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1 Peter 3:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The hidden man of the heart - Ὁ κρυπτος της καρδιας ανθρωπος . This phrase is of the same import with that of St. Paul, Romans 7:22, ὁ εσω ανθρωπος, the inner man; that is, the soul, with the whole system of affections and passions. Every part of the Scripture treats man as a compound being: the body is the outward or visible man; the soul, the inward, hidden, or invisible man. The term ανθρωπος, man, is derived, according to the best etymologists, from ανα τρεπων ωπα, turning the face upward. This derivation of the word is beautifully paraphrased by Ovid. The whole passage is beautiful; and, though well known, I shall insert it. After speaking of the creation and formation of all the irrational animals, he proceeds thus: -

"Sanctius his animal, mentisque capacius altae

Deerat adhuc, et quod dominari in caetera posset.

Natus Homo est: sive hunc divino semine fecit

Ille opifex rerum, mundi melioris origo;

Sive recens tellus, seductaque nuper ab alto

Aethere, cognati retinebat semina coeli. -

Pronaque cum spectent animalia caetera terram,

Os Homini Sublime Dedit; Coelumque Tueri

Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere veltus."

Metam, lib. i. ver. 76.

"A creature of a more exalted kind

Was wanting yet, and then was Man design'd;

Conscious of thought, of more capacious breast,

For empire form'd, and fit to rule the rest.

Whether with particles of heavenly fire

The God of nature did his soul inspire,

Or earth but new divided from the sky,

Which still retain'd th' ethereal energy. -

Thus, while the mute creation downward bend

Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend,

Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes

Beholds his own hereditary skies."

Dryden.

The word ανθρωπος, man, is frequently applied to the soul, but generally with some epithet. Thus ὁ εσω ανθρωπος, the inner man, Romans 7:22, to distinguish it from the body, which is called ὁ εξω ανθρωπος, the outer man, 2 Corinthians 4:16; ὁ κρυπτος ανθρωπος, the hidden man, as in the text; ὁ καινος ανθρωπος, the new man, the soul renewed in righteousness, Ephesians 2:15, to distinguish him from ὁ παλαιος ανθρωπος, the old man, that is, man unregenerate or in a state of sin, Romans 6:6. And the soul is thus distinguished by the Greek philosophers.

A meek and quiet spirit - That is, a mind that will not give provocation to others, nor receive irritation by the provocation of others. Meekness will prevent the first; quietness will guard against the last.

Great price - All the ornaments placed on the head and body of the most illustrious female, are, in the sight of God, of no worth; but a meek and silent spirit are, in his sight, invaluable, because proceeding from and leading to himself, being incorruptible, surviving the ruins of the body and the ruins of time, and enduring eternally.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But let it be the hidden man of the heart - This expression is substantially the same as that of Paul in Romans 7:22, “the inward man.” See the notes at that place. The word “hidden” here means that which is concealed; that which is not made apparent by the dress, or by ornament. It lies within, pertaining to the affections of the soul.

In that which is not corruptible - Properly, “in the incorruptible ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” This is said to be incorruptible in contradistinction to gold and apparel. They will decay; but the internal ornament is ever enduring. The sense is, that whatever pertains to outward decoration, however beautiful and costly, is fading; but that which pertains to the soul is enduring. As the soul is immortal, so all that tends to adorn that will be immortal too; as the body is mortal, so all with which it can be invested is decaying, and will soon be destroyed.

The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit - Of a calm temper; a contented mind; a heart free from passion, pride, envy, and irritability; a soul not subject to the agitations and vexations of those who live for fashion, and who seek to be distinguished for external adorning. The connection here shows that the apostle refers to this, not only as that which would be of great price in the sight of God, but as that which would tend to secure the affection of their husbands, and win them to embrace the true religion, (see 1 Peter 3:1-2); and, in order to this, he recommends them, instead of seeking external ornaments, to seek those of the mind and of the heart, as more agreeable to their husbands; as better adapted to win their hearts to religion; as that which would be most permanently proved. In regard to this point we may observe:

(1) that there are, undoubtedly, some husbands who are pleased with excessive ornaments in their wives, and who take a pleasure in seeing them decorated with gold, and pearls, and costly array.

(2) that all are pleased and gratified with a suitable attention to personal appearance on the part of their wives. It is as much the duty of a wife to be cleanly in her person, and neat in her habits, in the presence of her husband, as in the presence of strangers; and no wife can hope to secure the permanent affection of her husband who is not attentive to her personal appearance in her own family; especially if, while careless of her personal appearance in the presence of her husband, she makes it a point to appear gaily dressed before others. Yet.

