Defend the Faith with Honor (1Peter 3)



  • There is a story of two men who escaped from prison[1]. They had dug a hole through their cell walls and crawled through an extern sewer tunnel. Once they were outside the prison they ran for the woods. When the guards discovered the prisoners escaped they went after them with trained hound dogs to follow their scent and track them down. The two prisoners heard the barking dogs in the distanced and ran faster. When the sounds of the dogs grew louder they knew they were closing in. They panicked and climbed up a tree to hide. The dogs arrived at the tree of the first prisoner and began barking and jumping on the tree. The prisoner tried to deflect the dogs by making bird sounds “coo coo, coo coo”. The guard jerked the dog leash from the tree thinking the dogs were distracted by hunting a bird and they moved on to the other trees. The first prisoner had escaped being captured. The other prisoner heard his buddy make animal sounds in the tree to deflect the dogs and decided too on making animal sounds. He decided to sound off with the first animal that came to his mind, saying, “mooo, moooo, mooo.” Obviously, cows do not live in trees and the prisoner was captured and placed back in his cell.

This is the message of 1Peter. Peter writes to an audience who had much to “moo” about because of their suffering, their persecution and hardship. Yet, Peter calls them to live as sojourners and exiles, reflecting contrasting values from a perishing earth to an eternal heaven.defend faith_logo


EXAMINE   Defend The Faith with Honor        1Peter 3                    husbands/wives

Review: Peter has been telling believers a lot of the “why” they should live like Christ.

  • Because Christ has given us mercy (1:3)
  • Because God is saving us (1:9)
  • Because we can be like God and know him personally (1:16)
  • Because we fear/honor God (1:17)
  • Because we were ransomed with the precious blood of Christ (1:19)
  • Because we have tasted of the Lord’s goodness (2:3)
  • Because God has called us as His people (2:9-10)
  • So others “may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of his visitation” (2:12)


Peter writes the “why” of the Christian life and the letter is now moving towards more of the “how”. His emphasis is on submission.

Main Point:

Christians can submit to and serve others for the sake of spreading the gospel.

  • Submission to authority (2:13-18)
    • 1Peter 2:13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution…
      • Which ones? All of them: God, government & public leaders, church leaders, teachers, parents, and yes… today we will also talk about husbands and wives. God has ordained institutions and governments with structural authority reflective of His ultimate sovereign authority (Romans 13:1-7).
      • Remember, the emperor of Peter’s day was Claudius and then Nero. Neither was good for Christianity. In fact, Peter would become martyr under Nero. Yet, Peter says submit to and honor them (2:13-17).
        • 1Peter 2:17 Honor everyone. Love brotherhood. Fear God. Honor emperor. Peter uses same command of honor to others as to the emperor – therefore making point that the emperor is just another human – not God, as the Romans tried to insist.
      • When should Christians engage in civil disobedience? Principle is to obey unless directly in opposition to Christian commands. Think of the midwives who spared the sons of Israel (Ex 1:17); or when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not bow to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:13-18); or when Daniel persevered to pray despite what it would cost in persecution (Daniel 6:10-24); or when Peter & John kept proclaiming the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18-20, 5:27-29).
    • Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
      • 1Peter 2:16 live as people who are free, not using freedom as cover for evil…
        • Peter’s audience was free in the gospel, though not necessarily free from a pagan government.
        • Therefore, true freedom is not absent of boundaries. Christians voluntarily submit their lives for the good of others as servants of God – for the Lord’s sake.


  • Submission to God in circumstances, especially suffering (2:19-25)
    • 1Peter 2:21 “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
      • Jesus submitted to the Father’s command and the world’s condemnation.
      • Jesus left the throne of heaven to lay in a feeding trough of animals.
      • Jesus became human to experience sadness, sickness & suffering and take on human sin. Jesus’ death was cruel and vicious
      • AND YET, Jesus entrusted Himself to God (1Peter 2:23)
        • Peter trusted that what happened to Jesus was purposeful. The cross led to the resurrection. Peter was basing his life and his teaching to others on the hope of the resurrection.
          • Peter is not minimizing suffering and its reality but providing the meaning of suffering in Jesus’ example.
        • This is the Christian’s example: trust God in every area of your life, even when it’s hard and appears hopeless because as God raised Jesus to life so He has a redeeming purpose for your trials; problems are purifying our faith (1Peter 1:7; 2:24).

