On our wonderful trip last weekend to Mackinac Island, my wise brother brought up a question about 1 Tim 2, specifically the last verse, which says
Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety
What do you think Paul was trying to communicate when he said that “she shall be saved in childbearing”?
My reading was that verses 13-15 are referring to Adam and Eve. Paul notes that a woman should neither teach nor usurp authority over man. Why? Adam was formed before Eve. He wasn’t deceived [first], but she was and was “in transgression”. But she (Eve) will be saved via her descendants (ie Christ), if they (Adam and Eve) continue in faith and charity, etc. In other words, woman shouldn’t teach because woman was deceived, and yet it was only through woman’s (Eve->Mary) seed that redemption was to come (Gen 3:15), that Christ would come to smite the serpent, it was through her childbearing that she would be saved.
Here are some of the Church Fathers discussing this
Saint Ambrose: “If the woman was to be the first one to sin, the fact that she was the one destined to bring forth redemption must not be excluded from the operations of divine providence. Although, ‘Adam was not deceived, but the woman, having been deceived, hath come to be in transgression,’ yet woman, we are told, ‘shall be saved through the childbearing,’ in the course of which she generated Christ.”
Saint Chrysostom: “He says that they will have no small reward on account of their children, but exceedingly great because they trained athletes for Christ. By holiness he means a goodly life, modesty, and sobriety…Fathers and others may be benefited by the virtue of their children…Therefore this odes not pertain to any woman, but of the virtuous woman that it is said that she shall receive a great recompense for this also.”
Blessed Theophylact: “Not childbearing alone, but also rearing them up…It is evident that a woman being virtuous is raising her children in virtue. Now if a virgin is being virtuous, doubtless she is being saved…Since the woman has been hindered from teaching, …if she desires to be teaching, let her teach the children. But some say that the childbearing means that of the Theotokos [Mary]. For she gave birth to the Savior, saving, they say, the women.”
If you’re interested in the sources for these quotations, please contact me.
Also, for those who are interested in a more modern perspective, there is also Tom Wright’s popular commentary on the passage.