1 Peter 3:4
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) But let it be . . .—The connection of the clauses is somewhat difficult, but is made more so by our translation of 1Peter 3:3. Literally it would run, of whom let it not be, or, to whom let there not belong the outward adorning, but the hidden man of the heart. If we adopt the translation in the Authorised Version, it makes “the hidden man” an ornament to be worn in preference to the gold and braided hair, which would be both illogical, and dishonouring to “the hidden man.” What St. Peter says is, “Do not rely, for winning your husbands, upon ornamentation (which is but external), but upon character.”

The hidden man of the heart.—Not equivalent to St. Paul’s expression, “the new man” (Ephesians 4:24), but simply the inner self, the true selfi.e., the genuine moral character. It is more like St. Paul’s phrase, “the inward man,” and may, perhaps, have been adapted from, it. (Comp. Romans 7:22; 2Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16.) According to his custom, St. Peter explains by adding the genitive, “of the heart.” (Comp. 1Peter 1:13.) At the same time, the choice of that particular word, rather than “soul” or “mind,” gives warmth and affection to what might otherwise seem a bare moral or metaphysical conception.

In that which is not corruptible.—The sense is somewhat obscured by our insertion of “even the ornament.” Had it been “even in the ornament,” it would have been clearer, though not right even then. It is literally, in the imperishableness of the meek and quiet spirit, contrasting the abiding beauty of character with the “perishable” or “contemptible” nature of the ornaments just spoken of. So in 1Peter 1:18, he spoke of “silver and gold” as “perishable.” The same kind of phrase is used by St. Paul in 1Timothy 6:17, “trust in the uncertainty of riches”—i.e., in riches which are but uncertain things. So here, “in the imperishableness of the meek spirit” means in the meek spirit, which is not (like gold) a perishable thing. Yet the preposition “in” must not be taken as equivalent to “dressed in,” “adorned with;” the “meek and quiet spirit” is not a mere decoration of the “hidden man.” Neither, on the other hand, is it quite “consisting in,” as though “hidden man” and “meek spirit” were identical; for “the hidden man of the heart” would be bad in bad men, and good in good: see, for instance, our Lord displaying the hidden man of the Pharisee’s heart (Matthew 23:28). It is rather the particular mode in which St. Peter wishes the inward character to exhibit itself. We might paraphrase the whole thus:—“Let it not be with you a matter of external ornamentation—elaborate processes, and costly, but perishable, decorations—but let it be a matter of the heart, the character, the true self, manifesting itself in a constant tone of unassuming and imperturbable sweetness—an imperishable attraction.” The word “spirit” here is used, not in its strict metaphysical sense, but in the sense of a mood or general tenour and complexion of life; as, for instance, in Luke 9:55 (perhaps), 1Corinthians 4:21, Galatians 6:1, and elsewhere. St. Peter assures us in this passage that moral characteristics gained in this life remain our characteristics in the next.

Which is in the sight of God of great price.—The antecedent to “which” has been variously taken. Is it “the meek and quiet spirit?” Is it “the imperishableness of the meek and quiet spirit?” Or is it “the hidden man of the heart exhibiting itself in such a spirit?” Each has something to be said for it, but the last seems nearest to the truth. The thing which is valuable in the eyes of God is the having such an inward character. Thus we might put a stronger stop at the word “spirit;” and this relative clause will be another instance of St. Peter’s favourite mode of speech noticed on 1Peter 2:24. Such a possession will be not only attractive to the husband for the time, but has a permanent value as being esteemed by God.

