17 April 2007

Saved Through Childbearing

Eve First?In the following paragraphs, Paul continues to give Timothy instructions about how the church is supposed to function. By observing distinctions in gender roles in family and church, Paul tells Timothy, the members of the Ephesian church will escape spiritual disaster.

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

Apparently the false teachers encouraged (or their teaching resulted in) the usurpation of male roles in the church by women. Some have suggested that these, who forbid to marry (4:3), and who perhaps downplay normal family obligations (5:8), may also have a view of the role of women which is contrary to the created order. In any case, these, who want to be teachers of the Law (1:7), are refuted by the Pentateuch itself. In the church, God intended official teachers to be chosen from among the men, and for the women to teach younger women (Titus 2:2) and children.

Observance of these roles in church and home is very important to Paul. In fact, he attaches “salvation” to it in verse 15. If one takes 4:16 as a parallel, the verse may be a little easier to understand. There Paul instructs Timothy to “watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” So Timothy must persevere in a gospel-saturated walk and talk. In so doing he will act as a conduit of grace as God, through the means of perseverance, brings Timothy and the Ephesian congregation to final salvation. With the same hope, the Ephesian women must persevere in their roles as women in the church and home, continuing “in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

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