​​​Introduction 

Corruption is a topic that has been on my mind for some time. The kind of corruption I am talking about is that which is brought about by the desire and accumulation of power and or wealth with little moral regard as to its means of acquisition or use to which it is put. A major example of such avarice for the Lords’ Witnesses was to see the demise of the Watchtower falling from the grace of God by associating itself with the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organisation for the sake of increasing its membership. Check out this link from the True Bible Code website if you are interested in this particular topic:
http://www.truebiblecode.com/understanding246.html. No such worries on that score for the LWs since we remain a small fundamentalist church thereby able to maintain our base principles in following God’s Word as best as we can without compromise to worldly matters. It is our expectation that, once we have proven our credentials to the world through the manifestation of our fire sign prophecies, our numbers will grow substantially and with such speed that we will have little time left over from baptising new recruits before the end of this corrupt system. I am not here suggesting that Lords Witnesses members are immune from the temptations offered by power and money although I am certain that no-one in our small congregation is overtly chasing either. I am however hopeful that the Holy Spirit is providing, and will continue to provide, LWs with appropriate protection against these common human failings by keeping us too busy on God’s spiritual work to have time to spend chasing worldly fame.

I have long been a soccer fan but I have been dismayed over recent years at the money now involved in the game. The sport has been corrupted by the money received by way of television rights, advertising sponsorship and match takings all ending up in the pockets of officials, directors and players’ obscene wages. This, of course, all being done at the expense of the fans, the lifeblood of the football clubs. I remember a good football-supporting friend of mine describing us as no longer being football ‘fans’ but becoming football ‘customers’. How right was that description! The following story provides the perfect example of my views on the matter:
https://www.globalwitness.org/en-gb/campaigns/corruption-and-money-laundering/banks/tip-iceberg-role-banks-fifa-story/. And football is not the only sport suffering from the ills of TV rights: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/nov/22/bt-sky-england-ashes-unnameables

This corruption thing has been brought into sharp focus for me over the last couple of days by the following two newsworthy items: Paradise Papers: Tax haven secrets of ultra-rich exposed at
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41876942 and Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi Arrested for Corruption at http://ethiopiazare.com/news/world/5571-sheikh-mohammed-hussein-al-amoudi-arrested-for-corruption.

These two news items provided the necessary stimulus for me to write this paper. Now one might argue that, in this first example, no-one did anything illegal. However, surely the monarchy and business leaders of the UK and globally should be setting examples for the citizens who regularly pay their taxes when they can relatively ill afford to pay them by comparison. Also one could argue that, in the second case, arrest is not of itself proof positive of guilt; however it would seem to me that this is a case of no smoke without fire. However there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that these two examples, and those previously given, are entirely descriptive of the state of the world in which we now live. Citizens of the world only have to read a newspaper, watch the news on TV, surf the internet or merely perceive how we are all treated by those corporate entities upon which we depend and spend our hard-earned income to come to that conclusion. So, in time-honoured fashion, let us look at what the good book has to say on the matter of corruption.
 

Corruption in the Scriptures

Probably unsurprisingly we are introduced to the notion of corruption in the first bible book of Genesis:

5 And Jehovah saw that the evil of man [was] great on the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil all the day long. (Genesis 6 GLT)

11 And the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
12 And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupted. For all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth. (Genesis 6 GLT)

So here it would appear that God has a much broader view of the word ‘corruption’ than is intended in this paper. These further scriptures seem to confirm corruption as all behaviour that departs from that required by Jehovah God:

4 Woe, sinful nation, a people heavy [with] iniquity, a seed of evildoers, sons who corrupt! They have forsaken Jehovah; they have scorned the Holy One of Israel. They [are] estranged backward. (Isaiah 1 GLT)

29 For I know that after my death you shall utterly corrupt yourselves, and will turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil shall happen to you in the latter end of the days because you shall do evil in the eyes of Jehovah, to make Him angry with the work of your hands. (Deuteronomy 31 GLT)

These would seem to cover pretty much any breaking of God’s view of righteous behaviour not just that associated with mere self-aggrandisement at others expense.

