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1 Peter 3:7
1 Peter Lesson #078
January 5, 2017
“Father, we are thankful for the many ways in which you provide for us and that you have supplied the needs of this congregation. Father, we are also reminded that there are many folks in this congregation who are facing serious physical maladies, some of which keep them from ever getting out or attending church anymore. We are thankful for them. We are thankful for their testimony. We are thankful for the way You continue to work in our lives, even when we reach that stage in life when we are no longer able to get out.
Father, we are thankful for many in this congregation who are tremendously positive, both in terms the study of Your Word and application and who endeavor to reach out into the culture to communicate the gospel to challenge others. We pray that we all would be more sensitive to that. As we progress in our study, week after week, may we be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Father, we pray that you would help us to understand all the things we study tonight. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are continuing our study in 1 Peter 3, and tonight we are going to look at verse six. The first five verses of 1 Peter 3 deal with the wives and their relationship to husbands, and now in one verse Peter is going to talk about the husband’s responsibility. Paul has a lot more to say about the husbands, and one of the fascinating things—about both passages—is the correlation that both writers bring out between marriage and the analogy to Jesus Christ in His relationship to the church. Tonight we are going to look at verse six, and we are going to look at husbands.
To remind you a little bit about the context, we have to go back to 1 Peter 2:17. In verse 17 we have this verse.
“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” Those four words that I have underlined there, in the original, are all in the imperative mood—those are all commands. It’s really interesting the way Peter has this laid out, because what we see following this in main statements—related to servants, related to wives, related to husbands—are translated as commands, but they are actually not commands.
The question that should come in any of our minds, whenever we read a command in Scripture, is the question, “How do I do that? How do I go about transforming my mind? How do I go about changing my behavior? How do I go about living the Christian life?” So the question is, “How do we implement these four commands?”
“How, exactly, are we to honor all people? How, exactly, are we to love the brotherhood? How, exactly, are we to fear God? And how, exactly, are we to honor the king?” Notice in this opening command, which comes at the end of the paragraph back in 1 Peter 2:17, we have the word “honor” used twice. In the Greek, it’s the word TIME, which means to respect, to honor, to give obedience to somebody, to recognize their authority. In the case of the king, to recognize his authority. And “honoring all people” is just showing respect and reverence.
I got a real kick this morning out of a Facebook comment on one of my posts that I made a while back, and it was a political comment. Some of you probably saw it or may know the person who made it. I’m not going to mention any names, because what she wrote clearly reflects an attitude that many Christians have. She said, in relation to dealing with those who are in strong political disagreement with her, that sometimes it’s very difficult to remember that because they are also created in the image and likeness of God, we need to treat them with respect, no matter how idiotic and stupid their political positions are. And that’s true.
In any area of disagreement, we have to remember that the person with whom we are having the disagreement is a person who is created in the image and likeness of God, and we have no idea that down the road we might have an opportunity to be a witness to them. The fact that we don’t treat them with respect—as someone created in the image of likeness of God—may seriously hinder our ability in the future to be an effective witness to them. That’s about as convicting as we are going to get today.
We have to come to grips with understanding what it means to “Honor all people.” A subset of that would be, of course, honoring the king.
In the structure that is laid out in the following verses, we have three basic commands that are translated as commands; but in the Greek, they’re not imperatives, they are participles. A participle can be used as a noun, or it can be used to modify a verb. The verbs, in this case, are those imperatives back in verse 17, and the participles are answering the question, “How do I honor all people? How do I love the brotherhood?”
Peter is taking it and applying it into the framework of the home—the most basic unit in society. Marriage and family are the second and third divine institutions. How do we take these broad principles and apply them right where we live—day in and day out—especially in circumstances that may not be pleasant, such as when a servant is having to deal with a master who is harsh and unjust, or a wife is in the situation where the husband is an unbeliever—and he may be harsh and unjust? Or, the husband may be married to a wife who is not a believer, and she may even not be in full accord with his Christianity. So how do you implement this at that time?
