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Let Wives Be Submissive: The Domestic Code in l Peter
David L. Balch
Publication Date
January 1997


“Balch has assembled a fine collection of Greek and Roman materials bearing on the “household duty code” in 1 Peter 2:11–3:12, and in particular on 3:1–6. After a survey of interpretations of the NT household codes (starting with Seeberg in 1903) and a briefer glace at modern research on 1 Peter (starting with Perdelwitz in 1911), Balch concludes that much of the relevant material goes back to three interrelated topoi used by Plato and Aristotle: ‘Concerning the Constitution,’ ‘Concerning Household Management,’ and ‘Concerning Marriage.’ …

Applying his insights specifically to 1 Peter 3:1–6, Balch concludes that the submission of Christian wives to non-Christian husbands in domestic matters must be seen against the backdrop of one very significant fact: in the eyes of Roman society, these wives were already viewed as highly insubordinate by virtue of not having adopted their husbands’ religion. Peter’s concern is that they not multiply the offense unnecessarily by abrasive or unseemly behavior (on pp. 86–87 he cites a vivid example from Apuleius of a Christian wife who seems to have done just that!).”
—J. Ramsey Michaels, Journal of Biblical Literature