Sarah as a Model for Christian Wives (1 Pet 3:5-6) -- By: James R. Slaughter
BSac 153:611 (Jul 96) p. 357
Sarah as a Model for Christian Wives (1 Pet 3:5-6)
[James R. Slaughter is Professor of Christian Education, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.]
[This is article three in a three-part series, “Instructions to Christian Wives in 1 Peter 3:1–6.” For a treatment of the apostle’s direction for husbands see James R. Slaughter, “Peter’s Instructions to Husbands in 1 Peter 3:7, ” in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands, ed. Charles H. Dyer and Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 175–85.]
In 1 Peter 3:1–4 the apostle offered Christian wives instruction on how to relate to their husbands in a Christlike way. He explained that even in difficult situations wives should behave with deference toward their husbands, voluntarily submitting to them. Such submission should be characterized by a sincere, respectful, nonargumentative spirit. These qualities would be attractive to an unbelieving husband, who thus might be led to Christ through the gentleness and beauty of his wife’s character. Behavior that reflects a spirit of deference, rather than a self-assertive, rebellious spirit, displays Christlikeness, and thus serves as an effective witness to unbelieving husbands.
Models of Deference in Godly Wives of the Past
In verses 5–6 Peter offered an example of the behavior he advocated in the preceding verses. His οὕτως γάρ (“for in this way,” v. 5) introduces the reference to godly women of the past who serve as models to Christian women. The lifestyle they are to follow has been exhibited by those who came before them—the holy women of former times (ποτε καὶ αἱ ἅγιαι γυναῖκες). Although Peter mentioned Sarah specifically in verse 6, the plural “women” refers generally to godly women in the Old Testament.1 While Best
BSac 153:611 (Jul 96) p. 358
may be correct in saying the church had not been in existence long enough to furnish examples,2 it seems natural that Old Testament personalities might be familiar models.
Peter already had used the word “holy” (ἅγνος) to challenge his readers to do good: “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (
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