1 Peter 3:7
Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel…
A happier case is supposed than the preceding. The husband is "won;" they are "heirs together of the grace of life;" and there opens before them the possibility of blessing they have never known. But even this bus a touch of sadness in it. If it be painful for the one member in this relationship having a piety in which the other has no share, it is only one degree less so when they share it equally, but live as though they did not. Sharing in all else, but units and solitary in things eternal. Two fellow-travelers walking to Emmaus, each talking with Jesus as they go, but neither with the other - that is the case supposed here. ("According to knowledge;" equivalent to knowledge of what is possible and due to two hearts bound together, first by natural relationship, and then by common love to God.)
I. THE BLESSEDNESS OF MUTUAL PIETY IN HUSBAND AND WIFE. They are both "heirs of the grace of life;" but the fear is that they do not dwell with one another as "heirs together." Two persons may make the same journey, and never speak. How different that from two who go in every respect together, having common interest in all that happens! The one is far less blessed than the other. Peter here urges the greater blessedness. Think how much it involves.
1. It produces the closest possible union. For that there must be no secrets, nothing reserved. Thus we can get nearer to God than to any other; we can never lose ourselves but in the heavenly Father. But those we love best on earth may come closer to us in this respect than they sometimes do; and some Christian husbands and wives may thus be more to each other than they are, sharing not only temporal, but spiritual affairs. In this way there may be a union unutterably more intense, precious, and fruitful, than before.
2. It provides much powerful support. Our deepest spiritual experiences cannot be told; many others should not be. In some things God would have us for himself. But there is much also of the spiritual life whose utterance to a fellow-creature is a distinct need of the soul; as our Lord himself, in taking the favored three apart with him at some of the crises of his history - the Transfiguration, for instance, and Gethsemane - seemed to express the need of human sympathy, although in its highest degree he had the Divine. God, moreover, has given us our fellows to be a helpmeet to us, as well as himself, and we are only complete with both. It would lighten the spiritual burden and brighten the spiritual journey for husband and wife to commune together of the way they go.
3. It gives the most blessed of all anticipations. "Till death us do part" is only true of those whose union is not in the Lord. Absence for the day's work, or across broad seas, does not part husband and wife; they are still one, still one another's. To more does death rend in twain Christian spirits; the oneness remains, and there will be a meeting again soon; and that meeting will be heaven. If supreme love to God, which is required of us on earth, be consistent with profound and tender love to a fellow-creature, which is also required, they will be mutually consistent in the higher world. Yea, then God will be more to us, being shared with the other at our side, and the benediction of his presence will impart an added rapture because it is given to us both. Of those who are gone before it is said, "They without us are not yet made perfect." "So" - i.e. "together " - "we shall ever be with the Lord." That is our prospect. Then let us by a mutual piety anticipate heaven now.
II. THIS BLESSEDNESS DEMANDS MUTUAL PRAYER FOR ITS ENJOYMENT. In "that your prayers be not hindered," is not the apostle thinking of mutual prayer? If mutual prayer be wanting, is not the blessedness of mutual piety also wanting as the result? Tertullian wrote, "What a union is that which exists between two believers, who have in common the same hope, the same desire, the same service! Like brother and sister, united both in spirit and in flesh, they kneel together, they pray and fast together, they teach and support each other with gentleness, they share one another's trials, and conceal nothing from each other, and they rival each other in singing with their heart to God. Christ is pleased to see and hear these things. He sends down his peace upon them. Where two are thus met he is with them, and where he is the evil one cannot come." That is, perhaps, Peter's thought here.
1. Mutual prayer is the first and most natural form of spiritual intercourse. If we cannot break through our reserve so far as to pray together, it is unlikely that we have any communion on spiritual topics. It would seem the first instinct of a Christian man to ask her he loves best to kneel with him at the throne of grace. Probably this prayer is the door to spiritual intercourse, the removal of the barriers of timidity through which we must pass to the enjoyment of a mutual piety.
2. The utterance before God of a common experience tends to conscious spiritual oneness. We never know how much we are one with other saints till we join with them in prayer; then we find ourselves sorrowing, rejoicing, hoping, loving, fearing, trusting alike, and are thereby drawn closer together still. That principle operates even more certainly in the mutual prayer of husband and wife.
3. The fact of mutual prayer tends to mutual spiritual fidelity. Would not mutual prayer go far to be a remedy for the difficulty which it is to be of spiritual use to those nearest to us? The parent who prays with his household, the husband with his wife, will find it specially hard to sin against or with them. As the spirit of prayer prevails, the spirit of unkindness, indifference, evil example, etc., will lessen. "That your prayers be not hindered" is thus the warning to those who would be "heirs together of the grace of life."
III. THIS PRAYER REQUIRES THE FULFILLMENT OF MUTUAL DUTIES FOR ITS SUCCESS. If prayer helps duty, so duty helps prayer. Is not the fact that some Christians in the same home seldom pray together, due to the fact of an inconsistent life - the life of a kind which makes the proposal to pray impossible? That seems to be the idea here: "Ye husbands, dwell with them,... giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers," etc.
1. The consideration of what we owe to one another will prevent the neglect of mutual prayer. "Honor" is due to the wife on the physical ground - she is "weaker," which brings corresponding duties to the stronger; and on the spiritual ground - she is partaker of the same immortal nature, with its great conflicts and high responsibilities, equally an heir of Divine grace, which brings corresponding duties to the fellow-heir. The consideration of that should lead to united prayer.
2. The fulfillment of what we owe will afford the right spirit for prayer. As long as the wife is defrauded of what she has a right to, mutual prayer, if not impossible, will be robbed of its sweetness and power. Unkindness and bitterness kilt prayer. Mutual prayer can only flourish in the atmosphere of mutual love. - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: You husbands, in the same way, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered.