Thursday, May 10, 2007

Love of Money...Root of All Evil (Part 2)

In our search to better understand the "Love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" verse (1 Tim 6:10), this posting will take a look at the greater context of Paul's situation in writing 1 Timothy. (See previous blog post.) What we find adds another fun twist on this discourse!

In 1 Timothy, Paul has left Timothy, his "true son in the faith," to supervise the growing church in Ephesus. He continually admonishes Timothy to be on guard and fight false teachings. After his greeting, Paul's very first statement tells Timothy to "command certain men not to teach false doctrines...these promote controversies rather than God's work" (1 Tim 1:3-4). Some had wandered away from the faith to follow these false teachers.

Because Paul had problems with Gnostics, Judiazers, and many others leading people from the church astray, Paul describes the godly traits of true teachers. Among other notable qualities such as self control, one such trait is that they are "not a lover of money" (3:4).

This leads us to the Love of Money discourse in chapter 6. As throughout the book, Paul starts by arguing against teachers with "false doctrines", "who are conceited", "have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels," and "who think that godliness is a means to financial gain" (6:3-5). These teachers were trying to profit from their heretical teachings, and thereby leading some people from the church astray. Wanting to get rich, both leaders and church members fell into temptations (6:9), leading Paul to conclude that 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" (6:10). Notably, this money problem in 1 Timothy commenced with the 'Christian' teachers, and their desire for profit.

Paul saw firsthand how the desire of money influenced teachers and led to dangerous false doctrines and is a major theme throughout much of his writings. In 2 Corinthians, he is dealing with this same situation as in 1 Timothy. While Paul boasts that he preaches "free of charge" (11:7) and is "not a burden to anyone" (11:9), false apostles were trained speakers that profited off their deceptive teachings. They demanded payment for their services, which was customary in the first century. As they were teaching a different gospel, they even claimed that Paul's teachings had to be inferior since he was not paid by the congregation. Not only does Paul have to defend the teachings of Christ, he has to defend himself as an apostle and a teacher. No wonder he writes about these guys so much!

The 'love of money as a root of all evil' verse is written in direct response to the prevalent conflict in the early church over false doctrine and teachers. Although people love to quote (and misquote) this verse in all types of arguments against Christian wealth, Paul is warning about the dangers of Christian leaders who desire to profit. After all, he is writing specifically to Timothy, a leader in the church of Ephesus. As this letter was widely circulated, it became a warning and admonishment to all followers of Christ. Don't let the desire for money influence sound doctrine based on the teachings of Jesus.

Pictures above are an illustration of the "root of evil" and a painting of Timothy as the Byzantines imagined him. The wolf in sheep's clothing picture represents the false teachers and is from

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Anonymous said...

I havent seen this point of view before. The context becomes clear. Thank you.

Joe Lee said...

I totally agree with what you're saying. It grieves my heart knowing that not only are these false teachers being accepted by the church even today, but that they are profiting from it!

One question though... Do you think that it's the same to say:
Love of money is a root of all kinds of evil
Love of money is the root of all evils?

just curious... thanks :D

Anonymous said...

Yes, to all those true believers in "The love of money is the root of all evil", I propose the following: If there is a person who's soul purpose is "money". Would we call that person evil? Well we have done just that! We call that person a corporation. We have determined that a corporation should have all of the rights of a human being. However, the soul purpose of a corporation is to make money, without regard to moral integrity, or community responsibility! So haven't we by creating this human being, created a form of evil? Just a question.

Joe Lee said...

I mean i think that's a slightly misguided example. if a person's sole desire was to make money, then yes, that is evil and sinful. That is the point of the passage, the danger of putting money before God. However, that has little to do with corporations since a corporation is not a person.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but the US Supreme Court has rendered that a US Corporation IS to be treated as a PERSON. So who is evil, the corporation, or the Supreme Court? And if they have the rights of a person, shouldn't they be held to the same rigorous laws that people have to suffer. It is not that corporations are inherently evil, it is the principle they must operate and that is MAKE MONEY no matter they result. Just look at the subprime. This is and has brought down the entire world financial system. Will CITI Corp, or AIG, be punished. Was what they did Evil? There should be someway that corporations should be made to operate by the same standards as real people if the law the law is going to consider the real people. Since corporations pass their taxes on to us in the cost of commodities, let us remove the tax, add an value added tax, and then treat corporations for what they really are, a non entity, that have no lobbing right. If the CEO wants to lobby Congress, he can take the money out of his pocket, but not the corporation, since not being taxed, they do not deserve representation. The point being have we legitimized evil by letting corporations operate with the only concern they live by is to make money, whether this commodity produces good or harm. This is just food for thought.

AD said...

Interesting point on the corporation on a certain level. But i dont think that the sole purpose of the corporation is to make money WITHOUT regard to moral integrity/responsibility. Like a person, the leaders of the corporation can choose their actions to be moral or not. Some corporations give all their profits to charity, while others act like AIG etc...

Joe, back to your question->
Are these the same: Love of money is a root of all kinds of evil and Love of money is the root of all evils? I would say that these couldn't be the same. Evil such as rape would be motivated something other than money.

Joe Lee said...

Right... I believe that as well. I just wanted to check with you since you seem to use the two interchangeably in this post.

Thanks for the post :D