The Saving Power of a Fearless Wife

1 Peter 3:1–6, Part 2

What hope does a wife have of saving her unbelieving husband? In this lab, John Piper explains how fearlessness and purity might make all the difference for her husband’s faith. As is often the case in the Bible, the principles applied to wives here can and should be applied to all of us.

Principle for Bible Reading

Just because the Bible addresses a particular group of people, for instance wives in this case, it does not mean other groups of people should ignore the wisdom and relevance of those instructions for themselves. Very often, the biblical authors expect all Christians, for instance husbands, to read and obey the principles being applied to others.

Study Questions

  1. Read 1 Peter 3:1–2 and 1 Peter 2:11–12. What similarities do you see between the two passages, and what might that mean for how we apply Peter’s instructions to wives?
  2. What might it mean for a wife to win her husband “without a word” (1 Peter 3:2)? How does 1 Peter 1:23–25 inform or effect how you read that phrase?
  3. “Respectful” (1 Peter 3:2) can be translated literally “in fear.” How do you understand the phrase “in fear” here, in light of texts in 1 Peter like 1 Peter 1:17, 2:17–18, and 3:6?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:06)

Words for Wives — And Everyone Else (01:06–05:47)

  • The wife’s godly conduct or behavior or witness is a means of winning or saving the unbelieving husband. (1 Peter 3:1–2)
  • The same word for “conduct” (1 Peter 3:1) is used in 1 Peter 2:12. The principle is applied generally to all in 1 Peter 2:12, and more specifically to wives in 1 Peter 3:1.
  • The same word for “see” (1 Peter 3:2) is also used in 1 Peter 2:12. In both places, it is an unbelieving person seeing a Christian’s life and being won to faith by it.
  • Because the instructions for wives in 1 Peter 3:1–2 can be applied more generally (1 Peter 2:11–12), husbands (or anyone else) should also try to apply the instructions to themselves.

Can She Win Him Without a Word? (05:47–08:23)

  • What does it mean for a wife to win her husband “without a word” (1 Peter 3:2)?
  • It does not mean the husband does not need to hear the gospel. 1 Peter 1:23–25 says that every new birth happens “through the living and abiding word of God . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
  • Therefore, the husband needs to hear the good news before wife’s Christian behavior can win him.
  • “Without a word” means without an excessive word or a nagging word or a manipulative or pressuring word. (1 Peter 3:2)
  • Once this husband has heard the gospel in which his wife believes, her conduct might make all the difference in his salvation.

The Power of Fear (08:23–10:34)

  • “Respectful” should be literally translated “in fear.” (1 Peter 3:2)
  • This fear is not toward the husband, but toward God. (1 Peter 1:17; 2:17–18)
  • Peter tells these women very clearly not to fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:6)
  • A godly wife’s greatest fear would be to displease her supreme master, God.
  • In the fear of God, a wife is sent back in to be subject to her husband.

The Power of Purity (10:34–11:46)

  • This new conduct that the wife lives before her husband is pure. (1 Peter 3:2)
  • She is not inclined to be dishonest in anything, or to participate in any sexual illicitness.
  • Her husband, therefore, finds he has a pure and trustworthy wife.
  • And therefore, without a word, knowing her husband knows the gospel, she will not badger him, but will trust and hope in God for his salvation.