1 Timothy 6:6-10
6. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
6. Est autem quaestus magnus pietas cum sufficientia.
7. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
7. Nihil enim intulimus in mundum; certum quòd neque efferre quicquam possumus.
8. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.
8. Habentes autem alimenta et tegmina, his contenti erimus.
9. But they that will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
9. Nam qui volunt ditescere incidunt in tentationem et laqueum, et stupiditates multas et noxias, quae demergunt homines in exitium et interitum.
10. 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.
10. Radix enim omnium malorum est avaritia; cui addicti quidam aberrarunt a fide, et se ipsos implicuerunt doloribus multis.
6. But godliness with sufficiency is great gain. In an elegant manner, and with an ironical correction, he instantly throws back those very words in an opposite meaning, as it he had said -- "They do wrong and wickedly, who make merchandise of the doctrine of Christ, as if "godliness were gain;" though, undoubtedly, if we form a correct estimate of it, godliness is a great and abundant gain." And he so calls it, because it brings to us full and perfect blessedness. Those men, therefore, are guilty of sacrilege, who, being bent on acquiring money, make godliness contribute to their gain. 1 But for our part, godliness is a very great gain to us, because, by means of it, we obtain the benefit, not only of being heirs of the world, but likewise of enjoying Christ and all his riches.
With sufficiency. 2 This may refer either to the disposition of the heart, or to the thing itself If it be understood as referring to the heart, the meaning will be, that "godly persons, when they desire nothing, but are satisfied with their humble condition, have obtained very great gain.", If we understand it to be "sufficiency" of wealth' (and, for my own part, I like this view quite as well as the other,) it will be a promise, like that in the book of Psalms,
"The lions wander about hungry and famished; but they that seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing."
The Lord is always present with his people, and, as far as is sufficient for their necessity, out of his fullness he bestows on each his portion. Thus true happiness consists in piety; and this sufficiency may be regarded as an increase of gain.
7. For we brought nothing into the world., He adds this for the purpose of setting a limit to the sufficiency. Our covetousness is an insatiable gulf, if it be not restrained; and the best bridle is, when we desire nothing more than the necessity of this life demands; for the reason why we transgress the bounds, is, that our anxiety extends to a thousand lives which we falsely imagine. Nothing is more common, and indeed nothing is more generally acknowledged, than this statement of Paul; but as soon as all have acknowledged it, (as we see every day with our eyes,) every man swallows up with his wishes his vast possessions, in the same manner as if he had a belly able to contain half of the world. And this is what is said, that,
"although the folly of the fathers appears in hoping that they will dwell here for ever, nevertheless their posterity approve of their way." 3 (Psalm 49:l3.)
In order, therefore, that we may be satisfied with a sufficiency, let us learn to have our heart so regulated, as: to desire nothing but what is necessary for supporting life.
8. Having food and raiment. When he mentions food and raiment, he excludes luxuries and overflowing abundance; for nature is content with a little 4 and all that goes beyond the natural use is superfluous. Not that to use them more largely ought to be condemned on its own account, but lusting after them is always sinful.
9. They who wish to be rich. After having exhorted him to be content, and to despise riches, he now explains how dangerous is the desire of having them, and especially in the ministers of the Church, of whom he expressly speaks in this passage. Now the cause of the evils, which the Apostle here enumerates, is not riches, but an eager desire of them, even though the person should be poor. And here Paul shews not only what generally happens, but what must always happen; for every man that has resolved to become rich gives himself up as a captive to the devil. Most true is that saying of the heathen poet, -- "He who is desirous of becoming rich is also desirous of acquiring riches soon." 5 Hence it follows, that all who are violently desirous of acquiring wealth rush headlong.
Hence also those foolish, or rather, mad desires, which at length plunge them into perdition. This is, indeed, a universal evil; but in the pastors of the Church it is more easily seen; for they are so maddened by avarice, that they stick at nothing, however foolish, whenever the glitter of gold or silver dazzles their eyes.
10. For the root of all evils is avarice. 6 There is no necessity for being too scrupulous in comparing other vices with this. It is certain that ambition and pride often produce worse fruits than covetousness does; and yet ambition does not proceed from covetousness. The same thing may be said of the sins forbidden by the seventh commandment. But Paul's intention was not to include under covetousness every kind of vices that can be named. What then? He simply meant, that innumerable evils arise from it; just as we are in the habit of saying, when we speak of discord, or gluttony, or drunkenness, or any other vice of that kind, that there is no evil which it does not produce. And, indeed, we may most truly affirm, as to the base desire of gain, that there is no kind of evils that is not copiously produced by it every day; such as innumerable frauds, falsehoods, perjury, cheating, robbery, cruelty, corruption in judicature, quarrels, hatred, poisonings, murders; and, in short, almost every sort of crime.
Statements of this nature occur everywhere in heathen writers; and, therefore, it is improper that those persons: who would applaud Horace or Ovid, when speaking in that manner, should complain of Paul as having used extravagant language. I wish it were not proved by daily experience, that this is a plain description of facts as they really are. But let us remember that the same crimes which spring from avarice, may also arise, as they undoubtedly do arise, either from ambition, or from envy, or from other sinful dispositions.
Which some eagerly desiring. The Greek word ojrego>menoi is overstrained, when the Apostle says that avarice is "eagerly desired;" but it does not obscure the sense. He affirms that the most aggravated of all evils springs from avarice -- revolting from the faith; for they who are diseased with this disease are found to degenerate gradually, till they entirely renounce the faith. Hence those sorrows, which he mentions; by which term I understand frightful torments of conscience, which are wont to befall men past all hope; though God has other methods of trying covetous men, by making them their own tormentors.