God’s Word for You
1 Peter 3:4 A wife’s beauty (Part 2)
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, April 21, 2022
This verse continues Peter’s thought from verse 3. Remember that both verses are law passages. Verse 3 exposed a certain type of sin; verse 4 demonstrates the ideal obedience to God’s will.
4 Instead, 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. (NIV)
In the Greek sentence, Peter still relies on the word kosmos “array, adornment” from verse 3 as the subject. To illustrate his point, we might consider: which would be a more dazzling and precious stone: one that shines when light shines on it, or one that gleams and glows from the inside all the time, day or night, with an unfading and mysterious inner light? Surely the inner light is the more precious, rare, and beautiful. This is what Peter encourages wives to have: a beauty that shines from within and doesn’t depend on outward trappings and decorations. Luther said: “Gold and precious stones are magnificent in the eyes of the world, but before God this is a stench. But that woman is attired well and gloriously before God who goes her way in a gentle and quiet spirit. Therefore since God himself considers this magnificent, it must be something glorious” (LW 30:91).
A wife who is physically attractive but who has no common sense, who has a potty mouth, who is selfish, vain, always critical and constantly untrustworthy is not only a poor choice for a wife (and a lifelong burden to her husband) but would also be useless to her church, parents, children and peers. True beauty, Peter says, comes from within, the “crypto-self” (Greek κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνϑρωπος), “hidden person of the heart.” The key component in such a wife is her faith in Christ, for without faith in Christ she is a flower whose petals are attached to nothing. They’re pretty for a moment, but they shrivel and dry up into nothing soon enough, and there is just nothing attractive or even desirable in what remains. But any wife who has a childlike Christian faith already has a beauty that will remain for her whole life and into eternity; she is a jewel to be treasured. She is priceless. She herself is a jewel her husband wears, and she will find that his response will be this: He in turn will be a jewel for her to wear. They will compliment one another in every sense, in words, in actions, and in their very personas.
Out of the beauty of faith comes the gentle and quiet spirit, not argumentative or at odds with her man. Is her husband a born leader? She is blessed. Is he quiet and introspective, shy and thoughtful? If she matches his traits, they can get along well. But if he is quiet and she tends to be boisterous, then she has a special cross to bear. She knew this when she married him; it can’t be a surprise ten or twenty years down the road. She does not have a special dispensation to take over as head of the family. Instead, she can do what an ideal wife, what a “helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18) would do. She can encourage him, and be patient with him. She should never show any frustration with him or his ways, but be loving, knowing that when he steps up to take charge, he is doing it because he loves her and honors her. But they have promised to love, honor and respect one another unconditionally already, and so their actions toward one another must not be based on what is done in the marriage, but must be based on the existence of the marriage itself. They love because they have sworn to love. They honor because they have sworn to honor. They respect because they have sworn to respect. These things are done out of faith in Christ, and for the benefit of their life, family, and marriage. For “what motive may be stronger with thee than the name of wife?”
Pastor Timothy Smith