Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Likewise--Greek, "In like manner," as "servants" in
their sphere; compare the reason of the woman's subjection,
your own--enforcing the obligation: it is not strangers ye are
required to be subject to. Every time that obedience is enjoined
upon women to their husbands, the Greek, "idios," "one's
own peculiarly," is used, while the wives of men are designated only by
heauton, "of themselves." Feeling the need of leaning on one
stronger than herself, the wife (especially if joined to an
unbeliever) might be tempted, though only spiritually, to enter
into that relation with another in which she ought to stand to "her
(1Co 14:34, 35,
"Let them ask their own [idious] husbands at home"); an
attachment to the person of the teacher might thus spring up, which,
without being in the common sense spiritual adultery, would still
weaken in its spiritual basis the married relation [STEIGER].
that, if--Greek, "that even if." Even if you have
a husband that obeys not the word (that is, is an unbeliever).
without the word--independently of hearing the word
preached, the usual way of faith coming. But BENGEL, "without word," that is, without direct
Gospel discourse of the wives, "they may (literally, in
oldest manuscripts, 'shall,' which marks the almost objective
certainty of the result) be won" indirectly. "Unspoken acting is
more powerful than unperformed speaking" [ŒCUMENIUS]. "A soul converted is gained to itself,
to the pastor, wife, or husband, who sought it, and to Jesus Christ;
added to His treasury who thought not His own precious blood too dear
to lay out for this gain" [LEIGHTON]. "The
discreet wife would choose first of all to persuade her husband to
share with her in the things which lead to blessedness; but if this be
impossible, let her then alone diligently press after virtue, in all
things obeying him so as to do nothing at any time against his will,
except in such things as are essential to virtue and salvation" [CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA].
2. behold--on narrowly looking into it, literally, "having
chaste--pure, spotless, free from all impurity.
fear--reverential, towards your husbands. Scrupulously
pure, as opposed to the noisy, ambitious character of worldly
3. Literally, "To whom let there belong (namely, as their
peculiar ornament) not the outward adornment (usual in the sex which
first, by the fall, brought in the need of covering, Note,
plaiting--artificial braiding, in order to attract admiration.
wearing--literally, "putting round," namely, the head, as a
diadem--the arm, as a bracelet--the finger, as rings.
apparel--showy and costly. "Have the blush of modesty on thy
face instead of paint, and moral worth and discretion instead of gold
and emeralds" [MELISSA].
4. But--"Rather." The "outward adornment" of jewelry, &c., is
forbidden, in so far as woman loves such things, not in so far as she
uses them from a sense of propriety, and does not abuse them.
Singularity mostly comes from pride and throws needless hindrances to
religion in the way of others. Under costly attire there may be a
humble mind. "Great is he who uses his earthenware as if it were plate;
not less great is he who uses his silver as if it were earthenware"
[SENECA in ALFORD].
hidden--inner man, which the Christian instinctively
hides from public view.
of the heart--consisting in the heart regenerated and
adorned by the Spirit. This "inner man of the heart" is the subject of
the verb "be,"
Greek: "Of whom let the inner man be," namely, the distinction
in that--consisting or standing in that as its element.
not corruptible--not transitory, nor tainted with corruption, as
all earthly adornments.
meek and quiet--meek, not creating disturbances:
quiet, bearing with tranquillity the disturbances caused by
others. Meek in affections and feelings; quiet in words,
countenance, and actions [BENGEL].
in the sight of God--who looks to inward, not merely outward
of great price--The results of redemption should correspond to
its costly price
5. after this manner--with the ornament of a meek and quiet
spirit (compare the portrait of the godly wife,
trusted--Greek, "hoped." "Holy" is explained by "hoped in
(so as to be 'united to,' Greek) God." Hope in God is the
spring of true holiness [BENGEL].
in subjection--Their ornament consisted in their subordination.
Vanity was forbidden
as being contrary to female subjection.
6. Sara--an example of faith.
calling him lord--
ye are--Greek, "ye have become": "children" of Abraham
and Sara by faith, whereas ye were Gentile aliens from the
afraid with any amazement--Greek, "fluttering alarm,"
"consternation." Act well, and be not thrown into sudden panic,
as weak females are apt to be, by any opposition from without. BENGEL translates, "Not afraid OF
any fluttering terror coming from without"
So the Septuagint,
uses the same Greek word, which Peter probably refers to. Anger
assails men; fear, women. You need fear no man in doing what is
right: not thrown into fluttering agitation by any sudden outbreak of
temper on the part of your unbelieving husbands, while you do
7. dwell--Greek, "dwelling": connected with the verb,
knowledge--Christian knowledge: appreciating the due relation of
the sexes in the design of God, and acting with tenderness and
forbearance accordingly: wisely: with wise consideration.
