Peter appeals to history as he continues his discussion of submission within marriage. Take a look at his example in 1 Peter 3:5-6.
Peter looks to the past, and to the women listed in the Scriptures as an example of how submission is to play out in the realm of marriage.
While the NIV makes this text easy to read, it actually doesn’t translate it the most clearly. Other translations bring out the structure of Peter’s statement here much better. For example, the NRSV states it like this:
The holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands.
That allows us to see the structure of Peter’s statement, and not just our own adjusted interpretation. The main point behind all of this is the attitude of submission. And what Peter is emphasizing in this passage is the idea of adornment. Many of the women that came from pagan backgrounds were accustomed to much outward adornment. Peter says that the inner adornment, the attitude of the heart, is much more to be preferred.
In fact, he will select one example from the pages of the Old Testament and use her as an illustration. He points back to Genesis, and the example of Sarah and Abraham. As the matriarch of the Jewish nation, Sarah was highly esteemed. Peter uses her as the perfect example, with a reference to Genesis 18:12:
So Sarah laughed at herself as she though, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
We must be clear. Peter is not advocating that wives address their husbands as “master” or “lord.” What he is doing is simply giving an example of Sarah’s attitude of submission to her husband.
Peter drives that home by pointing out that his readers were the daughters of Sarah, and that they are to follow her example. As long as they, and we, do what is right, there is nothing to fear. Rather, we are called to calmly, serenely, trustingly, live the life to which God has called us. In that, we find peace.
Question: How is such an attitude of submission displayed in your marriage? What can you do to make your marriage more like Peter’s instructions here? You can leave a comment by clicking here.