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Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, [1886], at

1 Peter Chapter 3

1 Peter 3:1

pe1 3:1

Likewise (ὁμοίως)

Rev., in like manner; better, because likewise in popular speech has, wrongly, the sense of also. Peter means in like manner with servants (Pe1 2:18).

Be in subjection (ὑποτασσόμεναι)

Lit., being in subjection, or submitting yourselves; the same word which is used of the submission of servants (Pe1 2:18).

Be won (κερδηθήσονται)

Rev., be gained. The word used by Christ, Mat 18:15 : "gained thy brother."

1 Peter 3:2

pe1 3:2

While they behold (ἐποπτεύσαντες)

See on Pe1 2:12.


See on Pe1 1:15. Rev., behavior.

Coupled with fear (ἐν φόβῳ)

Lit., in fear.

1 Peter 3:3

pe1 3:3

Of plaiting (ἐμπλοκῆς)

Only here in New Testament. Compare Ti1 2:9. The Roman women of the day were addicted to ridiculous extravagance in the adornment of the hair. Juvenal ("Satire," vi.) satirizes these customs. He says: "The attendants will vote on the dressing of the hair as if a question of reputation or of life were at stake, so great is the trouble she takes in quest of beauty; with so many tiers does she lead, with so many continuous stories does she build up on high her head. She is tall as Andromache in front, behind she is shorter. You would think her another person." The hair was dyed, and secured with costly pins and with nets of gold thread. False hair and blond wigs were worn.

Putting on (ἐνδύσεως)

Only here in New Testament. Female extravagance in dress in the days of the empire reached an alarming pitch.

1 Peter 3:4

pe1 3:4

Meek (πραέος)

See on Mat 5:5.

Of great price (πολυτελές)

The word used to describe costly raiment, Ti1 2:9.

1 Peter 3:5

pe1 3:5

Adorned (ἐκόσμουν)

Imperfect tense. Were accustomed to adorn.

1 Peter 3:6

pe1 3:6

Amazement (πτόησιν)

Rev., terror. Compare the kindred verb πτοηθῆτε, be terrified, Luk 21:9; Luk 24:37; on which, see note. The word means a scare, or nervous excitement.

1 Peter 3:7

pe1 3:7

According to knowledge

With an intelligent recognition of the nature of the marriage relation.

The woman (τῷ γυναικείῳ)

Not a noun, however, as would appear from the ordinary rendering, but an adjective, agreeing with σκεύει, vessel, as does also ἀσθενεστέρῳ, weaker. Both are attributes of vessel; the female vessel as weaker. So Rev., in margin.

Vessel (σκεύει)

Compare Th1 4:4. The primary idea of vessel, which is formed from the Latin vasellum, the diminutive of vas, a vase, is that of the receptacle which covers and contains; the case or protecting cover. Hence it is allied, etymologically, with vest, vestment, and wear. It is used in the New Testament (1) in the sense of a cup or dish (Luk 8:16; Joh 19:29; Ti2 2:20; Rev 2:27; Rev 18:12). (2) Of the man, as containing the divine energy, or as a subject of divine mercy or wrath, and hence becoming a divine instrument. Thus Paul is a chosen vessel to bear God's name (Act 9:15). Vessels of wrath (Rom 9:22); of mercy (Rom 9:23). So of the woman, as God's instrument, along with man, for his service in the family and in society. (3) Collectively, in the plural, of all the implements of any particular economy, as a house, or a ship. Mat 12:29, goods; Act 27:17, the tackling or gear of a ship.

Giving (ἀπονέμοντες)

Only here in New Testament. The word means, literally, to portion out, and is appropriate to the husband as controlling what is to be meted out to the wife.

Hindered (ἐγκόπτεσθαι)

So A. V. and Rev., and the best texts, and the majority of commentators. The word means, literally, to knock in; make an incision into; and hence, generally, to hinder or thwart (Gal 5:7; Th1 2:18). Some, however, read ἐκκόπτεσθαι, to cut off or destroy.

