1 Peter 3:3
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
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(3) Whose adorning let it not be . . . .—The passage shows that the Asiatic Christians were not all of the poorer classes. Many of the wealthy Jewesses had joined them. The wealth of the Ephesian Christians about this time may be gathered from 1Timothy 2:9, and of the Laodiceans from Revelation 3:17. Two things are to be noted about the advice here given. (1) It is not intended directly as a corrective of vanity. St. Peter is not bidding them beware of love of dress, although (as Bengel points out) the three words of “plaiting,” “wearing” (literally, putting round oneself), and “putting on,” are intended to convey the notion of elaborate processes in which time is wasted. But the main thought is, How are the husbands to be attracted? Not, says St. Peter, by any external prettiness of adornment, but by inward graces. (2) The Apostle is not forbidding the use of gold, &c. Leighton (himself something of a precisian) says, “All regard of comeliness and ornament in apparel is not unlawful, nor doth the Apostle’s expression here, rightly considered, fasten that upon the adorning he here speaks of. He doth no more universally condemn the use of gold for ornament than he doth any other comely raiment, which here he means by that general word of putting on of apparel, for his ‘not’ is comparative; not this adorning, but the ornament of a meek spirit, that rather, and as much more comely and precious; as that known expression (Hosea 6:6), ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice?” At the same time he is, of course, speaking of these things with studied contempt: and we may be sure he would have spoken with abhorrence of any adorning which partook of the nature of lying. Even in one of Xenophon’s works there is a charming passage where an Athenian gentleman expostulates with his wife on the folly of hoping to attract him by wearing high-heeled shoes and painting her face with rouge and white.

1 Peter 3:3-4. Whose adorning, &c, — See note on 1 Timothy 2:9; Titus 2:3. “Three things are here expressly forbidden: curling the hair, wearing gold, (by way of ornament,) and putting on costly or gay apparel. These, therefore, ought never to be allowed, much less defended, by Christians.” — Wesley. But let it be the hidden man of the heart — An inward, gracious disposition, or complete inward holiness, namely, that which is not corruptible — Which will not wear out and decay, as the external ornaments of dress will; even a meek and quiet spirit — Essential to true holiness. A meek spirit consists in bearing provocation patiently; a quiet spirit in abstaining from giving provocation, especially by bitter language, and from causing unnecessary trouble to any; in the sight of God — Who looks at the heart. “All superfluity of dress contributes more to pride and anger than is generally supposed. The apostle seems to have an eye to this, by substituting meekness and quietness in the room of the ornaments he forbids. ‘I do not regard these things,’ is often said by those whose hearts are wrapped up in them. But offer to take them away, and you touch the very idol of their souls. Some, indeed, only dress elegantly that they may be looked on; that is, they squander away their Lord’s talent to gain applause; thus making sin to beget sin, and then plead one in excuse of the other.” — Wesley. The sentiments contained in this verse are illustrated by Blackwall (Sacred Classics: vol. 1. p. 164,) as follows: “How must all the short-lived beauties, the shapes, features, and most elegant and rich ornaments of the mortal body, which attract the eyes and admiration of vain mortals, fade away, and lose their charms and lustre, when compared with the heavenly graces of a pious and regular temper, the incorruptible ornaments and beauties of the soul, which are ever amiable, and of high value in the eye of God, the Sovereign Judge of what is good and beautiful!” Nearly resembling this is a passage of Crates, a heathen philosopher, quoted by Plutarch: “Neither gold, nor emeralds, nor pearls grace and ornament a woman; but all those things which clearly express and set off her gravity, regularity, and modesty.”