3:1-7 The wife must discharge her duty to her own husband, though he obey not the word. We daily see how narrowly evil men watch the ways and lives of professors of religion. Putting on of apparel is not forbidden, but vanity and costliness in ornament. Religious people should take care that all their behaviour answers to their profession. But how few know the right measure and bounds of those two necessaries of life, food and raiment! Unless poverty is our carver, and cuts us short, there is scarcely any one who does not desire something beyond what is good for us. Far more are beholden to the lowliness of their state, than the lowliness of their mind; and many will not be so bounded, but lavish their time and money upon trifles. The apostle directs Christian females to put on something not corruptible, that beautifies the soul, even the graces of God's Holy Spirit. A true Christian's chief care lies in right ordering his own spirit. This will do more to fix the affections, and excite the esteem of a husband, than studied ornaments or fashionable apparel, attended by a froward and quarrelsome temper. Christians ought to do their duty to one another, from a willing mind, and in obedience to the command of God. Wives should be subject to their husbands, not from dread and amazement, but from desire to do well, and please God. The husband's duty to the wife implies giving due respect unto her, and maintaining her authority, protecting her, and placing trust in her. They are heirs together of all the blessings of this life and that which is to come, and should live peaceably one with another. Prayer sweetens their converse. And it is not enough that they pray with the family, but husband and wife together by themselves, and with their children. Those who are acquainted with prayer, find such unspeakable sweetness in it, that they will not be hindered therein. That you may pray much, live holily; and that you may live holily, be much in prayer.But let it be the hidden man of the heart - This expression is substantially the same as that of Paul in Romans 7:22, "the inward man." See the notes at that place. The word "hidden" here means that which is concealed; that which is not made apparent by the dress, or by ornament. It lies within, pertaining to the affections of the soul.

In that which is not corruptible - Properly, "in the incorruptible ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." This is said to be incorruptible in contradistinction to gold and apparel. They will decay; but the internal ornament is ever enduring. The sense is, that whatever pertains to outward decoration, however beautiful and costly, is fading; but that which pertains to the soul is enduring. As the soul is immortal, so all that tends to adorn that will be immortal too; as the body is mortal, so all with which it can be invested is decaying, and will soon be destroyed.

The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit - Of a calm temper; a contented mind; a heart free from passion, pride, envy, and irritability; a soul not subject to the agitations and vexations of those who live for fashion, and who seek to be distinguished for external adorning. The connection here shows that the apostle refers to this, not only as that which would be of great price in the sight of God, but as that which would tend to secure the affection of their husbands, and win them to embrace the true religion, (see 1 Peter 3:1-2); and, in order to this, he recommends them, instead of seeking external ornaments, to seek those of the mind and of the heart, as more agreeable to their husbands; as better adapted to win their hearts to religion; as that which would be most permanently proved. In regard to this point we may observe:

(1) that there are, undoubtedly, some husbands who are pleased with excessive ornaments in their wives, and who take a pleasure in seeing them decorated with gold, and pearls, and costly array.

(2) that all are pleased and gratified with a suitable attention to personal appearance on the part of their wives. It is as much the duty of a wife to be cleanly in her person, and neat in her habits, in the presence of her husband, as in the presence of strangers; and no wife can hope to secure the permanent affection of her husband who is not attentive to her personal appearance in her own family; especially if, while careless of her personal appearance in the presence of her husband, she makes it a point to appear gaily dressed before others. Yet.

(3) the decoration of the body is not all, nor is it the principal thing which husband desires. He desires primarily in his wife the more permanent adorning which pertains to the heart. Let it be remembered:

(a) that a large part of the ornaments on which females value themselves are lost to a great extent on the other sex. Many a man cannot tell the difference between diamonds and cut-glass, or paste in the form of diamonds; and few are such connoisseurs in the matter of female ornaments as to appreciate at all the difference in the quality or color of silks, and shawls, and laces, which might appear so important to a female eye. The fact is, that those personal ornaments which to females appear of so much value, are much less regarded and prized by people than they often suppose. It is a rare thing that a man is so thoroughly skilled in the knowledge of the distinctions that pertain to fashions, as to appreciate that on which the heart of a female often so much prides itself; and it is no great credit to him if he can do this. His time usually, unless he is a draper or a jeweler, might have been much better employed than in making those acquisitions which are needful to qualify him to appreciate and admire the specialties of frivilous female apparel.

