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2. Instructions on Worship
1I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; 2for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times; 7whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing. 9In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; 10but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works. 11Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. 12But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. 13For Adam was first formed, then Eve; 14and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: 15but she shall be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.
15 But she shall be saved The weakness of the sex renders women more suspicious and timid, and the preceding statement might greatly terrify and alarm the strongest minds. For these reasons he modifies what he had said by adding a consolation; for the Spirit of God does not accuse or reproach us, in order to triumph over us, when we are covered with shame, but, when we have been cast down, immediately raises us up. It might have the effect (as I have already said) of striking terror into the minds of women, 4545 “C’estoit une chose pour descourager les femmes, et les mettre en desespoir.” — “It was fitted to discourage women, and to reduce them to despair.” when they were informed that the destruction of the whole human race was attributed to them; for what will be this condemnation? Especially when their subjection, as a testimony of the wrath of God, is constantly placed before their eyes. Accordingly, Paul, in order to comfort them and render their condition tolerable, informs them that they continue to enjoy the hope of salvation, though they suffer a temporal punishment. It is proper to observe that the good effect of this consolation is twofold. First, by the hope of salvation held out to them, they are prevented from falling into despair through alarm at the mention of their guilt. Secondly, they become accustomed to endure calmly and patiently the necessity of servitude, so as to submit willingly to their husbands, when they are informed that this kind of obedience is both profitable to themselves and acceptable to God. If this passage be tortured, as Papists are wont to do, to support the righteousness of works, the answer is easy. The Apostle does not argue here about the cause of salvation, and therefore we cannot and must not infer from these words what works deserve; but they only shew in what way God conducts us to salvation, to which he has appointed us through his grace.
Through child-bearing To censorious men it might appear absurd, for an Apostle of Christ not only to exhort women to give attention to the birth of offspring, but to press this work as religious and holy to such an extent as to represent it in the light of the means of procuring salvation. Nay, we even see with what reproaches the conjugal bed has been slandered by hypocrites, who wished to be thought more holy than all other men. But there is no difficulty in replying to these sneers of the ungodly. First, here the Apostle does not speak merely about having children, but about enduring all the distresses, which are manifold and severe, both in the birth and in the rearing of children. Secondly, whatever hypocrites or wise men of the world may think of it, when a woman, considering to what she has been called, submits to the condition which God has assigned to her, and does not refuse to endure the pains, or rather the fearful anguish, of parturition, or anxiety about her offspring, or anything else that belongs to her duty, God values this obedience more highly than if, in some other manner, she made a great display of heroic virtues, while she refused to obey the calling of God. To this must be added, that no consolation could be more appropriate or more efficacious then to shew that the very means (so to speak) of procuring salvation are found in the punishment itself.
If they continue in faith In consequence of the old translation having used the expression, “the birth of children,” it has been commonly thought that this clause refers to the children. But the term used by Paul to denote “child-bearing” is a single word, τεκνογονία, and therefore it must refer to the women. As to the verb being plural, and the noun singular, this involves no difficulty; for an indefinite noun, at least when it denotes a multitude, has the force of a collective noun, and therefore easily admits a change from the singular to the plural number.
Besides, that he might not represent all the virtue of women as included in the duties of marriage, immediately afterwards he adds greater virtues, in which it is proper that godly women should excel, that they may differ from irreligious women. Even “child-bearing” is obedience acceptable to God, only so far as it proceeds from faith and love To these two he adds sanctification, which includes all the purity of life which becomes Christian women. Lastly follows sobriety, which he formerly mentioned, while he was speaking about dress; but now he extends it more widely to the other parts of life.