The Love of money Really Is the Root of All Evil
1 Tim. 6:10
KJV: For the love of money is the root of all evil…
NIV: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…
The KJV is joined by the RSV and REB in rendering this verse, while the NIV is joined by the NASV and NKJV. The disagreement arises because the Greek text has no article with root to show whether love of money is the root of all evil or a root of all evils. There’s no indefinite article “a” in the Greek, though it’s usually implied in a case like this, but the rendering is made certain only by contextual logic. The NIV committee and their supportive committees evidently reasoned that the KJV rendering assigns too much evil to love of money, there being many evils that arise from other causes.* Actually, this is an incorrect interpretation of the KJV rendering, for it doesn’t say that every act of evil ever committed is the result of the love of money. It says that love of money is the only root from which grows every evil known to man. That is, there is no evil that is not propagated by the love of money, and no other sin has such a universal adverse effect. This accords with the Greek that literally says For root of all the evils (every evil) is the love of money. Omission of the first Greek the is common to syntax like this, but here the implied the denies kinds, and supports the sense of the root in English. Thus the KJV the & all, not a & all kinds, are the correct renderings. Love of money is not just one root among others that all grow all sins, but the only one that grows them all. Love of money is the root of all evil, or the all-evil root, the only one that produces all evil, not just the all kinds of evil of the NIV.
*White, The King James Only Controversy. p139, reasons this way, but says the KJV reading is possible.
That love of money is the one sin giving rise to all others is easily seen, but this doesn’t relate to a far less serious problem of stinginess, which can arise from a motive like insecurity. We see how love of money adversely affects all human endeavor as we see that it provides the means for self gratification, the universal basis of evil. Money is a means of power, and love of money fuels the fires of self-gratification and a desire for power over others. We see this as we consider extremes of moral depravity to which men will go to acquire money. Love of money leads men into all the depravity of self- gratification accompanying this love, and progression into all evil is broken only by death or salvation. A clear example of such depravity is seen in drug dealers. It seems to be love of money promising the easy good life and control of others that leads drug dealers to disregard the welfare of innocent children and exert the power of drug addiction over them to get them started in a life of fornication, crime and even slavery to support the dealer's desire for money and power. This shows how love of money produces every evil imaginable, down to the most hideous depths of depravity.
Other sins aren’t so all-encompassing. For example, slander doesn’t lead necessarily to promiscuity, and promiscuity doesn’t lead necessarily to covetousness. In general sin is like a tree with love of money as the root, self-gratification as the trunk and specific sins as branches. The root nurtures the trunk and all the branches, but the branches are related to each other only through the trunk and root. Each branch can survive without others (as in pruning) but none survives without the root/trunk. That branches produce off-shoots is evident, and the branch of slander can have an off-shoot like assault, and the branch of promiscuity can have an off-shoot like family destruction. But the branch of slander/assault isn’t fully related to the branch of promiscuity/ family destruction, the relationship being through the common essential trunk of self- gratification. And the root love of money nurtures the trunk of self-gratification, and so all the branches. Thus the root provides the basic medium by which the trunk can thrive, and the trunk in turn allows every branch of sin to flourish, despite a lack of direct relationship among the branches. When growth develops from the root, it’s seen to be the trunk of self-gratification followed by the branches of all sin. From this we see how love of money is the root of all sin. Of course, there are other trees with other roots, but none is so large and all-inclusive as that whose root is the love of money.
Indeed association of love of money with the first sin from which all sin was hatched is evident. Self-gratification was the original sin that gave birth to all sin when Eve yielded to the appeal of forbidden fruit to the senses. There was no legitimate need met in having this fruit, the only inducement being the temptation by the devil, and self- gratification caused the first sin. Now in that first era, God met every human need, so there was no money system, something necessary in interdependent society to meet the needs of workers specializing in individual trades. In later society, money became the way to supply every need, and thus the means for every self-gratification. Money became the means by which every type of self-gratification was realized for all, and it was then that the love of money became the basic sin that gave rise to, and further nurtured, all types of self-gratification. Thus love of money became the one root producing every branch of sin known to man.