(b) But a man has a real interest in what constitutes the ornaments of the heart. His happiness, in his contact with his wife, depends on these. He knows what is denoted by a kind temper; by gentle words; by a placid brow; by a modest and patient spirit; by a heart that is calm in trouble, and that is affectionate and pure; by freedom from irritability, fretfulness, and impatience; and he can fully appreciate the value of these things No professional skill is necessary to qualify him to see their worth; and no acquired tact in discrimination is requisite to enable him to estimate them according to their full value. A wife, therefore, if she would permanently please her husband, should seek the adorning of the soul rather than the body; the ornament of the heart rather than gold and jewels. The one can never be a substitute for the other; and whatever outward decorations she may have, unless she have a gentleness of spirit, a calmness of temper, a benevolence and purity of soul, and a cultivation of mind that her husband can love, she cannot calculate on his permanent affection.

Which is in the sight of God of great price - Of great value; that being of great value for which a large price is paid. He has shown his sense of its value:

(a) by commending it so often in his word:

(b) by making religion to consist so much in it, rather than in high intellectual endowments, learning, skill in the arts, and valor; and,

(c) by the character of his Son, the Lord Jesus, in whom this was so prominent a characteristic.

Sentiments not unlike what is here stated by the apostle, occur not unfrequently in pagan Classic writers. There are some remarkable passages in Plutarch, strongly resembling it: "An ornament, as Crates said, is that which adorns. The proper ornament of a woman is that which becomes her best. This is neither gold, nor pearls, nor scarlet, but those things which are an evident proof of gravity, regularity, and modesty" - Conjugalio Praecept., c. xxvi. The wife of Phocion, a celebrated Athenian general, receiving a visit from a lady who was elegantly adorned with gold and jewels, and her hair with pearls, took occasion to call the attention of her guest to the elegance and costliness of her dress. "My ornament," said the wife of Phocion, "is my husband, now for the twentieth year general of the Athenians" - Plutarch's Life of Phocion. "The Sicilian tyrant sent to the daughters of Lysander garments and tissues of great value, but Lysander refused them, saying, "These ornaments will rather put my daughters out of countenance than adorn them" - Plutarch. So in the fragments of Naumachius, as quoted by Benson, there is a precept much like this of Peter: "Be not too fond of gold, neither wear purple hyacinth about your neck, or the green jasper, of which foolish persons are proud. Do not covet such vain ornaments, neither view yourself too often in the glass, nor twist your hair into a multitude of curls," etc.

4. But—"Rather." The "outward adornment" of jewelry, &c., is forbidden, in so far as woman loves such things, not in so far as she uses them from a sense of propriety, and does not abuse them. Singularity mostly comes from pride and throws needless hindrances to religion in the way of others. Under costly attire there may be a humble mind. "Great is he who uses his earthenware as if it were plate; not less great is he who uses his silver as if it were earthenware" [Seneca in Alford].

hidden—inner man, which the Christian instinctively hides from public view.

of the heart—consisting in the heart regenerated and adorned by the Spirit. This "inner man of the heart" is the subject of the verb "be," 1Pe 3:3, Greek: "Of whom let the inner man be," namely, the distinction or adornment.

in that—consisting or standing in that as its element.

not corruptible—not transitory, nor tainted with corruption, as all earthly adornments.

meek and quiet—meek, not creating disturbances: quiet, bearing with tranquillity the disturbances caused by others. Meek in affections and feelings; quiet in words, countenance, and actions [Bengel].

in the sight of God—who looks to inward, not merely outward things.

of great price—The results of redemption should correspond to its costly price (1Pe 1:19).

The hidden man of the heart; the inward man, Romans 7:22 2 Corinthians 4:16; either the soul in opposition to the body, or the image of God, and graces of his Spirit in the soul, called elsewhere the new man, and opposed to natural corruption, or the old man, Ephesians 4:24 Colossians 3:9,10.

In that which is not corruptible: this relates to what follows,

the ornament of a meek, & c., and is opposed to those external ornaments before mentioned, which are of a fading, perishing nature, whereas this is constant and durable: and therefore women who are more apt to be overmuch pleased with external dresses, and bodily ornaments, are exhorted rather to enrich and beautify their souls with Divine graces, than their bodies with gaudy clothes.

