Women Saved through Childbirth?|
1 Timothy 2 passage
Q. What does 1 Timothy 2:15 mean when it says that a woman "will be saved through childbearing - if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control?"
I'm going to turn over this question and answer to my wife.
1. Saved by Childbirth?
First, this passage does not mean that salvation for the woman is different than it is for everyone else. Salvation from God's wrath comes through faith in the atonement and person of Jesus Christ alone.
Romans 10:9 clearly states, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (person of Christ), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
2. Preserved Safely through Childbirth?
Many pastors interpret this passage to mean that women will be preserved through childbearing - that they will come safely through the childbirth experience. But, this isn't a satisfactory interpretation either. The passage in context says this:
"Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man - rather, she is to remain quiet…Yet she will be saved through childbearing - if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control" (1 Tim. 2:11-15, ESV).
Think about it. Does this passage say, "Women shouldn't teach men or have authority over men, but women will get safely through the childbirth experience if they have faith, love, holiness along with self-control?"
No. This interpretation doesn't make sense, either. The idea that women will get safely through childbirth does not relate in any way to the idea that women shouldn't teach or have authority over men.
A third interpretation notes that through a woman the Christ child was born giving added status to female childbearing.
Yet, another interpretation promotes the idea that women gain their true role through raising children.
Still, almost none of these interpretations make much sense.
3. Preserved from a Life of Insignificance
However, the interpretation that makes the most sense to me is given by Joseph Dillow, Th.D. who shows us the various meanings of "salvation" in bible passages when the word doesn't refer to salvation from God's wrath.
Here is what Joseph Dillow says:
The meaning of "sozo" in this passage is once again something like "spiritual health," a full and meaningful life. This fits the context quite well.
Paul has just excluded women from positions of teaching authority in the church (1 Tim. 2:9-14). What then is their primary destiny? They will find life through fulfilling their role as a mother IF they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. A salvation which comes only to mothers who persist in faithful service is not the faith alone salvation taught elsewhere.
For this reason many interpreters agree with Litfin and understand "saved" as being "preserved from insignificance by means of her role in the family." A woman will normally find her fulfillment and meaning in life not by pursuing the male role but by being a wife and mother. But she must follow this vocation with faith and love. (Dillow 2006, 126).
In other words, many women will find meaning and significance in life through motherhood roles - not through challenging or usurping the authoritative role of men.
We may not agree with it, but this interpretation seems to provide the most reasonable alternative.
Let me know what you think…
Dillow, Joseph. 1990. The reign of the servant kings. Hayesville, NC: Schoettle Publishing.
NKJV Study Bible. Large-print. 2007. Nashville, TN: Nelson.
Zondervan KJV Study Bible. Large-print. 2002. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Author Valorie Mays Emilio holds an MA in History from UCLA focusing upon Christian origins, and a Certificate in Persecuted Church Ministries from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. She teaches and writes articles for the women at the Gospel Rescue Mission in Grants Pass, Oregon, where her husband, Ken, serves as Director.