them . . . giving honour to the wife--translate
and punctuate the Greek rather, "dwelling according to knowledge
with the female (Greek adjective, qualifying 'vessel'; not as
English Version, a noun) as with the weaker vessel (see on
Both husband and wife are vessels in God's hand, and of God's making,
to fulfil His gracious purposes. Both weak, the woman the
weaker. The sense of his own weakness, and that she, like
himself, is God's vessel and fabric, ought to lead him to act
with tender and wise consideration towards her who is the weaker
fabric), giving (literally, 'assigning,'
'apportioning') honor as being also (besides being man and wife)
heirs together," &c.; or, as the Vatican manuscript reads, as to those
who are also (besides being your wives) fellow heirs." (The reason why
the man should give honor to the woman is, because God gives
honor to both as fellow heirs; compare the same argument,
He does not take into account the case of an unbelieving wife,
as she might yet believe.
grace of life--God's gracious gift of life
(1Pe 1:4, 13).
that your prayers be not hindered--by dissensions, which prevent
united prayer, on which depends the blessing.
8. General summary of relative duty, after having
detailed particular duties from
of one mind--as to the faith.
having compassion one of another--Greek, "sympathizing"
in the joy and sorrow of others.
love as brethren--Greek, "loving the brethren."
pitiful--towards the afflicted.
courteous--genuine Christian politeness; not the tinsel of the
world's politeness; stamped with unfeigned love on one side, and
humility on the other. But the oldest manuscripts read,
"humble-minded." It is slightly different from "humble," in that it
marks a conscious effort to be truly humble.
9. evil--in deed.
blessing--your revilers; participle, not a noun after
knowing that--The oldest manuscripts read merely, "because."
are--Greek, "were called."
inherit a blessing--not only passive, but also active; receiving
spiritual blessing from God by faith, and in your turn blessing others
from love [GERHARD in
ALFORD]. "It is not in order to inherit a blessing
that we must bless, but because our portion is blessing." No
railing can injure you
Imitate God who "blesses" you. The first fruits of His blessing
for eternity are enjoyed by the righteous even now
10. will love--Greek, "wishes to love." He who loves
life (present and eternal), and desires to continue to do
so, not involving himself in troubles which will make this life a
burden, and cause him to forfeit eternal life. Peter confirms his
refrain--curb, literally, "cause to cease"; implying that our
natural inclination and custom is to speak evil. "Men commonly think
that they would be exposed to the wantonness of their enemies if they
did not strenuously vindicate their rights. But the Spirit promises a
life of blessedness to none but those who are gentle and patient of
evil . . . guile--First he warns against sins of the
tongue, evil-speaking, and deceitful, double-tongued speaking;
next, against acts of injury to one's neighbor.
11. In oldest manuscripts, Greek, "Moreover
(besides his words, in acts), let him."
ensue--pursue as a thing hard to attain, and that flees
from one in this troublesome world.
12. Ground of the promised present and eternal life of
blessedness to the meek
The Lord's eyes are ever over them for good.
ears . . . unto their prayers--
(1Jo 5:14, 15).
face . . . against--The eyes imply
favorable regard; the face of the Lord upon (not
as English Version, "against") them that do evil, implies that
He narrowly observes them, so as not to let them really and lastingly
hurt His people (compare
13. who . . . will harm you--This fearless confidence
in God's protection from harm, Christ, the Head, in His sufferings
realized; so His members.
if ye be--Greek, "if ye have become."
followers--The oldest manuscripts read "emulous," "zealous of"
good--The contrast in Greek is, "Who will do you
evil, if ye be zealous of good?"
14. But and if--"But if even." "The promises of this life
extend only so far as it is expedient for us that they should be
fulfilled" [CALVIN]. So he proceeds to state the
exceptions to the promise
and how the truly wise will behave in such exceptional cases. "If ye
should suffer"; if it should so happen; "suffer," a milder word
for righteousness--"not the suffering, but the cause for which
one suffers, makes the martyr" [AUGUSTINE].
happy--Not even can suffering take away your
blessedness, but rather promotes it.
and--Greek, "but." Do not impair your blessing
by fearing man's terror in your times of adversity.
Literally, "Be not terrified with their terror," that is, with that
which they try to strike into you, and which strikes themselves when in
adversity. This verse and
is quoted from
Isa 8:12, 13.
