Did Paul Really Say in 1 Timothy 2 that a woman isn’t saved unless she has children? No, not by a long shot.

Anyone who listens to the Eden Podcast hosted by Bruce C.E. Flemming (founder of the Tru316 Project) is in for some interesting and mind blowing revelations. It was in one of his podcast episodes (linked at the end of this article) that I learned a lot about what I’m going to share with you on 1 Timothy 2. 

If you haven’t already, I have three other posts about his chapter that talk about modesty and silencing women in the church. This is the final post about this passage that I’ll make for now. 

Post 1: Introduction 

Post 2: Modesty 

Post 3: Silencing Women 

These last three verses of 1 Timothy 2 have always confused me more than the rest of the passage. I believe that these confusing, last three verses of 1 Timothy 2, however, are key to understanding the passage as a whole. 

Let’s read them, shall we, and then dig in. (This is from the ESV translation.) 

Verse 13: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve;”

Verse 14: “and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

Verse 15:  “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” 

The “for” at the beginning of this passage indicates that what Paul is saying references something he’s previously stated. This is verse 12 which talks about Paul not permitting wayward women to teach false doctrine and hold authority over the men who have already been taught. Verse 12 clarifies the direction given in verse 11 where he tells Timothy how to correct these women in a radically feminist way. (All of this is explained in my last post.) 

An insight I gained from listening to Bruce Fleming was that verse 13 is better translated to say, “Two were created in the garden, Adam and then Eve” or “Two were formed, Adam and then Eve.” This still implies that Adam was formed first, but there have been so many times I’ve heard in the church that because man was made first, that he is superior to the woman. 

This alone gives me pause; Why would being made first make someone superior? Sure, first borns were rulers and heirs over their younger siblings in Israelite families but this was after sin, meaning that it wasn’t necessarily God’s ideal plan. Man (male) was given dominion over animals with the woman not “over both the animals and over the woman.” 

Plus, there’s a ton of situations in which God chooses someone who is not the firstborn to have a more significant role than the firstborn. Some examples are Isaac instead of Ishmael. Jacob instead of Esau. Judah and Jacob instead of Reuben. Moses instead of Aaron. David instead of all seven of his brothers. Jesus instead of John the Baptist. THE LIST GOES ON. I think that God, time and time again in the Bible, makes it very clear that being “first” does not equal being “superior.” 

I’ve gotten a little off track. Let’s get back to Timothy who I like to affectionately call yung T. (It’s his rapper name.) 

Okay so verse 13 tells us the man and woman were made and that Adam was made and then Eve. Verse 14 says that Adam was not deceived into sinning and that Eve was. What is interesting to me is that this verse has somehow been made to mean that because Eve was deceived into sinning and Adam wasn’t, that she was more in the wrong. I’ve heard phrases like, “women are more gullible because of their emotions. Eve was deceived and Adam wasn't, which makes all women unable to teach.” 

What I see in this verse, however, was a woman who sinned ignorantly and a man who sinned willfully. 

I think this distinction is very important to examine closely. I believe Paul states at the end of the verse that Eve was a transgressor NOT to say that she had sinned greater than or more than her husband, but that even an ignorant sin is still a sin. I believe then that God, knowing the intentions of the man and the woman, dealt with their sin differently. 

The sin of Adam continues right after God confronts them too whereas Eve’s doesn’t. Eve answers honestly about why she sinned. Adam shifts blame onto both God and the woman. Once the whole confrontation is over, no mention of Eve is made again except that her husband named her. Adam usurped God’s authority and named Eve as if she were one of the animals thus “overruling” her just as God said he would. 

As a side note: I do not believe that women’s pain in childbirth and being subject to man was a punishment given directly to her by God. I think God was informing Eve of what the natural consequences of their sin would be. He told Eve men would rule over her because God knew Satan would hate her for the Son who would come from her and save the world. God knew Satan would do all in his power to oppress and control her - even through men and, as we’ve clearly seen, through the church. 

So wait...how do we know that God dealt with their sin differently? It all has to do with that word “curse.” (Note: all of this information I learned from the Eden podcast.) 

The curse on the soil is not for the man but because of the man. Meaning, it’s his fault. The curse is on the soil and affects men and women and all people. No curse is imposed because of the woman. Why? Because her sin was made ignorantly. Adam’s was willful. Satan’s deception was on purpose. Satan and Adam are both cursed, but no curse whatsoever is mentioned in reference to the woman in the Hebrew text. 

I think that in 1 Timothy 2, Paul is instructing yung T to notice the distinction between the wayward men of 1 Timothy 1:20 and 1 Timothy 2:8 to the wayward women of chapter 2: 9-12 in the same way that God recognized the distinction between Adam’s deliberate sin and Eve’s ignorant sin. 

Paul is comparing himself to Eve here too; God dealt with Paul gently at the beginning of his faith journey. God dealt with Eve gently in the garden. Timothy is being instructed to “deal with” these wayward women gently (based on heart, intent, and ignorance) by correcting them and giving them the same opportunity to learn as what the men already had. 

Now what about that weird verse at the end about childbearing? Does verse 15 mean that women can only be saved if she gets married and has children? This could not possibly be so since there are instances where Paul encourages singleness, even for widows and other women. We’re told that all can be saved “through Christ alone.” If Paul is saying here that women have to have kids in order to be godly, then he would be contradicting himself. I don’t believe there is any contradiction here. 

In fact, I don’t think there are any contradictions in the Bible, just contradictions in how it is taught. 

Verse 15, rather, is referring to THE CHIlD meaning Jesus Christ who did save all women and all other humans through His death and resurrection. The “punishment” put on Eve in Genesis 3 is followed up by a promise that her offspring will one day defeat evil. 

This “childbearing” in verse 15 is talking about Jesus, not about how women are only godly if they have children. These wayward women Paul is referring to, who need correcting, will be saved by learning who Jesus truly was and what He was about. I’m guessing that after these women learned as the men already had, they were allowed to teach in the church once more. 

In conclusion: 

1 Timothy 2 has been used for years to limit, control, and oppress women in both the church and the home, but I’ve found the passage to actually be radically pro-women. The heart of the matters addressed in the church of Ephesus are supported by the reasons for many of the Old Testament Laws concerning women and the teachings of Jesus. I stand by the beliefs I’ve stated here based on the fact that I feel certain the rest of the Bible upholds them. 

I think the interpretations I’ve written about have some merit simply because instead of contradicting the Bible, it seems to match what else is written in the Bible. Let me know if you disagree and why. I want to learn what I can. 

Of course, as always, if you have questions, concerns, or just want to comment, please reach out. I love hearing from you. 

Eden Podcast link: https://tru316.com/1-tim-2%3A13-15-eve-%26-paul