The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is studying Paul's pastoral Epistles (Letters) to his proteges, Timothy and Titus.
In session 5 we started talking about the women's role in the local church with Paul's admonition about submission. We agreed that submission literally means “to rank under.” and it had nothing to do with value but with authority much like a colonel is higher rank than a private but the private is as valuable as a person as the colonel. God values men and women equally but in any organization, there must be levels of authority.
In this very lively session Paul presents his arguments for male leadership in the church based on creation and the fact that Satan deceived the woman. The woman was deceived but the man did not exercise the authority given to him by God.
There was a very lively discussion of 1 Timothy 2:15 where Paul wrote "But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."
Listen to the audio recording of the session to get the full impact of our discussion
Paul’s Argument Regarding Male Leadership in the Church
Paul gave several arguments to back up this admonition that the Christian men in the church should be the spiritual leaders. The first is an argument from creation.
1 Timothy 2:13 NIV For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
Keep in mind that priority does not mean superiority. Man and woman were both created by God and in God’s image. The issue is only authority which is necessary to have and maintain order.
The second argument has to do with man’s fall into sin. Satan deceived the woman into sinning. The man sinned with his eyes wide open. Because Adam rejected the God-given order, he listened to his wife, disobeyed God, and brought sin and death into the world. The man did not exercise his authority.
I do not think Paul suggested that women are more gullible than men and thus more easily deceived, for experience proves that both men and women are deceived by Satan.
Since the time of Christ, women have played pivotal roles in the growth, ministry, and vitality of the church. Jesus consistently included and valued women as capable equals. Women and men are equal in the eyes of God. In the salvation work of Christ, gender, economic, and racial divides have been superseded. We are equals, as fellow heirs in Jesus Christ. This equality is bolstered through the Holy Spirit’s impartial distribution of spiritual gifts to His children. The Scriptures never speak of withholding certain gifts from any particular group. In fact, Paul teaches the Corinthian “brothers and sisters” that God gives His gifts as He determines. No further distinction is made regarding their allotment.
While Scripture maintains that women and men are equal in nature and gifting, the Bible does delineate particular roles for each gender, especially concerning the church. God has ordained the church’s primary leadership to reside with male elders who meet the qualifications prescribed by Scripture, and we are going to get into that today.
God has set apart women for essential roles in church life. To sum up, God created the church in such a way that it could not function without the contribution of women and men through their biblically prescribed roles.
Godly women do have an important ministry in the local assembly, even though they are not called to be teachers of the Word in a pastoral sense. If all is done “decently and in order,” then God will bless.
1 Timothy 2:15 NIV But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
This verse has been misinterpreted to mean that any woman who bears a child is automatically saved by virtue of the childbearing.
This verse has often been confusing to readers. This is not surprising, since it is often debated among translators. The Greek of this passage does not provide explicit clarity as to what Paul means by these phrases. There are several ways in which this first statement about being "saved through childbearing" can be interpreted, and a few which are clearly not part of Paul's intent here.
First of all, this is clearly not a reference to salvation, in the sense of heaven and hell. Women are not "saved" in that sense by having children, but by Christ, by grace through faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9).
Some readers believe Paul is referring to women being kept safe through the physical process of childbirth. That is, that their love and self-control will keep them alive during the dangerous process of labor and delivery. This is possible, but seems highly unlikely given the context of both this passage and the rest of the New Testament.
Others think Paul might have been referring to women avoiding the dangers of the world by remaining at home to raise children. The idea would be that a woman who focuses on godly behavior in the home, as a mother, is "preserved" from the kind of deception and failure Eve experienced. This, again, is possible, but also seems unlikely.
A more likely interpretation is that Paul is, in this first phrase, still referring to Eve when he mentions "salvation." Paul has just referenced the Old Testament account of Adam and Eve. Adam was formed first, then Eve. Eve was then deceived by the Devil (1 Timothy 2:14). Yet, according to this view of Paul's words, Eve can continue her legacy through her generations of children (Genesis 3:16; 4:1–3). The term sōthēsetai, often translated as "save," can also mean "to preserve, to keep safe."
By this account, then, women are not "saved" through children in the spiritual sense, but rather leave a legacy or are preserved through bearing children. The same is true of Eve, who had an opportunity to leave a legacy despite her sin. The salvation in this case is that of heritage: women who lead godly lives and raise children are blessed with a special kind of "preservation" in the future.
According to Paul, this legacy is not automatic, but conditional. Women not only have influence through their children; they also must live godly lives.
Bible Study Audio