This does not mean a wife is spiritually inferior to her husband. Women are oftentimes more sensitive to spiritual things than men are. Women have spiritual gifts and ministry capabilities, just as men do. Both men and women are spiritual beings; both are created for relationship with God.

HONORING THE WIFE

“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them [wives] with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Pet 3:7).

In the day when Peter wrote these words, women were considered inferior to men. In both pagan cultures and heathen religions, women had no rights and were unimportant except as child-bearers and laborers.

Christ’s life and teachings completely reversed this. With the entrance of Christianity, women were now considered equal with men in terms of salvation and relationship with God (Gal 3:28). It was now recognized that, like men, women have ministry gifts given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church (Acts 21:9; see also Joel 2:28, 29 with Acts 2:17,18). Wives are described in the Bible as “heirs together (with the husband) of the grace of life” (1 Pet 3:7); this places women at an equal level spiritually with men. This is still true today.

Unfortunately, some try to cite the “weaker vessel” portion of this verse in an attempt to make women appear morally or intellectually inferior. The word “weaker”, however, refers only to lesser physical strength and thus greater vulnerability of the wife. Husbands are instructed to “dwell with them with understanding”, because wives are less strong physically and thus more vulnerable.

Husbands are further commanded to “give honor to the wife”. A wife is a valuable gift from the Lord, and should be considered more precious than riches or fine jewels (Prov 31:10). A husband should value his wife, and reserve a special place of honor and love for her alone in his heart. A husband should honor his wife by treating her with courtesy, gentleness, respect, kindness and love.

Also in 1 Peter 3:7, the term “vessel” is used to describe the wife. The biblical meaning of this term indicates something or someone used by God for His glory. It is important to remember that God desires to be glorified through women as well as through men. A husband needs to help his wife become a “vessel for honor” (2 Tim 2:21) whom God can use for His glory.

The importance of a husband’s spiritual support of his wife is clearly seen at the end of 1 Peter 3:7. If a husband does not work at understanding and honoring his wife, his prayers will “be hindered “. The word “hindered” means “to cut in, to interrupt, to have an obstacle thrown in the way”.