Is the Love of Money Always Evil?
The purpose for this article is to show that it is not
only permissible but highly encouraged from a spiritual vantage point to pursue
money for the sake of benefitting humankind on God's errand. The
Greek word for "love", in 1 Tim. 6:10 actually means
"covet": so it is the greed-lust for money that is evil.
by Sterling D. Allan
October 1, 2013
While it makes sense to be able to pursue wealth for the sake of serving
humankind, sometimes we get hung up emotionally because of scriptures that seem
to admonish against pursuing wealth or riches.
Certainly in the pursuit of wealth for service, there are reasons to be
cautious, to avoid the many pitfalls including: greed, pride, ego, lording it
over others, inequality, avarice, and addiction. It might seem much safer to just
avoid riches to avoid these likely side effects of wealth. (Yet we all know
plenty of cases of these negative attributes showing up even among the poor.)
But those reasons for cautions are countered by the many advantages of having
wealth to be more effective in carrying out one's God-given missions in life. In
fact, one could argue that the truly noble soul is one who has such wealth and
uses it for good, without it tainting his soul.
Who is more likely to change the world for good? A monk in a cave or a true
humanitarian with a large team under his or her guidance, implementing grand
visions of transformation?
While intuitively, it makes sense that it is good to pursue wealth when it is
for service, we still can be hard-wired mentally and subconsciously to have
hang-ups about pursuing riches because of the warning scriptures.
What I would like to do is get to the etymology of these scriptures so that we
can mentally unhook from the meanings we have previously ascribed, which are not
actually based in truth, so that we can unhook that detrimental programming from
our brains and be able to pursue wealth for service with the kind of vigor it
deserves, without hesitation.
In the English language, at least, probably the most hard-hitting scripture in
warning against riches is: "The love of money is the root of all
evil." (1 Timothy 6:10)
For me, this verse has been deeply internalized in my subconscious, along with
several other similar scriptures such as Jesus' statements: "You cannot
serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13), and "It is easier
for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the
kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23-26; Mark 10:24-25; Luke 18:24-25).
As you look at the world situation and the control that those who have billions
and trillions of dollars wield -- usually to the detriment of freedom and
goodness -- it's easy to see these sayings vindicated.
A dozen years ago, I was so convinced that riches are a spiritual curse that I
thought taking a vow of poverty sounded like a good idea.
However, this thought form is in battle with the realization that in order to be
really effective in blessing people's lives, money can be a real boon. Without
it, you're limited to a survival existence, which is very stressful. With it,
your free to travel, contribute, get tools you need, hire people to help with
your mission, etc.
Still, those scripture warnings against riches sit there nagging in the back of
my head, holding me back from the idea of embracing the love of money and what
it can do.
Love of Money 1 Tim. 6:10
So last March, 2013, when I began attending 3
Key Elements courses, and I heard Kirk Duncan saying things like: "Our
interpretation of the verse: 'The love of money is the root of all evil', has
been used by the adversary to mess with people's minds and keep them from
pursuing a path of success that will empower them to really step forward into
their foreordained missions in life," while part of me thought there is
something to what he is saying, part of me was fighting him, because of how
deeply engrained that verse is in my life paradigm.
Last night, I was listening to a recording (via the Skull Training subscription
we have) of a presentation Kirk did at a Art of Mentoring course, where he again challenged this negative thought form
that the "love of money" is evil. He said two things that got me
really probing my psyche:
1) That thought form is very often used as an excuse for people to be lazy and
not rise up to their potential, writing it off as: "well, it's just my lot
in life, as a spiritual person, to not have riches", rather than push
through the obstacles that come along and rise to a higher level of performance.
2) He asked, "I want to see a raise of hands of people who have fasted and
prayed about that verse [(love of money is the root of all evil) as we typically understand it] to get a confirmation
that it is a true principle to live your life by." No one raised their
hand. Yet how many of them have used that verse as a key informer of their world
view? -- probably 100%
Kirk's take on money is that it is not only acceptable but imperative to
"love" money if you want to attract it into your life as a way to
bless others and more effectively accomplish your mission in life. Compared to
the first verses mentioned above, that sounds like total spiritual heresy.
So after my wife and I finished listening to the recording, I pulled out James
Strong's Concordance of the Bible to see what I might learn about the
word for "love" that is used in 1 Timothy 6:10 "The love of money
is the root of all evil."
It turns out that in the Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek, there
are many words for "love". The word that is translated "love
thy neighbor as thyself" is not the same word as "the love of
money is the root of all evil."
It reminds me of how in Alaska, there are a lot of words for "snow,"
describing its various types. That makes sense, since that white stuff is
such a integral part of life in Alaska.
In the Old Testament, James Strong gives the following word numbers for words
that are translated love, lovedst, lovely, lovest, loveth, loving: 157, 160,
1730, 2245, 2836, 2896, 5690, 5691, 7355, 7474.
