1 Pet 3:7 (plain text)

Bill and Stephanie Black bnsblack at yimesgin.org
Sun Aug 26 23:37:40 EDT 2001

Carl kindly reminded me off-list that I need to send this in plain text or
it won't be fully readable by some.  Here's the original again, and I hope I
have the format correct now.  Please disregard if you could read it the
first time.

Stephanie Black.

----- Original Message -----
From: Bill and Stephanie Black
To: Biblical Greek
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2001 10:24 PM
Subject: Re: 1 Pet 3:7

Since Steve has offered the view that the wives in 1 Pet 3:7 are believers,
I'll weigh in on the other side, that the wives are unbelievers.  The
evidence for this is as follows:

1.  SKEUEI goes with TWi GUNAIKEIWi in the known fixed phrase for wife,
'feminine vessel' (that is, not 'weaker vessel'), leaving ASQENESTERWi on
its own as a substantive, 'weaker one'.  This gives the reading, "living
together according to knowledge, as (hWS) with a weaker person, with your
wife."   So in what sense is the wife 'weaker'?  Perhaps spiritually, as an
unbeliever.  It is difficult to argue one way or another from ASQENHS alone,
as ASQENHS does not appear elsewhere in 1 or 2 Peter.  (BTW, whatever
explanation you come up with for this construction, you're going to have to
explain why it is GUNAIKEIOS, 'feminine', rather than GUNH, 'woman/wife'.)

2.  More importantly, the combination hWS KAI in its other three occurrences
in the NT points to a comparison or distinction between two different
parties.  See 1 Cor 7:7 (between Paul and 'all [other people]'); 1 Cor 9:5
(between Paul and 'the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and
Cephas'); and Heb. 13:3 (between 'those who are being ill-treated' and 'you
yourselves').  In 1 Pet 2:7, the comparison/distinction is between 'fellow
heirs of the grace of life' and the wife, presented as mutually exclusive
parties.  This is apparent also in the difference between the singular form
'feminine vessel' (wife) and the plural form 'fellow heirs', both in the
dative case.  So: "rendering honor to your (unbelieving/weaker) wife 'as
even' (hWS KAI) you would to fellow heirs of the grace of life."
Interestingly enough, Gramcord makes it difficult to search for this
possibility.  Treating KAI as a conjunction here, Gramcord informs you that
there is no other combination of hWS followed by the conjunction KAI in the
NT.  However, if you ask Gramcord to search for hWS followed by KAI as an
adverb, you'll find these other three occurrences.

3. The section including this household code begins in 1 Pet 2:11-12 with
Peter's exhortation that as 'aliens' and 'exiles' these Christians should
live good lives 'among the ETHNOI' (Gentiles, pagans, unbelievers).  In the
household code itself slaves are directed to submit even, and especially, to
SKOLIOS (crooked, perverse, dishonest) masters (1 Pet 2:18; certainly not
believing masters?). 'Likewise' (hOMOIWS) women are assumed to be dealing
with at least some husbands who 'do not believe the word' (first class
conditional with EI in 1 Pet 3:1), and these husbands are the focus of
Peter's following comments.  The husbands' portion of the household code is
also introduced by 'likewise' or 'in the same way' (hOMOIWS), suggesting
that Christians' relationships with unbelievers are still in view.  This
fits well with the epistle's overarching focus on 'diaspora' Christians
living in predominately non-Christian communities (1 Pet 1:1).
The only real question left is whether this verse is intended to refer only
to relationships with unbelievers, primarily to relationships with
unbelievers, or should be understood as broadly generalizable to both
believers and unbelievers.  Unfortunately that discussion is often
theologically motivated rather than simply a question of Greek.

Stephanie Black

P.S.  My apologies if I've gotten the b-greek transliteration wrong--I don't
have internet access to check the web page for the correct transliteration.

Stephanie L Black, PhD
Evangelical Theological College
Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
bnsblack at yimesgin.org

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