I Peter 3:7 Husbands. James Dale's notes
(Preached over two consecutive Sundays: begun January 8, finished January 15.)
Peter is addressing a group of believers in what is now the country of Turkey about how to live as a Christian in a world that is not compatible with Christian beliefs. You could say that the theme of his book is “Humble submission in the face of difficult circumstances.”
In fact, after stating some basic doctrine of the Christian faith, Peter addresses Christians in various walks of life and places them on one side of a teeter-totter and the ungodly world on the other. In each case there is always a clash, a point of conflict where they meet, but that is also the point of balance. That point of balance, which we have seen is similar in each case, is submission in humility.
Let’s look at our memory verses to illustrate this. Look for the teeter-totter and the point of balance:
I Peter 1:7 Faith conflict Fire Trial produces praise and honor and glory
I Peter 2:21 Christ conflict Steps Example to follow
I Peter 3:14 Ye conflict Terror Be happy
So, there is the doctrine … the principle that God wants us to live by. Now, how is that practical in specific situations?
- Foreigners (2:11-17) conflict Foolish authorities Submit, well-doing
- Servants (2:18-25) conflict Froward masters Subject, suffer patiently
- Wives (3:1-6) conflict Unbelieving husbands Subjection, chaste conversation
- Husbands(3:7) conflict Unbelieving wives Likewise, dwell
As we are going to see, the direction for husbands is going to be “likewise” submission in humility, but as in all the other positions in life, it will look slightly different. Before we begin let’s pray.
Husbands, listen up
(ReadI Peter 3:7)
I. “Likewise,” Peter is addressing the husbands in a “likewise” fashion. This can mean at least two things:
1. That husbands that are living with unbelieving wives … a situation of conflict.
2. That the advice is similar to the pattern that he has established for the first three positions … submission in humility.
As to the first, the advice will be the same whether the wife is saved or unsaved. Notice, in the advice given to the wives, it was the same regardless of whether the husband was saved. Likewise here. So what we talk about today is true regardless of the spiritual condition of your wife.
As for the second, the submission shown will have a slight difference simply because the roles of husband and wife are different … but not the attitude. The husbands are likewise to be submissive in humility. The verse continues as it examines what this looks like for a husband.
II. “Ye husbands, dwell with them”
The key verb is “dwell” followed by three modifiers
- According to knowledge
- Giving honor
- Being heirs
At the simplest level Peter is saying that we should live with our wives … continually dwell with them. Do not divorce them. (I Corinthians 7:12)
On the deeper level, he is saying that there are certain ways of behaving that we should consistently do around our wives as we live with them. This may seem elementary to some of us, but in Peter’s culture this advice runs counter to the culture that these Christian men were a part of.
The Jewish man, for example, had a typical morning prayer, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, who has not made me a … woman.”
As for the Greeks, one of their orators Demosthenes said, “We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately and of having a faithful guardian for all our household affairs.”
As our own culture gets further away from God, our view of wives will also be different than what God thinks. Our culture now in general looks down on wives who bear children and stay at home to train them … even on marriage itself. Men, we need to be in the Word to know how God wants us to dwell with our wives. We cannot look to our culture for the correct values. Now, let’s continue in the verse to look at the three modifiers.
III. “according to knowledge”
This word indicates that we are to know and understand who we are living with. It could mean anything from understanding your wife … to understanding Christian principles. Remember Peter is talking to men who did not, as a rule, understand either one … neither their wives nor what God expected in their behavior to their wives. God wants us to live with our wives according to knowledge. In our culture we may say, “Husband, learn to understand your wife.”
My son from Japan recently sent me a video clip on YouTube about a man who had been married to his wife for 25 years but had not spoken to her in 23 years. I think we may need to know about the Japanese culture to understand how this could be possible, but it is an example of how a man can dwell with a wife and not know herThis is not how God wants us to live with our wives. By the way, the story had a happy ending as they are now trying to repair their relationship.
So far, Peter is saying, “Husbands, God wants you to live with your wives in an understanding way.”
Husbands, do you know your wives? There is a second modifier. We are to dwell with them by …
IV. “giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel”
Giving honor is showing esteem and thankfulness. Josephus, an ancient historian, used this word when he described the honors that Titus paid his troops after they had destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. In our culture we could think of the words “gratefulness” or “gratitude”.
