June 9, 2011
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Abraham received instructions from God to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees, and move to the promised land. As part of the covenant God made with Abraham, the LORD later appeared to Abraham, and Sarah, and told them that they would have a child, even though both of them were advanced in years. Jesus specifically said: “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?'” (Genesis 18:12). Sarah called her husband “my lord” (“אדֹנִי”). This word “lord” is often used of God, a respected man, or as a term of honor. In the New Testament, Peter then uses Sarah as an example of the respect a Godly woman shows to her husband, even if he is disobedient to the Word of God.
1 Peter 3:5
Adorning The Hidden Person of the Heart. Peter illustrated the the way that wives should submit to their husbands from the life of Abraham, the father of the Jews. Peter first showed that holy women of old submitted themselves to their own husbands. Notice that “holy” women of old submitted to their husbands. Without God’s power, women cannot submit themselves in holiness. They may be obedient, but they lack the holiness component of this submission. God also emphasized that the holy women of old used to hope in God. In contrast to women without God, the holy women founded their hope upon God, and by implication, not their husbands. While the holy woman may have loved her husband, she hoped in God. Peter made the point that the holy women of old used to adorn themselves with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit. The Holy Spirit did not move Peter to command women to treat their husband consistent with contemporary cultural norms at the time of Christ, but rather He commanded them to follow the example of holy women of old. That timeless quality, and the pattern of spiritual adornment, was just as fitting for Sarah approximately two thousand years before as it was for the women of Peter’s day. This same timeless quality God has always prized, and continues to support today. The imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit improved the spiritual appearance of all women, both in the ancient world and today. Therefore, anyone who argues that this passage does not apply in the world today should consider that Peter wrote about cultures separated by thousands of years, just as we are separated from Peter by two thousand years. True submission, by holy women, centers upon the outworking of the inner and imperishable quality of the hidden person of the heart, and it is timeless.
1 Peter 3:6
Sarah Called Abraham Lord. In our present environment of evil, the world teaches a wife to think of herself as the equal to her husband in every respect. God, however, teaches us how we should live in marriage to please Him. From the standpoint of salvation, men and women stand equal before God (Galatians 3:28). Even so, God has established an order in creation that permeates the functional aspects of marriage. We have seen that God commands women to submit to their own husbands, in just the same way that Christ submits to His Father. Jesus does not become less God by such submission, but rather functions in harmony with God. We see Jesus submitting His will to the Father so that Jesus says the Father’s words and does the Father’s actions. Jesus does not speak, but the Father speaks through Jesus (John 12:49). In the same way, the wife submits to the husband. Peter cited the example of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, as an example of Godly submission. In Genesis 18:12, we read about Abraham and Sarah. You can become the child of Sarah by acting like Sarah. Jesus used this same line of reasoning with the Jews of His day. Jesus told them that if the Jews before Him were truly the children of Abraham, they would do the deeds of Abraham (John 8:39-40). Now the Holy Spirit uses Peter to explain how every wife may be a child of Sarah, by being submissive. He also addresses the concept of fear.
Doing Good without Any Fear. Every wife should do what is right without any fear. The text here provides two possible meanings: (1) the woman should fear no intimidation; or (2) the woman should fear no terror. In both instances, the wife should not live in fear of her husband, or be so terrified of her husband that she cannot imagine submitting to him. Living in submission means that you live in holiness before God, and take all of your orders from God. Please recall that God commanded women to live “in fear” in verse 2, as we have discussed previously. In this case, the wife must not fear (“μὴ φοβούμεναι“) with any terror as she submits to her husband. Instead, she must focus upon doing what is right, literally “good” (“ἀγαθοποιοῦσαι“). Please recall that Jesus said only God was good (“ἀγαθὸς“) (Mark 10:18). Therefore, we see that the holy wife should follow the example of Sarah, and have a reverence for God that causes her to use respect and honor her husband. Must a wife call her husband “lord” today? We all know if a wife did that in public in America today people would think she was nuts. But, in her heart, she should always have that same attitude that was in Sarah, calling her husband lord, as a testimony of her faithfulness to God. The gentle and quiet spirit, an imperishable and timeless quality of holiness, should clothe every Christian wife as she lives daily before God.
So we learn more about spiritual wives today and their role in daily devotions.
● Being a wife in Christ means that you remember the timeless spiritual qualities that God has always promoted in holy wives.
● Being a wife in Christ means that you will be a child of Sarah if you submit yourself to your husband, just as Sarah called her husband Abraham lord, because she submitted herself to the Lord Jesus Christ.
● Being a wife in Christ means that you live “in fear” of your husband, but that “fear” never includes terror or extreme intimidation. Holy wives will focus upon doing what is right, before God.
Application for Today
Sometimes modern culture must give way to ancient examples of holiness. Just as Sarah called her husband “lord,” so also the holy and submissive wife must seek to do good every day towards her husband, by the power of God. God never seeks for the wife to live in terror, or to suffer extreme intimidation, but rather to concentrate on doing good. Wives should always being showing every other member of the family, every day, what holiness inside the wife produces through her gentle and quiet spirit and its timeless virtues. Will you do right today, and live in holiness without fear today?