God alone is to be feared; he that fears God has none else to fear.
neither be troubled--the threat of the law,
De 28:65, 66;
in contrast to which the Gospel gives the believer a heart assured of
God's favor, and therefore unruffled, amidst all adversities. Not only
be not afraid, but be not even agitated.
15. sanctify--hallow; honor as holy, enshrining Him in
your hearts. So in the Lord's Prayer,
God's holiness is thus glorified in our hearts as the dwelling-place of
the Lord God--The oldest manuscripts read "Christ." Translate,
"Sanctify Christ as Lord."
and--Greek, "but," or "moreover." Besides this
inward sanctification of God in the heart, be also ready always to
answer--an apologetic answer defending your faith.
to every man that asketh you--The last words limit the
universality of the "always"; not to a roller, but to everyone among
the heathen who inquires honestly.
a reason--a reasonable account. This refutes Rome's dogma, "I
believe it, because the Church believes it." Credulity is believing
without evidence; faith is believing on evidence. There is no repose
for reason itself but in faith. This verse does not impose an
obligation to bring forward a learned proof and logical defense of
revelation. But as believers deny themselves, crucify the world, and
brave persecution, they must be buoyed up by some strong "hope"; men of
the world, having no such hope themselves, are moved by curiosity to
ask the secret of this hope; the believer must be ready
to give an experimental account "how this hope arose in him,
what it contains, and on what it rests" [STEIGER].
with--The oldest manuscripts read, "but with." Be ready,
but with "meekness." Not pertly and arrogantly.
The most effective way; not self-sufficient impetuosity.
fear--due respect towards man, and reverence towards God,
remembering His cause does not need man's hot temper to uphold it.
16. Having a good conscience--the secret spring of readiness
to give account of our hope. So hope and good
conscience go together in
Ac 24:15, 16.
Profession without practice has no weight. But those who have a good
conscience can afford to give an account of their hope "with
they speak evil of you, as of evildoers--One oldest manuscript
reads, "ye are spoken against," omitting the rest.
falsely accuse--"calumniate"; the Greek expresses malice
shown in deeds as well as in words. It is translated, "despitefully
in Christ--who is the very element of your life as Christians.
"In Christ" defines "good." It is your good walk as Christians,
not as citizens, that calls forth malice
(1Pe 4:4, 5, 14).
17. better--One may object, I would not bear it so ill if I had
deserved it. Peter replies, it is better that you did not
deserve it, in order that doing well and yet being spoken against, you
may prove yourself a true Christian [GERHARD].
if the will of God be so--rather as the optative is in the
oldest manuscripts, "if the will of God should will it so." Those who
honor God's will as their highest law
have the comfort to know that suffering is God's appointment
So Christ Himself; our inclination does not wish it.
18. Confirmation of
by the glorious results of Christ's suffering innocently.
For--"Because." That is "better,"
means of which we are rendered more like to Christ in death and in
life; for His death brought the best issue to Himself and to us [BENGEL].
Christ--the Anointed Holy One of God; the Holy
suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust.
also--as well as yourselves
there His suffering was brought forward as an example to us; here, as a
proof of the blessedness of suffering for well-doing.
once--for all; never again to suffer. It is "better" for us also
once to suffer with Christ, than for ever without Christ We now are
suffering our "once"; it will soon be a thing of the past; a bright
consolation to the tried.
for sins--as though He had Himself committed them. He exposed
Himself to death by His "confession," even as we are called on to "give
an answer to him that asketh a reason of our hope." This was
"well-doing" in its highest manifestation. As He suffered, "The Just,"
so we ought willingly to suffer, for righteousness' sake
1Pe 3:12, 17).
that he might bring us to God--together with Himself in His
ascension to the right hand of God
He brings us, "the unjust," justified together with Him into heaven. So
the result of Christ's death is His drawing men to Him;
spiritually now, in our having access into the Holiest, opened
by Christ's ascension; literally hereafter. "Bring us," moreover, by
the same steps of humiliation and exaltation through which He Himself
passed. The several steps of Christ's progress from lowliness to glory
are trodden over again by His people in virtue of their oneness with
"To God," is Greek dative (not the preposition and case),
implying that God wishes it [BENGEL].
put to death--the means of His bringing us to God.
in the flesh--that is, in respect to the life of
flesh and blood.