Just a side thought here, the word “honor” in Scripture is sometimes used for the concept of maintenance … to supply someone with the necessities or conveniences of life. Are you supplying your wife her emotional and physical needs? We will talk more practically later. (Prov 3:9, 14:31, I Tim 5:17)
Children, anyone who brought one of their special treasures from home, bring it up now and put it on the table.
We have heard the expression “the weaker sex”. I’m not sure that this is taught in this verse, although the word “vessel” may infer that women are weaker physically than a man. When my wife can’t open a jar, I like to remind her that men have 50% more muscle-mass than a woman. However, we know from observation that women are not weaker in many areas.
I heard a story of a small girl who needed an MRI. Since the mother could not go the husband had to take his daughter in. The procedure required an IV and they couldn’t find a vein for a while. The husband almost fainted at the sight of blood but the wife would have been much stronger in that case.
The key to understanding this phrase are the words “as unto”. In other words, the way we are to give honor is like we would handle fragile, expensive China. We are to be tender, protective, chivalrous. It is the difference between a buffalo and a butterfly. Did you notice how the children placed their treasures on the table? They were very careful. One girl whispered to me, “Be careful, it is very fragile!”
A man I know that was a sergeant in the military didn’t recognize the danger signs of his marriage and she left him. Several months later when he finished his overseas tour he dropped by to see her and invited her to spend Christmas at his parents’ house so she could reconnect with her children. During that time he spoke gently to her, asked if he could get her any coffee, and told her how much he appreciated her. He treated her as a fragile treasure. Three months after that she agreed to try again. That was 30 years ago. He is retired now and they are still together, and he learned a valuable lesson on how to treat his wife.
So far Peter is saying, “Husbands, God wants you to live with your wives in an understanding way, and be considerate by showing gratitude.”
Husbands, are showing your wives gratitude for what she does? Now, for the third and last modifier …
V. “and as being heirs together of the grace of life;
that your prayers be not hindered.”
In God’s economy no one is worth more than anyone else. We are all equal before him … Jew or Greek, rich or poor, slave or freeman, male or female. Our wives are equal heirs of the gift of life. If the wife is saved then we could also say “eternal life”. If she is not, as the context infers, then you can say you are both equal in life itself. We are fellow travelers, friends, and equal partners. Remember, in every other system of religion, even today, women are regarded as inferior. God has elevated women to the rightful place of intelligence and insight, friendship and confidant. In other words, we need each other.
The warning is clear. If we do not live with our wives in the way that pleases God, our prayers will be hindered. This could mean the prayer that you have of wanting to see your wife saved, or it could mean your relationship with God. (See Matt 5:23,24)
So far Peter is saying, “Husbands, God wants you to live with your wives
in an understanding way, and
be considerate by showing gratitude, and
treat her as an equal.”
Husbands, do you consider your wife to be an equal partner?
Living with our wives in the manner described here is contrary to the flesh. It will be difficult but if we want to grow in Christ then we cannot dismiss this area of our life. In fact, it is the practical way that God teaches us lessons of humility so we can be like Christ.
“The family is God’s school for character development.”
A. Knowledge (consideration)
1. Ask her questions
Get to know your wife by observing her and asking questions ... on a date?
2. Experience her life by walking a mile in her shoes. Help with some of the chores.
B. Honor (gratitude)
1. Service … Wives need service (maintenance)
Find ways to serve her. Come on, guys, we service our car! Can’t we serve our wives? Help with the chores. Relieve her of burdens of life as much as possible considering the troubles of breeding, bearing, bringing up children.
2. Words … Wives need romance
- Cards, tell her every day you love her, write a letter, make special occasions special (at least the three big ones – Valentines, anniversary, and birthday).
- The husband/wife relationship is a physical model of picturing Christ and the church. And it says that Christ washes us with his Word. We should do no less with our wives.
Eph 5:26 – unleash a stubborn tongue
C. Heirs (equal partner)
1. Get her advice before making a decision if possible especially if it involves the family
2. If your wife is saved, pray with her and share the Word back and forth.
Husbands, since our relationship with our wife and our God depends on this, it is wise that we occasionally stop to ask ourselves a question. And if you haven’t done this for a while, I would like to also suggest that you ask your wife the same question. Make a special time and discuss this. It should be a great exercise in humility. The question is, “Sweetheart, how am I dwelling with you … how can I improve?”