The Hebrew word for corruption, שחת  shâchath, can take several different forms but Strong’s describes one of those used in the above scriptures as follows: ‘a primitive root; to decay, i.e. (caus.) ruin (lit.) or fig.):—batter, cast off, corrupt (-er, thing), destroy (-er, -uction), lose, mar, perish, spill, spoiler, × utterly, waste (-r)’. So I think we can see that it is unlikely that we may be able to separate out our particular sense of corruption from the more general meaning catered for in the Hebrew texts. So let us have a look at a Greek scripture that contains the Greek word for corruption to see if that can give us further insight into the use of the word 'corruption' in the scriptures:

8 For the [one] sowing to his flesh will reap corruption of the flesh. But the [one] sowing to the Spirit will reap everlasting life from the Spirit. (Galatians 6 GLT)

This meaning would also appear to have a more general view of the word corruption than that intended by this writer so let us have a look at the Greek word used here. Once again using Strong’s concordance, we find the word,  φθοράν  phthŏra, from the root  meaning decay, i.e. ruin (spontaneous or inflicted, lit. or fig.):—corruption, destroy, perish. This again seems to carry a similar range of meanings beyond that intended here. So am I on a fool’s errand to describe something specific that the writer believes is an important aspect of evil for today’s world?

In looking elsewhere in the New Testament scriptures I think the following verses sum up a very good description for me of the manifold manifestations of my intended meaning:

1 But know this, that in [the] last days grievous times will be [upon us].
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, money-lovers, braggarts, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 without natural feeling, unyielding, slanderers, without self-control, savage, haters of good,
4 betrayers, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it; even turn away from these. (2 Timothy 3 GLT)

The one obvious item missing from this litany of corrupt behaviour is the Greek word for corruption! So a word search for ‘corruption’ will be of limited value in this exercise.
 

Greed in the Scriptures

The corruption I have in mind is probably best described by greed in biblical terms, so let us now have a look at those scriptures to get as full a view from God’s word on the subject as we can. Peter’s second letter is helpful in this endeavour in that it provides the linkage between corruption and the desire of worldly things:

4 through which to us the most great and precious promises have been given, that through these ye may become partakers of a divine nature, having escaped from the corruption in the world in desires. (2 Peter 1 YLT)


4 δι' ὧν τὰ τίμια καὶ μέγιστα ἡμῖν ἐπαγγέλματα δεδώρηται, ἵνα διὰ τούτων γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως, ἀποφυγόντες τῆς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς.  (2 Peter 1 OGB)

Here we see the linkage in the Greek text between corruption, φθορᾶς, and desire, ἐπιθυμίᾳ. This latter word can mean desire, lust or forbidden longing but I have chosen the Young’s Literal translation in this case which best portrays my intention in this scripture. This desire for worldly things is the start point for greed in the world.

Now the first verse that I have found that exactly fits my meaning of corruption, probably unsurprisingly, is to be found in the wise words of King Solomon:

4 A king establishes a land by justice, but a man [taking] bribes tears it down. (Proverbs 29 GLT)

מלך במשפט יעמיד ארץ ואיש תרומות יהרסנה (Proverbs 29 HOT)

Now Green has translated the Hebrew word for gifts or oblations, 
תרומות, as bribes in this version. Whilst it may seem that he has taken some liberty here with this translation, I believe that he has captured the true intent of Solomon’s meaning in this verse. The meaning here is clear: it needs a righteous leadership to support a morally sustainable and lasting regime but which is so easily broken by a leadership lusting for financial gain or power. How many times are we witnessing this form of corruption in our lifetime through the workings of national governments, global corporations and sporting organisations?

In an earlier chapter in the book of Proverbs we also find a similar verse but pitched at every one of us not just those seeking or having power:

27 He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes shall live. (Proverbs 15 GLT)

27 עכר ביתו בוצע בצע ושונא מתנת יחיה (Proverbs 15 HOT)

Interestingly a slightly different word for bribe is used by King Solomon in this verse,
מתנת. As with the previous verse this word means ‘gift’ or ‘present’ but can also take the negative implication of a bribe.

