1 Peter 3:1-6 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What is the first thing Peter finds necessary to emphasize in addressing wives? See 1 Peter 3:1a (printed below)

Likewise, let the wives be in submission to their own husbands, so that, even if any do not obey the word, they may be won over without the word through the conduct of their wives (1 Peter 3:1)

The first thing that Peter finds necessary to emphasize is the exhortation: “wives be in submission to your own husbands.” This does not mean to imply that the woman (or,wife) is inferior to the man, both the man and the woman have been created in the image of God, and as such share an equal status before God (note Genesis 1:27). But this is God’s ordained pattern for marriage; namely, that the wife be in submission to her own husband (cp. Ephesians 5:22-24).

2. To what Old Testament person does Peter point as a model for the Christian wife? How did this woman view her husband? See 1 Peter 3:6 (printed below) What do you think this means?

…Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and are not intimidated by any fear. (1 Peter 3:6)

In verse 6 Peter refers us to Sarah, Abraham’s wife, as a model for the Christian wife; he reports that “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him, ‘lord.’” Peter is alluding to Genesis 18:12. Overhearing the Lord tell Abraham that he and Sarah shall have a child in their old age, Sarah’s response is as follows: “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old shall I have pleasure, my lord also being old?’” Note that in this passage Sarah is not addressing Abraham directly, she is speaking to herself. The point Peter is making is the fact that Sarah in heart and mind viewed Abraham as her “lord” (i.e.; she had a submissive attitude towards him in their marriage).

3. What counsel does Peter give the Christian woman with regard to beauty? See 1 Peter 3:3 (printed below)

May your beauty not merely be the external beauty of having elaborately braided hair and wearing gold jewelry or dressing in exquisite garments (1 Peter 3:3)

The apostle Peter exhorts the Christian woman: do not let your beauty consist in your hairstyle, jewelry and clothing. What Peter is saying here in verse 3 is this: Christian woman, do not let your beauty consist in such external things as the way you wear your hair, your jewelry, and your clothes.

4. Does Peter mean that it is wrong for a Christian woman to make herself physically attractive?

Peter is not teaching that the Christian woman is forbidden to look pretty or make herself attractive! Sometimes Christians have understood this exhortation to mean that it is sinful for a Christian woman to seek to make herself physically attractive. But this is not the thrust of Peter’s exhortation. In refutation of such a notion, consider such Scriptural evidence as the following: Sarah was a beautiful woman (Genesis 12:11-13) and Abraham’s servant presented Rebekah with expensive jewelry (Genesis 24:47). It is fine for a Christian woman to make herself as attractive as she can; but when she lays aside her jewelry and elegant clothes, she must be sure that she is not laying aside all of her beauty. If your beauty only consists in your outward appearance, and below the skin there is the ugliness of a self-centered, demanding, discontented spirit, your beauty has not gone nearly deep enough.

5. What constitutes true and lasting beauty? See 1 Peter 3:4 (printed below)

May your beauty…be the inner beauty of the heart, consisting in the imperishable beauty of a humble and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:4)

In verse 4 Peter goes on to instruct the Christian woman as to what composes true and lasting beauty. Let your beauty consist of “the inner beauty of the heart;” that is to say, let your beauty stem from the new nature that God has given you in Christ. Christ, by His Holy Spirit, resides within you, let His beauty be seen in you, radiating from you. Let your beauty consist of “the imperishable beauty of a humble and quiet spirit.” The character of Christ-like humility, gentleness, and quietness is a beauty that does not fade away; it does not become replaced by wrinkles and gray hair; it continues to grow more gracious and beautiful as the years go by. The beauty of a Christ-like character is a beauty that is highly valued in the sight of God.