1 Peter 3:8

pe1 3:8

Of one mind (ὁμόφρονες)

Rev., like-minded. Only here in New Testament. Compare Rom 12:16; Rom 15:5; Phi 2:2, etc. Indicating unity of thought and feeling. From ὁμός, one and the same, and φρήν, the mind.

Having compassion one of another (συμπαθεῖς)

Only here in New Testament, though the kindred verb is found Heb 4:15; Heb 10:34. The rendering is needlessly diffuse. Rev., much better, compassionate; sympathetic, in margin. Interchange of fellow-feeling in joy or sorrow. Our popular usage errs in limiting sympathy to sorrow.

Love as brethren (φιλάδελφοι)

Rev., more strictly, loving as brethren. Only here in New Testament.

Pitiful (εὔσπλαγχνοι)

Only here and Eph 4:32. Rev., better, tender-hearted. From εὖ, well, and σπλάγχνα, the nobler entrails, which are regarded as the seat of the affections, and hence equivalent to our popular use of heart. The original sense has given rise to the unfortunate translation bowels in the A. V., which occurs in its literal meaning only at Act 1:18.


The A. V. has here followed the reading of the Tex. Rec., φιλόφρονες. But the best texts read ταπεινόφρονες, humble-minded. So Rev. This occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the kindred noun ταπεινοφροσύνη, humility, is found often. See on ταπεινός, lowly, notes on Mat 11:29.

1 Peter 3:9

pe1 3:9

Rendering evil, etc

See Rom 12:17.

Blessing (εὐλογοῦντες)

Not a noun governed by rendering, but a participle. Be not rendering evil, but be blessing.

1 Peter 3:10

pe1 3:10

Will love (θέλων ἀγαπᾶν)

Not the future tense of love, but the verb to will, with the infinitive: he that desires or means to love. Rev., would love.

1 Peter 3:11

pe1 3:11

Eschew (ἐκκλινάτω)

The old word eschew is from the Norman eschever, to shun or avoid. It reappears in the German scheuen, to be startled or afraid, and in the English shy, and to shy (as a horse). The Greek word here occurs only twice elsewhere (Rom 3:12; Rom 16:17), where Rev. renders turn aside and turn away. It is compounded of ἐκ, out of, and κλίνω, to cause to bend or slope; so that the picture in the word is of one bending aside from his course at the approach of evil. Rev., turn away from.

1 Peter 3:13

pe1 3:13

Followers (μιμηταὶ)

Lit., imitators. But the best texts read ζηλωταὶ, zealots. So Rev., zealous.

1 Peter 3:14

pe1 3:14


See on Mat 5:3.

Be troubled (ταραχθῆτε)

The word used of Herod's trouble (Mat 2:3); of the agitation of the pool of Bethesda (Joh 5:4); of Christ's troubled spirit (Joh 12:27).

1 Peter 3:15

pe1 3:15

Sanctify the Lord God

The A. V. follows the Tex. Rec., reading τὸν Θεὸν, God, instead of τὸν Χριστὸν, Christ, which is the reading of the best texts. The article with Christ shows that κύριον, Lord, is to be taken predicatively. Render, therefore, as Rev., sanctify Christ (the Christ) as Lord.

Ready to give an answer (ἕτοιμοι πρὸς ἀπολογίαν)

Lit., ready for an answer. Answer is our word apology, not in the popular sense of excuse, but in the more radical sense of defence. So it is translated Act 22:1; Phi 1:7, Phi 1:16. Clearing of yourselves, Co2 7:11.


See on Mat 5:5.

1 Peter 3:16

pe1 3:16

Having a good conscience (συνείδησιν ἔχοντες ἀγαθήν)

