The Truth about the Prosperity Gospel

There is a podcast that I listen to regularly throughout the week. The podcast generally focuses on politics and world issues. However, the podcaster is not shy about his Christian faith.

Recently, on one of the podcasts, he began to talk about preachers, and what some call “The Prosperity Gospel.” His take was that preachers who preach that doctrine was false, and only out for money. Then, he continued by calling a couple of the preachers by name. If I mentioned the names of these preachers, I would say 80 to 90 percent of you would know who I’m referring to.

I’ve been a Christian for many years, and I’ve heard the arguments both for and against the Prosperity Gospel. But this time, it caused me to stop and reevaluate my beliefs on the topic.

The question is, “Why?”

I guess the answer is complicated.

I really respect the commentary of the podcaster. I believe he is wise, and he speaks from his heart what he truly believes.

However, as I strive to get closer to GOD, I find that traditions and old beliefs, keep us from growing in the things of GOD. Traditions are what kept the religious leaders from seeing who Jesus was back in his day.

So, I decided to go back and study the topic from the Bible and ignore preconceived opinions.

Let’s first define one of the terms to Prosper (-ity, -ous, -ously) in Hebrew is: Safe, well, happy, friendly, health, prosperity, peace, familiar, fare, favor, friend, greet, prosper, rest, salute, welfare, wholly.

Throughout the Old Testament the terms Prosper, prospered, prospereth, prosperity, prosperous, and prosperously, are used many times. And it was hard to find prosperity in a negative light. When the people of GOD obeyed HIM, GOD made them prosper. When they did evil, they did not prosper.

When looking at Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Daniel, the nation of Israel,  were all prosperous when they obeyed GOD. Even some of the harshest critics of the Prosperity Gospel would have a difficult time defending their point of view in the Old Testament. It is very clear in the Old Testament that GOD wanted HIS people to prosper.

So, what about the New Testament?

I was very surprised after seeing around 90 references concerning prosper (-ed, -eth, -ity, -ous, and -ously) in the Old Testament, I was able to only find four in the New Testament. Paul mentioned the term twice in two letters. Once to the Corinthians, and once to the Romans. And John mentioned it twice in 3 John:2. But the biggest surprise is the term prosperity is not mentioned in the New Testament at all. Perhaps the argument against Prosperity in the New Testament may be valid.

Before we make a conclusion on prosperity, let’s see what the New Testament says on the topic.

Whether saved or unsaved. Whether one has read the Bible or not, many people can quote this scripture, “Money is the root of all evil.” The problem is that the actual quote is, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV).

So, what’s the difference? In Greek, the word Philarguria means “the love of money.” In another word, that word is a phrase that can’t be separated. That’s very important because when you love someone or something, there is nothing you wouldn’t do for them or it.

We are to love GOD, and love people, but not things.

Think about a close family member that you love that needs help. Would you do anything in your power to help them?

Well, if you love money, would you do anything in your power for it?

Do you see how dangerous that is? Yes, many rich people love money, but many middle-class and poor people love money as well. Robberies, credit, and financial schemes that people do to get rich is for the love of money.  

What does Jesus say about money?

In the parable of the Sower sows the word, Jesus warns about the deceitfulness of riches choking the Word of GOD in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

In Luke, Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve GOD and Mammon.” (Luke 16:13 KJV).

One day a young man said to Jesus what could he do to have eternal life? And Jesus told him to keep the commandments of GOD. The man said that he has kept them from his youth. Jesus said that he lacked one thing. He told him to sell what he had, give it to the poor, and follow him. But the man went away sad because he had a lot of possessions.

Then Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of Heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of GOD.” (Matthew 19:23-24 KJV).

By reading the words of Jesus, his views on the rich seem to be clear.

However, let’s look at a few more scriptures to be certain.

Jesus told a story of a man traveling to a faraway country, and he gave his servants talents (money) according to their abilities. He gave one servant five talents, another servant two talents, and the last servant one talent. Then, the man left for his trip.

After a long time, the man returned, and his servants came to show their master what they had accomplished while he was gone. The servant that was given five talents, produced five more talents. The servant that was given two talents, produced two more talents. Finally, the servant that was given one talent gave the talent back to his master, because he had buried it in the ground.

The master was pleased with the first two servants. He said, because they were faithful in little, he would make them rulers over much. But for the servant that buried his talent, he called him lazy. He said that he could at least give the talent to the bankers, so he would have received interest on his money.

So, he took the one talent away from him and gave it to the one with ten talents. Then he had the lazy servant cast into outer darkness. The man was cast into outer darkest for not producing money for his master.

But wasn’t the master rich?

Jesus said, “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him, that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath.” (Matthew 25:29 KJV).

In the story that we discussed earlier concerning the young rich man who went away sad because he had a lot of possessions. People fail to read further down in the story. After the man left, Jesus, said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of GOD.” (Matthew 19:23-24 KJV).

The Bible says that the disciples were exceedingly amazed. They asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25 KJV). Have you ever asked yourself why would poor disciples care that rich people may not enter the Kingdom of GOD?

Perhaps all the disciples weren’t poor after all.

Then, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible; but with GOD all things are possible.” (Matthew 19: 26 KJV). Peter then said that they had forsaken all to follow Jesus, what should they get? And Jesus responded, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:29 KJV).

Jesus said that they would receive a hundredfold return. The young rich man thought that he was losing his possessions if he gave them away, but instead, he lost the chance to follow Jesus and a hundredfold return.  

Did the just Bible contradict itself?


Study both sides, which is correct, the Prosperity Gospel, or forsaking riches?

Like many things, when making conclusions, many people fall too far on either side of the opinion.

Here is my conclusion.

First, prosperity consists of many things like safety, health, peace, welfare, favor, and wealth. Wealth and riches are just one part of prosperity. Second, as we see in the Old Testament, GOD wants us to prosper in all ways. However, GOD wants us to love and focus on HIM, and not the things we obtain. GOD gives good gifts to them that love HIM.

I like to use Abraham for example. Abraham focused on his relationship with GOD. He served, honored, gave offerings, and was willing to sacrifice his son for GOD. And GOD blessed and prospered Abraham tremendously. Abraham was not only well, healthy, and safe. GOD also blessed him with land as far as the eyes could see, promised him that his descendants would be as the stars in the sky, and GOD said that HE would not only honor the covenant between them, but also his seed after him.

There is nothing wrong with prosperity and everything that comes with it, including money. Just make sure you keep everything in its proper place. Don’t love things. Love GOD and people.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of GOD, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6: 33 KJV).

G. Edward Wyche

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *