Explore the Bible Study: Living in Relationship

12:37 PM

What feelings do you experience when you see the word submit or submission? It seems that our world does not view this term in a positive light at all. As a matter of fact, in searching the internet for ideas and illustrations related to how to teach this week's Explore the Bible Study: Living in Relationship, I discovered that this term has become extremely perverted in its meanings (I don't suggest you google the word "submission" or "submit"). As with many terms or concepts that God intended to be used for good, it seems man has found a way to pervert it.

As we read Peter's discourse that began in 1 Peter 2 and now concludes in 1 Peter 3, the common theme is focused on submission. So what can we learn from the Bible that will help us have a healthy view of this word? What can we learn about healthy relationships with regards to submission? This is where I have focused the study this week.

NOTE: You will probably not be able to utilize all the ideas I have provided, either because of your audience or your time. Prayerfully consider how the suggestions I have provided might help supplement what God is already teaching you about these passages. Be sure to hit the TARGET, Believers honor God through healthy relationships, even if you can't cover everything in these passages. I have also designed this for a coed class discussion. Gender based classes can modify based on your audiences.

LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text.
  • Display (In Advance): SUBMIT
  • Discuss (Once most adults have arrived): When you first saw this word today, what went through your mind? How can the word “submit” describe ways to honor someone? 
  • Explain: The biblical use of the word "submit" means - to defer to, to bring oneself under, to be obedient, or to show proper respect. 
  • Discuss: Which of these meanings is most comfortable for you? Which is least? 
  • Instruct: Before reading the specific passages, I want you to underline or circle the following phrases in your Bibles or study guides: In verse 1 – “In the same way, wives”; In verse 7 – “Husbands, in the same way”; In verse 8 – “Now finally, all of you.”
  • Explain: All of these instructions point back to how Christ lived His life as described in 1 Peter 2:21-24. He was a stranger in a foreign land; He willingly submitted Himself to all authorities including God. He was and is our example. 
LOOK IN: Unpacking the text.

1 Peter 3:1-6

Ask: Are there different feelings you experience when a man reads this rather than a woman reading it?

  • Since Jesus was our example of submission, why is this word so difficult to discuss, not just for women but for all of us in our society today?
  • How could submission change the conflicts we are experiencing in our country today?
  • Does submission suggest that one person is inferior to another? Was Jesus inferior to God? Is a slave inferior to a master? Is a citizen inferior to a police officer? Is a person of color inferior to another person of color? Is a citizen inferior to the leader of a country?
  • Read: Galatians 3:28-29. Ask: What does this communicate regarding our standing before Christ?
  • If submission doesn’t suggest inferiority, then what is the purpose of submission, especially for a believing wife?
  • Does anyone have a testimony regarding a husband who became a Christian because of the lifestyle witness of his wife?
  • When should a wife not submit to an unbelieving husband?
Emphasize: The wife’s submission to the Lord takes precedence over obeying her husband. A wife is not to participate in sinful activities dictated by her husband. Further, no wife should remain in life-threatening situations, either for herself or her children.

Discuss: Verses 3-6 give some interesting guidance regarding outward versus inward beauty.
  • Is Peter communicating that looking nice is not important?
  • When does focusing on outward beauty become wrong?
  • Why is a gentle and quiet spirit a reflection of a heart for God?
  • To which do you give the most attention? Your outward beauty or your heart?
Discuss: Men . . .
  • Which is more important to you regarding your wife – her outward beauty or her heart for God? 
  • How much time do you spend bragging on your wife’s heart for God versus her outward beauty?
Ask: Peter used Sarah as an example of how a wife should relate to her husband.
  • How did Sarah submit to her husband? (Followed him into unknown lands; endured difficult and challenging circumstances; trusted in the same God.)
  • Peter said Sarah called Abraham lord. That was a term of honor and endearment in that culture. How do ladies express their respect, love, submission to their husbands today? (honey, babe, etc.)
Activity Options (Consider breaking into groups to complete):
  • One: Based on these passages, how should you advise a woman facing the following circumstances? My husband is upset with me for being a Christian. He doesn't want me to go to church or pray around the house. Some friends told me to take a stand for Christ, to pray openly at meals, to keep tracts around for him to read, and to pin up Bible verses on sin and salvation where he'll be sure to see them. So far, it just makes him mad. He's even started ridiculing me for being so "holy." I don't mind suffering for Christ, especially if it will help win my husband. What should I do?
  • Two: You are having a conversation with a young lady who has just become engaged. How would you explain to her the concept of submission?
1 Peter 3:7

  • Some might say that there seems to be a lot less instruction for the man versus the woman. Why might this be? Is there anything that has been said previously that would not apply to man? Should he not focus on his heart more than his outward looks? Should he not honor his wife?
  • What does Peter mean by using the term weaker nature? (Husbands are to be considerate of the fact that women are physically weaker than men.) 
  • Was he suggesting that women have a fragile character or are morally weak? (Absolutely not!)
Emphasize: Remember the culture of his day. The man had to change his view of women, particularly his wife.
  • They were not objects to own. They were coheirs of salvation; they were partners in marriage; they were to be honored and loved as Christ loved the church. 
  • Read: Ephesians 5:25-28
  • Read: Colossians 3:19
  • Husbands had a huge spiritual responsibility. They were the stewards of the Christian faith of their wives and their entire families.
  • While there isn’t as much stated at this point regarding husbands, the weight of their responsibility was still obvious and significant.
  • How can men show their wives honor? Are the conditions for showing her honor based on her looks? (No)
  • What is showing her honor based upon? (They are coheirs of the grace of life; gender is irrelevant in matters of salvation – Galatians 3:28)
  • What are the results of honoring your wife? (Your prayers will not be hindered.)
Emphasize: If you aren’t married, this principle is true regarding your view of women in general. Simply put, men who disregard this instruction are blatantly disobeying God. There is no reason to expect that the Lord will answer the prayers of those who are not obeying Him.

Reflect: Men . . .
  • If your prayers are hindered as a husband, what relationship should you examine first? (Relationship with your wife)
  • How does your view of women honor or dishonor your wife?
  • How does your time priorities honor or dishonor your wife?
  • How do your wants and desires honor or dishonor your wife?
  • How does your walk with (submission to) Christ honor or dishonor your wife
1 Peter 3:8-9
  •  Which of these actions might God be calling you to become more intentional in practicing?
LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.

Read: 1 Peter 3:10-12

State: Peter’s life was transformed by knowing and trusting Christ. Peter learned about the power of submission by watching and following Christ. Christ’s submission was very powerful to him and he desired to reflect that kind of godly submission!

  • As we seek to live our Christian faith, whether it be in our homes or in the world, it is vital that we live in a way that honors Christ and those around us, especially fellow believers. 
  • Our lives are truly lives of submission to the One who submitted Himself to God and gave His life for us.
  • Without understanding Christ’s submission and learning to live as He lived, we will never be able to live lives that will honor Him in our homes, our churches, or the world in which we live. 
  • Use Peter’s challenges to align your life with Christ’s way of living which can only come first by submitting (surrendering) your life to Christ.

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