Skip to main content

Search LearnTheBible

The Love of Money - Root of all evil or all kinds of evil?

The following is a question I read in "Messianic Perspectives" (previously called the Christian Jew prior to becoming politically correct) Newsletter. "The King James Version of the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), but other Bible versions say that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. I think the second translation (non-KJV) is more accurate because money seems to have nothing to do with sins like lust or jealousy. What do you think?"

Gary Hedrick (who has since abandoned the KJ Bible after Charles Halff's passing away) proceeds to answer quoting the Greek text - "For a root of all the evils is the money-love". He goes on to list several Greek words that use "philos" as a prefix. He points out that Paul doesn't say it's "the" root of evil, but rather "a" root; and, he concludes that "money-love" is but one factor that brings about evil.

What is your understanding of this passage and please comment on the necessity of referring to the Greek text by today's Bible teachers.

Sometimes, a little research into the Greek or Hebrew can aid in determining the English definition of the English word that was chosen by the translators. However, as a whole (in about 99.8% of the cases), a reference to the Greek or Hebrew is made either to correct the English (as in your example above) or to exalt the intelligence of the teacher/preacher. In almost every case, reference to the original languages does not clarify the meaning but actually muddies the water of understanding. Many run to the Greek and Hebrew because they have not taken the time to understand the doctrine in question, the message of the Bible book, or the English language in context.

However, I do not mean to seem extremely harsh. This is what Bible students are taught to do from the time they enter Bible College or Seminary. They learn it as a habit from teachers they respect. Therefore, those who over-emphasize the importance of the original languages have much to support them in their approach. People like me who believe in the preservation of the King James Bible are those ridiculed as ignorant. There are some good people who have just not seen the power of the English.

The interpretation of 1 Timothy 6:10 is an interesting experiment in these two approaches to God's word. We are continually told that the King James wording is wrong and that the passage can be understood by going to the Greek. We are told that the Greek clearly states "a" root. What people are usually not told is that the Greek has no equivalent to the English "a" or "an." The Greek language has no indefinite article.

Greek does have a definite article; an equivalent to our "the." The argument goes that when the "the" is missing, it automatically means "a" or "an." Interestingly enough, this is the same argument used by the Jehovah Witnesses to "prove" that John 1:1 says "the Word was a god." Of course, everyone but the Jehovah's Witnesses know this is foolishness. The problem is that interpretation is much more complicated than learning and applying a few grammatical rules.  We would do better to trust the wisdom of the King James translators (who grew up learning the original languages) and the providence of God in preserving His infallible word.

So, what can we do with 1 Timothy 6:10? What does it mean that "the love of money is the root of all evil"? I think we can come to a conclusion by making a few observations. First, the root of all evil is not money, but the love of money. The root is greed; the desire to have money. Second, this love of money is the root of all "evil." We should note that the verse does not say that the love of money is the root of every sin. Rather, it is the root of all evil. Evil is a more general word than the word sin. It refers to the bad things we see in this world. Think of evil in its particular manifestations: the evil of drunkenness, the evil of prostitution, the evil of war, the evil of pornography, etc. Now consider each of these evils. Do they not all find their root in the love of money?

True, someone may become drunk for reasons other than the love of money. But why is this evil so rampant in the world? Is it not because greedy people are trying to make a buck on this evil? The root of every bar and dive in every part of the world is the love of money. The same could be said of war, prostitution, pornography, and much more. Dig deep enough into a societal evil; dig all the way down to the root of why that evil is so rampant in the world, and you will find the love of money.

The context of 1 Timothy 6:10 adds evidence to this conclusion. Verse 9 refers to those who because of their desire to be rich, "fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." Their desire for money leads them into other evils; evils like lying, cheating, bribing, and more. They are more susceptible to many lustful temptations because of their love of money. Follow the chapter back a little more and you find those who get into perverse disputings and deny the truth because they suppose that "gain is godliness" (1 Timothy 6:5). Timothy is warned to withdraw from such people. Perhaps they are preachers who change their message in order to keep the crowds and their salary. This is an evil and its root is the love of money.

It is not as difficult as many think it to be. The love of money is still the root of all evil.