Updated date:

How Women Are Saved—Exploring 1 Timothy 2:15

Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life (available on Amazon).

Series on God's Will for Modern Women

At church (iglesiaconexiones.org), I have been teaching a series on God's will for modern women. Churches are not only for men, but also for women—it makes sense to teach on this topic, especially when women often have questions about what role they should play in their churches and about what the Bible says about women.

1 Timothy 2:15... Paul Said What!

In my previous lesson on 1 Timothy 2, I explained that the Bible teaches churches should have male leaders: male bishops and male deacons (although, as we will see later in another lesson, it is possible that deaconesses were also a legitimate thing). My main point, however, was that Paul did not give this instruction because he thought less of women, but because of theological reasons.

But the last verse in 1 Timothy 2 makes what appears to be a problematic statement about salvation:

"Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (1 Timothy 2:15, KJV)

The problem is that this verse appears to say that women must have faith, love, holiness, self-control, and children in order to be saved—and this would imply that women should not pursue jobs, but stay at home taking care of their children.

Soteriology, The Doctrine of Salvation

It is hard to imagine that Paul would say that for women to be saved—that is, for God to forgive their sins and grant them eternal life with Himself forever—they need to have children (along with faith, holiness, love, and self-control). Why? Because, according to the rest of the Bible, that's not how you get saved. The way to salvation, according to the New Testament, is faith in Jesus Christ.

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10:43, KJV)

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him." (1 John 5:1, KJV)

The Apostle Paul himself explained that no one can be saved by his own good works, or by perfectly keeping God's law:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:4-10, KJV).

From beginning to end, salvation is God's work: salvation is a gift from God, and all we have to do is believe in Jesus Christ. Our good works do not count toward our salvation—instead, they evidence we have received salvation.

Salvation for Women

Consistent with the rest of the New Testament, Paul taught that women are saved in the same way everyone else is saved: by God's grace through our faith in Jesus Christ only.

"Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:21-29, KJV)

What Paul was saying is that no human can fulfill God's law to save himself because the same law has condemned all humanity—and even if there are other laws by which humans try to earn salvation, the only law God regards is his own. It is therefore impossible for human beings to save themselves before God by keeping any kind of moral code or relgious law.

Therefore—whether one is a Jew, a gentile, a slave, a free person, a man, or a woman—one can only be justified (forgiven of sins, made righteous, and given eternal life) by faith in Jesus Christ.

We see, then, that all human beings—including women—are saved by simply trusting (believing) in Jesus Christ (that he is God's Son, died for our sins, came back to life, and is seated at the right hand of God).

The Apostle Peter wrote:

"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." (1 Peter 3:7, KJV)

Does 1 Timothy 2:15 Contradict The Rest of The Bible?

So then, does 1 Timothy 2:15 contradict the rest of the New Testament in regards to how women receive salvation? Not at all! Read the passage once again:

"Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (1 Timothy 2:15, KJV)

A Different Kind of Salvation

What you have to ask yourself when you read the word saved in this passage is saved from what? What will women be saved from through childbearing, continuance in faith, love, holiness, and self-control?

For example, if you were at the beach, and suddenly you heard someone crying, "Save me! Save me!", would you think that someone is asking to be saved from his or her sins, God's wrath, and eternity in Hell—or would you assume that the person is asking to be saved from drowning? Most likely, because of the context where you are, you would think that the person needs to be saved from drowning. Nevertheless, you could still be wrong—maybe the person needs to be saved from a shark!

Similarly, when you look at the word saved in 1 Timothy 2:15, you also need to consider the context and take a careful look at the issue. In 1 Timothy, Paul was not discussing salvation (forgiveness of sins and eternal life); instead, he was giving Timothy instructions on how to run and organize the churches.

Moreover, toward the end in 1 Timothy 2, Paul had argued for male leadership in the church, and he mentioned that the woman (Eve) found herself in the transgression because she was deceived.

"But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (1 Timothy 2:15, KJV)

Back in Genesis 3, Eve was deceived by the serpent, which convinced Eve to disobey the instructions God had given Adam (which Adam surely relayed to her) and trust the serpent's words. In this way, Eve was deceived.

What Paul is saying in 1 Timothy 2:15 is that Christian women will be saved from being deceived and transgressing if they continue in faith, love, holliness, and self-control—and if they dedicate themselves to having children (and, of course, caring for them).

Back to The Real Issue

What Paul appears to mean is that just as the serpent deceived Eve, Satan is trying to deceive women today by convincing them that they should be the leaders of the church and of men. Satan is trying to convince women that God's order doesn't matter—that it is unfair, primitive, and irrelevant—and that they can lead the church just as well (if not better) than men can.

And just as the serpent mixed truth with error (your eyes will be open with you will not die), Satan today is mixing truth with error: you're just as capable as men with God doesn't care about this standard anymore.

Why is Satan doing this? Because that's what Satan does—Satan contradicts God and undermines God's work whenever he can; he likes to mess with God's order all the time: (1) God says we shouldn't worship idols, so humans worship idols; (2) God says men should look like men and women like women, so men dress like women and women dress like men; (3) God says a man should marry a woman and a woman should marry a man, so men start marrying men and women start marrying women; (4) God says that salvation is by grace through faith, so humans start adding works and baptism as requirement for salvation. So now, God's word says the leadership in the church ought to be male—what are churches doing? Many churches are looking for female leaders.

Now, what should women be doing? Well, women have a great honor in life—women get to be mothers: they get to give birth to children, and their babies get really attached to them. Women get to nurture and care for their families like men could never do. Paul's point is not that women should not have careers: Paul's point is that just as God calls some men to be leaders of the churches, God calls many women to be mothers—excellent mothers, godly mothers, loving mothers, and faithful mothers. Let women attend God's call in their lives rather than trying to undermine male leadership in the church.

The Real Issue

The real issue in this matter of church leadership is not whether women make good pastors, whether women have great leadership skills, or whether women are worth as much as men. Women could make excellent pastors! Women can have great leadership skills! Women are worth as much as men! The real issue in the matter of church leadership is what God has willed and what God has said.

Nadab and Abihu died because they offered God a fire He had not instructed them to offer, even though they were priests (Numbers 26:61). The point is that we cannot serve God in whatever way we want to serve Him: we must serve Him in the way He wants to be served. For this reason, because the Bible clearly teaches that the leaders of the church should be male, women must not have authority over the men, otherwise they are transgressing.

© 2020 Marcelo Carcach