Let us see what Isaiah has to say on the matter of bribery:

20 Woe to those who say to evil, good; and to good, evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 

20 הוי האמרים לרע טוב ולטוב רע שמים חשך לאור ואור לחשך שמים מר למתוק ומתוק למר 

23 who justify the wicked for a bribe, and turn aside the righteousness of the righteous from him! (Isaiah 5 GLT)

23 מצדיקי רשע עקב שחד וצדקת צדיקים יסירו ממנו (Isaiah 5 HOT)

Again how closely do these verses resemble the actions of the evil leaders of these ungodly organisations of today’s world? Not only do they promote the lust for unearned worldly goods but, in doing so, also tell blatant lies to justify their actions. This time another different Hebrew word,
שחד, is used with meanings similar to the previous examples but with ‘bribe’ being a recognised alternative in this case. I am sure that a suitably qualified Hebrew scholar would be able to discern the subtle nuances in meaning of these various Hebrew words. However, for the purposes of the current thesis, I feel that further investigation into ancient Hebrew vocabulary on this point may only prove diversionary and without satisfactory gain in understanding. If any of my readers think otherwise I should be pleased to receive your arguments on the matter.

Now just in case today’s churches think they have gotten away scot free with their materialistic outlooks they should spend a little time contemplating these verses from Peter’s first letter:

1 I, a fellow elder, exhort the elders among you, I being also witness of the sufferings of Christ, and [being] sharer of the glory about to be revealed:
2 Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not by compulsion, but willingly; nor eagerly for base gain, but readily;
3 nor as exercising lordship over the ones allotted [to you], but becoming examples of the flock. (1 Peter 5 GLT)

Here the prospective church leaders of the day were warned not to run their congregations for their own self-aggrandisement but for the spiritual benefit of their flocks. I think many of today’s church leaders need to look at themselves in this regard.

More fine words on the subject of greed come from the pen of wise King Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, providing the insight that greed will never be satiated and becomes an end in itself: 

10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; and he who loves abundance does not gain. This [is] also vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5 GLT)

10 אהב כסף לא-ישבע כסף ומי-אהב בהמון לא תבואה גם-זה הבל (Ecclesiastes 5 HOT)

In the above verse the Hebrew word for silver,
כסף, can also carry the general meaning of money which is more applicable to today’s form of greed. The irony in this is that money, in the form of fiat currencies, is worthless except in the eyes of the issuing agencies and the perception of most of its users. At least silver, as a precious metal, is a real asset issued by the Bank of Jehovah with intrinsic rarity value based on its limited supply.


Further support comes from the hand of Paul in his letter to the Hebrew congregation by confirming that satisfaction with what God gives us should suffice our every true need:

5 [Set your] way of life without money-loving, being satisfied with present things; for He has said, "Not at all will I leave you, not at all will I forsake you," never! [Deut. 31:6] (Hebrews 13 GLT)

And not to be out-done King Solomon has several more things to say on the subject:

28 One trusting in his riches, he shall fall; but like a green leaf the righteous shall sprout. (Proverbs 11 GLT)

22 A man [with] an evil eye hastens after wealth, but [he] does not know that poverty will come on him. (Proverbs 28 GLT)

A further Proverb provides rather more thought-provoking advice:

11 Wealth from vanity shall be diminished, but he who gathers by labor shall increase. (Proverbs 13 GLT)

I find the above verse a little deeper than it might seem at first sight. Clearly the first half of the verse seems to be devaluing the worth of worldly riches not honestly earned by the sweat of one’s brow but it is less clear to me what the second half is telling us. Is it saying that money honestly earned and kept but unspent will grow over time or is it suggesting that worldly wealth earned honestly will grow one’s wealth in the life to come? Of course both halves of the verse could be referring to the after-life. As ever the Ambiguity Principle of The True Bible Code would tell us that all possible meanings are correct:
http://www.truebiblecode.com/code.html#c16a


Arguably the following Proverbs are also relevant to our thesis:

31 He who oppresses the poor curses his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy. (Proverbs 14 GLT)

9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. (Proverbs 22 KJV)

