Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
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;'Chap. 3:1-7.] Exhortations in regard to the married state: and (1-6) to wives: (7) to husbands.
1.] In like manner (i. e. after the same general principle, enounced in ch. 2:13, as the οἰκέται in their relation) wives (γυν., as οἱ οἰκέται, ch. 2:18, οἱ ἄνδρες, ver. 7, is vocative. This is decisively shewn by ὑμῶν below, as in ver. 7. By the context γυναῖκες is shewn to be wives) [by being] in subjection to (the participle, as in ch. 2:18: carrying on the general πάντας τιμήσατε) your own husbands (ἰδίοις gives point to the obligation, but is without any distinctive emphasis: see the parallel place, Ephesians 5:22, and note), that even if (καὶ εἰ puts into climax the hypothesis: εἰ καί, only that which follows the καί, i. e. the fact assumed: see for the full elucidation of this, 1Corinthians 7:21 note, and Winer, § 53. 7, Hermann on Viger, p. 832, Klotz, Devar. ii. 519 f., Hartung i. p. 139; the views of Hermann and Klotz differing slightly from the above and Hartung, but coming to the same in the end. In this place, as De Wette remarks, καὶ εἰ assumes as possible, the apparently exceptional case which may seem to justify the wives’ disobedience: εἰ καί would concede that the fact was so and direct notice to the fact itself) any (husbands) are disobedient to the word (in a state of unbelieving disobedience; most probably, though this is not directly nor necessarily assumed, heathens), they shall be won (see reff.: converted to faith and obedience: made a gain for Christian love, and for Christ Himself. Cf. Leighton: “A soul converted is gained to itself, gained to the pastor, or friend, or wife, or husband who sought it, and gained to Jesus Christ: added to His treasury, who thought not His own precious blood too dear to lay out for this gain.” On ἵνα with an indic. fut., see Winer, § 41. b. 1. b: and cf. reff.) without word (without the wives preaching to them, or exhorting them, but simply by your Christian behaviour. The grammarians call this way of speaking, in which a word (λόγου) is intentionally used in two different senses in the same sentence, antanaclasis. The other rendering, ‘without the word,’ is not indeed, as Wiesinger, precluded by the absence of the article, for λόγου, indefinite, might just as well, with the exclusive preposition ἄνευ, refer to the Gospel,—but on account of the general improbability of such a saying, seeing that faith is grounded on hearing, and hearing on the word of God. Besides which, the wives’ conversation, being a shewing forth of obedience to the word, could not be said to produce its effect ἄνευ (τοῦ) λόγου. Œc. proposes a curious alternative rendering: ἄνευ λόγου, ἤτοι σχολάζοντος παντὸς λόγου καὶ πάσης ἀντιλογίας ἢ (then follows the interpretation as given above, but very well put) ὡς τῆς διὰ τῶν ἔργων ἐπιδείξεως κυριωτέρας οὔσης τῆς διὰ τῶν λόγων περιεργίας. ἄφωνον γὰρ ἔργον κρεῖσσον ἀπράκτου λόγου) by means of the behaviour of their wives,
2.] when they behold (lit. “having beheld:” the time of the ἐποπτεῦσαι is slightly antecedent to that of κερδηθήσονται, but not enough to justify the use of the past. part. in English. On the verb, see ref.) your chaste behaviour (ἁγνήν, in the largest sense, not with its proper reference only: modest and pure) coupled with fear (so the E. V., admirably: conducted, led, maintained, in a spirit of reverence to your husbands, cf. Ephesians 5:33, ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἵνα φόβηται τὸν ἄνδρα. The connexion of words is τὴν ἐν φόβῳ " ἁγνὴν ἀναστροφήν, not, as Huther, τὴν " ἐν φόβῳ ἁγνὴν " ἀναστροφήν).
