The concept of prosperity is mentioned many times throughout the Bible. For the faithful, it’s a complex idea with much deeper meaning than simply being rich or successful from a worldly perspective. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the true biblical meaning of prosperity.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Biblical prosperity goes far beyond material wealth and worldly success. It involves having abundant blessings spiritually, relationally, physically, mentally, and materially.
Most importantly, it means experiencing the blessings of God by walking in obedience to Him and experiencing the fruits of righteousness.
In this in-depth article, we will examine biblical verses about prosperity, look at what prosperity meant to key figures in the Bible, analyze ancient Hebrew and Greek words translated as ‘prosperity,’ and unpack the holistic way the Bible defines prosperity in relation to God’s purpose for our lives.
Old Testament Verses About Prosperity
Deuteronomy 28 – Covenant Blessings for Obedience
Deuteronomy 28 contains one of the most remarkable promises of prosperity and abundance in the Bible. In this chapter, God promises incredible blessings on those who obey His commandments. Some of the blessings include prosperity in the city and country, fruitful harvests, victory over enemies, and financial wealth (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
This passage shows that obedience to God’s laws leads to His favor and provision.
Joshua 1:8 – Prosperity Through God’s Word
Joshua 1:8 is a powerful verse on how meditating on God’s Word leads to prosperity and success. As Joshua was about to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, God commanded him to continually read, speak, and meditate on the Book of the Law.
By carefully obeying all that was written in it, Joshua would make his way prosperous and would have good success. This illustrates the close connection between prosperity and God’s Word.
According to this verse, regularly studying and applying the Bible provides wisdom and spiritual insight to make wise decisions, which lead to prosperity and success in life. Many modern business leaders and influencers echo this principle in their lives. For example, sports star Tim Tebow has said, “There is power in God’s Word to transform your life and give you the prosperity and success only He can provide.
Psalm 1 – The Blessings of the Righteous
Psalm 1 describes the abundant blessings that come to those who reject wickedness and delight in God’s law. They are like fruitful trees planted by streams of water that yield produce in season (v. 1-3). In contrast, the wicked are like worthless chaff that blow away in the wind (v. 4-5).
Verse 3 contains a profound promise: the righteous person who meditates on God’s law day and night will be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”
This illustrates that a life focused on God’s truth leads to spiritual stability, refreshment, and ongoing prosperity.
The passage also teaches that avoiding ungodly influences and immoral people is key. As GotQuestions.org notes, “This psalm provides a beautiful picture of the godly life, lived in communion with God and set apart from the world.”
Living by godly wisdom found in Scripture is a path to true prosperity and blessing.
New Testament Verses About Prosperity
3 John 1:2 – Praying for Health and Prosperity
The apostle John prays that his friend Gaius would “prosper in every way and be in good health” (3 John 1:2). This shows that godly prosperity encompasses both physical health and material blessing. When we pray for others to prosper, we are asking for God’s favor and abundance over their lives.
The notable gospel website Bible Gateway explains that this verse encourages us to pray for the wellbeing and success of fellow believers.
2 Corinthians 9:8 – God’s Gracious Provision
Paul assures that “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). This reveals God’s amazing grace in supplying our needs and even giving us more so we can be a blessing to others.
The verse indicates that true prosperity is not selfish hoarding but rather overflowing generosity. According to the scholarly site Bible Study Tools, God blesses us so we can meet the needs of people around us.
Philippians 4:19 – God Supplying Our Needs
Paul boldly declares, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). This is an incredible promise that as we seek God’s kingdom, He will generously provide for us (Matthew 6:33).
It does not mean we will live in luxury, but that God hears our prayers and knows what we need. The popular ministry site Got Questions notes that while prosperity preachers twist this verse, it actually refers to God meeting our needs, not gratifying all our frivolous desires.
Prosperity for Biblical Figures
Abraham – Prosperity Through Faith
Abraham is a prime example of someone who prospered due to his faith in God. Though he started out without land or descendants, God promised that He would bless Abraham and make his descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:5).
Abraham believed God, even when the promise seemed impossible, and God credited Abraham’s faith as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). As a result, Abraham became extremely wealthy in livestock, silver and gold (Genesis 13:2).
God fulfilled His promise by giving Abraham many descendants through his son Isaac. Abraham’s prosperity was a direct result of his faith in God’s promises.
Joseph – Prosperity Despite Suffering
Joseph’s story provides an incredible example of prospering despite unjust suffering. As a young man, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He was later falsely accused and imprisoned in Egypt for years.
However, Joseph remained faithful to God, and God ultimately raised Joseph from slave to second-in-command of Egypt. When famine struck, Joseph led food storage efforts that not only saved Egypt but also his family back in Canaan.
Joseph became incredibly prosperous and powerful, showing that prosperity can come even after hardship, if we trust in God’s greater plan.
