The Character of an Exemplary Wife (1 Peter 3:3-4)

The Character of an Exemplary Wife (1 Peter 3:3-4)


  • Entire section (2:11-3:16) about living a life that compliments Christianity in a pagan culture.
  • Civil authorities (2:14-17) and servants (2:18-20). Christ’s suffering (2:21-25) serves as the foundation for all of this exhortation.

Read 1 Peter 3:1-7

  • Mother’s Day. What do we cherish most about our mothers? Isn’t it the way they have devote their lives to loving us? We treasure not their looks, but their character!
  • Peter exhorts women to focus on their internal character rather than what the world finds charming. Internal character > external looks.
    1. The Conduct Of An Exemplary Wife (1-2)
    2. The Character Of An Exemplary Wife (3-4)
      • External Charm Is Fleeting (3)
      • Internal Beauty Is Lasting (4)
    3. The Courage Of An Exemplary Wife (5-6)
    4. The Consideration Of An Exemplary Husband (7)
  • Precious in God’s sight is she who adorns her heart before her head.

External Charm Is Fleeting (3)

  • Peter isn’t suggesting women should completely abstain from styling their hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on nice clothing.

Grudem Peter’s point is not that any of these are forbidden, but that they should not be a woman’s ‘adorning’, her source of beauty.

  • Interpreted too strictly, someone could say Peter was prohibiting women from wearing any clothing at all.
  • Plus, in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son the father gave his son the best robe and a ring. Peter is not prohibiting all accessorizing.
  • His instruction is meant to be taken in contrast to the amount of attention and time a wife commits to internal beauty (4).
  • A wife shows her submissive conduct towards her husband by living in reverent and pure conduct towards God (1-2).
  • Once again, Peter calls upon wives to consider God (4). This time, however, it is not her conduct but her character that is the focus.
  • When a wife becomes entirely focused on “winning” the affection of her husband, so that God is second (at best), it won’t be long before she becomes entirely focused on external realities. In the end, this has the opposite effect she intended.
  • Misplaced hope leads to imbalanced priorities.
  • When she puts too much weight and pressure upon the marriage, it becomes vulnerable, and more likely to collapse.
  • Peter is consistent with Paul, 1 Tim. 2:9-10. What is “proper” will be culturally relative. What is modest here, would be considered flashy in poorer countries.
  • Peter seems to specifically have in mind women who flaunt their wealth. He’s condemning vanity — not all braided hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing.
  • This isn’t an appeal to become Amish! Peter’s warning should not be taken to the extremes of the Amish community, but neither should it be ignored entirely.
  • The Christian wife should be an example of modesty. She should be a good steward – especially if training up girls who may be easily enticed by trendy fashions.

External charm is fleeting, but…

Internal Beauty Is Lasting (4)

  • Adorning with a gentle and quiet spirit is in direct relation to submission to their husband as well as hoping in God (5).
  • Women who placed their hope in God, like Sarah (6), understood their responsibility to submit to their husbands. And they did so with a gentle and quiet spirit.
  • Antithesis: Wives who are abrasive and loud towards their husbands.
  • When a wife sets her focus upon pleasing God, the result will be a gentle and quiet spirit that may capture the affection of her husband. But, even if it doesn’t, she will be satisfied knowing how precious she is in the sight of God.
  • Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit that applies to all believers (Gal. 5:23). Quietness is a virtue (1 Thes. 4:11).
  • However, Peter specifically notes their “imperishable beauty” in wives.
  • Clowney refers to Augustine’s description of the way his Christian mother, Monnica, led his pagan father, Patricious, to the Lord. This is found in his book Confessions, which is written like a prayer:

She served her husband as her master, and did all she could to win him for You, speaking to him of You by her conduct, by which You made her beautiful … Finally, when her husband was at the end of his earthly span, she gained him for You.

  • Let me remind you that these instructions are not meant to be easy to receive and apply. It is all too common for wives to become abrasive and loud towards their husbands. But that does not excuse their behavior.
  • Wives should be far more concerned with their internal character than their external look.
  • Winning the glances of men by outward appearance stands in contrast with winning the favor of God who delights to see a beautiful heart.
  • The Christian wife wants the favor of God, not the lustful glances of men.

Beauty in God’s eyes is determined by an internal character that is displayed through a gentle and quiet spirit.


  • Precious in God’s sight is she who adorns her heart before her head.
  • Such a wife points to the character of her Savior.
  • Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem “humble, and mounted on a donkey” (Matt. 21:5). God’s Son adorned himself with a towel in order to wash his disciples feet (Jn. 13). He was the epitome of meekness and gentleness (Matt. 11:29-30).
  • The quality of Christ’s character makes the invitation all the more attractive.
  • Those who trust his character will receive that invitation with deepening affection for Him.
  • Wives, look to Christ for your rest and your example!