Even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit: this notes the particular grace or graces (parts of the new man) in which the spiritual beauty and adorning of women’s souls consists; and either these two words, meek and quiet, are but indifferent expressions of the same grace; or, by meekness may be meant gentleness, easiness and sweetness of spirit, in opposition to moroseness, frowardness, pride, passion, &c.; and by quietness, a peaceable, still, modest temper, in opposition to pragmaticalness, talkativeness, clamorousness. These two usually go in conjunction together, and the latter is the effect of the former: see 1 Timothy 2:9-12.

Which: either this refers to spirit, or to the whole sentence, the ornament of a meek, & c., but the sense is still the same.

Is in the sight of God; who can best judge, (as looking to the inner man, which is not obvious to the eyes of others), and whose judgment is most to be valued: here God’s judgment is opposed to the judgment of vain women, who think to commend themselves to others by outward bravery, and of a vain world, which esteems such things.

Of great price: the excellency of grace and spiritual ornaments is set in opposition to gold and costly apparel: q.d. If women will be fine that they may appear beautiful, let them choose the best ornaments, those of the mind and heart, a meek and quiet spirit, which are precious in the sight of God himself, rather than these external ones, which serve only to draw men’s eyes toward them. But let it be the hidden man of the heart,.... By which is meant internal grace; which gives a beauty and ornament to the soul, far preferable to that which plaiting of the hair, wearing of gold, or any costly apparel, can give to the body: and this is called a man, as it is elsewhere the new man, Ephesians 4:24 because it has that which answers to what is in man, to his soul, and the powers and faculties of it: this man, or new creature, has a new heart and Spirit; it has a will to that which is spiritually good, and an understanding of divine things, and affections for Christ, for his Gospel, ordinances, ways, and people, and for things above: it has what answers to all the five senses; there is in it a seeing of the Son of God in the glories of his person and the fulness of his grace, and of the invisible things of another world; an hearing of the word, of the voice of Christ, so as to understand it, and live, and to distinguish it from the voice of a stranger; a smelling a sweet savour in the things of God, and of his Spirit, and in the person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ; a tasting that the Lord is gracious, his fruits pleasant, and his word sweeter than the honey, or the honeycomb; and a feeling of the burden of sin, an handling of the word of life, a laying hold on Christ, and retaining him: and it has what answers to the parts and members of the body; it has eyes to see with, ears to hear with, hands to receive from Christ, and work with, to his glory, and feet to walk with: it has, in short, all the parts of a man, though these are not yet grown up to perfection; and so that is not yet a perfect man, or arrived to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; but a man it is: and "a man of the heart"; it has its seat there; it is an inward principle in the soul; hence it is called the "inner" and "inward man"; and nothing outward is it, as external humiliation for sin, abstinence from it, reformation of life and manners, a profession of religion, and conformity to Gospel ordinances; but it is something inward, as appears from its names, both here and elsewhere; it is called spirit, seed, the root of the matter, and oil in the vessels; and from the seat and subject of it, the heart, the spirit, the understanding and will, the mind, conscience, and affections: and it is the "hidden man"; it is wisdom in the hidden part; it is hidden from the men of the world; they do not know what it is, nor what it means, nor how it is, or can be; the life of it is hidden from them, and the food it lives upon is hidden manna to them, and so are both its joys and sorrows: it is sometimes hidden from the saints themselves; when they walk in darkness, and see no light, they are at a loss to know whether this principle is in them or not; and it is hidden from other believers, till they give an account of it to them, when by comparing it with the word of God, and their own experience, they perceive it is the grace of God in them; and it is hidden from Satan, it is out of his reach, he cannot touch it; though he can touch the old man, and stir up the corruptions of it, yet he cannot touch the new man, that which is born of God, nor hurt or destroy it; but it is not hidden from God; he sees it where men cannot, being covered with a variety of infirmities and sins, and knows it is not where men sometimes think it is. The nature of this hidden man is further expressed by what follows,

in that which is not corruptible; it is opposed to corruptible things, as the outward adorning consists of, such as plaited hair, silver and gold, golden chains, rings, &c. and costly apparel; nor is it corrupt in itself; the old man is corrupt according to its deceitful lusts, but this new man, the hidden man of the heart, has no corruption in it, nor cleaving to it: it is the workmanship of God, and is created in righteousness and holiness; though it is as yet imperfect, there is nothing impure in it; nor can it ever perish, or be lost; it is an incorruptible seed, and will always remain when gold will perish, and the best of garments be moth eaten, and decay:

even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; this is one, and a principal part of the inward adorning, or hidden man of the heart; and those that are possessed of such a spirit are not easily provoked to anger; patiently bear, and put up with injuries; carry themselves affably and courteously unto all; entertain the meanest thoughts of themselves, and the best of others; do not envy the gifts and graces of others, and are willing to be instructed and admonished by the meanest saint; quietly submit to the will of God, in all adverse dispensations of Providence; and ascribe all they have, and are, to the free grace of God, and reckon that when they have done all they can, they are but unprofitable servants. This grace of meekness, humility, and quietness, is a fruit of the Spirit, and so a part of the hidden man, and is what is very ornamental to a believer; it is his clothing, his inward adorning, and what makes him lovely in the sight of God, and of his people; see 1 Peter 5:5 and it is very useful to him in hearing the word, in giving a reason of the hope that is in him, in restoring others, and in showing forth a good conversation; and particularly it greatly becomes, and exceedingly beautifies women professing godliness; who ought to bear much with their husbands, and be in silence, which is what the apostle has a principal regard unto: and to encourage the more to the exercise of it, adds,

which is in the sight of God of great price; which may refer to the whole adorning, to the hidden man of the heart, which is incorruptible, in opposition to the outward adorning, which may be esteemed by men, and be precious in their sight; and particularly to the ornament of meekness and quietness of spirit; for God has a great regard to the meek, humble, and quiet souls; he lifts them up, when cast down; he causes glad tidings to be preached to them; he increases their joy in the Lord; he feeds them, when hungry, to their satisfaction; he guides them in judgment, and teaches them his ways; he will rise up in judgment for them, and reprove with equity for their sake; he gives more grace unto them, and beautifies them with salvation, and will cause them to inherit the earth.

But let it be the {a} hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is {b} in the sight of God of great price.

(a) Who has his abiding place fastened in the heart: so that the hidden man is set against the outward adorning of the body.

(b) Precious indeed and so taken of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Peter 3:4. As antithesis to what precedes, ἀλλʼ ὁ ἔσωθεν κόσμος would have been expected; instead of this, however, the author at once states in what that adornment does consist.

ὁ κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος] does not mean: the virtutes christ. quas Spir. s. per regenerationem in homine operatur (Gerhard; so, too, Wiesinger and Fronmüiller), for here there is no mention either of the Holy Ghost or of regeneration. It denotes simply the inner man, in contradistinction to the outward man (so, too, de Wette, Brückner, Weiss, Schott, Hofmann); κρυπτός, antithesis to ἔξωθεν, 1 Peter 3:3; cf. ὁ ἔσω ἀνθρ., Romans 7:22; Ephesians 3:16; ὁ ἔσωθεν, sc. ἄνθρ., 2 Corinthians 4:16; cf., too, such expressions as: τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς καρδίας, 1 Corinthians 14:25, and τὰ κρυπτὰ τῶν ἄνθρ., Romans 2:16. The apostle selected the expression κρυπτός as a contrast to the conspicuous adornment formerly spoken of. τῆς καρδίας is not gen. qualitatis (Schott); καρδία itself denotes no quality; it is the genitive of apposition subjoined, in that καρδία is the seat of the feeling and the disposition.

ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ] τὸ ἄφθαρτον, substantive (like φθαρτά, chap. 1 Peter 1:18), “the imperishable” (incorrectly, Hofmann: ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ, sc. κόσμῳ), in contrast to the perishable ornaments above mentioned. The prepos. ἐν points out the sphere in which the inner hidden man should move. If “ὧν ὁ κόσμος ἔστω” be supplied after ἀλλά, then “ἐν is to be joined with it, so as to show in what, and with what, this their inward hidden man should be their ornament” (Schott; so, too, Hofmann).