3.] Of whom (the wives; you, who are addressed) let (the adornment) be (much better so, supplying the word from κόσμος expressed below, than either, 1. as E. V. al. taking the word κόσμος expressed below as the subject, and supplying it after ἔξωθεν, which however comes to the same in sense, or, 2. as Huther, taking ὧν ἔστω as complete in itself, “let whose business be;” which is against not only probable construction, but the analogy of 1Timothy 5:9, which see) not the outward adornment (ὁ ἔξωθεν κόσμος belong together, the intermediate words merely serving to define the κόσμος as that most usually adopted by women) of braiding of hair (cf. 1Timothy 2:9, μὴ ἐν πλέγμασιν, and Ellicott’s note there) and putting round (the head, as diadems, or the arm, as bracelets, or the leg, as anklets, or the finger, as rings, or generally, hanging the body round with) of golden ornaments (χρυσίον, see ch. 1:7, 18, and note at the latter place) or of putting on of dresses (“the sex which began first our engagement to the necessity of clothing, having still a peculiar propensity to be curious in that, to improve the necessity to an advantage.” Leighton. The three verbal substantives, as Bengel, “innuunt operam comendi multa tempora absumentem”):
4.] but (rather let their adornment be) the hidden man of the heart (= ὁ ἔσω[θεν] ἄνθρωπος, see reff. Here, as Wies. well argues, it is not, as in ref. Rom., merely the inner man as distinguished from the outer man, which unbelievers have as well as believers: and that for this reason, that the κρυπτὸς ἄνθρωπος is not here that which is to be adorned, but is itself the adornment: and consequently is of necessity the regenerate life itself in its freshness and beauty. And this is designated as being τῆς καρδίας, a gen. of apposition,—consisting in the heart, changed, and lovely with Christian affections and graces), in (standing in, as its condition and element. No art. is needed before ἐν, because this clause is further descriptive, not of ἄνθρωπος, but of κόσμος) the incorruptible (ornament) (τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ, a concrete adj. used by preference over the abstract noun, apparently as contrasted with the concretes just mentioned) of the meek and quiet spirit (“mansuetus, qui non turbat: tranquillus, qui turbas aliorum fert placide. Ad illud refer ver. 5 fin.: ad hoc, ver. 6 fin.” Bengel) which (viz. the meek and quiet spirit: not, as Grot, al., the whole preceding, ἀλλʼ … πνεύματος, nor, as Bengel and Steiger, τὸ ἄφθαρτον. The art. before πραέος marks the antecedent to the ὅ) is in the sight of God (“qui interna, non externa spectat,” Bengel) of great price (reff.: the word used for costly ointment and raiment).
5.] For (enforcing of the same by example) in this manner (i. e. with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit) formerly also (as well as you, if you obey) the holy women (ἅγιαι, as in Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; Ephesians 3:5; women of blessed note in the sacred history as servants of God), who hoped (ἐλπίζουσαι, part. of the imperfect, according to Winer, § 45. 1: but is it not rather the indefinite pres. part. defining the quality or office, as ὁ σπείρων, ὁ πειράζων?) in God (i. e. whose hope was directed towards, and rested in, God. Bengel remarks, “vera sanctitas, spes in Deum: est hoc epitheton pars subjecti”), adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands (this clause describes the state in which the adornment was put on, to which it belonged: being thus in subjection, they were adorned with the meek and quiet spirit which belongs to it):
