1 Timothy 6: “Money is the root of all evil”

1 Timothy 6: “Money is the root of all evil”

This oft-quoted statement is actually a misrepresentation of the text and its intent. Specifically, 1 Timothy 6:10 is clear that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…”

The love of money has always been problematic for man. The love of money caused the prophet Balaam to undermine God’s people (Deut 23:4; 2 Pet 2:15; Jude 11). The love of money caused Achan to take what the Lord said belonged to Himself (Joshua 7). The love of money caused Judas to criticize Mary (John 12:6) and betray His Lord (Matt 26:15). All these men met with violent deaths.

Consider a couple of more observations from the context.

First, the preceding verse speaks of those “that will be rich.” The word here for “will” appears several times in the New Testament, speaking of not only the willingness of a person to do a thing, but to be determined of disposed toward it. For example, Jesus prayed in the garden, “Father, if it is your will, take this cup from Me” (Lk 22:42). Of course, the Father was not inclined to do so. Conversely, Pilate was “wanting to gratify the crowd” (Mk 15:15), which thing he did in releasing Barabbas and condemning Jesus.

Those who “will be rich” have wealth as their dominating desire. All else pales in comparison, thus they succumb to their foolish and harmful desires and are drowned in destruction and perdition. (See our earlier list: Balaam, Achan, etc).

Second, the context does not begin with that which is negative, but rather a call to contentment: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (v 6). Paul’s declaration that “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” reminds us of Job 1:21; “Naked I came… and naked I shall return.”

While love is the highest ethic (1 Cor 13:13), few character traits are as powerful as contentment. Contentment guards us against lust, against envy, against pride, against selfishness, against inordinate desires, against spiritual corruption.

There is nothing wrong with making a living or even making a lot of money. Later in our text, Paul speaks to Christians who are “rich in this present age” (v17). But such should never be our goal in life.

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