103 Are women saved through childbearing? 1 Timothy 2:15

103 Are women saved through childbearing? 1 Timothy 2:15

In 1 Tim. 2:15 we find one of the most debated statements made by Paul.

What exactly did Paul mean by this statement? How should we understand and apply the essence in our modern situation?

The first problem we encounter is the interpretation of being “saved”. Does the Word say that a woman will be saved for eternity by bearing children? This surely could not be the meaning of this verse. Or should the verse be understood as that she will be kept safe at the time of childbirth, meaning that she would be protected during the process of childbirth?

King James Version (KJV):

 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

New International Version (NIV):

But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

Bible in Basic English (BBE):

But if they go on in faith and love and holy self-control, she will be kept safe at the time of childbirth. 

Weymouth New Testament (WNT):

Yet a woman will be brought safely through childbirth if she and her husband continue to live in faith and love and growing holiness, with habitual self-restraint.

The word for save (sozo) is of course not used only in connection with eternity. Just as in English the same word is used by Luke when he says that the centurion wanted to save Paul when the soldiers were about to kill all the prisoners just before the ship was about to be stranded. (Acts 27:43)

The second question is to determine who should “continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” The form of the Greek word can either be third person singular, or third person plural.

According to the KJV “she” will be saved if “they” continue in holiness. Does this mean that her salvation is dependent on the successful rearing of her children in the ways of the Lord? That they should live out the appropriate requirements? This is how also the BBE could be understood.

The NIV has both words in plural. That could mean that the responsibility lies with the women themselves to portray the Christian demeanour.

The Weymouth – Translation puts the responsibility on husband and wife!

How should we translate this verse in order to ensure that the correct understanding is represented?

Let us look at a few aspects:

  1. In this part of his epistle Paul is giving advice on the conduct of man and woman in different situations. It is not concerned about eternal salvation.
  2. As motivation why Paul does not allow the woman to teach men or take authority over them, he goes back to order God set at the creation. This order had been broken when Adam abdicated his position as leader, following Eve in doing sin. The man is called to take up his position of authority is all circumstances.
  3. But this might give the impression that the woman is left in her fallen state with only the curse of God coming over her at childbirth with no outcome. That is when Paul emphasizes that she will not be abandoned during the hour of childbirth by living out a Christian life. The curse is lifted by and through her relationship with God, and the acceptance of her position towards her husband. One should bear in mind the pains of childbirth at that time before painkillers or proper medical care, sometimes leading to permanent injuries or even death. This makes Paul’s explanation of God’s grace all the more appropriate.

Henry Alford (1863) directs our attention to the fact that Paul uses the same grammatical construction that he also employs in 1 Cor. 3:15: “If a man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” “By fire” is not the means of salvation, but it indicates the circumstances. Equally “childbirth” is not the means of salvation, but the circumstances. Therefore it should rather be understood as that she would be kept safe during childbirth.

Looking again at the context of this verse, it is clear that Paul either refers to the specific situation of man and woman within the church, or their position in the community in general. The possibility of the disruption of the Godly order is a reality in any community, but should be avoided in the newly established Christian communities.

With great care the essence of this verse should be studied and applied to our modern situation, bearing in mind that Paul himself refers to women taking office in the churches in his time!

Translating this verse to achieve that, is a challenge.

God bless,


Your comments at the bottom of this page is welcome, or directly to me at: bibledifferences@gmail.com


About Herman of bibledifferences.net

The reasons for the differences between older Bibles like the King James Version and newer Bibles like the New International Version have fascinated me ever since my studies in Theology at the University of Pretoria in the seventies. I have great respect for scribes through the ages as well as Bible translators, so there must be good reasons for the differences. With more than 5600 Greek manuscripts and more than 19000 manuscripts of ancient translations to our disposal, the original autographs of the New Testament can be established without doubt. I investigate the reasons behind the differences and publish the facts in a post on my blogs www.bibledifferences.net (Afrikaans: www.bybelverskille.wordpress.com) to enable my readers to judge for themselves. Personally I love to make an informed decision based of facts. That is why I endeavor to provide that same privilege to the readers of my blogs. Since 1973 I am married to my dear wife and greatest friend, Leah Page, founder director of Act-Up Support (www.actup.co.za) a prayer ministry for families struggling with drug-, occult- and other dependencies. We are blessed with two daughters and two sons, four grand sons and two grand daughters. God is alive and omnipotent! Glory to His Name! Herman Grobler.
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3 Responses to 103 Are women saved through childbearing? 1 Timothy 2:15