This message is confirmed by Paul’s first letter to Timothy:

17 Charge the rich in the present age not to be high-minded, nor to set hope on the uncertainty of riches, but in the living God, the [One] offering to us richly all things for enjoyment;
18 to do good, to be rich in good works, to be ready to share, generous,
19 treasuring away for themselves a good foundation for the coming [age], that they may lay hold on everlasting life. (1 Timothy 6 GLT)

And by James’ letter:

1 Come now, rich ones, weep, howling over your hardships coming on.
2 Your riches have rotted, and your garments have become moth-eaten.
3 Your gold and silver have rusted over, and their poison will be a testimony to you, and will eat your flesh as fire. You heaped treasure in [the] last days.
4 Behold, the wages of the workmen who have reaped your fields cry out, being kept back by you. And the cries of the [ones] who have reaped have entered "into the ears of [the] Lord of Hosts." [Isa. 5:9]
5 You lived luxuriously on the earth, and lived for self-pleasure; you nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter;
6 you condemned; you murdered the righteous; he does not resist you. (James 5 GLT)

There is little doubt that at least some of those who amass great wealth do so at the expense of their fellow men. Where that occurs to the detriment of those who have hardly enough to make ends meet then that clearly is running counter to God’s wishes. If rich men willingly give to the poor then that will count strongly in their favour regardless of their overall wealthy status. In all this the Holy Spirit is the reader of men’s hearts.

Yet more wise words from the wise King Solomon have struck a chord with me from a personal point of view:

21 An inheritance [may be] gotten quickly in the beginning, but the end of it shall not be blessed. (Proverbs 20 GLT)

One of my wife’s old friends died recently. To witness the ugly squabbling between her off-spring siblings over the settling of the estate was nauseating to put it mildly. Clearly God is taking a similar view on this particular form of greed.

And Solomon continues with more wise words on the subject of worldly riches:

1 A [good] name [is] rather to be chosen than great riches, [and] loving favour rather than silver and gold.
2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD [is] the maker of them all. (Proverbs 22 KJV)

I have chosen the King James translation here since I think it provides the clearest meaning of these verses. God is only interested in our spirits not our worldly assets so our greed can only operate in opposition to our good relationship with Him. To tie up this section, it is worth considering these verses from John’s first epistle just in case anyone has missed God’s will regarding worldly desires:

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,
16 because all that which [is] in the world: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world is passing away, and its lust. But the [one] doing the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2 GLT)
 

Luke 12 and Mark 6

Unusually I decided to devote one whole section of this paper to a large swathe of Luke’s and Mark’s gospels that wax lyrical on the subject of covetousness aka greed. This differs a little from the tack taken in the previous verses in that it is looking at the tendency for this ill which, I am sure, we individually all suffer from to varying degrees. I have used Young’s Literal Translation for Luke’s gospel which provides a more easily understood and modern translation:

15 And he said unto them, 'Observe, and beware of the covetousness, because not in the abundance of one's goods is his life.'
16 And he spake a simile unto them, saying, 'Of a certain rich man the field brought forth well;
17 and he was reasoning within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have not where I shall gather together my fruits?
18 and he said, This I will do, I will take down my storehouses, and greater ones I will build, and I will gather together there all my products and my good things,
19 and I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast many good things laid up for many years, be resting, eat, drink, be merry.
20 'And God said to him, Unthinking one! this night thy soul they shall require from thee, and what things thou didst prepare -- to whom shall they be?
21 so {is} he who is treasuring up to himself, and is not rich toward God.'
22 And he said unto his disciples, 'Because of this, to you I say, Be not anxious for your life, what ye may eat; nor for the body, what ye may put on;
23 the life is more than the nourishment, and the body than the clothing.
24 'Consider the ravens, that they sow not, nor reap, to which there is no barn nor storehouse, and God doth nourish them; how much better are ye than the fowls?
25 and who of you, being anxious, is able to add to his age one cubit?
26 If, then, ye are not able for the least -- why for the rest are ye anxious?
27 'Consider the lilies, how do they grow? they labour not, nor do they spin, and I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these;
28 and if the herbage in the field, that to-day is, and to-morrow into an oven is cast, God doth so clothe, how much more you -- ye of little faith?
29 'And ye -- seek not what ye may eat, or what ye may drink, and be not in suspense,
30 for all these things do the nations of the world seek after, and your Father hath known that ye have need of these things;
31 but, seek ye the reign of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
32 'Fear not, little flock, because your Father did delight to give you the reign; (Luke 12 YLT)