6.] As (e. g.) Sarah obeyed (aor. It refers to her whole course of obedience considered as a completed whole: cf. reff., and John 17:4) Abraham calling him lord (ref.: ὁ δὲ κύριός μου πρεσβύτερος): of whom ye have become (i. e. by your implanting through faith into the family of faithful Abraham. The aor. properly refers back to the precise time when they were so made; but cannot be so expressed in English) children, if (the connexion of the following participles is variously taken. The worst way is with Bengel, Ernesti, al. to suppose them in apposition with ὑποτασσόμεναι above, ὡς … τέκνα being in a parenthesis: for there is nothing in either of the participles which finds any historical justification in the history of the holy women. Didymus, al., understand them of the manner in which ye are to become Sarah’s children: Harless, Wies., al., of the sign by which your having so become is to be known: but it is perhaps better to take them as the condition on which: and so most Commentators and virtually the E. V. “as long as,” rendering literally the dum of Beza) ye do good, and are not afraid of any sudden fear (to what do these words allude? As in reff., they appear to be a citation from Prov.: where it is said to him that obeys the counsels of wisdom, οὐ φοβηθήσῃ πτόησιν ἐπελθοῦσαν, οὐδὲ ὁρμὰς ἀσεβῶν ἐπερχομένας. This passage, the coincidence with which can hardly be fortuitous, seems to point to the objective rather than the subjective sense of πτόησις, so that φοβεῖσθαι πτόησιν is not = φοβεῖσθαι φόβον, but πτόησις is some external cause of terror. And such a meaning would suit very well with the context, in which as in ver. 14, the Apostle is often encouraging his readers to bear affliction and persecution cheerfully. So that we may interpret πτόησιν with Est., “quod dum facitis, non est quod metuatis quidquam mali: velut, ne maritis vestris displiceatis, si minus corruptæ inceditis: aut ne serviliter vos tractent, si faciles ad obsequium vos præbeatis; ut solet sexus muliebris vanis pavoribus esse obnoxius. Sed et si forte nacti estis maritos iniquiores, silentio potius ac patientia, quam multis verbis studete eorum animos lenire.” Cf. Luke 21:9; Luke 24:37. Huther quotes from Stephanus an extraordinary explanation, “jubentur mulieres officium facere etiam cum nullus eas metus constringit, i. e. sponte et ultro.” And Œc., interpreting ἀγαθοποιοῦσαι of doing good deeds of benevolence, understands this of the wives not being afraid of the account which their (unbelieving) husbands would require of them: ἐλεήμονας αὐτὰς εἶναι παραινεῖ, μηδὲν ὑποβλεπομένας τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνδρῶν αὐτῶν διὰ τοῦτο ἐκλογισμόν. See Winer, § 32. 2. b, who however interprets πτόησιν subjectively).
With regard to the much-disputed question whether by the preceding injunction all ornament of dress is forbidden, or only the making such ornament the adorning, it may safely be left to the Christian wisdom of believing women, to be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is, in this as in other similar matters. Within the limits of propriety and decorum, the common usage is the rule. There is sin in singularity, both as ministering to pride in ourselves, and as giving offence to others and discommending our holy religion. As Leighton well says, “There may be in some an affected pride in the meanness of apparel; and in others, under either neat or rich attire, a very humble unaffected mind.… ‘Magnus qui fictilibus utitur tanquam argento; nec ille minor qui argento tanquam fictilibus,’ says Seneca: Great is he who enjoys his earthenware as if it were plate, and not less great is the man to whom all his plate is no more than earthenware.”
7.] Duty of husbands to their wives. Ye husbands in like manner (ὁμοίως, not as Est., Grot., Steiger, al., ‘vicissim,’ but referring back to the πάντας τιμήσατε ch. 2:17: cf. τιμήν below. This has not been seen, owing to inattention to the aor. there: even Huther, who interprets ὁμοίως rightly, that there is a certain τιμή due to the wife, as to the husband and the master before, does not connect the idea with the general precept under which all these are ranged) dwelling (συνοικεῖν is referred by the older expositors (e. g. Jerome contra Jov. i. 7, vol. ii. p. 248, in Psa_146, vol. iv. pt. ii. al.) to the ‘tori conjugalis consuetudo:’ but for this there seems no reason, as the word is often used of the whole conjugal life: so Kypke here, “connubio juncti vivant: ad totum respicit vitæ consortium, in auo justo copulati matrimonio vitam transigunt. Est hæc frequentior vocis notio, quæ apud Græcos antiquiores, ni fallor, sola occurrit. Demosth. in Neæram, p. 534, scopum τοῦ συνοικεῖν esse dicit, ut liberi gignantur legitiml et ingenui, et ab hoc