Being a Biblical Wife-Part Two

Being a Biblical Wife-Part Two

“Being a Biblical Wife–Pt. Two”
(1 Peter 3:1-6)

  Series: Strength Through Adversity (1Peter)

                                                                                                       Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

                                                                                Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson

Take your Bibles and join me in 1 Peter, chapter 3 (page 815; YouVersion).

We are continuing our verse-by-verse expositional study of this short letter of Peter’s, 1 Peter, and last week we began chapter 3.  We are in a larger section of material where Peter is teaching Christians about biblical submission, voluntarily yielding to the leadership of another.  Peter began this teaching back in chapter 2, verse 13, where he teaches that Christians should submit themselves to every ordinance of man, voluntarily yielding to the leadership of politicians, respecting them, which would include praying for them.  Then, in verse 18 of chapter 2, Peter wrote about servants submitting–voluntarily yielding–to the authority and leadership of their masters.  We mentioned that the closest parallel to that passage today is the employer and employee relationship in which most of us find ourselves.  Now, continuing this section on submission, Peter writes in the beginning of chapter 3 that wives are to be submissive–to voluntarily yield themselves–to the leadership and authority of their own husbands.  That is why Peter says in verse 1, “Wives, likewise,” likewise.  That is, just like a servant yields to his master, just like a citizen yields to governing leaders, so you–likewise–be submissive to your own husbands.  This call for submission applies to wives of Christian husbands as well as to wives of non-Christian husbands.  In fact, it is the non-Christian husband Peter especially has in mind when he writes this passage.  Let’s review again these first six verses.

Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.

1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,
2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—
4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,
6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.


Unfortunately in many American churches today, the call for a wife to submit to her husband is regarded as oppressive or outdated.  The idea that a wife should submit to her husband is viewed by many as strange or odd.  Speaking to this challenge the biblical woman faces today, living out her faith among her friends and acquaintances, one pastor has suggested that today’s Christian woman may raise more eyebrows and elicit a greater response saying she believes in submitting to her husband than the response she might receive if she were to go grocery shopping dressed up as a Viking.  That may be.  What is perceived as the greater oddity: a woman going out in public dressed up as a Viking or a woman who tells her friends and acquaintances at the coffee gathering that she actually believes in biblical submission?  I don’t know, but I wonder that she may get a greater reaction from the women at the coffee gathering.

In our introductory message last week we talked about what is biblical submission and what it is not.  We reviewed a few related passages and talked about how God created the man to be head of his wife as Christ is head of the church.  Marriage is God’s supreme illustration of Christ’s relationship to the church–which means, incidentally, that a man should love his wife not so much because of who she is, but because of who Christ is–something to think about, men.  Ultimately, for both husbands and wives, marriage is more about what is best for God than what is best for us.

So we talked about what biblical submission is and what it is not.  Submission does not mean that a woman cannot think for herself or that her view doesn’t matter or that she must do everything her husband says.  Just as with the submission of employees to employers, slaves to masters, and citizens to governing leaders, wives are not to follow their husbands into sin.

Submission, however, does mean that a woman voluntarily yields to her husband’s authority and leadership.  She has a general inclination, an overall disposition, to defer to his lead.  She trusts his leadership.  In essence, her attitude is, “I love you and I feel secure knowing that God has given you the responsibility to lead our family.  While I use my gifts, talents, and opinions, and you are interested in my viewpoint, ultimately I trust you to make important decisions.  When you are passive and leave me with the responsibility for everything, I feel insecure and alone.”  That’s the idea of wives submitting to their own husbands.

Now we said last time that biblical submission implies that the husband is, in fact, leading, is in fact, modeling biblical headship.  We’ll talk more about that next week, Lord willing, when we study what Peter says to husbands in verse 7.

This morning, we continue our study of the biblical wife.  We have noted that it would be a grave mistake to assume this teaching is not for everyone in the room.  Many here are  wives, but many here are also future wives and if many of us are wives then many of us are husbands or future husbands.  And because we are the church and we all work together then we are are concerned about what God teaches here in His Word.

So we continue our study of the biblical wife.  We said last week from verse one, that there is a blessing of being a biblical wife.  That is the first main point:

Consider the Blessing of a Biblical Wife (1)

Peter teaches that a wife who is married to an unbelieving husband may win him to Christ simply by modeling biblical submission.  Peter says in verse 1, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word (that is, the Gospel), they, without a word (without your even speaking to them), may be won (won to Christ) by the conduct of their wives.”