quickened by the Spirit--The oldest manuscripts omit the
Greek article. Translate with the preposition "in," as the
antithesis to the previous "in the flesh" requires, "IN spirit," that is, in respect to His Spirit. "Put to
death" in the former mode of life; "quickened" in the other. Not
that His Spirit ever died and was quickened, or made alive
again, but whereas He had lived after the manner of mortal men in the
flesh, He began to live a spiritual "resurrection"
life, whereby He has the power to bring us to God. Two ways of
1Pe 3:18, 19,
are open to us: (1) "Quickened in Spirit," that is, immediately
on His release from the "flesh," the energy of His undying spirit-life
was "quickened" by God the Father, into new modes of action, namely,
"in the Spirit He went down (as subsequently He went up
the same Greek verb) and heralded [not salvation, as
ALFORD, contrary to Scripture, which everywhere
represents man's state, whether saved or lost, after death
irreversible. Nor is any mention made of the conversion of the
spirits in prison. See on
Nor is the phrase here 'preached the Gospel'
(evangelizo), but 'heralded' (ekeruxe) or 'preached'; but
simply made the announcement of His finished work; so the same
'publish,' confirming Enoch and Noah's testimony, and thereby declaring
the virtual condemnation of their unbelief, and the salvation of Noah
and believers; a sample of the similar opposite effects of the same
work on all unbelievers, and believers, respectively; also a
consolation to those whom Peter addresses, in their sufferings at the
hands of unbelievers; specially selected for the sake of 'baptism,' its
which, as a seal, marks believers as separated from the rest of the
doomed world] to the spirits (His Spirit speaking to the
spirits) in prison (in Hades or Sheol, awaiting the judgment,
which were of old disobedient when," &c. (2) The strongest point in
favor of (1) is the position of "sometime," that is, of old,
connected with "disobedient"; whereas if the preaching or
announcing were a thing long past, we should expect "sometime," or
of old, to be joined to "went and preached." But this
transposition may express that their disobedience preceded His
preaching. The Greek participle expresses the reason of His
preaching, "inasmuch as they were sometime disobedient"
Also "went" seems to mean a personal going, as in
not merely in spirit. But see the answer below. The objections
are "quickened" must refer to Christ's body (compare
end), for as His Spirit never ceased to live, it cannot be said
to be "quickened." Compare
and other passages, where "quicken" is used of the bodily
resurrection. Also, not His Spirit, but His soul, went to
Hades. His Spirit was commended by Him at death to His Father, and was
thereupon "in Paradise." The theory--(1) would thus require that His
descent to the spirits in prison should be after His
Eph 4:9, 10,
which makes the descent precede the ascent. Also
Scripture elsewhere is silent about such a heralding, though possibly
Christ's death had immediate effects on the state of both the godly and
the ungodly in Hades: the souls of the godly heretofore in comparative
confinement, perhaps then having been, as some Fathers thought,
translated to God's immediate and heavenly presence; but this cannot be
proved from Scripture. Compare however,
Prison is always used in a bad sense in Scripture.
"Paradise" and "Abraham's bosom," the abode of good spirits in Old
Testament times, are separated by a wide gulf from Hell or Hades, and
cannot be called "prison." Compare
2Co 12:2, 4,
where "paradise" and the "third heaven" correspond. Also, why should
the antediluvian unbelievers in particular be selected as the objects
of His preaching in Hades? Therefore explain: "Quickened in spirit, in
which (as distinguished from in person; the words "in which,"
that is, in spirit, expressly obviating the objection that
"went" implies a personal going) He went (in the person of Noah,
"a preacher of righteousness,"
ALFORD'S own Note,
is the best reply to his argument from "went" that a local going
to Hades in person is meant. As "He CAME
and preached peace" by His Spirit in the apostles and ministers
after His death and ascension: so before His incarnation He preached in
Spirit through Noah to the antediluvians,
Joh 14:18, 28;
"Christ should show," literally, "announce light to the
Gentiles") and preached unto the spirits in prison, that is, the
antediluvians, whose bodies indeed seemed free, but their spirits were
in prison, shut up in the earth as one great condemned cell (exactly
Isa 24:22, 23
"upon the earth . . . they shall be gathered together as
prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in
the prison," &c. [just as the fallen angels are judicially
regarded as "in chains of darkness," though for a time now at large on
has a plain allusion to the flood, "the windows from on high are
from this prison the only way of escape was that preached by Christ in
Noah. Christ, who in our times came in the flesh, in the days of Noah
preached in Spirit by Noah to the spirits then in prison
end, "the Spirit of the Lord God hath sent me to proclaim the
opening of the prison to them that are bound"). So in
"the Spirit of Christ" is said to have testified in the prophets. As
Christ suffered even to death by enemies, and was afterwards quickened
in virtue of His "Spirit" (or divine nature,
Ro 1:3, 4;
which henceforth acted in its full energy, the first result of which
was the raising of His body
end) from the prison of the grave and His soul from Hades; so the same
Spirit of Christ enabled Noah, amidst reproach and trials, to preach to
the disobedient spirits fast bound in wrath. That Spirit in you can
enable you also to suffer patiently now, looking for the resurrection
20. once--not in the oldest manuscripts.