Here are the words James Strong gives for those same English words as they are
found in the Greek New Testament: 25, 26, 2309, 5360, 5361, 5362, 5365, 5363,
5368, 5383, 5388.
So, now that you see that not all words translated "love" in the Bible
are the same word in the Hebrew and Greek, let's take a look at the word use for
"love" in 1 Timothy 6:10. James Strong says it is word 5365.
In my Zodhiates' Lexicon to the New Testament, word 5365 is defined as follows:
5365. φιλαργυρια philarguria; gen. philargurias,
fem. noun from philarguros (5366), a lover of money. The love of money
(1 Tim. 6:10; Sept.: Jer. 8:10). Pihlarguria may be regarded as a type
of pleonexia (4124), covetousness.
Its primary meaning is "covetousness", which has a very different
feel to it than "love."
Note that it derives from the next word down, which is defined as follows:
5366. φιλαργυροσ philarguros; gen. philargurou,
masc.-fem., neut. philarguron, adj. from philos (5384), a friend
or loving, and aruros (696), silver, money. Loving money, avaricious,
covetous (Luke 16:14; 2 Tim. 3:2).
Avaricious, in English, means: "Having or showing an extreme greed
for wealth or material gain"
Word 5365 also cites word 4124, which has the following definition:
4122. πλεονεκτεω pleonekteo; contracted pleonekto,
fut. pleonekteso, from pleion (4119), more, and echo
(2192), to have. Intrans., to have more than another, covet, take advantage,
defraud. In the NT, trans., to take advantage of someone, defraud, with the
acc. (2 Cor. 7:2; 12:17, 18; 1 Thess. 4:6); pass. (2 Cor. 2:11)
Deriv.: pleonektes (4123), covetousness.
Syn.: epithumeo (1937), to long for, set the heart
upon, lust after; epipotheo (1971), to dote upon, greatly desire; himeiromai
(2442), to be affectionately desirous; apostereo (650), to defraud.
Ant.: hustereo (5302), to come behind, lack; leipo
(3007), to be destitute; elattoneo (1641), to be or have less; chrezo
(5535), to need; echo anagken (echo , have; anagken ,
need), to have need.
With this definition of "love", now, the phrase "The love of
money is the root of all evil" makes a lot more sense, because it has to do
with coveting, avariciousness, defrauding, taking advantage, inequality. It has
nothing to do with blessing the lives of others and everything to do with taking
advantage of others to their detriment and your own gain.
One of the defining characteristics of a sociopath is the lack of empathy for
others, the lack of perceiving how others feel, and how your actions impact
others. That attribute is at the core of "The love of money is the root of
So, I think it's safe to say that 1 Tim. 6:10 makes more sense when you know the
meaning of the word used for "love" in that verse. And it doesn't
contradict at all the idea of pursuing wealth for the benefit of humankind. If
anything, it reinforces it.
Okay. One down -- or explained to be consistence with what our intuition or
conscience says makes sense. Now let's tackle "You cannot serve God and
The Greek word used for "mammon" is defined as follows by Zodhiates'
3126. μαμμονασ mammonas,
μαμονασ mamonas; gen. mammona,
masc. noun. Wealth, the personification of riches. Mammon, the comprehensive
word for all kinds of possessions, earnings, and gains, a designation of
material value, the god of materialism. In Luke 16:9,11, it denotes riches,
equivalent to ploutos (4149), wealth. In Matt. 6:24 and Luke 16:13, the
Lord personifies mammon, the god of materialism.
The operative word here is "materialism". When I think of
"materialism", I think of the same kind of attributes we saw above:
avarice, greed, inequality, taking advantage of another. It is self-centered,
So taking a look at the Greek definition of that word likewise helps us dislodge
this verse from having the broad coverage that we previously might have
interpreted it it has having: all things pertaining to money and riches -- Not.
It only refers to wealth when it is a function of crass materialism.
Eye of a Needle
What about this statement? "It is easier for a camel to go through an eye
of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God"?
Wikipedia gives the following:
|The saying was a response to a young
rich man who had asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to inherit
eternal life. Jesus replied that he should keep the commandments, to which
the man stated he had done. Jesus responded, "If you want to be
perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." The young man became sad
and was unwilling to do this. Jesus then spoke this response, leaving his
The "eye of the needle" has been claimed to be a gate in
Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel
could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its
baggage removed. This story has been put forth since at least the 15th
century, and possibly as far back as the 9th century. However, there is no
evidence for the existence of such a gate.
Variations on this story include that of ancient inns having small
entrances to thwart thieves, or a story of an old mountain pass known as
the "eye of the needle", so narrow that merchants would have to
dismount from their camels and were thus more vulnerable to waiting brigands.
There is no historical evidence for any of these, either. This also
ignores the explanation given in Matthew
man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
of Alexandria claimed that "camel" is a Greek misprint; that
kamκlos (camel) was a misprint of kamilos, meaning
"rope" or "cable".
