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The Marriage Relationship

And now let me speak to the wives. Be devoted to your own husbands,[a] so that even if some of them do not obey the Word of God, your kind conduct may win them over without you saying a thing. For when they observe your pure, godly life before God, it will impact them deeply. 3–4 Let your true beauty come from your inner personality, not a focus on the external. For lasting beauty comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is precious in God’s sight and is much more important than the outward adornment of elaborate hair, jewelry,[b] and fine clothes.

Holy women of long ago who had set their hopes in God beautified themselves with lives lived in deference to their own husbands’ authority. For example, our “mother,” Sarah, devoted herself[c] to her husband, Abraham, and even called him “master.” And you have become her daughters when you do what is right without fear and intimidation.[d]

Husbands, you in turn must treat your wives with tenderness,[e] viewing them[f] as feminine[g] partners who deserve to be honored, for they are co-heirs with you of the “divine grace of life,”[h] so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Love One Another

Now, this is the goal: to live in harmony with one another and demonstrate affectionate love,[i] sympathy,[j] and kindness toward other believers. Let humility describe who you are as you dearly love one another. Never retaliate when someone treats you wrongly, nor insult those who insult you, but instead, respond by speaking a blessing over them—because a blessing is what God promised to give you.[k] 10 For the Scriptures tell us:

Whoever wants to embrace true life
    and find beauty in each day
11 must stop speaking evil, hurtful words
    and never deceive in what they say.
    Always turn from what is wrong
    and cultivate what is good;
    eagerly pursue peace in every relationship,
    making it your prize.
12 For the eyes of the Lord Yahweh[l] rest upon the godly,
    and his heart responds to their prayers.
    But he turns his back on those who practice evil.[m]

Persecuted for Doing Good

13 Why would anyone harm[n] you if you’re passionate and devoted[o] to pleasing God? 14 But even if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you will have the joyful experience of the blessing of God.[p] And

Don’t be intimidated or terrified
    by those who would terrify you.[q]

15 But give reverent honor in your hearts to the Anointed One and treat him as the holy Master[r] of your lives. And if anyone asks[s] about the hope living within you, always be ready to explain your faith 16 with gentleness and respect. Maintain a clean conscience, so that those who slander you for living a pure life in Christ will have to lie about you and will be ashamed because of their slander.[t] 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if it is in God’s plan, than for doing evil.

Christ’s Victory

18 Christ suffered and died[u] for sins once and for all—the innocent for the guilty[v]—to bring you near to God by his body[w] being put to death and by being raised to life by the Spirit. 19 He went in the spiritual realm[x] and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison[y] 20 because of their disobedience of long ago.[z] For during the time of Noah God patiently waited while the ark was being prepared, but only a few were brought safely through the floodwaters: a total of eight souls. 21 This was a prophetic picture[aa] of the immersion that now saves you—not a bathing of the physical body but rather the response of a good conscience before God[ab] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is now in heaven at the place of supreme authority next to God.[ac] The very powers of heaven, including every angel and authority, now yield in submission to him.