In each of these areas within the home, Peter provides direction. How do we honor all people? Love the brotherhood? And honor the king? First of all, he says, “Servants,” and you’ll see the way that I’ve translated this participle is as a participle of means—that the servant is to implement these imperatives by being submissive to their masters. That’s the sense of this participle; it would be called a participle of means, grammatically.
Then, in 1 Peter 3:1, “Wives, likewise,” it’s the same form of the word. It’s a participle; it’s not a direct imperative—though it has that sense, because it’s modifying a main idea back in 1 Peter 2:18 where it says, “Servants, by being submissive to your masters.”
1 Peter 3:1, “Wives, likewise by being submissive your own husbands,” and then in 1 Peter 3:8, “Husbands, likewise by dwelling with them with understanding.” The “likewise” there has to do with that participial nuance of means, because the husband isn’t submitting—like the wife or the servant. Then “likewise,” that word that is being used there, is showing that these three things are all tied together as answering those commands in verse 17 of how you do that.
1 Peter 3:7, where we are tonight. “Husbands, likewise, by dwelling with them with understanding.” That’s how a husband is to honor and show respect to his wife. He is not to lord his authority over his wife. Jesus teaches about how we are not to exercise our authority as believers like the Gentiles do, by lording it over others, by taking advantage of it and not living with someone in grace.
The verse reads, “Husbands, likewise, by dwelling with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” So the passage is now addressed to husbands. The word that is used here in the Greek simply is the same word that is used for “husbands” in other contexts. It can refer just to males, but in contexts where you’re dealing with the home, home life, and you’re dealing obviously with husbands and wives, it has the sense of “husbands.”
It shows that Peter is addressing husbands as a class, and he’s not making a distinction between those who are married to unbelievers and those who are married to believers. As I pointed out last time, when we were looking at wives, one of the issues in the home in the Greco-Roman culture was that, if the husband had a religion, then it was expected that the wife would have the same religion; the children would have the same religion; everybody would be on board together.
This would be a situation, perhaps, where a husband was a believer and it doesn’t necessarily mean that his wife was a believer. It could be a situation where the believing husband is married to an unbelieving wife, or it could be that he’s married to a carnal believer or to a believer that is growing. But the wife’s spiritual status is not the basis for the husband’s responsibility to demonstrate love toward his wife.
If we are going to compare Scripture with Scripture, we always have to be somewhat careful about comparing Scripture with Scripture. In 1 Corinthians Paul talked about “beating his body into submission,” and then in Ephesians 5, he talked about loving your wife “like you love your own body”; you can put that together and come up with the wrong conclusion. So you have to be careful where it’s legitimate—and not legitimate—to put Scripture together.
What we see here, in 1 Peter 3:7, is that Peter is giving an example of how the husband is to love his wife. Now, he doesn’t use the term, but he uses a description here of how the husband lives with his wife, and he is depicting what that love is.
Paul is more precise when he addresses the role of the husband in Ephesians 5:25. I want to turn there. You might want to keep your place here in 1 Peter 3; we will come back to it.
Ephesians 5 is a critical passage. This is really the foundation for understanding roles within the household, and that includes servants, it includes children, it includes the roles and responsibilities of the parents. Children don’t get addressed until you get down to verse one. I’m not going to do a verse by verse as we go through this; I’m just going to hit some of the high points so that you understand what is going on here.
First of all, the command is addressed specifically to husbands, and they are commanded to love their wife. That’s AGAPAO, the verb on the left on the slide. Notice that in both places, “love your wives” and “as Christ loved the church,” we have the same verb, the Greek verb AGAPAO.
There are three different verbs that are used primarily for “love” in the New Testament: there is AGAPAO; there is PHILEO; and there is one use of the compound word STORGE, which is related to a mother’s love. STORGE is related to where we get our word for stork and how a store hovers over the young in the nest.
One of the first things we noticed, when we went to Greece a number of years ago, is that on the top of almost every telephone pole was an enormous stork’s nest. So anybody who talked about storks in relation to a mother’s love, you understand why that verb entered into the Greek language; they were present everywhere, Everybody understood that.
