1 Peter 3 Part 3: A Godly Husband
1 Peter 3:7; Galatians 3:27-28 - We are equal heirs to spiritual grace and eternal importance and husbands should honor and understand their wives.
“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
1 Peter 3:7 NASB1995
Peter addresses husbands in his epistle now, telling them to live with their wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker (as in physical strength), and to show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life. He tells men that if they do this, their prayer life will not be hindered.
Looking at this through the lens of the year 2023, many modern women would wrongly zoom in immediately on the phrase “as with someone weaker, since she is a woman” and would be instantly offended by the idea that they are physically “weaker”. Hollywood has shown us in so many movies and TV shows that tiny women can overcome big male attackers quite easily, even if they are not superhero characters. They can hit and punch and throw and shout in triumph, when, in reality, that outcome is quite unlikely, even for women who have taken courses in self-defense. I know that I am physically weaker and also have some disabilities that add to that weakness and Steve honors me tremendously by doing all of the hard physical work around the house. That physical weakness does not make me a lesser person.
To me, this verse is absolutely wonderful and shows the liberating freedom for men and women through belief in Christ! Let’s examine each part of this verse. Peter first tells husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way. Husbands and wives need to understand each other and dwell together in the oneness that God has given them. There are many married people today who live separate lives, with careers and “me” attitudes taking precedence over anything at home; in fact, according to this article that was on Fox News in December, 2022, more than 4 million married couples practice something called “living apart together”. This movement is primarily driven by women who allegedly feel unfulfilled by actually living in the same place with the person they married and not due to concerns for abuse or neglect in the household. Why bother to get married in the first place? I guess the extra income that is expected from the husband is one reason why, but I think this is rather selfish behavior. Obviously, there is an imbalance in “give and take” in those relationships if they thrive in separation.
Peter is asking husbands to understand their wives and to show them honor. We should know our spouses intimately - what they like, what they fear, what they dislike, what they hope. If a husband is surprised by something his wife expresses after they have been together for a long time (and vice-versa - this is a two-way street), then the communications have broken down, or they have never honestly communicated with each other to begin with, or other pursuits have taken priority. By showing the wife honor, the early Christians are creating a radical change in the marital relationship between men and women. Here’s a great commentary from Enduring Word about this:
Giving honor: A godly husband knows how to make his wife feel honored. Though she submits to him, he takes care that she does not feel like she is an employee or under a tyrant.
In giving honor to the wife, the word in the ancient Greek language for the wife is a rare word, meaning more literally “the feminine one.” It suggests that the woman’s feminine nature should prompt the husband to honor her.
This was a radical teaching in the world Peter lived in. In that ancient culture a husband had absolute rights over his wife and the wife had virtually no rights in the marriage. In the Roman world, if a man caught his wife in an act of adultery he could kill her on the spot. But if a wife caught her husband, she could do nothing against him. All the duties and obligations in marriage were put on the wife. Peter’s radical teaching is that the husband has God-ordained duties and obligations toward his wife.
The wife is a fellow heir of the grace of life. Wives are equal to husbands in spiritual privilege (grace) and eternal importance. As Paul so eloquently states it in Galatians:
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:27-28 NASB1995
Finally, this passage has an intriguing suggestion by Peter that by not honoring wives as co-heirs to eternal life with Christ and living with them in an understanding way, a husband’s prayer life may be hindered. Peter assumes that prayer life is a major component of the Christian’s life (man or woman). This assumption may be invalid in our times when media sources tell us that only 45% of believers pray every day. Peter is using this concern for hindered prayer to hopefully motivate a husband into following the God-ordained responsibilities and obligations towards his wife. I found a marvelous commentary on this admonition on Precept Austin from Ray Pritchard of Keep Believing Ministries (the embedded link goes to that source):
Peter closes with a strong and strange warning. This is the motivation for taking his words with utmost seriousness: “that your prayers be not hindered.” The word for “hindered” is a military term for an army digging a trench in a road to stop the enemy’s advance. It describes what Satan will do in your spiritual life. If husbands do not take this seriously, Satan will dig a trench and your prayers will never get through. We all know that automobile engines get out of whack if only one little piece malfunctions. Likewise, our bodies have one breakdown and we end up in the hospital. There is a delicate balance between the physical and the spiritual. A marriage that is out of tune emotionally or physically will soon be out of tune spiritually. To put it bluntly, you can’t ignore your wife and get through to God. The Almighty takes the side of the weaker vessel! When we are truly one with each other, then we are truly one with God.
This principle applies in a broader way to all our relationships. If we harbor bitterness or if we are unkind or if we gossip about others, if we get angry and stay angry, our prayers will not get through to God. You cannot say, “I hate you,” to a brother or sister in Christ, and then blithely say, “I love you so much, Lord.” Or to be more accurate, you can say those words, but you’re just lying to yourself. If your prayers seem dead, dull and ineffective, maybe it’s time to do a relational inventory. God has wired us so that there is a direct connection between the horizontal and the vertical. The way you treat others has a direct impact on how God responds to your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7 Unhindered Prayers)
Good advice on doing a relational inventory if prayer seems dull and ineffective or even dead! It’s not just the relationship between husband and wife, but anger towards a friend or bitterness or unkindness towards others that will also hinder our relationship with God.
As a final note, I am completely convinced that Steve honors me and understands me very well! I hope I have done the same with him and am working on cultivating that inner beauty and submission that honors him and God.
My next devotional examines 1 Peter 3:8-9: A Plea for Unity and Love among God’s People.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - Thank you for making me an equal heir to your grace and promise of eternal life! Please help me to honor Steve and be his wife as you planned it and thank you for giving me a life partner who is so giving and unselfish. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.