  1. 3:1 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “defer to the authority of your husbands” (patiently accept, submit).
  2. 3:3–4 Or “braiding of hair or gold ornaments.”
  3. 3:6 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “obeyed.”
  4. 3:6 That is, the wife is not inferior and should never be intimidated by her husband. The Aramaic can be translated “without being terrified by any fear.”
  5. 3:7 Or “with intimate insight” (“realistically,” “with considerateness”). That is, with consideration of what they desire and delight in, not ignorant of their preferences.
  6. 3:7 Or “make a home as equals.”
  7. 3:7 Or “weaker vessel,” which is a possible idiom for “weaker livelihood.” Widows and female orphans were horribly disadvantaged in the time this was written. Without an advocate, women were often oppressed by corrupt political officials. However, in Aramaic, the native language of Peter, the word for “weaker” is machal, which means weak, but weak only in the sense of a debtor who has been paid off so he has no power over you and is weakened. Machal carries the idea of neutralizing a threat. The Aramaic word for “vessel” is mana and is taken from the Phoenician word for “clothing.” Its etymological root comes from the Phoenician word for the “outrigging of a ship” (i.e., sail, rudder, anchor). Peter may be describing the wife as the “outrigging of a marriage” that helps keep the relation-“ship” on course and moving.
  8. 3:7 This unique New Testament phrase describes the joyous grace that husband and wife share as a married couple, as coheirs of eternal life. But there is more than a hint of the life they give birth to—that is, the wonderful grace of giving life to a child, “the divine grace of life.”
  9. 3:8 Or “brotherly love.”
  10. 3:8 The Aramaic can be translated “suffer with those who are suffering.”
  11. 3:9 Every believer is blessed by God. There are eight virtues found in vv. 8–9 that should characterize our fellowship as believers who follow Christ: (1) a sublime harmony, (2) demonstration of affectionate (brotherly) love, (3) sympathy, (4) kindness, (5) humility, (6) fervent love, (7) never retaliating evil for evil or insult for insult, and (8) speaking blessings over those who mistreat us.
  12. 3:12 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is kurios (lord).
  13. 3:12 Or “He sets his face against evildoers.” See Ps. 34:12–16.
  14. 3:13 The Aramaic can be translated “do evil to you.”
  15. 3:13 Or “eager to do good.” The Aramaic word used for “passionate and devoted” is a homonym that can also mean “imitators.” For this reason some Greek manuscripts have “followers/imitators of what is good.”
  16. 3:14 There are three things to remember when you suffer mistreatment or persecution for the cause of Christ: (1) The eyes of God rest upon you, v. 12; (2) God’s heart responds to your prayers, v. 12; (3) You will experience the blessing of God in spite of your enemies, with nothing to fear, v. 14.
  17. 3:14 As translated from the Aramaic. See Isa. 8:12–13.
  18. 3:15 The Aramaic can be translated “Lord Yahweh.” This is a clear statement that Christ is the Lord Yahweh.
  19. 3:15 Or “repeatedly asks.”
  20. 3:16 Or “be ashamed when they accuse you.” We cannot prevent people from slandering us, but when they do, they should be forced to lie.
  21. 3:18 There is great variation among reliable texts of this phrase. Some have “Christ suffered,” and others read “Christ died.” This translation has included both concepts.
  22. 3:18 Or “the just for the unjust.” See Isa. 53:11–12.
  23. 3:18 Or “by being put to death in/by the flesh.” The passive verb (“having been put to death”) implies that this was something done to him “by flesh” (or “humanity”). The contrast is this: humanity put him on the cross, but the Spirit raised him up to life.
  24. 3:19 Or “through the [Holy] Spirit.”
  25. 3:19 The Aramaic can be translated Sheol (“Hades”).
  26. 3:20 The early church fathers cited this passage, along with others, in the belief that Jesus “descended into hell” (e.g., the Apostles’ Creed, although the earliest versions of it do not include the words “descended into hell”). In this context, between his death and resurrection, Jesus is said to have gone into the underworld and preached (the victory of the cross) to the spirits (fallen angels) who are bound. See also Gen. 6:1–4; 2 Peter 2:4. However, Augustine, Aquinas, and others argue that the proclamation Jesus made was through Noah by the Holy Spirit to the people of Noah’s day who were disobedient. Nearly every scholar concludes that this passage in 1 Peter is one of the most difficult in the New Testament to interpret.
  27. 3:21 The Greek word antitypos means “a picture,” “a type,” “a symbol,” “a pattern,” or “a counterpart.”
  28. 3:21 Or “by the response of a good conscience.” The word often translated “conscience” (syneidēsis) actually means “a joint knowing,” “a virtuous co-knowledge,” or “co-perception.”
  29. 3:22 Or “at the right hand of God.”

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