God’s Word for You
1 Peter 3:1-2 Wives
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, April 19, 2022
3 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (NIV)
The role of a wife overlaps completely with the role of a woman in the word of God, but the role of a woman does not overlap entirely with the role of a wife. An unmarried woman (single, widowed, or divorced) cannot do everything that a wife can do.
- The wife is the ideal helper for her husband; together they have godly companionship.
- The wife is the sexual partner of her husband. Unmarried women (like unmarried men) do not have this gift and must remain celibate or marry a husband. But the married enjoy physical oneness and unity along with the pleasures of the flesh in perfect chastity.
- The wife can become the mother of children in a home that fits God’s design of both a mother and a father for those children. Of course, a widow and in some cases a divorced woman must also fill this role, but God’s plan was for children to be raised in a home with married parents. In part, this gives the children a healthy understanding of their future roles; without these role models, they may misunderstand the meaning of the home and their place in it.
- Peter makes the point that a Christian wife is in a unique position as an evangelist for an unbelieving husband. He shows that they can do this wordlessly, winning over the unbelieving man with their behavior, not with arguments. This is the example of the purity and reverence of a Christian wife’s life. She can certainly say by her actions, “I’m disappointed if you won’t worship God with me, but of course I’m still going to worship him. I’m so happy when you come to worship with me, and I can show that happiness in many ways. Your soul is important to me, and the souls of our children are worth my very life.”
A wife can do all of these things while still being submissive and subject to her husband. She still loves her husband and their children; she can show self-control, she can manage her household, and show the purity of her heart, soul, and life in everything she does. This is God’s will for her (Titus 2:4). This is “fitting in the Lord,” the intention of God for Christian wives (Colossians 3:18). The Lord made her to be the suitable, ideal helper for her husband (Genesis 2:18), so that in many ways the two of them will be like gears in a machine. Where one of them is less gifted, the other will be more gifted, and they will supply one another’s needs.
They will move along together in a kind of perfect music, often working in perfect unison like a plainsong chant. Sometimes they will work and love in harmony with one another, broadening their love and their understanding of one another. At still other times they might live in a glorious counterpoint, in which one lives a melody and the other lives another entirely different melody that is nevertheless in harmonious balance, and this is a couple that now has learned to excel in their Christian living to the awe and admiration of their friends and neighbors.
A woman who is blessed to be able to live apart from marriage and the sexual union has a unique place in God’s kingdom. This is rare, because God’s will is that each woman should have her own husband and fulfill her marital duty to her husband (1 Corinthians 7:2-3), for just as a husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife, so also a wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband, for they are one flesh (1 Corinthians 7:4). But an unmarried woman or virgin can be concerned about the Lord’s affairs; “her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit” (1 Corinthians 7:34). Christian women, whether married or not, have an opportunity and even an obligation to reach out with the word of God to unbelieving women.
In the case of the unbelieving husband or an unbelieving friend, a woman can win over such a one with the unspoken gospel and example of her life or the spoken and encouraging gospel of the word of God. The goal is “to win them over.” The verb here (verse 1) is kerdaino (κερδαίνω), “to gain.” To gain someone for Christ is to spare them from judgment and torment. To give something up in my life so as to win another soul for Christ would be a great gain, one that none of us would feel worthy of doing. And yet, Peter says, the wife of an unbelieving husband is in a unique position to do exactly that. I have seen it happen in my ministry and in my own family. Continue to pray for the unbelievers you know and for the women who find themselves in such a place. For “the Lord’s patience means salvation” (2 Peter 3:15), and the Lord’s patience with an unbeliever combined with a wife’s patience, being merciful with his doubt (Jude 1:22) can mean the salvation of his soul, snatching her man from the fire to save him. She needs the support of the church, and our prayers as well.
Pastor Timothy Smith