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;[b] 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[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Where We’ve Been
We saw in 2:8-9 that Paul very clearly distinguishes between “men” and “women.” For men he says they are to pray but minus the anger and arguments. And for women they are to do so likewise (pray) but with dressing appropriately (not seductively like in pagan worship) and with good deeds that accompany women who proclaim the gospel.
Then Paul stops talking about “women” in the plural and starts a new section talking about “a woman” and “she” in the singular. Then when he is finished talking about “a woman” (singular) he switches back to women (plural). So very clearly in the text he appears to be differentiating between “women” commands and a command perhaps to a particular or representative woman (singular).
Adam and Eve
If this is the case, then why does he refer back to Adam and Eve? Doesn’t that mean this is a command that is to be taken to all women, at all time, everywhere? Because it refers to women “from the beginning.”
There is no reason that this is how Paul intended it. If we see where “Eve” is mentioned elsewhere such as in 2 Cor 11:3, we see that the name “Eve” has become almost synonymous with deception. And when we move back to 1 Tim 2 we see that it appears this “woman” (not women”) had been deceived. More than likely in this house church there was a male elder or leader presiding over the meeting. Yet here was a woman whose contribution presented false teaching.
In Genesis the sin of the woman was believing a lie and spreading it to her husband. The sin of her husband (Adam) was that he followed her down the path of deception. Could it be that Paul is saying that in the Ephesian church there is a problem that is repeating itself again? There exists perhaps an elder or eldership in the church and just like Eve, a woman has fallen into deception. She is bringing that deception to others. And with a man as an elder/leader his role among the body of believers is to help maintain sound doctrine.
It presents a mirror image of what happened in the Garden of Eden. Man was formed first, then Eve. And while Adam was not deceived, it was Eve who was deceived. It was Adam’s responsibility to protect her from falsehood, but he did not. He joined her. It’s interesting to note that God first confronted Adam because he went along with her deception.
In the same way there is a male leader(s) (an “Adam” if you will) in the church(es) and an “Eve” who has been deceived. Paul is writing Timothy to bring correction to her so that there is not a repeat of the Garden where man joins the deception instead of offering protection from it. In this case Paul exhorts Timothy to tell this woman that she “must learn” more and become as a student first, just like every other student in that day–“in quietness and submission.” He is confronting this woman, not agreeing with her, but exhorting her to a course-correction.
She (singular) Will be Saved Through Childbearing
Then what in the world does “childbearing” have to do with all this?
5 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing
The NIV here says “women” but notice that blue “c” in the superscript? If you look at the footnote the NIV will tell you plainly that it is not women (plural) but a woman (singular) with “she,” as in singular “she.” I do believe he is still talking about this woman in particular.
Again, where does childbearing enter this discussion?
First of all in the Greek childbearing is not a verb, but a noun. Furthermore it has a definite article in front of it. So instead of “childbearing” the Greek reads, “The Birthed Child.” It’s difficult to reflect in English translation, but who does that sound like to you? Jesus? Yes, I believe that’s exactly the answer because it fits the context.
If you look again at Adam and Eve back in Genesis 3:15, we see the birth of Jesus predicted right in the middle of the mess of her deception:
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
This was a picture in which Satan would strike the woman’s heel but she would crush his head. This was the story of Christ and his redemption. Although Satan would cause pain and damage, he would ultimately face his demise in Jesus.
So what was he saying in 1 Tim 2?
That this woman was walking in deception. And while her teaching is false, there is grace and redemption for her in Jesus. She will be saved through “the Birthed Child” which is Jesus. Just as Eve fell into deception and they were being punished, God in his mercy tells them that there will be redemption that will come through her “offspring.” And just as this woman in Ephesus has fallen into deception, God in his mercy will restore her through “the birthed child” which is Jesus.
It says that she (singular) will be saved through childbearing but she along with all women, everywhere, at all time (“they” – plural) also will be saved through Jesus (“the birthed child”) if they continue in “faith, love and holiness with propriety” (2:15). This is a different spirit in which Paul says that Hymenaus and Alexander who “have shipwrecked their faith…” were “handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1:19-20). The woman gets gentleness as she needed to learn. Hymenaus and Alexander? They were “handed over to Satan to be taught…”
She was given a very kind mercy as opposed to being handed over to Satan. Perhaps this was because woman in general were not educated in those days as men were. Therefore she got grace and an injunction that she “must learn.” Her learning was insufficient. But the learning of these men in 1:19-20 was sufficient but they just plain rejected a good conscience.