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1 Peter 3:1

ESV Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
NIV Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
NASB In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives,
CSB In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live
NLT In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over
KJV 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;

What does 1 Peter 3:1 mean?

This passage continues Peter's instructions, which began in chapter 2. He is writing to Christians under persecution—people free in Christ—about how we should respond to the human authorities in our lives. This even includes those who are unjust and harsh. Instead of rebellion, he has made clear that God's will is that we submit to every human authority for God's sake.

Why? For one, this reveals our confidence in the power, love, and control of God. It demonstrates the change Christ has made in us when we refuse to respond to human authority in the natural way of the world. Our willing and joyful submission for the Lord's sake, even as we suffer, points the world to Christ, our example.

Thus far, Peter has instructed Christians to submit to the emperor, kings, and governors. At the time, all of these government offices were actively persecuting believers. He has told Christian slaves to submit to their masters; these men were often harsh and unfair. This implies submission to both political and economic leadership. Now, Peter continues by including personal leadership, saying that Christian wives should be subject to their own husbands. Note, this does not say men, in general, or other women's husbands. This applies even if those husbands are unbelievers, or do not "obey the word."

Why? The answer is begun here and continued in the next verse. Peter writes that a wife's "respectful and pure conduct" has the potential to lead him to faith in Christ. Even without verbal explanation from her, he may notice her unique response to authority. In a Christian, this response should be different from either her former conduct, or from that of other wives in the society. As a result, the husband may become convinced that Christ is responsible for that change.

It should be understood that "submission" is not the same as "obedience," in these cases. A Christian's first priority is to obey God ahead of all human authorities. Peter acted against the direct orders of the Jewish religious leaders, when they told him not to preach about Jesus (Acts 5:17–29). Likewise, all believers should refuse to obey instructions which oppose God's revealed will for us. In Peter's day, this might have included husbands who demanded their wives worship an idol or other false god. "Submission" comes in accepting the consequences of this disobedience, at least as far as human governments are concerned.
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