If a man became a follower of Jesus, his whole family would come into the church (Acts 16:29--33), but if a woman became a believer, she came into the church alone. Roman law gave a husband and father absolute control over their wife and daughter. Peter encouraged women in this situation to let their gentle and quiet spirit and godly behavior win over their non-believing husbands (1 Timothy 2:9-11).
Here are some Greek word definitions that might help you understand what submission with a "gentle and quiet" disposition looks like:
Submissive (HUPOTASSŌ) - A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden” (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, G5293).
Gentle (PRAÜS) - Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. (Is. 41:17, Lu. 18:1-8) Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will. (Gal. 5:23) (Strong's, (G4239)).
Quiet (HĒSUCHIOS) - Tranquility arising from within, causing no disturbance to others (1 Tim. 2:2) (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: With Topical Index).
Sarah is used as an example of submission. Here are the verses related to her relationship with Abraham: Genesis 12:5, 10-20; 16:1-6; 17:15-21; 18:1-15; 20:1-13; 21:8-12.
Peter spent more time exhorting the wives in this section because he was dealing with the problems unique to a believing wife with an unbelieving husband. Believing men have many more responsibilities toward their wives (see Ephesians 5:25-33)! Peter exhorted the believing men to live compassionately with their wives and honor them as a fellow heir of grace. Anyone would submit to a man who did that!
I did a Bible study on 1 Peter (Precept Upon Precept: 1 Peter) ten years ago, and here were some of the questions, and my answers:
Question: When God tells women to be submissive to husbands even if the husband is disobedient to God's Word, does this mean that a woman is to obey her husband if he tells her to do something that is definitely contrary to God's clear teaching?
My answer: Absolutely not! We are to submit to God first. We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:7-42). After this we are to submit to human institutions if a husband asks his wife to do something illegal, and that law is not against Scripture.
Question for 1 Peter 3:7: If you were explaining to a man what it means to live with his wife in an understanding way, what specific suggestions would you give him regarding how this verse could be applied in a practical way?
Answer: Listen to her . . . Understand her emotional ups and downs . . . Help relieve her emotional stress by giving her nights off and weekends off. (I wrote this when my kids were 8 and 5 years old! LOL!)How would you answer these questions?
If you are married, here are two things to ask yourself when being asked to submit to something your husband might want you to do:
Does the husband's request conflict with the Word of God?
Is the stronger command of God to obey husband or to do what the wife feels Scripture says she should do?Here is another excellent Bible study on marriage: Marriage without Regrets
Lord, give us gentle and quiet spirits so that we might be a witness to all around us of Your ability to allow us to live with peace and without fear. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.