. But God ordained that the husband be united to his wife as one. They are to have the same goals, hopes, aspirations, and so on. If they are not united in harmony, the prayers for those things will be harmfully affected.
Therefore, it is evident from Peter’s words that harmony within the husband/wife relationship is crucial to the reception of their prayers by the Lord, and His favorable response to them. This is also to be inferred by Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7 –
“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
If there is not a united aspect to the prayers of the husband and wife, who are deemed as one in God’s eyes, the prayers will be ineffectual, both in their presentation to the Lord, and in His response to them.
Life application: Peter has been explaining the role of women in the family structure. Like Jesus who came as a Servant, Peter explained that the role of a woman was equally high and exalted. The only thing shameful about serving is that someone would fail to do it, thus failing to resemble the Lord. But the man can, and should, serve the wife.
Men and women are created differently in mindset. Women are geared towards one thing and men towards another. This doesn’t mean there are no similarities, but there are differences. Men need to understand this.
If a man fails to relate to his wife, what does he end up doing? He misuses her both physically and emotionally. He does this because he has failed to empathize with her. The failure is more often than not the man’s fault!
A man should be willing to lay down his very life for the woman he committed to at marriage. To fail in this regard is to disregard what Jesus did for the church – dying for it. Jesus has given the example for men to follow.
Men, why are your lives out of control? Why are you suffering in a crummy marriage? Go look in the mirror. Nine times out of ten it is because you are failing to be the godly husband you are supposed to be. Your prayers are being hindered because of it, and God’s face is not turned toward you. Step up to the plate and act like the man of God you are intended to be!
Lord, help us to be the spouses you intend for us to be. We certainly fail in what Your word has laid out for us at times, and it has caused disruption and stress in our families. Give us wisdom in dealing with our marriages so that You will be glorified through our actions, and also so that peace will prevail in our homes. Amen.