Peter’s Pedagogical Method in 1 Peter 3:6 -- By: Aída Besançon Spencer

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 10:1 (NA 2000)
Article: Peter’s Pedagogical Method in 1 Peter 3:6
Author: Aída Besançon Spencer

Peter’s Pedagogical Method in 1 Peter 3:6

Aída Besançon Spencer

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

—“like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master” (1 Pet 3:6 niv)

In 1 Pet 3:6, Sarah’s conduct exemplifies willing, Christ-like, vicarious suffering, while Abraham exemplifies a husband disobedient to the Word. This thesis is developed by a close exegetical study of the literary context (1 Peter) in light of its ancient Greco-Roman historical contexts and by finding the appropriate OT context (Gen 12:11-20). The findings are compared with some contemporary feminist concerns.

Key Words: good conduct, analogy, mutual authorities, Sarah as Christ-type

Model is a poignant educational method. And here in 1 Pet 3:6 Sarah is mentioned as an important model for the reader. But of what is she a model? For some she is a model of wifely obedience to the husband,1 while for others she is a model of a Christ-like, righteous spirit of submission in the face of hostile, anti-Christian forces.2 A pivotal question for interpreters is whether obedience or pure conduct is the

foundational principle for the pericope. And in order to unleash the text’s meaning, I will look at the literary context of the letter, its ancient Greco-Roman historical contexts, the appropriate context(s) in the OT, and then the contemporary context(s). I will show that for Peter, Sarah is an example of willing, Christ-like, vicarious suffering in Genesis 12.

1 Peter (Literary) Context

Peter ‘s3 overall goal in this letter is to encourage the exiles4 to conduct themselves in reverent fear throughout the time of their exile by remembering and growing in salvation (1 Pet 1:17). The letter highlights two means by which the exiles are to spur on that appropriate behavior: first, by remembering the good news that had been announced to them (1:3-25) and, second, by growing in salvation (2:1-5:11). The exiles should grow in salvation (2:2) because (a) they are chosen and precious in God’s sight though rejected by mortals, as Christ was precious but rejected (2:1-8); (b) they are chosen to proclaim God’...

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