Wednesday, 13 November 2019
…as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. 1 Peter 3:6
Peter now provides an example of the women of faith who were submissive to their husbands, as he just mentioned in the previous verse. His choice takes the reader back to Genesis where he notes that “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” This is cited from Genesis 18:12 –
“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’”
The interesting thing about this verse is that Sarah said this to herself, not out loud. However, what is understood from this is that a person’s thoughts which are unstated are surely reflective of the true thoughts of the person. If it was her habit to speak of her husband using the honorific “my lord” in her thoughts, then it demonstrates that she honored him in her outward expressions and manners as well.
It should be noted that nothing is said of Sarah’s outward adornments or fashions, of which Peter has been speaking. The lack of any such note is an implicit reference that her beauty was a natural beauty, of which she is noted for in Genesis – even at an older age. Further, when Peter says that Sarah “obeyed” Abraham, it is referring to his custom of ensuring their safety through her words, as is recorded several times in Genesis, such as –
“And Abraham said, ‘Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. 12 But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, “This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother.’”’” Genesis 20:11-13
Thus, Sarah was obedient and she was respectful, just as noted by Peter now. From there, he continues with, “whose daughters you are.” The translation is lacking. The verb is aorist and passive. It should read, “whose daughters you have become.” Though speaking to a Jewish audience whose wives would also be Jewish, Peter implies that they only became daughters of Sarah at a specific point. It is not a hereditary entitlement. This is the exact same concept that Paul uses when speaking of the state of both Jews and Gentiles in Galatians 3:7 –
“Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”
Paul speaks in the same manner in Romans 4:11 and elsewhere as well. Peter then states how they have become this way by saying, “if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.” The translation of the NKJV is cumbersome. For clarity, the ESV says, “if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
Peter’s words here are an allusion to Proverbs 3:25 –
The Greek translation of this says, “Be not afraid of sudden fear.” That is what Peter was considering in his citation. Sarah is used as the example. Her hope was in God, and thus she demonstrated faith in being told she would have a child, even at an advanced age. Though she laughed in doubt, when she realized that the Lord’s words would come to pass, she did not waiver or shrink back because of the fears that could otherwise have overtaken her.
In speaking of the women as being daughters of Sarah, it is not speaking of salvation as is the case with the analogy of faith like Abraham. Rather, it is speaking of typology of character. The women of the faith, meaning believers, become daughters of Sarah in type when they show respect towards their husbands and they do not fear those things that might otherwise terrify women whose hope is not grounded in Christ.
Life application: Very few major figures in the Bible come away with nothing negative said about them… and Sarah is not one of them. Her faults, as well as her nobler deeds, are given – showing her to be just as human as the rest of us.
Together, she and Abraham worked through life’s difficulties and problems, occasionally faltering in their conduct. But Sarah is remembered as a true woman of God because she was faithful to her husband, calling him “lord.”
The word “lord” in the Hebrew passage being referred to is adoni. Adon is simply a term that can mean “mister” or “master.” In fact, in modern Hebrew, if one were to introduce his friend at a business meeting, he would say, “This is adon Cohen.” The “i” affixed to adon indicates possession (my lord, or my master). She could have used another term, ishi, which indicates “my husband.”
In Genesis 18:12, Sarah chose to use the term adoni, rather than ishi. This was her way of showing respect to her husband. In today’s verse, Peter goes on to say that the woman of God should show similar respect when referring to her husband.
Lord, just as Sarah was given a child in her old age, just as the children of Israel were delivered through the Red Sea, and just as Jesus was resurrected unto eternal life, so we will trust that You will deliver us from all that is frightening. We know that You are in complete control of all things, and so our trust is well-founded when it is placed in You. Thank You for this assurance we possess. Amen.