An Elder Is To Be Free From the Love of Money
The Greek word here, “aphilarguros” (aphilarguros NT:866, No. 2, with negative prefix, is translated "without covetousness" in Heb 13:5, KJV; RV, "free from the love of money." In 1 Tim 3:3, the KJV has "not covetous," the RV, "no lover of money." (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers) is translated “not covetous” in the KJV, while this version adds the phrase “not greedy of filthy lucre” to help explain the intended meaning. The latter phrase is not in the original text, but was added by the translators to better explain “aphilarguros,” which is in the text.
Trench, Syn. Sec. 24, points out the main distinction between pleonexia and philarguria as being that between "covetousness" and "avarice," the former having a much wider and deeper sense, being "the genus of which philarguria is the species." The "covetous" man is often cruel as well as grasping, while the avaricious man is simply miserly and stinting” (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers).
The intent of the Greek text here seems to point, as we read in the preceding quote, to not being an avarice. `Avaricious' is defined as, “overly or shamefully acquisitive” (The American Heritage Talking Dictionary). A man who is not to be set apart as an overseer, is then not to be greedy, money-grubbing, money-hungry and miserly, but is instead to be generous, unselfish, charitable, giving and considerate.
Later in this same letter, we read, 1 Tim 6:17-19, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (NAS).
Therefore, the instruction is not that a man seeking the work of overseer cannot be “rich,” but that he is not one who makes riches his guide or purpose in life. As we read in 1 Timothy 6, he is to fix his hope on God.
A man who desires this work must possess this characteristic, which will be evident by the works of his life. (See Matthew 6:19-21)