The position of the adjective shows that it is used predicatively: having a conscience good or unimpaired. Compare Heb 13:18, "We have a good conscience (καλὴν συνείδησιν)." Συνείδησις, conscience, does not occur in the gospels, unless Joh 8:1-11 be admitted into the text. Nor is it a word familiar to classical Greek. It is compounded of σύν, together with, and εἰδέναι, to know; and its fundamental idea is knowing together with one's self. Hence it denotes the consciousness which one has within himself of his own conduct as related to moral obligation; which consciousness exercises a judicial function, determining what is right or wrong, approving or condemning, urging to performance or abstinence. Hence it is not merely intellectual consciousness directed at conduct, but moral consciousness contemplating duty, testifying to moral obligation, even where God is not known; and, where there is knowledge of God and acquaintance with him, inspired and directed by that fact. A man cannot be conscious of himself without knowing himself as a moral creature. Cremer accordingly defines the word as "the consciousness man has of himself in his relation to God, manifesting itself in the form of a self-testimony, the result of the action of the spirit in the heart." And further, "conscience is, essentially, determining of the self-consciousness by the spirit as the essential principle of life. In conscience man stands face to face with himself." Conscience is, therefore, a law. Thus Bishop Butler: "Conscience does not only offer itself to show us the way we should walk in, but it likewise carries its own authority with it, that it is our natural guide, the guide assigned us by the Author of our nature; it therefore belongs to our condition of being; it is our duty to walk in that path and follow this guide." And again, "That principle by which we survey, and either approve or disapprove our own heart, temper, and actions, is not only to be considered as what is, in its turn, to have some influence, which may be said of every passion, of the lowest appetites; but likewise as being superior; as from its very nature claiming superiority over all others; insomuch that you cannot form a notion of this faculty, conscience, without taking in judgment, direction, superintendency. This is a constituent part of the idea, that is, of the faculty itself; and to preside and govern, from the very economy and constitution of man, belongs to it. Had it strength as it had right; had it power as it had manifest authority, it would absolutely govern the world" (Sermons II. and III., "On Human Nature").

Conscience is a faculty. The mind may "possess reason and distinguish between the true and the false, and yet be incapable of distinguishing between virtue and vice. We are entitled, therefore, to hold that the drawing of moral distinctions is not comprehended in the simple exercise of the reason. The conscience, in short, is a different faculty of the mind from the mere understanding. We must hold it to be simple and unresolvable till we fall in with a successful decomposition of it into its elements. In the absence of any such decomposition we hold that there are no simpler elements in the human mind which will yield us the ideas of the morally good and evil, of moral obligation and guilt, of merit and demerit. Compound and decompound all other ideas as you please, associate them together as you may, they will never give us the ideas referred to, so peculiar and full of meaning, without a faculty implanted in the mind for this very purpose" (McCosh, "Divine Government, Physical and Moral").

Conscience is a sentiment: i.e., it contains and implies conscious emotions which arise on the discernment of an object as good or bad. The judgment formed by conscience awakens sensibility. When the judicial faculty pronounces a thing to be lovable, it awakens love. When it pronounces it to be noble or honorable, it awakens respect and admiration. When it pronounces it to be cruel or vile, it awakens disgust and abhorrence.

In scripture we are to view conscience, as Bishop Ellicott remarks, not in its abstract nature, but in its practical manifestations. Hence it may be weak (Co1 8:7, Co1 8:12), unauthoritative, and awakening only the feeblest emotion. It may be evil or defiled (Heb 10:22; Tit 1:15), through consciousness of evil practice. It may be seared (Ti1 4:2), branded by its own testimony to evil practice, hardened and insensible to the appeal of good. On the other hand, it may be pure (Ti2 1:3), unveiled, and giving honest and clear moral testimony. It may be void of offence (Act 24:16), unconscious of evil intent or act; good, as here, or honorable (Heb 13:18). The expression and the idea, in the full Christian sense, are foreign to the Old Testament, where the testimony to the character of moral action and character is borne by external revelation rather than by the inward moral consciousness.

Falsely accuse (ἐπηρεάζοντες)

Compare Luk 6:28; the only other passage where the word occurs, Mat 5:44, being rejected from the best texts. The word means to threaten abusively; to act despitefully. Rev., revile.

1 Peter 3:17

pe1 3:17

If the will of God be so (εἰ θέλοι τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ)

More literally, as Rev., preserving the play upon the word will, if the will of God should so will.

1 Peter 3:18

pe1 3:18

The just for the unjust

But the Greek without the article is more graphic: just for unjust.

In the flesh

The Greek omits the article. Read in flesh, the material form assumed in his incarnation.

