This Coming Sunday's Epistle Reading

The appointed epistle reading for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost this year is 1 Timothy 2:1-15:
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

The Lutheran Confessions, to which all our pastors vow quia subscription, make specific doctrinal use of verse 15 in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, article xxiii, paragraph 32:
Likewise, “She will be saved through childbearing,” and so on (1 Timothy 2:15). If the adversaries could produce such a passage about celibacy, then certainly they would celebrate a wonderful triumph. Paul says that woman is saved by childbearing. What more honorable thing could be said against the hypocrisy of celibacy than that woman is saved by the conjugal works themselves, by conjugal intercourse, by bearing children and the other duties? But what does St. Paul mean? Let the reader observe that faith is added, and that domestic duties without faith are not praised. “If they continue,” he says, “in faith.” For he speaks of the whole class of mothers. Therefore, he requires especially faith, through which a woman receives the forgiveness of sins and justification. Then he adds a particular work of the calling, just as in every person a good work of a particular calling should follow faith. This work pleases God because of faith. So the duties of the woman please God because of faith, and the believing woman is saved who devoutly serves her calling in such duties.

This doctrinal statement obviously draws upon the following commentary of Luther's on 1 Timothy 2:15:
15. She will be saved. That subjection of women and domination of men have not been taken away, have they? No. The penalty remains. The blame passed over. The pain and tribulation of childbearing continue. Those penalties will continue until judgment. So also the dominion of men and the subjection of women continue. You must endure them. You will also be saved if you have also subjected yourselves and bear your children with pain. Through bearing children. 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. Is she not saved by faith? He goes on and explains himself: bearing children is a wholesome responsibility, but for believers. To bear children is acceptable to God. He does not merely say that bearing children saves; he adds: if the bearing takes place in faith and love, it is a Christian work, for “to the pure all things are pure (Titus 1:15).” Also: “All things work together,” Rom. 8:28. This is the comfort for married people in trouble: hardship and all things are salutary, for through them they are moved forward toward salvation and against adultery. If they continue. This means whatever a married woman or a mother and her children do. In faith. Paul had to add this, lest women think that they are good in the fact that they bear children. Simple childbearing does nothing, since the heathen also do this. But for Christian women their whole responsibility is salutary. So much the more salutary, then, is bearing children. I add this, therefore, that they may not feel secure when they have no faith. Rather, they should continue—along with their children—in faith, etc. But how they can take care of this as children, etc., see chapter 5, if you have done your job and instructed your children and have done what you can. Let Isaac be wicked against the training of his father, let the defeat be not in Abraham but in his son. See to it that your children do not persevere in faithlessness because of your negligence. See to it that they are not corrupted or that you do not allow them to be corrupted, if it is your fault that they have not continued “in faith.” See to it that they do not hold in contempt the Word, faith toward God, love toward neighbor, holiness toward themselves. That is, a woman ought to live in holiness, according to 1 Thess. 4:5, “not in the passion of lust.” That is, she should not befoul herself with another’s husband or unclean morals. A man should be content with his own wife, for she is his own body, and in relation to her there should be reverence and holiness. With modesty, with moderation, good common sense; sensible, well-mannered. People see modesty or a composed mind when there is modesty of body, a person who can deal with matters sensibly. I interpret it with “sensibly” (vernünftig), to be temperate in doing all other things—in speaking, in managing; that a person may sensibly and skillfully manage affairs. Thus you see how he wants Christian women to behave in public life, in the home, etc. If the Lord were to raise up a woman for us to listen to, we would allow her to rule like Huldah. This first part has spoken to husbands and wives. What follows is the description of other estates—of bishops and of deacons.

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