I was recently compelled to listen to a Word of Faith sermon, and, of course, it was on wealth. The Pastor stated that, as Christians, we were not supposed to be poor, but we were called to be rich. The Scripture used to back this up was 2 Corinthians 8:9, which states, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” This was the basis of him mandating wealth to the Christian believer.
Now, let us dig into what this passage means, because, contrary to the Word of Faith and prosperity gospel movements, pastors are doing a grave disservice to the Holy Scriptures by coming into it with a paradigm of why Christians should be rich, and then cherry-picking passages to “prove” this presupposition. To recap, the passage was used as a prooftext (already a rocky start) to show the church why Christians are not supposed to be poor, but to be rich. Why? Because Jesus already became poor so that we may become rich.
Paul starts the chapter discussing the churches of Macedonia (Northern Greece) in that, despite a severe trial brought by affliction, “their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” Paul asks for a collection to supply the needs of God’s people (you can also see this in Romans 15:26-28). Paul urges Titus to return to Corinth to echo the generosity of Macedonia regarding the collection to give to the poor.
I repeat: THE COLLECTION TO GIVE TO THE POOR.
Paul continues to discuss the importance for the Corinthian church to be as generous as the Macedonians, who gave “even beyond their ability, of their own accord” (v. 3), and goes on in chapter 9 about the benefits of giving generously. Again, though, despite how these two chapters are manipulated to support why people should tithe, the purpose of it was Paul urging the Corinthians in their generous giving to the poor, similar to the Macedonians. That’s it.
As a result, this brings verse 9 to light in a much more precious and grateful matter. Unfortunately, with the Word of Faith and Prosperity Gospel movements, this passage, just like many others, are used to elevate the position of humanity compared to a sovereign God. In fact, many adherents of the Word of Faith doctrine defend—once again using Scripture out of context—how we are “little g gods,” using a TERRIBLE interpretation of Genesis 1.
Creflo Dollar once said:
“If God now produces man, and everything produces after it’s own kind… If horses get together, they produce what? And if dogs get together, they produce what? If cats get together, they produce what? But if the Godhead gets together, and say ‘let US’ make man, then what are they producing? They’re producing gods!”
This is the same mentality in making passages about one’s personal gain, instead of—as a church leader with a mandate to teach sound doctrine (James 3:1, Titus 2:1, 8)—properly exegeting the text in front of a hungry and vulnerable pulpit.
The root word for rich in the first half of 2 Corinthians 8:9 is “plousios,” which does mean to be wealthy and abound in material resources. However, this was not describing Christ, who did not even have a place to rest his head (Matthew 8:20). In fact, this definition of plousios is looked at scoffingly in Scripture, as we can see where this was used in other passages.
Luke 18:25 (emphases added): “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man [plousion – ‘rich man’] to enter into the kingdom of God.”
1 Timothy 6:9 (emphases added): “But they that will be rich (plouteō – to be, or become rich) fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
Revelation 3:17 (emphases added): “For you say, ‘I’m rich (plousios – rich, abounding in riches); I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”
As we see here, putting the focus on one being rich is in error. There are ways to get wealth that can be leveraged to the Kingdom of God as far as giving and enjoying life while leveraging this joy as a tool for ministry. However, putting a biblical mandate of Christians “being rich,” is not only erroneous, but it is looked down upon in Scripture (see passages above).
Instead, the plousios used in this verse means to be “rich in glory.” Jesus is our abundance. He is the epitome of richness and wealth. He is the well that never runs dry. Similar to Paul commending the Macedonians, our charity will be restored by HIS riches. NOT some unbiblical mandate that we are supposed to acquire beacoup money on our own because the Bible says so. No, we acquire money when we work, or if we get some kind of charity or inheritance. Not some deceptive scheming tactic that Word of Faith pastors want to correlate with “faith.”
The proof of this is the final part of 2 Corinthians 8:9. The word used here is ploutēsēte, which translates to “might become enriched.” We are enriched with the grace of God. We are enriched by his glory. We are enriched by His goodness. He took on flesh and was nailed on the cross, showing His redemptive love for His creation.
Jesus became poor so that we may become rich. When you think about what that really means, it hits WAY different than some watered-down, prosperity gospel version of it.
Subscribe to Dr. Chris Featherstone’s ViZion United Podcast YouTube page discussing more erroneous Word of Faith passages here: