I understand why Thomas Jefferson whittled his Bible down to a few manageable verses. God put more in there than humanity can understand without His help. Like 1 Timothy 2, a passage I struggle with. At first, it is not so bad. Paul begins:
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
One God, one Mediator for all mankind. And we can intercede for the world through Jesus, and it reaches the ears of God.
That is a beautiful, and powerful truth. I hope it will compel me to pray more. Prayers promote peace in a world of strife. And some of that strife pops up later in the passage…
“8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”
Okay, anger and quarreling are bad, and church is not a place to flaunt the latest fashions. Ooh, I am guilty of standing in front of my closet on Sundays and paying more attention to my clothes and makeup than if my heart is seeking God.
But then it just gets sticky…
“11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”
Really Paul? You had to go there! As my pastor taught me, always look back to the source. What passage is Paul referring to? Genesis 3: Eve was tempted, ate the fruit, and offered it to Adam.
“7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
Mankind sinned, and ran to hide from God. He found them, they blamed everyone else, and this is what God said to the serpent (read all of it here):
“…I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
And God told Eve:
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
God also told Adam what was coming, made animal skin clothes for them, and sent the out of the Garden.
So, what can we say?
EVE, WHY DID YOU DO THE THING???? That’s the question of the centuries, and has created a lot of speculation. Could man have lived sinless? What if Adam chose to not eat? But back to the question at hand…
When Paul brought up Adam and Eve, he was referring back to this passage. Eve would desire to rule over her husband, and childbearing would be very painful. But there is redemption out of it. A Messiah, hope for sinful man!
So, what about after the Messiah was born? How do you respond to verse 15?
“15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”
Saved through…so what if you cannot have kids? Or is it the kids who have to behave in order for you to be saved? Neither of those fit with the rest of Scripture – there are many barren ladies throughout the Bible, and your salvation is not based in the actions of another person.
I looked through the commentaries in E-Sword, a free study program, and found this interpretation: women are saved despite what Eve did, despite the curse of pain and sin! Women were not seen as equal people in that society, but Paul shows that they can be equal in grace (see also Galatians 3:28). Eve did start the whole mess, and women have never lived it down. But God gives hope, redemption, and grace. And that needs to be our attitude in church. It is not a competition of male vs female. It is not a blame-game. It is recognizing the grace we have been given and sharing that with everyone around us, pursuing holiness like God. And one day, we will be back in a Garden-like setting, walking and talking with God, and not be ashamed (Revelation 21-22).
God, thank You for passages to wrestle in the Bible. I do not know if this is the best interpretation of this passage yet, but it has gotten me excited for heaven. Thank You for the dignity You give women, and for providing redemption for all of sinful mankind. Please help me pursue peace and holiness through prayer and through my lifestyle inside and outside the church. To You be the glory! Amen.