[An exposition of 1Timothy 6: 9-11 by D. M. Panton , with Scripture quotations from the N.I.V.]
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them" (2 Timothy 3: 1-5).
"Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?' "
"Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word ["the message about the kingdom" (Matt. 13: 19)] and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires of other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful" (Mark 4: 16-19).
"At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he
had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How
hard it is for the rich to enter the
"For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy
person - such a man is an idolater - has any inheritance in the
No sympton of the Age is more deeply embedded than the passion for money. Extraordinarily dominant before the War - which gave it a God-given and tremendous shock, hitting the passion in all nations with stunning force - it has yet survived, and to-day underlies the war of classes, and the rivalry of nations. "In the last days men [men universally] shall be LOVERS OF MONEY" (2Tim. 3: 2).
the Holy Spirit’s warning sinks at once to the very heart of the sin. "People who want to get
rich" - it is remarkable that the apostle does not say, "People who inherit riches"; the words want or ‘desire’ A.V., means a purpose formed after mature
deliberation - "fall into temptation"
(1Tim. 6: 9). It is the
desire to be wealthy, not wealth; it is the love of money, not
money: for money in itself, possessing no moral character,
is morally immaterial: so that the poorest man can be far deeper in this sin
than the wealthiest. It is a lightning flash on every heart. Covetousness
has nothing to do with our bank account: it is our heart-attitude towards
wealth; and all the consequent peril springs, not from the hand that
accumulates the wealth, nor from the brain that plans it, but from the heart
that desires it: and the peril is, that the love
of money can pass muster, and does, as high morality. The Pharisees,
universally taken as models of sanctity, were unmatched as lovers of
money. For covetousness can masquerade as thrift, prudence, foresight: it
can consume a soul that has not a single coarse or sordid sin: it puts within a
man’s reach the possibilities of vast good: it even gives him high standing
The Holy Spirit unveils to us the consequences of this secret lust. "People who want to get rich fall into temptation" - temptation to unjust gain, to doubtful business, to dangerous speculation, to absorbing self-centredness; in a word, to profiteering. Not that the temptation is always yielded to. Paralyzed from head to foot, a millionaire to whom health is the one unpurchasable boon, Sir Jesse Boot, gave £250,000 to a philanthropic scheme, offered it to commemorate "seventy years of a happy life." Money and misery are by no means inseparable. Nevertheless the Spirit defines the peril still more closely: "and a trap," a Satanic trap; that is, a temptation with an entangling power, out of which it is not easy for the trapped soul to escape (Ellicott). A rich man once said: "I owned £10,000, and was a happy man. Now, £100,000 owns me. It says, ‘Lie awake at nights and worry.’ It says, ‘Run here,’ and I run. It says, ‘Trust in me,’ and I trust in riches. I am rich, unhappy, and hankering after more." "But," someone asked him, "why don’t you give away the £90,000, and be happy again?" "Ah," he answered, "did you ever hold the handle of a galvanic battery? The stronger the current the tighter you hold." So the snare breeds hateful consequences for the victim on whom its steel trap has snapped: "many foolish and harmful desires, that plunge men into ruin [of body] and destruction [of soul]"; such as love of luxury, love of worldly company, love of the pleasures of the table, love of every kind of indulgences - damning lusts. "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you’" (Heb. 13: 5)
Holy Spirit next analyses the underlying fact. "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of
evil": that is, it is root-sin; there is no crime which has not
sprung from a love of money; which is more than a desire for wealth - it is not only coveting what I have not
got, but the hoarding of what I have. What evil it breeds!
