“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” (1 Timothy 2:11–15, ESV)
This is a passage that can cause significant distress and disagreement, so it is important to establish some essential truths before addressing the text itself. Men and women bear the image of God and are therefore equal in value and dignity (Genesis 1:27). As the creator, God gave men and women different roles. God's order in creation informs this understanding (Genesis 2:7; 2:18-23; 1 Timothy 2:13). Man represents the sinfulness of the human race (1 Corinthians 15:22). God called Adam to give an account of their sin (Genesis 3:9). Man was the only thing in all of creation that required a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18). The curse brought pain and distortion for man and woman. Jesus does not overturn the relationship between man and woman; instead, he reaffirmed the created order (Matthew 19). Marriage is the living parable of the relationship that exists between Christ and his church. With these truths in mind, we can approach the text seeing that God has given different roles within the church to men and women.
The authority Paul refers to is the teaching role of the elder (1 Timothy 5:17), and he is saying that a woman should not exercise that authority over a man by assuming this role. Men that are not elders should also submit to the elder's authority. The difference is eligibility for the office of elder. Quiet does not mean that women are prohibited from praying or participating in public worship, but they should not teach the Word of God. The same word quiet is used in 1 Timothy 2:2 for all believers. This word does not always mean silence, but it may also describe being at peace in one’s mind which leads to a quiet or peaceful life. The idea is that women should submit to the authority of the elders and leave the teaching and preaching to them. Elder authority is servant authority which is exercised primarily through teaching and a godly life.
Some people take this to mean that women should not be involved in any kind of teaching in the local church. However, looking through the New Testament offers many examples of women being involved in teaching ministries. In Titus 2:3–4 older women are told to teach the younger ones. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds Timothy that it was his mother and his grandmother who first taught him the Scriptures. Priscilla joined her husband Aquila to help Apollos understand the gospel more accurately (Acts 18:26). Paul is not saying that every kind of teaching is forbidden to women. Rather, he is saying that women should not be allowed to teach God’s Word in the public worship of the local church.
Paul points to God's order of creation and emphasizes that Adam was formed first and then came Eve. This is also stated in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9. He points out that it was Eve who sinned first. This observation does not make Eve responsible for the Fall, but it shows us that sin first came into the world because Adam acted in disobedience to the created order. He allowed Eve to assume his role as the head and to lead him into something he knew God had forbidden. Paul does not mean that women will overcome sin through childbearing. This assertion would contradict the truth that salvation comes by grace through faith. Perhaps Paul was pointing out that women demonstrate their salvation as they model the way godly wives and mothers live. His words also contain an implicit warning that the wealthy women in Ephesus were not to aspire selfishly to the office of teacher or elder. Paul may even have been targeting the false teachers and their antithetical views about marriage (1 Timothy 4:3).