Bearing the Blessed Son of God
December 16, 2018
Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. —1 Timothy 2:15
In a controversial chapter about the role of women in the church, the verse above is one of the most difficult. Paul introduces the subject of childbirth as one distinction between men and women that no one can deny is fundamental. Yet the question remains: what does it mean to be “saved through childbearing”?
Obviously, the verse does not mean that a woman must give birth to be saved, for not all women give birth. There are several other problematic interpretations as well. But one that makes good sense emphasizes that in the original Greek, childbearing has a definite article: Paul refers here to the childbirth. In other words, he is referring to the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s Blessed Son, in Bethlehem.
This interpretation makes sense in connection with Genesis 3:15, which promises that the offspring of the woman will defeat the devil. Jesus accomplished this chiefly by dying on the cross, of course, but he had to be born before he could die, and in this sense, salvation comes through (if not by) his birth.
This interpretation also makes good sense out of the immediate context. 1 Timothy 2:14 ends with the reality of sin. So what could be more natural than for verse 15 to begin with the hope of salvation, in its usual sense of deliverance from sin, and to connect salvation with the surrender of a woman to the plan of God?
Such considerations led John Stott to conclude: “If Mary had not given birth to the Christ-child, there would have been no salvation for anybody. No greater honor has ever been given to a woman than in the calling of Mary to be the mother of the Savior of the world.”2
Thus, 1 Timothy 2 ends with the best consolation of all. It is meant to give hope to women and to everyone because God offers salvation from sin in Jesus Christ.
2 Stott, Guard the Truth, 87-88.
Why do you think God chose to introduce his Blessed Son to the world through the vehicle of human birth?
Let Us Pray
O God of ancient blessing, your servant Mary pondered in her heart the treasured words spoken about her Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Prepare our hearts to receive
his Spirit this Advent season. Amen.
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