I’m a bit confused about what this scripture means by saying that “women will be saved through childbearing” does this assume that women who haven’t had children aren’t saved? I know that can’t be right I just can’t think of another interpretation. “But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”  ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬


I will have to say that this is one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament to interpret.  I have seen more than on interpretation and am left uncertain.  A good rule of Bible interpretation is that when one reads a difficult passage, then one should let more clear passages help to interpret the more difficult passage.  Another “rule” of interpretation is that it is helpful to ask what it does NOT mean before asking what it might mean.  Let me apply the second rule.  Actually, you already applied this rule!  It cannot possibly mean that women who do not bear children will go to hell.  This would be an absurd interpretation, given the tone of the New Testament in general.  We are lost because of our sin and we are saved through belief and repentance by the blood of Jesus. There is no conceivable reason that a woman would go to hell simply because she did not have children!  What about a girl who repents and is baptized but dies before marriage?  What about a woman who is unable to conceive.  So, let us reject this interpretation unambiguously.

So, what might this passage mean?  One interpretation is that women will be saved, not by means of childbearing, but through, as in “in spite of” childbirth.  In other words, they will be saved, even though the bearing of children is very painful and dangerous, to the point that so many women die in childbirth.   Supporting this interpretation is the curse on women in Genesis 3:16 in which God told Eve that she would bear children in suffering.

Another possible interpretation is that God is telling women, not that childbearing literally saves them, but that thier continued faithfulness and therefore salvation will be more well-assured if they accept willingly and humbly the submissive role that God assigns to them, including the child-bearing and raising role in families.  After the comment about childbearing, Paul summarizes the entire sectionon women, “If they continue with faith love and holiness with propriety.”  This second interpretation seems most likely to me, as the phrase just quoted seems to be, in a sense a summary and restatement of what had been said in 1 Tim 2:9-15.

I will admit that I simply am not sure of how to interpret this passage.  I assume that for Timothy and for those close to him, the interpretation was more clear cut than it is for us.  Sorry for not having a definite answer for you.

John Oakes

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