Ink and Truth
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Ink and Truth

2 Corinthians 8 — Will Jesus make me rich?

“Jesus died to make you rich!”.

“Wait. Let me catch my breath. Really?”

“Yes. Take a look at what the Bible says!”

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not that I did not want to believe it. But if it is true that Jesus died to make me rich, it would change the world for me! Honestly. It would change my prayers, my pursuits, my priorities and the premises on which my Christian worldview stands. It would radically change how I live my life and ultimately, my destiny. Therefore, I couldn’t wait to read and know the truth for myself to be sure as to what I should believe (and share with others, of course!).

After a week-long debate with my cousins on a WhatsApp group, I started studying 2 Corinthians 8:9 deeply to see if it can have both interpretations — spiritual and financial. Why does it matter? Because this verse is the cornerstone of the prosperity Gospel — the teaching that God wants you to be rich because Jesus died to make you rich. As ridiculous as it might seem, a plain reading of the above verse seemed to suggest the same.

I had to catch my breath and take a look at the scriptures again because it seemed to stand against everything I believed. As I began to study, what I discovered refreshed me. And can’t help but share it!

Catching the Context

If you read the chapter from the beginning, it won’t take long for you to figure out that the context is giving. Paul is asking Corinthians to prepare an offering to meet the need in other Churches.

In order to encourage Corinthians to give generously, Paul is quoting two examples:

The 1st example (v1~4)

These verses are very clear. Paul says that Macedonians gave out of extreme poverty and He asks the Corinthians to consider their example of sacrificial giving.

The 2nd example (v6~9)

These verses are interesting. It is the example of Jesus Himself! (This is apparently where the controversy lies)

The act of grace Paul is talking about here is the grace of giving. Paul says in v6 that he is sending Titus to complete the act of grace, which is, to prepare and to make ready the offering for needy saints (which the Corinthians promised earlier — see 2 Cor 9:5). In v7, Paul is exhorting Corinthians to excel in the grace of giving. Moving on, in v9, he quotes the example of the grace of Jesus Himself and how He gave graciously. In verses 6~9, “grace” clearly refers to the act of giving. So, the gracious giving of Jesus is the example Paul is talking about:

First, Paul said that the Macedonians gave out of poverty. Now, Paul is saying that Jesus gave so graciously that He was reduced to a state of poverty.

When and where did Jesus give? We don’t see Jesus distributing money generously anywhere in the Gospels. My wife pointed out that Jesus miraculously multiplied and distributed bread freely twice in the Gospels. Is that what Paul is talking about? Jesus also multiplied wine at Cana. But note this — Jesus didn’t lose anything in giving away bread or wine or fish generously. Paul is talking about Jesus giving so graciously that He Himself became poor in the process. So, in which act of gracious giving did Jesus become poor and lose everything? It is only at the Cross.

Catching the truth

In His glorious and gracious act of giving Himself to die for our sin, Jesus became poor. The Eternal Son of God, becoming man and humbling Himself to a humiliating death is what Christ becoming poor is all about. Philippians 2 describes this best:

Jesus becoming poor is not about Him losing money or earthly wealth! If we insist on saying that Jesus became financially poor at the Cross and lost all earthly wealth, there is nothing unique about it! Think. Every man becomes poor at death — no man is going to take anything with him when he dies. Every single person on Earth is reduced to zero balance at death. Interpreting Jesus’ poverty financially doesn’t make sense at all!

Catching the uniqueness of Christ’s poverty

Jesus’ poverty is unique because Jesus lost something far greater than earthly possessions. He gave up His Heavenly status. Jesus laid down His Heavenly crown and wore a crown of thorns. He laid down His Heavenly robes and allowed cruel soldiers to cast lots over His earthly robe. All for us — so that we might inherit the incorruptible, unfading riches of Heaven (1 Peter 1:3–5).

It is at the Cross that Jesus became poor so that we might become eternally rich. Because of one act of His, we are now reconciled to God, made heirs of eternal life and partakers of the Holy Spirit; we are given a grand welcome into His Heavenly Kingdom; we enjoy a rich fellowship with God and are promised all that we need here in this life on Earth if we set our eyes on Heavenly things (Matthew 6:33). We freely inherit all His promises — so that we might live a Holy life and fully enjoy God (2 Peter 1:3).

Catching a glimpse of Christ’s glorious example

Christ’s impoverishment is unparalleled to any other act of sacrifice. The first example of Macedonians giving despite their poverty amazes us. But Paul’s second example of Jesus losing Himself completely in the supreme act of giving is beyond compare.

Paul is telling, “Jesus, though He was God Himself, became man and gave Himself to die in an ultimate sacrificial act of gracious giving — so that we might inherit His Eternal riches. Therefore imitate that supreme example of Jesus’ giving in your financial giving!”

Paul is presenting the Macedonian Church and our Lord Jesus Christ Himself as examples of sacrificial giving.

Catching the lie

We can see how Chapter 8 and 9 of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians are very clearly passages about giving, teaching us how to give graciously and sacrificially. It is not about becoming rich by believing in Jesus. Prosperity preachers twist that single verse to tell you how to become rich by believing that Jesus died for your financial problems — such a teaching is found nowhere else in the Bible.

Despite the contrary context, if we still insist on believing that God wants us to be rich because Jesus died to make us rich here on Earth, consider this:

I know that Jesus died to make me holy. So I desire to be holy and I pursue holiness.

I know that Jesus died to give me Eternal life and fullness of Joy in His presence. So I desire eternal life and pursue joy by seeking His presence.

I know that Jesus died to give me victory over sin. So I fight sin by picking up my cross everyday and pursue victory over sin.

Now, if 2 Corinthians 8:9 really says that Jesus died to make me rich here on earth, can I pursue earthly riches? Ponder that.

If anything, Jesus wants us to be content in Him. On the contrary, the prosperity gospel seeks to justify pursuit of riches by spiritualizing it. It makes pursuit of riches sound spiritual and harmless and even valid in Jesus’ Name. It is not a subtle misinterpretation. It is a fleshly teaching directly contrary to the true Gospel and puts you on the road to destruction. The prosperity gospel is no gospel at all.

True riches in Christ

The study refreshed and renewed my faith in the Christ. Interpreting a verse rightly opens up your heart to true riches! Knowing that Jesus gave up everything for me is a humbling and life-changing truth. And the call to follow His sacrificial example is truly challenging. I need His grace to live like Christ — I’m nowhere close but I’m keeping at it. And my Savior-King will provide everything I need on this journey.

Do I believe that Jesus died to make me rich? Yes — eternally rich in Him! Eternal joy and unfading Heavenly treasures are mine in Christ. Do I believe that Jesus will provide for me here on Earth? Yes. He has promised to. And if I follow Him, will I become rich here on Earth? No.

If you believe that Jesus died for your sin and to give you eternal life and everlasting joy, your world will change.

If you also want to believe that Jesus died to make you rich here on Earth, the world will change you.



For the love of Christ and writing!

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Jim Moses

Follower of Christ and husband of Linda. Baby Isa is learning to call me ‘dadda’. I code for a living and love cycling, writing, driving, guitar & coffee! :D