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 deals with the role of women in worship is 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The broader context of the book is proper behaviour in the life of the church, 1 Timothy 3:15,

‘if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.’

The immediate context of chapter two is worship, specifically prayer, 1 Timothy 2:1,

‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people’

1 Timothy 2:8, ‘Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.’

The context doesn’t limit the worship to the church assembly, but includes the general life of the church. Paul declared that adult males are to lead prayers anywhere people meet for worship.

‘Lifting up holy hands’

is a figure of speech in which a posture of prayer is put in place of prayer itself. Their prayers are to bring out of holy lives.

On the other hand, women are admonished to focus upon appropriate clothing and a submissive attitude. Notice the contrast set up in the passage. Men need to be holy, spiritual leaders in worship, while women need to be modest and unassuming.

‘Quietness’ and ‘submission’ in this passage relate specifically to the exercise of spiritual authority over adult males in the church. The K.J.V. uses the word, ‘Usurp’, in 1 Timothy 2:12 but this isn’t in the original text, the word, ‘authenteo’ should be translated ‘to have authority’, as the N.I.V. has it. Thus, Paul instructed women not to teach nor in any other way to have authority over men in worship.

Why would Paul place such limitations on Christian women? Was his concern prompted by the culture of that day? Was he ‘sexist’?

Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit gave the reason for the limitations, a reason that transcends all culture and all locations. Paul stated that women aren’t to exercise spiritual authority over men because

‘Adam was created before Eve’.

Here, we are given the heart and core of God’s will concerning how men and women are to function and interconnect.

Paul was saying that God’s original design for the human race entailed the creation of the male first as an indication of his responsibility to be the spiritual leader of the home. He was created to function as the head or leader in the home and in the church, that is his functional purpose.

Woman, on the other hand, was specifically designed and created for the purpose of being a subordinate, though certainly not inferior, assistant. God could have created the woman first but He didn’t, He could have created both male and female simultaneously but He didn’t. His action was intended to convey His will with regard to gender as it relates to the interrelationship of man and woman.

This feature of creation 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

‘The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’

It explains why the female is twice stated to have been created as a ‘help meet for him,’ i.e., a helper suitable for the man.

Genesis 2:18 ‘The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’

Genesis 2:20 ‘So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.’

This explains why the Genesis text clearly indicates that, in a unique sense, the woman was created for the man, not vice versa. It explains why God brought the woman ‘to the man’, Genesis 2:22, again, as if she was made ‘for him’, not vice versa. Adam confirmed this understanding by stating,

‘the woman whom You gave to be with me’, Genesis 3:12

It explains why Paul argued on the basis of this very distinction,

‘neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man’, 1 Corinthians 11:9

It further clarifies the implied authority of the man over the women in his act of naming the woman, Genesis 2:23

‘The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man’.

Genesis 3:20 ‘Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.’

The Jews understood this divinely designed order, evinced through the practice of primogeniture, the prominence of the firstborn male. God’s creation of the man first was specifically intended to communicate the authority, submission, order of the human race.

1 Corinthians 11:8 ‘For man did not come from woman, but woman from man.’

Observe that Paul next elaborated upon this principle in 1 Timothy 2:14 by noting an example of what can happen when men and women tamper with God’s original intentions. When Eve took the spiritual initiative above her husband, and Adam failed to take the lead and exercise spiritual authority over his wife, Satan was able to wreak havoc on the home and cause the introduction of sin into the world.

Genesis 3:1-24 ‘Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so, they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so, I hid.’ And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’ The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So, the LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’ To the woman, he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust, you are and to dust you will return.’ Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ So, the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.’

When Paul said, the woman was deceived, he wasn’t suggesting that women are more gullible than men. Rather, when men or women fail to confine themselves to their created function, but instead tamper with, and act in violation of, divinely intended roles, spiritual vulnerability to sin naturally follows.

God’s appraisal of the matter was seen when He confronted the pair. He spoke first to the head of the home, the man, Genesis 3:9,

‘But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’

His following words to Eve reaffirmed 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 ‘To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labour you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’

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 circumvented the divine arrangement of male, female relations.

Paul concluded his instructions by noting how women may be preserved from falling into the same trap of assuming unauthorised authority.

‘She will be saved in childbearing’, 1 Timothy 2:15

‘Childbearing’ is the figure of speech known as synecdoche, in which a part stands for the whole. Thus, Paul was referring to the whole of female responsibility. Women may avoid taking to themselves illicit functions by concentrating on the functions assigned to them by God, tasks undertaken with faith, love, and holiness in sobriety, i.e., self-control.

Some argue that this text applies to husbands and wives, rather than to men and women in general. However, the context of 1 Timothy isn’t the home, but the church, 1 Timothy 3:15

‘if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.’

Nothing in the context would cause one to conclude that Paul was referring only to husbands and wives. Besides, would Paul restrict wives from leadership roles in the church but then permit single women to lead?

So how are women saved through child-bearing?

All kinds of fanciful interpretations of this verse have been put forward but, in all probability, ‘child-bearing’ simply means the woman shall be saved by keeping simply and faithfully to her allotted sphere as wife and mother.

In other words, the word ‘child-bearing’ stands for all that is necessary for a woman to be saved. It is used in reference to her work as a woman in all aspects of life. Childbearing isn’t a part of the conditions for salvation. Paul isn’t saying that she will not be saved if she doesn’t have children. However, it does mean that Christian women must maintain their God-appointed ministry in life in order to be saved.

It is a huge mistake to view the natural capacity of women for being deceived as in any manner whatever a reflection upon womankind. It’s positively her most adorable characteristic. Fully half the marriages on earth would never have been contracted, except for this utterly feminine and absolutely delightful quality of being easily deceived.

There’s no use for anyone to deny this, because women see it clearly enough in their sisters, if not in themselves and every woman who has ever tried to dissuade a love-struck daughter from marrying

‘the son of Ahab’

is painfully and tragically aware of it. But the human race would be bankrupt without such a trait in women, an absence that would take all the romance out of life!



"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

1 Peter 5:7