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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY - Chapter 2 - Verse 15

pgreek Verse 15. Notwithstanding she shall be saved. The promise in this verse is designed to alleviate the apparent severity of the remarks just made about the condition of woman, and of the allusion to the painful facts of her early history. What the apostle had just said would carry the mind back to the period in which woman introduced sin into the world, and by an obvious and easy association, to the sentence which had been passed on her in consequence of her transgression, and to the burden of sorrows which she was doomed to bear. By the remark in this verse, however, Paul shows that it was not his intention to overwhelm her with anguish. He did not design to harrow up her feelings by an unkind allusion to a melancholy fact in her history. It was necessary for him to state, and for her to know, that her place was secondary and subordinate, and he wished this truth ever to be kept in memory among Christians. It was not unkind or improper, also, to state the reasons for this opinion, and to show that her own history had demonstrated that she was not designed for headship. But she was not to be regarded as degraded and abandoned. She was not to be overwhelmed by the recollection of what "the mother of all living" had done. There were consolations in her case. There was a special Divine interposition which she might look for, evincing tender care on the part of God in those deep sorrows which had come upon her in consequence of her transgression; and instead of being crushed and broken-hearted on account of her condition, she should remember that the everlasting arms of God would sustain her in her condition of sorrow and pain. Paul, then, would speak to her the language of consolation, and while he would have her occupy her proper place, he would have her feel that God was her Friend. In regard to the nature of the consolation referred to here, there has been a considerable variety of opinion. Some have held, that by the expression "she shall be saved in child-bearing," the apostle designs to include all the duties of the maternal relation, meaning that she should be saved through the faithful performance of her duties as a mother. Robinson, Lex. Rosenmuller regards the word rendered "child-bearing" (teknogonia,) as synonymous with education, and supposes that the meaning is, that a woman, by the proper training of her children, can obtain salvation as well as her husband, and that her appropriate duty is not public teaching, but the training of her family. Wetstein supposes that it means, "she shall be saved from the arts of impostors, and from the luxury and vice of the age, if, instead of wandering about, she remains at home, cultivates modesty, is subject to her husband, and engages carefully in the training of her children." This sense agrees well with the connexion. Calvin supposes that the apostle designs to console the woman by the assurance that, if she bears the trials of her condition of sorrow with a proper spirit, abiding in faith and holiness, she will be saved. She is not to regard herself as cut off from the hope of heaven. Doddridge, Macknight, Clarke, and others, suppose that it refers to the promise in Ge 3:15, and means that the woman shall be saved through, or by means of bearing a child, to wit, the Messiah; and that the apostle means to sustain the woman in her sorrows, and in her state of subordination and inferiority, by referring to the honour which has been put upon her by the fact that a woman gave birth to the Messiah. It is supposed also that he means to say that special honour is thus conferred on her over the man, inasmuch as the Messiah had no human father. Doddridge. The objections to this interpretation, however, though it is sustained by most respectable names, seem to me to be insuperable. They are such as these:

(1.) The interpretation is too refined and abstruse. It is not that which is obvious. It depends for its point on the fact that the Messiah had no human father, and if the apostle had intended to refer to that, and to build an argument on it, it may be doubted whether he would have done it in so obscure a manner. But it may reasonably be questioned whether he would have made that fact a point on which his argument would turn. There would be a species of refinement about such an argument, such as we should not look for in the writings of Paul.

(2.) It is not the obvious meaning of the word "child-bearing." There is nothing in the word which requires that it should have any reference to the birth of the Messiah. The word is of a general character, and properly refers to child-bearing in general.

(3.) It is not true that woman would be "saved" merely by having given birth to the Messiah. She will be saved, as man will be, as a consequence of his having been born; but there is no evidence that the mere fact that woman gave birth to him, and that he had no human father, did anything to save Mary herself, or any one else of her sex. If, therefore, the word refers to the "bearing" of the Messiah, or to the fact that he was born, it would be no more proper to say that this was connected with the salvation of woman than that of man. The true meaning, it seems to me, has been suggested By Calvin, and may be seen by the following remarks.