τοῦ πρᾳέος καὶ ἡσυχίου πνεύματος] a more exact definition of the ἄφθαρτον; it denotes not the πν. ἅγιον of God, but the spirit of man. The meek and quiet spirit (here emphasized with special reference to ὑποτασσόμενοι, 1 Peter 3:1) is that “imperishable,” in which the hidden life of woman should exist and move.[170]

Ὅ ἘΣΤΙΝ ἘΝΏΠΙΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ΠΟΛΥΤΕΛΈς] does not apply to the whole (Grotius), nor to Τῷ ἈΦΘΆΡΤῼ (Bengel, Pott, Steiger, Schott), since it is self-evident that the ἌΦΘΑΡΤΟΝ is in God’s eyes ΠΟΛΥΤΕΛΈς. It is to be taken with the immediately preceding: ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς (de Wette, Wiesinger). Such a ΠΝΕῦΜΑ is, in the judgment of God (1 Timothy 2:3), ΠΟΛΥΤΕΛΈς (Mark 14:3; 1 Timothy 2:9), whilst outward adornment, worthless to the divine mind, possesses a value only in the eyes of men.[171]

[170] The two expressions: πραΰς and ἡσύχιος, must not be sharply distinguished; πραΰτης stands contrasted specially with ὀργή (Jam 1:20-21) or ζῆλος (Jam 3:13-14), synonymous with ἐπιεικεία (2 Corinthians 10:1), μακροθυμία (Colossians 3:12), ὑπομονή (1 Timothy 6:11), etc.; it is peculiar to him who does not allow himself to be provoked to wrath. ἡσυχία is related to ἀκαταστασία; a ἡσύχιος is he who is peaceable and does not care for noisy life. Bengel interprets: mansuetus (πραύς): qui non turbat; tranquillus (ἡσύχιος): qui turbas aliorum fert placide; the contrary would be more correct.

[171] Luther: “A woman should be thus disposed as not to care for adornment. Else when people turn their minds to adornment, they never give it up; that is their way and their nature; therefore, a Christian woman should despise it. But if her husband wish it, or there be some other good reason for adorning herself, then she is right to do so.” Calvin, too, rightly observes: Non quemvis cultum reprehendere voluit Petrus, sed morbum vanitatis, quo mulieres laborant.1 Peter 3:4. Yours be the secret man of the heart not the outward ornament. A better antithesis and a pretty paradox would be secured by supplying ἄνθρωπος with ὁ ἔξωθεν and taking κ. as predicate: your ornament be cf. οὕτως ἐκόσμουν ἑαυτάς (1 Peter 3:5). But the order in 1 Peter 3:3 is against this and a Greek reader would naturally think of the other sense of κ.= world universe and remember that man is a microcosm and “the universe the greatest and most perfect man” (Philo, p. 471 M.).—ὁ κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος, the hidden man that is the heart (or which belongs to the heart) is the equivalent of the Pauline inner man (Romans 7:22), i.e., Mind as contrasted with the outward man, i.e., flesh (Rom. l.e., cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16). St. Peter employs the terms used in the Sermon on the Mount; cf. St. Paul’s ὁ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος and περιτομὴ καρδίας, Romans 2:29.—ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ clothed in the incorruptible thing (or ornament, sc. κόσμῳ) contrasted with corruptible goldens; cf. Jam 2:2, ἀνὴρἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ.—τοῦπνεύματος, namely, the meek and quiet spirit. The adjectives are perhaps derived from the version of Isaiah 64:2, known to Clement of Rome (Ep. i. xiii. 4), ἐπὶ τίνα ἐπιβλέψω ἀλλʼ ἢ ἐπὶ τὸν πρᾳὺν καὶ ἡσύχιον καὶ τρέμοντά μου τὰ λόγια. Jesus professed Himself, πρᾳὺς καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ. For πνεύματος compare πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, Romans 1:4. In Romans 2:29, πν. is coupled with heart as contrasted with flesh and outwardness. which spirit or the posssesion of which reference.—πολυτελές suggests use of conception of Wisdom which is precious above rubies (Proverbs 3:15, etc.); cf. Jam 1:21; Jam 3:13, ἐν πρᾳύτητι σοφίας and description of the wisdom from above, Jam 3:17.4. the hidden man of the heart] The phrase is identical in meaning with the “inward man” of Romans 7:22, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 3:16. The word for “man” is one which takes within its range women as well as men. The “hidden humanity of the heart” would be somewhat too abstract in its form, and “the hidden human,” though the word has the sanction of one or two poets of mark, would sound too grotesque, but either would express the meaning of the word adequately. The “hidden man of the heart”—(the genitive expresses the fact that the life of the “hidden man” manifests itself in the sphere of the feelings and affections)—is the “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15), the “Christ formed in us” (Galatians 4:19), on which St Paul loves to dwell. Men do not see it with the outward eye, but they can be made to recognise its presence.

