By T. Pierce Brown (deceased)
First Timothy 2:13-15 reads, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” This verse contains one of the most difficult expressions of the whole epistle. The question of how a woman can be saved through childbearing has given Bible scholars of all ages a difficult time. Almost all of them have missed one or two very significant points, to which I shall try to call your attention.
Perhaps we can simplify somewhat if we first say what we can be certain it does not mean. There is not the remotest hint in the Bible that bearing a child has any relationship to taking away any sin, or being saved from sin. Since this surely needs no extended proof, our next approach should be to ask, “Since the salvation cannot be related to being saved from sin, from what could anyone be saved by childbearing?”
Our first approach was to look in the Bible at all the words that are translated “saved” or some cognate. We discovered that in the Old Testament there are at least 12, translated by hundreds of different terms, very few of which had anything remotely to do with being saved from sin. They relate to being rescued, helped, released or preserved in some circumstance.
In the New Testament there are at least six different words relating to salvation that are translated in many ways. By far the majority of them have nothing to do with being saved from sin. Why the scholars who discuss the verse under examination in this article did not comment on that obvious fact, we have no idea.
Now, let us examine the context and see if we can discover anything from which woman can be saved, rescued from or helped if she is engaged in childbearing and continues in faith and love with sobriety. The apostle’s subject is that woman should be in subjection to man and must not teach over or exercise authority over the man. This plainly relates, in the context here, to the work and worship of the church.
Eve was tempted to disregard that order which God ordained from the beginning, as verse 13 indicates. Other women have been tempted to do likewise. They shall be saved, rescued, preserved from falling into that same danger if they attend to their primary business of keeping the house, bearing and raising children, and living in faith, love, sanctification and sobriety. It is evident that childbearing alone will not save a woman from trying to exercise improper authority over a man, but if she is engaged in what God decreed is her primary responsibility, and does it in faith and love, the problem will be solved.
Of course, it does no damage to the truth if one understands this to mean that woman will be saved eternally if she fulfills her God given role. The problem with that exegesis is that it implies that being saved eternally in some way depends on childbearing. That is not so, but childbearing does have something to do with her fulfilling her God ordained function as a help, suitable to the husband, and obeying the injunction of the Holy Spirit as he said through Paul, “Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Even if my exegesis does not do justice to what Paul meant, we can still prove by other Scriptures that conclusions are true, for we are saved by the blood of Christ, and if women and all others did as God directed, they would be saved.