Saturday, January 25, 2014

Women Will Be Saved Through Childbearing?

So what's going on in 1 Tim. 2:15? Women "will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control"? Really? Is childbearing being viewed as a means of salvation for women, either their own childbearing somehow, or Mary's bearing of the incarnate Son of God? Or should we understand this another way?

Perhaps at times we've made understanding this text more difficult than it need be. I don't think this text is speaking of childbearing as the means of a woman's salvation at all. I think there's a simpler explanation. So I offer my simple exposition. And, as you'll see, I'm taking "through," not as means, but in a local or spatial or experiential sense. As in, for example, I walked through the snow today to get to the mailbox. The snow wasn't the means by which I got to the mailbox, but I did go through it (in time and space, in experience) to get to the mailbox.

Now, in the immediately preceeding context, Paul has called upon Adam and Eve (1 Tim. 2:13-14) to support his point in v. 12. And by mentioning the woman's being deceived and becoming a transgressor, the fall comes into view. Then comes v. 15, the text that's thought to be difficult. But mention of childbearing out to be understood in the context of the fall, for that's what vv. 13–14 call for. And childbearing in Genesis 3, post-fall, comes with a curse, the curse of pain (Gen. 3:16). Undoubtedly there's thus an allusion to the curse of Genesis 3 in the mentioning of childbearing.

So a woman, as a woman (recall men and women are being distinguished here, and Eve is being pointed out as the one who was deceived first), is reminded of the curse with every child born, either her own, or another's. Yet here in 1 Tim. 2:15, Paul asserts that despite the curse of pain in childbearing (she's passing "through" childbearing)—which pain doesn't go away with her conversion to Christ!—she will be saved, upon the condition that she continues to believe and persists in a life of holiness and love in self-control. That is to say, she will be saved if she contiues to trust Christ in the path of obedience, or with an obedient faith, or a faith that works, even as she continues to experience the pain of Eve's fall into sin—as she passes "through" childbearing.

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