In the spirit

Also without the article, in spirit; not as A. V., by the Spirit, meaning the Holy Ghost, but referring to his spiritual, incorporeal life. The words connect themselves with the death-cry on the cross: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Huther observes, "Flesh is that side of the man's being by which he belongs to earth, is therefore a creature of earth, and accordingly perishable like everything earthy. Spirit, on the other hand, is that side of his being according to which he belongs to a supernal sphere of being, and is therefore not merely a creature of earth, and is destined to an immortal existence."

Thus we must be careful and not understand spirit here of the Spirit of God, as distinguished from the flesh of Christ, but of the spiritual nature of Christ; "the higher spiritual nature which belonged to the integrity of his humanity" (Cook).

1 Peter 3:19

pe1 3:19

By which (ἐν ᾧ)

Wrong. Rev., correctly, in which in the spiritual form of life; in the disembodied spirit.

Went and preached (πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν)

The word went, employed as usual of a personal act; and preached, in its ordinary New-Testament sense of proclaiming the Gospel.

To the spirits (πνεύμασιν)

As in Heb 12:23, of disembodied spirits, though the word ψυχαὶ, souls, is used elsewhere (Rev 6:9; Rev 20:4).

In prison (ἐν φυλακῇ)

Authorities differ, some explaining by Pe2 2:4; Jde 1:6; Rev 20:7, as the final abode of the lost. Excepting in the last passage, the word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament in a metaphorical sense. It is often translated watch (Mat 14:25; Luk 2:8); hold and cage (Rev 18:2). Others explain as Hades, the kingdom of the dead generally.

1 Peter 3:20

pe1 3:20

In which (εἰς ἣν)

Lit., into which. A pregnant construction; into which they were gathered, and in which they were saved.

By water (διὰ)

Rev., through. Some take this as instrumental, by means of water; others as local, by passing through the water, or being brought safely through the water into the ark. Rev., in margin, were brought safely through water.

1 Peter 3:21

pe1 3:21

The like figure whereunto

Following a rejected reading, ᾧ, to which; so that the literal rendering would be the antitype to which. Read ὃ ἀντίτυπον, which, the antitype or as an antitype; i.e., which water, being the antitype of that water of the flood, doth now save you, even baptism. Rev., which, after a true likeness doth now, etc. Ἀντίτυπον, figure, or anti-type, is from ἀντί, over against, and τύπος, a blow. Hence, originally, repelling a blow: a blow against a blow; a counter-blow. So of an echo or of the reflection of light; then a correspondence, as of a stamp to the die, as here. The word occurs only once elsewhere, Heb 9:24 : "the figures of the true."

Putting away (ἀπόθεσις)

Peculiar to Peter. Here and Pe2 1:14.

Filth (ῥύπου)

Only here in New Testament. In classical Greek signifying especially dry dirt, as on the person.

Answer (ἐπερώτημα)

Only here in New Testament. In classical Greek the word means a question and nothing else. The meaning here is much disputed, and can hardly be settled satisfactorily. The rendering answer has no warrant. The meaning seems to be (as Alford), "the seeking after God of a good and pure conscience, which is the aim and end of the Christian baptismal life." So Lange: "The thing asked may be conceived as follows: 'How shall I rid myself of an evil conscience? Wilt thou, most holy God, again accept me, a sinner? Wilt thou, Lord Jesus, grant me the communion of thy death and life? Wilt thou, O Holy Spirit, assure me of grace and adoption, and dwell in my heart?' To these questions the triune Jehovah answers in baptism, 'Yea!' Now is laid the solid foundation for a good conscience. The conscience is not only purified from its guilt, but it receives new vital power by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

This is the sense of ἐπερωτᾷν εἰς, in the only place where it occurs in scripture, 2 Samuel 11:7 (Sept.): "David asked of him how Joab did (ἐπερώτησεν εἰς εἰρήνην Ἰωάβ)." Lit., with reference to the peace of Joab. Rev. renders, the interrogation, and puts inquiry, appeal, in margin.

1 Peter 3:22

pe1 3:22

Gone into heaven

Perhaps with the scene of the ascension in Peter's mind.

Next: 1 Peter Chapter 4