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)
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.