Questions From Readers
● What did the apostle Paul mean when he wrote, at 1 Timothy 2:15, that women would “be kept safe through childbearing”?—B. G., Chile.
Under inspiration Paul was discussing the proper attitudes and activities for women. One worthwhile and protective function for Christian wives is caring for their children. Paul wrote: “She will be kept safe through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and sanctification along with soundness of mind.”—1 Tim. 2:15.
The Bible translation by R. A. Knox renders this verse 1Ti 2:15 in a way that allows for the idea that childbearing itself will result in eternal salvation for a woman. But that cannot be the thought. Many other texts show that to be saved eternally men and women alike must believe on the Lord Jesus, have accurate knowledge and exercise faith.—Acts 16:30, 31; John 17:3; Rom. 10:10.
Other translations give the impression that this is a promise that God would preserve all his female servants alive through the experience of childbearing. (Moffatt, New American Standard Bible) Yet that had not been so in every case up till then, and it has not been true since then. (Gen. 35:16-18) Believers and nonbelievers have survived childbirth, and believers and nonbelievers have died in childbirth. So it does not mean being kept safe all throughout the course of childbirth. Rather, it means that by means of childbearing and caring for the responsibilities that go with it they will be kept safe, provided they also manifest faith, love and soundness of mind.
As mentioned, Paul was discussing the proper frame of mind and duties for women. In the congregation their attitude should be one of submissiveness, recognizing that they are not to try to exercise authority over adult males. Exemplifying the difficulties that can result when a woman does not recognize her position, the apostle cites Eve’s case. She ran ahead of Adam, was deceived and came to be in transgression.—1 Tim. 2:11-14.
Later in this same letter Paul cautioned Christian women about their activities. Some of the younger widows were “unoccupied, gadding about to the houses; yes, not only unoccupied, but also gossipers and meddlers in other people’s affairs, talking of things they ought not.” These activities could lead to all sorts of trouble, including getting involved in giving advice and making decisions on matters that were properly the responsibilities of husbands or appointed servants in the congregation. How could those younger widows be kept safe from such dangers? Paul said that one way was “to marry, to bear children, to manage a household.”—1 Tim. 5:11-15.
Hence, when he wrote that women would be “kept safe through childbearing,” he meant that they should be occupied with worthwhile activities. By managing a household and giving of themselves in training their children, which are valuable roles for which women have marvelous God-given abilities, they would probably be kept safe and out of the snares that trap untheocratic women. And these duties would nicely complement their activities in God’s service, helping them to “continue in faith and love and sanctification.”
Women who are not married or who do not have children, as well as Christian men, can learn from the principle of this inspired admonition: We all need to be on guard to see that we are profitably occupied. God’s Word advises each of us: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked.”—Eph. 5:15, 16.