Prayerlessness, worldliness, lies, thefts, jealousies, law-suits; it estranges
friends, divides families, hardens hearts; it nurses extravagance, pampers
appetite, fosters pride; it "sweats"
labour, freezes up charity, and indulges lust; in countless cases it has been
the direct cause of murder: "A stingy
man," says Solomon, "is eager to get
rich" (Prov. 28: 22). Yet what manna from heaven money
unloved can be, and how it can reveal a softened heart! "Why," Lord
Grey once asked Cecil Rhodes, "do you always
give away cheques of £20, £30, £50, or more, to every ne’er-do-well who wines
to you for help?" "Well,"
said Rhodes, "a man once came to me in
Once more, and finally, the Spirit emphasizes His warning. "Some people, eager for money" - literally, reaching out hands eagerly to take (Ellicott) - "have wandered from the faith." Nothing so hardens a man against all truth - and especially God’s truth on laying up treasure - as the love of money; it is an absorbed egotism, the enemy of all higher love. No Church grows in hoarded wealth, and whose members are amassing riches, which is not also growing in unbelief: the love of money and the love of truth are incompatible: "You cannot serve both God and Money" (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16: 13); it is covetousness [idolatry] or Christ. So the sorrowful conclusion ends in sobs: "and pierced themselves with many griefs"; pierced themselves round about (as a hand plunged into a hornet’s nest) with many pangs. "Millionaires who laugh." Said Andrew Carnegie, "are rare." Sir Earnest Cassel, who spend vast fortunes for the benefit of mankind, a multi-millionaire, the friend of kings and emperors, said to one of his visitors: "You may have all the money in the world, and yet be a lonely, sorrowing man. The light has gone out of my life. I live in this beautiful house, which I have furnished with all the luxury and wonder of art; but, believe me, I no longer value my millions. I sit here for hours every night grieving for my beloved daughter." How much keener must be the sorrow which wakes up to the shame of how the wealth was amassed! Conscience is crucified on a cross of gold. Of four wealth-seeking Christians that I have known, one never enters the doors of a church of which he was once a deacon; the second is living in open sin; the third ended in a lunatic asylum; and the forth died in the conviction that he had committed the unpardonable sin. The true wealth lies in making others wealthy. Mr Charrington, who renounced a fortune for Christ, once wrote: "In early life I might have inherited a great fortune, which would have enabled me to live in luxury and ease; but, happily for me, I think I chose the better part in relinquishing great wealth and devoting my life in working and living on a small income in the East End of London, I trust for the benefit of my fellow creatures. I can assure all, after fifty years experience, that my life has been a far happier one in living for others, than if I had spent my whole life for my own personal gratification." No life is so charged with joy as the self-renouncing life: "Poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything" (2 Cor. 6: 10).
So Paul sums up in words of extraordinary vigour. "But you, man of God"- is there a sublimer description of a Christian in the world? - "flee from all this" - the love of money, and all its brood of sin: man of the world, pierce yourself through with many ‘griefs’; man of God, shun the love of money as you would shun leprosy. "With such words before him, one would think that any Christian man would as laying up money, or is planning to do so, would at once abandon his project. But how many such cases have been heard of? I cannot remember one" (J. P. Gladstone). How remarkable that even a Timothy has to be warned against a love of money! If (Paul says) you would be a man of God - a man who belongs to God, who lives for God, who is like God - flee the desire to be rich: "AND PERSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS, GODLINESS, FAITH, LOVE, ENDURANCE AND GENTLENESS."
- D. M. Panton.
CONCLUDING REMARKS ON WHAT APPEARS TO BE A CONTRADICTION
Immediately the disciple is faced with a problem, and some serious questions may immediately spring to mind. Is it worth while to follow Christ? Does not such a lifestyle involve one in great personal loss and persecution? Is it not written: "In this world you will have trouble," and "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (John 16: 33; 2 Tim. 3: 12). "Is there adequate compensation for such a sacrifice and endurance?" A correct interpretation of he following words hold the answer to these questions: "Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal* life to which you were called" (1Tim. 6: 12).
[* It should be evident to all regenerate believers that there is an apparent contradiction in the above text, for we read in Romans 6., that "eternal life" is a “free gift” of God: and we don’t ‘fight’ in order to ‘take hold’ if it! "For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Christ Jesus] the many will be made [‘declared’] righteous" - That is, by being accredited with Christ’s righteousness - justified by faith. - "The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through [imputed] righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5: 18-21): ‘eternal life’ is therefore a ‘free gift’ of ‘grace’. Again: " For you granted him [Jesus Christ] authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have [by grace] given him" (John 17: 2).
