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 Timothy 6:10
Meaning of 1 Timothy 6:10
The meaning of the verse, “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” is often taken out of context. People think that the verse conveys that money is bad, whereas the apostle Paul is talking about the love for money. Money can be used for good as well as for ill, but it is the love of money that can cause problems in one’s life. Apostle Paul wants to say that lusting after money and the intense desire to gain more money and increase worldly wealth is the root cause of sorrow and pain. This can also lead one away from God because the love of money and love for God cannot coexist.
Interpretations of 1 Timothy 6:10
1 Timothy 6:10 is widely misinterpreted and altered both in Churches and among people. Here are some interpretations one can conclude from the verse.
Interpretation #1 People must not earn money to stay good
The interpretation of the verse, “For the love of money is the root of all evil” implies that the reader must avoid earning money as it corrupts their mind. A person who prefers working in an office or is highly paid might not stay good or kind because of their income, which is the root of all evil and will lead them astray from God. For example, a business owner is at risk of falling into the hands of evil as he schemes to grow his or her business. Therefore, the author expects the reader to remain a good person without earning their own money but to depend on others for their welfare.
Interpretation #2 Poor people are closer to God
Here, the reader may get the impression from the Bible that God favors poor people over rich people. A bible verse that can be taken, for example, is, “Blessed is poor in the spirit.” Hence, the reader believes that poor people are closer to God and are loved by him. This could be the reason why most Christians choose to live a simple/hermit kind of life and are not very high-achieving in life. They take the example of all the disciples of Jesus Christ, who left their comfort and occupation to follow Him while surviving on the support of the other followers. Thus, the meaning of the verse, “For the love of money is the root of all evil” is that poor people are closer to God.
Interpretation #3 God wants his followers to give up all their money
The interpretation of the verse, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith” is that God requires his followers and believers to donate all their wealth so that they can be saved from evil and sorrows. Rarely do a few rich people experience an awakening and donate their wealth out of goodwill, but they choose to abandon it. The reader can interpret that doing so can please God and keep them away from sadness and pain, as parting from hard-earned money could be difficult. Hence, the greatest act of a human being is to give away their earnings and follow God while staying away from worldly things.
Interpretation #4 A believer must constantly support charities
The love for money will be less without greed when one thinks of the underprivileged and shares their wealth by either supporting charities or directly providing for families or local churches. According to the author, a true believer will do the same in order to avoid sorrow and becoming evil, as suggested in verse. When one decides to share their wealth with people who have none, it will not only soften their hearts but will also make them realize the importance of God. Hence, in this interpretation, the verse, “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” expects the believer to regularly support charities in order to prove themselves. However, they do not have to abandon their current lifestyle to be charitable.
Interpretation #5 Extreme greed for money makes people sin
The final interpretation of the verse, “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” is that when a person is extremely greedy, it can lead to sin. This can be understood when a person commits acts of taking bribes, getting involved in corruption, etc. There are countries like India where women are killed for dowry. These are excellent examples of sins committed due to greed. Hence, the apostle Paul asks the reader to avoid love for money.
Historical background of 1 Timothy 6:10
1 Timothy was written by Apostle Paul to Timothy, a partner with him in some of his ministering days. He wanted to see Timothy but was not sure if he would be able to, so he wrote this letter to Timothy to help him understand his duties as a Church leader better. The sixth chapter is the final chapter of the first letter to Timothy. Chapter 6 talks about good Christian conduct, false teachers, attitude toward money, and godly living. The 10th verse talks about how the love for money can cause a man to commit sins and deter him from his faith.
Literary Devices of 1 Timothy 6:10
1 Timothy 6:10 is a strong statement about money. It has a few noteworthy literary devices. Here are some of them.
Consonance – The verse has a good use of consonant sounds. For example, the sound of /l/ in ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after’.
Adage – An adage is a statement that expresses general truth. Here, the first phrase of the verse is used as an adage not only among Christians but also in every major culture. For example, ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil’.
Alliteration – The verse also uses constant sounds at the beginning of the words, making it a good example of alliteration. For example, the sound of /w/ and /f/ in ‘which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith’.
Imagery – The final phrase of the verse is a good example of imagery as the reader can visualize the self-inflicted wounds by a person who falls into depression due to the lack of money or having money but no peace.