1 Timothy 6:9
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.
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(9) But they that will be rich.—Here St. Paul guards against the danger of his words being then or at any future time misinterpreted by any dreamy, unpractical school of asceticism, supposing that voluntary poverty was a state of life peculiarly pleasing to the Most High—the strange mistake upon which the great Mendicant orders were organised in the Middle Ages. Those who exposed themselves to the winning temptations and deadly sins he was about to speak of were not “the rich,” but those who longingly plan to be rich.

Fall into temptation.—Those longing to be rich will fall into the temptation to increase their worldly goods, even at the sacrifice of principle. Some unlawful method of gratifying their passion for gain will present itself; conscientious scruples will be thrown to the winds, and they who wish to be rich will fall into the temptation. We pray so often His prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.” In the same hour we long—perhaps even with the same breath we pray—that our worldly means may be increased, our position bettered, little thinking that the longing for an increase of riches and position will lead us into the most dangerous of all temptations!

And a snare.—A very tangle, as it has been well called, of conflicting motives—each fresh gratification of the ruling passion, perhaps excused under the plausible names of industry, home claims, praiseworthy and healthy enterprise, entangling the unhappy soul more completely.

And into many foolish and hurtful lusts.—The lusts or desires into which those who long to be rich fall, are well named “foolish,” because in so many instances they are passionate desires for things utterly undesirable, the possession of which can afford neither pleasure nor advantage—such, for instance, is the love of hoarding wealth, so common to those men who have longed for and obtained riches; and “hurtful” often to the body as well as to the soul do these rich find their “longings,” when gratified.

Which drown men in . . .—Better rendered, which plunge men into . . .

Destruction and perdition.—“Destruction” refers rather to wreck and ruin of the body, whilst “perdition” belongs rather to that more awful ruin of the eternal soul. The gratification of desires, whether these desires are centred in the lower animal passions of the table, or in the pursuit of yet baser and more selfish passions still, invariably leads to the destruction of the poor frail human body first. This premature breaking up of the earthly tabernacle is the herald and precursor of the final perdition of the immortal soul.

6:6-10 Those that make a trade of Christianity to serve their turn for this world, will be disappointed; but those who mind it as their calling, will find it has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. He that is godly, is sure to be happy in another world; and if contented with his condition in this world, he has enough; and all truly godly people are content. When brought into the greatest straits, we cannot be poorer than when we came into this world; a shroud, a coffin, and a grave, are all that the richest man in the world can have from all his wealth. If nature should be content with a little, grace should be content with less. The necessaries of life bound a true Christian's desires, and with these he will endeavour to be content. We see here the evil of covetousness. It is not said, they that are rich, but they will be rich; who place their happiness in wealth, and are eager and determined in the pursuit. Those that are such, give to Satan the opportunity of tempting them, leading them to use dishonest means, and other bad practices, to add to their gains. Also, leading into so many employments, and such a hurry of business, as leave no time or inclination for spiritual religion; leading to connexions that draw into sin and folly. What sins will not men be drawn into by the love of money! People may have money, and yet not love it; but if they love it, this will push them on to all evil. Every sort of wickedness and vice, in one way or another, grows from the love of money. We cannot look around without perceiving many proofs of this, especially in a day of outward prosperity, great expenses, and loose profession.But they that will be rich - Further to enforce the duty of contentment, the apostle refers to some of the evils which necessarily attend a desire to be rich. Those evils have been so great and uniform in all ages, and are so necessary accompaniments of that desire, that, even amidst many inconveniences which may attend the opposite condition, we should he contented with our lot. Indeed, if we could see all, it would only be necessary to see the evils which the desire of wealth produces in the world, to make us contented with a most lowly condition of life. Perhaps nothing more would be necessary to make a poor man satisfied with his lot, and grateful for it, than to be acquainted with the perplexities and cares of a rich man. There is more emphasis to be placed on the word will, here, in the phrase, "will be rich," than might be supposed from our translation. It is not the sign of the future tense, but implies an actual "purpose" or "design" to become rich - οἱ βουλόμενοι hoi boulomenoi. The reference is to those in whom this becomes the object of earnest desire, and who lay their plans for it.

Fall into temptation - That is, they are tempted to do wicked things in order to accomplish their purposes. It is extremely difficult to cherish the desire to be rich, as the leading purpose of the soul, and to he an honest man.

And a snare - Birds are taken in a snare, and wild beasts were formerly; see the notes on Job 18:8-9. The net was sprung suddenly upon them, and they could not escape. The idea here is, that they who have this desire become so entangled, that they cannot easily escape. They become involved in the meshes of worldliness and sin; their movements are so fettered by cares, and inordinate desires, and by artificial needs, that they are no longer freemen. They become so involved in these things, that they cannot well break away from them if they would; compare Proverbs 28:20.

And into many foolish and hurtful lusts - Desires, such as the love of wealth creates. They are foolish - as being not such as an intelligent and immortal being should pursue; and they are hurtful - as being injurious to morals, to health, and to the soul. Among those desires, are the fondness for display; for a magnificent dwelling, a train of menials, and a splendid equipage; for sumptuous living, feasting, the social glass, company, and riotous dissipation.

Which drown men in destruction and perdition - The word which is here rendered, "drown" - βυθίζω buthizō - means, to "sink in the" deep, or, "to cause to sink;" and the meaning here is, that they become submerged as a ship that sinks. The idea of drowning is not properly that of the apostle, but the image is that of a wreck, where a ship and all that is in it go down together. The destruction is complete. There is a total ruin of happiness, of virtue, of reputation, and of the soul. The ruling desire to be rich leads on a train of follies which ruins everything here, and hereafter. How many of the human family have thus been destroyed!

9. will be rich—have more than "food and raiment." Greek, "wish to be rich"; not merely are willing, but are resolved, and earnestly desire to have riches at any cost (Pr 28:20, 22). This wishing (not the riches themselves) is fatal to "contentment" (1Ti 6:6). Rich men are not told to cast away their riches, but not to "trust" in them, and to "do good" with them (1Ti 6:17, 18; Ps 62:10).

fall into temptation—not merely "are exposed to temptation," but actually "fall into" it. The falling into it is what we are to pray against, "Lead us not into temptation" (Jas 1:14); such a one is already in a sinful state, even before any overt act of sin. The Greek for "temptation" and "gain" contains a play on sounds—porasmus, peirasmus.

snare—a further step downwards (1Ti 3:7). He falls into "the snare of the devil."


hurtful—to those who fall into the snare. Compare Eph 4:22, "deceitful lusts" which deceive to one's deadly hurt.

lusts—With the one evil lust ("wish to be rich") many others join themselves: the one is the "root of all evils" (1Ti 6:10).

which—Greek, "whatever (lusts)."

drown—an awful descending climax from "fall into"; this is the last step in the terrible descent (Jas 1:15); translated "sink," Lu 5:7.

destruction … perdition—destruction in general (temporal or eternal), and perdition in particular, namely, that of body and soul in hell.

But; or, for.

They that will be rich; they who, out of a covetous and immoderate desire of being rich in this world’s goods, will use any arts, and do any unlawful thing, without any just regard to the law of God.

Fall into temptation and a snare; fall into many temptations and snares, are exposed to impetuous inclinations and motions to that which is evil, and may and will be snares to their souls.

And into many foolish and hurtful lusts; kindling in them many foolish and pernicious desires, contrary to the law of God.

Which drown men in destruction and perdition; have a direct tendency to the eternal ruin of their souls, not to be prevented but by the force and powerful grace of God.

But they that will be rich,.... Not they that are rich; for some rich men are good men; and do much good with their riches; and are as free from temptations and snares, and foolish and hurtful lusts, as other persons, as Abraham, Joseph of Arimathea, Gaius, and others were; but such that would be rich, who labour after, make haste for it, and are resolved upon it, at any rate, right or wrong, as there be thousands, who never attain to it; so that the apostle does not point at rich men particularly, but at such who are determined to be rich, whether they ever are so or not: these

fall into temptation; not in such sense in which the phrase is used in James 1:2 but in such sense as Christ uses it, Matthew 6:13 namely, a falling into temptation to sin, so as to be drawn away by it, and overcome with it:

