Does the KJV promote a blanket prohibition on women's "outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel" in 1 Peter 3:3?
1 Likewise, ye 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; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. (1 Peter 3:1-4, KJV)
Some criticize the KJV rendering of 1 Peter 3:3 because it supposedly prohibits women completely from outwardly adorning themselves. These critics may prefer the NASB which says, "Your adornment must not be merely external", which might appear to permit outward adornment as a secondary concern. However, the word "merely" is not in the Greek. The ESV is with the KJV on this one. The "not" in "let it not be" is meant to be a comparative rather than a prohibitive (Matthew Poole's Commentary), which means the negated traits should be valued less in comparison with the upheld traits. For example, the "not" in "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2) is also functioning as a comparative rather than a prohibitive. We may legitimately set our affection on good things on earth, such as a spouse, but our affection on things above must be greater by comparison. The natural language of the Bible uses these pithy expressions. 1 Peter 3:3 is fine the way it is in the KJV.
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