Ascertaining Women’s God-Ordained Roles: An Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:15 -- By: Andreas J. Köstenberger

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 07:1 (NA 1997)
Article: Ascertaining Women’s God-Ordained Roles: An Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:15
Author: Andreas J. Köstenberger

Ascertaining Women’s God-Ordained Roles:
An Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:15

Andreas J. Köstenberger

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Puzzling as it is, the statement of 1 Tim 2:15, “Women will be saved through childbearing,” is a significant passage regarding the issue of women’s God-ordained roles. After an initial survey of the passage’s history of interpretation, the essay is devoted to a detailed investigation of the phrase σωθήσεται διὰ τῆς τεκνογονίας. Subsequently, the present passage is interpreted in light of a major but thus far overlooked theme found in 1 Timothy. The article concludes with a brief discussion of some implications for the contemporary church and culture.

Key Words: pastorals, women in the church, 1 Timothy, salvation

“But women will be saved through childbearing” (1 Tim 2:15; niv)—- this pronouncement of the writer of 1 Timothy1 has puzzled commentators of all ages to no end, and agreement can be found in one thing only: that this passage has consistently defied attempts to interpret it, and that consensus on the passage’s meaning is therefore as

elusive today as it ever has been. Could the writer of 2 Peter have had this passage in mind when he wrote, “So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Pet 3:15b-16)? Others may agree with a recent writer who laments, “Just as the first half of this chapter showed us the author at his best, so the second half seems to show him at his worst. Christians are under no obligation to accept his teaching on women.”2 The same writer paraphrases the content of the present passage as follows: “woman, a weak, gullible creature, should find her natural vocation in a life of domesticity in subordination of her husband.”3 Another commentator finds the reference “almost unbearable.”4

A mere cursory glance at the available English translations reveals a confusing array of alternatives, ranging from “women will find their salvation in motherhood” (TCNT) over “women will ...

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