1 Peter 3
Vincent's Word Studies
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
Likewise (ὁμοίως)

Rev., in like manner; better, because likewise in popular speech has, wrongly, the sense of also. Peter means in like manner with servants (1 Peter 2:18).

Be in subjection (ὑποτασσόμεναι)

Lit., being in subjection, or submitting yourselves; the same word which is used of the submission of servants (1 Peter 2:18).

Be won (κερδηθήσονται)

Rev., be gained. The word used by Christ, Matthew 18:15 : "gained thy brother."

While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
While they behold (ἐποπτεύσαντες)

See on 1 Peter 2:12.


See on 1 Peter 1:15. Rev., behavior.

Coupled with fear (ἐν φόβῳ)

Lit., in fear.

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

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.
Meek (πραέος)

See on Matthew 5:5.

Of great price (πολυτελές)

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

For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
Adorned (ἐκόσμουν)

Imperfect tense. Were accustomed to adorn.

Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
Amazement (πτόησιν)

Rev., terror. Compare the kindred verb πτοηθῆτε, be terrified, Luke 21:9; Luke 24:37; on which, see note. The word means a scare, or nervous excitement.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
According to knowledge

With an intelligent recognition of the nature of the marriage relation.

The woman (τῷ γυναικείῳ)

Not a noun, however, as would appear from the ordinary rendering, but an adjective, agreeing with σκεύει, vessel, as does also ἀσθενεστέρῳ, weaker. Both are attributes of vessel; the female vessel as weaker. So Rev., in margin.

Vessel (σκεύει)

Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:4. The primary idea of vessel, which is formed from the Latin vasellum, the diminutive of vas, a vase, is that of the receptacle which covers and contains; the case or protecting cover. Hence it is allied, etymologically, with vest, vestment, and wear. It is used in the New Testament (1) in the sense of a cup or dish (Luke 8:16; John 19:29; 2 Timothy 2:20; Revelation 2:27; Revelation 18:12). (2) Of the man, as containing the divine energy, or as a subject of divine mercy or wrath, and hence becoming a divine instrument. Thus Paul is a chosen vessel to bear God's name (Acts 9:15). Vessels of wrath (Romans 9:22); of mercy (Romans 9:23). So of the woman, as God's instrument, along with man, for his service in the family and in society. (3) Collectively, in the plural, of all the implements of any particular economy, as a house, or a ship. Matthew 12:29, goods; Acts 27:17, the tackling or gear of a ship.

Giving (ἀπονέμοντες)

Only here in New Testament. The word means, literally, to portion out, and is appropriate to the husband as controlling what is to be meted out to the wife.

Hindered (ἐγκόπτεσθαι)

So A. V. and Rev., and the best texts, and the majority of commentators. The word means, literally, to knock in; make an incision into; and hence, generally, to hinder or thwart (Galatians 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18). Some, however, read ἐκκόπτεσθαι, to cut off or destroy.

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Of one mind (ὁμόφρονες)

Rev., like-minded. Only here in New Testament. Compare Romans 12:16; Romans 15:5; Philippians 2:2, etc. Indicating unity of thought and feeling. From ὁμός, one and the same, and φρήν, the mind.

Having compassion one of another (συμπαθεῖς)

Only here in New Testament, though the kindred verb is found Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 10:34. The rendering is needlessly diffuse. Rev., much better, compassionate; sympathetic, in margin. Interchange of fellow-feeling in joy or sorrow. Our popular usage errs in limiting sympathy to sorrow.

Love as brethren (φιλάδελφοι)

Rev., more strictly, loving as brethren. Only here in New Testament.

Pitiful (εὔσπλαγχνοι)

Only here and Ephesians 4:32. Rev., better, tender-hearted. From εὖ, well, and σπλάγχνα, the nobler entrails, which are regarded as the seat of the affections, and hence equivalent to our popular use of heart. The original sense has given rise to the unfortunate translation bowels in the A. V., which occurs in its literal meaning only at Acts 1:18.


The A. V. has here followed the reading of the Tex. Rec., φιλόφρονες. But the best texts read ταπεινόφρονες, humble-minded. So Rev. This occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the kindred noun ταπεινοφροσύνη, humility, is found often. See on ταπεινός, lowly, notes on Matthew 11:29.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Rendering evil, etc

See Romans 12:17.

Blessing (εὐλογοῦντες)

Not a noun governed by rendering, but a participle. Be not rendering evil, but be blessing.

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
Will love (θέλων ἀγαπᾶν)

Not the future tense of love, but the verb to will, with the infinitive: he that desires or means to love. Rev., would love.

Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
Eschew (ἐκκλινάτω)

The old word eschew is from the Norman eschever, to shun or avoid. It reappears in the German scheuen, to be startled or afraid, and in the English shy, and to shy (as a horse). The Greek word here occurs only twice elsewhere (Romans 3:12; Romans 16:17), where Rev. renders turn aside and turn away. It is compounded of ἐκ, out of, and κλίνω, to cause to bend or slope; so that the picture in the word is of one bending aside from his course at the approach of evil. Rev., turn away from.

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
Followers (μιμηταὶ)

Lit., imitators. But the best texts read ζηλωταὶ, zealots. So Rev., zealous.

But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

See on Matthew 5:3.

Be troubled (ταραχθῆτε)

The word used of Herod's trouble (Matthew 2:3); of the agitation of the pool of Bethesda (John 5:4); of Christ's troubled spirit (John 12:27).

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Sanctify the Lord God

The A. V. follows the Tex. Rec., reading τὸν Θεὸν, God, instead of τὸν Χριστὸν, Christ, which is the reading of the best texts. The article with Christ shows that κύριον, Lord, is to be taken predicatively. Render, therefore, as Rev., sanctify Christ (the Christ) as Lord.

Ready to give an answer (ἕτοιμοι πρὸς ἀπολογίαν)

Lit., ready for an answer. Answer is our word apology, not in the popular sense of excuse, but in the more radical sense of defence. So it is translated Acts 22:1; Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:16. Clearing of yourselves, 2 Corinthians 7:11.


See on Matthew 5:5.

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
Having a good conscience (συνείδησιν ἔχοντες ἀγαθήν)

The position of the adjective shows that it is used predicatively: having a conscience good or unimpaired. Compare Hebrews 13:18, "We have a good conscience (καλὴν συνείδησιν)." Συνείδησις, conscience, does not occur in the gospels, unless John 8:1-11 be admitted into the text. Nor is it a word familiar to classical Greek. It is compounded of σύν, together with, and εἰδέναι, to know; and its fundamental idea is knowing together with one's self. Hence it denotes the consciousness which one has within himself of his own conduct as related to moral obligation; which consciousness exercises a judicial function, determining what is right or wrong, approving or condemning, urging to performance or abstinence. Hence it is not merely intellectual consciousness directed at conduct, but moral consciousness contemplating duty, testifying to moral obligation, even where God is not known; and, where there is knowledge of God and acquaintance with him, inspired and directed by that fact. A man cannot be conscious of himself without knowing himself as a moral creature. Cremer accordingly defines the word as "the consciousness man has of himself in his relation to God, manifesting itself in the form of a self-testimony, the result of the action of the spirit in the heart." And further, "conscience is, essentially, determining of the self-consciousness by the spirit as the essential principle of life. In conscience man stands face to face with himself." Conscience is, therefore, a law. Thus Bishop Butler: "Conscience does not only offer itself to show us the way we should walk in, but it likewise carries its own authority with it, that it is our natural guide, the guide assigned us by the Author of our nature; it therefore belongs to our condition of being; it is our duty to walk in that path and follow this guide." And again, "That principle by which we survey, and either approve or disapprove our own heart, temper, and actions, is not only to be considered as what is, in its turn, to have some influence, which may be said of every passion, of the lowest appetites; but likewise as being superior; as from its very nature claiming superiority over all others; insomuch that you cannot form a notion of this faculty, conscience, without taking in judgment, direction, superintendency. This is a constituent part of the idea, that is, of the faculty itself; and to preside and govern, from the very economy and constitution of man, belongs to it. Had it strength as it had right; had it power as it had manifest authority, it would absolutely govern the world" (Sermons II. and III., "On Human Nature").

Conscience is a faculty. The mind may "possess reason and distinguish between the true and the false, and yet be incapable of distinguishing between virtue and vice. We are entitled, therefore, to hold that the drawing of moral distinctions is not comprehended in the simple exercise of the reason. The conscience, in short, is a different faculty of the mind from the mere understanding. We must hold it to be simple and unresolvable till we fall in with a successful decomposition of it into its elements. In the absence of any such decomposition we hold that there are no simpler elements in the human mind which will yield us the ideas of the morally good and evil, of moral obligation and guilt, of merit and demerit. Compound and decompound all other ideas as you please, associate them together as you may, they will never give us the ideas referred to, so peculiar and full of meaning, without a faculty implanted in the mind for this very purpose" (McCosh, "Divine Government, Physical and Moral").

Conscience is a sentiment: i.e., it contains and implies conscious emotions which arise on the discernment of an object as good or bad. The judgment formed by conscience awakens sensibility. When the judicial faculty pronounces a thing to be lovable, it awakens love. When it pronounces it to be noble or honorable, it awakens respect and admiration. When it pronounces it to be cruel or vile, it awakens disgust and abhorrence.

In scripture we are to view conscience, as Bishop Ellicott remarks, not in its abstract nature, but in its practical manifestations. Hence it may be weak (1 Corinthians 8:7, 1 Corinthians 8:12), unauthoritative, and awakening only the feeblest emotion. It may be evil or defiled (Hebrews 10:22; Titus 1:15), through consciousness of evil practice. It may be seared (1 Timothy 4:2), branded by its own testimony to evil practice, hardened and insensible to the appeal of good. On the other hand, it may be pure (2 Timothy 1:3), unveiled, and giving honest and clear moral testimony. It may be void of offence (Acts 24:16), unconscious of evil intent or act; good, as here, or honorable (Hebrews 13:18). The expression and the idea, in the full Christian sense, are foreign to the Old Testament, where the testimony to the character of moral action and character is borne by external revelation rather than by the inward moral consciousness.