What appears to be a contradiction, is overcome when the Greek word (‘aionios’), (in the context above) is translated ‘age-lasting’ instead of “eternal”.
A. L Chitwood commenting on Hebrews 5: 9 says:-
"The word ‘eternal’ in the English text is misleading. Those for whom Christ is the source of salvation (i.e., Christians, regenerate believers) already possess eternal salvation; and, beyond that, this salvation was not acquired through obedience to Christ, as in the text. Rather, it was acquired through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3: 16).
Obedience to Christ, resulting from suffering, can come into view only following belief, never before. Only the saved have ‘passed from death unto life’ and are in a position to suffer and subsequently obey. The unsaved are still ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (John 5: 24; Eph. 2: 1).
“The Greek language, from which our English versions have been translated, does not contain a word for ‘eternal.’ A person using the Greek language thinks in the sense of ‘ages’ ; and the way this language is normally used in the New Testament to express ‘eternal,’ apart from textual considerations, is through the use of the Greek words eis tous aionas ton aionon, meaning, ‘unto [or ‘with respect to’] the ages of the ages’ (ref. Heb. 13: 21; 1Pet. 4: 11; Rev. 1: 6; 4: 9, 10 for several examples of places where these words are used, translated ‘forever and ever’ in most versions).
Another less frequently used way to express ‘eternal’ in the Greek New Testament, apart from textual considerations, is through the use of a shortened form of the preceding - eis tous aionas, meaning "unto [or, ‘with respect to’] the ages" (ref. Rom. 9: 5; 11: 36; 2Cor. 11: 31; Heb. 13: 8 for several examples of places where these words are used, translated ‘forever’ in most versions).
The word from the Greek text translated ‘eternal’ in Hebrews 5: 9 is aionios. This is the adjective equivalent of the noun aion, referred to in the preceding paragraph in the plural form to express ‘eternal.’ Aion means ‘an aeon [the word ‘aeon’ is derived from aion] or ‘an era,’ usually understood throughout the Greek New Testament as ‘an age.’
Aionios, the adjective equivalent of aion is used seventy-one times in the Greek New Testament and has been indiscriminately translated ‘eternal’ or ‘everlasting’ in almost every instance in the various English versions. This word though should be understood about thirty of these seventy-one times in the sense of ‘age-lasting’ rather than ‘eternal’; and the occurrence in Heb. 5: 9 forms a case in point.
Several good examples of other places where aionios should be translated and understood as ‘age-lasting’ are Gal. 6: 8; 1Tim. 6: 12; Titus 1: 2; 3: 7. These passages have to do with running the present race of the faith in view of one day realizing an inheritance in the kingdom, which is the hope set before Christians.
On the other hand, aionios
can be understood in the sense of ‘eternal’ if the text so indicates.
Several good examples of places
where aionios should be so translated
and understood are John 3: 15, 16, 36. These passages
have to do with life derived through faith in Christ
because of His finished work at
Textual considerations must always be taken into account when properly translating and understanding aionios, for this is a word which can be used to imply either "age-lasting" or "eternal"; and it is used both ways numerous times in the New Testament."
Textual considerations ‘leave no room to question exactly how aionios should be understood and translated in 1 Timothy 6: 12. Life during the coming age, occupying a position as co-heir with Christ in that coming day’, is what our context is all about: "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of" [‘age-lasting’ or ‘life for the age’] "to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Tim. 6: 11, 12).
rich young ruler asked Jesus what he most do in
order to inherit the kingdom, and when he heard the words: "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, ... the man's
face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth" (Mark 10: 21,22).
"How hard [but not impossible] it is for the rich
to enter the
was the love of riches which disqualified the Rich Young Ruler
from attaining an inheritance in "the