This past Sunday’s challenging message on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 was particularly difficult for a variety of reasons, but I thank you all for your grace and excellent comments after the service.
*Please feel free to post a response to this, and all Sunday Leftovers at the website.*
I trust it was clear that all women are strategically important in many ways for the life, preservation, health and effectiveness of the local church; particularly at RVC. I was delighted to hear a woman say afterward that she feels she is always welcome to use her gifts at RVC to advance the Gospel. Praise God!
One young woman was grateful for the key distinction between how the church should “behave” compared to how the world operates. And let me say here, which I did not on Sunday, unfortunately, that when men who claim to follow Jesus are chauvinistic either inside the church or outside the church, Christ’s glory is diminished, for all are the same in God’s eyes.
Most of the feedback I received pertained to my fourth point that sought to understand verse 15, which reads, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”
Some suggest that this may refer to the birth of Jesus because in the original Greek, the word “the” is present, but usually not translated in English versions as is the case with the ESV I quote above. Furthermore, the context of verses 13-14 is clearly referring to Genesis. The idea is that she (Eve) will be saved as a result of being the ancestral mother of Jesus who comes to provide salvation.
However, the presence of the Greek definite article does not necessitate translating “the” as it is often implied. Furthermore, such an interpretation does not seem to explain how each woman is “saved” through the function of childbirth, which seems to apply to all women, not just Eve.
Let me clear that I do not think a woman’s salvation is somehow based on whether or not she has children. Salvation is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), to the praise of God. The Greek word for saved can be used in other ways such as “preserved” “protected”, etc. In fact, the NASB translates “preserved” rather than “saved”, and I think that is a superior translation.
To me, the key issue is the change from singular to plural, as I have underlined in the text; from “she” to “they”. What is Paul trying to say?
I think the “she” refers to the generic “woman” (singular) of verses 11 and 12. If that’s the case, Paul is suggesting that even though the category of woman should not exercise authority over a man in church, only a woman can bear children.
Thus, woman is critical to God’s salvation plan since some of those children will trust in Jesus thereby saving the human race of which “women” are included; hence the reference to “they” in verse 15. And the “they” in verse 15 can refer to both men and women, so, all of humanity.
So, the category of male is called to exercise authority in the church; to teach and preach the Gospel (though women do that as well, but not in the context of exercising authority over a man). And the category of female is equipped to bear children, some of who will be saved and thereby save the human race.
Both preaching the Gospel and producing humans who will then respond to the Gospel are necessary for the salvation plan to unfold.
But again, commentators are stumped on this. This is always a good time to read Deuteronomy 29:29 and accept that we simply cannot know God’s motivation or plan all the time.
Joining you in submitting to God’s plan, even when it is difficult;
Rescued by Christ,