Saturday, July 30, 2011

Unpacking 1 Peter 3:7

In Thursday's post, I described the "three-question" approach I use when studying the Bible:

1) What does this passage teach?
2) What does this passage command?
3) How can I put these truths into practice?

My daily reading several weeks ago brought me to 1 Peter 3. In context, Peter is describing for the church how to live as the people of God. Starting in the second chapter, he addresses first the believers collectively (2:11-2:17), then servants (2:18), wives (3:1), husbands (3:7), and once again returning to address all the saints as a group (3:8). I take my responsibility as a husband seriously, so I decided to take a closer look at 3:7:

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."

1) What does this passage teach?

  • Women are the weaker vessel - Obviously, this does not mean that women are inferior to men. We know that both men and women are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and both are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). Peter is referring here to the fact that women in general are physically weaker than men, and that men in no way are to use physical or verbal force to be domineering over their wives.
  • My wife is an heir with me of the grace of life - It is unlikely that "the grace of life" refers to salvation, but rather the blessings and joys experienced in this life, specifically those offered by the marriage relationship. My wife and I are partners in life; I have the honor of sharing it with her.
  • If I don't live considerately towards my wife and don't honor her, my prayers will be hindered - The sentence structure clearly shows that "living in an understanding way" is what prevents my prayers from being hindered. As I learn to understand my wife, her needs and desires, I will be better equipped to know how to pray for her. 
2) What does this passage command?
  • I am to live with my wife in an understanding way - This means I am to live considerately towards her, placing her own feelings, needs, and desires above my own. 
  • I am to show her honor - This is for two reasons: 1) She is the weaker vessel; therefore I am to serve, support, protect, and lead her; and 2) She and I are heirs together of the grace of life; therefore, I honor her as my "helper" (see Gen. 2:20).
3) How can I put these truths into practice? 
  • I will strive to study and learn my wife's needs and desires, and learn to know her more deeply, so that I can better honor her and so that my prayers will not be hindered..
  • I will show interest in her and be considerate towards her.
  • I will honor her, serve her, protect her, lead her, and above all, PRAY FOR HER (The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16).
  • I will not keep my walk with Christ separate from hers, but will strive to share with her my encouragements, my struggles, and will come alongside her to be her support.

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