by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1 April 18, 2010 Lincolnton, N.C.
7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.
I. Peter's Fourth Step Into the Particulars (Citizens, Servants, Wives, Husbands).
A. The "likewise/in like manner" term is first used by Peter in this letter at 3:1 where the wives were summoned to "likewise...be in subjection". The implication here is that, now, at this turn toward the husbands, they "likewise" have a "submission" issue with which to deal: dwelling with the wife according to knowledge.
1. This "likewise" issue, however, though directly connected to a "submission" issue in the larger perspective of the context and word use, is particularly addressed to the issue of "dwelling together accordingtoknowledge".
a. The "submission" issue is important at this point because "wives" tend to see their husbands as "free to do whatever they please" while they "have to submit" (meaning, "I do not get to do as I please").
b. In a like manner, husbands often see their "wives" as under necessity to submit while seeing themselves as "free to do as I please". This is particularly true to this context wherein the "husband" is a rebel against the Word.
2. "According to knowledge".
a. The issue of "knowledge" is the issue of actual understanding. Luke 1:77 uses the word to show that the "knowledge" of salvation arises out of experiencing the forgiveness of sins. In other words, "knowledge" does not occur until some things happen that reveal the truth in connection with other related truths. Luke 11:52 substantiates this as Jesus castigates the "lawyers" for taking away the "key" to knowledge. They did this by turning the "function" of the Law from its divinely intentioned purpose to expose sin to the foolish purpose of making it the method of salvation. Peter, using this same concept of "knowledge" as a matter of "understanding how life works" uses the word in 2 Peter 1:5-6 as one of the earliest "steps" of Christian development.
b. So, just as the "wife" is to be very careful to "dwell with her husband" in respect to an unembittered and unflappable spirit in the face of his "headship" (these issues being the issues of "knowledge" in her case), so the "husband" is to be very careful to "dwell with his wife" in respect to her condition as a "weaker vessel" (this being the issue of "knowledge" in his case). The point here is this: "knowledge" is required to live effectively whether one is male or female. The beginning of "knowledge" is accepting one's place in the tiered reality of multiple headships (The Father is Head over Christ; Christ is Head over man; and man is head over his wife).
B. The issue of the "knowledge": the wife is both a "weaker" vessel and a "fellow-heir" of the grace of Life.
1. Peter's choice of the word "weaker" is significant. It is typically used in the New Testament to refer to being without the strength to carry out whatever task is involved in the text. Sometimes the inability is due to illness in the body that has robbed it of its strength. Sometimes the inability is due to a particular unsuitability of the "subject" to the "task". Sometimes the inability is due to a particular lack of sufficientdevelopment in the instrument in regard to the task. And sometimes the inability is due to a lack of integralelements of strength [this is very closely tied to the issue of unsuitability above].
2. The question in this text is this: in what way is the "wife" a "weaker vessel"? It cannot be a matter of physical strength because some women are far stronger than some men. It cannot be a matter of physical illness because sometimes it is the men who are sick and enfeebled. It cannot be a matter of insufficient development because Peter has already called upon the "wives" to be pretty far along in their development so as to be unembittered and unflappable. The only matter of which I am aware in regard to a perennial "weakness" in women is the one to which Paul appealed when he denied them "authority over a man" in his first letter to Timothy (2:14): they have a heritage of being susceptible to deception that men do not have. Because God did not create women to be "responsible heads", He did not give them the capacities that are required for that identity. Thus, the issue is the one mentioned above under the term unsuitability. Because women are very much like the souls of human beings, they have a predilection for thinking of themselves as able to see clearly and they have a developed capacity to utter their opinions but, bottom line, they actually have no ability to "control" anything or anyone and the harder they try the more they undercut what they seek.