by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6 Lincolnton, NC December 12, 2004
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
1901 ASV Translation:
3 no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money;
4 one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
In chapter 3 verse 3, the Textus Receptus has an extra characteristic ("not greedy of filthy lucre") that has some manuscript support but not a persuasive amount. If Paul really did include it, along with "not covetous", it would simply have been emphatic -- an emphasis which some probably need in order to see just how much they have become lovers of money -- and it is unlikely that he saw any need for that with Timothy.
I. Not Covetous/No Lover of Money.
A. The word is, again, a word that has the negative "a" as a prefix. That prefix is followed by the word for "love" that focuses upon emotional attachment, which is, in turn, followed by the word for "silver" (as a metaphor for "money").
B. The boundaries of "covetousness" are pretty much nailed down in Paul's pointed command to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:8. Investing a significant level of energy in the pursuit of "more" must be put under scrutiny in order to see what is really driving the "want". A person ought to attempt to discover the areas of his/her real interests (as a signification of God's "gifting"), and settle into those areas as long as food and raiment can be obtained thereby. The same exhortation is given, and expanded somewhat, in Hebrews 13:5.
C. This same apostle, in Colossians 3:5, claims that "covetousness" is idolatry; but, he uses a different term than the one used in the text before us.
1. That the word used to describe one qualified to do the "good work" is only used twice in the New Testament is interesting. The interest increases when we realize that the word is never used in the LXX (Greek translation of the Old Testament), that Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon only has about 6 references to it in all of Greek literature, and that Theological Dictionary of the New Testamentdoesn't even reference it at all. It is used so little in all of Greek literature that Thayer actually made the mistake of saying that it was only used in the New Testament (and, as we have already pointed out, it is used only twice there)[See Moulton and Milligan, page 98].
a. The question is, of course, why Paul would opt to use a word that was either very rare in daily use, or so despised as to almost never be used by anyone who was "literary". It is possible that it was what we might call "slang" and, for that reason, was not used in ways that would have given it a place in literature.
b. So, the question remains: why would Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, choose such a term?
c. The answer may well be that it was "harder to dodge" than the typical term for "covetousness".
1) Any time there is an established record that identifies a certain attitude or action as enormously evil, men will take great pains to shroud any association they have with it so that no one will be able to easily accuse them of the guilt of it. Sometimes they are so good at that process that they are able to even deceive themselves.
a) If, as the apostle claims, "covetousness is idolatry", it goes without saying that anyone who wishes to be seen as "godly" will take great pains to distance him/her self from any appearance of guilt in the matter.
b) This dissimulation is, unfortunately, a fact of life for human beings who are significantly afraid of being unmasked.
2) The word used has three parts that makes it harder to dodge.
a) There is the negative particle that makes the word mean "without".
b) There is the typical word for emotional attachment that is normally translated "love of/for", but which means "to be emotionally invested in".
c) And, finally, there is the typical word for "silver", which Paul is using as a metaphor for "money".
3) The reason the word is "harder to dodge" is that it puts the issue into the realm of the emotions -- and it is very difficult for anyone to not be aware of their emotions.
a) Many people will attempt to "explain" their emotions in a way that suits their desired perception of themselves, but there are few, indeed, who do not know whether they are emotionally upbeat or emotionally down.
b) Paul's point is that if you see someone, or yourself, being emotionally stirred up because of the gain or loss of money, you are witness to the "love of money".
2. The issue of "idolatry" is the issue of a "shifted confidence".
a. The point of "God" is His identity as Creator-Provider.
1) His greatest characteristic in terms of creature-awareness is His exercise of power (this is the root of the word "God").
2) The greatest question regarding "power" is: To what objective is the power exercised?
3) To cast the answer to this question in any way that does not boil down to "provision for life" is to corrupt "T"heology at its very core.
a) There are few questions more important than the question of God's overall objective.
b) Being so massively important, it is not ignored by the Word of the God Who reveals His objective.
c) When all is said and done, "Life" turns out to be God's objective for His creation.
d) Thus, provision for life is the objective toward which the power of God turns.
b. To "invest" any creature/created thing with the ability to provide the "Life" is to become an "idolator", and to make manifest the "shift" of confidence from the God of Provision-Power to some lesser "god" who has only, at the very most, "limited power".