(3) the decoration of the body is not all, nor is it the principal thing which husband desires. He desires primarily in his wife the more permanent adorning which pertains to the heart. Let it be remembered:

(a) that a large part of the ornaments on which females value themselves are lost to a great extent on the other sex. Many a man cannot tell the difference between diamonds and cut-glass, or paste in the form of diamonds; and few are such connoisseurs in the matter of female ornaments as to appreciate at all the difference in the quality or color of silks, and shawls, and laces, which might appear so important to a female eye. The fact is, that those personal ornaments which to females appear of so much value, are much less regarded and prized by people than they often suppose. It is a rare thing that a man is so thoroughly skilled in the knowledge of the distinctions that pertain to fashions, as to appreciate that on which the heart of a female often so much prides itself; and it is no great credit to him if he can do this. His time usually, unless he is a draper or a jeweler, might have been much better employed than in making those acquisitions which are needful to qualify him to appreciate and admire the specialties of frivilous female apparel.

(b) But a man has a real interest in what constitutes the ornaments of the heart. His happiness, in his contact with his wife, depends on these. He knows what is denoted by a kind temper; by gentle words; by a placid brow; by a modest and patient spirit; by a heart that is calm in trouble, and that is affectionate and pure; by freedom from irritability, fretfulness, and impatience; and he can fully appreciate the value of these things No professional skill is necessary to qualify him to see their worth; and no acquired tact in discrimination is requisite to enable him to estimate them according to their full value. A wife, therefore, if she would permanently please her husband, should seek the adorning of the soul rather than the body; the ornament of the heart rather than gold and jewels. The one can never be a substitute for the other; and whatever outward decorations she may have, unless she have a gentleness of spirit, a calmness of temper, a benevolence and purity of soul, and a cultivation of mind that her husband can love, she cannot calculate on his permanent affection.

Which is in the sight of God of great price - Of great value; that being of great value for which a large price is paid. He has shown his sense of its value:

(a)by commending it so often in his word:

(b)by making religion to consist so much in it, rather than in high intellectual endowments, learning, skill in the arts, and valor; and,

(c)by the character of his Son, the Lord Jesus, in whom this was so prominent a characteristic.

Sentiments not unlike what is here stated by the apostle, occur not unfrequently in pagan Classic writers. There are some remarkable passages in Plutarch, strongly resembling it: “An ornament, as Crates said, is that which adorns. The proper ornament of a woman is that which becomes her best. This is neither gold, nor pearls, nor scarlet, but those things which are an evident proof of gravity, regularity, and modesty” - Conjugalio Praecept., c. xxvi. The wife of Phocion, a celebrated Athenian general, receiving a visit from a lady who was elegantly adorned with gold and jewels, and her hair with pearls, took occasion to call the attention of her guest to the elegance and costliness of her dress. “My ornament,” said the wife of Phocion, “is my husband, now for the twentieth year general of the Athenians” - Plutarch‘s Life of Phocion. “The Sicilian tyrant sent to the daughters of Lysander garments and tissues of great value, but Lysander refused them, saying, “These ornaments will rather put my daughters out of countenance than adorn them” - Plutarch. So in the fragments of Naumachius, as quoted by Benson, there is a precept much like this of Peter: “Be not too fond of gold, neither wear purple hyacinth about your neck, or the green jasper, of which foolish persons are proud. Do not covet such vain ornaments, neither view yourself too often in the glass, nor twist your hair into a multitude of curls,” etc.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The wife must discharge her duty to her own husband, though he obey not the word. We daily see how narrowly evil men watch the ways and lives of professors of religion. Putting on of apparel is not forbidden, but vanity and costliness in ornament. Religious people should take care that all their behaviour answers to their profession. But how few know the right measure and bounds of those two necessaries of life, food and raiment! Unless poverty is our carver, and cuts us short, there is scarcely any one who does not desire something beyond what is good for us. Far more are beholden to the lowliness of their state, than the lowliness of their mind; and many will not be so bounded, but lavish their time and money upon trifles. The apostle directs Christian females to put on something not corruptible, that beautifies the soul, even the graces of God's Holy Spirit. A true Christian's chief care lies in right ordering his own spirit. This will do more to fix the affections, and excite the esteem of a husband, than studied ornaments or fashionable apparel, attended by a froward and quarrelsome temper. Christians ought to do their duty to one another, from a willing mind, and in obedience to the command of God. Wives should be subject to their husbands, not from dread and amazement, but from desire to do well, and please God. The husband's duty to the wife implies giving due respect unto her, and maintaining her authority, protecting her, and placing trust in her. They are heirs together of all the blessings of this life and that which is to come, and should live peaceably one with another. Prayer sweetens their converse. And it is not enough that they pray with the family, but husband and wife together by themselves, and with their children. Those who are acquainted with prayer, find such unspeakable sweetness in it, that they will not be hindered therein. That you may pray much, live holily; and that you may live holily, be much in prayer.
Ellen G. White
Child Guidance, 140