Peter moves from the public institution to the privateness of family. Perhaps the greatest arena to live out the Christian life is the home, which Peter addresses.

  • Submission and service in marriage (3:1-7)

Many Christians can follow Jesus’ example of submission in almost every other area of life except when it comes to marriage. Men and women have difficulty affirming and following this biblical command. However, avoiding this command is not easy when it’s repeated multiple times by multiple authors.

1Peter 3:1 “wives be subject to your own husbands”

Colossians 3:18 “wives submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord”

Ephesians 5:22, 24 “wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord… Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

1Peter 3:1

  • Peter’s command of submission is for the purpose of spreading the gospel (cf. 1Corinthians 7:16). Peter has in view growing godly generations with spouses and future offspring coming to embrace the gospel – “so they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives”.
  • Peter’s command of submission is for individual wives to submit to their own husband
    • Submission is not to all men; only commanded a wife to her husband.
    • Husbands are not in the place of God, only Jesus is God (Acts 5:29; 1Corinthians 11:3)
    • Male chauvinism is not Christian. Don’t believe the media’s myth.

1Peter 3:2

  • Peter’s view of submission has in view a wife shaping and influencing her husband“without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct”. Respectful and pure conduct (submission) can preach a louder sermon than words (cf. 1Peter 2:12, 15).
    • Submission is not relinquishing independent thought or any reasoned intelligence.
    • Submission is not succumbing to every expectation (recall above notes on civil disobedience).
    • Peter knows that some wives have chosen Christ with a reasoned approach apart from their husbands, and this is commended.
    • Submission could be summarized as respect in attitude (Ephesians 5:33) and trust with action (as Jesus showed and submitted to the Father’s will; Philippians 2:5-11).


1Peter 3:3-5

  • Peter instructs woman to let their influence/persuasion not to come from external attraction but internal character – the “let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1Peter 3:4) Peter’s point is not that women cannot braid hair or wear jewelry but that these should not be their source of beauty. Character and biblical convictions should take priority over cosmetics. Ladies do not influence based on seduction or flattery but through service and faith.
    • Peter is applying the doctrine of the resurrection of a perfect body with physical beauty that ultimately stems from faith in Christ. Because of Jesus’ resurrection you have a beauty that is “imperishable, undefiled and unfading” (1Peter 1:4).
    • Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

1Peter 3:6-7

  • Peter’s view of submission is not dangerous to women. Peter says that biblical submission is not fearful or frightening when you are trusting God (1Peter 3:6).
    • Women who sincerely believe they are in danger should not submit but seek safety. The church should/does stand ready to point you toward appropriate authorities (1Peter 2:14) and assist with practical refuge and resources.
  • Peter’s view of submission is not demeaning to women. Peter says that wives are joint/equal heirs of the grace of life in Jesus Christ.
    • Submission does not mean lesser value or worth (Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:28; 1Peter 3:7).
    • Men who demean or put a woman in danger are being un-Christlike (Ephesians 5:25-29).

1Peter 3:7

  • Peter’s view of a submissive wife includes a servant husband.
    • Serving wife by learning her. Peter commands husbands to live (dwell – KJV) with your wife in an understanding way – according to knowledge. In other words, be a student of you wife. See her for who she is, as a woman who is the husband’s counterpart.
      • Genesis 2:18 “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him”
      • The wife’s submissiveness is a calling to support [helper / ezer] (Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:24, 33; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:3-5). Ezer-helper is used to describe God as our help and other times used to describe military help (Isa 30:5; Ez 12:14; Hos 13:9) such as reinforcements, without which a battle would be lost. Therefore, this helping role does not imply weakness (or strength) but simply a significantly supporting role; the other’s role or strength would be inadequate by itself.[2]
      • As God brought Eve to Adam, so God brought your spouse to you (cf. Proverbs 19:18).
      • The husband should study his wife in how God created her to be his complement.
        • Before marriage they should discuss God’s purpose and principles for marriage.
        • Before marriage they should discuss desires and dreams to affirm compatibility.
        • During marriage the husband should know his wife in order to effectively lead.
          • As a coach knows players strengths and weaknesses.
          • As an employer knows skills and competencies.
          • Note: Men – this is the never ending assignment & adventure of marriage!

