1 Timothy 2:15 Can O’Worms

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

My mentor and I are memorizing 1 Timothy 2:9-15 together as we read John MacArthur’s latest book, God’s High Calling For Women. As a result, I’ve had this verse going around and around in my head for several days.

Most women stop and choke after reading verse 12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” We get so hung up on what men tell us we can’t do that we forget to move forward and discover all that we can do.

Based on 1 Timothy 1, we can know that Paul was warning Timothy about false teachers and what they like to do. One of the commentaries I read regarding this letter, and 1 Tim. 2:15 in particular, says that many women in the church were in danger of being led astray by the emerging feminist movement of the day. The culture encouraged women to adorn themselves with gold and jewels, to braid their hair, and to seek positions of authority over men. Is there nothing new under the sun?

In the same way, women today are lured away from their homes and families with the culture’s empty promise of significance, personal fulfillment, and happiness. We are encouraged to sacrifice for the latest fashion trends. This is not how God wants us to live. He always keeps his promises, and if he says, through Paul, that a woman can “be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control,” then I want to know more about that.

I certainly do not think Paul means that women can be saved through childbearing alone. Paul has written elsewhere that if anyone preaches another gospel, then let him be cursed (Galatians 1:8). Women are saved by grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2), same as men. Rather, I think Paul wants women to consider how childbearing is a means that God uses to bring women closer in fellowship with Him and sanctify them. If you’re a mother, then you know what he means, too. John Calvin writes,

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 [birth], 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.

The punishment to which Calvin is referring is the curse God pronounced on women in Genesis 3. Can you imagine how Eve must have felt her first time to have a child? I wonder if she was afraid. I wonder if she thought her first child would be the savior promised in Gen. 3:15? I guess she knew that with each child born she was getting closer to the One who would crush the head of the serpent. Similarly, when we raise our children in the Lord, we know that we are part of God’s plan to work in this world until Jesus returns. Therefore, childbearing is a most important calling.

If you have children, then you are called to be a mother. Do not refuse the call of God. If you are a young woman, I would encourage you to pursue marriage and motherhood for the great spiritual benefit that God promises. If, however, you are blessed to be single, then God will provide you with spiritual children over whom you can agonize til you see Christ born in them. Do not refuse the call of God, Single Women. Be an Amy Carmichael, for instance. She was mother to hundreds of daughters. If you read her biography, A Chance to Die, then you will get a vivid picture of how God used childbearing, though she died a virgin, to sanctify her.

As I considered verse 15, I thought of all the ways that God has used childbearing in my sanctification.

First, everything surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, from the first sight of two pink lines until you hold your little one for the first time, is cause for anxiety. I’ve been a mother for 10 years now. You’d think I wouldn’t be anxious for my children’s lives. You’d be wrong. Nothing has taught me (and is teaching me) to trust God like being a mother.

Second, childbirth hurts. “God, am I going to die?” may have passed through my lips once or four times. It was just another occasion to exercise faith.

Third, nothing works to make me repent of my sin like seeing it manifested in one or all four of my children. An even greater hatred of my sin has grown. As a result, an even greater love for my Savior has grown.

Fourth, the process of disciplining my children has helped me understand and articulate the gospel better. I can see more easily how desperately we stand in need of Jesus from the moment of our first breath.

Fifth, I want to know and obey God’s Word so that I can teach his precepts to my children. From the time God saved me, I’ve loved to read the Bible. But since having children I feel the urgency of knowing and obeying that Word.

Sixth, God has taught me about being a servant. I’m not a very good servant; I’m still growing in this area, but the lessons of laying down self to serve my family is part of my sanctification.

Finally, childbearing has made me look forward to and anticipate Christ’s coming and His renewal of all things.

Maybe you can think of some more that I haven’t considered. Please share in the comments!

8 Comments on “1 Timothy 2:15 Can O’Worms

  1. It's uncanny how some of thoughts that have been swirling around my brain show up here on your blog…Excellent post. I am ashamed of how often I have resented my call to be a mother and pursued something "more."


  2. I can echo your six points on how childbearing has been sanctifying through the two births I was given. The add-ons in my life would come from my experience as an adoptive mom. I more fully understand what it means to take that which is not mine and have it made mine. I have known a sanctification in the exercise of loving someone who has not loved me back. And of seeing how God can take the brokenness that man has caused and bring wholeness through His redemption. The spiritual truth of adoption is very powerful to me as an adoptive mom.Great post. Thank you for the thinking this one has caused.


  3. Wow, Elle, I had not even considered adoption. Thanks so much for adding that to the discussion!


  4. Don't have the brain power to add anything but wanted to say thanks very much for the encouraging post!


  5. Great post. I agree with all your points, and would add something I've thought about while reading this. I wonder if by being saved in childbearing it might mean that by focusing on all those sanctifying elements of bearing and raising children as we continue in faith, love and holiness with self-control, we are saved from being deceived spiritually as Eve was. I say that since the verse prior talks about Eve being deceived and falling into transgression.Perhaps as we submit to our God-given role to raise up children (natural, adopted and/or spiritual children) and as we become more aware of and take very seriously the role model we are in their lives as we train them to fear God and point them to Jesus that we become more aware of our own need to guard our hearts and minds and ground ourselves in His word, and protect ourselves from being deceived. Just a thought.


  6. Excellent thought, Rebekah! You're right, that makes perfect sense in the context of that passage. Thanks for adding that!


  7. Excellent topic, I fully support and I think it should continue to put these messages.


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