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.Whose adorning - Whose ornament. The apostle refers here to a propensity which exists in the heart of woman to seek that which would be esteemed ornamental, or that which will appear well in the sight of others, and commend us to them. The desire of this is laid deep in human nature and therefore, when properly regulated is not wrong. The only question is, what is the true and appropriate ornament? What should be primarily sought as the right kind of adorning? The apostle does not condemn true ornament, nor does he condemn the desire to appear in such a way as to secure the esteem of others. God does not condemn real ornament. The universe is full of it. The colors of the clouds and of the rainbow; the varied hues of flowers; the plumage of birds, and the covering of many of the animals of the forest; the green grass; the variety of hill and dale; the beauty of the human complexion, the ruddy cheek, and the sparkling eye, are all of the nature of ornament. They are something superadded to what would be merely useful, to make them appear well. Few or none of these things are absolutely necessary to the things to which they are attached; for the eye could see without the various tints of beauty that are drawn upon it, and the lips and the cheeks could perform their functions without their beautiful tints, and the vegetable world could exist without the variegated colors that are painted on it; but God meant that this should be a beautiful world; that it should appear well; that there should be something more than mere utility. The true notion of ornament or adorning is that which will make any person or thing appear well, or beautiful, to others; and the apostle does not prohibit that which would have this effect in the wife. The grand thing which she was to seek, was not that which is merely external, but that which is internal, and which God regards as of so great value.

Let it not be that outward adorning - Let not this be the main or principal thing; let not her heart be set on this. The apostle does not say that she should wholly neglect her personal appearance, for she has no more right to be offensive to her husband by neglecting her personal appearance, than by a finical attention to it. Religion promotes neatness, and cleanliness, and a proper attention to our external appearance according to our circumstances in life, as certainly as it does to the internal virtue of the soul. On this whole passage, see the notes at 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

Of plaiting the hair - See the notes at 1 Timothy 2:9; Compare the notes at Isaiah 3:24. Great attention is paid to this in the East, and it is to this that the apostle here refers. "The women in the eastern countries," says Dr. Shaw, (Travels, p. 294,) "affect to have their hair hang down to the ground, which they collect into one lock, upon the hinder part of the head, binding and plaiting it about with ribbons. Above this, or on the top of their heads, persons of better fashion wear flexible plates of gold or silver, variously cut through, and engraved in imitation of lace." We are not to suppose that a mere braiding or plaiting of the hair is improper, for there may be no more simple or convenient way of disposing of it. But the allusion here is to the excessive care which then prevailed, and especially to their setting the heart on such ornaments rather than on the adorning which is internal. It may not be easy to fix the exact limit of propriety about the method of arranging the hair, or about any other ornament; but those whose hearts are right, generally have little difficulty on the subject. Every ornament of the body, however beautiful, is soon to be laid aside; the adorning of the soul will endure forever.

And of wearing of gold - The gold here particularly referred to is probably that which was interwoven in the hair, and which was a common female ornament in ancient times. Thus, Virgil says, crines nodantur in aurum. And again, crinem implicat auro. See Homer, Iliad, B. 872; Herod. i. 82; and Thucydides i. 6. The wearing of gold in the hair, however, was more common among women of loose morals than among virtuous females - Pollux iv. 153. It cannot be supposed that all wearing of gold about the person is wrong, for there is nothing evil in gold itself, and there may be some articles connected with apparel made of gold that may in no manner draw off the affections from higher things, and may do nothing to endanger piety. The meaning is, that such ornaments should not be sought; that Christians should be in no way distinguished for them; that they should not engross the time and attention; that Christians should so dress as to show that their minds are occupied with nobler objects, and that in their apparel they should be models of neatness, economy, and plainness. If it should be said that this expression teaches that it is wrong to wear gold at all, it may be replied that on the same principle it would follow that the next clause teaches that it is wrong to put on apparel at all. There is really no difficulty in such expressions. We are to dress decently, and in the manner that will attract least attention, and we are to show that our hearts are interested supremely in more important things than in outward adorning.

Or of putting on of apparel - That is, this is not to be the ornament which we principally seek, or for which we are distinguished. We are to desire a richer and more permanent adorning - that of the heart.

3. Literally, "To whom let there belong (namely, as their peculiar ornament) not the outward adornment (usual in the sex which first, by the fall, brought in the need of covering, Note, see on [2617]1Pe 5:5) of," &c.

plaiting—artificial braiding, in order to attract admiration.

wearing—literally, "putting round," namely, the head, as a diadem—the arm, as a bracelet—the finger, as rings.

apparel—showy and costly. "Have the blush of modesty on thy face instead of paint, and moral worth and discretion instead of gold and emeralds" [Melissa].

