Online Bible Commentary
Follow the Money
1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV)
Paul’s letter to Timothy is coming to a close. The whole reason for writing this letter was to address the false teaching spreading among believers, specifically at the house churches in Ephesus. Timothy is helping in Ephesus and Paul has charged him with the task of exposing the false teachers and removing them. Up until this passage Paul has been giving instructions to the church leaders on how to eliminate this false teaching. He gave instructions for proper prayer and worship, qualifications for selecting church leaders and deacons, and instructions on godliness. Now, Paul gives us the reason why people resort to false teaching.
First, Paul describes those who become false teachers. They are “conceited and understand nothing” (v.4a). These are people that think they know better than everyone else. They were the “elitists” of the day. They had no regard for the established teachings. They considered themselves to be enlightened. It was the nature of the false teachers then, and continues to be today. Paul contradicts their self evaluations by describing them as understanding nothing. They were not mature in the faith. They had a little bit of knowledge, which is deadly. This is why he set down his qualifications for church leaders.
Paul continues his description of false teachers. He writes that they have an “unhealthy interest” (v. 4b) in creating all kinds of discord among believers. The word translated “unhealthy interest” comes from the Greek verb “noseo”, which means “to be sick”. False teachers are literally sick people. Their false teaching is merely the symptom of their sickness. Their sickness has corrupted their minds, robbing them of “the truth” of the Gospel (v. 5a). They do not know the truth of the gospel because they have incorrectly interpreted it to suit their own selfish desires, their sickness.
So, what is this “sickness” of false teachers? It is “that godliness is a means to financial gain” (v. 5b). Paul does not disagree that godliness is a means to gain. But it is a means to Christian “contentment”, not financial gain (v.6). We cannot take financial gain with us when we die (v.7). We should be content with having our needs met by God (v. 8). “People who want to get rich” (v.9a) ultimately fall into “ruin and destruction” (v. 9b). “People who want to get rich” fall into “all kinds of evil” (v.10a). “People who want to get rich” resort to false teaching (v.10b). “People who want to get rich” “have wandered from the faith” and “have pierced themselves” with sin (v.10c). The word translated “ruin” (v. 9b) is the Greek word “olethros”. It is the same word used in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 referring to Hell: “They will be punished with everlasting ‘destruction’ and shut out from the presence of the Lord.”
Paul is saying “follow the money”. The motivation for false teaching is for financial gain. We see this in our society today. We see those who preach a “prosperity gospel”. We see others, including churches, who curry favor with certain interest groups by bowing to them. An example of this is those who bow down to the homosexual agenda. This interest group controls vast amounts of money, multiple times the one percent population of homosexuals in this country.
We see corporations “following the money”, we see the Government “following the money” and we see churches “following the money”. They try to deceive us as did the false teachers of Ephesus. They think of themselves as “elitists”. They claim to know better than those of past generations. They claim to be enlightened. They use terms like “equality” and “love”. They fool a lot of people, especially the young. But they do not fool God. God, in this passage, has shown His light upon them. False teachers are motivated by the love of money. They and those who support them are out of step with God. They may prosper for awhile, but they will suffer “ruin and destruction” in the end.