The Greek Geek

Μαμμωνάς: Mammon

By Bill Brenner

The simple definition for the Greek mammonas is money, treasure, or personified riches which are opposed to God. The word "mammon" is only used in some of the more traditional versions, such as King James, American Standard, and Revised Standard. Other translations use "money" or "wealth."
Matthew 6:24, (KJV): No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Luke 16:11: If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
In Greek, mammon or mammonas refers to money or material riches in a way that suggests avarice. During the Middle Ages, mammon was viewed as demonic as feudal lords took advantage of the peasants around them. Even today, we think of mammon as having an evil focus on the things money can buy. Mammon even plays a role in the game of Dungeons and Dragons as the devil that rules over one of the nine layers of hell. The demon is the personification of greed and lust.

The word has roots in Hebrew, Latin, Aramaic, Chaldean, and Syrian. Chaldeans associated it with their word for "confidence." How ironic. How much confidence can we place in money? Our country is currently in debt to a rising figure over $20 trillion, a number we have trouble even comprehending. At any time this problem could erupt into major disaster. Wealth can disappear overnight in so many ways, even while we are alive. Placing confidence in anything material is idolatry. Anything that becomes a substitute for the everlasting value of our eternal life can easily become a stumbling block of temporary pleasures. Think about it. What could you possibly take from this life other than perhaps your memories and your belief and attitude towards God? If a person spent his entire life amassing wealth and comfort, it will all stay behind for the benefit of others when he dies.

Yes, a person can even focus on health, wealth, fame and prestige in ways that distract our attention from the true purpose in life: to someday live in God's presence for eternity. Keep in mind that Satan's attractions do not always appear evil. This is why the Bible does not say that money is the source of all evil, but that the LOVE of money is the source of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Used properly, money can alleviate suffering in the world and offer a means of sharing God's goodness with others. The temptation, however, remains to place an ever-higher value on material possessions and feel like God is not even needed or hide the fact that Satan exists.

The Bible passage in Matthew is pointing out correctly that we cannot worship two gods and actually worship the true God with all of our heart, all of our strength, and all of our soul (Luke 10:27). If you have been given material wealth, the proper response is to recognize that all of these gifts come from God and to be thankful, giving Him the praise (James 1:17). We owe Him thanks for allowing us comfort during our lifetime, but it is not the most important focus of attention.

Mammon will not bring peace within us, and clearly not righteousness. We have been warned.

For further thoughts and biblical perspectives about mammon, please be sure to read our article, "What is mammon?"

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Sin-Evil

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Published 9-19-16