Wednesday, August 27, 2014

1 Timothy 2:15 commentaries / "shall be saved in childbearing"

2:15Perhaps the best explanation of this difficult verse is this. God promised women a life of fulfillment as mothers in the home, provided they walk with the Lord, rather than as teachers and leaders in the church.
“The meaning of sozo [to save] 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.”[123]
I believe this interpretation has fewer problems than the others. It balances Paul’s argument in this section (vv. 8-15) and stays on the subject rather than switching to a discussion of a subject farther removed from the context. Some of these possible subjects are how women experience eternal salvation, or how they experience physical deliverance when giving birth, or how they experience spiritual deliverance from moral corruption. Some interpreters have even suggested that Paul was alluding to the saving effect of Jesus Christ’s birth.[124] Paul also may have wanted his female readers, who seem to have been under the influence of feministic teaching, to value the privilege of bearing and rearing children.[125]
One significant problem with the view I prefer is this. If this is the true interpretation, can a woman who does not bear children find fulfillment in life? I believe Paul would have responded that certainly a single woman or a married woman who is not a mother can find fulfillment as a woman of God. However usually women find their greatest fulfillment as mothers. Perhaps we underestimate home influence and overestimate pulpit influence (cf. 2 Tim. 1:5). An old saying goes, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” I believe Paul was again assuming a typical situation (cf. vv. 11-12): most women bear children. Even though a woman may not be able to bear physical children she may have spiritual children and so find great fulfillment (cf. 1:2; 5:10-11, 14). Of course every human being—male or female, married or single—finds his or her greatest fulfillment in life through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.[126]: Meaning and Significance,” Trinity Journal 1NS:1 (Spring 1980):62-83; and Jack Buckley, “Paul, Women, and the Church: How fifteen modern interpreters understand five key passages,” Eternity, December 1980, pp. 30-35.
“Paul employed the term ‘childbirth’ as a synecdoche for that part of the woman’s work that describes the whole.”[127]
A synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole or the whole stands for a part.
Paul balanced what women should not do with what they can do. In popular presentations of what the Bible teaches about women’s ministries this balance is frequently absent. After the presentation is over, women often leave feeling that they can do either anything or nothing depending on the presentation. One must be careful to maintain balance in the exposition of this subject, as Paul did.
To summarize, I believe Paul exhorted the males in the “household of God” (i.e., the local church, 3:15) to function as mediators between Jesus Christ, humankind’s mediator with God, and His people. They should do this by praying, teaching, and leading the church. The women should concentrate on facilitating godliness in the church family as well as in their homes by learning, by cultivating good works, and by living godly lives. This is the hierarchical view of the passage. The egalitarian view is that there is nothing in this passage that limits the role of women in the church.[128]: A Test Case,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36:3 (September 1993):343-55, gave reasons he changed from the hierarchical to the egalitarian view.
Women who try to minister in traditionally male roles face difficulty because of psychological factors involving themselves and those to whom they seek to minister.[129]
123  Dillow, p. 126. Cf. Bailey, p. 357.
124  E.g., Knight, pp. 146-48.
125  Towner, The Letters . . ., p. 235; Winter, pp. 109-12.             
126  See Douglas J. Moo, “1 Timothy 2:11-15
127  Lea, p. 102.
128  See Alan Padgett, “Wealthy Women at Ephesus,” Interpretation 41:1 (January 1987):19-31, for this view. Ronald W. Pierce, “Evangelicals and Gender Roles in the 1990s: 1 Tim 2:8-15  
129  See Andrew D. Lester, “Some Observations on the Psychological Effects of Women in Ministry,” Review and Expositor 83:1 (Winter 1986):63-70.

Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (TNTC) by Donald Guthrie,
15. From the particular allusion to Eve, Paul seems to pass to women in general, by declaring that women will be kept safe through childbirth, but the precise meaning of this is difficult to determine.
1. One interpretation is to understand the words as simply an encouragement to women in their natural sphere. This certainly accords well with the Genesis story which pronounces on Eve the doom that in sorrow she shall conceive, adding the assurance of safe delivery if the conditions are observed. It is probable that the duty of child-bearing is emphasized to offset the unnatural abstinence advocated by the false teachers (cf. Jeremias).
