on 1-timothy 2 :15
She shalt be saved in child-bearing - Σωθησεται δε δια της τεκνογονιας· She shall be saved through child-bearing - she shall be saved by means, or through the instrumentality, of child-bearing or of bringing forth a child. Amidst the different opinions given of the meaning of this very singular text, that of Dr. Macknight appears to me the most probable, which I shall give in his paraphrase and note.
"However, though Eve was first in the transgression, and brought death on herself, her husband, and all her posterity, the female sex shall be saved (equally with the male) through child-bearing - through bringing forth the Savior, if they live in faith, and love, and chastity, with that sobriety which I have been recommending.
"The word σωθησεται, saved, in this verse refers to ἡ γυνη, the woman, in the foregoing verse, which is certainly Eve. But the apostle did not mean to say that she alone was to be saved through child-bearing, but that all her posterity, whether male or female, are to be saved through the child-bearing of a woman; as is evident from his adding, If they live in faith and love and holiness, with sobriety. For safety in child-bearing does not depend on that condition at all; since many pious women die in child-bearing, while others of a contrary character are preserved. The salvation of the human race, through child-bearing, was intimated in the sentence passed on the serpent, Genesis 3:15 : I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head. Accordingly, the Savior being conceived in the womb of his mother by the power of the Holy Ghost, he is truly the seed of the woman who was to bruise the head of the serpent; and a woman, by bringing him forth, has been the occasion of our salvation." This is the most consistent sense, for in the way in which it is commonly understood it does not apply. There are innumerable instances of women dying in child-bed who have lived in faith and charity and holiness, with sobriety; and equally numerous instances of worthless women, slaves to different kinds of vices, who have not only been saved in child-bearing, but have passed through their travail with comparatively little pain; hence that is not the sense in which we should understand the apostle. Yet it must be a matter of great consolation and support, to all pious women labouring of child, to consider that, by the holy virgin's child-bearing, salvation is provided for them and the whole human race; and that, whether they die or live, though their own child-bearing can contribute nothing to their salvation, yet he who was born of a woman has purchased them and the whole human race by his blood.
If they continue - Εαν μεινωσιν is rightly translated, if they live; for so it signifies in other passages, particularly Philippians 1:25. The change in the number of the verb from the singular to the plural, which is introduced here, was designed by the apostle to show that he does not speak of Eve; nor of any particular woman, but of the whole sex. See Macknight.
Without faith it is impossible to please God, or to be saved; and without love it will be impossible to obey. Faith and Love are essentially necessary to holiness and sobriety; and unless both men and women live in these, they cannot, scripturally, expect to dwell with God for ever. Some foolish women have supposed, from this verse, that the very act of bringing forth children shall entitle them to salvation; and that all who die in childbed infallibly go to glory! Nothing can be more unfounded than this; faith, love, holiness, and sobriety, are as absolutely requisite for the salvation of every daughter of Eve, as they are for the salvation of every son of Adam. Pain and suffering neither purify nor make atonement. On the mercy of God, in Christ, dispensing remission of sins and holiness, both men and women may confidently rely for salvation; but on nothing else. Let her that readeth understand.
On the subject of dress I will conclude in the words of a late writer: "What harm does it do to adorn ourselves with gold, or pearls, or costly array, suppose we can afford it? The first harm it does is, it engenders pride; and, where it is already, increases it. Nothing is more natural than to think ourselves better because we are dressed in better clothes. One of the old heathens was so well apprised of this, that when he had a spite to a poor man, and had a mind to turn his head; he made him a present of a suit of fine clothes.
Eutrapelus cuicunque nocere volebat,
Vestimenta dabat pretiosa.
He could not then but imagine himself to be as much better, as he was finer, than his neighbor; inferring the superior value of his person from the value of his clothes." - Rev. J. Wesley's Sermons.
on 1-timothy 2 :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, Lexicon. Rosenmuller regards the words rendered "child-bearing" (τεκνογονία 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 connection. 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 Genesis 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 honor 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 honor 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 in 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-hearing 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 favorable for salvation as those of man, or as if he thought 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 Muslims in reference to the inferiority of the sex; and the prevalent feelings in the pagan 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, the 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 until death.
Faith - Faith in the Redeemer and in divine truth, or a life of fidelity in the service of God.
Charity - Love to all; compare notes on 1 Corinthians 13.
Holiness - She must be truly righteous.
on 1-timothy 2 :15
2:15 Yet she - That is, women in general, who were all involved with Eve in the sentence pronounced, Gen 3:16. Shall be saved in childbearing - Carried safe through the pain and danger which that sentence entails upon them for the transgression; yea, and finally saved, if they continue in loving faith and holy wisdom.