Summary: Don’t let American society fool you. Godly submission is a very, very powerful thing. If you are able to apply this concept to your life. You will be able to live well, whatever your life’s circumstance.
Note to Reader: This is the second part of the topic of submission. For the first part, see the sermon - Submission: The Dilemma Of Submission.
As we move into chapter 3 this morning we find the Apostle Peter continuing his thoughts on living a Godly life in the midst of difficult circumstances. You often hear, “There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who see the glass full and those who see the glass empty.” Ahh there’s another. The person who complains that the glass doesn’t contain Evian water.
These are the people who believe, that a good life should not have difficult circumstances, that if they are good people, or Godly people, or people living life well, difficult times will not come their way. I call that the imagined Disneyfied life.
For the reality is, the Bible never teaches that if you are living a good and Godly life, that difficult times will pass you by. In fact we find the Bible teaching us that difficult circumstances will come our way…even if we are living life well…Fortunately, the Bible also teaches us how to deal with those difficult circumstances when they come our way – the book of First Peter as we are finding out is one of those places.
Chapter 3 of First Peter is a very difficult chapter for us as Americans to take in. What Peter says, especially in from verses 1 through 7 goes against the grain of modern America. The reaction of many people today is to simply ignore what Peter says in these verses and move on to the next section. What Peter says here is difficult and it is hard to understand, yet, what Peter has to say to in this chapter is very, very relevant for our Christian walk.
This morning as we work through this chapter, please keep your bibles open as we will be referring back to chapter 3 of First Peter quite a bit.
Last week, when we were in Chapter 2 we saw that Peter is concerned about proper behavior, how we act out our Christianity in difficult situations. When we talked about submission last week, you might recall that submission itself, for Peter, is about proper behavior, not just what we believe is proper – the theoretical, how I might respond, but acting on what we believe – my actual response to a situation. We saw that, submission isn’t blindly doing whatever is asked of us. We are obligated to obey God first, in every situation. We saw that part of submission is acting well toward others even when they are acting completely unfair to us. We also saw that when we act out of love. Doing things for others isn’t really a chore or an obligation, but a delight.
Also remember that Peter introduces a revolutionary thought for the times: everyone is equal; regardless of whether they are enslaved or free; regardless of whatever ethnicity they are; regardless if they are a man or woman. We all are equal.
Last week we read in, 1Peter 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone. Here Peter is lifting up a purely Christian concept that all are equal.
St Paul agrees with Peter in other parts of the NT. Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Col. 3:11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
With this is mind concept of equality in mind, we now go to our Scripture.
Verse one “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands”
First off, what would surprise the reader in the first century would be first and foremost that Peter is addressing women at all. Remember last week when we talked about slaves, we found in the Roman world slaves had no rights – they were considered objects - Women are treated in a similar way. Women, generally have no rights. In fact they were considered the property of their husband, or of their father. A woman was under the father’s power, the father had full power over the woman even life and death; when she married, this power passed to her husband. She was completely at his mercy. Cato wrote: ‘If you were to catch your wife in an act of infidelity, you can kill her with impunity without a trial.’. The attitude of the Romans was this: no woman should make any decision for herself.
Remember last week when we talked about slaves having no rights and being treated like property? Take those same ideas and place them on women, to a slightly less effect.That is pretty stark stuff isn’t it? With that prevailing attitude in mind, it is surprising that Peter even addresses women. But he does – for they are equals in Christianity as we saw in Gal 3:28.