Women will be saved by childbearing?

Hello,

This may seem like a very silly question so I apologize in advance. I am a believer but I have been going through a period of strong anxiety. A good deal of this has involved a strong sense of insecurity about whether or not I am actually saved. I have always been taught and have believed that I am saved by grace alone. Now, I’ve come across this verse, 1 Timothy 2:15 - But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty. Please tell me that “saved” here means nothing to do with salvation in the sense of going to heaven. Does anyone know how this should be interpreted?

Thanks in advance,

Annette

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@mysterycheez Not a silly question at all. This is a very hard text to understand. There are a number of interpretations I have heard. I do not know exactly which one is correct, but I know which one is not correct. Women are not saved by having babies :wink: They are saved through the death and resurrection of Jesus, as are all people.

It also does not mean women can only live a fulfilled life through having children and being a mother. Elsewhere, Paul said it is better for both men and women to remain single and devoted to Christ (1 Cor 7).

Here are the interpretations I have heard:

  1. This could be translated “women will be saved through the childbearing ” - the addition of the definite article would point to Jesus. Jesus was ‘the child’ - ‘the seed’ of Eve born to crush the serpent and set mankind free.
  2. Childbearing was a way to keep women in that context from becoming gossips / busybodies & straying away from God. Paul is basically telling the women to fulfill their societal role rather than being idle in the same way he told men not to be lazy but to work with their hands and earn the respect of outsiders.
  3. N. T. Wright takes the view that the point of this passage is that the woman, even though she has to give childbirth underneath the curse, will be ‘kept safe’ through childbirth. In other words, Christ has reversed the effects of the curse. His translation is below.

1 Timothy 2:15 - She will, however, be kept safe through the process of childbirth , if she continues in faith, love and holiness with prudence. –N. T. Wright’s Translation

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Hi Annette!

One thing I like about the Connect community is that there really are no silly questions when they are sincere! I think Sean pointed you in a good direction with his response. There are surely some difficult passages to understand in the New Testament. Thankfully we can rest assured that whatever they mean they cannot contradict the bigger message of the gospel.

Both Mary and Martha appear to be single women (presumably without children) and yet with vibrant relationships with Jesus. Mary in fact is invited to sit at Jesus’ feet as a disciple! And Jesus says this in regard to her, "but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (See Luke 10:38-42)

Martha was also a woman of faith, though she often is chastised for the reaction she had to Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet in the passage above. We see Martha in John 11 make some pretty profound statements about who Jesus is. John 11:20-27 reads: (20) Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. (21) Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. (22) Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (23) Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” (24) Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (25) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, (26) and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (27) She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

I think we all face doubts at some point. It is okay to ask these questions. What good news it is to know that God is for women as well as men! Here is another video that you might find helpful regarding doubt. Blessings to you as you rest in the good news that you belong to Christ!

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Greetings Annette,

A valid question for sure. Only Jesus’ blood and sacrifice can save us. Having a baby is very cool, we have 3- well, they are bigger than babies now. Rest assured, you do not have to have a baby to be saved. Calling on the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins is the correct route. Knowing you have been redeemed in Christ for God’s good purposes is your security. The Lord (Father, Son & Spirit) does not make mistakes with salvation. If you are His disciple, following Him as His child, you are as secure as you could possibly be.

SeanO has explained it above as good as it gets.

Have an excellent day, fellow child-of-God in Christ Jesus.

Ken :canada:

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Hello Sean, Belle, and Ken,

Thank you all so much for your kind and insightful responses. In all honesty, I know that the Bible’s message of salvation by grace through Jesus Christ alone would not suddenly be contradicted by this verse, as though women had a specific extra requirement. Unfortunately, though, I’m going through a very strange time and it’s leading me to think about all kinds of things like this. I have always tended to suffer from anxiety and am going through a very intense period of it at the moment, and these things to do with my faith and salvation are front and center right now.

One silver lining is that I do think it is causing me to come closer to God than I ever have before. I only wish that I could come out of this dark place so that I can go on to serve Him joyfully rather than being incapacitated by fear. I asked Him to increase my love for Him and to reveal Himself more to me and He is doing both. He is also comforting me all the time, as I ask Him, even though I need constant reassurance. He even sent me a song, yesterday. I was at my parents’ farm, sitting outside and reading. And I started to cry and pray that God would reassure me about these fears that I’m having. Then I went inside and my mom had this song that she wanted to show me that my aunt had posted on Facebook:

It is so beautiful and with all the right words.


In any case, thank you so much for the videos and explanations for that verse. They do help, though I tend to feel a little insecure since there doesn’t seem to be a consensus. I guess it is just something I have to accept. I found another explanation and I was wondering what you all might think of it. It is a little long so I understand if you don’t have time to go through it. It starts out by explaining various points of view and finally comes to a possible explanation near the end.


Certainly, just thinking about the passage on my own, I can see that from the context it is not talking about salvation from sins at this point. This is about roles within a worship setting.


Also, Belle, thanks for pointing out that passage about Martha. That helps a lot. I also found other passages with women that were helpful. There was the Samaritan woman at the well:

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:9-14

Also when the woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, He says:

44 Then Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I came into your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss of greeting, but she has been kissing my feet since I came in. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet. 47 I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Luke 7:44-48

Nowhere have I seen Jesus tell a woman she needs to have a baby in order to be forgiven. :grin:

Anyway, thanks again so much for helping me work through this.

Annette

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Greetings Annette,

Anxiety, a crazy experience to weather day-by-day. I first noticed the burden back in childhood. ever since, the weight has kept me from a better potential at each step of life. It produces self doubt, overly concerned stress, lack of confidence. To be honest, the anxiety disorder compliments my O.C.D. Not that either of those personal traits help me much.

I have learned to trust in the Lord more through life, and that most certainly has lifted the weight these conditions are for me. My thoughts get cloudy and concerned about little as though it was something of great importance. I have developed a few self-management tactics over the years. Like noticing when the anxious moments are not real; when it is obviously chemistry gone astray. Breathing deep and becoming calm in prayer. Trying to maintain a steady business about my daily life- keeps me focused easier. I have noticed the experience is internal and few around me can understand it.

Stay the course sister. Walk in the shoes God gave you with your chin held high. You are a daughter of the Lord most high, and He is with you in this by the power invested in Christ Jesus for His glory.

Will pray for your strength in it all.

Ken

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Dear Annette,

I am sorry for this difficulty that you are walking through right now. Many of us have faced, or regularly face anxiety. I think the enemy really does like to kick us when we are down. Sometimes our chemistry is off or we are under loads of pressure, and then he is always quick to rush in with doubts to try and keep us off balance. I have found that focusing on God’s bigger plan helps me. And I have to practice telling myself the truth of the gospel. Ken had some very good advice for you in his last post. You are not alone, dear sister, and it is evident that Jesus is answering your heart prayer even in the midst of this trying time.

I thought the song that you shared above was beautiful. What a wonderful answer to prayer for you!!! I did read through the article that you posted and I have been thinking on it for awhile. Personally I do not find the conclusion satisfying, for it seems inconsistent with how Paul conducted his ministry and life.
So I will do my best to offer you what I see to be the heart of the passage.

Many scholars believe that Timothy was living in Ephesus at the time that Paul wrote this letter to him. The prominent deity in Ephesus at the time was the goddess Diana, also called Artemis. Within the cult of Artemis, women were the primary leaders. As men and women began to come to faith in Christ they came into the church still carrying pagan baggage. There appears to have been a problem in the church. We have to guess to some degree as to what that problem was because we are only getting one side of the conversation. It appears that the women were somehow causing a bit of a stir. Perhaps some of them had come into the church with the expectation that they would slide right into leadership. The problem would then have been that being new to the faith they would have been novices and not in a position to lead the church.

But Paul does not want them excluded from learning. He actually encourages them to “quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.” My understanding is that this idea of “quietly receiving instruction” is not about sitting stone cold and silent, muted as it were, but rather to sit as a pupil in a posture of humility, ready to learn, and not as one who is contentious or disruptive. It is actually a rather positive idea. Paul WANTS the women to be learning. The gospel is not just for men. But these particular women needed to be pupils before they could aspire to being teachers.

In 1 Timothy 2:10 when Paul says, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet,” I think we have to look at what the term “exercise authority” means. My understanding is that it means a dominating power grab. So if that is true, we see that Paul is saying, “Women, I want you to sit as students and learn the tenets of the faith. Don’t bring your former way of life into the church where you are making power grabs and seeking to dominate your brothers. Put off the ways of Artemis and put on the way of Christ.” (That is my understanding, and I am not a Greek scholar, so I am having to read others who are scholars and try to learn from their expertise.)

Next we come to the part of the passage that has been bothersome to you (and honestly to many of us through the ages). Paul has been telling these particular women what it looks like to function within this new life that they have embarked upon. He gives them some background from which to base his instructions.

1 Timothy 2:13-15:
For it was Adam who was first created, then Eve. And not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But will be preserved (or saved) if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

  1. He is reminding this group of people that Eve was deceived and then fell into transgression. (We have often taken this to mean that all women, as daughters of Eve, are lacking in discernment and thereby “sitting ducks” for deception. I think this is a bit vilifying and it is an idea that has been passed down through many religions through the ages. I think it is really sad to make such a sweeping proposition based on gender alone.)