when . . . the long-suffering of God waited in the days of
Noah--Oldest manuscripts. Greek, "was continuing to wait
on" (if haply men in the hundred twenty years of grace would
repent) until the end of His waiting came in their death by the
flood. This refutes ALFORD'S idea of a second day
of grace having been given in Hades. Noah's days are selected, as the
ark and the destroying flood answer respectively to "baptism" and the
coming destruction of unbelievers by fire.
while the ark was a-preparing--
A long period of God's "long-suffering and waiting," as Noah had few to
help him, which rendered the world's unbelief the more inexcusable.
wherein--literally, "(by having entered) into which."
eight--seven (the sacred number) with ungodly Ham.
souls--As this term is here used of living persons, why
should not "spirits" also? Noah preached to their ears, but Christ
in spirit, to their spirits, or spiritual natures.
saved by water--The same water which drowned the unbelieving,
buoyed up the ark in which the eight were saved. Not as some translate,
"were brought safe through the water." However, the sense of the
preposition may be as in
"they were safely preserved through the water," though having to be
in the water.
21. whereunto--The oldest manuscripts read, "which": literally,
"which (namely, water, in general; being) the antitype (of the
water of the flood) is now saving (the salvation being not yet fully
realized by us, compare
1Co 10:1, 2, 5;
puts into a state of salvation) us also (two oldest manuscripts
read 'you' for 'us': You also, as well as Noah and his
party), to wit, baptism." Water saved Noah not of itself, but by
sustaining the ark built in faith, resting on God's word: it was
to him the sign and mean of a kind of regeneration, of the
earth. The flood was for Noah a baptism, as the passage through the Red
Sea was for the Israelites; by baptism in the flood he and his family
were transferred from the old world to the new: from immediate
destruction to lengthened probation; from the companionship of the
wicked to communion with God; from the severing of all bonds between
the creature and the Creator to the privileges of the covenant: so we
by spiritual baptism. As there was a Ham who forfeited the privileges
of the covenant, so many now. The antitypical water, namely, baptism,
saves you also not of itself, nor the mere material water, but the
spiritual thing conjoined with it, repentance and faith, of which it is
the sign and seal, as Peter proceeds to explain. Compare the union of
the sign and thing signified,
not the, &c.--"flesh" bears the emphasis. "Not the putting away
of the filth of the flesh" (as is done by a mere water baptism,
unaccompanied with the Spirit's baptism, compare
but of the soul. It is the ark (Christ and His Spirit-filled Church),
not the water, which is the instrument of salvation: the water only
flowed round the ark; so not the mere water baptism, but the water when
accompanied with the Spirit.
answer--Greek, "interrogation"; referring to the
questions asked of candidates for baptism; eliciting a
confession of faith "toward God" and a renunciation of Satan ([AUGUSTINE, The Creed, 4.1]; [CYPRIAN, Epistles, 7, To Rogatianus]),
which, when flowing from "a good conscience," assure one of being
"saved." Literally, "a good conscience's interrogation (including the
satisfactory answer) toward God." I prefer this to the
translation of WAHL, ALFORD
and others, "inquiry of a good conscience after God": not
one of the parallels alleged, not even
in the Septuagint, is strictly in point. Recent Byzantine
Greek idiom (whereby the term meant: (1) the question; (2) the
stipulation; (3) the engagement), easily flowing from the usage of the
word as Peter has it, confirms the former translation.
by the resurrection of Jesus--joined with "saves you": In so far
as baptism applies to us the power of Christ's resurrection. As
Christ's death unto sin is the source of the believer's death unto, and
so deliverance from, sin's penalty and power; so His resurrection life
is the source of the believer's new spiritual life.
Ro 8:34, 38;
Eph 1:21; 3:10;
Col 1:16; 2:10-15).
The fruit of His patience in His voluntary endured and undeserved
sufferings: a pattern to us,
1Pe 3:17, 18.
Proving against rationalists an actual material ascension. Literally,
"is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven." The
oldest manuscripts of the Vulgate and the Latin Fathers,
add what expresses the benefit to us of Christ's sitting on God's right
hand, "Who is on the right hand of God, having swallowed up death
that we may become heirs of everlasting life"; involving for us
A STATE OF LIFE, saved, glorious, and eternal. The
Greek manuscripts, however, reject the words. Compare with this
verse Peter's speeches,
3:21, 26; 10:40, 42.