Book Sale

Saturday 20 January 2024

Safest In The Home


I am a few days away from finishing my next book, which I will begin talking about on the blog soon. It just needs some final editing to a few sections and then it is sent off. In the meantime I thought I would share an excerpt from one of the articles that I used in the book.

In 1 Timothy 2:15 Paul says something very interesting, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” This is perhaps one of the most contentious verses in the Bible. But Köstenberger, the researcher, does a fantastic job of getting to heart of what this verse is saying. Here are some excerpts from his article that I drew on for a small section in the work I was writing:

 P 109, “In the light of this unsettled situation, are we  seeking to do the impossible by writing yet another piece on this inscrutable verse? Perhaps, but one might be forgiven a little foolishness when the topic is as significant as that addressed by the present passage, i.e., women s God-ordained roles. It should also be acknowledged that this issue, like few others, has enormous implications on the educational, social, and political domain.”

1 Timothy 5:14-15, “14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan.”

P112, “By these means they will have no small reward on their account, because they have trained up wrestlers for the service of Christ. By holiness he means good life, modesty, and sobriety.” Chrysostom in Kostenberger.

Pp114, Luther in Kostenberger, “It is a very great comfort that a woman can be saved by bearing children, etc. That is, she has an honorable and salutary status in life if she keeps busy having children. We ought  to recommend this passage to them, etc. She is described as “saved” not for freedom, for license, but for bearing and rearing children.”

P115, “Let us learn therefore that if a woman be among her household and be busied about her children... if she bears it patiently, knowing that it is God’s good appointment,... this is a sweet smelling sacrifice to him. Let the nuns therefore tarry still in their convents and cloisters and in their brothel houses of Satan...”

P121, “Seventh, it is held that the present passage indicates that women shall be preserved (or shall escape from) Satan (or the consequences of the curse) by adhering to their God-ordained role in the domestic sphere.”

P130, “1 Tim 2:15, likewise, should therefore be understood as a reference to the woman’s escape or  preservation from a danger by means of childbearing. Moreover, as in the above examples,  what a person is saved from is implied rather than explicitly stated; merely the way of escape is given. But the context always suggests a given danger, be it death by drowning or by the hand of the enemy. What is therefore the most likely danger or enemy from which the woman escapes or is preserved in the present context? Arguably, it is the serpent, or Satan, and perhaps the temptation provided by it.”

Pp131-132, “The consistency with which the theme of preservation is sounded particularly in 1 and 2 Timothy is indeed remarkable. References to preservation from Satan (or the lack thereof) in the context of the present passage include 1 Tim 1:20 on the one hand and 1 Tim 3:6 and 7 on the other. It should also be noted that 2 Timothy is framed by significant “preservation” passages, i.e., 2 Tim 1:12 and 4:18. The Pastorals’ “preservation theme” may be considered to be a subcategory of the concept of perseverance versus apostasy, involving also numerous exhortations to Timothy to “escape” and “pursue” (feàge, d…wke; cf., e.g., 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22).”

P 134, “The effect of subverting natural family structures appears to have been a major characteristic of the heresy behind 1 Timothy. The author of this epistle counteracts this aberration by maintaining that true Christianity undergirds and dignifies rather than subverting or obliterating the natural order.”

139, “Eve, it is said, was deceived and fell into transgression. Christian women, on the other hand, will escape or be kept safe from Satan, if they adhere to their God-given domestic role. Thus, by implication, Eve fell, because she failed to keep her proper domain and, by leaving it, became vulnerable to the serpent’s false teaching (cf. 2 Cor 11:2-3).”

142, “The sense of the injunction in the present passage is thus that women can expect to escape Satan under the condition of adhering to their God-ordained role centering around the natural household.”

143, “If these lines of thought are correct, the present passage would speak powerfully to a cultural context where many are seeking to “liberate” women from all encumbrances of family responsibilities in order to unleash them on a quest for self-fulfillment apart from such functions. Passages such as the present one appear to indicate that it is precisely by participating in her role pertaining to the family that women fulfill their central calling. Moreover, if the reference to “childbearing” should indeed be understood as a synecdoche, even unmarried women are to retain a focus on the domestic sphere and all that it entails.”[i]

Essentially he argues that Paul is saying the woman will be much better protected in the home from the devil’s schemes, than she will in the wider society. As this was one of the key arguments of my upcoming book, it was pretty exciting to see an eminent researcher back this up with some very detailed and grounded scholarly research. The whole article is worth a read, though it is on the technical side, because it shows very clearly that many of us in the modern world get a lot wrong when it comes to how we think about structuring our families. There is so much good advice in the Bible that is just plain ignored, and the fruit this is bearing out is obviously bad. We need to get back to biblical basics. 

List of References

[i] Kostenberger, Simon J. 1997, “Ascertaining Women’s God-Ordained Roles: An Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:15”, Bulletin For Biblical Research, 7: pp. 107-144. 

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