1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
3 Your adornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;
4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
5 For in this way, in former times, the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their husbands;
6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
The concept Peter dealt with in these verses was the opposite of the human wisdom that guided people in the culture. Same as in our time. The word submission is unacceptable to almost everyone. Self-will, rights, entitlements, etc., are much more popular. So the trial that Peter encountered when addressing what he hoped were godly wives was the conflict with thoughts and feelings that his instruction would stir up. And the controversy was intended to turn women away from a place of faith to a place of assertiveness and independence that would destroy lives and ruin families.
He started his teaching with “In the same way . . .” Submission is the topic, and Jesus is the example. So, in the way Jesus was submissive to His murderers (He didn’t resist or say a word; instead, He entrusted Himself to God) at the end of chapter 2, wives should be submissive to their husbands. And look at the promise that flows out of the command — even if your husband is disobedient to the Word, you can win him without a word by your behavior. We’ll come back to that in a bit. Let’s understand submission:
Peter took a realistic look at the meaning of the word and stressed three ideas:
1. vs. 3 – Don’t rely on external things for your true beauty.
He doesn’t mean that dressing nicely and fixing hair is wrong, just that those don’t become the focal point of beauty because godly beauty is internal, not external.
2. vs. 4 – Adorn your heart with a gentle spirit.
A gentle spirit is a meek spirit, and meekness means abandoning your rights to God and waiting on Him to return them as privileges. Let part of your inner beauty be that you are not defensive or demanding your rights. You don’t try to claim them because you have given that job over to God. That brings a certain beautiful calmness to anyone who does it.
3. vs. 4 – Adorn your heart with a quiet spirit.
Quiet means fearless, and fearless is as beautiful as gentle. A wife who trusts God to the point of having no fear is supportive of her husband, not resistant to his ideas or dreams, and with these attitudes, finds him eager to know her thoughts and willing to listen.
Any wife who does these things will find God at work in her husband, bringing him into obedience to the Word. It may not be easy and probably won’t happen in a few minutes. Consider the example of this kind of beauty in the text. “Just as Sarah obeyed Abraham . . .” That’s an extreme illustration of being submissive. Not once but twice, Abraham asked Sarah to tell a middle eastern king that she was his sister; he hoped to protect himself because of her great beauty. Both times she did it without a complaint.
Can you imagine what could have happened to her? But what did it do? Nothing, because she hoped in God and trusted Him for everything, and He brought her out without a mark.
Ladies, your trial in this is to believe God and His Word and wait on Him to provide everything, even as you wait in submission. Hard? yes. Hurtful? can be. Worth it? every time