In Pauline fashion, Bishop J. C. Ryle once stated that, “Money, in truth, is one of the most unsatisfying of possessions. It takes away some cares, no doubt; but it brings with it quite as many cares as it takes away. There is trouble in the getting of it. There is anxiety in the keeping of it. There are temptations in the use of it. There is guilt in the abuse of it. There is sorrow in the losing of it. There is perplexity in the disposing of it. Two-thirds of all the strifes, quarrels, and lawsuits in the world arise from one simple cause—money!”
At the beginning of chapter six, using the NIV (from hereon) translation, Paul continues his counsel to Timothy about the subject of relationships. Contrary to bible critics in our modern culture, Paul also encourages slaves to serve their masters because they want to, and not necessarily because they must. In 1-2 Paul warns both the slave and the master that favoritism is not expected in believing masters
False Teachers Masquerade for Money Under the Mask of Ministry:
Paul finally gets to what some have said is the core message of this chapter. “The false teachers masqueraded their desire for money beneath the mask of ministry (1 Tim. 6:5, 10; 2 Tim. 3:2), Paul said a leader could not be a lover of money (aphilargyron, 1 Tim. 3:3), since the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (6:10). The ministry is no place to get rich or be consumed with the desire for more money. Contentment in whatever financial condition one finds himself is what Paul modeled and taught for all.”
Paul warns his audience about the perils of riches and that some false prophets are using the gospel for financial gain. Paul, possibly realizing that his words might be misunderstood, gives further clarification. Godliness is a “great gain” but it must be accompanied by contentment.
The Root Produces "all kinds of evils":
Paul’s declares that the powerful root called the “love of money” produces “all kinds of evil.” In the preceding passages, Paul addresses false teachers that strive for worldly gain. In fact, later, in his second epistle to Timothy Paul has a similar warning yet again (See (2:14-18). It is obvious then that Paul is intent on bringing attention and detail to the habits of the false prophet in this discourse. In both of these passages Paul is writing about debate and heated arguments, fighting over words, constant wrangling, and such like. Paul carefully tells us of the damages to the Body of Christ, which is incurred by such practices.
Some contend that, “It is not clear whether Paul’s opponents preach that godliness is a means of gain or simply use religion as a means of gain.” However, the wording of the NIV makes it plain that in the locale of Timothy certain people envisioned the Gospel as a “means for financial gain.” (See 6:5) Paul warns against such attitudes by telling them that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (6:6). Paul makes a clear contrast here, the polar opposite of “contentment” is lust for more things or to get rich and have more money. These very “money hungry” believers had wandered away from the faith in pursuits of financial gain.
Are Our Times Any Different?
It seems that our times are not much different. Of course, certain cultural nuances do not exist anymore, but the very act of using the gospel only as a tool for financial gain is clearly condemned. Money makes things work and is therefore essential in the practical scheme of things. So the meaning here should not be that there is never any monetary remuneration for the “laborer” because “those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the Gospel.” (c.f. Luke 10:7 and 1 Corinthians 9:4-15). In modern times, the application here will necessarily involve money at some point.
1 Timothy 6:10a contains a theological principle that we can apply today, just as relevantly. First, 6:10a is actually a part of a more ancient proverb. Therefore, it held definite and transferable meaning that was resident and relevant for himself and Timothy, at least. We should be wise to avoid constantly seeking lusts and riches or gain. This type of environment is the seed bed for all kinds of evils. Second, we should heed the voice of elders who would warn us against such roots. In verse eleven, Paul takes the application further and actually warns Timothy of falling prey to this same deception (6:11). We would be wise to allow the work of Godliness to be active in our lives, accompanied by contentment in the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Currently our world is seething with a desire for scintillation and theatrics in the ministering of the gospel. Many have taken the viewers of Television and followers by way Internet to the cleaners literally, financially speaking. Charlatans and impostors lurk on Television and radio stations waiting for financial profit from the Godly. Their lust and desire for money and power has caused them to exploit even the most sincere seekers. This is evil, but it comes to those who lust for money.
Competitiveness and Riches:
It is important to our movement that we do not enter a more competitive modus operandi. Competitiveness is fine when placed well, but if not guided can to lead to very unscrupulous deeds…especially when a lust for money has seized the will of a minister(s). As our globe advances we must be cautious to avoid the snare of the prophets. The snare of lusting for money and riches can lead them into falsehood. The link here is undeniable, in some sense.
1 Timothy 6:10b states, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” This portion of the verse is cause and effect. “The last part of the verse emphasizes once again the effect that the desire for wealth has on people.” This lust leads a person to lose the innocent eagerness of Godliness and is subverted to an eagerness for “money”. The Greek term for “wandered” here is a passive verb that means to lead astray or swerve from. Because the verb is passive indicates that the action is being done to the one who has “wandered” as opposed to an active verb, which would indicate it was being done by the person. There are many places in our ministry that we dare not travel; however, with lust as our guide exploration into uncharted territory often seems too easy—often to our demise.
It is cause and effect. We cannot allow a lust for riches and gain, or an improper sense of competitiveness with false doctrine, to satiate our spirits. Such will lead to “all kinds of evils.”
1. Grasping God’s Word-Second Edition, pg. 178 © 2001, 2005 by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays
2. Practical Religion by J. C. Ryle, p. 215 (6:10) © 1998, Banner of Truth Publishers.
3. A Biblical Theology of the New Testament (electronic ed.) by Zuck, R. B. (363). Chicago: Moody Press.
4. The IVP Bible background commentary : New Testament by Keener, C. S., & InterVarsity Press. (1993). (1 Ti 6:5). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
5. Ibid. 1 Tmothy 6:10
6. A handbook on Paul's letters to Timothy and to Titus. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators (150). Arichea, D. C., & Hatton, H. (1995). New York: United Bible Societies.
A Pauline Warning for Modern Times:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10 NIV