distinguit τὸ ἑταίρας καὶ παλλακὰς ἒχειν”) according to knowledge (in an intelligent and reasonable manner, well aware of the ἀσθένεια spoken of below: see reff.) with the feminine as with the weaker vessel (γυναικείῳ is an adj. not a subst. as Wahl: see reff. For σκεῦος, instrument, applied to the wife, see ref. 1 Thess. Here the man is a σκεῦος also; both being God’s instruments in His beneficent work of the multiplication of mankind. The higher use of the word as a vessel of grace, or of wrath, does not preclude the lower one which is most obvious here, where the married relation is the subject of consideration. On ἀσθενεστέρῳ, Bengel says, “comparativus: etiam vir habet infirmitatem:” and so Steiger: but this is plainly not so: the word ‘weaker’ being used as comparing with something which is stronger, viz. the man. Some, as Luth., Calv., Beza, Est., Grot., Hamm., E. V., join these words, ὡς ἀσθενεστ. κ.τ.λ., with ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν. But this mars the parallelism and the sense. For the Apostle prescribes two things: 1. consideration for the wife, as of the weaker sex: 2. honour for the wife, as a fellow-heir of the grace of life. Œc. carries on the same idea, of not exacting too rigid accounts, as on ver. 6: τουτέστιν, αἴσθησιν λαμβάνοντες τῆς τοῦ θήλεος κουφότητος καί τοῦ εὐπαραφόρου ἐν πᾶσι, καὶ εἰς μικροψυχίαν εὐολίσθου, μακρόθυμοι γίνεσθε πρὸς αὐτάς, μὴ λόγον ἀπαιτοῦντες πικρῶς τῶν κατὰ τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτῶν εἰς ταμιείαν παρακατατιθέντων. But for this there does not seem any reason), giving (ἀπονέμειν, to apportion, see reff.) honour as to those who are also (besides being your wives) fellow-inheritors (with you) of the grace of life (i. e. God’s gracious gift of life eternal: ch. 1:4, 13 suffice to clear the meaning, the former explaining κληρον., the latter, χάρις. So that χάρις ζωῆς must not be weakened into χάρις ζῶσα with Erasm., nor into χάρις ζωοποιοῦσα with Grot. The reading συγκληρονόμοι, which it is now proved that has not [Tischdf. however, though he assigns the ς to B1 (appy), does not think it quite free from doubt], seems to have arisen from the mistaken joining of ὡς ἀσθ. κ.τ.λ. with ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν: see var. readd.): in order that your prayers be not hindered (ἐγκόπτειν, ἐμποδίζειν, διακωλύειν, Hesych. The hindrance meant seems to be, that which would be occasioned by the man not giving his wife proper honour as a fellow-heir of the grace of life; in which case the peculiar promise of advantage in social united prayer would be lost: cf. Matthew 18:19. According to this view, the united prayers of man and wife are meant. And so most of the Commentators. Cf. Schol.-Matth., ὁ γὰρ περὶ τὴν οἰκίαν θόρυβος τῶν κατὰ θεὸν ἔργων ἐμπόδιον: and Lyra, “Cum vir et uxor non sunt bene concordes, minus possunt orationi vacare, et eorum orationes sunt minus exaudibiles.” De Wette understands it of losing the confidence requisite for (mutual?) prayer; Wiesinger, of the prayers of the husband alone. If ἐκκόπτεσθαι be read, it must be “be not cut off,” see Romans 11:22, Romans 11:24; 2Corinthians 11:12).
8, 9.] General summary exhortations to mutual forbearance and love.
8.] Finally (τὸ τέλος, adverbial accusative, as μακράν, μάτην, ἀκμήν, τὴν ἀρχήν, John 8:25, δωρεάν, &c. See Winer, § 32. 6. Œc. gives the connexion well: τί χρὴ ἰδιολογεῖσθαι; ἁπλῶς πᾶσι φημί· τοῦτο γὰρ τέλος καὶ πρὸς τοῦτο πᾶσιν ὁ σκοπὸς ἀφορᾷ τῆς σωτηρίας, καὶ τοῦτο νόμος πᾶσιν ἀγάπης), all (being) (the adjectival construction still carried on [from ch. 2:17]) of one mind (reff.), sympathising (συμπάθεια ὁ πρὸς τοὺς κακῶς πάσχοντας ὡς καὶ ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς ἔλεος, Œc. But the meaning is not confined to cases of sorrow: the χαίρειν μετὰ χαιρόντων is also included), loving the brethren, compassionate (in classical Greek, of strong courage, lit. “of strong bowels,” as in Hippocr. p. 89 c (Huther); here, and in ref., as Bengel, “misericordes erga afflictos”), humble-minded (the word forms a note of transition to the next verse: humility being essential both to true gentleness of love and to true patience under injuries