Bible Society of South Africa

Life-giving relationships in marriage – 26 April 2022

By Ewald Schmidt

Bible text(s)

Wives and Husbands

1In the same way you wives must submit to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God's word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word, 2because they will see how pure and reverent your conduct is.

1 Peter 3:1-2GNBOpen in Bible reader

There are times in life you just know you are going to get into trouble before even uttering a word! This is one of those verses in the Bible that can really stir up emotions. Granted, we are living in a totally different time and place to Peter when he penned these words to the first readers in the Middle East of old. Can we still apply and use this verse in our lives today?

I cautiously want to propose that we can. There is great value in having a submissive wife … terms and conditions apply. The apostle Paul also touched on this delicate subject in Ephesians 5:22-32. But you cannot talk about the submissive wife in those verses, without first understanding the basis of submission given in Ephesians 5:21. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” I love to use these verses when I marry couples. I will usually preface this verse with: “Because you both love Christ, serve one another.” Without reciprocal love and respect where both partners serve one another, submission does not work. Then it becomes oppression.

Peter was writing to the women in the new church, who had come to know Jesus as Lord, but their husbands had not yet come to faith. Peter expressed great wisdom – a woman will not nag her husband into heaven! Serve the Lord with your whole heart, serve your husband as a testimony to God’s goodness. Peter says that by your example, your husband may come to know Christ. Your example, and the new way of life you are living in following Christ has a much bigger effect than nagging words.

Peter used six verses to instruct the women, but only one verse for the men! In 1 Peter 3:7, he calls upon the men in the church: “Husbands, 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.” A man needs wisdom to live with a woman. If a man is blessed to have a wife enjoying the gift of life with him, these are wise words to heed. Be considerate! Treat her with respect! In accordance with Ephesians 5:21 – submit yourself to her too – serve her with love and respect, and create a safe home for her. Paul said that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved his bride, the church. He sacrificed himself for his bride, and so a husband should love his wife sacrificially.

When a man does not treat his wife properly, when he is not treating her with respect and consideration, there is also something wrong in his relationship with God. His prayers are hindered. But when husband and wife honour one another, treating each other with respect and love, they receive blessing in their prayer life. This makes the journey of life together exciting!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your love, that filters through my relationships. You have created me in your image, to love as you love me. Help me treat all people with love and respect. If I am blessed to be married, help me to love my partner in a way that will honour you, and bless my partner. Amen

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