Saturday, July 14, 2018

She will be saved through childbearing - 1 Timothy 2:15

1 Timothy 2:15
Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.
When we read this verse, even in context, in our own modern settings, we usually find ourselves scratching our heads in confusion. What on earth is Paul getting at about a woman finding salvation in bearing children? Gordon Fee, in his commentary on 1 Timothy, has some illuminating thoughts on this verse; but even his explanation takes a little wrestling. It helps to break it down in little bites. The chart below presents how I read Fee. Then, further down, I quote from Fee's commentary. I hope this method helps.

Fee's Comments, summarized by me
She will be saved through childbearingIf a woman is in transgression (like Eve in vs. 14), that is, if she is living out the Ephesian heresy of attempting to dominate men and to dress immodestly and jeopardizing her salvation, then she should return to a good Christian lifestyle of godliness. Godliness for a woman includes devotion in her marriage and in raising children (contrary to the Ephesian false teaching that promoted abstinence from marriage [1 Timothy 4:3] and, likely, bearing children).
provided they continue in faith and love and holinessThat is, the women (now plural) commit themselves to good works and, in general, good Christian living in all aspects of discipleship beyond the family duties they have been neglecting.
with modesty... which is where Paul began this subtopic (1 Timothy 2:9).

Gordon Fee, Hendrickson, 74-76. (Reprinted as Understanding the Bible Commentary, Baker):
There is a subtle shift here from Eve to the women in Ephesus. The subject of the verb will be saved is in fact the woman in verse 14. Obviously Paul is not talking about Eve's salvation but "the women" in Ephesus; hence the change back to the plural in the middle of verse 15.
  More likely what Paul intends is that woman's salvation, from the transgressions brought about by similar deception and ultimately for eternal life, is to be found in her being a model, godly woman, known for her good works (vs. 10; cf. 1 Timothy 5:11). And her good deeds, according to 1 Timothy 5:11 and 1 Timothy 5:14, include marriage, bearing children (the verb form of this noun), and keeping a good home. The reason for his saying that she will be saved is that it follows directly out of his having said "the woman came to be in transgression."
  But Paul could never leave the matter there, as though salvation itself were attained by this "good deed," so he immediately qualifies, "Provided of course that she is already a truly Christan woman," that is, a woman who continues in faith, love and holiness. This is obviously where her salvation ultimately lies, as is always true with Paul. It is assumed such a woman already has faith, which is activating love and holiness. But the whole context of the letter, and the present argument in particular, has generated this rather unusual way of putting it. Even at the end, however, he has not lost sight of where he began, so he adds, with propriety.

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