Let it not be; let it not be chiefly, or not so much the adorning of the outward man as the inward; the negative here is to be taken as a comparative, as Exodus 16:8 Luke 14:12. The apostle doth not absolutely condemn all kind of ornaments, or rich attire, which we find used sometimes by the godly themselves in the Scripture, Genesis 24:22,30 Es 5:1; compared with Psalm 45:9,13, where the spiritual ornaments of Christ’s spouse are set forth by terms taken from the external ornaments of Solomon’s wife; and Ezekiel 16:12, these things are spoken of as God’s gifts. But he taxeth all vanity, levity, immoderate sumptuousness or luxury in apparel, and bodily ornaments in women, (or men), whatsoever is above their place and condition in the world, or above their estate and ability; such as proceeds from any lust, (pride, wantonness, &c.), or tends to the provoking or cherishing any, or is accompanied with the neglecting or slighting of inward beauty and spiritual ornaments.

Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning,.... Or that only and principally; let not that be solely or chiefly attended to, nor anxiously sought after, nor ever in order to allure and ensnare others, or to fill with pride and vanity; nor should it be indecent and luxurious, immodest and immoderate, and unsuitable to the age, character, and station of persons; otherwise clothing is both convenient and necessary; and a decent garb, neat and modest apparel, and what is suitable to the years, rank, and quality of persons, is very commendable: nor are we to suppose that the apostle forbids the use of what follows, but only when used in a luxurious and extravagant manner, and to feed pride and vanity, and encourage, lasciviousness and wantonness:

of plaiting the hair; folding it up in curls, tying it up in knots, and putting it into the form of horns and towers, made by their crisping pins, with their cauls and round tires, like the moon, as was the custom of those times, and still is. There were women among the Jews, whose business it was to plait women's hair; Mary Magdalene is thought to have her name from thence, and that to be her business. The Jews often speak of one Miriam or Mary, by whom they seem to mean the mother of our Lord, who, they say (m) was reyv aldgmvyer nvyya , "a plaiter of women's hair"; see Gill on Matthew 27:56.

And of wearing of gold; or "golden things"; golden ornaments, as bracelets, chains, and rings, or pieces of gold stuck in the plaitings and folds of the hair. The Jewish women used to wear a crown of gold on their head, in the form of the city of Jerusalem, called a golden city (n); and which they wore, after its destruction, in memory of it; but with those they might not go out on a sabbath day. R. Akibah, it is said (o), made a golden city for his wife, and the wife of Rabban Gamaliel envied her, for it seems this was reckoned a grand dress. Not that the sense is, that every thing of this kind is forbidden, but when used to excess and extravagance; otherwise the daughters of Abraham and Sarah were decked with ear rings, bracelets, and jewels of gold; see Genesis 24:22.

or of putting on of apparel; that is "excellent", or precious, as the Syriac version adds; or "of great price", as the Ethiopic; that is beyond a person's ability or rank; the apostle means such apparel as is unbecoming and unsuitable, for he cannot be thought to forbid the putting on of any apparel; but his sense is, that women should not so much regard, and be so intent upon the outward adorning of their bodies, with any sort of clothing, and especially such as does not become them, as the inward adorning of their minds, next mentioned,

(m) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 104. 2. Chagiga, fol. 4. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 67. 1.((n) Misn. Sabbat, c. 6. sect. 1.((o) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 7. 4.

{3} Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

(3) He condemns the unrestrained indulgences and excesses of women, and sets forth their true apparel, such as is precious before God, that is, the inward and incorruptible, which consists in a meek and quiet spirit.