AGAPAO and PHILEO are two different words that are sometimes misunderstood. The command here is a present imperative. A present imperative always emphasizes the standard operating procedure. An aorist imperative is a past tense, but it doesn’t have a past meaning in an imperative mood; it emphasizes something, it’s more of a staccato, it’s more of a “right now” priority. Whereas, a present imperative is over time, and it’s a standard operating procedure.
Husbands are to love their wives. This is what is to characterize a husband, not just during the first year, the first six months, the beginning of the marriage, but over the course of the 50, 60,or 75 years that a couple may be together.
We ask the question, “How are we to love our wives?” Paul gives us an example, and it’s not an easy example to follow; it’s the example of Christ loving the church. That’s the standard. The same verb is used for loving one another. So, when Jesus concludes His time with His disciples in the upper room, before they head out towards the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” So the mark of the believer is to love one another.
In one sense, the husband isn’t being told to do something that we are not all told to do. But it is being specifically hammered by Paul, because something that men can forget, easily, is that they are to love their wife; and the pattern is “as Christ loved the church.”
The command there is to love your wife. I want to give you a couple of points. Talking about the different kinds of love in the New Testament, specifically between AGAPE love—the noun form of AGAPAO is AGAPE; and PHILOS love, which is the noun form of PHILEO love. First of all, AGAPE love incorporates both categories that we normally discuss; we normally talk about unconditional love, or impersonal love; and then we talk about personal love. But AGAPAO is manifested in both areas; it is a broad term for love.
If you’re going to draw a Venn diagram, then that’s the broad circle, and PHILOS is a subset; it would be a smaller circle within the overall circle of AGAPE love. PHILOS love has characteristics of being a more personal, intimate love.
- AGAPE love incorporates both aspects of impersonal love, or unconditional love, as well as personal love.
- AGAPE is the word that God uses to describe His love for all mankind. John 3:16, “For God loved the world in this manner.” That’s believer and unbeliever alike—those who are positive to God, those who are hostile to God.
Then we have passages like Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us.” That love represents divine love. When you get over into that much-abused passage in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” A lot of people use that for evangelism; but there is one little exegetical problem. In the previous verse, the Lord is addressing that church, and He says that He loves them—and it’s PHILOS. He uses the verb PHILEO.
He loves them. Well, PHILEO is only used of God’s love for believers. God does not have PHILOS love for unbelievers. He does not have an intimate love with unbelievers—only with believers. So the difference between AGAPE and PHILOS is level of intimacy. AGAPE is used of God’s love towards all—believer and unbeliever alike.
- PHILOS is a more intimate word. Again, it includes both dimensions, but the difference is the level of intimacy.
- What we see in marriage is that the kind of love that is going to make a marriage successful is AGAPE love. It is a love that is based not on circumstances or individual character, but ultimately based upon the character of God.
The pattern that is given for the husband’s love for the wife is Christ’s love for the church and it is exhibited by His death on the Cross.
“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” There is an act of giving, but it is an act of sacrifice. The first thing we ought to note about this is that this death occurred. The death of Christ occurred while those who were to be saved and who were yet to be in the church were not yet saved and were, for the most part, viewed as in open rebellion against God. That’s Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Secondly, when the text says, “giving Himself up for her,” that indicates a sacrificial love.
Jesus, in His humanity, the night before He went to the Cross, prayed to the Father to “let this cup pass from Him,” let this death pass from Him. In His humanity, He did not want to go through that. He wasn’t sinning; He’s expressing the horrors of the Cross, and He concluded His prayer by saying, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” He does not go against the Father’s will—even in His thinking. He is expressing, though, the horrors of going to the Cross.
Sacrifice is a misunderstood term by some people. Sacrifice may or may not be something you feel. A mother who throws herself in a position of danger to save a child doesn’t give it any thought. It is an act of sacrifice, but it’s not an act where she thinks, “Oh, I’m going to give up everything.” She is doing it willingly for her children.
