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What does it mean that Sarah called Abraham lord (1 Peter 3:6)?

Sarah called Abraham lord

The apostle Peter presents a lengthy teaching about the importance of Christian submission to authority, including submission to rulers and masters (1 Peter 2:13–25) and submission of wives to husbands (1 Peter 3:1–6). Peter draws from “holy women of the past” as models for Christian wives to follow, “like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear” (1 Peter 3:5–6).

Peter maintains that Sarah “obeyed Abraham and called him her lord.” Here, Peter uses the Greek word kyrios, translated as “lord” in English, which is a title of respect for someone in a position of greater authority or stature. Most scholars believe this statement references Genesis 18:12, where Sarah overhears the news that she will become pregnant. By this time, Sarah is well past childbearing age and laughs to herself in disbelief, saying, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Peter highlights that Sarah obeyed Abraham and addressed him with respect. Obedience and respect are two essential elements of submission in a relationship. The Scriptures don’t reveal a whole lot about Sarah’s character as a wife. We know she was loyal to Abraham. When God called him into unknown territory, Sarah willingly followed her husband and embraced his nomadic life (Genesis 11:31; 12:1, 5; 13:1). She trusted God and Abraham in several unsettling, unpleasant, and even dangerous circumstances (Genesis 12:10–15; 20:2–6; 22:3). Thus, Peter concludes that, because Sarah called Abraham “lord,” her general attitude toward him was one of loving, respectful submission.

Submission is a humble, respectful attitude where obedience is granted in a relationship. God requires submission from all people (Psalm 2:9–11; Job 22:21 1 Peter 5:6), but especially from believers (Hebrews 12:9; James 4:7). Because Jesus is our example and He submitted to His heavenly Father (Luke 22:42; John 5:19; 1 Corinthians 15:27–28; Hebrews 5:7–8; Hebrews 10:5–7), we are called to submit to God.

The Bible also teaches believers to submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1–7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13–14; 1 Timothy 2:1–2), coworkers and employers (Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:22–24; Titus 2:9–10; 1 Peter 2:18), fellow believers (1 Corinthians 16:15–16; 1 Peter 5:1–4), elders (Leviticus 19:32; 1 Peter 5:5), church leaders (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13), and to family members in a mutual mindset of submission (Ephesians 5:25–33).

Sarah called Abraham lord in an era when it was not unusual for women to use this title. Today, neither a husband nor a wife would likely be comfortable if such a designation were conferred. Nevertheless, Christian wives can apply the concept as Peter does to encourage a loving, respectful posture of submission toward their husbands. The apostle Paul echoes Peter’s teaching, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. . . . As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22–24, NLT; see also Colossians 3:18).

First Peter 3:6 ends with a proviso: a wife’s submission toward her husband should “not give way to fear.” Fear tactics and intimidation are inappropriate in any relationship, but especially in a marriage. A woman should never be forced or bullied into compliance. For this reason, Peter follows up with this reciprocal instruction to husbands: “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7, NLT; see also Ephesians 5:25, 28–33; Colossians 3:19).

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What does it mean that Sarah called Abraham lord (1 Peter 3:6)?
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This page last updated: March 28, 2024