|Vol. 13 No. 12 December 2011||
T. Pierce Brown (deceased)
First Timothy 2:13-15 reads, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: but she shall be saved through her childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.” This verse contains one of the most difficult expressions of the whole epistle. The question of how a woman can be saved through childbearing has given Bible scholars of all ages a difficult time. Almost all of them have missed one or two very significant points, to which I shall try to call your attention.
Perhaps we can simplify somewhat if we first say what we can be certain it does not mean. There is not the remotest hint in the Bible that bearing a child has any relationship to taking away any sin, or being saved from sin. Since this surely needs no extended proof, our next approach should be to ask, “Since the salvation cannot be related to being saved from sin, from what could anyone be saved by childbearing?”
Our first approach was to look in the Bible at all the words that are translated “saved” or some cognate. We discovered that in the Old Testament there are at least 12, translated by hundreds of different terms, very few of which had anything remotely to do with being saved from sin. They relate to being rescued, helped, released or preserved in some circumstance.
In the New Testament there are at least six different words relating to salvation that are translated in many ways. By far the majority of them have nothing to do with being saved from sin. Why the scholars who discuss the verse under examination in this article did not comment on that obvious fact, we have no idea.
Now, let us examine the context and see if we can discover anything from which woman can be saved, rescued from or helped if she is engaged in childbearing and continues in faith and love with sobriety. The apostle’s subject is that woman should be in subjection to man and must not teach over or exercise authority over the man. This plainly relates, in the context here, to the work and worship of the church.
Eve was tempted to disregard that order which God ordained from the beginning, as verse 13 indicates. Other women have been tempted to do likewise. They shall be saved, rescued, preserved from falling into that same danger if they attend to their primary business of keeping the house, bearing and raising children, and living in faith, love, sanctification and sobriety. It is evident that childbearing alone will not save a woman from trying to exercise improper authority over a man, but if she is engaged in what God decreed is her primary responsibility, and does it in faith and love, the problem will be solved.
Of course, it does no damage to the truth if one understands this to mean that woman will be saved eternally if she fulfills her God given role. The problem with that exegesis is that it implies that being saved eternally in some way depends on childbearing. That is not so, but childbearing does have something to do with her fulfilling her God ordained function as a help, suitable to the husband, and obeying the injunction of the Holy Spirit as he said through Paul, “Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Even if my exegesis does not do justice to what Paul meant, we can still prove by other Scriptures that conclusions are true, for we are saved by the blood of Christ, and if women and all others did as God directed, they would be saved.
It seems like the older our children get the fewer Christmas gifts they actually want. My oldest actually told me, “I really don’t need anything this year. Being with family is enough for me.” The idea that you do not need a lot of “stuff” to be happy has certainly started rubbing off on them.
However, while their Christmas wish lists are by far much shorter than in years past, the items on those lists tend to be much more expensive. Gone are the days of the $1 Matchbox cars and coloring books or the inexpensive toys that one can pile high under the tree. Instead, their lists include things like digital book readers, music players or other electronic devices that have multiple uses. All of these have a rather large price tag. One could buy a hundred or so matchbox cars for the price of one of these items.
This phenomenon is not new. I remember such as I grew up and graduated from action figures to remote control cars to bikes and then to the motorized variety of bike that costs much more. Ironically, when we are much older, this phenomenon goes into reverse sort of. I cannot remember a single gift that my grandparents requested. If you would ask what they wanted they would say something like, “Just being able to give you all gifts and watch you enjoy them is enough of a gift for us.” They did not want anything. They did not need anything, except to know that their family loved and appreciated them, which we did. Of course, there is no more expensive gift than our love. I mean, what kind of price tag do you put on love?
In many ways this mimics our spiritual journey. As we move from spiritual infancy to established maturity, our faith depends less and less upon externals – the cheap things – and more and more on the intangible, often internal, fruits of spirituality – the attitudes and perspectives that are bought with a lifetime of spiritual endeavors. At the beginning of our journey, we may realize that Christ gave His life as a gift for us, which may compel us to worship and to attend various functions of the church and study the Scriptures. However, as we near that journey’s end, we come to realize that the greatest gift our Lord gave was the ability to give our lives back to Him in a complete and contrite way. It is a short list – one life – but an expensive one nonetheless that extends from the love we have in our hearts for the One Who died for us.
You see, the best gift you can give this year will not come in a package with a bow. It will come from your heart and reflect the image of the Son of God, as you lay down your life for others. You will not find it on the Black Friday shelves or in the digital world of Cyber Monday. Yet, it is always near in the hearts of men who have been touched by a great and loving God.
In this day, give those types of gifts that will give even unto eternity. Give the kinds of gifts that truly mean something. Give your kindness that says you have given your life to Christ. Give your smile that says I have been with the Savior today. Give your joy that says there is something much better beyond this world. Give yourself in service to mankind.