Saved Without the Word of God ?
Reading scripture in a less than careful way can lead to many erroneous conclusions. For example, some have read Peter’s instructions to the wives of unbelieving husbands and concluded that a person may be won to Christ apart from the word of God. Let’s take a close look at what Peter wrote to see if that is a correct understanding:
1 Peter 3:1 “Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.”
That is the reading in the KJV. It is unfortunate that this rendering fails to make a crucial distinction. Notice how newer translations render it:
NKJV: “if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won”
NASU: “if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word”
ESV: “if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word”
The contrast being made is between: “the word” and “a word.”
What Peter is saying is that a wife may discover that at some point further talking (a word) will not be as effective in reaching her husband as her example. Peter goes on to say in verses 2-4 “. . . as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external . . . but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.” What is being said to wives can certainly be extended to other situations. God’s message of salvation is found only in the word of God:
James 1:18, 21 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth . . . receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
1 Peter 1:23 You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.
As opportunities arise, we must strive to communicate that message with our words, but it is very important that the example of our lives harmonizes with what we say.
It takes wisdom to know when we have reached the point that Peter has in mind, but there may be times when more words will not have as much impact as our Christian example.
As the old saying puts it: “Practice what you preach.”
- Leonard White