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The Root of All Evil

By Justin Johnson

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” – 1 Timothy 6:10

Paul’s warning to Timothy about the root of all evil is constantly being corrected by commentators and scholars.

“It cannot be true that the love of money is the root of all evil” – Clarke

“Verse 10 should read, ‘the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’ “ – Williams

“It is evident that the love of money is not ‘the root of all evil’ “ – Stam

Such bold statements made against the word of God! How can something clearly stated in the Bible be evidently untrue. Nonsense.

When you read a verse that appears wrong on the surface, remember which book you are reading, and realize that when you and God’s word disagree, what is truly wrong is you.

Correcting the Bible is never an aid to understanding. Perhaps constant correction of this verse has led to more corruption in the church than we wish to realize.

Looking at the verse assuming the commentators are wrong, not God, we can learn some things.

“Evil”

The first problem that needs cleared up is that evil does not necessarily mean sin. When evil is read as sin then we must justify how the love of money is the root of all sin.

At first glance this seems untenable, but it need not be justified if the verse is not necessarily talking about sin. (Although a good case can be made for Eve’s sin being covetousness in Genesis 3.)

In the Bible God creates evil, but God does not create sin. Evil can mean destruction, ruin, disaster, loss, corruption. All of these are found in the context of 1 Timothy 6. Supposing that gain is godliness

“All Evil”

Another wrong assumption that is made is that Paul is talking about every kind of evil imaginable, instead of something being completely evil.

Paul is not telling Timothy that if he loves money every kind of evil imaginable will proceed from him. Instead, what follows the love of money is not only a little bit of evil, or partially evil, but all evil.

What is good and what is evil cannot mix. Godliness and the love of money cannot mix. They are contrary one to the other. They oppose each other, fight one another, and destroy one another. One will win out, and the love of money is the root of all evil.

“Love of money”

But why is the love of money the root of all evil? This is because the most important function of the church is to uphold (pillar) and establish (ground) the truth (1 Tim 3:15).

We do not naturally seek to do this, nor know how to do this. This is why there are required elders and leaders in the church to make sure it is functioning properly. This is the reason for the epistle of 1 Timothy.

Money is given to people who provide a product that someone else wants. If a teaching is contrary to what people want, and a teacher supposes that gain is godliness, then evil and destruction is sure to follow.

The love of money in the teacher will sacrifice truth for the sake of making gain from the hearer. Paul warns Timothy, that either godliness will eliminate your love of money, or the love of money will eliminate godliness in the church.

The Context

In the context of 1 Timothy, there are those who want to teach contrary to right doctrine, even the words of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 1:3; 1 Tim 6:3).

But why would they want to teach contrary to Christ? Paul explains in his second epistle to Timothy:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” – 2 Timothy 4:3

How do the listeners “heap to themselves teachers”? Answer: with money.

“Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” – Titus 1:11

Why did they teach error? They received money from people who wanted it. Just like Balaam (Num 22-24).

What We Love

Paul charges Timothy to “teach no other doctrine”, “to come to the knowledge of the truth”, and for the church to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 1:3; 1 Tim 2:4; 1 Tim 3:15).

The decision must be made concerning what we love more and what will do the most good in the church. Is it financial gain or is it truth? Do we build ministries for the love of money, or for the love of the truth? They are contrary to one another.

If the teachers in the church “will be rich” (e.g have the love of money – 1 Tim 6:9), they will reject or hide the truth, err from the faith, and the church will fall into destruction – total destruction – all evil.

The love of money will most certainly corrupt the truth. Teaching contrary to truth would be a sure fire way to destroy a church.

This is why Timothy must flee the idea that gain is godliness and replace it with the importance of godliness with contentment. For the love of money is the root of all evil, and Paul would not have Timothy’s ministry of truth be destroyed.

The Bible does not need corrected after all.

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Published: February 18, 2017
Last Modified: February 22, 2017
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