The root of ALL evil?

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.

How can the love of money be the root of ALL evil?


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I think the main misconception with this particular scripture is the idea that God is somehow against money. That is not that case at all. “The LOVE of money is the root of ALL evil”, would probably be a clearer way of putting it. By putting the emphasis on the LOVE of money and not the money itself we can make a better distinction between the two. It’s not the money that is the root of all evil, it is the love of the money. Now that we have that cleared up let’s take a closer look at the rest of the equation.

To help us break things down a little,
The things that we’re dealing with here are:

1.) Love:
a: the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration

2.) Money:
a: something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or a means of payment

3.) Root:
a : something that is an origin or source

4.) Evil:
a: morally reprehensible : SINFUL, WICKED
b : arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct

Now even though there’s more than one definition for each of these words, they are close enough that it’s not going to make a difference in this case. Once we slow down and take a harder look at what is being said I think it’s pretty self explanatory.

I Timothy 6:10 - For the love of money is the root of all evil: …

Reworded - The devotion to worldly things of value is the origin of all sinful conduct.

Maybe that definition isn’t the greatest but I think it’s enough to get the point across.

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Webster's defines the colon as a puncuation mark used to introduce an explanation...with that in mind let's read the entire verse (1Tim 6:10) and let the KJV explain itself.

1Ti 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.

Clearly, the scripture is using "love of money" as a synonym for covetousness. Romans 7:7 "...for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." Therefore, the love of money can specifically be traced to all sin and evil, if we simply examine all evil in light of the scriptural synonym covetousness. I challenge anyone to come up with any evil that cannot be so traced, beginning with the very first sin comitted by mankind ..Eve's coveting the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

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1 Timothy 6:10

A verse that is frequently criticized in the King James Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10. "For the love of money is the root of all evil."

James White, in his book The King James Only Controversy, on pages 139 - 140 compares the KJB reading with the NASB, NKJV, and NIV. "For the love of money is A root of all SORTS OF evil". Then he comments: "First, is the love of money THE root of evil, or A root of evil? Secondly, is it a root of ALL evil, or ALL KINDS OF evil? Once again we enounter a situation in which something can be said for each translation."

"The word for 'root' in the Greek does not have the article before it, hence the more literal translation in this case would be 'a root', not the definite 'the root'. The text is not saying that the love of money is the only origin or source of evil, but that it is one of great importance."

"And is it ALL evil, or ALL KINDS OF evil? Literally the Greek reads, 'of all the evils', the terms being plural. The modern translations see this as referring to all KINDS of evils, while the KJV takes all evil as a whole concept. The KJV translation is a possibility grammatically speaking, but it seems to miss Paul's point."

" The love of money gives rise to all sorts of evil things, but there are, obviously, evils in the world that have nothing to do with the love of money. A minister friend of mine pointed out with reference to this passage that it is difficult to see how rape, for example, can be blamed on 'the love of money'. Such is surely a good question for a person who would insist upon the KJV rendering."

These are James White's comments and they are frequently brought up by those who criticize the King James Holy Bible.

In the first place ALL Bible translations frequently place a definite article 'the' when it is not in the Greek text and omit it when it is there in the Greek. Even the Holy Ghost does the same thing when we compare the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke. Often the definite articles are found in a phrase in one gospel and not in the other . This is not uncommon nor inaccurate in the least. There are several examples of both in all versions right here in 1 Timothy. A small sampling of examples are found in I Timothy 3:16. There is no definite article before the flesh, the Spirit and the world, yet all versions put them in the English text.

Likewise the definite articles are not translated in the NASB in 1 Tim. 6: 1 in 'the' masters, 'the' God and 'the' doctrine. I can make a very long list of such examples in just this little epistle of 1 Timothy.

Secondly, at least Mr. White admitted that the KJB reading is grammatically possible. Mr. W. Robertson Niccoll, in his well known book The Expositor's Greek Testament, explicitly says on page 144 of Volume Four, regarding "the root of all evil" that the reading of the Revised Version 'a root of all kinds of evil' (which is the same as found in the NASB, NIV, ESV, and NKJV) quote: "is not satisfactory. The position of riza (root) in the sentence shows that it is emphatic." End of quote.

Thus this other "scholar" is saying that the phrase in question should have the definite article 'the' before 'the root'. Mr. Niccoll is by no means a KJB only; he frequently corrects the Bible text according to his own understanding, just as Mr. White does, yet here his opinion is opposite to that of Mr. White.

Thirdly it should be noted that the readings of the NASB, NIV, and NKJV all add the words KINDS or SORTS to the text, which is not found in the Greek either, and omit the definite article THE before the word "evil". Neither do they make the word "evil" plural, as Mr. White suggests. So much for Mr. White's consistency in criticizing the King James reading as not being strictly literal.

