The Womans Imperishable Quality of Quietness

 

 

The Woman’s “Imperishable Quality” of Quietness

Richard Hollerman

We know that some readers may tend to view the topic of our discussion here with a degree of negativity. They may assume that this is a “put down” of the feminine gender that fails to recognize the variety of responses that women may legitimately have. They may say, “A woman may be quiet and a woman may be loud. It all depends on her personality!” We do recognize that there are different personalities in women—as well as men—but, at the same time, we must accept what God in Scripture desires in both genders.

The title of our article is taken from Peter’s instructions to men and women in 1 Peter 3:1-7. After the apostle says that a woman must be “submissive” in her responses to her husband (v. 1) and must have a “chaste and respectful behavior” toward her husband (v. 3), he says that the woman must not focus on outward adornment (braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, and putting on fancy dresses, v. 3). What then should a woman be particularly interested in?  Peter says that she should concentrate on “the hidden person of the heart” with “the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit” (v. 4).

Why is this so utterly important? Because this inner spirit and attitude is “precious in the sight of God.” Since we are to be intensely concerned about what is pleasing God and do what is “precious” in His sight, we should be concerned with what Peter is saying here!

Instead of a woman spending her time, interest, and money beautifying the outward person (like most women do), she is to be interested in the “inward” person—her spirit, her attitudes, her demeanor.  There are many qualities that make a woman beautiful to God (as well as any spiritual man). But perhaps chief among them would be this “gentle and quiet spirit” about which the apostle writes.

It would seem that this quiet spirit is not at all desirable to most women of our day. Consider the high school girl who loudly communicates with her fellow-classmates. Think of such a girl wildly yelling at the ball games. Think of the girl shouting along with her favorite singer and worldly music. Think of the university girl who wants to make her point in her classes, thus she becomes outspoken and loud in demeanor. She is determined to be an equal to the men in her classes—or even outshine the male students! Think of the career woman on the job—whether in the office, a business, a store, or elsewhere—and the aggressive spirit that she conveys.  Is it really a quiet spirit?  We know the answer.

The Greek for “quiet” spirit is hesuchios, indicating “tranquility arising from within” that causes “no disturbance to others” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). William D. Mounce says that it means “quiet, tranquil, peaceful” (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary, p. 1167). Arndt and Gingrich give such words as “quietness” and “silence” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).  Ralph Earle quotes Vincent who points out that the term indicates “tranquility arising from within” (Word Meanings in the New Testament, p. 386).  Peter says that the woman should have this “quiet spirit.” A. T. Robertson observes that “spirit here is ‘disposition’ or ‘temper’ unlike any other use in the NT” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 616).

God, through Peter, is saying that a woman’s attitude and demeanor should be characterized by such terms as soft, still, calm, reserved, mild, serene, tranquil, and peaceful. Does this characterize the women that you and I know? If you are a woman who aspires to Godliness, does it describe you, personally?

When you are in public, do people recognize you as a quiet woman? Do you have a softness in your attitude, a calmness of spirit, a reserved attitude, a tranquil mind-set? Solomon describes a woman who is “boisterous and rebellious” (Proverbs 7:11a). Would this be something that could be said of you? Instead, could it be that you are more like women we read about in the New Testament?

What are the impression we have of woman like Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 2:26-38), Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:39), Dorcas (Acts 9:36), Lydia (Acts 16:14-15), or Priscilla (Acts 18-3, 26). It is true that we have little description of such women, but we think of them in terms of Peter’s description of the “quiet” woman of 1 Peter 3:4).

This quiet attitude that we have been examining is to be combined with other characteristics (1 Peter 3:1-6), most of which are foreign to the modern, “enlightened” and educated contemporary woman. Sadly, these modern women choose to follow the path of the flesh that is in rebellion against the ways of God. The extreme of this would be found in the transgender, transvestite, and lesbian perspectives increasingly acceptable in our age of gender rebellion.

In contrast, God wants the Godly woman to be like Sarah, the wife of Abraham, who “hoped in God” and was submissive to her husband (1 Peter 3:5) to the point that she even called him “lord” and “obeyed” him (v. 6). This womanly, submissive attitude will describe the “quiet” and “gentle” woman of v. 4. Along with this, is the “chaste” and “respectful behavior” of v. 2 and the submissive attitude of v. 1. 

Maybe this gives us some insight into the question of the role of women in the home, in the body of Christ, and in society. Many Scriptures reflect this spirit of quietness. Women are not to lead over the man or teach over the man (1 Timothy 2:11-12). They are not to lead prayer in public (1 Timothy 2:8). They are not to speak in the assembly (1 Corinthians 14:33-37). They are not to be overseers (or shepherds/pastors, elders) in the assembly (1 Timothy 3:1-2; Titus 1:5-9). They were not apostles or writers of Scripture. They are to be submissive to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1; Titus 2:4-5). They are under the headship of the male (1 Corinthians 11:3). All of this makes sense in light of the spirit of quietness that is necessary for the women, that which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4).

We know that deeply-ingrained attitudes, taught and modeled by a woman’s mother and other close women, may be difficult to overcome. We are taught wrongly by others so often and Satan uses this to corrupt our personalities and responses so that we are very different from what pleases God and is in harmony with Scripture. How can we overcome?

The answer is the Spirit of God! With the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence and power, God enables us to live holy lives and our character may be transformed to be what He desires. As Paul puts it, “If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). If you find yourself living according to the flesh (living like the common rebellious and “emancipated” woman of our day), you will spiritually die. But if you are putting to death this common feministic attitude of our age, by conforming your life according to His will and pattern, you will spiritually live!

What we have said about this spirit of quietness in the woman may be said of many other feminine characteristics (mentioned throughout the New Testament). And any of us men reading these words have a wide array of qualities that should be found in our life as well. These also are found scattered in the new covenant writings (the New Testament). Let us strive, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be people who love and serve God and are increasingly conformed to His will described in Holy Scripture.

 

 

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