Is the Love of Money the Root of All Evil?

Is the love of money really the root of all evil? What about hatred, rape, lying, or Adam’s fall? Let’s pursue this a little deeper here on the blog today.

Texts under consideration:

1 Timothy 6:10, “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.” (KJV)

1 Timothy 6:10, “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.” (NIV)

(NKJV says: “a root of all kinds of evil”, ESV says: “a root of all kinds of evils“, NASB says “a root of all sorts of evil”)

Here’s a recap of something I said in my other post:

The new versions addition of the word “kinds of” does not occur in any Greek text. “Evil” is plural, disallowing their interpolation and implying all.

But, the argument on the flip side is this:

True, there is no word for “sorts” or “kinds” in the original, and it is also true that in Greek, the word Evil is plural. The problem then is in translation, because, in English, the word evil is singular (as an abstract, it is ideologically plural, but it is grammatically singular). This makes translation a bit difficult. So, the inclusion of the word “all KINDS of evil” actually makes sense and accurately translates the Greek clause “all evils.”

Since we’ve explored the manuscript angle here before, I’ll just up front say that this reading of “a root of all kinds of evil” is derived from the RSV, Revised Standard Version, which is based on Alexandrian manuscripts. Today’s ESV is the RSV, re-clothed.

The KJV is not alone, historically, in rendering this phrase as “the love of money is THE root of ALL evil”. Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale’s New Testament 1534, Coverdale 1535, Bishop’s Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible of 1599, The Great Bible, Wesley’s translation 1755, Daniel Mace’s N.T. 1729, Darby’s translation, Webster’s 1833 translation, the Douay 1950 version, the New American Bible of 1970, the Living Oracles New Testament, Goodspeed’s American Translation, the Spanish Reina Valera versions of 1569 and 1602, the Italian Diodati version, the New English Bible 1970, the KJV 21st Century, Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the 2003 International Standard Version, and the Third Millenium Bible all do as well.

I personally don’t see that the word evil stands to lose any of its intended meaning in this passage whether it be singular or plural. How many evils are included in the phrase “all kinds of evil”? It kind of comes back full circle to the KJV reading of “all evil” anyway, doesn’t it?

The crux of this particular puzzle lies in finding out the intended meaning of the passage. Let’s check out the context by reading it with the preceding verse.

“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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 Tim. 6:9-10

As we read this in context, I think we begin to see that the problem is that we are reading it as if it says, “The love of money is the root of all SINS,” rather than all evil.  Evil is the result of sin, not the sin itself.

“All evil” is not referring here to every kind of evil or sin but rather to the state of evil.  The word evil as it is used here refers to the consequences of sin–internally and externally manifested, soul-related unrest.

The context of 1 Tim. 6:10 isn’t the “root” or “vehicle” of  “sin” being “money”, but rather the Christian’s attitude toward money and where that attitude leads. We’re shown here that the love of money is the root of all evil. 

Remember that a “root” is not a “cause.” A “root” is not a “seed”.  A seed generates or “causes” something; a root merely acts as a vehicle for feeding. As the root does its job, it contributes the sustenance necessary to the plant or tree’s growth. The love of money in a person’s life spreads out roots out in all directions, leading them into more and more evil.  Our old sin nature is ready and willing to bear evil fruit.

 This person has fallen into a state of  “all evil”. He is “drowned in destruction and perdition” by many “foolish and hurtful lusts”. He is “pierced through with many sorrows“. There is no consciousness of anything good in this person’s life and all he feels and experiences is a state of evil.

To go a step further in our study, in 1 Cor. 2:13 we’re told to “compare spiritual things with spiritual” so let’s look to various scriptures on the subject. A comparison of the following verses shows that the phrase “all evil'” does not refer to every conceivable form of evil or sin, but rather to a state of being which consists of unmixed evil:

Joshua 23:15, “Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you ALL EVIL THINGS, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.”

Proverbs 5:14 “I was almost in ALL EVIL in the midst of the congregation and assembly.”

