This one comes up more often than you might think, and I’ve even heard it from seminary students:
Money is the root of all evil.
It’s never a good idea to toss out quotes from the Bible (or, really, any other sacred writings – or perhaps any writings at all) without any regard to the original context of the words – in Christian circles, this is called prooftexting, and it’s generally regarded as a bad thing. That’s a piece of the problem here, but the bigger issue is that this is only a partial quote. A more complete version of the quote offers more clarity:
The love of money is the root of all evil.
That’s better, but it’s still worthwhile to look at the original context. This is found in the New Testament, in the first letter to Timothy that was supposedly written by the Apostle Paul (his authorship is disputed, but that’s another matter). In these passages, the author is providing advice to Timothy, a young follower of the emerging Christian faith, regarding faithful living. The quote is taken from the book known as First Timothy, chapter 6, verse 10. Here’s a snippet of text starting at verse 9 and continuing through verse 11 (taken from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition):
But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.
If you want to see what the “but” is about in verse 9, I’d invite you to read that chapter yourself.