I have read this passage before and just scratched my head, because I felt like it was odd and inconsistent with the holistic Biblical narrative.
1 Tim 2:11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Recently, I read some commentary about this passage in the book Eldership and the Mission of God by Briggs and Hyatt, which explained that Paul was responding to some specific false-doctrines in the church. Here is my edited brief of the salient points:
[Paul was] correcting heresy (actually raising women's status) and [this passage] is notoriously difficult to understand in English without a proper cultural background.
First Timothy was written to a pastor (Timothy) in Ephesus, a center for the worship of the goddess Artemis. The word translated "exercise authority" [αὐθεντεῖν] appears only here in Scripture, so it's hard to get a handle on. It could mean "dominate" or "exercise authority in a domineering way" [or "usurp" or "coup"]. It seems that in Ephesus, where people were coming out of pagan goddess worship, women, feeling their newfound freedom in Christ, were taking a dominating attitude, claiming a privileged position. Paul said they, like anyone else, should learn from their teachers quietly and submissively; he did not permit women to teach men in a domineering way.
Paul then corrected another heresy that was circulating, taught by the Sophists in a culture that was accustomed to goddess worship: that it wasn't Eve that sinned first, but Adam, and that in fact she was the one created first. It's foolish of us to get caught up in the "who sinned first" argument. Paul wasn't basing a prohibition of women in leadership on the order of creation; rather, he was reminding them of the facts of the biblical narrative and asking them to keep it straight. He was dealing with an early form of extreme religious feminism.
Paul responds to a protognostic heresy that women should abstain from intercourse and become male to be saved (e.g. Gospel of Thomas). Women can be saved through (not "by means of," but "through the middle of"— that is, "in spite of" not only intercourse, but even childbirth.
In essence, Paul wrote, "I don't allow women to dominate men, and these ideas going around are incorrect. Eve was the one who sinned first and wasn't the one created first. But, lest you think I buy into the other side that says women are evil, let me correct that as well."
This background on the false-doctrines that Paul was responding to is essential to interpret the passage according to what he was actually saying. Otherwise, you end up with a conclusion to demote women, which I don't think is consistent with God's restoration of all people, male and female.
Heavenly Father, thank you for truth, and thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow in understanding your Word. Please continue to guide me and lead me to a more accurate understanding of your character and work. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.