        • Serving wife by loving her. Peter commands husbands to show honor. In the context of marriage the word “honor” implies more than general respect but specific admiration and affection for your spouse = love.
          • Ephesians 5:25-29 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church”
          • Peter describes the wife as the weaker vessel. This phrase “weaker vessel” is used to describe a jar or creation that has use & worth. Undoubtedly, the woman has equal worth and value but how or in what sense are they weaker? Perhaps it’s limited to physicality but perhaps also related to line of authority in context of the passage – 2:13 submit to God; 2:13 to human institutions; 2:18 to masters; and 3:1 wives to husbands.
            • God’s example is loving the weaker vessel (cf. Deut 7:6-8 ; 1Cor 1:26-30; 1Cor 12:22-25; James 2:5; etc. Many other cases – think about Joseph the last and weak brother; or Moses lacking skills; or Gideon with a small army; David a small shepherd boy, Jesus as a baby from Nazareth, Disciples as ordinary, etc.).
          • Serving wife by leading her. [3] Peter reminds husbands that they are to lead spiritually as joint heirs of God’s grace. Further, a husband’s prayers are hindered if he is not learning, loving and leading properly.
            • Men, many of your prayers are not being answered because you are not honoring the wife and woman before you. Consider men who criticize wife are in actuality reflecting own failure to learn, love and lead.
              • Illus: The size and shape of watermelons do not lend to fitting in refrigerator. Some people sought to fix this problem by controlling the size and shape into a square container. The boxed environment forces the fruit to grow into a shape it was not meant to be and limits its size capacity. Likewise, men who feel they have an oblong wife whom is not fitting to his liking is perhaps himself the very environmental reason that is limiting his wife to taking the shape she was designed to be. Husbands are to take the leadership role to set the emotional, relational and spiritual tone in the relationship. If the marriage fails it is often a sign of their own failure.



  • Everyone needs submission. Submission to God is the starting point to life.
    • For the good of society
    • For trusting God to work in your circumstances that you do not remain “stuck”.
    • For properly working marriages
    • For salvation
  • Some have specific areas of submission to God that you are trying to control – living your way vs God’s way. God is calling you to turn it over and trust Him.



Kathy Keller in The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller with Kathy Keller, p.242-243

“It is clear that the Son obeys his head, the Father, and that we obey our head, the Christ. But how does this authority work out in the context of mutually serving persons equal in dignity and being? The answer is that the head can only overrule his spouse if he is sure that her choice would be destructive to her or to the family. He does not use his headship selfishly, to get his own way about the color of the car they buy, who gets to hold the remote control, and whether he has a night out with the boys or stays home to help with the kids when his wife asks him.

This is the area in which most misunderstanding, on the part of both men and women, has occurred. Some men, unaware or unwilling to assume their servant-leader roles, believe that simply being male brings entitlement with hit. And women, often the victims of such mistaken understanding, want no part of any teaching that would demote them to inferior status.

But in a marriage, where there are only two ‘votes’, how can a stalemate be broken without someone having to give way? In the vast majority of cases, the stalemate is broken because each will try to give the other his or her pleasure. The wife will try to respect the husband’s leadership, and the husband will in turn try to please his wife. If this dynamic is in place, in the course of a healthy Biblical marriage, ‘overruling’ will be rare.

But what of a case where both parties cannot agree, but some kind of decision must be made? Someone must have the right to cast the deciding vote and (thus) take the greater responsibility for the decision.

This should be the place where the one the Bible calls ‘head’ takes the accountability. When it happens, both people ‘submit’ to their role… here we are called to act out the drama of redemption, where the Son voluntarily gives the headship to the Father saying, ‘Not my will, but thine be done.”


Mary Kassian,

“For me, submission is one of those things that is far more easily identified by its absence rather than its presence. I know that I am struggling with it when I am critical, impatient, defiant, and “snarky” toward my husband—when I refuse to cooperate and am unresponsive to input, when I rush in and take control, when I fail to “provide space” to allow my husband the opportunity to be a man and provide godly oversight for our family. In other words, it’s not readily apparent to me when I’m submitting, but it’s painfully obvious to me when I am not. I sense that I am disrespecting/ disregarding my husband, taking control, and pulling against him rather than for and with him.’


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 

[1] Adapted from Tony Evans illustration on “submission”.

[2] For this insight see Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.173, 266.

[3] For some practical counsel on how to do this see and

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s