Genesis 48:16, “The Angel which redeemed me from ALL EVIL, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them.”

James 3:16, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Does James 3:16 imply that where there is envy and strife, there will also be the fall of man, lies, rape, incest, greed and murder? No, but it does indicate that the presence of these two sins contaminate and affect everything else going on around them, and result in a state of evil. Kind of the way leaven works, as we’ve seen before.

We as Christians are blessed by many good things, while existing with the presence of evil or difficulties in our lives. But 1 Timothy 6:10 warns us that the Christian who pursues the love of money will soon be snared in a state of  evil, sorrows and hurtful lusts and will lose the sense of God’s presence and approval in his life. The love of money will cause one to err from the faith. I believe this is the true sense of the passage as it is found in the King James Bible, and many others as well.

Matthew 6:19-24 comes to mind:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness!  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Lastly, with respect to the absence of the definite article in “the Greek” in 1 Timothy 6:10 (“the” root as opposed to “a” root), British scholar, Alan O’Reilly cites 1 Corinthians 2:16, where the scholars inserted a definite article, Hebrews 2:9, where the scholars inserted two definite articles and Luke 1:17, with four definite articles inserted, all of which “are found in no copies of Greek manuscripts from any set of manuscripts found in any “family” of manuscripts.”

1 Timothy 6:10 does not differ grammatically from the above cases.

4 thoughts on “Is the Love of Money the Root of All Evil?”

  1. The “love of money” concept has an interesting application when applied to the new versions. All English version Bibles, with the single exception of the KJV, have copyright holders to whom royalties must be paid by those who print those “bibles.” Permission to print must be granted and royalties paid on every copy printed, with due notation on every copy of the copyright holder’s name. Authors of books can only quote a few lines of any new version without getting special permission, and must note what versions are used in the book.

    To obtain a copyright on any new version, it must be “substantially different” than any other version. So a specific minimum number of changes must be done in order to be granted a copyright. Is this part of the motivation for changing God’s words? Is the “love of money” behind the so-called “updating” of archaic words?

    In many cases, those who own these copyrighted new versions are persons or organizations with questionable motivations and/or reputations. Rupert Murdoch, for example, owns the copyright on the NIV. As anyone might guess, his motive is not “reaching the lost for Christ,” or “building the body of Christ,” or any other Christian/biblical or benevolent reason. His motive is purely “profit.” For many years the RSV was “owned” by the National Council of Churches whose reputation is certainly not five-star. The NCC’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid to terrorist organizations that murder Christians is fairly well known to anyone who takes the time to check. Supporting churches will find blood on their hands in the day of judgment.

    Anyone can print a King James Version bible, and not just because it’s old or that it’s copyright has expired and is now in the “public domain” like several old familiar hymns. At the very beginning when first published, the KJV (Authorized Version) was available for anyone to print, with the motivation for that stipulation being to disseminate the scriptures into as many hands as possible.

    The Protestant Reformation grew and was hasted forward by the invention of the printing press. The printing of bibles funded by Christians and disseminated freely was the spark of fire that burned across Europe and England with God’s truth. The Dark Ages of oppression and ignorance were overthrown by the light of God’s word as it pushed back the darkness. The vast majority of those Bibles were never bought and sold, they were given away freely.

    Copyright owners today are making big profits on every copy of new versions, and the associated advertising promotions reflect their propaganda. Slick, glossy promos trumpet how much “easier” each and every new version is to understand (most of this is lies). With another new bible version coming onto the market about every 18 months, you can begin to understand the profit motive. We certainly don’t NEED 200 plus different English versions. What we need are accurate translations of the scripture into foreign languages for use by missionaries worldwide, including language groups where no scripture is available at all.

    You may notice that if you go to a “Christian” bookstore, and ask questions about gift bibles or study bibles, you’re unlikely to be recommended purchasing a KJV, unless you ask specifically. The sales staff first tries to sell you the latest versions. Why? Because “the love of money is the root of all evil” – just as the KJV says it is.

    Here’s an interesting twist. In II Corinthians 2:17, the KJV says “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God . . .” The new versions, in an attempt to hide their sins of doing that very thing, have changed the word “corrupt” to the word “peddle.” Now aside from the fact that the meaning of these two words is very different, here’s an interesting outcome. By trying to hide their sins, so you won’t realize that even in the Apostle Paul’s day, corruption of the scriptures was taking place which continues to the present day, the new versions have condemned themselves with their preferred choice of wording. Peddling means “selling” – with the idea of making a profit – and that is exactly what modern versions do with their many advertising campaigns – sell “bibles.”

    I can remember not too many years ago at local library sales, if you wanted a used KJV bible or New Testament that had been donated to the “Friends of the Library” sale, the staff would give it to you free of charge – standard policy. I used to gather up dozens of copies at a time for free distribution.

    I personally think KJV Bibles should always be provided free to anyone who wants one. I have never sold a bible, but have personally given away hundreds. I have directly helped to print thousands of copies of scripture in more than one language, and helped fund the same causes worldwide. All copies were provided free and without cost, and many had a printed statement inside the front cover or on the back: “NOT TO BE SOLD,” indicating that black market purchases were not necessary.

    Here’s an interesting KJV verse to consider: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Proverb 23:23). I wonder how that might apply to bibles? Since God’s word is said to be truth and wisdom, and is specifically for the purpose of instruction and understanding, why wouldn’t this verse have some application to the publication and distribution of Bibles? Just a thought.

  2. That is a profound angle I didn’t cover in my above post. I can see people wanting to copyright their own personal commentaries and notes in study Bibles, but why put a copyright on God’s words, requiring anyone who wants to quote more than 200 of those words to get permission first? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel, but only 200 words of it…” That derivative copyright law bears looking into…it is the one reason that there will never be an easier Bible to read than the KJV. Check out this taken from on the subject:

    “To be copyrightable, a derivative work must be different enough from the original to be regarded as a “new work” or must contain a substantial amount of new material. Making minor changes or additions of little substance to a preexisting work will not qualify the work as a new version for copyright purposes.”

    That right there bothers me in light of Deut 4:2, Prov. 3:5-6, and Rev. 22:18-19.

    John, I love how Bibles were freely distributed during the Reformation. Now I know that the first printing of the KJV was for pulpit Bibles, that were given freely to churches…are there more instances? Also, I know that the Waldensians funded 100% of the initial printing of the Olivetan Bible, didn’t they fund printing projects in addition to that Bible? Curious. Seems to me, that people who freely give of their own materials, have the right heart of trusting God to supply their needs…my dad has always given his Bible materials away free of charge, Mark Cahill is another Christian who believes in getting the truth freely into people’s hands and trusting God with covering the financial end.

  3. What I like about this post is that it challenged my way of thinking about the stress of the passage. I’ve spent a lot of time correcting the whole popular misquote, “Money is the root of all evil,” but I still ended up putting stress on the latter part of the verse and not really seeing the setup.

    This post made me do a little digging and research, which enlightened the whole idea you were trying to get across. The love of money really does lead to a multitude of evil. It is the driving force behind many sins– not all of them, certainly, but many indeed, and can totally corrupt a person to the point where they are “all evil.”

    However, what I don’t understand is, with this understanding, why this is an issue for the whole KJVO debate. I get that “all evil” is a state, and that it’s used in parallel passages in the KJV, but I don’t understand how the meaning of this passage is changed by stating that the love of money leads to all kinds of evil…

    The love of money in a person’s life spreads out roots out in all directions, leading them into more and more evil. Our old sin nature is ready and willing to bear evil fruit.

    I think that a reader that hasn’t done the comparative research will come away from reading “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” would come to the same conclusion– as long as they focus on the point of this passage, and get the context/order right.

    As for copyright, every modern Bible has a copyright, including the KJV. In the UK, where the first KJV was published, there is a copyright on the work until 2039. Only the Queen’s printer can copy the work. In the United State, the KJV has entered public domain, not because it wasn’t a copyrighted work, but because of its age. Remember, in the United States, all that has to happen is for 120 years to pass, or for 70 years past the death of the author to occur (Public Domain, Copyright, US).

    And I would suspect that the reason that all Bibles are copyright is to protect the actual work performed as authentic. Under copyright law, every work that your father gave for free, Mr. Cahill’s work, and every post that you write on this site (and I on mine, etc.) is copyrighted, and we can choose to exercise our rights under copyright should someone copy or misuse our text.

    I checked up on the NIV, NASB, and the ESV. While the former two do have a 500 word/not a whole book protection, the latter does not. All three have exception for use in church for non profit works, and request identification as such. They also have different requirement for someone who is writing something for profit– which means they would be benefiting financially from the work of others.

    This is one of the weaker arguments for the KJV, in my opinion.

  4. The original Crown “patent” of 1611, while similar to a copyright, differs in kind from modern day copyrights. While it did authorize the King’s (King James I) printer (Robert Barker)to print the work in England, and made the financing of it possible, it does not, unlike modern copyrights, forbid all reprinting of the Authorized Version today without special license or the paying of royalties. Several editions of the Authorized Version were printed in Holland, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1600’s without license/permission from the Crown, for example.

    There are two publishers in the UK today that print KJV Bibles – Cambridge University and Oxford University. There was another printer in Scotland that legally published an edition of the KJV in 1628. These publishers were “exempt” from the original patent of 1611. The right of Cambridge University to print any and all books, including bibles, was granted by royal charter in 1534 and preceded the Crown patent. Both Cambridge and Oxford have long maintained the “right” to print Bibles.

    The Authorized Version (King James Bible) has never been copyrighted in America or in any other country of the world. Only in Britain, where it was first published, was it “patented” – not technically equivalent to a copyright. Copyright statements found in American published KJV bibles today generally have to do with the associated notes, maps, charts, images, concordances, dictionaries, cross-referencing, or other study aids included between the covers, NOT the words of the text.

    For four hundred years (1611-2011) millions of copies of the KJV have been printed in whole or in part without requesting permission from anyone. Over eight-hundred million copies of the Authorized Version have been printed without anyone being legally required to pay royalties to anyone. This cannot be said of ANY of the new version translations. So, in view of this fact that no royalties, licenses, or special permission were required, we see the difference in “kind” between the original Crown patent of 1611 and modern copyrights. Even international copyright laws which include national treaties and agreements with Britain do not apply to the publishing of the KJV.

    When the Revised Version (RV) copyright of 1881 expired, the Revised Standard Version (RSV) replaced it – with substantial changes required to be granted a new copyright. When the copyright on the American Standard Version (ASV) of 1901 expired, the New American Standard Version (NASV) replaced it with the necessarily required changes to be granted a new copyright and new title. The only thing that is consistent is “change,” is the old saying. So the new versions are soon replaced with newer more altered editions and the older edition version becomes obsolete and ceases to be published, except perhaps in occasional commemorative editions.

    The only version of the Bible that remains unchanged in its text is still sold and published in quantity today – the King James Version. Fonts have changed, bindings have changed, formats, covers, and study helps have been added, but the text of KJV remains the same. And it still is more popular (according to annual sales) than all the new versions combined, year after year. It never went obsolete. Why do you suppose that is? Why are more copies of the KJV published and given away without cost than any other version?

    The copyright issue is not a primary argument in defense of the KJV, as it is a contrasting of how it is disseminated, displaying one more fruit of it’s divine truth and preservation, and why the KJV is still the most published book in the world, and has been for centuries – nothing else compares in religious or secular publications. Nothing else has endured the test of time. The primary arguments defending the King James Version are 1) the statements of the Scriptures themselves, and 2) the overwhelming volume of manuscript evidence that supports the KJV.

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