“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). A lot of Christians misunderstand this passage to mean God plans to make every believer rich or materially prosperous in life.
First off, it’s the NIV’s translation of the Hebrew ‘shalom‘ as ‘prosper‘ instead of the more proper translation ‘peace‘ that causes the misunderstanding. Both the NASB and ESV translate the word as ‘welfare,’ while the KJV renders it as ‘peace.’
Second, as I study my lessons in my home-based theological seminary course, there are verses in the OT that are not meant for all individuals reading them. We have to read a verse in its full context and not rip it out of the intended context to suit our needs, or worse, the motives of the preacher. The context is about God speaking to the Israelites, a particular group of people (His people), at a particular moment in time. It’s about both the historical and future redemption of Israel.
This verse is perhaps the most used and misused verse in Scripture utilized by prosperity gospel teachers, who are false teachers and charlatans.
Next time you hear a verse being preached, always go back to the Bible and check the context from which it was taken to properly understand its full meaning.