1 Peter3:3

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should not be the external [conduct] of braiding of hair and putting around gold, or of putting on garments that serve as decoration

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I’m not talking about the kind of conduct that is a fake or a put on, like a woman who makes herself look like something she isn’t by braiding strands of gold into her hair to look rich, or wearing gold around as many other parts of her body as possible to look rich, or by wearing garments that serve no other purpose than to decorate her body,



“which” probably refers to the wife’s respectful conduct mentioned in the previous verse.

I feel it is improper to insert the word “beauty” at this point as some translations do. The words “adorn” and “decoration” are not mentioned until later on, but the specific use of the word “which” must refer to something that has been stated previously, which most likely is the respectful conduct of the wife.

This word could also mean “whose,” in which case it could refer to her qualities that are capable of winning her husband over. This fits better with what follows, but it does not fit as naturally with what has preceded this verse, and the words “which” or “whose” are based on what went before, not what comes later. Respectful conduct is the immediate antecedent, whereas winning the husband over was mentioned earlier and it is less likely that the mind of the reader will jump back that far if there is an immediate antecedent for the word “which.”

This verse presents a dilemma for the translator because the passage as a whole deals with respectful conduct and things that are “winsome.” However, I still think that the most natural antecedent for “which” is “conduct in respect” (v2) rather than “winsomeness” which is implied by “won over” (v.1).


“decoration”: This is the word “kosmos” from which we get our word “cosmos” and any words containing “cosmo.” The word’s basic meaning is: “order, an ordered system, a harmonious arrangement.” From this foundation the Greeks derived other meanings and usages such as: “decoration, adornment, the world, the universe, the inhabitants of the world.” My rendering, “garments that serve as decoration” could refer to a couple things. It could be garments that decorate the body in a way that accentuate the body’s shape, or it could be garments that use golden threads and other fancy features to make the person look rich. In this verse it is probably the latter since the other parts of the example are talking about pretending to be rich. Granted, a poor person could not ever buy those things, but some middleclass people did so even if they had to sacrifice basic needs to do it.


Peter appears to be using these feminine adornments as an example of fake respect or fake godly conduct. His example refers to situations where the wife had convinced the husband to buy decorative things for her hair (they would braid strands of gold into their hair) and her body (they would put or hang golden jewelry wherever possible – we now call that kind of overkill “bling”) to make it look like they had more money than they really did. They had to have used debt to buy these adornments or sacrificed other truly important things in order to purchase them. Their display of wealth was a fake. This reminds me of the situation in Honduras, Central America. A friend of mine who lives there told me that in Honduras almost everyone living in the cities has a new Samsun cell phone. Some of them do not have enough money for food for their kids, but they have the phone because they care more about what others think of them than about fulfilling their responsibilities to their children. Peter was saying, “your good conduct, done in a respectful way can win your husband over, but be sure your actions are genuine, not fake.”