and a snare; the Vulgate Latin version reads, "the snare of the devil", and so Beza's Claromontane copy; which perhaps is taken from 1 Timothy 3:7, and though this seems not to be the genuine reading, yet it may give the true sense: Satan may be compared to a fowler; his temptations to sin are his nets and snares; and they that will be rich, are the birds that are caught and entangled therein, out of which sometimes it is impracticable to extricate themselves:

and into many foolish and hurtful lusts; carnal and worldly lusts, the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, which are the things that are in the world and draw the affections to them; yea, what sin is there but such persons may, and do fall into; as defrauding of the neighbour, oppressing the poor, lying, perjury, theft, murder, rapine, violence, and injustice of every kind? so that they may be said to be "many", and some of them are "foolish". All sin is folly, and every wicked man is a foolish one, and acts a part quite contrary to reason; but some evil ways are notoriously silly, weak and foolish, and which they that will be rich make use of to get money; though others of them are sly and artful enough, and all of them are "hurtful" to their credit and reputation, or to the health of their bodies, and especially to the welfare of their immortal souls. So the phrase , "their foolish lust", is used by the Targumist in Ezekiel 20:25 and the corruption of nature in general is by the Jews called the old and foolish king, in Ecclesiastes 4:13. They ask (p),

"why is he called a king? because all obey him; why is he called old? because he is joined to him (a man) from his birth to his old age; and why is he called "foolish?" because he teaches him an evil way, which he knows not how to warn him of again.''

Which drown men in destruction and perdition; that is, in utter ruin, in the ruin both of soul and body; and which is irrecoverable, like that of the drowning of a man in the sea, with a millstone about his neck; such folly and danger do those expose themselves to, who will be rich at any rate.

(p) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 70. 2.

{8} 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.

(8) He puts fear into Timothy to avoid covetousness using a different reasoning, that is, because it draws with it an infinite sort of lusts and those very hurtful, with which covetous men do torment themselves to the degree that in the end, they cast away from them their faith and salvation.

1 Timothy 6:9. Οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι πλουτεῖν] δέ expresses opposition to what immediately preceded. πλουτεῖν is properly not “become rich,” but “be rich.”

ἐμπίπτουσιν (cf. 1 Timothy 3:7) εἰς πειρασμὸν καὶ παγίδα] De Wette explains it inaccurately: “to whom enticing opportunities present themselves for unrighteous gain.” In ἐμπίπτειν is contained the indication of the power which the πειρασμός (“the temptation to enrich oneself unrighteously”) exercises over them.

By παγίδα the πειρασμός is defined to be a power fettering and taking prisoner.

καὶ ἐπιθυμίας πολλὰς ἀνοήτους καὶ βλαβεράς] This is the consequence immediately connected with what precedes: by falling into πειρασμός, they fall into many foolish and hurtful lusts, i.e. these lusts are not only excited in them, but gain power over them. Thus the seductive power of the πειρασμός can be recognised in the ἐπιθυμίαις. These are also ἀνόητοι, because instead of the gain which was expected to come from satisfying them, they bring hurt only.

αἵτινες (explanatory: “such as”) βυθίζουσι εἰς ὄλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν] βυθίζειν; in the literal sense at Luke 5:7; 2Ma 12:4.

Destruction is likewise the deep into which they are plunged by their desires. The expression is strengthened by bringing together the two synonymous ideas. There is no ground for van Oosterzee’s conjecture that ὄλεθρος denotes the destruction of the body, ἀπώλεια the destruction of the soul. De Wette incorrectly explains the words of “moral ruin,” against which Wiesinger justly observes: “they are in that already.” ὄλεθρος stands here as in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (ὄλεθρος αἰώνιος); ἀπώλεια, as in Php 1:28 (opp. ἡ σωτηρία), Php 3:19, and other passages.

There is no good ground (with Olshausen in Wiesinger) for understanding ὄλεθρος exclusively of temporal destruction.

1 Timothy 6:9. οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι: St. Chrysostom calls attention to the fact that St. Paul does not say, They that are rich, but They that desire to be rich (R.V.), they that make the acquisition of riches their aim. The warning applies to all grades of wealth: all come under it whose ambition is to have more money than that which satisfies their accustomed needs. We are also to note that what is here condemned is not an ambition to excel in some lawful department of human activity, which though it may bring an increase in riches, develops character, but the having a single eye to the accumulation of money by any means. This distinction is drawn in Proverbs 28:20 : “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: But he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be unpunished”.