  2. He also previously reminded them that Adam was not deceived. (This was not because Adam was more intelligent or an all around better person. No, he actually walked right into sin with his eyes wide open. Sometimes we assume that men are more intelligent or have a greater capacity to escape deception. I don’t believe this is either logical or true. We are all sinners with the capacity to go our own way, either because of outright rebellion with eyes wide open, or because we fall pray through our own lusts to deception. I don’t think these tendencies to sin are gender specific.)

  3. Paul instructs them that it is important within the body of Christ that the women be educated in the ways of the Lord as surely as the men are, so that they will not be more vulnerable to deception. This is not because they are innately evil, or simple minded, but because they have perhaps been at a disadvantage educationally as was common in the ancient world. And Paul does not want this trend to continue. So he is making space for them to actually learn, but they need to not be contentiously grabbing for power in the learning process. (Did we not see Jesus in like manner make room for Mary of Bethany to sit at His feet as a disciple? This seems to be in keeping with what we see from our Lord Himself!)

  4. Paul goes on to emphasize that the woman of verse 14 will be preserved through the bearing of children, or the childbirth…
    We can so easily miss this point by reading our English translations. The the of verse 15 is the definite article. According to www.grammarly.com the word “the” in English is a definite article meaning that “It limits the meaning of a noun to one particular thing.” I believe this points us to the child-bearing that brought us our Saviour! When you look at verse 15 the translators injected the word “women” to try to make sense of the passage and to cause it to read more smoothly in English. That word is actually an addition and not in the Greek. In other words, Eve, who took that first step into sin will be saved through the subsequent birth of a Saviour as will all who come to know Christ.

  5. Paul then switches to the pronoun “they” saying, “…if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” This is puzzling. At the very least it would be considered poor grammar in English. But Paul isn’t bound by our grammar, and he switches to the plural pronoun, “they”. It seems to me that he is now moving beyond his discussion of Eve’s salvation and is making a point that woman-kind now has this salvation open to them as well (and I believe he does not include men in this thought simply because his purpose in this passage is to speak to the church about women), but he wants the women to exercise that salvation with faith, love, sanctity (holiness) and self-restraint. So he explains the basis for his position of women being offered the opportunity to learn, how the heart of it is rooted in the heart of God for women, and then he reminds the women of how living out this new redemptive life looks in attitude and posture before the Lord and in fellowship with their brothers in Christ. I don’t believe he is excluding women from leadership service in the church, but rather is putting that service in perspective to their Christian maturity and their attitude of submission to Christ and cooperation with their brothers

If we take a minute and turn our gaze once again to the garden of Eden and the fall of mankind, what do we find there?

I want to propose that we find grace beyond measure for both the man and the woman! God has created this couple and given them the directives to be fruitful and multiply in the earth, and to rule over the animal kingdom (Gen.1:28). In Genesis 2:15, He instructs the man (prior to the creation of the woman) to cultivate and keep the garden (i.e. to stand guard over it) He then fashions a woman from the man’s rib to be his ally in setting a watch over the garden (Gen. 2:18, 22-25). The man would have been in a position to inform the woman of God’s command to not eat of the tree in the midst of the garden. Somewhere there was a breakdown that proved fatal for both the man and the woman. They BOTH falied miserably to live up to their calling. The woman was deceived by the serpent and the man followed her knowingly into sin. The woman would henceforth be known for thousands of years as the weak link that unleashed destruction on the world. I think God in His mercy and kindness and with His heart overflowing for His fallen daughter, made His promise to mankind specifically through the woman because He was fully aware of how this whole thing was going to play out. And His heart was and is for both men and women to be saved through His Son. But He purposed to accomplish this specifically through the offspring of the woman, because she is not excluded from His heart or His kingdom. (It reminds me of something I heard Ravi say, that God conquered through the evil of the cross … not in spite of it…but through it!) What a powerful thought!!!

Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman, and between your seed (offspring) and her seed (offspring); He (Jesus) shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.”

What redemptively good news this promise is for both men and women alike. How like Paul, as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, to champion the full inclusion of women into the kingdom life of the church in Ephesus. What a gracious God we have!. May we ever strive to please Him in our interactions with one another in the body of Christ. Carolyn Custis James coined a phrase I rather like. She called the relationship between men and women as God created it, and as the kingdom presents it, “The Blessed Alliance”. I rather like this phrase as it sums up the heart of our Lord for the unity He desires within His church, for brothers and sisters to live together in harmony as we follow our Lord!

So this is my understanding of the passage. It probably has a lot of holes, but this way of reading the passage makes the most sense to me, because it does not compromise the posture that I see the Lord Jesus Christ take with the women He encountered during His sojourn on earth. I hope this proves helpful to you, Annette. I would encourage you to pour over and research Jesus’ interaction with women (even as you have already been doing!). Let that be the foundation upon which you build your theology regarding women. And may the Lord Jesus Christ bless you with His peace as you sit at His feet!

P.S.–Sorry this is so long! I didn’t know how to get to the point of what I was thinking into a more condensed form. Thank you for your patience!

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Dear Ken,

Thank you so much for your response, for telling me about your experience, and for caring about me. I too have O.C.D. It can be outright torture.

Thank you for your advice and telling me about the way you handle it. I guess I know that the things I’ve been going through right now are because of my brain chemistry, but it can be incredibly intense and it’s difficult not to think that the problem is the thing that I am afraid of. It helps a bit to know that there is a specific reason that this is happening. As I said, it seems to be changes in my chemistry because of a medication I was taking that was not right for me. Still, it’s hard because this feels like reality.

2019 was one of the best years of my life, if not the best. At the end of 2018, I had the most romantic proposal from my boyfriend. We got married in April of 2019 and have spent one wonderful year together. In February we were in Chile celebrating our marriage with his family. My whole family was there too, and we traveled around with my husband’s family, Chileans and Canadians in a big group, enjoying each other’s company in spite of the language barrier. It was the best trip of my life getting to know my new family and seeing my husband’s beautiful country.

We squeaked back home just in time before Covid-19 closed the world down. It was a huge contrast, let me tell you. When my panic attacks started, they were only about Covid-19 at first, but over time, I developed more and more fears that consumed more and more of my days. I’m not even thinking about the virus most of the time now. I’m just a hypochondriac in general. It feels like at any moment something could go wrong with my body. My brain even seems to produce physical symptoms that I then react to and panic about.

I can even handle those fears a little bit better as long as I know that Jesus is there loving me, watching me, caring for me, and that He will take me to Heaven in the end. But when I get the fears about my salvation, that is when things get intolerably dark.

I want to get past that fear, take the good things out of this hard time (I have been seeking God a lot more and, I think, finding Him in spite of the continued anxiety), and joyfully serve Him. I’m hoping that I’m starting to recover now, but it’s so hard to know. Sometimes I feel much better, but it can all change in a moment and suddenly I’m in that scary dark place again.

Thank you so much for your prayers. I really need them.

God bless you,

Annette

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Dear Belle,

First of all, there is absolutely no need to apologize for the length of your response! You don’t know how much it means to me that you went to all that time and effort to so thoroughly answer my concern.

Thank you for caring about what I’m going through. It is really hard and I don’t know how much of it is biochemical and how much of it is spiritual warfare. Maybe they go hand in hand. I have been praying a lot and searching, and sometimes I feel like the Holy Spirit is helping me and answering prayers, but then it’s so easy to fall back into my fears and rationalize it away or forget it altogether. Little by little I’m working through this. I have more questions and have been trying to seek answers in the Bible, books, this forum, and through searching online. I will likely post more questions but I hope that later it can be from a place of simply being interested and wanting to grow my faith, not from a panicky fear for my salvation.

I really found it interesting, the things you mentioned about the context of where Timothy might have been living. It certainly puts things into a different perspective. It’s hard not to interpret everything through my 21st century North American context and jump to conclusions.

Thank you for addressing the issue of the translation. That is something I certainly know can be a concern since I am passionate about languages and have taken translation classes. Things can definitely be confused and meanings completely changed in translation.

I also really like what you point out about God making His promise to mankind through the woman. You are right. I am touched and so thankful when I find the places in the Bible where God showed His love for women.

Thank you again, so much, for your thoughtful response. I feel so honored and humbled that you would put so much time and effort into helping me with my struggle.

God bless you,

Annette

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This is the beauty of the Connect community! We each one need each other as we walk this journey together! I am blessed that you are here, Annette!

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Thank you, Belle. God bless you and I wish you a wonderful day!

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The grace of God in Christ Jesus is literally all that I hang on to when the anxiety is swelling up. Honestly, my trust in Jesus for my soul is the one thing I believe in, when everything else appears to be sliding sideways. I think this is because I have come to believe, since I was saved through God’s grace, and He says He will never leave me or forsake me, then I can bank on His promises. It is the one thing that nobody can take from me, including me. He saved me when I didn’t know Him, so how am I going to to change the mind of the unchanging God about saving me? My faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sin is really the only thing I can bank on in my unstable world.

Jesus is my anchor.

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Thank you for the encouragement, Ken. I have been reminding myself of that truth every day. I hope this trouble will pass soon.

God bless you.

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