Rich Man and Heaven

What Did Jesus Really Say about a Rich Man and Heaven?

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

Why the Kingdom Of Heaven Is Not Heaven

When it comes to Jesus money teachings, the world is divided into at least three types of people.

  • People who either don’t know or care what Jesus said about money.
  • People who care profoundly about what Jesus said about money and do their best to be obedient to those words.
  • The people who know what Jesus said about money — or at least they think they know — and wish they didn’t.

The Most Misunderstood Bible Verse

Here is an example of the third type of person. I was at a seminar about creating a millionaire mindset. After a break, I was returning to my seat when I saw one of the students talking with the speaker. As I got closer, I heard the student ask: “How can you say it is good to be rich? Jesus said that a rich man can’t get into Heaven.”

I knew what the man was talking about. He was referring to a statement about a rich man who asked Jesus a question about eternal life. The story ends with words of Jesus about a “rich man,” “a camel,” “the eye of a needle,” and “the Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven.”

This one comment about a rich man and the Kingdom of Heaven is probably the single most misunderstood verse about money among all of the words of Jesus. And it is my candidate for the Bible verse about money most likely to produce people who are afraid of becoming rich out of fear for their own salvation.

The distressed questioner had misquoted the verse itself. Jesus did not say that a rich man can’t get into Heaven. In the three biblical versions of the story, Jesus made a statement about a rich man entering the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven. By identifying the “Kingdom of Heaven” with “Heaven,” the questioner had significantly missed an important point.

The point is that the Kingdom of Heaven is not the same as Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is about changing the economic reality of people living on planet earth.

Bible Money Stories In Context

The only liberating  remedy for people who know — or think they know — what Jesus said about money is to put the words of Jesus into the context of the story, and to put the story in the context of the economic society in which Jesus lived.

The alternative is to live your life feeling guilty about wanting money and guilty about having it. This is what happened to the man at the seminar. He misunderstood the point of the story. As a result, he was stuck in the Eye of the Needle about money, without realizing that he had completely missed the point of the story. Jesus was not saying that the rich cannot get into Heaven. Jesus was condemning an economic system that produced so much poverty. 

What if Jesus really didn’t say you couldn’t get into heaven if you’re rich? Would that make a difference in your life? You don’t have to be Christian to be affected by Christian money beliefs. You might have learned that money is evil or a rich man cannot get into heaven or that money is a sign of God’s blessing. 

The truth is, there is no single set of Christian beliefs about any topic. This is especially true about Christian money beliefs. Money is one of the necessities of life. Money is power. Those who have it have social and political power. Those without money struggle endlessly. 

The heart of the problem is that much Christian  money education reduces the topic of money to a few Bible verses, with no effort to put the words of the Bible into any larger context. This kind of Bible interpretation keeps people broke and struggling for money. 

[Original Post August 3, 2007]
What are your thoughts about Bible verses about money and how they relate to contemporary economies? Please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Does the Bible Really Say That? Series focuses on the impact of Bible translations on what people believe “the Bible says” on any topic.

Gospel of Wealth or Poverty?: How do Bible Verses about Jesus, Wealth, Poverty, and Heaven Affect Your Income? connects your financial status and your biblical beliefs. The question mark in the title challenges either/or choices between wealth or poverty based on Bible verses.

Wealth and poverty are significant themes in the Bible. If you focus on isolated Bible verses, you can claim that God wants you to be poor. You can also claim that God wants to you to be rich. But neither claim can be justified if you go beyond the verses and read whole stories set in their original social, economic, political, and religious contexts.

Available on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback versions. Click Buy Now From Amazon to get your copy right away!

Does the Bible Really Say That? Series focuses on the impact of Bible translations on what people believe “the Bible says” on any topic.

Your True Self Identity: How Familiar Translations of Bible Verses in the Gospel of Matthew Hide Your True Identity from you considers the idea of your true self-identity. Do you know your true self-identity? Are you happy being who you are? If you are not happy, what if the real cause of your unhappiness is that you don’t really know your true identity? One powerful reason is the effect of misleading translations of the Christian Bible.

One glaring example of the effect of Bible translations on identity is Chapter 18 of the Gospel of Matthew. Careful analysis of familiar translation choices in English language bibles demonstrates how sin doctrine creates false identities by turning the innocent into sinners.

Available on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback versions. Click Buy Now From Amazon to get your copy right away!

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