1Pe 3:1-2 “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”
Peter finished the second chapter with the thought that we were like sheep going astray, but had been turned back to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. He begins the next chapter with the word “likewise.” In the same manner that we are returned to Jesus to be submissive to His will, wives are instructed to be in subjection to their own husbands. The woman is not instructed here to be in subjection to every man, only to the man she loves and trusts and has become one flesh with. This is a concept that has a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation today because we do not stop to contemplate why we are given this instruction.
Yes, this basically says that the wife is to obey the husband, but I am not advocating to anyone that a godly woman should behave herself in an ungodly manner. The husband is to look after his wife like our Shepherd looks after His sheep. We are to have a diligent concern for her welfare, safety, and satisfaction. “Likewise” applies to the husband here just as it does the wife. But we need to reflect on the deeper purpose of why the wife is instructed to be in subjection to her husband. This behavior is for an instructive example to those husbands who are disobedient (disbelieving) to the word.
The Greek interpreted as “word” in this instance is the same as in some of the opening verses of this book. It carries the idea of something spoken, but also of the Divine Expression of God (which is Jesus). The wife is being tasked here with being a living example of the church to the disbelieving husband. Wives, through their obedience to the counsel of scripture, have the ability to gain (win) those husbands who walk in disobedience. By their godly behavior (conversation) in the relationship, wives can convince and convict their husbands to be better. To be a “help meet” (Gen 2:18) for man is no small task.
When wives are able to be in subjection to their husbands, it is a glory, not to their husband, but to God! Wives are declaring with this behavior that they are willing to submit themselves to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. This is a beautiful and powerful declaration of a deep desire to see the word and purpose of God flourish in the world. My own life has been deeply impacted over the years by the example of a godly wife in whom I have seen modest behavior (chaste conversation) coupled with a great awe and reverence for God. Her love and patience make me want to be a better man than I otherwise would be. I have learned from her example more about my role as a member of the bride of Christ. This instruction is given, not because men are superior or more valued in God’s eyes than women, but because men need an example of how to behave in a godly manner toward our Husband, Jesus Christ.
May we men be humbled by the example set before us by godly wives, and our wives (and the women who will someday become wives) be encouraged by the ability God has instilled in them to affect our walk with Him!