How Are Women Saved Through Childbearing?


‘Therefore, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.’ 1 Timothy 2:8-15


This is one of these passages in the New Testament that deal with the role of women in worship is 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The broader context of the book speaks about the proper behaviour in the life of the church, 1 Timothy 3:15, and the immediate context of chapter two speaks about worship, specifically prayer, 1 Timothy 2:1 / 1 Timothy 2:8.

Paul says that adult males are to lead prayers anywhere people meet for worship. ‘The lifting up of holy hands’ is generally accepted as a figure of speech in which a posture of prayer is put in place of prayer itself, and these prayers are to come from a heart of holy living. On the other hand, women are warned to focus on appropriate clothing with a submissive attitude.

There’s a clear contrast in these verses. We have men who need to be ‘holy’, they are the spiritual leaders in worship, while women need to be modest, with good deeds. ‘Quietness’ and ‘submission’ in this passage relate specifically to the exercise of spiritual authority over adult males in the church. The words ‘to assume authority’ is the Greek word, ‘authenteo’ and so, Paul is instructing women not to teach nor in any other way to have authority over men in worship.

Paul says that women are not to exercise spiritual authority over men because ‘Adam was created before Eve’, 1 Timothy 2:13. Paul is saying that God’s original design for the mankind involved the creation of the male first as a sign of his responsibility to be the spiritual leader, the head of the home in the church.

Eve was formed from Adam’s side, Genesis 2:21, to be his helper and so she was equal to him. When sin came into the world, she was to take on a submissive role, Genesis 3:16. God could have easily created the woman first but He didn’t, He could have easily created both male and female at the same time but He didn’t. God’s action was intended to express His will with regard to gender as it relates to the relationship between the man and woman.

This explains why God gave spiritual teaching to Adam before Eve was created, implying that Adam had the created responsibility to teach his wife, Genesis 2:15-17. It also explains why the female is twice stated to have been created as a ‘helper suitable for him,’ Genesis 2:18 / Genesis 2:20.

This also explains why the Genesis account clearly indicates that the woman was created for the man, not vice versa and it also explains why God brought the woman ‘to the man’, Genesis 2:22, as if she was made ‘for him’, not vice versa.

Adam verified this understanding by staying, ‘The woman YOU put here with me, Genesis 3:12. It also explains why Paul argued on the basis of this very distinction in 1 Corinthians 11:9. It further explains the implied authority of the man over the woman in his act of naming the woman, Genesis 2:23 / Genesis 3:20.

Because the Jews demonstrated the importance of the firstborn male, this tells us that they understood God’s will concerning man. God’s creation of the man first was specifically intended to convey the authority, submission, and order of the human race, 1 Corinthians 11:8.

Notice that Paul elaborated upon this principle in 1 Timothy 2:14 by giving an example of what can happen when men and women mess around with God’s original intentions. When Eve took the spiritual lead above her husband, and Adam failed to take the lead and exercise spiritual authority over his wife, the devil was able to create mayhem in the home and cause the introduction of sin into the world, Genesis 3:1-14.

When Paul said, ‘the woman was deceived’, he was not suggesting that women are more gullible than men. He is saying, when men or women do not stick to God’s original plan and take on roles they were never intended to take on in the first place, then this will naturally lead to sin.

God’s judgment of the matter was seen when He confronted the pair, He spoke first to the head of the home, the man, Genesis 3:9. His following words to Eve confirmed the fact that she wasn’t to yield to the inclination to take the lead in spiritual matters. Rather, she was to submit to the rule of her husband, Genesis 3:16.

When God said to Adam, ‘because you listened to your wife’, Genesis 3:17, He was calling attention to the fact that Adam had failed to exercise spiritual leadership and thereby bypassed the divine arrangement of male, and female relations.

‘But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.’ 1 Timothy 2:15

Paul finished his instructions by stating how women may be preserved from falling into the same trap of assuming unauthorised authority, 1 Timothy 2:15. But what does this mean?

Paul is not saying that she will not be saved if she does not have children, everyone knows that childbearing is not a part of the conditions for salvation.

The expression ‘childbearing’ is a figure of speech, known as ‘the synecdoche’, in which the part stands for the whole. Let me give you an example, if I were to say to you, ‘come outside and see me new wheels’, you know I’m not really trying to get you to look at tyres. ‘Wheels’ is the part that stands for the whole car.

Paul uses the term ‘childbearing’ in the same way, ‘childbearing’ represents the whole of the woman’s domestic role, which God placed within her, Titus 2:4-5.

Paul is saying that the woman will be delivered from the tendency of overstepping the divinely ordained order of authority providing certain conditions are met. Women must maintain their God-appointed ministry in life and respects God’s design and order of authority, 1 Corinthians 11:3, in order to be saved. This will happen if she maintains faith, love, and holiness with propriety in her life, 1 Timothy 2:15.

The Scriptures speak of salvation in three ways concerning our own salvation.

1. As Christians we have ‘been saved’, past tense, 2 Timothy 1:9.

2. As Christians we are ‘being saved’, present tense, 1 Corinthians 1:18 and,

3. As Christians we ‘will be saved’, future tense, Romans 5:9-10.

Paul is addressing Christian women who have already been saved but speaking about the woman’s continued salvation.

It is often argued by some that a Christian cannot lose their salvation, but notice that Paul uses the word, ‘if’, which clearly implies terms and conditions. Jesus uses the word ‘if’ in the same manner, when it comes to remaining in Him, John 15:5-10. John uses the word ‘if’ in the same manner, when it comes to confessing our sins, 1 John 1:5-10.

There are many passages which suggest that a person can lose their salvation, 1 Corinthians 10:6-12 / Galatians 5:4 / 2 Peter 2:20-22. Look at what Jesus clearly says, ‘the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.’ Matthew 24:13.

It is important to note that for every positive statement, like this one, there is also an implied ‘opposite’ which would also be just as true, ‘the one who DOESN’T stand firm to the end will NOT be saved’.

‘Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life’ Revelation 2:10