  1. ken says:

    Hi Herman, this was helpful to me to an extent but leaves the question of how is the women saved through childbirth ? is it that the Lord intends that if she and her husband both are obedient in their respective roles that God will save in the sense that he will bless the family unit and preserve the Godly structure.Saving them from grief of future family breakdown in their childrens lives and families. Or is it that God will simply save the womens historical situation out of being the first in the transgression of sin back in the garden and save her from a similar family sitiuation in her own life, because of her obedience to the Godly family structure unit and have the advantages of both being blessed by following the Godly pattern.
    The other side of this was the spiritual implications for the whole of mankind and hence women being party to the blessing of Christ born of a women the blessing of Abraham that all women have a chance at redemption and salvation through the process of the most wonderful birth ever, that of Christ Jesus the saviour.
    It is clear that many Godly women in the past have been obedient to the teaching of Male leadership and headship in the scriptures but yet have died in childbirth and not been saved in the physical sense at all so surely the physical immunity to death in childbirth is not a promise of God in this case, what do you think ?

    • Ken, thank you for stopping by and for this valuable comment.
      I fully agree with what you say. The problem we are confronted with, is that we cannot get a clear and final understanding of exactly what Paul intended us to understand. Both aspects; being saved during the process of childbirth, and the following of Jesus by our children, are addressed by Paul. But the text requires us to interpret the meaning exactly as Paul intended. And that is not easy, and not clear to me. I wish I could provide you with a better answer.
      God bless,
      Pretoria, South Africa.

  2. ken says:

    Thanks Herman, this is how I feel too, I will have to wait on the Lord for the answer in his timing as I have with other answers he has given before.One thing I know is when the whole of the rest of scripture clearly shows that salvation is by grace alone and a gift of God, and not by any works, then this verse is not talking about being Born again in the context of the mother that gives birth to a child.
    I have for many years now also been interested in which Bible version is the best one to be a main default text to use. One preacher when I was younger encouraged the whole congregation of a smalll church we were going to to all read the same Bible version as it made memorizing the text esier, I found this to be true. If I keep hearing the same verse many different ways I tend to never learn the exact words to memory and end up with an indefinite mind map of choices when I attempt to commit it to memory. I chose the King James version as a young married man, specifically to raise my family on and never regretted it, copped much flack over the years though, but always saw such a difference in calrity with it.I am to this day in a church where they use other versions but we still read along out of the King James. We have fouind so many times just how there are omissions and even additions to this text in the other versions. We easily and quickly grasped the few thee’s and thou’s and one or two other slightly difficult and confusing verses, but over all have found this version to be the most direct and accurate to read.I came across and interesting book by Gaile Riplinger that confirmed a lot of what we had already discovered by experince and time with the King James version. I still remember trying to contend with a Jehovas Whitness high school friend using the NIV but it was so difficult as there were so many ambiguous possiblities for the crucial verses for the references of who Jesus was as God in the flesh, he found an alternate possibility for each scripture concerning the Godhead and trinity doctrine. With the King james references it was not so, there were even verses that were missing in the NIV that were in the King James version, that were unequivocable. His only defence against the King James became, it was a corrupt BIble that had it’s roots in Roman Catholicism. This was my first clue, I believe from the Lord that it was the best one for me for refuting error.We read along in other churches and almost laugh sometimes at the difference between the other versions and the old King James.Yet apart from this there are still subjects like the one we just visited that still I am waiting on the Lord for answers for. I guess sometimes it helps to work out what the verse doesn’t mean first based on the knowledge of the rest of the scriptures.
    There is a book that may interest you or that you may already have, I am looking to purchase it. It is called, Things that are different are not the same. sounds odd but the title is in reference to the different versions of scripture and we have found this to be true, some translations you can easily take a totally different way so I believe God wants me to keep looking at this subject and learning, even though I seen to be a very slow learner. I was interested when I saw that you were also interested in the different versions and interpretation, it seems to me there a very few folk who really share the same interest and seem to have made their mind up based on the seminary lecturers opinions and choices or are just plain afraid that the version they choose should not be seen to be outdated in the society they live and that they may be seen as basic, unintellegent and untrendy. I fear it’s too late for me in this regard 52 and already greying and untrendy anyway, and have weathered it so far so it’s not so hard any more but still fascinating.
    Any way thanks for your answer back, really appreciate it and hope and pray that the Lord God will reveal to you more of the treasures of his awesome word and bring clarity to some of these questions we have.
    God bless and keep you in the Faith in Jesus.
    Thanks ,


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