A sacrificial love is not necessarily a love that focuses on somebody giving something up—but that indeed is what they’re doing. The Son gave up His prerogatives as God to limit Himself by taking on humanity, to go to the Cross and die for our sins. He never had this sense of, “I gave everything up so that I could come and die for everybody.” That’s a human attitude that comes out of sin, but the objective truth of it is that the Son relinquished position and willingly gave up the use of His attributes as we studied in Philippians 2:5–12 not long ago.
That’s the essence of sacrifice. You don’t even think about it; you’re just putting the other person first because you want what’s best for them. That’s what love is! We are not only to exercise love toward our wives, men, but we are to exercise that kind of love toward everyone.
God, of course, wants the highest and the best for us. That’s the best definition I’ve been able come across for love—to want the highest and best for people. And our best interest, as far as God is concerned, never clashes with God’s own desires; because He is love, so there’s never a self-centered aspect of His nature.
What we see is that husbands need to meditate on the love that Christ had for the church—to die for the church—in order that they can come to understand more and more how they are to love their wife. That is something you can spend time thinking about and its implications for loving your wife.
This is further developed in Ephesians 5:28–29. See, between Ephesians 5:23–28, Paul actually has a bit of a digression as he talks about Christ being the Head of the church. He says in verse 23, “For the husband is head of the wife.” That is a term for being in authority. “For the husband is the authority over the wife, as also Christ is the authority over the church.” Husbands are under an authority; they are under the authority of Christ and under the authority of the Word of God.
Christ is the Savior of the body. Verse 24, “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ.” If you’re a believer, you’re under a command to submit to Christ, submit to the Word. “Just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
He connects that back to wives. Husbands and wives are to mirror the relationship between the church and Christ. Now that’s really interesting, because what the text indicates there is that the marriage of two Christians is to be an example in this world of the “something unseen,” which is the relationship between the church and Christ.
Part of the problem today is that most people don’t understand the nature of the church. They don’t understand the relationship of the church to Christ, so they don’t understand how their marriage is to be a mirror of that. Everything breaks down. Because we live in a culture that’s become so narcissistic—which is not unique to this generation by the way, since that’s the basic orientation of the sin nature. But when there is this self-centeredness and narcissism that is present, then the husband and wife cannot understand—because they are so self-absorbed—how their marriage is to reflect the relationship of Christ to the church and how that is to be a testimony to the angels as well as to other human beings.
Everything that’s going on in our lives is somehow tied back to the angelic conflict, and it’s tied back to our testimony. The big problem that we all have is that our sin nature just keeps getting in the way.
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” From verse 26 on, there are three purpose clauses here.
- “That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.”
- “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
So Ephesians 5:26–27 focuses on what Christ has done for the church.
Then when we get to Ephesians 5:28, Paul says, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.” There are a lot of things guys that we do. Just think about eating. You eat what you want to eat. You come home; you throw open the refrigerator door; you take stuff. You just eat it because it’s good for you; it’s what you want; you are taking care of your body. But what this is saying is, “That’s natural and normal, but you should think of your wife in that same way. You are to take care of her like you take care of your own body—like you take care of yourself.” She should be first.
“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” Now, there’s also a point in here that comes out in Ephesians 5:29. Notice that it begins with the word “for.” “For” always explains something that’s previously stated; at least when the Greek word is GAR, it explains the previous statement. Paul gives a universal, or gnomic, statement here, “For no one ever hated his own flesh.” That is such a great line.
No one ever hated himself. It doesn’t matter how many psychological degrees you have and how much you talk about people with low self-esteem and low self-image, the Bible says no one ever hated themselves!
People, supposedly, get a low self-image and low self-esteem. If they really hated themselves, they’d be glad they were ugly, or fat, or frumpy, or had no intelligence, or no success; you’d be glad you lost your job if you really hated yourself. But the reason you’re upset is because you love yourself—you want what’s good for yourself and something is not the way you’d like for it to be.
So that’s just a general principle: “No one ever hated his own flesh.” That is your starting point in dealing with anybody who is excessively depressed and discouraged and upset about how they are a failure. You’re not a failure, inherently; you’re just upset because you really love yourself.
