Summary: There’s that thread again, “in the same way.” In what way are husbands to give honor to their wives? In the same way that gives God the glory and makes His name more famous in the community. The motive matters. If our homes look like God arranged them
1 Peter 3 is just one of many Scriptures that deal with our human families and the church family in the same context. One reason why the definition of marriage in our modern environment is so important is because God uses the analogy of human marriage to explain His divine relationship with his church family. Any discussion on family should begin with the premise that in the New Testament the relationship between a husband and wife is analogous with the relationship between God and His church. So we need to start there before we begin a discussion on what Peter teaches.
Jesus references the marriage relationship several times. Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19 and Luke 5:34 are three examples and of course the parable he shared about the ten bridesmaids waiting on the groom to show up and when he does only five are ready to meet him, the others are locked out of the wedding feast, is another example of this metaphor. Paul then adds to the analogy in Ephesians and Colossians by teaching husbands they should love their bride as Christ loves His. And before we begin a talk about 1 Peter 3 we also need to get a better handle on the Biblical meaning of submission. In Ephesians 5:21 Paul says this, “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Because the word submission and the theology of this word in our churches today tend to be widely misunderstood I want to spend just a couple of moments Biblically defining two words in this verse. The first word is “reverence”, as translated by the NIV and the NLT. The Greek word in this Scripture is phobos. Does that sound familiar? This is the root of the word for phobias, an irrational fear of something. This word is widely used in the Bible and it’s almost always in a negative context. For example, “While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him.” Luke 1:11-12 It seems that anytime someone sees an angel in the Bible they experience phobos. The folks mentioned in Scripture who see an angel appear out of thin air are terrified of the experience. Almost 30 times in the New Testament God’s people are encouraged to “not be afraid.” And just about every time someone encounters an angel this is the first thing the angel says; easy for him to say.
So this is interesting, isn’t it? Is Paul saying we submit to each other because we should be scared to death of Christ? Not necessarily, although the word phobos does suggest that, but the word does have a slightly different meaning. The word can also mean to run in fear from a situation because you don’t think you have the proper resources to handle it.
I was a little guy when I was a kid. My weight didn’t hit three digits until my first year in college. I still remember the first time I stood on a scale and my weight was 102. I was 19. When I was a freshman in High School, I got bullied quite a bit, so my parents decided to put me in a karate class. The class was held in a storefront of a strip mall and had a big floor to ceiling show window in the room where we practiced our punches and kicks. So there were usually people walking by who would look in the window and watch our class. I really liked karate because for the first time in my life I felt I was being prepared to protect myself. There was one boy in particular that if I saw walking towards me in the hall, I would run in the opposite direction. I knew where every closet, staircase, nook or cranny was in that school building. I ran from this kid because I felt inadequate. I was filled with phobos. Scared.
But I’ll never forget the day my antagonist walked by the window of the karate class. Like a lot of folks he stopped and looked in the window. At the same time, as a class, we were each sparring with a partner, practicing a leg kick to the head. When I saw who was looking in the window, and our eyes met, I received a mighty rush of boldness and instead of restraining my kick against my poor partner I connected full on and knocked him to the ground. And then I started walking towards the window. I had never felt so bold, so full of confidence before this moment. And frankly, I felt further emboldened by the separation of the window. He couldn’t get to me. My nemesis looked at the poor kid I just nailed laying on the floor, looked back at me, then he turned and walked away. He never messed with me at school again. And I never kicked anyone after that either, because the karate teacher banned me from sparring for awhile. I lost interest anyway. My purpose for karate had been fulfilled.