This blessing implies that there are a number of other blessings that accrue to the woman who desires to follow the Scriptural teaching about submission.  So we build on this first point by spelling-out specifically how Peter teaches that the woman should behave.  The blessing of a biblical wife is predicated upon the behavior of a biblical wife.  So that’s number two.  Having considered the blessing of a biblical wife, we now:

II. Consider the Behavior of a Biblical Wife (2)

Verse 2 says husbands will, “observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”  That builds upon what he said to wives in verse 1, you may win your husband to Christ not by what you say, but by how you live, “by the conduct of their wives,” last part of verse 1, your husbands may be won to Christ, verse 2 now, “when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”

The temptation of a wife married to a husband who is an unbeliever is to preach to him.  That is what Peter says you must not do.  The assumption, of course, is that he has already heard the Gospel message.  That is implied in verse 1 where Peter says these husbands, “do not obey the word.”  In other words, they’ve heard the Gospel, but they’re not obeying the Gospel, they’re not living the Gospel.

So Peter says the best way to win an unbelieving spouse is by the way you live.  Don’t be preachy, that’s the temptation: “You just need to get right with God!  Get your act together!  Take us to church!”  Rather than preaching, Peter says, live out the Christian life before your unbelieving spouse.  He says this will go further in winning them to Christ than anything you say.

Verse 2 says a husband will, “observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”  Chaste means pure.  They will observe your purity.  Fear means, “fear of God,” or reverence.  So one translation has, “they (will) see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

Now Peter will flesh out this teaching in the next few verses.  He continues speaking about the wife’s behavior in the verses that follow where he addresses the beauty of a biblical wife.  See, all three of these points hang together.  They really cannot be separated from one another because they inform one another.  We’ve considered the blessing of a biblical wife, the behavior of a biblical wife, and now:

III. Consider the Beauty of a Biblical Wife (3-6)

All three of these points are integrated, they are united together.  They all teach how a wife’s Christian living may have a profound evangelistic affect upon her unbelieving husband.  At the same time, however, the teaching here is applicable to all spouses.

3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—

The New King James Version is one of the better translations here.  “Do not let your adornment be merely outward.”  That is, outward adornment is not itself wrong.  Arranging the hair is not inherently wrong. Wearing gold is not wrong, if worn tastefully.  Putting on fine apparel is not inherently wrong, when put on in tasteful fashion.

It seems impossible for me to read this passage without recalling the late Adrian Rogers’ remark about whether women should wear make-up.  Someone asked him whether he thought women wearing make-up was a sin and he replied, “For some women it would be a sin if they didn’t wear make-up!”  That was Adrian Rogers who said that, not your pastor!

But here is Peter’s point to ladies who are married to unbelieving husbands: While external beauty makes you attractive to your husband, he is not likely to be won to Christ that way.  Your external beauty may win him to the bedroom, but it is not likely that your external beauty will win him to Christ.  Rather, let your adornment be on the inside, inner beauty, verse 4:

4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

So Peter is not saying that it is wrong for a woman to braid her hair or wear jewelry or dress nicely, he’s simply saying, “Don’t let that be the focus of your beauty.”  Make the focus of your beauty who you are on the inside.

Remember when Samuel is looking over the sons of Jesse and he’s wondering which of them the Lord has selected to be king?  He sees Eliab and he thinks to himself, “Surely this fine looking man has the body of a king,” and God says to him, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature…for the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).”

Similarly, Peter writes that real beauty is not who a woman is on the outside, but who she is on the inside.  Popular culture stresses the outside, the Bible stresses the inside.

Peter says in verse 4, let your beauty, “be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

A woman’s having a “gentle and quiet spirit” does not mean she cannot have an outgoing personality.  Some women are louder than others.  Again, Peter is not talking about the outside, he’s talking about the inside, he’s talking about a gentle and quiet “spirit,” who you are on the inside.

A gentle and quiet spirit indicates an inner trust in God, an inner tranquility, an inner peace that God is in control and that He always does what is right, even if you have an unbelieving husband.