ἐμπίπτουσιν. Wetstein notes the close parallel in the words of Seneca: “Dum divitias consequi volumus in mala multa incidimus” (Ep. 87). Cf. also Jam 1:2, πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις. πειρασμόν refers rather to the consequencess of one’s money-grubbing spirit on others, παγίδα to its disastrous effect on one’s own character.

ἀνοήτους καὶ βλαβεράς: The desires in question are foolish, because they cannot be logically defended; they are hurtful, because they hinder true happiness. See Proverbs 23:4, “Weary not thyself to be rich”.

αἵτινες: qualitative, such as.

βυθίζουσιν: The word is found in its literal signification in Luke 5:7. Moulton and Milligan (Expositor, vii., vi. 381) illustrate its use here from a papyrus of cent. 1 B.C., συνεχέσι πολέμοις καταβυθισθεῖ[σαν] τὴν πόλιν. Bengel notes on ἐμπίπτ. βυθίζ., “incidunt: mergunt. Tristis gradatio.” We must not lose sight of εἰς. Destruction and perdition are not, strictly speaking, the gulf in which the men are drowned. The lusts, etc., overwhelm them; and the issue is destruction, etc. See reff. on ἀπώλειαν.

9. they that will be rich] In so wealthy a city as Ephesus the temptation would be very great to the teacher to adapt his ‘wares’ of doctrine to the popular Asiatic speculations, so as to get and keep name and means; and his hearers would be equally tempted to accept such a compromise. There would be the genius loci to whisper ‘si possis, recte; si non, quocunque modo, rem;’ ‘ye know that by this business we have our wealth.’ Hence the specially appropriate warning now addressed to those that are desiring to be rich, as we must render exactly. Chrysostom’s words ‘not “the rich,” for one may have money and dispense it well and disesteem it all the while,’ are well quoted here. But G. Herbert’s words are still better (Priest to the Temple, c. 3), ‘The country parson is very circumspect in avoiding all covetousness, neither being greedy to get, nor stubborn to keep, nor troubled to lose any worldly wealth; but in all his words and actions slighting and disesteeming it, even to a wondering that the world should so much value wealth, which in the day of wrath hath not one dram of comfort for us.’

temptation and a snare] There seems no reason to depart from the usual rendering elsewhere of the phrase ‘into temptation’ as R.V. does ‘into a temptation,’ because of the words coupled with it; ‘a snare’ naturally follows, just as ‘deliver us from the evil one’ follows ‘bring us not into temptation,’ Matthew 6:13; it is the thought present to the Apostle’s mind at this time; see above 1 Timothy 3:7, ‘lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil’ where the conjunction of words is very similar, and from whence some mss. have even added here ‘of the devil;’ and 2 Timothy 2:26, ‘that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil.’ See Appendix, K.

lusts, which drown men] The lengthened generalised relative here is properly ‘of a kind which,’ ‘which indeed naturally,’ so R.V. such as. Cf. 1 Timothy 3:15. The simple use of the passive of ‘drown’ in Luke 5:7, ‘they were being sunk,’ is the only other N. T. use of the verb; the noun from which it comes is used by St Paul of his (unrecorded) shipwreck, 2 Corinthians 11:25, ‘a night and a day I have been in the deep.’

destruction and perdition] The two words give solemnity to the idea of the ruin to be incurred, though it is too much to assign ‘ruin of body’ to the one and ‘ruin of soul’ to the other. The compound word is instinctively chosen (see 1 Timothy 6:8) to complete the terrible picture.

Chrysostom gives many instances of these ‘snares and lusts’ in his day leading to ‘destruction and perdition.’ To the example (almost forced upon the memory by the word) from Holy Scripture itself of ‘the son of perdition’ (John 17:12), may well be added G. Herbert’s searching words to his brethren; ‘they, who, for the hope of promotion, neglect any necessary admonition or reproof sell (with Judas) their Lord and Master.’ The Priest to the Temple, ch. 2.

