Most Confusing Verse in the Bible

I think 1 Timothy 2:15 is the most confusing verse in the whole Bible, particularly if you’re like me – a woman with no biological children. It’s the conclusion of a passage about men and women in the church, and here’s what it says: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (1 Timothy 2:14-15). What is that all about? Surely salvation doesn’t come with the condition that you procreate. I don’t think it does, because Paul states clearly in another of his letters: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). That’s how you’re saved: By a belief that God raised Christ from the dead and confession of that faith, so what’s childbearing got to do with it? I wondered if Paul was talking about being a spiritual mother – sharing truths and being an example to the next generation, but it says childbearing, not child-rearing.

Then there’s the second part of the verse: “If they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control”. Who are they: Is it they – the women who bear the children, or they – the children themselves? Is Paul telling women: Your children (whose choices you can’t control) need to keep following God, otherwise you’re out? I discounted that straightaway. Imagine the fear and anxiety that could cause any mother! I really don’t think God would want that. John says God’s commands are not burdensome and Jesus Himself tells us His burden is light, so ‘They’ must mean Christian women. We’re to continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. That makes sense. There’s plenty in the Bible encouraging us to continue in the hope held out for us in the gospel and hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, but it still doesn’t answer the childbearing question.

One thing’s for sure: I can’t dismiss it. Paul tells us that: “All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live” (2 Timothy 3:16), so it must be there for a reason. The author of “1 and 2 Timothy for You” shed some light on this for me. In the verse before, we’re reminded of the garden of Eden, where the serpent deceived Eve. Having eaten the forbidden fruit, she offered some to Adam. Because he went against what God had told him, sin came into the world. Eve was deceived and sin (or transgression) was the result, but her childbearing eventually brought about salvation. One of Eve’s descendants, Jesus Christ, would die to take away the sin of the world. It was part of Eve’s purpose to have offspring so that we could be saved. Not every woman has to give birth to a child, but our salvation comes through the birth of a child, and we’ll be saved if we continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

That left me feeling much more peaceful and if you’ve been confused about the verse, like I have, I hope you feel the same.

The Three Generations of Christmas

I had a thought just yesterday – something I’d never noticed before. I was reading about Liz Curtis Higgs’ book “The Women of Christmas” and it hit me. She’s written the book about Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother), Mary (Jesus’ mother), and Anna (the prophetess who saw Jesus after He was born).

Last year, I wrote about Anna, and said I wasn’t sure whether she was eighty-four or a hundred and five years old (it depends on the translation you look at).

So, we have Anna (who’s over eighty), Mary (a young girl from Nazareth, possibly twelve to fourteen years old), and Elizabeth (past childbearing age but sprightly enough to bring up John the Baptist, so maybe in her fifties or sixties). Three generations: Young Mary, Elizabeth in the middle, and the elderly widow Anna. Isn’t that how the body of Christ should be – people of all ages, all races, all backgrounds, each playing their part in the kingdom? Mary wasn’t too young and Anna wasn’t too old. After all, God is timeless/eternal, and one day we’ll be like Him. When we ask God for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, let’s not be surprised when it brings generations together to give Him glory.

I’m thankful that Mary, Elizabeth and Anna were each willing to play their part.

Women: A Different Standard

“My son, I gave birth to you.  You are the son I prayed for” (Proverbs 31:2).  King Lemuel’s mother wanted a son, she prayed for one and God answered.  What’s your desire?  Have you ever thought it would be a selfish prayer?  Maybe God doesn’t see it that way.  Will you believe Him for your answer?

 

“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. …  She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. …  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:19, 22, 27).  I must confess I find these some of the most daunting verses in the whole Bible and, reading this blog-post yesterday, I can see I’m not the only one.  I can totally identify with Ginger’s unfavourable comparisons, E.G. this Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t eat the bread of idleness; I’m sometimes still in my dressing-gown at 10 am.  This woman holds a distaff (a tool used in spinning to keep fibres unknotted), and a spindle (used before a spinning wheel).  She makes coverings for her bed; I can’t even sew a button on, but comparison isn’t wise or helpful, so what about these verses?

 

Let’s take them one by one:  First, the distaff and the spindle.  When I think of sewing, I think of dressmakers and the like.  If every good wife made bedcovers and clothes for their families, how would they stay in business?  Could it be that we all have different gifts, and not all of us have the gift of sewing?

 

The Proverbs 31 woman is ‘Clothed in fine linen and purple’ or, as the NCV puts it, “linen and other expensive material”, but are expensive clothes really that important to God?  If they were, why would Paul and Peter encourage women to be more concerned with what’s in their hearts than the clothes they wear?

 

It seems to me that as Christian women, we have a different (and more attainable) standard than women did in the past.  We’re still responsible for watching over the affairs of our household (teaching our children; keeping those we love in prayer), and we can all choose not to give in to laziness, but to make the best use of our time … so if I’m not going out till later in the day and I want to read my Bible in my dressing-gown some mornings, maybe God doesn’t mind all that much.

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Thank you for your likes and comments this month, and especially if you’ve taken up the challenge of reading Proverbs in 31 days.  I know I’ve found it very helpful – not only reading the chapters, but mulling them over and finding something to write about them.  I hope these posts have inspired you to spend time reading God’s Word and to know Him better.