Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives. — 1 Peter 3:1
When the apostle Peter wrote about the needs of husbands and wives in First Peter 3, he knew exactly what he was writing about. Peter had been married for a very long time when he wrote these famous words about marriage. That means Peter was speaking from many years of being successfully married to a wife who traveled with him in the ministry (see 1 Corinthians 9:5).
As Peter addresses wives about how to be a blessing to their husbands, he begins by telling them, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.…” The word “subjection” is the Greek word hupotasso, a compound of the words hupo and tasso. The word hupo means under, and the word tasso means to arrange or to put something in order. It was often used in a military sense to describe soldiers who were expected to fall in line and submit to their commanding officers. Every time the word hupotasso is used, it describes the relationship of someone who is submitted to some type of authority and who is expected to act according to that order of authority.
There are many other examples where the word hupotasso is used in the New Testament. For instance, Paul uses this word in First Timothy 3:4, where he gives the instruction that children are to be “in subjection” to their parents. The word “subjection” in this verse is also the word hupotasso, which emphatically means that God has given parents the authority to lead their children and that children are to respectfully submit to their parents’ authority.
When Luke writes of Jesus’ relationship to Joseph and Mary in Luke 2:51, he uses the word hupotasso to describe this parent-child relationship. You see, Jesus was the Son of God and Creator of the universe. But while He was in the flesh, He followed God’s pattern, respectfully submitting to and following His parents’ God-given authority.
This example in Jesus’ life shows the extent to which God respects the order He has set in the home. Although Jesus is God and could have done what He wished while He walked on this earth, He voluntarily submitted to the authority God had entrusted to His parents, thus setting an example for all children to follow.
The word hupotasso was most frequently used in a military sense to describe a soldier’s submission to military authority. This tells us that just as the army has a specific order of authority, so has God designed a certain order for the home that He expects to be followed. Because Peter uses the word hupotasso when writing to wives, he leaves no doubt from a linguistic point of view that God has set the husband as the head of the home and the wife is to respectfully fall in line and submit to his authority.
Because Peter uses the Greek word hupotasso in this verse, it means he is encouraging wives in this way:
“Likewise, wives, you need to position yourself under your husband’s authority. This is God’s order for your home, so do all you can to become supportive of your husband.…”
Peter knew that one of the greatest needs of a husband is to have a wife with a supportive attitude. You see, a man fights at his job all day long, struggling to pay the bills and trying to overcome his own insecurities and self-image problems. If he then comes home to a wife who nags, complains, and gripes about everything he doesn’t do right, her behavior has a very negative effect on him. He’s already fought the devil all day long; he certainly doesn’t need to come home to a wife who is ready to fight with him!
As a result, the husband often responds to a nagging and critical wife by hardening and insulating his heart against her. Instead of drawing closer to his wife, he withdraws from her emotionally.
Now, it’s important to understand that when Peter commands a woman to be in subjection to her own husband, he is not recommending that she become a “doormat” whom the husband takes advantage of. Rather, Peter is urging each wife to take her place as her husband’s chief supporter and helper.
When a husband comes home from a hard day at work, he needs to be greeted by a loving, caring, kind, understanding, and supportive wife. This kind of wife makes a husband feel as if he’s found a place where he can find rest and solace for his soul. Her supportive attitude makes him want to run to her, for she has fulfilled her role as his best friend and partner.
Although we do find one New Testament scripture where the older women are told to teach the younger women how to love their husbands (Titus 2:4), it is very interesting to note that nowhere in the New Testament are women directly commanded to love their husbands. Instead, wives are told to be “in subjection” to their husbands. Why is this? Because a husband perceives his wife’s love when he senses her support.
Nothing communicates a wife’s love to her husband better than a supportive attitude. It is when a wife gets out of that supportive role and attempts to become the husband’s authority and head, constantly rebuking and correcting him for what he isn’t doing right, that her actions cause him to emotionally push away from her.
Wife, God never designed you to assume authority over your husband. It will therefore bring disruption to your marital relationship whenever you attempt to do so. So if you want your husband to know how much you love him, look for ways to show him your support. In this case, your attitude and actions really do speak louder than words.
Writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and from many years of personal experience, Peter urges wives to be submissive to their husbands and thus demonstrate their love and respect to them. Now, it is important to understand that submission is not just an outward action; it is a condition of the heart. It is possible for a wife to outwardly comply but still be inwardly unsubmissive and resentful.
Thus, there are two ways a wife can respond to her husband’s authority:
- She can follow his leadership angrily and resentfully, kicking and screaming all the way.
- She can submit voluntarily with a joyful and supportive attitude.
If a wife follows her husband with resentment in her heart, he will feel this resentment. A man can sense whether his wife is complying because she must or submitting with a joyful and supportive heart.
When the wife takes the second approach and follows him with a thankful and happy heart — even if she has to deny her own desires or pleasures to do so — she sends a loud signal to the husband that causes him to want to love her. This is an important result of willing submission, for being loved is the primary thing every wife needs to receive from her husband. This is also the reason God commands men to love their wives (see Ephesians 5:25).
Wife, have you been assuming a corrective role toward your husband? Does it seem like he is becoming more and more distant from you? If so, I urge you to take a new approach in your relationship with your husband on the basis of Peter’s instruction in First Peter 3:1. Rather than constantly correcting him and pointing out all his flaws, go to God with the things that disturb you about him. Meanwhile, work on becoming the most significant supporter and friend your husband has ever known.
If you respond correctly to your husband’s God-given authority in the home, God will work on his heart. The end result will be a growing desire in your husband to shower you with all the love, tenderness, and affection that you need!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I ask You to please forgive me for complaining to my husband about everything he does that I don’t like. He needs me to be his friend and supporter, and I now realize how often he must perceive me as another enemy he has to fight. Please help me to come to You with all my complaints while maintaining a helpful and supportive attitude toward my husband. I am sorry for the damage I’ve done, and I now ask You to help me turn things around in my marriage relationship. Teach me how to respond in every situation with a respectful and supportive attitude toward my husband. I know I need Your help, Lord, so I am looking to You for the grace and the strength I need to do this right.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am a supportive wife who demonstrates love in the way I approach my husband. He doesn’t see me as a nagging and complaining wife but as a friend to confide in and to look to for strength. God is able to speak to my husband without my interference. I trust God to speak to him, and I trust God to deal with my heart and to help me take on a supportive role in our home.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Are you a support to your husband, or does he feel like you are attacking him most of the time? Does he draw near to you, or does he shut up and emotionally protect himself when the two of you are together?
2. Judging from your husband’s response to you, what do you need to change in the way you are approaching him?
3. Why don’t you ask the Holy Spirit to give you ten new ways you can demonstrate your support for your husband and show him that you are behind him? Write down these ten ways to be supportive, and then begin to do them today.