in that which is not corruptible] The contrast rests on the same sense of the perishableness even of the gold and silver and gems which men looked on as most durable, that we have seen in chap. 1 Peter 1:18. These pass away, but the true ornament of the hidden man has its being in the region of the imperishable.

of a meek and quiet spirit] The New Testament usage of the second adjective is confined to this passage and to 1 Timothy 2:2. So far as we can distinguish, where it is almost impossible to separate, “meekness,” the absence of self-assertion, of any morbid self-consciousness, may be thought of as the cause, and “quietness,” the calm tranquillity which is not only not an element of disturbance, but checks the action of such elements in others, as the effect. In their union the Apostle, speaking, we may hope, from his own experience, rightly finds a charm, a kosmos, compared with which gold and jewels are as nothing.

of great price] The Greek word is the same as that used of the “very precious ointment” in Mark 14:3 and the “costly array” of 1 Timothy 2:9. The connexion of St Peter with St Mark’s Gospel (see Introduction) gives a special interest to the first of these references. He had learnt the lesson that God’s estimate of value differs altogether from man’s, and is not to be measured by the standard which the world commonly applies.1 Peter 3:4. Ἀλλʼ ὁ κρυπτὸς, but the hidden) The inner is opposed to the outward: but instead of the inner it is called the hidden; by which a just desire of concealing itself is included in the idea.—ἄνθρωπος, man) Ephesians 3:16, note.—ἐν, in) Understand ὤν, which is. This hidden man is not the ornament itself, but is adorned by the ornament: the ornament itself is that which is incorruptible, etc., whence those women are so adorned whose hidden man rejoices in such a spirit.—ἀφθάρτῳ, incorruptible) Ephesians 6:24, note. This is opposed to outward adorning, which is corrupted. Concerning gold, comp. ch. 1 Peter 1:18. Meekness and quietness ought to be incorruptible. Moreover the corruption of this spirit is turbulent obstinacy (contumacy) and fear.—πραέος καὶ ἡσυχίου, of a meek and quiet spirit) The meek is he who does not create disturbance; the quiet, who bears with tranquility the disturbances caused by others, whether superiors, inferiors, or equals: to the former the end of 1 Peter 3:5 has reference; to the latter, the end of 1 Peter 3:6. Moreover the meek is shown by his affections; the quiet, in words, countenance, and mode of acting.—, which) The incorruptible.—ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ, in the sight of God) who looks to inward, and not outward things: whom the righteous strive to please.Verse 4. - But let it be the hidden man of the heart. The "hidden" is here equivalent to the "inward man" of Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16. It is that life which is "hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:2), the life of Christ ("the Second Man") in the heart, fashioning that heart after the likeness of Christ, forming in it "the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Colossians 3:10). This is hidden; it does not display itself like those conspicuous ornaments mentioned in the last verse. In that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; literally, in the incorruptibility of the meek and quiet spirit. This ornament is incorruptible; not like those corruptible things (comp. 1 Peter 1:18). The meek spirit does not flash into anger, does not answer again, takes harsh words gently and humbly. The quiet spirit is calm and tranquil; peaceful in itself, it spreads peace around (comp. 1 Timothy 2:2). Which is in the sight of God of great price. The adjective πολυτελές is used in Mark 14:3 of the ointment with which Mary anointed our Lord, and in 1 Timothy 2:9 of the "array" which St. Paul discourages for Christian women. Those adornments are costly in the sight of the world; the meek and quiet spirit is precious in the sight of God. Meek (πραέος)

See on Matthew 5:5.

Of great price (πολυτελές)

The word used to describe costly raiment, 1 Timothy 2:9.

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