“Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” 1 Peter 3:3-6
Today let’s dig into those two words – gentle and quiet (ESV). (KJV translates them as meek and quiet.)
That first word translated gentle or meek comes from the Greeks word “prays,” meaning mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness. On the Blue Letter Bible website’s Outline of Biblical Usage, it is described thus:
Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time (Isa 41:17, Luk 18:1-8). Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Gal 5:23).
When I read this, it leaped off the page because of its context. Read it again with me. I am being subject to my own husband even when he is not obeying God’s word because my spirit is meek before God. I am humble before God. I trust GOD more than my own sense of what “seems right” to me.
This same word – Strong’s Number G4239 appears 3 other times in the New Testament, twice referring to Jesus Christ, our gentle and humble king.
- “”Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5 ESV
- “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29 ESV
- “”Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'”” – Matthew 21:5 ESV
That second word, translated quiet, is “hesychios” which in the Greek means quiet, tranquil or peaceable.
The only other time it is used in the New Testament is in 1 Timothy 2:2 where Paul is urging that prayers be made “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
For any of you that know me, being “quiet” is not high on my list of character traits. I talk rather loudly and I talk rather a lot. But, that doesn’t mean that my spirit cannot be gentle and quiet.
On occasion I’ve worried that I must speak in whispers or sit in silence in order to have the quiet spirit to which 1 Peter 3:4 is referring. With further study, though, I am convinced that this gentle, meek, quiet, peaceable spirit is not so much based on volume or even quantity, as it is on the quality and nature of my speech and the hidden person of my heart.
Am I anxious? Am I quarrelsome? Am I irritable?
Am I joyful? Am I humble? Am I meek?
So, then, how exactly am I to adorn myself with this imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious?
Specifically, I display my gentle, quiet spirit by submitting (hypotasso = “appointed under” – see previous entry) myself to my own husband, even as Sarah obeyed (hypakouo = “hear under,” to listen, to harken to a command) Abraham, calling him lord.
Imagine my dismay when I discovered that this Greek word hypakouo is the very same word for obey found in Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20, “Children, obey your parents…” This is also the same Greek word describing that the winds and the sea (Matthew 8:27) and even unclean spirits (Mark 1:27) obey Jesus.
We are being called to harken to our husband, to hear and obey him. Yes, my children do have the freedom to discuss things with me and yes, I am called to be a good helpmate to my husband, but ultimately, I am being asked to submit myself under his authority over me and to obey his spoken word. Is this easy? No. Will things sometimes not go as I would like? Yes. Is God sovereign? Indeed. Yes.
Lord, help me. In my weakness, may Your strength be magnified and made manifest. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven. May You be glorified in my home, in my household, in my family as we submit ourselves to You and to one another and to those in authority over us.
To God be the glory.