That which is put on to decorate, beautify, embellish, add luster to, and make the person himself, or that which he represents, pleasing or attractive. It may be for a good or for a deceptive purpose. The Hebrew word for “adornment” is hadha·rahʹ, evidently from the root ha·dharʹ, meaning “honor.” (1Ch 16:29; La 5:12) At 1 Peter 3:3 “adornment” translates the Greek word koʹsmos, elsewhere rendered “world.” The related verb ko·smeʹo is translated “adorn.”—Tit 2:10.
The Scriptures do not condemn physical adornment if it is properly done, and they highly recommend spiritual adornment. Jehovah himself is described as clothed in light and surrounded by beauty. (Ps 104:1, 2; Eze 1:1, 4-28; Re 4:2, 3) He has richly ornamented his creation with color, variety, and majestic magnificence.—Lu 12:27, 28; Ps 139:14; 1Co 15:41.
In Bible times the bridegroom and the bride adorned themselves for the marriage feast. In preparation the bride decked herself with the finest clothing and the best of the ornamental things that she possessed to present herself before the bridegroom. (Ps 45:13, 14; Isa 61:10) Jehovah speaks to Jerusalem, figuratively describing her as a girl whom he decked with fine, costly clothing and jewelry but who used her beauty and adornment unfaithfully as a prostitute. (Eze 16:10-19) Jehovah’s prophet Hosea condemned Israel for adorning herself for the wrong purpose of attracting passionate lovers and engaging in false worship. (Ho 2:13) Through his prophets Jehovah foretold a restoration of Israel when she would come out of Babylonian exile and again adorn herself to express her joy and exultation.—Isa 52:1; Jer 31:4.
The temple in Jerusalem and Solomon’s governmental buildings were beautifully adorned, to the delight of the queen of Sheba. (1Ki chaps 6, 7, 10) The temple rebuilt by Herod was a magnificent edifice adorned with fine stones and dedicated things. But Jesus showed that these material adornments would be of no avail when God’s judgment came upon Jerusalem for her unfaithfulness.—Lu 21:5, 6.
The Proverbs show that if a great number of people choose to live under and delight in the rule of a king, this is one measure of his success. It is an adornment to him, recommending and adding luster to him as a ruler. (Pr 14:28) Jehovah is such a ruler by his Messianic Kingdom.—Ps 22:27-31; Php 2:10, 11.
Christian Counsel on Personal Adornment. Jesus and his apostles counseled constantly against putting trust in physical things and putting on a false show by means of material adornment. The apostle Paul said that Christian women should “adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive garb.” (1Ti 2:9) During the days of the apostles it was a custom among women in that world of Greek culture to go in for elaborate coiffures and other adornment. How appropriate, therefore, is Peter’s counsel to women in the Christian congregation not to put emphasis on ‘the external braiding of the hair and the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments’ but to let their adornment be, as with the faithful women of old, “the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit”!—1Pe 3:3-5.
The apostle Paul points out that the Christian can, by fine works of incorruptibleness in his teaching, seriousness, wholesome speech, and right conduct in all his ways of life, adorn the teachings of God, making them attractive to others. (Tit 2:10) In this spiritual way, the Christian congregation, the bride of Christ, eventually appears in her full beauty to her husband Jesus Christ. She is similarly described at Revelation 21:2 as “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Her spiritual beauty is a direct contrast to the adornment of Babylon the Great, spoken of as adorned with material things, the wage of her prostitution.—Re 18:16; see COSMETICS; DRESS; JEWELS AND PRECIOUS STONES; ORNAMENTS.