Summary: A stern warning against the pursuit of money from the pend of the Apostle.

1 TIMOTHY 6:10


“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” [1]

We’ve all heard the saying, “Money is the root of all evil.” However, there is a major error in this admittedly common quote. The Apostle actually cautioned Christians, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” You shouldn’t imagine that Paul was creating a proverb when he wrote this; the proverb was well-known as is attested in both Jewish and Greek writings.

The noun translated “love of money” is what scholars refer to as a hapax legomenon—this is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament. It is, however, related to the adjective translated “lovers of money” in 2 TIMOTHY 3:2. The noun is a compound word that unites “love” (phílos) and “money” (argúrion).

Let’s do a little bit of grammatical work to discover something about what the Apostle is saying. Paul uses a definite article, indicating that he is focused on one concept. It is “the love of money” that is in view, and not a generalised idea. The definite article combined with the present tense verb indicates that this is a continual problem. In other words, “the love of money” is not a minor problem; it is an ongoing struggle that has plagued mankind and that continues to plague mankind to this day. Christians will not occasionally face this problem; they will grapple with this challenge until they stand perfected in the presence of the Master.

There is another syntactical matter to consider. The word “root” is used metaphorically in this sentence, but the question arises whether it should be understood to be definitive or generally. In other words, is “the love of money” “the root of all kinds of evil,” or is it “a root of all kinds of evil?” Several translations understand this to be used in the definitive sense. [2] Other translations, especially more recent, understand that Paul is using the term in a more general sense. [3] There is no definite article in the sentence. However, the word “root” is placed at the head of the sentence for emphasis.

What we must not do is conclude that “the love of money” is the only root of “all kinds of evil.” The love of money is one root among many roots of evil. It seems best to understand that the Apostle is saying that this love leads to numerous evils. The fundamental nature of greed leads to trouble—there are far-reaching ramifications whenever we indulge greed. Many illicit desires are awakened through the determined pursuit of riches. Many and unimaginable griefs arise from covetousness; and the Apostle seeks to turn us from such wickedness.

Understand that covetousness can lead to wandering away from the Faith. Such an action leads to destruction of the life of a Christian. This is evident from Paul’s assertion in the preceding verse: “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” [1 TIMOTHY 6:9]. Now, in the present verse, he adds the warning that some, wandering away from the Faith, “have … pierced themselves with many pangs.”

Eugene Peterson has performed yeoman service for Christians in translating these verses. “If it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.” [4] Longing for money, living for money, pursuing money leads many of God’s people into destruction. Lives left wasted, barren and devastated is the legacy of pursuing the acquisition of wealth.

I propose that we explore this subject in detail. My reason for doing this is to warn the people of God against being seduced by the allure of wealth. Too many Christians with whom I’ve laboured throughout the years of my service before the Lord have stumbled into spiritual ruin through seduction by wealth. I grieve for their loss to the Kingdom. I grieve the wasted and blasted lives. I grieve for the dishonour to our King.

A DELIGHTFUL SERVANT — Money is neutral; it is a medium of exchange. Money represents skill, labour, ability or even fortune and blessing. Money is not a curse; the absence of all wealth is a curse. Perhaps you’ve heard the saw, “Money isn’t everything?” Undoubtedly, you’ve also heard the ready rejoinder, “Yeah, but it’s way ahead of whatever is in second place!”

Truthfully, money isn’t everything. It is, however, a necessity; and money can be a great blessing to the work of God. Make no mistake; money can richly bless the cause of Christ.

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