UNION GROVE CHURCH OF CHRIST, CLEVELAND TN.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR WOMEN TO "BE SAVED IN CHILDBEARING"?

 

Question: "What does the statement ‘she shall be saved in childbearing’ mean in 1 Timothy 2:15? Does this set forth another condition of salvation for women?" The complete text of verses thirteen through fifteen 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." [ "Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control," verse 15, NKJV].

Answer: In these verses the Holy Spirit is not teaching that every woman that bears children will be saved. We remember the apostle Paul’s statement: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" (1 Corinthians 6:9). Any person that continues living in unrighteousness without repentance cannot be saved. That goes for women that bear children, just as it does for all other people.

But does the text of 1 Timothy 2 indicate that a woman that does not bear children will be lost? If so, then every sister in the Christ that dies before bearing children cannot go to heaven. Remember, the only sexual relations which produce children and are God-approved, are those that take place between a man and woman that are married to one another (Hebrews 13:4). Jehovah does not condone women giving birth out of wedlock, nor does He command women to get married (1 Corinthians 7:8). Thus, in 1 Timothy 2:15 He is not saying that women must be married and bear children in order to please Him.

Again, think of a married woman that is simply unable to have children. This may be the case because of some problem in her own physical body, or it may be that her husband is physically not able to produce children. Are we prepared to say that such a wife cannot have the remission of sins and go to heaven because of such a physical inability to bear offspring? Surely not.

What, then, is the meaning of the statement "she shall be saved in childbearing?" Look at the context of 1 Timothy chapters two and three. In this section, among other things the Holy Spirit sets forth the difference in the roles of men and women. He points out the manner in which sisters in the Christ are to properly conduct themselves (2:9-11; 3:11).

At the same time, in these two chapters God shows (either directly or indirectly) that there are some things that He does not allow women to do in the Kingdom. Such items include: 1) Leading prayers when men are present (2:8); 2) Usurping authority over a man (2:12); 3) Serving as a bishop (3:2); and 4) Serving as a deacon (3:12).

What, then, is the role of women? In part it includes bearing children (2:15). Later in the same epistle Paul wrote, "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide ["manage," NKJV] the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" (5:14). The same apostle also wrote, "That they [the "aged women" of verse 3, rdc] may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home ["homemakers," NKJV], good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Titus 2:4,5).

Do you see a common thread that runs in the above-quoted verses? Note again these expressions: "childbearing" (1 Timothy 2:15), "bear children, guide the house" (5:14), "to love their husbands, to love their children … keepers at home" (Titus 2:4,5). All of these instructions deal with God’s general plan for women and their role in the home.

What is it that sisters in the Christ must do in order to please Jehovah? Specifically, our text (1 Timothy 2:15) lists four qualities that they must possess – "continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." What about a brother in the Lord, is it necessary for him to possess the same qualities? Absolutely! Yet there is something that a brother in the Christ cannot do – he cannot fulfill the role of a woman. He cannot conceive in the womb, he cannot carry and bear children, nor can he breast feed his offspring. He can do and be a lot of wonderful things in the home for his children, but he can never be their mama and give them a mother’s unique love.

As we have already stated, bearing children does not guarantee a woman’s salvation, nor does a failure to bear them prevent her from being saved. When the Holy Spirit says that women are "saved in childbearing," He seems to be stating that in general they please God when they fulfill the role that He has given them in the home (as long as they continue serving Him faithfully in other areas of life).

Please consider the following comments of brother Robert R. Taylor, Jr. on the meaning of "she shall be saved in childbearing":

Does verse fifteen teach that childbearing is a condition of salvation? Absolutely not!! Admittedly this is a controversial passage … In my judgment the latter part is the key to understanding the verse. To be saved, women must continue in faith, in charity, in holiness and with sobriety. Faith, love, holiness and sobriety sum up marvelously well her obligations of living for Christ. In other words she shall be saved by living the Christian life. Whether a woman is married or unmarried, she has to obey the gospel and live the Christian life to be saved in heaven. Whether a woman is a mother or is childless, she has to obey the gospel and live the Christian life to be saved. That is true also with every man. No woman in Acts was ever told just to bear children and rear them well and that upon her childbearing and child rearing powers and success, and this alone, she would insure to herself salvation. If these alone were the only stipulations for salvation, then Christ died in vain on Calvary and the gospel is a non-essential, for women were bearing and rearing children thousands of years before the atonement on Golgotha was culminated [Studies In First And Second Timothy, page 38].

Brother Taylor went on to quote the late Guy N. Woods’ comments on this passage:

The change in the number of the pronouns from singular to plural, in the passage is significant and sheds light on the meaning. ‘She (the woman) shall be saved … if THEY (women in general) continue in faith …’ Thus, the meaning would appear to be: Eve, representative of womankind, was deceived in the transgression and because of this her sex bears restrictions in teaching; this, however will not keep women from being saved PROVIDED THEY practice the precepts of faith, love and sobriety, i.e. LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE" [Gospel Advocate, Vol. CXVIII, No. 49, December 2, 1976, p. 774, all emphasis his].

Let us all continue to search the Scriptures (John 5:39).

-- Roger D. Campbell

 

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