So what are the lessons that we can take from the Lord’s words as recorded by Luke? The parable of the rich man speaks reams of the futility of an overabundance of physical goods. At our death which of those can we take with us? We are clearly much better off spending our time feeding our spirits rather than our bodies and thereby stocking up our spiritual storehouse in preparation for God’s Kingdom. Easy to say though and clearly correct thinking. However I, for one, find it very difficult to remove all my physical predilections from this very physical of existences.

Luke then goes on to consider one of God’s non-human creatures and a couple of plants. Being lower lifeforms they have no covetousness in them yet have everything they could possibly need so why do we worry that God will not look after all our real needs when He loves us as His children? I would have to say, however, that there clearly are animal species where the one that exhibits the most threatening behaviour is the one that gets the piece of contested food. What are we to make of that, I wonder, except that those creatures were put on earth to demonstrate the evils of bullying selfish behaviour which is to be abhorred and avoided?

The telling verses, as far as the main thrust of this paper is concerned, are towards the end of this quoted section where the striving only for their physical well-being is the way of the nations of the world but which should not be foremost in a Christian’s thoughts and deeds.

The gospel according to Matthew contains some very similar messages by way of a parallel account:

19 Do not treasure up for you treasures on the earth, where moth and rust cause to perish, and where thieves dig through and steal.
20 But treasure up for you treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust cause to perish, and where thieves do not dig through and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 The lamp of the body is the eye. Then if your eye is sound, all your body is light.
23 But if your eye is evil, all your body is dark. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 No one is able to serve two lords; for either he will hate the one, and he will love the other; or he will cleave to the one, and he will despise the other. You are not able to serve God and wealth.
25 Because of this, I say to you, Do not be anxious for your soul, what you eat and what you drink, nor for your body, what you put on. Is not the soul more than the food and the body than the clothing?
26 Observe the birds of the heaven, that they do not sow, nor do they reap, nor do [they] gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Do you not rather excel them?
27 But who of you [by] being anxious is able to add one cubit onto his stature?
28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not labor nor do they spin,
29 but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed as one of these.
30 If God so enrobes the grass of the field (which is today, and is thrown into a furnace tomorrow) [will He] not much rather you, little-faiths?
31 Then do not be anxious, saying, What may we eat? Or, what may we drink? Or, what may clothe us?
32 For after all these things the nations seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 Then do not be anxious for tomorrow. For the morrow will be anxious of itself. Sufficient to [each] day is its [own] trouble. (Matthew 6 GLT)
 

Conclusion


I started this paper to discuss the corruption in the world operating at national and global levels. It seems that God’s view of the word ‘corruption’ includes any behaviour that breaks with righteousness. This broad categorisation then lead me to describing the corrupt acts that I perceive in the world as being more specifically rooted in physical greed. From this it became crystal clear, if not already obvious, that it is greed that is the specific sin which causes the corrupt behaviour we read about in today’s worldly institutions and in people with power and influence in the world.

There is no doubt in my mind and in the view of many people I speak to, and not necessarily only good Christian folk, that the love of money is the root of all evil in the world today so how best could I conclude than with one of the most famous and oft-quoted scriptures on the subject of the ills of a surfeit of earthly wealth:

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we have brought nothing into the world, [and it is] plain that neither can we carry anything out.
8 But having food and clothing, we will be satisfied with these.
9 But those purposing to be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful lusts, which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10 For the love of money is a root of all evils, [by means] of which some having lusted after [it] were seduced from the faith, and [they] themselves pierced through by many pains. (1 Timothy 6 GLT)

Corruption

Image provided by www.BiblePictureGallery.com.

Jewish Lords' Witness

Solomon considering the vanity of his wealth.