The Secret of True Charm—Girls should be taught that the true charm of womanliness is not alone in beauty of form or feature, nor in the possession of accomplishments; but in a meek and quiet spirit, in patience, generosity, kindness, and a willingness to do and suffer for others. They should be taught to work, to study to some purpose, to live for some object, to trust in God and fear Him, and to respect their parents. Then as they advance in years, they will grow more pure-minded, self-reliant, and beloved. It will be impossible to degrade such a woman. She will escape the temptations and trials that have been the ruin of so many.4 CG 140.1

Seeds of Vanity—In many families the seeds of vanity and selfishness are sown in the hearts of the children almost during babyhood. Their cunning little sayings and doings are commented upon and praised in their presence, and repeated with exaggerations to others. The little ones take note of this and swell with self-importance; they presume to interrupt conversations and become forward and impudent. Flattery and indulgence foster their vanity and willfulness, until the youngest not unfrequently rules the whole family, father and mother included. CG 140.2

The disposition formed by this sort of training cannot be laid aside as the child matures to riper judgment. It grows with his growth, and what might have appeared cunning in the baby, becomes contemptible and wicked in the man or woman. They seek to rule over their associates; and if any refuse to yield to their wishes, they consider themselves aggrieved and insulted. This is because they have been indulged to their injury in youth, instead of being taught the self-denial necessary to bear the hardships and toils of life.5 CG 140.3

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Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 289

It should have the grace, the beauty, the appropriateness of natural simplicity. Christ has warned us against the pride of life, but not against its grace and natural beauty. He pointed to the flowers of the field, to the lily unfolding in its purity, and said, “Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:29. Thus by the things of nature Christ illustrates the beauty that heaven values, the modest grace, the simplicity, the purity, the appropriateness, that would make our attire pleasing to Him. MH 289.1

The most beautiful dress He bids us wear upon the soul. No outward adorning can compare in value or loveliness with that “meek and quiet spirit” which in His sight is “of great price.” 1 Peter 3:4. MH 289.2

To those who make the Saviour's principles their guide, how precious His words of promise: MH 289.3

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Ellen G. White
Sons and Daughters of God, 292

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 10:32, 33. SD 292.1

Are we confessing Christ in our daily life? Do we confess Him in our dress, adorning ourselves with plain and modest apparel? Is our adorning that of the meek and quiet spirit which is of so great price in the sight of God? Are we seeking to advance the cause of the Master? ... There is no use in telling you that you must not wear this or that, for if the love of these vain things is in your heart, your laying off your adornments will only be like cutting the foliage off a tree. The inclinations of the natural heart would again assert themselves. You must have a conscience of your own.... SD 292.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 348

Many falter and fall because of the indulgence of a perverse temper. Alexander and Caesar found it much easier to subdue a kingdom than to rule their own spirits. After conquering nations, the world's so-called great men fell, one of them through the indulgence of appetite, a victim of intemperance, the other through presumption and mad ambition. 4T 348.1

God calls upon you to yield pride and stubbornness, and to let His peace rule in your hearts. A meek and quiet spirit must be cherished. Carry Christ's meekness with you in all your labors. An excited temper and cutting censure will not impress the people or gain their sympathy. If we have the truth, we can afford to be calm and unexcited. Our language should be modest and elevated. The spirit you have cherished within has left its impression upon the countenance. Christ, enthroned in the soul-temple, will efface that fretful, peevish, unhappy look; and as the cloud of witnesses look upon a man reflecting the image of Christ, they will realize that he is surrounded by a pleasant atmosphere. The world will see that amid storms of abuse he stands unmoved, like the lofty cedar. That man is one of God's heroes. He has overcome himself. 4T 348.2

The largest share of the annoyances of life, its daily corroding cares, its heartaches, its irritation, is the result of a temper uncontrolled. The harmony of the domestic circle is often broken by a hasty word and abusive language. How much better were it left unsaid. One smile of pleasure, one peaceful, approving word spoken in the spirit of meekness, would be a power to soothe, to comfort, and to bless. The government of self is the best government in the world. By putting on the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, ninety-nine out of a hundred of the troubles which so terribly embitter life might be saved. Many excuse their hasty words and passionate tempers by saying: “I am sensitive; I have a hasty temper.” This will never heal the wounds made by hasty, passionate words. Some, indeed, are naturally more passionate than others; but this spirit can never harmonize with the Spirit of God. The natural man must die, and the new man, Christ Jesus, take possession of the soul, so that the follower of Jesus may say in verity and truth: “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” 4T 348.3

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