Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Devotional: Gospel Relationships at Home, 1 Peter 3:1-12

Outline 1 Peter 3.1-12

Peter continues to apply the message and mission of the gospel to personal relationships in the first half of chapter 3. Jesus’ example of humility and dedication to pointing others to God with his words and actions, no matter what the cost, continues to drive Peter’s teaching on relationships within the home. In 3:1-7 Peter focuses on the marriage relationship, especially those in which a believing wife is married to an unbelieving husband. Peter’s basic point is that the marriage relationship is one of mutual submission to the specific and different needs of one another and respect for each other as partners in the grace of the gospel. In 3:8-12 he summarizes the section with a call to “unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” supported by a promise from Psalm 34 that God will protect, hear the prayer and bless the one that lives this way. In all our relationships we are called to live out the grace of the gospel whether we are in a position of power or weakness.

In 3:1-7 the Christian wife receives the longer exhortation because she would have been the one more likely to be struggling in a relationship with an unbelieving husband who may have been against her Christian beliefs. It may also be that the church was being criticized that its raising of the status of women was causing strife in marriages. Like Paul, Peter urges the wife to submit to her husband (as was expected in the culture) and use her freedom in Christ, not to serve herself, but to serve him and meet his needs. Instead of prolonging the battle of the sexes, in which the husband uses his standing in society and generally greater physical strength to control his wife and she counters with seduction and manipulation, each one should imitate Jesus by submitting to, loving and serving one another as partners in salvation and ministry. But also like Paul, Peter goes against culture by telling the husband, “likewise,” to submit to the needs of his wife by especially being considerate of her unique needs as a female and her equal status as a gospel partner. Ultimately the goal is not to protect traditional social order or to “liberate” the wife from being a woman, but to remake both marriage roles as they should be in God’s kingdom and produce marriages that create homes that live out the gospel.

Finally, Peter closes the section with a summary of what gospel behavior looks like. The gospel message is especially seen in our closest relationships as they are transformed by the gospel. We must live compassionately, humbly and in harmony with one another, even in a hostile society, We can trust God to take care of our personal interests because God’s protection and provision are guaranteed to those who live submissive lives. Homes where husbands and wives serve and love one another are powerful witnesses to the power of the gospel. Relationships at work, with our unbelieving neighbors and with the authorities that display compassion, integrity and return good for evil demonstrate God’s rule and draw people toward him. Giving up our own agendas and desires seems dangerous but the ruler of the universe promises to bring blessing and peace as a result. This is the message,  mission and promise of the gospel.

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