1 Peter 3
The Way We Grow, continued
Peter then reverts back to his list of practical things they would need to do to grow into what God was making of them.
Practical Growth, continued (1-9)
7. Wives were to be subject to their husbands, and Peter goes to lengths to mention even the husbands who might treat them harshly (1); they were to respect them (3). Women were not to concentrate on their outward appearance (4), but were to work on the inner person to develop the imperishable beauty of gentleness and a quiet demeanor (4). Peter then takes a moment to give some commentary on how wives should endure by learning from other women's faith, who adorned themselves inwardly (5), especially mentioning the honor and respect Sarah had for Abraham (6).
8. Peter next turns his attention to the husband and commissions him not to be abusive but considerate, treating his wife as a prize; he makes every husband aware that they would inherit grace together with their wives, and if they wanted their prayers answered, there would need to be harmony (8).
9. Leaving marriage, Peter mentions that as a community they were to be sympathetic, tender, and humble toward each other (8).
10. They were never to pay back a hurt but return a blessing (9).
Spiritual Growth and Vengeance (10-18)
Peter then gives a commentary on not paying back hurts by quoting an Old Testament Scripture from Psalm 34 to show God's constant and ultimate desire was for us never to seek revenge.
It is clear that those who seek revenge will not find peace, have their prayers answered, or experience God's presence (10-12).
Peter gives this assurance: if we are zealous for good, no one can harm us (13). Even if we suffer for being good, a blessing awaits that far surpasses any trouble (14). Instead of thinking about how to pay someone back, we are to plan a response or defense for their hope and give that in the place of vengeance. But even in our defense, we are to give with gentleness and respect (15).
The whole redeeming goal of Christ is touching a person’s heart when she is ashamed of how she has mistreated the innocent; when one is ashamed, his heart can open to God in a special way. This is where those exiles were to follow Jesus' example and suffer mistreatment, so those who were mistreating them could be put to shame and hopefully find the humility to turn to Christ (16-17).
Jesus’ Example of Not Paying Back (18-22)
Peter runs back to Christ's example and notes that Jesus suffered for the good and the bad with the purpose of making it possible for them to come alive in their spirits. This is another way of saying we are freed from a lust-dominated life to be alive to God (18).
Peter then mentions something here in the text for which there are over a dozen interpretations. I will use the one seeming most contextually apparent. Peter says, “He (Jesus) went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison ..." (19) Peter further defines to whom Jesus went to preach—
those who did not obey in the days of Noah, particularly during the time the ark was being built (20). Eight people did listen, however, and were brought safely through the water. When we put this passage in Peter together with Ephesians 4:8-9, we see the picture a bit more clearly. Paul writes in the Ephesians passage that Jesus descended into the lower regions and then ascended, but when He did, He was leading with Him a "host of captives.” Peter recognizes that the eight people saved in the ark were among the host of captives Jesus led out of the lower part of the earth. (Matthew confirms that some of these who were led out of the lower part of the earth were raised and went into Jerusalem. Matthew 27:52-53)
Peter's point is that the flood and the ark serve as a metaphor to baptism. Instead of Jesus’ being preached to "spirits in prison" so those who had formerly believed could be set free, Jesus' gospel is now being preached to them so they could be set free from lust, which leads to sin, which leads to death. Instead of ark and water now saving them, baptism becomes the act of faith that reveals to their conscience they are now trusting their lives to Jesus, Who raises them to life on the other side of baptism (21). This new life and the new age associated with it are hidden in Christ, and He is seated at God's right hand with all in the heavens subjected to Him (22).