Did Paul Teach the Prosperity Gospel?

The Gospel Coalition | 9/16/2019 | Sam Storms
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On more than one occasion I’ve heard contemporary proponents of the so-called prosperity gospel appeal to Paul’s use of the principle of sowing and reaping to support their view.

But was Paul really an intentional or inadvertent advocate of this view?

Writings - Paul - Appeals - Principle - Appeal

Twice in his writings Paul appeals to the principle of sowing and reaping when making an appeal for Christians to be generous and sacrificial in giving money to ministry causes.

First, in Galatians 6 he writes:

Context - Sowing - Refers - Generosity - Paul

In this context, the sowing and reaping refers to generosity in giving. This is how Paul uses it in the second passage, too. In 2 Corinthians 9, he has in mind the person who selfishly uses wealth for personal gain:

This idea of sowing and reaping, John Stott observes, is “a principle of order and consistency which is written into all life, material and moral.” It’s something God has embedded in reality. If you want a harvest of wheat, you must sow wheat. You can’t sow corn and expect lima beans. A good seed will produce a good crop, and a bad seed a bad one. This is just as true in our spiritual lives. If you sow little, you will reap little. If you sow into yourself, you will only reap for yourself. Our actions have consequences.

Prosperity - Gospel - Order - Stops - Bible

The prosperity gospel says you should give in order to get—and stops there. The Bible says you should give in order to get—so you can give even more away.

A closer look at 2 Corinthians 9 confirms that the reaping Paul has in mind—as well as in Galatians 6—isn’t for the purpose of building personal wealth. God will grant a bountiful harvest to the one who sows bountifully, so that the Christian “may abound in every good work”—namely, being even more generous “in every way.”

Advocates

Prosperity-gospel advocates who argue “if you give a...
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