1 Peter 3:7–17 (NKJV)
After discussing submission and the need to represent Christ in all situations, Peter moves on to address husbands as to how they should treat their wives. He then instructs all people to be of one mind and to love one another with brotherly love. Peter then finishes with a discussion of the value of suffering for the cause of Christ.
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.1 Peter 3:7
Peter begins with an appeal to husbands to dwell with their wives with understanding, giving honor to them. He then adds an additional wrinkle, saying that the wife should be honored as the “weaker vessel,” which sounds a bit out of place on first reading. When one reasons it through, however, it could easily be read that the wife is to be considered as a precious, fine vessel, not to be abused or neglected. This vessel could be allegorized as a piece of fine china, to be cared for gently and placed on display in a protective cabinet. This image helps one see the nature of this honor. Women are not necessarily weak nor lack usefulness. Women are even described as “heirs together of the grace of life.” Peter even goes a step further by warning husbands that mistreatment of their wives would result in the hindrance of their prayers being answered. This stiffly-worded teaching to husbands serves to counter any misunderstanding of the previous instruction to the wives (wives, submit to your own husbands) as a license to oppress or abuse their wives. If husbands honor their wives a precious vessels, and if they desire for their prayer lives to be effective, then they will treat their wives with respect and care.
8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For
“He who would love life1 Peter 3:8-12
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”
Peter opens this section of the passage with a straightforward instruction to “be of one mind.” What he means exactly may be explained in the instructions that follow this statement. He included the attributes of compassion, love, tenderness, courtesy, blessing, and an instruction not to seek recompense or retribution on those who commit evil against you or revile you. In these instructions, one can see a pattern of Christian behavior that should be evident in the life of anyone who calls on Christ as Lord. He quotes Psalm 34 and Psalm 37, along with some New Testament Scriptures, to justify his instructions, citing the need to have a civil tongue, refraining from speaking evil and deceit, to turn away from evil and do good, and to seek peace. These admonitions would likely produce the fruits described above. He also includes a warning and a blessing, that the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ear open to their prayers, but that the face of the Lord would be against those who do evil. This makes it clear that the instructions of Peter are not just a suggestion, but a call to higher living which must be answered.
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.1 Peter 3:13-17
Peter declares that just because one begins to follow Christ and live the lifestyle to which He calls His disciples, it does not mean that they will be harmed or ostracized. However, if one is somehow mistreated for their faith in Christ, it is a blessing to be named with Him and suffer persecution. Either way, Peter tells them not to be afraid of their threats or allow them to trouble them. The way to shore up one’s spirit in these precarious times is to “sanctify the Lord God in you hearts,” for by doing so, you will be able to defend the gospel and yourself to those who may require a justification for your faith. Be ready to defend the faith and the hope that shines through your life. Be meek and exhibit Godly fear, having a good conscience. Your good conscience will defend you when you are defamed as an evildoer. Those who speak evil against you will be ashamed, because the world will know your true nature and behavior and defend you. In general, though, it is better to “suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
Peter is offering some meaty teaching in this passage. He strongly instructs husbands to behave toward their wives in a way that is somewhat counter to the normal treatment of women in His time. He calls for unity and Godly living toward one another in general, and even teaches Christians to submit to the bad treatment of evil people when persecuted for their faith. It almost seems as if the burly, bombastic disciple of Christ has somehow mellowed in the later years of his life and ministry. His swashbuckling persona when rebuking Jesus and cutting off a servant’s ear seems to have melted away, seen even in the commonly-accepted event of his refusing to be crucified in the same manner as Christ, deeming Himself unworthy of being equal with Christ, and insisting on being crucified upside down. Peter has come to a place of understanding the concept of submission. He has offered himself as a living sacrifice, and is teaching his disciples to put Christ first and self last. He calls them to be of one mind, not many streams of belief. That is good advice for us today as well. Be of one mind.