1 Timothy 6:9. Βουλόμενοι, wishing) This wish is the enemy of a mind contented with its lot; it is not the wealth itself (that is the enemy of contentment): rich men are not therefore commanded to cast away their wealth, 1 Timothy 6:17-18.—πλουτεῖν, to be rich) to have more than food and clothing.—ἐμπίπτουσιβυθίζουσι, fall into—drown) A sad gradation.—πειρασμὸν) There is a Paronomasia [the signification of a word changed by a slight change of the letters]: πορισμὸς, πειρασμὸς. Temptation is opposed to ‘food,’ likewise to faith: a snare is opposed to ‘clothing’ and to righteousness: ‘lusts’ are opposed to “a contented mind.”—παγίδα, a snare) Therefore they do not find πόρον, true gain.—ὄλεθρον, destruction) of the body.—ἀπώλειαν, perdition) also of the soul: comp. of all, 1 Timothy 6:10. This is opposed to that expression, great gain, 1 Timothy 6:6.

Verse 9. - Desire to for will, A.V.; a temptation for temptation, A.V.; many for into many, A.V.; such as for which, A.V. A temptation. The reason of the insertion of the article before "temptation" in the R.V. seems to be that, as the three substantives all depend upon the one preposition εἰς, they ought all to be treated alike. But if so, the reasoning is not good, because "temptation" implies a state, not merely a single temptation. The prefixing of the article is therefore improper. It should be "temptation," as in the A.V. and in Matthew 6:13; Matthew 26:41; Luke 22:40, etc. Snare (παγίδα); as 1 Timothy 3:7, note. The concur-pence of the two words περιρασμός and παγίς show that the agency of Satan was in the writer's mind. Several good manuscripts, Fathers, and versions, add the words τοῦ διαβόλου after παγίδα (Huther). Drown (βυθίζουσι); only here and Luke 5:7 in the New Testament. Found also in 2 Macc. 12:4, and in Polybius - "to sink," transitive. Destruction and perdition (ὔλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν). The two words taken together imply utter ruin and destruction of body and soul. Ὄλεθρος, very common in classical Greek, occurs in 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and is limited in the first passage to the destruction of the body, by the words, τῆς σαρκός. Ἀπωλεία, less common in classical Greek, is of frequent use in the New Testament, and, when applied to persons, seems to be always used (except in Acts 25:16) in the sense of "perdition" (Matthew 7:13; John 17:12; Romans 9:22; Philippians 3:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 17:3, etc.). 1 Timothy 6:9They that will be rich (οἱ βουλόμενοι πλουτεῖν)

Better, they that desire to be rich. It is not the possession of riches, but the love of them that leads men into temptation.

Fall (ἐμπίπτουσιν)

oP. Lit. fall into; but invariably in N.T. with εἰς into.

Temptation (πειρασμὸν)

See on Matthew 6:13.

Foolish (ἀνοήτους)

Foolish answers to several words in N.T., ἀνοήτος, ἀσύνετος, ἄφρων, μωρός. Ἁνοήτος not understanding; a want of proper application of the moral judgment or perception, as Luke 24:25, note; Galatians 3:1, note. Ἄφρων is senseless, stupid, of images, beasts. Comp. Luke 12:20, note. Ἁσύνετος approaches the meaning of ἀνοήτος unintelligent. See Sir. 22:13, 15; 27:12. It also implies a moral sense, wicked, Wisd. 1:5; 11:15; Sir. 15:7. On the etymological sense, see on Matthew 11:25; see on Mark 12:33; see on Luke 2:47. Μωρός is without forethought, as Matthew 7:26; Matthew 25:3; without learning, as 1 Corinthians 1:27; 1 Corinthians 3:18; with a moral sense, empty, useless, 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9; and impious, godless, Matthew 5:22; Psalm 94:8; Jeremiah 5:21.

Hurtful (βλαβεράς)

N.T.o. lxx once, Proverbs 10:26.

Drown (βυθίζουσι)

Only here and Luke 5:7, note. A strong expression of the results of avarice.

Destruction (ὄλεθρον)

See on 1 Thessalonians 1:9, and additional note.


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