Now that we’ve established the fact that self-love is dominant, let’s develop from there. “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” So the modus operandi, the normal status quo for the male—and for the female—is to nourish and cherish themselves. Well, what you have to do, men, is to transfer that to your wife and nourish and cherish her.
Then we have that comparison again, “just as the Lord does the church.” That’s our pattern. That’s a high standard. The wives were to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Nobody gets off scot-free here; both patterns are extremely difficult.
When we look at both Ephesians 5:25 as well as Ephesians 5:28–-29, we must understand that the way Scripture is talking here is a frontal assault on any kind of self-serving love—any kind of me-first love, any kind of self-absorbed love, any kind of love that’s mixed with arrogance. In fact, the term “self-serving love” or “self-absorbed love” or “a love that’s mixed with arrogance” just destroys the whole meaning of love.
We understand that, because we have a short passage in Scripture that gives us the characteristics of love. This is not a definition in the strict sense of the term. “Love” is one of those terms that is very difficult to define. In fact, the Scripture just gives us illustrations and descriptions of it and its characteristics [1 Corinthians 13]. “Love is patient, love is kind.” Notice that those are two positive attributes of love that come first in this list.
Then we have various negatives. We define it by what it isn’t. “And is not jealous; love does not brag.” Bragging is a result of being self-absorbed and self-promoting. “Love does not brag and is not arrogant.” Whenever you’re arrogant, whenever you’re self-absorbed, there’s no place for love in your life.
Love “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own.” It’s not me-first. Love “is not provoked.” It is not going to let the other person push their buttons. How do you do that? You have to be focused on the Lord.
Love “is not provoked, it does not take into account a wrong suffered.” It’s not going to keep a little grocery list of all the ways in which the other person didn’t live up to the way they thought they ought to perform. It’s never going to throw that back at them.
1 Corinthians 13:6, Love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” Because this kind of love is consistent with integrity, you can only get this kind of integrity through a relationship with the Lord.
Then it concludes. “Bears all things”; that is, it puts up with a lot of stuff. We all have to do that, because we all put up with stuff that our spouse has as part of their sin nature. That’s why, when I do premarital counseling, I always say, “You have to really know the other person and understand their sin nature. Can you live with it? If that other person goes carnal, can you put up with it? If they are carnal for 5, 10, 15 years, can you put up with it? If you can’t, then don’t marry them, because you can’t put up with their sin nature.”
“Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I want to backup just a minute and do a little comparison. What we see, as we talk about this, is that one of the benefits of marriage that I have noticed—and God probably designed it this way—is that when you put two sinners together in a house, their sin natures are going to create a certain amount of friction. If they are both positive and they are growing together in the Lord, God is using each one in the other’s life to teach them humility, to teach them grace orientation, to teach them how to apply doctrine.
In other words, your spouse is being used by God to help you grow spiritually. That’s true in any marriage—it is a refining process to help those two individuals grow and mature in the Lord. So that’s involved.
When we look at this description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4 and following, Paul is talking about love. So the first noun is love. He says, “Love is patient.” The Greek word there is MAKROTHUMIA. Where else do you think we find love and patience linked together? Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience.” There’s our word MAKROTHUMIA. MAKROTHUMIA is a fruit of the Spirit; love is a fruit of the Spirit. This kind of love is developed from your spiritual growth.
Patience—longsuffering—means to suffer a long time. Five minutes in an hour in a week or two weeks is not a long time. I’ve known some people who have had to suffer a long time; that’s called patience, endurance.
“Love is patient, love is kind.” “Love is kind.” This is the verb CHRÉSTEUOMAI here, but the noun form, CHRÉSTOTÉS, is the word that is translated “kind” in the fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness.” These two words here are both part of the fruit of the Spirit. So this characterizes love.
At that point, Paul shifts gears; everything after that is negative. We know what love is because it does not have certain characteristics. Even though all of these are not mentioned in the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:18–21, several of them are. You have jealousy, envy, and arrogance; all those are part of the work of the flesh, the sin nature.
What we see in this picture is that the kind of love that Christ was talking about that should be emulated in every believer’s life, for everybody, and the kind of love that especially should be there for the husband to the wife is a fruit of the Spirit. It is not something that you can just manufacture out of your own goodness and your own character; it’s something that needs to be developed through your spiritual life and your spiritual walk.
So the underlying mandate here for the believer husband is that you’d better be walking by the Spirit, you’d better be right with the Lord, and you’d better be putting into practice what the Scripture says in studying the Word, because that’s the only way you can develop the kind of love that should characterize your relationship with your wife. Another thing that is not stated here, but is inferred, is that the husband who’s walking by the Spirit—if his wife is positive—developing the fruit of the Spirit, then you’re going to have a happy, stable home.
I’ve always said this: It takes two people to make a marriage work, but it only takes one person to make it fall apart. If you’re married to a spouse that is a carnal believer, or an unbeliever, then that person can easily destroy the marriage. But the responsibility of the believing husband is to continue to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Christ loves each one of us in such a way that no matter how flawed we are, no matter how much we sin and rebel against God, His love is always steadfast and always faithful. So that’s the pattern for us.
1 Peter 3:7 goes on to say, “Husbands, likewise, by dwelling with them with understanding.” Now, we have to correct the translation here a little bit. The word for “understanding” is the word GNOSIS; it’s “to live according to knowledge.” There’s a split opinion on this. There are many who look at this and say, “Well, this means that the husband really needs to understand his wife. He needs to know his wife. He needs to know a lot about women. And he needs to live according to knowledge.”
I would call that the psychobabble interpretation—that you need to understand women. Throughout the epistles of the New Testament, when you have GNOSIS emphasized, it’s always knowledge of the Word; it’s the knowledge of Scripture. The believing husband who is loving his wife needs to dwell with her on the basis of doctrine, on the basis of understanding what God’s Word says.
You have to understand, husbands, the doctrine of the sin nature, because you’ve got one and your wife has one. If you have children, they have sin natures, too, and you have to understand what the Scripture says about them, and you have to understand how to deal with them. You have to understand how you are to lead in the home, as the husband, and how your wife is to carry out her responsibilities within the home and all. But it all boils down to understanding what the Word of God says.
Just to remind you, you have to understand the problem-solving devices, these spiritual skills. You have to understand confession of sin. I don’t know how a marriage can last the first year if you don’t understand the doctrine of forgiveness and move on. Personally, each one has to confess their own sin and get right with the Lord, and then they have to be willing to forgive and forget with the other person. We get that from understanding the doctrine of confession of sin.
Then we have to walk by the Spirit and be filled by the Spirit. It’s interesting. In Ephesians 5:18 we have the command to be filled by the Spirit. This is followed by a list of different things that are consequences of being filled with the Spirit, such as, “19 Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
At that point Paul took a break, and then he starts talking about what it means to submit to one another in the fear of God. It’s wives being submissive to their husbands, husband’s loving their wives, children being obedient to their parents, fathers not exasperating their children, and slaves being obedient to their masters. That’s a result of the filling of the Spirit!
So if you’re going to go anywhere and have any fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, the fruit of the Spirit that relates to love—you have to be walking by the Spirit and being filled by the Spirit. This exhibits itself through our use of the faith-rest drill. We have to learn to trust God.
You may not recognize this, but whether you are a wife or a husband, your spouse has a sin nature. And there some times when it may take them a while to deal with characteristics of their sin nature; so you have to trust God and put it in the Lord’s hands. Peter will get back to this in 1 Peter 5 by saying, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
You have to be grace oriented. You have to deal with your spouse in grace and in humility; you have to be doctrinally oriented. You have to understand the principles of the Word of God in relation to things I just mentioned, which has to do with the doctrine of the sin nature, the doctrine of forgiveness, the doctrine of love—all of those things.
You have to live with a personal sense of destiny. Your marriage today is going to last a while, and it’s going to hone and sharpen both of you spiritually, because there’s something coming, which is the Judgment Seat of Christ. That’s related to inheritance and rewards. Oh my, that’s actually mentioned in the passage in 1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life.” So we have to develop the long-term perspective here that we are heirs of grace.
Then, of course, what’s built on that is our personal love for God, our impersonal and unconditional love for all mankind, and our occupation with Christ. The result of that is that we can have joy, and peace, and stability in our own souls. A lot of reasons that you have marital problems and marital breakup is because of a sin nature that runs amok; and because of a failure to know any spiritual principles, there’s no tranquility in individual souls, so there is no tranquility in the marriage. It only takes one to mess it all up. One person can be walking with the Lord, and if the other one’s not, then you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Husbands are to dwell with their wives on the basis of knowledge—or with knowledge—and then, “giving honor to the wife.” That is a word that indicates respect: to value your wife; to esteem your wife; to do things to encourage her; to show and reflect your appreciation for all that they do and their contributions to the marriage; constantly seeking to edify your wife. “Giving honor to the wife.”
Then we have this funny term, “as to the weaker vessel.” When I was a young pastor—I was interviewing at the first church where I eventually became the pastor—the very first time I went down to this church and visited, the wife of one of the deacons said, “You know, I just have a problem with this. The Bible seems to be really against women; it calls women ‘weaker vessels’.” She had been influenced by a lot of feminism.
We have to understand what this is talking about. It’s not talking about women’s strength of character or ability as being weaker; it’s talking about the fact that in many social situations they don’t have the same position as men. Not always—there are differences. But, physically, they are very different from men, aside from the obvious differences that exist between the two sexes.
Of course, we have some people in our culture who just refuse to believe that. Yesterday, our president in a speech to the Armed Forces on the occasion of the Armed Forces Full Honor Review Farewell Ceremony, as he’s giving his last speech, made the statement, “Joe Biden and I know that women are at least as strong as men.” Hmm! He went on to talk about their inclusion in the military and in combat arms. So he’s not just talking about strength of character or strength of will. He’s clearly, by context, talking about physical strength, which shows that he is irrational and ignorant. Because we have a lot of differences in terms of these differences.
Let me just read a few of these things for you. First of all, it’s so obvious that there is a difference in male and female physical capacities and capabilities that we don’t even question the fact that men do not compete against women in almost any athletic sport.
We understand that there are profound differences. Let me list some of these. Men are taller. That means they have greater leverage in many things involving physical strength. Overall, they have a higher capacity for carrying oxygen through their body and delivering it to their muscles. Men have longer bones and can develop larger muscles than women. In fact, a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology that came out recently found that men had an average of 26 pounds more skeletal muscle mass than women.
Women also exhibited about 40% less upper body strength and 33% less lower body strength on the average, according to the study. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t go out and find some woman, some specific specimen of femininity, that can out lift, out run, and outperform, athletically, a specific male individual. I see this all the time when I go to CrossFit. Some of those 25- to 35-year-old women are just amazing. I don’t think I was ever that strong. But you don’t ever see this across the board, generally; otherwise, you would see men and women competing against each other in Olympic sports and other sports. That just isn’t going to happen.
Women’s ligaments are generally more fragile than the male’s ligaments. Because they are shorter, they have a lower and more stable center of gravity, which gives them greater balance than men. But men have a higher ratio of muscle mass to body weight, which means they can run faster and they can swim faster and they can carry heavier loads.
This is important, because what we find in the military is this idea that women can go through special forces training, or SEAL training, or Ranger training, and actually in private e-mails that I have received from those who have been involved with the Ranger training—we just had two women in the last couple years who made it through Ranger school. They fudged on it, because the politically correct thing was that these women had to get their Ranger tabs.
But they couldn’t do what men can do. The problem is that when you get in a real-life combat situation where you’ve got some guy who can pick up his buddy who’s been wounded, put them over his shoulder and carry a 250-pound guy off the field, no 125-pound woman is ever going to be able to do that. They cannot function in the same way as men. Men and women are not interchangeable! This is the arrogance of much of our modern understanding of the roles of men and women, and that leaks over and is somewhat destructive to understanding marriage.
We come, then, to the next to last phrase here, that husbands are to treat their wives with honor as “co-heirs together of the grace of life.” We’ve talked a lot about inheritance. In fact, this takes us back to the very opening chapter of 1 Peter, where Peter tells us that we are going to receive “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” So, we studied inheritance.
We’ve talked about two kinds of inheritance: that kind of inheritance that is true for every believer; and that which is true for only those who are growing, maturing believers, called “overcomers” in Scripture. So we ask the question, “What kind of heir do we have here?”
Is this an heir of God, something that we all have in common, or is this referring to the second category in Romans 8:17, the joint heir with Christ?
Romans 8:16–17 says that, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God [that’s all believers—we are all children of God], and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”
The way that is normally punctuated, it looks as if you have two synonymous categories: heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. But what we see here is this “if clause” provides a condition for inheritance. It says, “if indeed we suffer with Him.” If being an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ is something that is true for every believer, then you can’t really get to Heaven unless you have faith in Christ and you suffer with Him; because that’s putting suffering as part of that condition of being an heir of God.
I’m going to give you three principles. We’ve covered the broader doctrine many times, and we’ve covered this many times.
- First of all, in some passages, inheritance is related to rewards—limited to some believers, not for all believers. It is what is earned for our spiritual service, our spiritual growth. It’s different from salvation. Salvation is a free gift; a reward is earned.
Colossians 3:24 says, “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” Inheritance is a reward—it is not a free gift! It is done for service.
- In other passages our heirship is based on adoption, on sonship. Therefore, inheritance is also related to positional truth, as we see in Galatians 3:29 and Galatians 4:1.
But it’s really clear in Romans 8:16–17. So the issue is, “How do you punctuate it?” That’s very important, because there is no punctuation in the original Greek. The em dash that we saw on slide 16 and the commas are all done by English editors based on their theology.
Here we have a basic sentence. I’ve used this many times. “A woman without her man is nothing.”
A woman will usually translate the first line with two commas: A woman, without her, man is nothing,” emphasizing that man can’t do anything unless he has a woman behind him. But in the second line you have only one comma, “A woman without her man, is nothing.” That is saying that a woman is nothing unless she has a man. These are two different meanings, two opposing meanings, based on where you place the commas.
When we look at Romans 8:17, we have to take out this second comma. “If children, heirs also, heirs of God”, and put it over here. That’s one kind of heirship—an heir of God—that’s true for every believer.
In addition to being an heir of God, “fellow heirs with Christ if we suffer with Him.” Suffering with Christ is a result of growing and maturing and taking on the challenge of being a disciple. We are going to suffer—in lots of different ways—small ways, big ways, but this shows that Romans 8:17 has two categories of inheritance.
What we are talking about in this passage is the first kind, because it’s stated, in 1 Peter 3:7, that this is “heirs together of the grace of life.” When two believers are married together, they are heirs of God, they are heirs of life, they have eternal life, and they are to learn to live together and respect each other.
- Heirship is related to hope. Titus 3:7, “that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
The last phrase in the verse is a warning to husbands, that if you don’t live with your wife according to knowledge, if you don’t give honor and respect to your wife, then your prayers will be hindered. The point that he is making is that your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your wife, is part and parcel of your spiritual life and your spiritual growth. If you’re not obeying the Lord in these areas, then you’re just stuck out of fellowship until you start applying doctrine to your marriage.
So next time we will see the wrap-up in this as we go towards the end of the chapter. “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” That sounds very similar to things that Paul says in Philippians 2:1–4. “Be of one mind … not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you are called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” See, that’s joint heirship with Christ inheritance.
It takes us right back to 1 Peter 2:17, “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” That’s how you do it—if you’re a slave, by submitting to your master; if you’re a wife, by submitting to your husband; if you’re a husband, by dwelling with your wife with understanding—according to knowledge—and giving honor and respect to your wife.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things this evening and to be reminded of the importance that You place on our relationships in the home and that those are to exhibit and be a testimony of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church.
We are to be a visible testimony, not only to people around us, but also to the angels. Our testimony of our relationship in our homes will have an eternal impact. Father, we pray that You would challenge us with the truths of these passages we’ve studied the last few weeks. In Christ’s name. Amen.”