In the context of a wife’s submitting herself to her unbelieving husband, this wife submits to her husband, trusting that God is in control.  She will not fret and worry herself over worldly concerns, but she puts her hope and trust in God.  That this is what Peter has in mind is evidenced by what he says next in verse 5:

5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,

Drawing from the Old Testament, Peter says that this is how the women “in former times” lived.  This is how they “adorned themselves.”  He says they, “trusted in God.”  So they did not ultimately put their hope and trust in their husband, but in God.
Similarly, if you are a young lady and you are hoping for a husband, a future husband, let your ultimate hope and trust be not in the hoping for a future husband as much as your hope and trust is in God.  The best husband for you to have is a husband who does not think he is #1 to you, but a husband who knows he is to be #2 to you.
This is the hallmark of Christian womanhood–trusting in God, not a husband, or even the hope of getting a husband, but trust and hope in God.  Peter says this is how the holy women in former times adorned themselves.

Then, as an example of one such holy woman in former times, Peter writes verse 6:

6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

Sarah was the wife of Abraham and she is the one who gave birth to Isaac.  She wasn’t perfect.  In Genesis 18 she was listening in on this discussion about she and Abraham having a son in spite of her being well beyond the age of childbearing and she laughed to herself.  When God called her out on her laughing, she lied and said she didn’t laugh.  But she had laughed.  So when she conceives and gives birth to a son, she names him, “Isaac,” which means, “Laughter,” and she had learned to trust God.

Peter gives Sarah as an example of beauty…and we don’t even know what she looked like.  But we do!  We know of her “inner beauty,” and that is what really matters.

Peter adds in verse 6 that Sarah, “obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”  That doesn’t mean she was like, “O, my Lord and king of the universe, what shall your humble servant do for you today?!”  That’s not it.  It is not “Lord” with a capital “L” but lord with a little l.  In olden times it was a term of endearment that reflected the love and respect of a woman for her husband.  Today it might be like saying, “My main man, my main squeeze!”  Sarah loved her husband and talked to him like she loved him.  Wives, talk to your husbands like you love them.  Husbands, talk to your wives like you love them.

Speak well of them in public.  Speak well of them when they’re not around.  Men, don’t do like other men do when gathering together in the break room, talking about their wives in disrespectful ways.  You are different.  Speak well of your wife in public.  Ladies, don’t do as other women do when gathering together, trashing their husbands.  You are different.  Speak well of your husband in public.

So Peter says, “You are like Sarah,” ladies, when you live like she did.  The phrase, “whose daughters you are,” means you are like Sarah when you love your husband the way Sarah loved her husband.  You want a “Cover Girl” for inner beauty?  Look no further than Sarah.

This matter of inner beauty has a number of implications.  We should praise our children for their inner beauty.

One of the reasons I don’t get all excited about contests where people are rewarded for the externals, especially beauty, is because our secular culture so champions those things.  The Bible champions inner beauty.  Never forget that, ladies, and never forget that, moms and dads of little girls.

The world champions outer beauty.  In one of the services last week I said that it doesn’t  help our wives feel attractive, men, when we define beauty by the world’s standards.  We’re not helping our wives when we gaze upon the swimsuit issue of Sport’s Illustrated or make much of some young, Hollywood actress.  That’s how the world lives.  That’s how unbelievers live.  Proverbs 5:18 says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.”  This is the woman to whom you have pledged your heart.  Love her only and God will continually grow your love for her.

Outer beauty, external achievement in terms of success, academic, vocational accomplishments, and other external adornment means very little where there is no inner beauty, no inner love for Christ, no real dedication to God and to service for Him.

Men, praise your sons and daughters for their inner spirit, their inner love for Christ.  Put your arm around them and teach them Proverbs 15:20, “A wise son brings joy to his father.”  Tell both your sons and daughters 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than that my children walk in truth.”  Praise them for their inner beauty.

Wives, love your husband the way Sarah loved her husband.  You are her daughters, “if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”

That last phrase, “are not afraid with any terror” seems to call for brave living among a people and a culture who may not understand biblical submission.  Don’t be afraid to live out what the Bible teaches.  Don’t be afraid of those who make light of your seemingly strange notions of biblical submission.  Put your trust in God like the beautiful women of former times.

So don’t be afraid of the women at the coffee gathering who may not share your biblical values.  Be like Sarah.  You are her daughters if you love your husband the way she did.

So what about the husbands?  To that topic we will return next week when we look at verse 7.  Men, don’t go AWOL on us!  We’ll send out a search party.

Let’s stand for prayer.


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