- Jesus was rich…
- (in his pre-existent state as the eternal word – John 1:1, the second person of the trinity – the creator and owner of all things)
- and became poor…
- Some people think this refers to physical poverty – perhaps> But it definitely refers to his becoming a man and emptying himself of his glory to come in human form John 17:5; Phil. 2:6.
- About whether Jesus was rich or poor, here’s what we can find out:
- It seems he was born into poverty – his parents brought the offering presented by those who were too poor to afford a lamb – indicating their poverty (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus. 12:6-8)
- We don’t have any biblical evidence that Jesus was poor/destitute as an adult before he started his itinerant ministry. My guess is that he was as well off as any other Jewish artisan, being a carpenter/workman (Mark 6:3)
- This verse does not prove that Jesus was a pauper all his life.
- We do know that while Jesus did not suffer hardship or deprivation, he was not was not a rich man as he depended on the hospitality of others such as Lazarus and his sisters. We see that Jesus did not live as a rich man in his statement “foxes have holes…” of Matthew 8:20.
- so that believers by his poverty might become rich
- Not materially rich – but spiritually rich 1 Cor 1:4-5; 3:22).
- Why do I know this the correct reading of the text? From the text itself!
- He couldn’t have been saying that Jesus died to guarantee all believers material riches since he was in these very words raising money for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem and had just said the believers in the Macedonian churches were in “…extreme poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:2).
- Therefore, if this passage is a blanket guarantee of material riches, then God swindled/disappointed the Macedonian believers and Paul is in fact speaking from both ends of his mouth as he tells the Corinthians “Christ died to make believers like you rich but please give some money because these other believers in Jerusalem are so poor that they need your charity and remember the believers in Macedonian believers, also extremely poor, have given too“.
- To make matters worse, if that verse means that believers are guaranteed material riches, then apart from contradicting everything else in the passage itself, Paul, and the other apostles failed miserably to live out this reality! (By his own testimony he said many times he was homeless and deprived of food and poorly dressed 1 Cor. 4:11). A little later in this very letter he states how he had suffered much (2 Cor. 11:27)
Paul was not saying in 2 Cor. 8:9 that Christ died to increase our financial net worth. He was saying in essence: “this is the example of Jesus, therefore follow his example in giving sacrificially“. He was saying that the incarnation and the gospel is what should inspire our giving.
You see, the context of this verse 2 Cor. 8:9 is that of Paul urging these Corinthian believers to give sacrificially, however, it is taken out of its context to urge believers that Christ died to guarantee them physically and materially riches, and therefore, for them to claim said riches.