However evidence for such a Greek term is weak, there is little or no
Greek manuscript support, and it goes against the standard principle of
textual criticism that errors tend to happen towards the easier reading,
not against it.
The concept, here, as I see it, is that in pursuing wealth for the sake of
service, we must be careful to not become attached to the wealth as if it were
"ours". We need to remember that we are but pass-through vessels for
divinity. What we visualize and the angels materialize for us is a stewardship.
In the case of the rich young man who came to Jesus, if it were a rich steward
who had obtained his riches as a gift from God to bless humankind, then the
admonition: "sell your possessions and give to the poor" would seem
like just another days' chore. "Okay, done. What next?" He visualizes
something else that's awesome, the angles help him manifest it, and on he goes.
That is the state of mind we need to have -- as I see it.
A Few Alphabetics Extra
For what it's worth, I might mention a few things that came to my attention as I
was looking these things up.
Several years ago I discovered a code in the alphabetical sequence of words, especially the Old and New Testament Hebrew and Greek lexicons. I call the code "Alphabetics", and one day I'll probably write a book about it. It involves taking numbers such as phone numbers, addresses, zip codes and other strings of
digits from modern people, places and other things, and correlates them by number to words in the
I've deduced that the reason for these alignments has to do with resonance. It
is not about pre-destination. These are merely "interesting" and
"noteworthy" but certainly not "mandatory edicts or
prophecies" -- not at all. The onus is put on us to use our best
discernment and most importantly our conscience to do the right thing. These
merely give us something to think about and run by our conscience and brain for
The word for "camel", word 2574, is on page 816 in my Zodhiates NT
Lexicon. There's only one Greek word for "camel" in the New Testament.
816 also happens to be the telephone area code in Missouri, which is where the
Mormons believe they will eventually end up to build the kingdom of heaven on
earth -- the New Jerusalem. Curious that the word "camel" shows up on
There are two Greek word for "riches" in the NT. One is 4149, and it
happens to be one word away from 4150.
4150 is the last four digits of the LDS Headquarters zip code: 84150. [I've done
several write-ups about that zip code. For example, word 4150 in the Old
Testament lexicon includes the following phrases:
|(1) a set time; "the vision belongs to a time (somewhat remote)"|
|(2) an assembly|
|the holy tabernacle|
|(3) the temple|
|seats of the prophets|
|(4) an appointed sign, a signal|
Remember, that is the definition of word 4150 in the Old Testament Lexicon.
You probably thought you were reading a description of Temple Square. It just
happens to be nearly identical -- with the same number.]
In his lecture I listened to last night, Kirk pointed out something to the
effect that "The General Authorities are usually very wealthy"
(speaking of the professions they had prior to becoming General Authorities).
Whether or not that wealth is dedicated to service is a matter between each of
them and God. That the word for "riches" falls one before 4150 I think
is very interesting.
The other Greek word translated "riches" in the NT is word 5536, which is on
page 1480 in Zodhiates. 1480 is the sum of value of the Greek letters that spell Christos
(the word for Christ). I've written extensively about that. The meaning of word
5536 is "Something useful or capable of being used. In both the sing. and
pl. it means money. In Gr. writings it also means thing, matter, business."
There are at least two ways to think of this line-up. 1) It is a validation of
the idea that our business in life should be to step into our God-calling and do
the work we were foreordained to do, to which we are ideally suited. For one
person it might be serving as a phenomenal janitor, who finds fulfillment
in taking great care to keep things spotless; for another it might be to be a
public speaker about how to overcome addictions. 2) It contrasts the work
of God with the typical work of man, which is inclined to evil when they focus
selfishly on getting ahead at any expense.
The first word we looked up, above, 5365, "lover [covetous] of money", is on page 1444 of Zodhiates.
For what it's worth, when put into its proper priorities or thought of as an
opposite contrast, I can't help but think
of the 144,000 -- the army of God, that will thrash the nations by the power of
From my vantage point, it seems to me that Kirk Duncan is helping to raise up God's Army, to the
extent that they are rooted in principles of truth.
It's certainly an exciting time in which we live. Together, let's create a
better world, using money as a loved tool from God, not an obsession to get gain
A Scripture That Supports
With the above commentary in mind, you'll see that this scripture from the
Book of Mormon (Jacob 2:17-19) is really on target:
17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your
substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to ado goodto clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
# # #
The numbering of words in the Old and New Testament was established by James
Strong in Strong's Concordance,
published in 1894. His numbering
system is the standard used by most OT & NT lexographers.
The specific NT Lexicon I use primarily is The
Complete Word Study Dictionary by Spiros Zodhiates, AMG Publishers, 1992.
The OT Lexicon I use primarily is Gesenius'
Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament by H.W.F. Gesenius, Baker Books,
See also: http://www.greaterthings.com/Bibliography.htm
Page posted by Sterling
Last updated October 02, 2013