PAUL'S WORDS TO TIMOTHY EXPLAINED.
340. We have shown that in this very passage, which is generally interpreted as Paul's strongest denunciation of the public ministry of women, he expresses a wish that women should "pray everywhere," and recommends a suitable attire for women "proclaiming godliness." "But," says an objector, "what about women learning 'in quietness?' "That evidently relates to a learner, not to a woman teacher, or preacher. "But women perhaps capable of teaching men are likewise told to be 'in quietness,' verse 12." Supposing, during the Armenian atrocities, or the Chinese Boxer uprising, because of some special peril to men, to which women were not exposed, a bishop had sent the following advice: Let male preachers of the Gospel refrain from teaching women and controlling them, and be in quietness." Could that be justly construed as an interdiction of all male preaching for all time, if once it were known that at that time special peril to men alone existed? No; the use of such an expression as "preachers of the Gospel" would lead one to infer that, when peace was restored, these men could pursue the vocation named with greater boldness. So here, once knowing that special peril for women alone existed, the use of the expression "women proclaiming godliness" would surely indicate this as their normal occupation under normal conditions.
341. In verse 13, the Apostle declares that Adam, having been first formed, and hence being older than Eve, was "not deceived." Paul is not here comparing the quality of Eve's sin to Adam's sin: if that were the case the illustration would be out of place for application to Christian workers. All Paul's thought is centered on proper equipment for service in the Church at a time of great peril to the Church,¾and he makes the point that in time of tempest an inexperienced and immature person should not be put at the rudder of the ship. Paul does not argue that a wilful sinner, like Adam, is of more value than a deceived person. Paul did not go about ordaining, in the Church, knaves to govern fools. He is dealing with Christians, all of whom have been forgiven their sins of the past, and therefore they are reduced to a common level in Christ's atonement (as he asserts, Galatians 3:28), though when it comes to Christian service, some are fitted for it and some are not: some are suited to take the lead, and some, because of immaturity of mind, and because exposed to peculiar dangers, should be more quiet.
342. Paul refers here to woman’s social condition of inexperience and immaturity, as leaving her vulnerable to deception, when she does not wilfully intend to go wrong. But this is his next thought: "She shall be saved by [or through] the Childbearing." Again, Paul is not here speaking of woman's salvation from sin, or from perdition. His mind is on offices in the Church to be filled only by persons already saved from sin. He has now turned away from the individual Eve, and says "the woman," that is, all womankind,¾using a collective form, after which, in the following verse, he employs a plural pronoun "they." (This in Winer's interpretation here, and no better grammatical authority on N. T. Greek could be quoted). The thought then is, that woman, finding herself involved in a condition of social disorder brought about by transgression, will not escape as readily as man¾her full development requiring more time than his. Since man, even in that day, was less a victim of circumstances than woman, so in the Church must he shoulder the heavier responsibilities? This word 'saved' is often used in the N. T. of other than precisely spiritual or moral forms of rescue, see the marginal readings of Mark 5:23, Luke 8:36, in the R.V.Paul implies that woman's social rescue began in the birth of Jesus Christ; and we all know how Christianity, unhampered by the narrowness of man, is calculated to elevate woman, until in Christ she stands on his level (Galatians 3:27, 28),¾rather, both, in Christ, as on His level.
343. Opinions differ as to the meaning of verse 15. As to childbearing, we know that Christian women who know and trust Jesus Christ and the true God, may die in childbirth, just like unbelievers. Nor is another thought correct that some theologians set forth,¾that women are saved from their sins and go to heaven if they bear children. Absurd! Has God placed before women a test for reaching heaven that any female animal can answer to? If this were true, then the childless widow, the old maid, and the barren wife, are all on the broad road to perdition, while ("tell it not in Gath!") the reckless mother who omitted the preliminary marriage ceremony, is in the narrow way that leads to everlasting life. No! women are NOT saved from death in childbirth, nor are they spiritually saved merely by the animal process of giving birth to children. Women are saved from their sins, and are saved for heaven precisely on the same terms as men, and on no other and on no additional terms; for God is no respecter of persons. What Paul says here, as literally translated from the Greek, and as it appears in the R. V., is, "She [woman] shall be saved by the childbearing,"¾that is, by the birth of a Redeemer into the world. This we believe is what is refereed to in this verse,¾see Prof. James Orr's remark, end of par. 515.
344. But Paul adds very important conditions beyond the mere birth of a Redeemer into the world, with which Christian women must comply before their social redemption will be wrought out, "If they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety" (R. V.). Alas! women did not "continue." It seems clear that within fifty years after Paul's utterance, they had largely yielded their faith,¾that they were to be saved on precisely the same conditions as men sinners. They accepted the mischievous teaching that in addition to meeting the conditions laid down for men sinners, they must do penance for the sin of Eve (as though Christ's atonement had not been sufficient for Eve's transgression). Faith went; love and loyalty to Jesus Christ and His atonement waned; and finally they accepted a precisely opposite condition to the one laid down by Paul so impressively,¾"with sobriety." They have now, through the weary generations since, too often bent themselves to the task of winning approval from God, by yielding all their nobler instincts towards pure living within the marriage relation to the sensual "desire" of their husbands, in mistaken obedience to the misinterpretation of Genesis 3:16. The meaning of the Greek word translated "sobriety," we set forth as "self-restraint" (see par. 327). The word is sophrosune, and 4 Maccabees 1:31 tell us, "sophrosune is the mastery of the lusts." Several sayings in the Greek classics tell us the same. Paul declares, and we are sure it is the truth of God, this self-control is an essential in woman's social redemption. Woman can never be matured as a useful instrument in God's hands, or an efficient servant of His Church, until she comes to understand that "she is not her own; she is bought with a price," and it is neither her duty nor her privilege to give herself away to any human being,¾in marriage or in any other way. Her bodily appetites are subject to God's control and cannot be indulged in violation of conscience; any other teaching is but teaching woman how to be a pleasing slave. There is no social redemption for woman until the chain that binds her to the lusts of her own, and of man's flesh is broken, and she maintains the inviolability of free will, as her sustained attitude towards every human being, including her husband. There is no method of moral improvement remaining, after the loss of a free will. To attempt to accept any means or method of salvation from sin different from or beyond the simple act of accepting Christ's atonement for sin,¾be that act "circumcision," which Paul so strongly denounced, or woman's service in the lusts of the flesh, is to accept a condition in which "Christ shall profit you nothing," "Christ has become of no effect unto you" (Galatians 5:2-3).
345. It is generally the case that after man has discovered a truth for himself, he is in danger through self-interest of denying that the same truth applies to woman. Instance, the present-day political axiom that "taxation without representation is tyranny." Luther, who established for the Protestant Church the truism: "It is a great error to seek ourselves to satisfy God's justice for our sins, for God ever pardons them freely by an inestimable grace," never paused to think that as to women this is true also. To the present day, the women of the Protestant Church are taught by Bible commentators to keep to penance (seek to satisfy God's justice) for Eve's sin by silence in the Church and obedience to man.Lesson 46 Home