Questions From Readers
Why did Paul write regarding a Christian wife: “She will be kept safe through childbearing”?—1 Timothy 2:15.
What does the context of this verse reveal about what Paul meant? Under inspiration he was giving counsel on the role of the Christian woman in the congregation. He wrote: “I desire the women to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive garb, but in the way that befits women professing to reverence God, namely, through good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9, 10) Paul was urging his Christian sisters to be modest, to be balanced in choosing personal adornment, and to be ‘adorned’ with good works.
Next, Paul explained the headship arrangement in the congregation, saying: “I do not permit a woman to teach, or to exercise authority over a man, but to be in silence.” (1 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 11:3) He explains the basis for this arrangement by showing that while Adam was not deceived by Satan, Eve “was thoroughly deceived and came to be in transgression.” How could a Christian woman be protected against Eve’s error? Paul answers: “However, she will be kept safe through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and sanctification along with soundness of mind.” (1 Timothy 2:14, 15) What did Paul mean by these words?
Some translators seem to imply that a woman’s salvation depends on her having children. For example, Today’s English Version says: “A woman will be saved through having children.” However, this interpretation of Paul’s words is not accurate. Many scriptures show that to be saved, a person must come to know Jehovah, believe in Jesus, and exercise faith, demonstrating that faith by works. (John 17:3; Acts 16:30, 31; Romans 10:10; James 2:26) In addition, Paul did not mean that safe childbirth is guaranteed to believing women. Women have come safely through the experience of giving birth whether they were believers or not. And sadly, some have died giving birth, whether they were believers or not.—Genesis 35:16-18.
Paul’s additional counsel regarding women later in this same letter helps us to understand what he meant. He warns of some younger widows who 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.” What was Paul’s advice? He continues: “Therefore I desire the younger widows to marry, to bear children, to manage a household, to give no inducement to the opposer to revile.”—1 Timothy 5:13, 14.
Paul highlights the positive role of women in the family arrangement. Occupied with such activities as ‘bearing children and managing a household,’ a woman who continued “in faith and love and sanctification along with soundness of mind” would not gravitate toward conduct that is not upbuilding. Her spirituality would be preserved, or “kept safe.” (1 Timothy 2:15) Following such a course would help many young women to avoid Satan’s snares.
Paul’s words to Timothy remind all of us, men and women, to be profitably occupied. God’s Word advises all Christians: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons.”—Ephesians 5:15.