Falsely accuse (ἐπηρεάζοντες)

Compare Luke 6:28; the only other passage where the word occurs, Matthew 5:44, being rejected from the best texts. The word means to threaten abusively; to act despitefully. Rev., revile.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
If the will of God be so (εἰ θέλοι τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ)

More literally, as Rev., preserving the play upon the word will, if the will of God should so will.

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
The just for the unjust

But the Greek without the article is more graphic: just for unjust.

In the flesh

The Greek omits the article. Read in flesh, the material form assumed in his incarnation.

In the spirit

Also without the article, in spirit; not as A. V., by the Spirit, meaning the Holy Ghost, but referring to his spiritual, incorporeal life. The words connect themselves with the death-cry on the cross: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Huther observes, "Flesh is that side of the man's being by which he belongs to earth, is therefore a creature of earth, and accordingly perishable like everything earthy. Spirit, on the other hand, is that side of his being according to which he belongs to a supernal sphere of being, and is therefore not merely a creature of earth, and is destined to an immortal existence."

Thus we must be careful and not understand spirit here of the Spirit of God, as distinguished from the flesh of Christ, but of the spiritual nature of Christ; "the higher spiritual nature which belonged to the integrity of his humanity" (Cook).

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
By which (ἐν ᾧ)

Wrong. Rev., correctly, in which in the spiritual form of life; in the disembodied spirit.

Went and preached (πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν)

The word went, employed as usual of a personal act; and preached, in its ordinary New-Testament sense of proclaiming the Gospel.

To the spirits (πνεύμασιν)

As in Hebrews 12:23, of disembodied spirits, though the word ψυχαὶ, souls, is used elsewhere (Revelation 6:9; Revelation 20:4).

In prison (ἐν φυλακῇ)

Authorities differ, some explaining by 2 Peter 2:4; Jde 1:6; Revelation 20:7, as the final abode of the lost. Excepting in the last passage, the word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament in a metaphorical sense. It is often translated watch (Matthew 14:25; Luke 2:8); hold and cage (Revelation 18:2). Others explain as Hades, the kingdom of the dead generally.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
In which (εἰς ἣν)

Lit., into which. A pregnant construction; into which they were gathered, and in which they were saved.

By water (διὰ)

Rev., through. Some take this as instrumental, by means of water; others as local, by passing through the water, or being brought safely through the water into the ark. Rev., in margin, were brought safely through water.

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
The like figure whereunto

Following a rejected reading, ᾧ, to which; so that the literal rendering would be the antitype to which. Read ὃ ἀντίτυπον, which, the antitype or as an antitype; i.e., which water, being the antitype of that water of the flood, doth now save you, even baptism. Rev., which, after a true likeness doth now, etc. Ἀντίτυπον, figure, or anti-type, is from ἀντί, over against, and τύπος, a blow. Hence, originally, repelling a blow: a blow against a blow; a counter-blow. So of an echo or of the reflection of light; then a correspondence, as of a stamp to the die, as here. The word occurs only once elsewhere, Hebrews 9:24 : "the figures of the true."

Putting away (ἀπόθεσις)

Peculiar to Peter. Here and 2 Peter 1:14.

Filth (ῥύπου)

Only here in New Testament. In classical Greek signifying especially dry dirt, as on the person.

Answer (ἐπερώτημα)

Only here in New Testament. In classical Greek the word means a question and nothing else. The meaning here is much disputed, and can hardly be settled satisfactorily. The rendering answer has no warrant. The meaning seems to be (as Alford), "the seeking after God of a good and pure conscience, which is the aim and end of the Christian baptismal life." So Lange: "The thing asked may be conceived as follows: 'How shall I rid myself of an evil conscience? Wilt thou, most holy God, again accept me, a sinner? Wilt thou, Lord Jesus, grant me the communion of thy death and life? Wilt thou, O Holy Spirit, assure me of grace and adoption, and dwell in my heart?' To these questions the triune Jehovah answers in baptism, 'Yea!' Now is laid the solid foundation for a good conscience. The conscience is not only purified from its guilt, but it receives new vital power by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

This is the sense of ἐπερωτᾷν εἰς, in the only place where it occurs in scripture, 2 Samuel 11:7 (Sept.): "David asked of him how Joab did (ἐπερώτησεν εἰς εἰρήνην Ἰωάβ)." Lit., with reference to the peace of Joab. Rev. renders, the interrogation, and puts inquiry, appeal, in margin.

Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Gone into heaven

Perhaps with the scene of the ascension in Peter's mind.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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