“Scripture Says That Jesus Became Poor So That We Could Become Rich”

Indeed the Bible does say,

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).

It is argued that since this scripture obviously means that Jesus was materially rich in heaven and became materially poor on earth, then material wealth is what Paul had in mind when he wrote that his readers might become rich through Christ’s poverty. Surely, they say, if Paul was speaking of material wealth and poverty in the first part of the verse, he wouldn’t have been speaking of spiritual riches in the second part.

If Paul actually meant, however, that we would become materially rich because of Christ’ material poverty, we would have to wonder why he wrote just a few verses later in the very same letter,

I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure (2 Cor. 11:27).

If Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 8:9 that Christ became materially poor so that we could become materially rich, Christ’s intention was certainly not being done in Paul’s life! So obviously Paul did not mean that Christ became materially poor so that we could become materially rich on this earth. He meant that we would become spiritually rich, “rich toward God,” to borrow an expression Jesus used (see Luke 12:21), and rich in heaven where our treasures and hearts are.

Is it really safe to assume that because Paul was speaking of material wealth in one part of a sentence that he could not possibly be speaking of spiritual wealth in another part or that sentence, as prosperity preachers claim? Consider the following words of Jesus addressed to some of His followers in the city of Smyrna:

I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)…(Rev. 2:9a).

Clearly, Jesus was speaking of the material poverty that the Smyrnan believers were facing, and then just four words later, He was speaking of the spiritual wealth of those same believers.