2. An early church father, Chrysostom, took the verb in its spiritual sense, but to avoid the manifest absurdity of making the statement suggest that child-bearing is a woman’s means of salvation, as if unmarried or childless women are ipso facto excluded, he understood the word ‘child-bearing’ as equivalent to child-nurture, and supplied ‘children’ as the subject of the verb ‘continue’. But this would make women’s salvation a matter of good works of a particular kind, and it is inconceivable that Paul meant this.
3. Another suggestion is that the words should read as in the rv ‘she shall be saved by means of the child-bearing’ (i.e. the Messiah, see also rsv mg.). For if that were the writer’s intention he could hardly have chosen a more obscure or ambiguous way of saying it. If the birth of the Messiah was intended by the words ‘child-bearing’ it is strange that Paul did not add some further explanation. The Greek article could be generic, referring to child-birth in general, rather than definitive, referring to one particular instance. Nevertheless, if the whole passage is concentrating on Eve, it is possible that there is here an allusion to the promise of Genesis 3:15, to the promise of the one who would crush the serpent’s head. If this were so, it would explain the reference to salvation in this verse. This suggestion is attractive in spite of the obscurity involved.
4. Another proposal is that the words should be taken to mean, ‘she shall be saved, even though she must bear children’, that is to say, she shall be linked with man in salvation, in spite of the penalty of her misdemeanour imposed on her. In that case the statement would be a kind of apology about what has just been said about women (cf. Scott). This view has the advantage of showing Christian women the way in which the original curse on their race is mitigated by Christian salvation, but it imposes an unnatural meaning on the Greek preposition dia (through).
It is difficult to reach a conclusion, but the third suggestion is perhaps faced with less difficulties than the others.
In this verse the verbs change from the singular ‘she shall be saved’ (sōthesetai) to the plural if they continue (meinōsin). niv gets over the difficulty by translating the former as generic and therefore plural (women). This means that the former part of the verse must be interpreted in the light of the latter part. This would make good sense of the verse, but some other interpretations have been given. Some suggest the plural refers to husband and wife (cf. Brox) or that the writer is quoting a separate source (cf. Hanson). But neither is convincing, for Paul is dealing here with the wife not the husband, and the source suggestion seems an act of desperation. It is much more likely that the plural refers to Eve and her successors.
There is a quartet of Christian virtues which women are expected to develop—faith, love, and holiness with propriety. These terms suggest the quality of Christian living expected from women. They imply a continuing state. The preposition en (in) points to the woman’s sphere as being pre-eminently in the fostering of these Christian graces. The inclusion of holiness in the list demonstrates that such a quality is possible in the married state, and gives no support to the view that the celibate life is indispensable for the attainment of holiness as some sections of the church have supposed.4[1]

Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament
Kenneth S. Wuest,
Verse fifteen is most difficult of interpretation. We will look at the expression, “she shall be saved.” The salvation spoken of here is not salvation in the ordinary sense of the word, as when a sinner puts his faith in the Lord Jesus, and is saved from sin and becomes a child of God. The woman spoken of here is a Christian, for Paul speaks of her as continuing in faith and love and holiness. These things could not be said of an unsaved person. The Greek word “to save” (sōzō (σωζω)), has a variety of uses. It is used in the n.t., of the healing of a sick person in the sense that he is saved from illness and from death (Mark 5:34 “made whole,” sōzō (σωζω)). It is used in the sense of being saved from drowning in a shipwreck (Acts 27:20). Paul uses it in relation to being saved from becoming entangled in false teaching (I Tim. 4:16). In our present verse (2:15), the word is used in the sense of being saved from something other than from an unsaved condition. It should be clear, that salvation in the latter sense can only be had through faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus, never by good works, or by anything which the sinner might do. What that something is which child-bearing saves the woman from is made clear by the excellent note in Expositor’s Greek Testament; “The penalty for transgression, so far as woman is concerned, was expressed in the words, ‘I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children’ (Gen 3:16). But just as in the case of man, the world being as it is, the sentence has proved a blessing, so it is in the case of woman. ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’ expresses man’s necessity, duty, privilege, dignity. If the necessity of work be a stumbling block, man can ‘make it a stepping-stone’ (Browning, The Ring and the Book, The Pope, 413). Nay, it is the only stepping-stone available to him. If St. Paul’s argument had led him to emphasize the man’s part in the first transgression, he might have said, ‘He shall be saved in his toil,’ his overcoming the obstacles of nature.
“So St. Paul, taking the common-sense view that childbearing, rather than public teaching or the direction of affairs, is woman’s primary function, duty, privilege, and dignity, reminds Timothy and his readers that there was another aspect of the story in Genesis besides that of the woman’s taking the initiative in transgression: the pains of childbirth were her sentence, yet in undergoing these, she finds her salvation. She shall be saved in her childbearing (r.v. m. nearly). That is her normal and natural duty; and in the discharge of our normal and natural duties we all men and women alike, as far as our individual efforts can contribute to it, ‘work out our own salvation.’ ”
To briefly state the matter, the interpretation is as follows: Just as hard labor is the man’s salvation in a set of circumstances and surroundings that without it, would cause him to deteriorate instead of make progress in character, so the pains of childbirth become the salvation of the woman, and in the same sense and for the same purpose, that of enabling the woman to adjust herself in her circumstances and surroundings so that she too will do the same.
As to the Greek exegesis involved, we submit the following: The words “in childbearing” are the translation of dia tēs teknogonias (δια της τεκνογονιας). The preposition dia (δια) which ordinarily has the force of “by means of” and denotes intermediate agency, Expositors says, “here has hardly an instrumental force; it is rather the dia (δια) of accompanying circumstances, as in I Corinthians 3:15 (yet so as through fire).”
As to the plural pronoun “they,” the same authority says, “The subject of ‘continue’ is usually taken to be women; but inasmuch as St. Paul has been speaking of women in the marriage relation, it seems better to understand the plural of the woman and her husband.”
Translation. For Adam first was molded, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman, having been completely deceived, has fallen into transgression. Yet she shall be saved in her childbearing if they continue in faith and love and holiness accompanied by sobermindedness. [2]

Thru the Bible Commentary    by J. Vernon McGee,
Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety [1 Tim. 2:13–15].
It was the sin of Eve that brought sin into the world. Now every time a woman bears a child, she brings a sinner into the world—that is all she can bring into the world. But Mary brought the Lord Jesus, the Savior into the world. So how are women saved? By childbearing—because Mary brought the Savior into the world. Don’t ever say that woman brought sin into the world, unless you are prepared to add that woman also brought the Savior into the world. My friend, no man provided a Savior: a woman did. However, each individual woman is saved by faith, the same as each man is saved by faith. She is to grow in love and holiness just as a man is.[3]
2:15. This is one of the most difficult verses of the New Testament to interpret. The ambiguous words kept safe through childbirth have given rise to several diverse interpretations: (a) preserved (physically) through the difficult and dangerous process of childbirth; (b) preserved (from insignificance) by means of her role in the family; (c) saved through the ultimate childbirth of Jesus Christ the Savior (an indirect reference to Gen. 3:15); and (d) kept from the corruption of society by being at home raising children. The interpretation of the verse is further clouded by the conditional clause at the end: if they, that is, mothers, continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. Whatever one understands the first part of the verse to be affirming, it is contingent on a woman’s willingness to abide in these four virtues. Hence the second of the preceding options seems most likely. A woman will find her greatest satisfaction and meaning in life, not in seeking the male role, but in fulfilling God’s design for her as wife and mother with all “faith, love, and holiness with propriety” (i.e., self-restraint; cf. 1 Tim. 2:9).[4]

Enduring Word Commentary by David Guzik  
Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
 a. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing: Many people regard this as one of the most difficult passages in the whole Bible. On the surface, it could be taken to mean that if a woman continues in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control, that God will bless her with survival in childbirth - which was no small promise in the ancient world.
i. Yet this interpretation leaves many difficult questions. Is this an absolute promise? What about godly women who have died in childbirth? What about sinful women who have survived childbirth? Doesn't this seem like just a reward for good works, and not according to God's grace and mercy?
b. Saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self control: Some approach this passage saying saved refers to gaining eternal life. Yet this interpretation is even more difficult. Are women saved eternally by giving birth to children - but only if they continue with godly virtues? What about women who can't have children? Are they denied salvation?
c. She will be saved in childbearing: Some say that Paul "Has mostly in mind that child-bearing, not public teaching, is the peculiar function of woman, with a glory and dignity all its own." (Robinson) The idea is that one should let the men teach in church and let the women have the babies.
d. She will be saved in childbearing: A better way to approach this passage is based on the grammar in the original Greek language. In the original, it says she will be saved in the childbirth. This has the sense, "Even though women were deceived, and fell into transgression starting with Eve, women can be saved by the Messiah - whom a woman brought into the world."
