Bible Class Notes on 1 Peter 3:3-4 | Notes on the Petrine Epistles
These two verses sound much like 1 Timothy 2:9-10: “Women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire, but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion.”
Peter also tells women how they are not to dress. They are not to dress outwardly with the braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing.
Men have often viewed women as sex objects. Many women throughout history have tried to exploit this and dress in such a way as to gain men’s attention. This was a problem in Peter’s day. Many women would dress in a sensual manner before going out into public. Most of these women were already married, but they were looking for another man. Peter tells Christian women to have no part in such behavior—they should not be known for what they wear; they should be known for who they are.
This verse has been badly treated by many Bible students. At one extreme are those who teach that this verse condemns the wearing of gold, the braiding of hair, and the wearing of expensive clothing. However, “expensive” is not in the original Greek. What this verse literally condemns is the wearing of clothing. If these students are correct, women are not to wear any clothing!
At the other extreme is those who claim that this passage doesn’t apply today. There is nothing in the context which would cause one to believe these verses aren’t applicable today. These students would teach that women do not need to worry at all about their clothing.
The truth is somewhere between these two extremes. These verses clearly teach that the inner person is more important than what we wear. We do not need to dress in an outlandish manner which costs much money. We are to be good stewards. Can we rightly justify wearing expensive clothing or buying nice things if we could use that money to support the church more, to support missionaries, to support children’s homes, etc.?
Their beauty is to come from the inside out. These women’s adornment is to be the “hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit.” The teaching of 1 Samuel 16:6-7 is often remembered in this regard. This adornment is of the “hidden person” in that it involves the spiritual heart which cannot be seen. The heart, of course, would be the seat of the emotive powers as well as the will and the intellect—so the inner part of man which does the thinking is to be clothed with a “gentle and quiet spirit.”
This “gentle and quiet spirit” is rather important. “Spirit” does not here mean the Holy Spirit, but the meaning is “ethical character.”
The spirit is to be “gentle.” To the Roman this would be “amiable friendliness contrasted with roughness [or] bad temper.” Scripture uses “gentle” to mean “not fighting back.” Gentleness is listed as part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:23).
This spirit is to be quiet. This is a sense of being calm, peaceful, and tranquil. This is contrasted to being restless, rebellious, disturbed, or insubordinate.
Being gentle and quiet are not just feminine characteristics; the Lord Jesus is spoken of in this manner. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt 11:29). “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your kind is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass” (Matt 21:5).
This gentle and quiet spirit is very precious to God. No doubt, some husbands would not appreciate their wife’s gentle disposition. These wives needed to know, therefore, that their gentle spirit would not go unnoticed—God would notice, and this spirit would be precious to him. This gentle and quiet spirit has eternal rewards (Matt 6:19-20).