What Does “Saved In Childbearing” Mean?

I Timothy 2:11-12,15 reads “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. … Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

What does the text mean when it says she (the woman) shall be “saved in childbearing”?

First of all “the/a woman” in verses 11 and 12 does not refer to a particular woman but to the general class of women (like the term “the black bear” in “the black bear is indigenous to the Smoky Mountains”). This is verified when verse 15 uses a plural pronoun “they” to refer back to its antecedent “she.” “They” (being plural) would refer back to a group of women, not just one single woman. So “she” in verse 15 refers to women in general, not to any specific woman.

Next, the word “saved” here would refer to the spiritual salvation of the woman as it is contingent upon her living in faith, charity, and holiness. These qualities are certainly conditions of spiritual salvation, but not necessarily linked to physical salvation of any kind. For example, a person can be tortured to death for their faith even if they have all these qualities.

So how is a woman’s spiritual salvation linked to childbearing? It certainly isn’t because a woman has to give birth to a child to be saved; passages like I Corinthians 7:8-9 reveal that a woman can be saved just fine, even without ever getting married. No, the answer is that “childbearing,” a typical function of the woman not the man, is being used as a synecdoche (a part) standing for the whole role of the woman. The context bears that out as verses 11-14 detail a central function of the woman’s role – submission to man (and the reason for that).

“Notwithstanding” which begins verse 15 in the KJV is a key word connecting back to what was just said. So the point of the text is simply this: a woman must take a submissive role to man, “notwithstanding” (even so), she can still be saved in heaven anyway, but only if she lives the same way any other Christian has to live to be saved – continuing in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

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