i. Probably, the idea here is that even though the "woman race" did something bad in the garden by being deceived and falling into transgression, the "woman race" also did something far greater, in being used by God to bring the saving Messiah into the world.
ii. The summary is this: Don't blame women for the fall of the human race; the Bible doesn't. Instead, thank women for bringing the Messiah to us.
e. Faith, love, and holiness, with self-control: Most of all, we should note these positives. They are all qualities God wants to be evident in women, and that women have effectively nurtured in their children through generations.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Verse 15
Notwithstanding she shall be saved - The promise in this verse is designed to alleviate the apparent severity of the remarks just made about the condition of woman, and of the allusion to the painful facts of her early history. What the apostle had just said would carry the mind back to the period in which woman introduced sin into the world, and by an obvious and easy association, to the sentence which had been passed on her in consequence of her transgression, and to the burden of sorrows which she was doomed to bear. By the remark in this verse, however, Paul shows that it was not his intention to overwhelm her with anguish. He did not design to harrow up her feelings by an unkind allusion to a melancholy fact in her history. It was necessary for him to state, and for her to know, that her place was secondary and subordinate, and he wished this truth ever to be kept in memory among Christians. It was not unkind or improper also to state the reasons for this opinion, and to show that her own history had demonstrated that she was not designed for headship.
But she was not to be regarded as degraded and abandoned. She was not to be overwhelmed by the recollection of what “the mother of all living” had done. There were consolations in her case. There was a special divine interposition which she might look for, evincing tender care on the part of God in those deep sorrows which had come upon her in consequence of her transgression; and instead of being crushed and broken-hearted on account of her condition, she should remember that the everlasting arms of God would sustain her in her condition of sorrow and pain. Paul, then, would speak to her the language of consolation, and while he would have her occupy her proper place, he would have her feel that “God was her Friend.” In regard to the nature of the consolation referred to here, there has been a considerable variety of opinion. Some have held, that by the expression “she shall be saved in child-bearing,” the apostle designs to include all the duties of the maternal relation, meaning that she should be saved through the faithful performance of her duties as a mother.
Robinson, Lexicon. Rosenmuller regards the words rendered “child-bearing” ( τεκνογονία teknogonia), as synonymous with education, and supposes that the meaning is, that a woman, by the proper training of her children, can obtain salvation as well as her husband, and that her appropriate duty is not public teaching, but the training of her family. Wetstein supposes that it means “she shall be saved from the arts of impostors, and from the luxury and vice of the age, if, instead of wandering about, she remains at home, cultivates modesty, is subject to her husband, and engages carefully in the training of her children.” This sense agrees well with the connection. Calvin supposes that the apostle designs to console the woman by the assurance that, if she bears the trials of her condition of sorrow with a proper spirit, abiding in faith and holiness, she will be saved. She is not to regard herself as cut off from the hope of heaven. Doddridge, Macknight, Clarke, and others suppose that it refers to the promise in Genesis 3:15, and means that the woman shall be saved through, or by means of bearing a child, to wit, the Messiah; and that the apostle means to sustain the woman in her sorrows, and in her state of subordination and inferiority, by referring to the honor which has been put upon her by the fact that a woman gave birth to the Messiah. It is supposed also that he means to say that special honor is thus conferred on her over the man, inasmuch as the Messiah had no human father. Doddridge. The objections to this interpretation, however, though it is sustained by most respectable names, seem to me to be insuperable. They are such as these:
(1) The interpretation is too refined and abstruse. It is not that which is obvious. It depends for its point on the fact that the Messiah had no human father, and in the apostle had intended to refer to that, and to build an argument on it it may be doubted whether he would have done it in so obscure a manner. But it may reasonably be questioned whether he would have made that fact a point on which his argument would turn. There would be a species of refinement about such an argument, such as we should not look for in the writings of Paul.
(2) it is not the obvious meaning of the word “child-bearing.” There is nothing in the word which requires that it should have any reference to the birth of the Messiah. The word is of a general character, and properly refers to child-hearing in general.
(3) it is not true that woman would be “saved” merely by having given birth to the Messiah. She will be saved, as man will be, as a consequence of his having been born; but there is no evidence that the mere fact that woman gave birth to him, and that he had no human father, did anything to save Mary herself, or any one else of her sex. If, therefore, the word refers to the “bearing” of the Messiah, or to the fact that he was born, it would be no more proper to say that this was connected with the salvation of woman than that of man. The true meaning, it seems to me, has been suggested by Calvin, and may be seen by the following remarks:
(1) The apostle designed to comfort woman, or to alleviate the sadness of the picture which he had drawn respecting her condition.
