1 Peter 3 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Peter 3)

Verse 1

[1] Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

If any — He speaks tenderly.

Won — Gained over to Christ.

Verse 2

[2] While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

Joined with a loving fear of displeasing them.

Verse 3

[3] Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

Three things are here expressly forbidden: curling the hair, wearing gold, (by way of ornament,) and putting on costly or gay apparel. These, therefore, ought never to be allowed, much less defended, by Christians.

Verse 4

[4] But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

The hidden man of the heart — Complete inward holiness, which implies a meek and quiet spirit. A meek spirit gives no trouble willingly to any: a quiet spirit bears all wrongs without being troubled.

In the sight of God — Who looks at the heart. All superfluity of dress contributes more to pride and anger than is generally supposed. The apostle seems to have his eye to this by substituting meekness and quietness in the room of the ornaments he forbids. "I do not regard these things," is often said by those whose hearts are wrapped up in them: but offer to take them away, and you touch the very idol of their soul. Some, indeed only dress elegantly that they may be looked on; that is, they squander away their Lord's talent to gain applause: thus making sin to beget sin, and then plead one in excuse of the other.

Verse 5

[5] For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

The adorning of those holy women, who trusted in God, and therefore did not act thus from servile fear, was, 1. Their meek subjection to their husbands: 2. Their quiet spirit, "not afraid," or amazed: and 3. Their unblamable behaviour, "doing" all things "well."

Verse 6

[6] Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Whose children ye are — In a spiritual as well as natural sense, and entitled to the same inheritance, while ye discharge your conjugal duties, not out of fear, but for conscience' sake. Genesis 18:12.

Verse 7

[7] Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Dwell with the woman according to knowledge — Knowing they are weak, and therefore to be used with all tenderness. Yet do not despise them for this, but give them honour - Both in heart, in word, and in action; as those who are called to be joint-heirs of that eternal life which ye and they hope to receive by the free grace of God.

That your prayers be not hindered — On the one part or the other. All sin hinders prayer; particularly anger. Anything at which we are angry is never more apt to come into our mind than when we are at prayer; and those who do not forgive will find no forgiveness from God.

Verse 8

[8] Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

Finally — This part of the epistle reaches to 1 Peter 4:11. The apostle seems to have added the rest afterwards.

Sympathizing — Rejoicing and sorrowing together. Love all believers as brethren. Be pitiful - Toward the afflicted.

Be courteous — To all men. Courtesy is such a behaviour toward equals and inferiors as shows respect mixed with love.

Verse 9

[9] Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

Ye are called to inherit a blessing — Therefore their railing cannot hurt you; and, by blessing them, you imitate God, who blesses you.

Verse 10

[10] For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

For he that desireth to love life, and to see good days — That would make life amiable and desirable. Psalms 34:12, etc.

Verse 11

[11] Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

Let him seek — To live peaceably with all men.

And pursue it — Even when it seems to flee from him.

Verse 12

[12] For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous — For good. Anger appears in the whole face; love, chiefly in the eyes.

Verse 13

[13] And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

Who is he that will harm you — None can.

Verse 14

[14] But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

But if ye should suffer - This is no harm to you, but a good.

Fear ye not their fear — The very words of the Septuagint, Isaiah 8:12,13. Let not that fear be in you which the wicked feel.

Verse 15

[15] But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts — Have an holy fear, and a full trust in his wise providence.

The hope — Of eternal life.

With meekness — For anger would hurt your cause as well as your soul.

And fear — A filial fear of offending God, and a jealousy over yourselves, lest ye speak amiss.

Verse 16

[16] Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

Having a good conscience — So much the more beware of anger, to which the very consciousness of your innocence may betray you. Join with a good conscience meekness and fear, and you obtain a complete victory.

Your good conversation in Christ — That is, which flows from faith in him.

Verse 17

[17] For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

It is infinitely better, if it be the will of God, ye should suffer. His permissive will appears from his providence.

Verse 18

[18] For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

For — This is undoubtedly best, whereby we are most conformed to Christ. Now Christ suffered once - To suffer no more.

For sins — Not his own, but ours.

The just for the unjust — The word signifies, not only them who have wronged their neighbours, but those who have transgressed any of the commands of God; as the preceding word, just, denotes a person who has fulfilled, not barely social duties, but all kind of righteousness.

That he might bring us to God — Now to his gracious favour, hereafter to his blissful presence, by the same steps of suffering and of glory.

Being put to death in the flesh — As man.

But raised to life by the Spirit — Both by his own divine power, and by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 19

[19] By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

By which Spirit he preached - Through the ministry of Noah.

To the spirits in prison — The unholy men before the flood, who were then reserved by the justice of God, as in a prison, till he executed the sentence upon them all; and are now also reserved to the judgment of the great day.

Verse 20

[20] Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

When the longsuffering of God waited — For an hundred and twenty years; all the time the ark was preparing: during which Noah warned them all to flee from the wrath to come.

Verse 21

[21] The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The antitype whereof — The thing typified by the ark, even baptism, now saveth us - That is, through the water of baptism we are saved from the sin which overwhelms the world as a flood: not, indeed, the bare outward sign, but the inward grace; a divine consciousness that both our persons and our actions are accepted through him who died and rose again for us.

Verse 22

[22] Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Angels and authorities and powers — That is, all orders both of angels and men.