In his first letter to Timothy, Paul says that “women will be saved through childbearing” (2:15). If this is the case, there must be more than one way to be saved.
First, in the Jewish culture of Paul’s day, it was believed that if women died in childbirth it was a direct punishment for Eve’s role in the Fall. Thus, Paul may well be assuring believers that women will be kept safe through the process of childbirth “if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (2:15). As such, Paul’s words refute the denigration of women both in the culture and in the church.
Furthermore, men and women alike are ultimately saved as a result of the most significant birth in the history of humanity. Thus, Paul may also be alluding to the fact that just as “the woman [Eve] was deceived and became a sinner” (v. 14), so the woman (Mary) conceived and brought forth the Savior.
Finally, salvation here cannot mean salvation in the ultimate sense. If it did, women would not be saved by God’s grace through faith alone. Unlike men, they would also have to bear children. This not only is absurd but stands in direct opposition to the unambiguous teaching of Scripture (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8–9; Galatians 3:28). Remember, that which is cloudy must always be interpreted in the light of that which is clear.
For further study, see Philip H.Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006), 233–37.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”