1 Peter 3:3. ὧν ἔστω] The genitive ὧν does not depend on a κόσμος to be supplied from the predicate ὁ ἔξωθενκόσμος (de Wette, Wiesinger, Schott, Hofmann); such a construction, arbitrary in itself, is here entirely inadmissible on account of the remoteness of the predicate, from which the idea wanting is to be taken. The genitive is rather ruled by ἔστω. εἶναί τινος expresses, as usual, the relation of belonging to; the sense is therefore: “whose business let it be,” i.e. who have to occupy themselves with.[169]

οὐχ ὁ ἔξωθεν κ.τ.λ.] As often in our epistle, the negative preceding the positive.

ὁ ἔξωθεν is closely joined together with κόσμος. The genitives which stand between, and are dependent on κόσμος, serve to determine the idea more precisely; their position immediately after ὁ ἔξωθεν is explained from the intention of the writer to lay special emphasis on them, since it belongs to women to take pleasure in adorning themselves in this wise. The whole expression is to be interpreted thus: “outward adornment wrought by the plaiting of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel.”

ἐμπλοκή, ἅπ. λεγ. (in the passage specially to be compared with this, 1 Timothy 2:9, πλέγματα is used), not: “the plaits,” but “the plaiting;” it is an active idea, like περίθεσις and ἔνδυσις; “these verbalia describe the vain occupation of worldly women” (Wies.); χρύσια are golden ornaments generally.

The last two members of the clause, united by , are connected with the first by καί, because they have reference to things which are put on the body.

[169] When Hofmann would advance against this construction that the affirmative subject (ver. 4) is not suitable to it, “since it may be said of the hidden man of the heart, that it should be the woman’s adornment, but not that it should be her business, for she herself is that hidden man,” it must be observed in reply that it is not ὁ κρυπτὸςἄνθρωπος in itself, but ὁ κρυπτὸςἄνθρωτος ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ κ.τ.λ., which is to he taken as that which should be characteristic of women; as Hofmann also in his expositions says, the adornment of women is not indicated by the simple, but by the compound expression.

1 Peter 3:3. The description of the external ornaments proper to heathen society seems to be based on Isaiah 3:17-23. where the destruction of the hair, jewels and raiment of the daughters of Zion is foretold.—ἐμπλοκῆς τριχῶν, braiding of hair. 1 Timothy 2:9, πλέγμασιν καὶ χρυσίῳ refers to the golden combs and nets used for the purpose; cf. ἐμπλόκια, Isaiah 3:18, for שביסים. Juvenal describes the elaborate coiffures which Roman fashion prescribed for the Park and attendance at the Mysteries of Adonis: tot premit ordinibus tot adhuc compagibus altum aedificat caput (Sat. vi. 492–504). Clement of Alexandria quotes 1 Peter 3:1-4, in his discussion of the whole subject (Paed., III. xi.); and in regard to this particular point says ἀπόχρη μαλάσσειν τὰς τρίχας καὶ ἀναδεῖσθαι τὴν κόμην ἐντελῶς περόνῃ τινι λιτῇ παρὰ τὸν αὐχένακαὶ γὰρ αἱ περιπλοκαὶ τῶν τριχῶν αἱ ἑταιρικαὶ καὶ αἱ τῶν σειρῶν ἀναδέσειςκόπτουσι τὰς τρίχας ἀποτίλλουσαι ταῖς πανούργοις ἐμπλοκαῖς, because of which they do not even touch their own head for fear of disturbing their hair—nay more sleep comes to them with terror lest they should unawares; spoil τὸ σχῆμα τῆς ἐμπλοκῆς (p. 290. P).—περιθέσεως χρυσίων, i.e., rings bracelets, etc., enumerated in Isa. l.c.ἐνδύσεως ἱματίων. Stress might be laid on κόσμος, or the crowning prohibition regarded as an exaggeration intended to counteract an ingrained bias. In either case the expression points to a remarkable precedent for this teaching in Plato’s Republic IV., iii. ff. “Plato’s assignment of common duties and common training to the two sexes is part of a well-reasoned and deliberate attempt by the Socratic school to improve the position of women in Greece … Socrates’ teaching inaugurated an era of protest against the old Hellenic view of things.… In later times the Stoics constituted themselves champions of similar views” (Adam, ad loc.). Accordingly gymnastics must be practised by women as by men: ἀποδυτέον δὴ ταῖς τῶν φυλάκων γυναιξὶν ἐπείπερ ἀρετὴν ἀντὶ ἱματίων ἀμφιέσονται.

