I bet you have seen this verse pop up in Bible study before.
Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” (1 Tim 2:15 ESV)
Yeah, that’s a fun one to try to explain. Usually it goes something like this. “Well, we don’t really know what Paul means, but he certainly doesn’t mean what it sounds like he’s saying. It’s just one of those difficult verses that we don’t have a good answer for.” Worse than this though, the answer may swerve off course into the promised salvation mentioned in this verse depending more on the faith, love, holiness and self-control of the woman than on the childbearing itself. This is a greater error than if they would simply have said, "I don't know."
While I appreciate it when Bible teachers are honest, admitting they don’t have an answer instead of making one up, I think this is a wonderful verse to investigate and teach exactly what it means. You don’t even need to know Koine Greek to do so. In fact, you just need a particular hermeneutical (interpretive) key. I’ll share exactly what that is in a moment. But first…
What if I told you that Paul means exactly what it sounds like he’s saying? What if I told you that Paul was in fact saying that “she” [Eve] and “they” [all women] are in fact saved through childbearing? What if I told you that it worked like a math problem? Women+childbearing=their salvation. What would you think? Now, what if I told you I’m actually dead serious about this? Because I am. I literally believe, that just as Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:15, women are saved through childbearing.
Why do I believe that? Because I’ve come to realize that no matter how insane, how outlandish, how incredulous the Word of God may sound at times, it is most certainly true. God is faithful. When He says something, it happens. No “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it. We’re notorious for wanting to qualify God’s Words. He’s notorious for overruling our qualifications, and going ahead with exactly what His Word says. Time and time again, He has proved He is faithful and trustworthy.
Now, before you get all upset with me ladies, allow me let you in on a little-known secret. Men are also saved through childbearing. Strange, but true. Before this gets any more confusing or offensive, and before I start getting called a chauvinist pig and misogynist, let me get around to that hermeneutical key I promised to tell you about. It’s very simple. So simple I could ask a room full of little kids in Sunday School to tell me what it was and one of them would be bound to get it right. Truly wonderful the mind of a child is. That’s right, the hermeneutical key is… drumroll please… Jesus! That’s it. So simple. Just Jesus. With Jesus as your hermeneutic (interpretation method) you will easily tackle 99.9% of all difficult Bible passages. And, hey. Even if you go wrong, you can never go wrong with pointing people to Jesus.
“If you want to interpret well and confidently, set Christ before you, for He is the man to whom it all applies, every bit of it.” Thus said the blessed Dr. Martin Luther. Jesus is woven through all the Scriptures. It seems a very simple concept. But it is far more radical than it sounds.
Dr. Rod Rosenbladt writes in his book, Christ Alone,
“This seems obvious to us today. Not many Christians would object if you were to say, ‘I’ll tell you something really radical: the whole Bible is about Jesus Christ!’ Many would yawn as they reply, ‘Tell us something we don’t already know.’ But ironically many evangelical Christians have heated conversations about the most obscure subjects touched on in the Scriptures, treating the Bible as if it were some sort of ‘Encyclopedia of the Universe’ and never seeing Christ at all. If we were to read another book in this way, actively ignoring the major character and the plotline, we would never come to an understanding of that book” (p. 11).
Jesus shows up in all the places we would expect Him to as the “major character” of the Bible, but it goes even further than this. He’s woven into every verse of Scripture. He’s all over the place. He’s even in 1 Timothy 2:15. Have you spotted Him there yet? Go back and read it once more. See if you can find Him. It may help us to see Him through the lens of a reader of the original Koine (biblical) Greek language. See, the Greek uses a special word here that we translate “childbearing.” That word is teknogonias. Every Greek word has something called “number.” That means, it is either singular or plural. In this case, the word teknogonias is not plural, but singular. It is not referring to childbearing at large, but a singular childbearing event through which all women, and men for that matter, will be saved.
This is the time of year in which we observe and celebrate that singular, individual childbearing event which saves women, men, children, and yes, even infants and the unborn. Jesus sanctifies the womb as our brother so that He can save all humanity, from infant to adult. He longs to hold fast to us even before we can conceive of what this means, so He is conceived. He is able to save to the uttermost, even they who are the utter-least.
Ladies and gentlemen, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11). These are the words of the angel to the shepherds who watched their flocks by night. These words are not for them only, but also for you. This is why the angel says to the shepherds “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:4-7).
This is the childbearing through which you are saved, of which Paul refers to, and by which you are made fully certain that our Savior was no mere illusion. He was no apparition which only appeared to be man; He is true man. He truly saved you, not only by His death on a cross and resurrection from the grave, but yes, even by His life, even through conception to birth He was about the business of saving you. This whole endeavor, from a Zygote in the fallopian tube of Mary, to the scar-bearing corpse of a dead man brought back to life, was all part of a desperate rescue mission in which every breath, every heartbeat, every electrical impulse zipping through the nervous system of a fully human God-Man was a labor of love; A desperate, love-sick, rescue mission from heaven to save and restore that which was once lost a long time ago, in a garden far, far away.
My wife and I know the pain of loosing a child. We have had a miscarriage and a second baby was stillborn. We know that pain, but childbearing now saves the child who is otherwise lost in our childbearing. Jesus saves the baby you never knew was there, who came and left with little more than a slightly more painful than usual cramp without explanation. He came to save that child and make him or her a child of God, too.
There is also a pain and "loss" in that which never will be, that which can't be. The inability to have children sometimes leaves an emptiness as great as death. Under the curse of sin, childbearing was not the only thing that fell victim to the Fall. The womb is subject to it as well. Jesus' conception in a virgin's womb is foreshadowed by many barren wombs under the curse of sin. For these also—for wombs that will never bring forth life—the Savior was born. He comes to restore the hope of joy to the world. As the hymn says, He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.
Jesus came to save the baby you never held, the baby you held for too short a time, and the babies, no matter how old they are now and no matter how far away, whom you still desperately wish to hold in your heart. He doesn’t only wish to hold them, though. He never stopped holding fast to them. Because He was borne by a woman, born of a woman, born under the Law to redeem those under the Law, it is so. You and your children are held fast by the holy arm of God.
Someone might wonder, “How can childbearing save anyone, even if it is the childbearing event of which Jesus is the ‘main character’? What about the cross?” Ah, but remember Simeon, who, when he was old and about to depart this world, seeing a 40-day-old infant, took the blessed babe in his arms, and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32, emphasis added). Simeon was quoting from Isaiah, and when he said, “my eyes have seen you salvation,” especially from Isaiah 52:10. It reads, “The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
How great is the Father’s love toward us, that in order to redeem a slave, He would send a Son. Behold your Savior, your Salvation, and how childbearing now saves you. This Christmas, remember that the holy arm of God’s Salvation was first revealed in the flesh of an infant’s clenched fist. O, Come let us adore Him.
Brandon is married to Becky and together they have two daughters and a son. He is co-host of the Christ Hold Fast Cast. Previously, he has served in the armed forces as an infantryman for seven years, from 2001-2008. In 2004, and again in 2007, he was mobilized for overseas deployments to combat zones where he ran force protection and peacekeeping missions, and would tell you he is still learning from those experiences. He has served in children and youth ministry, jail outreach, and as an officer on boards for evangelism and missions. In his spare time Brandon likes to read books about sin, grace, and faith. He also writes for the CHF blog, enjoys thought-provoking movies and shows, and has actually sipped craft beer so good he hopes it's the micro brew they serve in heaven. But his true passion, even if expressed in great weakness, is and always will be sharing the scandalous message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. None of us deserve it, but we are forgiven. This is most certainly true.