Basically, 1Peter3:1-7 talks about husband and wives, in other words it addresses marriage institution. On the other hand, given that the church is in most cases likened to a woman in the bible, it can be equally seen in a perspective of a wake up call to the churches in the world. In verse one; wives are called upon to be subjective to their men. Going by this verse, the preferences of husbands should come first in a marriage union. On the other hand, it does not allow husbands to be unreasonable; they also should honor their wives preferences. Submission by wives should be at all times whether the husband is there or not, it should not be comprised. It should not be seen as slavery in marriage but wives should always remember they should take care of their husbands. She should always place the man as the head and control this. This particular verse should be seen as test of their faith in God given that this came from him. As far as this particular verse is concerned, there has been a misconception that wives are being treated as lesser beings which is not the case. Wives should always remember that, this verse categorically states that, by being submissive it is a win to Christ. In the same breath, the church should be submissive to Christ.
The significance of this verse is that, it serves as a constant reminder to wives any time they read it. If at all she has by any chance gone out track, this verse can speak volume to her to come back on the right track. The relevance of this particular verse to the church is that, it can be used on teachings related to marriage in the church. If at all in the church there some members who are experiencing marriage problems, this particular verse can be used as a reference to advise the couple accordingly. The same can be used by church ministers anytime they are ordaining a marriage in church. On the same note, the relevance can be looked in another perspective that the church is being reminded to be always submissive to God.
The second verse in the same chapter advises women on how their beauty should not be based on outward appearance such as plaited hair, and wearing of expensive jewelry in addition to expensive clothes. It is further deduced that, the inner beauty is what that matters to God in heaven. According to this verse, I tend to think that, although the words are categorically meant for women, the word is used symbolically. In this case, women are used as a symbol to represent the church and other human beings. The outward beauty that has been mentioned in this verse is also meant for those people who pretend to be good from outside but have bad intentions in their hearts. All in all, wives are advised to stop pretending with their husbands and be who they are. They should not do something to please them but because that is their responsibility. In the same breath, the church should not appear differently in public and doing the opposite behind curtains. It should be honest to Christ.
The significance of this is to caution the hypocritical wives. There are those who think that, by looking beautiful physically, that is all there is to please the husband. This verse calls for an extension of this beauty in the heart. Good things come from the heart and not outward appearance. In other words, not all that glitters is gold. The relevance of the second and third verse to the church is clearly seen. To begin with, the church is likened to a woman in the bible, so it can be an eye opener to churches in the world to not tend to appear doing the right thing in the eyes of the public yet behind the curtains the opposite is happening. This verse is God speaking to churches warning about hypocrisy that is very rampant in many churches today.
In verses five and six, the bible continues to say that, the holy women of the past had the inner beauty and they banked their hope on God to make them beautiful. They were totally subjective to their husbands just like Sarah was and had likened her husband Abraham to a master. In a marriage perspective, wives, just like Sarah was, they should not be left behind in ensuring they seek inner beauty as opposed to physical beauty. Just like Sarah was to Abraham, so should they be to their husbands. This clearly shows that submission began way back in times of Abraham and so it should not stop at nothing. In this case, Sarah is a classic example of a woman who was totally submissive to her husband Abraham. On the other hand, Sarah represents the church while Abraham represents the Christ. So, just like Sarah sought inner beauty, and being a woman of the old times, she represents the early church which obeyed God’s word. Similarly, the church today should take after the early church and believe in God for inner beauty besides being submissive to him.
The significance of these two verses is to remind wives that, inner beauty can only be achieved if one believes in God to have it. By being given an example with Sarah, a woman who lived so many years back, they are being reminded that, inner beauty and submission started way back with Sarah who saw Abraham as her master. In addition, the church here is being brought in the picture in that, just like the early church believed in God for a good image , so should the church of today. The early church, being led by people like Paul, was totally submissive to God.
I think what was in the mind of Peter had its root in the book of genesis 3:16. God had told eve that her husband shall rule over her. Peter recommends Sarah for submission to her husband Abraham. He notices that Sarah was very obedient towards her husband to an extent of calling him her master. Going by this, it is clear that it was in the mind of God right from the beginning to have the wife being put under the husband. Looking at this beyond the literal meaning, one can look at this as the church which is being addressed. The church in this case just like Sarah should remain obedient to Christ. In other words it is put under Christ.
For Sarah to call her husband lord, it indicates just how much she adores him and total submissiveness. From this perspective, it worthy noting that, being submissive goes hand in hand with being faithful. When a wife submits to her husband, it basically portrays faith that Christ is manifesting himself through her man to achieve what is good for her. This is surely how life is for these two. Likewise, in a church setting, God uses Christ to manifest himself in the lives of Christians. This only comes to be achieved if there is total submission of the same church to God.
In the verse seven, husbands are being called upon to return the same favor given to them to their wives. In other words, submission is a give and take affair. They are reminded that, wives should be treated with respect, bearing in mind that they are a weaker partner and together they are heirs of the gift of life and therefore nothing can stop their prayers. This is meant to bring husbands on board that, they are expected to respect their partners in marriage and equally be submissive. This can be done in terms of them giving in to their demands if at all they are genuine alongside providing for the wife and the children. On the other hand, Christ is expected to be there for the church in order to for it to perform its responsibilities. Without him, the church cannot do much on its own.
The significance of this verse is to remind husbands that they equally have a responsibility to respect and submit to their wives. It also cautions on husbands who do the opposite as going against the word of God. The relevance of this to the church is that, Christ has a role to play if the church is to continue serving. Without Christ the church’s objective will be put at stake. So the church and Christ must walk together to realize the dream of the church.