Without a Word

“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2). 

What great power there is in a godly example.

Peter says the husband may be “won.”  He thus reminds us what we are interested in with any unbeliever – winning them to Christ.  For the wife, the way is described as “chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”  Chaste conduct is purity in behavior, and although fear of God is required of any child of God, in this context it may well refer to her maintaining reverence and respect for her husband.

It would be easy to read these verses and imagine a husband who is loving, kind, pure in motive, word, and deed, but who simply has not obeyed the gospel of Christ.  Is Peter speaking specifically of that kind of husband?  It’s not in the context.  The fact of the matter is that even the “worst of sinners” can be won by the good example, the good conduct of Christians.

Of course a wife is not the only one to be influenced by a godly example.  Woven throughout Peter’s letter is instruction to be holy, patient, and not returning evil for evil but instead blessing, when suffering for being a Christian.  “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).  “Observe,” as in chapter 3 verse 2, has the idea of “closely or narrowly inspect.”  We are being inspected and examined when we don’t know it.  When we are among others and our minds and hands are engrossed with the task at hand, it most often will not enter our minds what others are observing. But they are observing.  What are they seeing?  Parents, we are being watched in our homes by our children.

Peter reminds us in this letter that Christians are those who have been begotten by the gospel:  “…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23). So make no mistake that the truth of the gospel is still the instrument of the Spirit involved in conversion.  But a godly example of a holy life is a powerful way to influence others to desire the gospel and the righteous life.  Let us desire to be an example that will lead others to want to be a Christian, even without a word.

                 -Larry Jones