Wednesday, October 15, 2008

1 Peter, Chapter 3

Today’s passage in 1 Peter is controversial even today. The first part of today’s chapter deals with Husbands and wives, specifically how wives should submit to their husbands. In today’s modern era of equality, the idea of a husband submitting to a man’s authority simply based on gender is demeaning. If you read today’s passage closely, however, you’ll see that the submission asked for is different from mere authority. Also, husbands have their own role of submission to perform.

4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:4-7

Women are not asked here to submit to the authority of men, but to the authority of God. Men are asked to support and respect their wives with the authority they are given. To me, this means that the marriage is a partnership where the man doesn’t necessarily make every decision. Instead, he consults his partner on decisions and they work through things together. Though the man may make a decision, he does so with the input of his wife. The weaker partner here probably only refers to physical strength. I like to think it does simply because my wife is far from the weaker partner in our marriage.

The second part of today’s chapter deals with suffering for doing what is good. This is something that is an unfortunate part of humanity. Our entire faith is based on someone suffering and dying for all of us even though that person never did anything wrong. It is the ultimate example of our faith, and the apostle Paul elaborates on it here in this letter.

14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:14-17

Sometimes we have to suffer, as verse 17 says, in order to God’s will. No one knew this better than the apostles. Of the 12 of them, every one except for John died a martyr’s death before reaching old age. It is not as if they lived easy lives until meeting this calling either. Paul himself was imprisoned many times. He escaped death in numerous cities before finally meeting his end in Rome. He understood his mission though. He preached the gospel to his last breath. We have most of the New Testament thanks to him, and his ministry has lead to literally billions of people believing in Christ. In all of this, he deflected all the glory to Christ.

That is a life well lived in suffering.

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