SUMMARY.--Duties of Women. Of Husbands. Duties of Christians Towards Each Other. Attitude Towards Adversaries. Christian Endurance of Wrong. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison. Salvation of Those in the Ark. The Antitype is Baptism.
1-6. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection, etc. See notes Eph. 5:21-24. Paul teaches the duty of submission, and in 1 Cor. 7:13-15 shows that it was not the duty of the believing wife to abandon her unbelieving husband. Peter goes farther here and teaches that the wife show her obedience in order to win her husband. They also may without the word be won. That even those who have steeled themselves against the gospel and who refuse to listen to it may be quietly won by the sweet, Christian lives of their wives. 2. While they behold you chaste conversation. Your pure lives. Coupled with fear. The shrinking from doing anything that is wrong. 3. Whose adorning. While urging those pure and holy lives which will sweetly preach Christ, Peter cannot pass by a foible often seen in the sex. There is a better adorning than that of the body. Plaiting the hair. See notes on 1 Tim. 2:9, 10. Compare Ps. 45:13. The allusion is to wearing ornaments of gold or silver over the hair, a common adornment of the time. Jewels of gold. For the extravagant dress of Roman women of the time, see Farrar's Early Years of Christianity, page 5. 4. Let it be the hidden man of the heart. The important part is to see that the heart is right and the spirit adorned with all the graces of holy life. Seek after inward rather than outward adorning. In the sight of God. God sees us all the time, and such adorning is of great worth in his sight. 5. For after this manner. The holy women whose names are found in sacred history adorned themselves with "a meek and quiet spirit." 6. As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. See Gen. 18:12; also 1 Sam. 1:15. This designation showed respect and submission. Women should follow the example of Sarah, who might be designated as "the mother of those who are Abraham's children by faith." Are not put in fear. The fear might result from not doing well. They were to be quiet, submissive, loving wives, but were not to be kept from Christian duty by "any fear" which might threaten because of their heathen surroundings.
7. Ye husbands. Duties of Christian husbands are now briefly stated. They are to dwell with their wives. The fact that their wives are unconverted is no ground for separation, but if the wife is converted, still stronger is the bond. According to knowledge. A knowledge that shows judgment, moderation and gentleness as toward one weaker than himself. Joint heirs. Hence "one in Christ Jesus." The home life is to be regulated according to knowledge. That your prayers be not hindered. Mutual prayer is not possible unless there is mutual love and forbearance. Nor can the husband's prayers be acceptable unless he treats his wife aright.
8-12. Be pitiful. Towards all the afflicted. Be courteous. Humble minded. See Revision. Not haughty. 9. Hereunto were ye called. Peter enjoins good deeds for evil, and blessing for reviling, because any other course would be inconsistent with the Christian calling. Called to a heritage of blessing they must live lives of blessing, for "as a man soweth so also shall he reap." 10. For. If you desire to inherit blessing, you must abstain from evil. The conditions are stated by the Psalmist, Ps. 34:13-17, from which the next three verses are quoted. 12. The eyes of the Lord. He ceases not to regard his righteous servants. The ears. He not only sees, but hears when they cry to him. But his face. Is turned in displeasure upon evil doers.
13-17. Who is he that will harm you? If you are zealous for good who can inflict real harm upon you? God is with you. 14. If ye should suffer. Ye may be called to suffer for Christ. That is the lot of Christians, but instead of calling this an evil, blessed are ye. See Matt. 5:10. Great is the reward. It is only sowing in tears to reap in joy. Fear not with their fear. Revision. With the fear of the wicked when danger comes, nor be troubled because you are persecuted. 15. But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord. Revision. Let Christ be honored and reverenced. Fear not man but the Lord. Yet with meekness and fear. To confess Christ as the ground of your hope. The answer to adversaries is to be made, not with arrogance and indignation, but modestly, meekly, reverentially. 16. Having a good conscience. Before God. This is the element of strength when accused. A life holy and pure is the best answer to false accusers. 17. For it is better, if the will of God is so. If God wills that we should suffer, for the Father sometimes chasteneth children, it is better to suffer for righteousness, than for evil. See 2 Tim. 3:12.
18-22. For Christ also suffered. Even Christ, the Holy One, our example, once suffered on the cross. Once. Once only. He suffers no more. Being put to death in the flesh. He was put to death by the wounds inflicted on his fleshly body. His natural, earthly life was ended. Quickened in the spirit. Put to death in the body his spirit was quickened. Having life in himself, as soon as the body failed through weakness the power of the indestructible life began to show itself. 19, 20. In which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison. Revision. The facts stated are (1) That Christ, put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, went and preached. (2) This preaching of Christ in the spirit was to spirits. (3) Those spirits were in prison. The Greek word used for prison, denotes a place of custody, not a place of punishment. These spirits (verse 20) were (4) aforetime disobedient. This states why they were held in prison. (5) The time of their disobedience is stated. It was while the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah. They had then refused to obey the call to repentance. It is stated in Gen. 6:3, that the long suffering of God waited 120 years. This difficult passage has been given two interpretations. The more common view is that Jesus, after his suffering, during the interval before his resurrection, went without the body in a spirit form, to these antediluvians and preached to them. If this view is correct, it only teaches that an offer of salvation was then made to these disobedient ones who had never before heard of Christ before their final judgment. It furnishes no comfort to those that have an opportunity and reject it in this life. It only shows that one opportunity is given to all. The other view is that Christ went "in spirit" in the person of Noah and by him preached to those who were afterwards held in prison on account of their disobedience. The first view seems more in harmony with the context; the second furnishes fewer theological difficulties. Wherein few, that is, eight souls. Only eight souls out of a great multitude were saved; these were saved through water, since it bore up the ark. The word rendered "through," means "by means of." 21. The like figure whereunto. Literally, "the antitype now saves us, Baptism." Says Alford, "Water saved them, bearing up the ark; it saves us, becoming to us baptism." As they entered the Ark, we are "baptized into Christ," the Savior. See Gal. 3:27. Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh. Not as a Jewish ceremonial washing, which was only a purification of the flesh, but it is the answer of a good conscience. The Revision says, "the interrogation of a good conscience." "Inquiry" would be still better. The soul seeking the forgiveness of sins "inquires" What shall I do to remove the sense of unforgiven sins and make my conscience void of offense? The answer is "Repent and be baptized," etc. See Acts 2:38. He who obeys the word of the Lord has the "inquiry" answered in baptism. Through the resurrection. Baptism would be meaningless and vain were it not for the resurrection of Christ. It points directly to the burial and resurrection of the Lord. See Rom. 6:1-6 22. Who is on the right hand of God. Christ's exaltation followed his death and resurrection. See Eph. 1:20-23.