Troublesome Topic: The Examples of Sara 1 Peter 3

1 Peter 3:5


For formerly, the holy women used to adorn

Go to footnote number

themselves in this way, trusting in God and being subject to their own husbands,


The holy women of the past would make themselves winsome in the way I have been describing; it included trusting in God to care for their needs and living in respectful deference to their husbands,

1 Peter 3:6


just as SARA obeyed

Go to footnote number

ABRAHAM, calling him “lord,” whose children you have become by doing well and not fearing

Go to footnote number

anything frightening.


in the same way that THE PRINCESS obeyed THE FATHER OF MANY [NATIONS] and continually referred to him as “the one I will follow.” You have become her daughters if you have endured hardship with a good attitude and not been afraid of things that are frightening.


When Did Sara Call Abraham “Lord”?

The only time the narrative of the life of Abraham places this term on the lips of Sara is Gen 18:12. The context is that the Lord God appeared to Abraham and told him that by that time next year “Sarah, your wife, will have a son.” Her response is recorded in verse 12, “Then Sarah laughed within herself saying, ‘after I am worn out and my master is old shall I have this pleasure?’” The way the term “master” is used in the text implies that she was in the habit of showing Abraham respect and following his lead.

What Did The Word Mean And How Was It Used?

The word in this verse that trips people up can be rendered “master, or lord;” it sounds like the Hebrew name Adonai used for God. It was used to show respect on a variety of levels. It could indicate complete respect for someone with complete authority (“master or lord”), or general, common respect for someone worthy of respect but without any direct authority over the person speaking (much like we use the word “sir.”) One could argue that when we say “yes sir,” we are placing ourselves under that person’s authority, but the way the phrase is now used in English is not quite so specific. The point here is that to say she called him “master or lord” sounds extreme to modern Americans, but it does not necessarily mean that he ruled her life as if she were a slave.

Do Christian Wives Today Need To Call Their Husbands “Lord”?

No. It is not about the term used, but about the attitude displayed. Whatever term you use to refer to your husband is acceptable, as long as it is respectful and not demeaning or belittling.

This verse also says that Sara obeyed Abraham. Does that mean the husband can boss his wife around and demand that she do things for him as if she were his servant? No. The idea being communicated by the word “obeyed” is that she followed his lead, she did not try to take the lead position for herself. The Bible also teaches that a husband must treat his wife with love, self-sacrifice (Eph 5:25), and must value her highly (I Peter 3:7).

Was Sara A Good Example Of A Wife That Followed Her Husband?

For the most part her example is positive. The two things that show weakness are not because she dishonored her husband, they show weakness in other areas.

The instances in which Sara did well were:

She accompanied Abram from their homeland to an unknown land far away.

Twice she did as he asked and referred to herself as Abraham’s sister instead of his wife (she was actually his half-sister) because he thought this would keep him from getting killed. It was a lack of faith on his part and therefore wrong, but she followed his request even though it was wrong.

As mentioned above, she seems to have had the habit of referring to him in a respectful manner.

When she was overcome by doubt about her ability to have a child she made a suggestion to her husband; that was all she could do, so she made her suggestion and left it in Abram’s hands.

The instances in which Sara did not do very well were:

She began to doubt that she would ever have a child, so she looked for another way to make things happen. That is when she offered her maidservant, Hagar, to Abram as a second wife. Here she gave in to fear and lacked faith. She did not take over the leadership position because the decision to follow through with that suggestion had to be made by Abram, and he did. Here we see her making a suggestion and we see Abram listening to her. The product of Abram’s relationship with Hagar was the Arab nations. The way she handled her suggestion was not wrong, but her lack of faith was wrong.

After Hagar’s son Ishmael was born, Sarah mistreated Hagar and her son. Here Sarah acted based on insecurity and probably a few other motivators. She was wrong to have done that. However, her example is real because it shows weakness. Her example shows the presence of a struggle.

The next lesson is: Do Not Fear Anything Frightening 1 Peter 3



Once again this is a form of the word “kosmos,” meaning a “harmonious arrangement.” In this context “adorn” fits best.


This is a compound word that comes from “under” and “listen,” hence, “to listen under.” In ancient times the idea of “listen” carried with it the idea of using actions to follow through on what was heard, thus “to obey.”


We get our word “phobia” from this Greek word. It means “to be frightened, alarmed or in awe of.”