Fourthly, not only does the KJB render this phrase as "the love of money is THE root of ALL evil" but so also do 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, the Revised Standard Version, 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, 1602 and 1858, the Lockman Foundation (same people who put out the NASB) Spanish Biblia de las Américas 1997 - "Porque LA raíz de todos LOS males es el amor al dinero",the 2004 Reina Valera Gomez Bible "Porque el amor al dinero es LA raíz de todos los males"; the Italian Diodati version 1602 and the New Diodati 1991, the French Martin 1744 and the 1996 French Ostervald - "Car l'amour de l'argent est LA racine de tous les maux"; the New English Bible 1970, the KJV 21st Century 1994, Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the 2003 International Standard Version, the Third Millenium Bible 1998, and The New Berkeley Version in Modern English 1969 - "For the love of money is THE root of ALL evils."

Finally and most importantly James White is the one who is missing the meaning of the text and not the King James Bible. I agree with him that the love of money is not the root of every form of evil out there like rape, the fall of mankind in Adam, pride, hatred or lust. But let's take a closer look at versions like the NKJV, NIV, and the NASB to see if they have solved the very problem men like James White address. The NKJV and NIV tell us "the love of money is A root of ALL KINDS of evil", while the NASB has: "the love of money is A root of ALL SORTS OF EVIL."

How many evils are included in the phrase "ALL kinds" or "ALL sorts of evil"? Well, it seems obvious that this would include ALL kinds of evil, not "many kinds" or "lots of different sorts", or "various types of evil". If Mr. White is going to criticize the King James reading because the literal meaning doesn't make sense to him, then to be fair, we would have to conclude that neither does the literal sense of his favorite versions. "All kinds of evil" still means ALL evil, and his modern versions are right back to meaning the very thing he criticized. How can the love of money be A root (and there necessarily must be other roots too that do the same thing) of ALL kinds of evil? This would also include the fall of man, rape, hatred, pride, and sexual lust.

Mr. White and many others seem to read the passage as though it said "the love of money is the root of all SINS". It doesn't. The text is not speaking of all kinds of sins, but of all evil. Evil is the result of sin, not the sin itself.

ALL EVIL is not referring to every kind of evil or sin but rather to a state of evil without mixture of any good. The word evil here denotes the consequences of sin, like unrest of the soul, a guilty conscience, a lack of contentment and other calamities both internal and external.

Notice the context: v.2 "And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren: but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. THESE THINGS TEACH AND EXHORT. 3 If any man TEACH OTHERWISE, and consent not to the wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, AND TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH IS ACCORDING TO GODLINESS; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, surmisings. 5 PERVERSE DISPUTINGS of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, SUPPOSING THAT GAIN IS GODLINESS:from such withdraw thyself. 6 But GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT is GREAT GAIN. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that be rich FALL INTO TEMPTATION and snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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."

The context is's about teaching false doctrines for monetary gain.

This person falls into a state of 'all evil' with no mixture of anything good in his life. 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 persons life and all he feels and experiences is a state of evil. The immediate context of 1 Timothy 6 is that of a Christian's attitude toward money, and in this context the root of all evil is the love of money. It is not speaking about the origin of sins in general.

Compare the following verses to see that the phrase 'all evil' does not refer to every imaginable form of evil or sin, but rather to a state of being which consists of unmixed evil.

In Joshua 23:15 Joshua tells the children of Israel: "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."

Likewise in Proverbs 5:14 "I was almost in ALL EVIL in the midst of the congregation and assembly." And in Genesis 48:16 Jacob testifies: "The Angel which redeemed me from ALL EVIL, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them."

In James 3:16 we are told: "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." Are we to conclude from this verse that where there is envy and strife, there also exist the fall of man, rape, incest, greed and murder? No, rather the presence of these two sins contaminate and affect everything else going on around them, and result in a state of evil.

The experience of most Christians is living in a state of blessings of good along with the presence of evil or difficulties in our lives. But the Christian who pursues the love of money will soon find himself in a state of only evil, sorrows and hurtful lusts and will lose the sense of God's presence and approval in his life. He has erred from the faith. I understand this to be the true sense of the passage as is found in the King James Bible, and many others as well.

Apparently even back in the days of John Calvin some were criticizing the reading of "the root of all evil". John Calvin translated it as it stands in the King James Bible and then makes these comments: "For the root of all evils is avarice" There is no necessity for being too scrupulous in comparing other vices with this. It is certain that ambition and pride often produce worse fruits than covetousness does; and yet ambition does not proceed from covetousness. The same thing may be said of the sins forbidden by the seventh commandment. But Paul’s intention was not to include under covetousness every kind of vices that can be named. What then? He simply meant, that innumerable evils arise from it; just as we are in the habit of saying, when we speak of discord, or gluttony, or drunkenness, or any other vice of that kind, that there is no evil which it does not produce. And, indeed, we may most truly affirm, as to the base desire of gain, that there is no kind of evils that is not copiously produced by it every day; such as innumerable frauds, falsehoods, perjury, cheating, robbery, cruelty, corruption in judicature, quarrels, hatred, poisonings, murders; and, in short, almost every sort of crime. Statements of this nature occur everywhere in heathen writers; and, therefore, it is improper that those persons who would applaud Horace or Ovid, when speaking in that manner, should complain of Paul as having used extravagant language."

The King James Bible is always right.

Will Kinney

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