3. that outward adorning of plaiting the hair] So St Paul lays stress in 1 Timothy 2:9 on the “braided hair and gold and pearls” which were at the time conspicuous in the toilet of Greek and Roman women. The sculptures of the Empire at this period shew to what extent this “braiding” and “plaiting” was carried, sometimes rising to a height of some inches above the head, sometimes intertwined with twisted chains of gold or strings of pearls. The fineness and fashion of the garments of women had at this time reached an almost unparalleled extravagance. The filmy half-transparent tissue of the Coan loom, the dyed garments of Miletus and Sardis, were especially in demand. Christian women, St Peter teaches, were not to seek their adornment in such things as these, but in “a meek and quiet spirit.” The question may be asked, Are the Apostle’s words prohibitive as well as hortatory? Is it wrong for Christian women now to plait their hair, or to wear gold ornaments or pearls? The answer to that question must be left mainly to the individual conscience. “Let every one be fully persuaded in her own mind.” As some help to a decision, however, it may be noted (1) that the language is not that of formal prohibition, but of a comparative estimate of the value of the two kinds of adornment; (2) that in regard to the third form of ornamentation, seeing that some clothes must be worn, the words cannot have a merely prohibitive force; and (3) that in the possible, if not common, case of the husband giving such ornaments and wishing his wife to wear them, the “meek and quiet spirit” which the Apostle recommends would naturally shew itself in complying with his requests rather than in an obstinate and froward refusal. On the whole then, as a rule bearing upon daily life, we may say that while the words do not condemn the use of jewellery, or attention to the colour and the form of dress, within the limits of simplicity and economy, they tend to minimise that form of personal adornment, and bid women trust not to them, but to moral qualities, as elements of attraction. It would be, perhaps, a safe rule that no woman should spend money for herself on such ornaments.

1 Peter 3:3. Ὡν ἔστω, whose let it be) A graphic painting of the inward character by the outward gestures.[24] Women themselves are thus to resolve: we claim for ourselves, we regard as our own, not outward ornament, but the inner man, etc.—οὐχ ὁκόσμος, notadorning) Although they use such adorning, as the occasion permits, yet they do not consider it as adorning.—ἐμπλοκῆς· περιθέσεως· ἐνσύσεως, of plaiting; of wearing; of putting on) The verbals imply the labour bestowed on dress, which consumes much time.

[24] See Append. on ETHOPOEIA.—E.

Verse 3. - Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair. A common Hebraism, like our Lord's injunction in John 6:27, "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which cndureth unto everlasting life." St. Peter does not forbid the moderate use of ornaments, but asserts their utter worthlessness compared with Christian graces. The ladies of the time seem often to have had their hair dressed in a very fantastic and extravagant manner. And of wearing of gold; rather, golden ornaments. Or of putting on of apparel. This verse shows that, although the mass of believers at this time belonged to the poorer classes, yet there must have been a proportion of persons of rank and wealth among the Christians of Asia Minor (comp. 1 Timothy 2:9; Revelation 3:17). 1 Peter 3:3Of plaiting (ἐμπλοκῆς)

Only here in New Testament. Compare 1 Timothy 2:9. The Roman women of the day were addicted to ridiculous extravagance in the adornment of the hair. Juvenal ("Satire," vi.) satirizes these customs. He says: "The attendants will vote on the dressing of the hair as if a question of reputation or of life were at stake, so great is the trouble she takes in quest of beauty; with so many tiers does she lead, with so many continuous stories does she build up on high her head. She is tall as Andromache in front, behind she is shorter. You would think her another person." The hair was dyed, and secured with costly pins and with nets of gold thread. False hair and blond wigs were worn.

Putting on (ἐνδύσεως)

Only here in New Testament. Female extravagance in dress in the days of the empire reached an alarming pitch.

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