Job – Remaining Faithful in Loss
The story of Job provides sobering insights into how we view prosperity. Job was a righteous man who lost everything – livestock, wealth, children and health. Yet Job refused to curse God (Job 1:22). He retained his faith despite his profound loss.
In the end, God restored Job to even greater wealth and blessings than before (Job 42:12). Job’s story reminds us that true prosperity comes from God and cannot be defined solely by health and wealth. Faithfulness to God is more important than material prosperity, a truth Job clung to in adversity.
King Solomon – The Perils of Prosperity
King Solomon provides a cautionary tale about the spiritual dangers of prosperity. Early in his reign, Solomon used his great wisdom to lead Israel in righteousness and built God’s temple. God blessed Solomon with immense wealth and power.
However, later in life Solomon abandoned God’s ways and suffered the consequences of idolatry and sin (1 Kings 11:1-13). Solomon’s failure shows that without wisdom to steward it properly, prosperity can lead us astray spiritually.
Great wealth also cannot protect us from the consequences of unwise choices.
Hebrew and Greek Word Study
Shalom – Wholeness and Completeness
The Hebrew word shalom encompasses a meaning of wholeness, completeness, and welfare. When the Bible speaks of prosperity, it often uses shalom to refer to a state of well-being and fulfilment (source).
This prosperity is not just financial success, but a profound sense of peace, contentment, and blessing from God.
In passages like Psalm 35:27, shalom refers to God’s desire for His people to live blessed and whole lives: “Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; And let them say continually, ‘The LORD be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.'”
True biblical prosperity flows out of a right relationship with God.
Tob/Towb – Goodness and Success
The Hebrew word tob means good, pleasing, prosperous, and bountiful. It refers to that which is morally and tangibly good. When Genesis 1 says God saw that His creation was “good” (towb), it meant it was complete, successful, and prosperous to fulfil its purpose. Towb comes from the word for “best.”
Thus, when the Bible wishes prosperity, it really means, may you enjoy life’s blessings, and may things go well for you. For example, in Deuteronomy 28:11, towb refers to prosperity as the blessed state God desires for those who obey Him: “And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground.”
Euodoo – To Succeed and Prosper
The Greek verb euodoo means to succeed, prosper, have a good journey. It refers to accomplishing one’s goals and seeing the happy outcome of God’s favor. As Acts 16:2 says, the brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of Timothy, that he was “well spoken of” (euodoo).
The verb indicates attaining a good testimony and blessed state.
In passages like 1 Corinthians 16:2, euodoo refers to financial prosperity, but also general well-being: “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper (euodoo), that there be no collections when I come.”
As with shalom and tob, biblical prosperity encompasses all aspects of health, fulfilment, and flourishing.
A Holistic Biblical View of Prosperity
Prosperity in Relation to God’s Purpose
The Bible teaches that prosperity should not be pursued for its own sake, but rather to fulfill God’s purposes. True prosperity involves having enough resources to provide for one’s needs and the needs of others, while using the remainder for God’s glory (2 Corinthians 9:8).
It flows from righteous living and trusting God, not hoarding wealth or living in excess (Proverbs 13:11; Luke 12:15). Prosperity allows believers to generously support the poor, advance the gospel, and strengthen the church (Acts 4:32-35; Philippians 4:14-19).
The Dangers of Pursuing Worldly Prosperity
The Bible strongly warns against making the pursuit of wealth and possessions the priority in life. Doing so can lead to greed, pride, self-sufficiency, and forgetting about God (Luke 12:16-21; 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-19).
Living for earthly riches often involves stinginess, oppression of others, and idolatry as possessions begin to rule our hearts (James 5:1-6; Colossians 3:5). Scripture calls believers to find contentment in God rather than chasing after money (Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:11-13).
Cultivating Prosperity Through Obedience and Faith
Although prosperity should not be an all-consuming goal, the Bible does connect it to obedience and faith. As we seek first God’s kingdom, He promises to provide for our needs (Matthew 6:31-33). When we honor God with our finances, He rewards us (Proverbs 3:9-10; Luke 6:38).
While prosperity is no sure sign of God’s favor, living according to His wisdom brings blessing (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3). However, we must remember that true prosperity is having Christ and living for eternal purposes (Philippians 3:8; Colossians 2:2-3).
After analyzing numerous biblical verses and passages, we see that the Bible presents a complex, nuanced view of prosperity. While it involves material blessings, true godly prosperity is not defined by wealth and worldly success alone.
The biblical model of prosperity encompasses shalom – complete wellbeing in body, mind, and spirit. It flows from faithfully walking in God’s will, experiencing His gracious provision, and bearing righteous fruit.
Embracing biblical prosperity means finding true fulfillment in your God-given purpose and experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised.