1 Peter 3:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Peter 3:3, NIV: Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.

1 Peter 3:3, ESV: Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—

1 Peter 3:3, KJV: Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

1 Peter 3:3, NASB: Your adornment must not be merely the external—braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on apparel;

1 Peter 3:3, NLT: Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.

1 Peter 3:3, CSB: Don't let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes,

What does 1 Peter 3:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This is part of a longer instruction to Christian wives in verses 1 through 6. The specific idea here, regarding beauty, further describes how a Christian wife with an unbelieving husband should expect to "win" him to faith in Christ. This "submission" has an important context, however. It does not mean domination, or blind obedience. In fact, Christians are obligated to disobey human instructions which would cause us to sin. Verses 1 and 2 explore this in more detail.

The first crucial point to understand is that Peter is not forbidding these things. He is not prohibiting women from braiding hair, wearing gold jewelry, or wearing clothing! His command is that Christian wives should not seek their "adornment" or "beauty" or identity in these external fashion choices. Then, as today, women felt societal pressure about fashion and beauty. Many women have felt the burden to live up to the beauty standards of their culture. Unfortunately, this sometimes includes a sense that a wife needs to compete for their husband's attention and affection. As it does now, this required time, energy, and money.

On the other hand, influential Greek and Roman writers such as Seneca, Plutarch, Tacitus, and others instructed women to be modest and dignified, instead. While not calling for women to be sloppy or crude, they recognized that a woman's true worth is not in her appearance. Peter's instruction from God came closer to that idea, urging women to understand, in part, that their husbands would not be won to Christ by their efforts to beautify themselves externally.

Verse 4 gives the other side of this coin. Christian women should not obsess on external beauty. Instead, they are to emphasize the "hidden person of the heart."