(1.) The apostle designed to comfort woman, or to alleviate the sadness of the picture which he had drawn respecting her condition.

(2.) He had referred, incidentally, as a proof of the subordinate character of her station, to the first apostasy. This naturally suggested the sentence which was passed on her, and the condition of sorrow to which she was doomed, particularly in child-birth. That was the standing demonstration of her guilt; that the condition in which she suffered most; that the situation in which she was in greatest peril.

(3.) Paul assures her, therefore, that though she must thus suffer, yet that she ought not to regard herself in her deep sorrows and dangers, though on account of sin, as necessarily under the Divine displeasure, or as excluded from the hope of heaven. The way of salvation was open to her as well as to men, and was to be entered in the same manner. If she had faith and holiness, even in her condition of sorrow brought on by guilt, she might as well hope for eternal life as man. The object of the apostle seems to be to guard against a possible construction which might be put on his words, that he did not regard the woman as in circumstances as favourable for salvation as those of man, or as if he taught that salvation for her was more difficult, or perhaps that she could not be saved at all. The general sentiments of the Jews in regard to the salvation.of the female sex, and their exclusion from the religious privileges which men enjoy; the views of the Mohammedans in reference to the inferiority of the sex; and the prevalent feelings in the heathen world, degrading the sex, and making their condition, in regard to salvation, far inferior to that of man, show the propriety of what the apostle here says, and the fitness that he should so guard himself that his language could not possibly be construed so as to give countenance to such a sentiment. According to the interpretation of the passage here proposed, tho apostle does not mean to teach that a Christian female would be certainly saved from death in child-birth—for this would not be true, and the proper construction of the passage does not require us to understand him as affirming this. Religion is not designed to make any immediate and direct change in the laws of our physical being. It does not of itself guard us from the pestilence; it does not arrest the progress of disease; it does not save us from death; and, as a matter of fact, woman, by the highest degree of piety, is not necessarily saved from the perils of that condition to which she has been subjected in consequence of the apostasy. The apostle means to show this—that in all her pain and sorrow; amidst all the evidence of apostasy, and all that reminds her that she was "first" in the transgression, she may look up to God as her Friend and Strength, and may hope for acceptance and salvation.

If they continue. If woman continues—it being not uncommon to change the singular form to the plural, especially if the subject spoken of have the character of a noun of multitude. Many have understood this of children, as teaching that if the mother were faithful, so that her children continued in faith, she would be saved. But this is not a necessary or probable interpretation. The apostle says nothing of children, and it is not reasonable to suppose that he would make the prospect of her salvation depend on their being pious. This would be to add a hard condition of salvation, and one nowhere else suggested in the New Testament. The object of the apostle evidently is, to show that woman must continue in the faithful service of God if she would be saved—a doctrine everywhere insisted on in the New Testament in reference to all persons. She must not imitate the example of the mother of mankind, but she must faithfully yield obedience to the laws of God till death.

Faith. Faith in the Redeemer and in Divine truth, or a life of fidelity in the service of God.

Charity. Love to all.

See Barnes "1Co 13".

 

Holiness. She must be truly religious.

With sobriety. All these things must be united with a becoming soberness or seriousness of deportment. See Barnes "1 Ti 2:9".

In such a life, woman may look to a world where she will be for ever free from all the sadnesses and sorrows of her condition here; where, by unequalled pain, she will be no more reminded of the time when

—————"her rash hand in evil hour

Forth reaching to tile fruit, she pluck'd, she ate;"

and when before the throne she shall be admitted to full equality with all the redeemed of the Lord. Religion meets all the sadnesses of her condition here; pours consolation into the cup of her many woes; speaks kindly to her in her distresses; utters the language of forgiveness to her heart when crushed with the remembrance of sin—for "she loves much," Lu 7:37-48; and conducts her to immortal glory in that world where all sorrow shall be unknown.

{*} "in childbearing" "through" {+} "sobriety" "sober mindedness"

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