What Does She Shall Be Saved Through Childbearing Mean?
In 1 Timothy 2:8-15, Paul is discussing the respective roles that God has ordained to both men and women in the spiritual realm. It is best to read the whole context along with verse 15 which states: "Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control."
Does this verse mean that a woman must become a mother and bring forth children in order to go to heaven? From the overall context of Scripture, that interpretation cannot be true for several reasons.
- 1 Corinthians 7:8, 25-40 speaks of the spiritual virtue of remaining single. If a lady is single, then she cannot scripturally have biological children.
- What would happen if a married woman was not able to have children of her own? Does God give an impossible command? Absolutely not!
One plausible answer is that the phrase "saved in childbearing" is a figure of speech known as a synecdoche ("a part for the whole or a whole for the part" ). For example, when we say "Let's eat!" we also automatically include drinking a drink. We do not have to say "Let's eat and drink!" Some state that "childbearing" represents a part for the whole of woman's fulfilling role of wife and motherhood for which God made her best suitable in the home. The woman plays an essential role in the upbringing of godly children. She must continue in faith (trust and obedience to the Divine will of her Father - Hebrews 11:6), love (doing what is best in someone's interest, especially God's interest - John 14:15), holiness (setting apart the home where the Lord can dwell - 1 Peter 1:15,16), and self-control (keeping our desires under a spiritual check-up - Matthew 5:5). Another way to explain it: A Christian woman who assumes her God-given role as a female will ultimately be saved/go to heaven (childbearing is a female-only trait and is another way of referring to the female gender, whether she is single, married, has children or not). To assume one's God-given role is part of "working out your own salvation" and being "faithful unto death" (Philippians 2:12; Revelation 2:10).
Another plausible answer is that the phrase refers to Jesus Christ, the Child that was born to save mankind (Revelation 12:5). First, in the immediate context, the "she" is referring back to Eve. Read again 1 Timothy 2:13-15: "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control." Second, the original language has the definite article - "she will be saved in the childbearing." It is in the singular number indicating that there was a promise given to Eve that she could be saved through the Child - Jesus (Genesis 3:15, Romans 3:24-26, and Hebrews 9:15). Paul then returns to women in general - "they" - who are to fulfill their God-given role - "continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control."
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