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1 Peter 3:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any terror.
Just as Sarah obeyed Abraham. Sarah was one of the most distinguished of the wives of the patriarchs, and her case is referred to as furnishing one of the best illustrations of the duty to which the apostle refers. Nothing is said, in the brief records of her life, of any passion for outward adorning; much is said of her kindness to her husband and her respect for him. Comp. Gen. 12:5; 18:6.
Calling him Lord. See Gen. 18:12. It was probably inferred from this instance by the apostle, and not without reason, that Sarah habitually used this respectful appellation, acknowledging by it that he was her superior and that he had a right to rule in his own house. The word lord has the elementary idea of ruling, and this is the sense here—that she acknowledged that he had a right to direct the affairs of his household and that it was her duty to be in subjection to him as the head of the family. In what respects this is a duty may be seen by consulting the Notes on Eph. 5:22. Among the Romans, it was quite common for wives to use the appellation lord (dominus) when speaking of their husbands. The same custom also prevailed among the Greeks. See Grotius, in loc. This passage does not prove that the term lord should be the particular appellation by which Christian wives should address their husbands now, but it proves that there should be the same respect and deference which was implied by its use in patriarchal times. The welfare of society, and the happiness of individuals, are not diminished by showing proper respect for all classes of persons in the various relations of life.
And you have become her children. That is, you will be worthy to be regarded as her daughters if you manifest the same spirit that she did. The margin here, as the Greek, is children. The sense is that if they demeaned themselves correctly in the relation of wives, it would be proper to look upon her as their mother and to feel that they were not unworthy to be regarded as her daughters.
If you do what is right without being frightened by any terror. This passage has been variously understood. Some have supposed that this is suggested as an argument to persuade them to do well, from the consideration that by so doing they would be preserved from those alarms and terrors that a contest with superior power might bring with it, and which would prove as injurious to their peace as to their character. Rosenmüller explains it, ‘If ye do well, terrified by no threats of unbelieving husbands, if they should undertake to compel you to deny the Christian faith.’ Doddridge supposes that it means that they were to preserve their peace and fortitude in any time of danger so as not to act out of character through amazement or danger. Calvin, Benson, and Bloomfield understand it as that firmness and intrepidity of character which would be necessary to support their religious independence when united with heathen husbands, meaning that they were not to be deterred from doing their duty by any threats or terrors, either of their unbelieving husbands or of their enemies and persecutors. Dr. Clarke supposes that it means that if they did well, they would live under no dread of being detected in improprieties of life or being found out in their infidelities to their husbands, as those must always be who are unfaithful to their marriage vows. The word rendered amazement (πτόησις) does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means terror, trepidation, fear, and the literal translation of the Greek is, ‘not fearing any fear.’ It seems to me that the following may express the sense of the passage: (1.) There is undoubtedly an allusion to the character of Sarah, and the object of the apostle is to induce them to follow her example. (2.) The thing in Sarah which he would exhort them to imitate was her pure and upright life, her faithful discharge of her duties as a woman fearing God. This she did constantly wherever she was, regardless of the consequences. Among friends and strangers, at home and abroad, she was distinguished for doing well. Such was her character, such her fidelity to her husband and her God, such her firm integrity and benevolence, that she at all times lived to do good and would have done it, unawed by terror, undeterred by threats. To whatever trial her piety was exposed, it bore the trial; and such was her strength of virtue that it was certain her integrity would be firm by whatever consequences she might have been threatened for her adherence to her principles. (3.) They were to imitate her in this and were thus to show that they were worthy to be regarded as her daughters. They were to do well; to be faithful to their husbands; to be firm in their principles; to adhere steadfastly to what was true and good, whatever trials they might pass through, however much they might be threatened with persecution, or however any might attempt to deter them from the performance of their duty. Thus, by a life of Christian fidelity, unawed by fear from any quarter, they would show that they were imbued with the same principles of unbending virtue which characterized the wife of the father of the faithful, and that they were not unworthy to be regarded as her daughters.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews