“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, KJV)
Some critics take issue with the KJV’s statement that the love of money is “the root of all evil”. They take issue with two things. First, the definite article “the root” would suggest that the love of money caused the original evil, whether it be Lucifer’s rebellion or man’s original sin. This is supposedly a problem because money did not exist during Lucifer’s rebellion or man’s original sin. Second, “all evil” would suggest that the love of money causes all evil in existence. This is supposedly a problem because some evils are unrelated to money. Here is the response:
What is money?
We must first ask the philosophical question, “What is money?” Money is not coins and bills because there are cashless transactions going on everyday. Money is not a physical object. Money is an idea. It is the idea that the more you have of X (money) the more you are entitled to have Y (goods) which belongs to another person.
What is the “love” of money?
Readers must be careful not to think that 1 Timothy 6:10 is condemning money itself. The condemnation is against the “love” of money. Hence misguided are the criticisms that money did not exist during Lucifer or Adam’s time or that money does not cause certain evils. It is the “love of money” that has existed from time immemorial. This love of money is the love of having more of X in order to have more of Y which belongs to another person. Hence the love of money is the act of coveting. “Covet” means “to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another” (Merriam-Webster). The context of 1 Timothy 6:10 makes a connection between this love of money and the act of coveting, for the two are the same:
“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.”
Even without being philosophical, common sense dictates that people love money because they love having more of what belongs to other people. One could have this kind of love whether or not money exists as a physical object. This “love of money”, or the act of coveting, certainly existed at the time of Lucifer’s rebellion and man’s original sin. Lucifer coveted God’s throne (Isaiah 14:13) and man coveted the forbidden fruit. Hence it can be said that the love of money is the root of all evil.
Coveting is the root of all evil
Lust is closely related to coveting for they both relate to desire. The Epistle of James says concerning lust:
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15)
Every sin begins with lust (desire). Murder, sexual sins, disobedience to parents – they all come to fruition when we desire to have that which we do not have – our own selfish satisfaction in any given situation. Hence we can correctly say that the act of coveting is the root of all (yes, all) evil.