Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 PETER - Chapter 3

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1 Peter 3

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  PARTICULAR COUNSELS OF CHRISTIAN CONDUCT  2, 11 -- 4, 6 (continued)

3, 1-7:  For the Wife and the Husband.    1 f.  The example of a religious and God-fearing wife can gain the soul of a non-Christian husband whom the word of God has not reached.  Today braiding of hair, or wearing of gold, or putting on robes (alluring apparel) may appear rather common; but one cannot judge by modern standards the impression these feminine artifices created nineteen centuries ago.    4.  As this verse points out, attractiveness of heart is preferable to that of the body.  Meekness and a retiring spirit are  incorruptible riches in the sight of God.    6.  Probably this verse was directed to women converts from paganism.  St. Paul had reminded the Galatians (3, 7-9) of their spiritual relationship with Abraham; St. Peter now exhorts Christian wives to adopt the new standards of their spiritual mother, Sara, the wife of Abraham.  Hence, even the threat of a non-Christian husband should not cause them who fear no disturbance to waver in their Christian obligations.  7.  The law of Christ binds husband and wife alike.  A husband's rule of life  may be summed up in one word, considerately; thus in keeping with the teaching of Christ and not according to the will of the flesh.  Woman as well as man lives in the Mystical Body of Christ; any action on the part of man which destroys this harmony or which sins against marriage---a type of the union existing between Christ and His Church---tends to nullify that man's prayer.

3, 8-12:  In Christian Charity.    8.  An exhortation to mutual charity among Christians.    9.  An emphatic assertion regarding the necessity of charity toward non-Christians (cf. 2, 12 f).    10.  A free citation of Ps. 33, 13-17 which confirms the exhortation of 8-9.

3, 13-22:  In Christian Suffering.    14.  Cf. Matt. 5, 10.  Have no fear of their fear: do not be intimidated by the prospect of persecution.    15.  Hallow the Lord Christ in your hearts: this reference to Isa. 8, 13 in the context emphasizes the contrast between the brief moments of pain here below and the eternal bliss of heaven.  For, as the prophet continues, "let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread."  A reason for hope: i.e., the glorious Second Advent of Christ, the King and Ruler and Judge of mankind; cf. Matt. 24, 30; Mark 14, 62; Acts 17, 7.    16.  Fear: i.e., with deference.    17.  Cp. with 3, 14.    18.  The blessing begot of persecution and endured for the sake of justice is demonstrated by the life of Christ: He suffered for another's guilt; He was the innocent victim of suffering.  His sufferings, however, gave birth to our redemption and to a new activity of Christ's soul in limbo.  Note the reference to this thought in the Apostles' Creed: "He descended into hell," etc.    19.  In which: i.e., His soul.  Christ's body, indeed, lay in the sepulchre; His soul, however, abode in prison, i.e., in limbo where the souls of the just awaited the opening of the gates of heaven.  Preached: the Greek verb insinuates the announcement of good news.    20.  Jewish theology had refused to the victims of the Deluge participation in the Messianic kingdom; however, the blessings of Christ's suffering extended even to these souls who had put off conversion until the last moment.  Eight souls: Noe and his wife; his three sons and their wives.  Saved through water: freed from the persecution of a recalcitrant world by the waters which lifted the ark above the earth.    21.  Its counterpart, Baptism, now saves you also: the Greek reads, "Baptism, which now in antitype also saves."  Not the putting off, etc.: Baptism is not a mere ceremony, as circumcision: it directs man to walk in the newness of life, "as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6, 11).  Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ: the source whence Baptism has its efficacy.    22.  Swallowing up death that we might be made heirs of eternal life: missing in the Greek text.  The final and supreme blessing accruing from the sufferings of the God-man is His elevation to the right hand of God in heaven where He continues His supplication for us.


Confraternity Bible:

For the Wife and the Husband  1 In like manner also let wives be subject to their husbands; so that even if any do not believe the word, they may without word be won through the behavior of their wives, 2 observing reverently your chaste behavior.  3 Let not theirs be the outward adornment of braiding the hair, or of wearing gold, or of putting on robes; 4 but let it be the inner life of the heart, in the imperishableness of a quiet and gentle spirit, which is of great price in the sight of God.  5 For after this manner in old times the holy women also who hoped in God adorned themselves, while being subject to their husbands.  6* So Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.  You are daughters of hers when you do what is right and fear no disturbance.

7 Husbands, in like manner dwell with your wives considerately, paying honor to the woman as to the weaker vessel, and as co-heir of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.

In Christian Charity  8 Finally, be all like-minded, compassionate, lovers of the brethren, merciful, humble; 9 not rendering evil for evil, or abuse for abuse, but contrariwise, blessing; for unto this were you called that you might inherit a blessing.  10* For,
"He who would love life,

And see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no deceit. 

11* Let him turn away from evil and do good, let him seek after peace and pursue it. 

12* For the eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and his ears unto their prayers;

But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
In Christian Suffering  13 And who is there to harm you, if you are zealous for what is good?  14 But even if you suffer anything for justice' sake, blessed are you.  So have no fear of their fear and do not be troubled.  15 But hallow the Lord Christ in your hearts.  Be ready always with an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in you.  16 Yet do so with gentleness and fear, having a good conscience, so that wherein they speak in disparagement of you they who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.  17 For it is better, if the will of God should so will, that you suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  18 Because Christ also died once for sins, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.  Put to death indeed in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and preached to those spirits that were in prison.  20 These in times past had been disobedient when the patience of God waited in the days of Noe while the ark was building.  In that ark a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water.  21 Its counterpart, Baptism, now saves you also (not the putting off of the filth of the flesh, but the inquiry of a good conscience after God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ; 22 who is at the right hand of God, swallowing up death that we might be made heirs of eternal life; for he went into heaven, Angels, Powers and Virtues being made subject to him.
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6: Fear no disturbance: in marriage Christian wives are obliged to obey God's law regardless of intimidation from non-Christian husbands.

10-12: Ps. 33, 13-17.