(2) he had referred, incidentally, as a proof of the subordinate character of her station, to the first apostasy. This naturally suggested the sentence which was passed on her, and the condition of sorrow to which she was doomed, particularly in child-birth. That was the standing demonstration of her guilt; that the condition in which she suffered most; that the situation in which she was in greatest peril.
(3) Paul assures her, therefore, that though she must thus suffer, yet that she ought not to regard herself in her deep sorrows and dangers, though on account of sin, as necessarily under the divine displeasure, or as excluded from the hope of heaven. The way of salvation was open to her as well as to men, and was to be entered in the same manner. If she had faith and holiness, even in her condition of sorrow brought on by guilt, she might as well hope for eternal life as man. The object of the apostle seems to be to guard against a possible construction which might be put on his words, that he did not regard the woman as in circumstances as favorable for salvation as those of man, or as if he thought that salvation for her was more difficult, or perhaps that she could not be saved at all. The general sentiments of the Jews in regard to the salvation of the female sex, and their exclusion from the religious privileges which men enjoy; the views of the Muslims in reference to the inferiority of the sex; and the prevalent feelings in the pagan world, degrading the sex and making their condition, in regard to salvation, far inferior to that of man, show the propriety of what the apostle here says, and the fitness that he should so guard himself that his language could not possibly be construed so as to give countenance to such a sentiment.
According to the interpretation of the passage here proposed, the apostle does not mean to teach that a Christian female would be certainly saved from death in child-birth - for this would not be true, and the proper construction of the passage does not require us to understand him as affirming this. Religion is not designed to make any immediate and direct change in the laws of our physical being. It does not of itself guard us from the pestilence; it does not arrest the progress of disease; it does not save us from death; and, as a matter of fact, woman, by the highest degree of piety, is not necessarily saved from the perils of that condition to which she has been subjected in consequence of the apostasy. The apostle means to show this - that in all her pain and sorrow; amidst all the evidence of apostasy, and all that reminds her that she was “first” in the transgression, she may look up to God as her Friend and strength, and may hope for acceptance and salvation.
If they continue - If woman continues - it being not uncommon to change the singular form to the plural, especially if the subject spoken of have the character of a noun of multitude. Many have understood this of children, as teaching that if the mother were faithful, so that her children continued in faith, she would be saved. But this is not a necessary or probable interpretation. The apostle says nothing of children, and it is not reasonable to suppose that he would make the prospect of her salvation depend on their being pious. This would be to add a hard condition of salvation, and one nowhere else suggested in the New Testament. The object of the apostle evidently is, to show that woman must continue in the faithful service of God if she would be saved - a doctrine everywhere insisted on in the New Testament in reference to all persons. She must not imitate the example of the mother of mankind, but she must faithfully yield obedience to the laws of God until death.
Faith - Faith in the Redeemer and in divine truth, or a life of fidelity in the service of God.
Charity - Love to all; compare notes on 1 Timothy 2:9. In such a life, woman may look to a world where she will be forever free from all the sadnesses and sorrows of her condition here; where, by unequalled pain, she will be no more reminded of the time when.
- “Her rash hand in evil hour.
Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck‘d, she.
And when before the throne she shall be admitted to full equality with all the redeemed of the Lord. Religion meets all the sadnesses of her condition here; pours consolation into the cup of her many woes; speaks kindly to her in her distresses; utters the language of forgiveness to her heart when crushed with the remembrance of sin - for “she loves much” Luke 7:37-48; and conducts her to immortal glory in that world where all sorrow shall be unknown.

rv Revised Version, 1884.
rsv Revised Standard Version: Old Testament, 1952; New Testament,21971.
niv New International Version, 1973, 1978, 1984.
4 For a careful survey of 1 Tim. 2:8–15 as it affects the role of women, cf. M. J. Evans, Woman in the Bible (Exeter, 1983), pp. 100–107.
[1] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 92–94.
[2] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 1 Ti 2:13.
[3] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy/Titus/Philemon), electronic ed., vol. 50 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 45–46.
[4] A. Duane Litfin, “1 Timothy,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 736.