But to best see how love of money is the root of all evil, not just some, we contrast ugly self-gratification with beautiful self-sacrifice (charity in its biblical sense). We begin by seeing the love of money from the perspective of the respectable common man who allows himself to be allured by the spirit that suggests to him that power associated with money is a very desirable means of self-protection and advancement. If this spirit is allowed to develop into a love of money that seeks self-gratification associated with power over others, an unavoidable progression into all depravity begins. This happens because the birth of this love begins an eventual total opposition to God, the source of all light and good. This love can take up residence in a life without being recognized, and is thus a threat to everyone, including those who once would never have dreamt of sins like promiscuity, slander or assault.
But how does the love of money put us in total opposition to God and thus lead us into all sin? In understanding the word charity in scripture we will discover that this word refers to sacrificial giving out of every area of our resources, including talents, time, encouragement, patience, affection, compassion and money, and in some cases, life itself, all for the benefit of others. It is best illustrated in the sacrifice of Christ who gave Himself fully for our salvation. We find that money is only the smallest part of our charity, or divine love. We must give far more, and in a spirit of personal devotion to the welfare of others in order to fulfill God's standard of charity. But if we entertain a spirit of love of money because of the power and self-gratification it confers so that we covet even this smallest possible expression of our charity, we give nothing at all of ourselves to God. This leads us to a path of total self-gratification and total opposition to God's standard of charity, the standard of self-sacrificing divine love. Thus the love of money defines the spirit of antichrist that is in total opposition to God's standard of perfect divine charity. This love covets everything for self, eventually producing a heart that is totally non-sacrificial, totally self-gratifying, totally out of cooperation with God, and totally in cooperation with satan.
From the root love of money arises covetousness of every kind or “anticharity,” which is stealing. A willingness to defy God by stealing even money, the least of our charity, indicates a willingness to steal all things of greater importance that can manifest itself at any time. First, love of money will lead to covetousness (stealing our money gifts that should have gone for God's glory), and this leads us away from God and into other related stealing. Covetousness leads to larceny (stealing money of others), ambition (stealing opportunities of others for riches), belittling (stealing others' dignity to advance self importance), lying (stealing the reputations of others to advance self), cruelty (stealing kindness and encouragement), hard-heartedness (stealing our own purity of soul from God's possession and giving it to satan), promiscuity (stealing the purity of soul of others in an attempt to create a fellowship of misery), etc., etc. If we love and covet money, we become candidates for all the associated evils endorsed by satan because we have stolen the last small vestige of charity due to God, who has the right to expect total charity, His divine standard, from all of His creatures. Indeed, a charitable nature is the self-sacrificing essence of the spirit of Christianity. And the love of money is really love of ever progressive self-gratification which is the essence of the spirit of satan, the author of all evil.
The KJV (and some others) shows us the comprehensive evil of the love of money, this giving rise to every evil since it marks that spirit of satan that is opposed to everything godly or charitable. Love of money marks the beginning of the work of that spirit of evil in a man that ultimately leads him in a rebellion of self-gratification against all moral standards of God. The love of money is the root of all evil because it is the only evil that leads men into all other evils, and is the one universal evil easily able to snare any man, from the vilest to the noblest. Unfortunate inadequate renderings in some modern versions de-emphasize this truth, not teaching the full severity of evil in the love of money. Thus the full importance of the evil of the love of money is missed, causing some to miss recognition of its crucial importance in their lives. There is no other evil that is so universally troublesome, and as the one that seems least harmful to the respectable man, it is the one most able to destroy him ultimately.
To see the disastrous end men are brought to by love of money, we consider 1 John 4:2,3 where we are told that he who denies that Jesus is Christ come in the flesh, exhibits the spirit of antichrist. Men follow various paths that end in a denial of Christ, and a very popular one is the pursuit of the spirit of “anticharity” related to love of money. In 1 John 4, John warned Christians about Gnostics who denied Jesus was God in the flesh. They would deny it was God in the flesh who set the standard of charity, or self-sacrifice, at Calvary, suggesting it was the standard of a mere man who died there or some phantom spirit who only seemed to die. This warped perspective on Calvary and charity will appeal to those who hate the concept of self-sacrifice since they can deny that charity is God's standard by denying that Christ is God. Thus self-gratification arising from the love of money may climax in an ultimate denial of Jesus’ deity, such as that advocated by Gnostics. To deny His deity is to steal His glory and authority from the minds of men. This is the final “anticharity” arising from following the spirit of antichrist that leads men from something as seemingly minor as love of money all the way to an ultimate disastrous end. Readers need to learn well the KJV teaching on charity and love of money in a modern world given to the pursuit of materialism!