Joseph Prince Takes Proverbs 23:7 Out of Context – By Asher Chee (Dated 19 July 2021)


Rev George Ong’s Comments:


Joseph Prince has always championed many times in his books and videos about the importance of taking a text in the Bible in its context.


In ‘Unmerited Favor’, Page 188, Joseph Prince wrote (italics):

“When reading the Bible, always look at the context of the verses. When you take the “text” and interpret it out of its “context,” all you are left with is a “con”! So don’t be conned. Read everything in its context.”


Yet, he has time and again flouted this same principle he has championed himself. (Imagine, the one who keeps warning you about being conned is the real conman himself.) This certainly did not escape the sharp eye of Asher Chee who spotted this infringement in one of Joseph Prince’s devotionals regarding Proverbs 23:7 (see article below).


Great to have Asher back again. Asher is an Ex New Creation Church (NCC) member who came out of NCC in 2014 when he realised that many of the teachings that Joseph Prince was claiming about the Bible and the biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek were patently false! You can read about his story by clicking this link.


Joseph Prince Takes Proverbs 23:7 Out of Context – By Asher Chee


In one of his devotionals (Meditate Devotional), Joseph Prince uses Proverbs 23:7 to teach that a person is (or can become) whatever he thinks himself to be.


Here is what is written in the Devotional (indent in blue):


How Do You See Yourself?

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Proverbs 23:7


The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This means that how you see yourself determines your physical health. So how do you see yourself in the midst of your symptoms, or after hearing your doctor’s negative report?


Beloved, the truth is that through Jesus’ finished work at the cross, you are completely righteous and completely redeemed from every curse of sickness (see Gal. 3:13 NIV). You are God’s beloved child for whom Jesus did a complete work to save, heal, and deliver.


So don’t see yourself as the sick trying to get healed. You are the healed, righteous, and beloved child of God facing some symptoms. Be of good cheer! There is no disease or condition that is greater than the perfect, finished work Jesus has accomplished for you. Declare what you’ve been made in Christ and see your body manifest this truth!


However, by teaching Proverbs 23:7 in this manner, Joseph Prince makes several basic errors in Bible interpretation.


Firstly, Joseph Prince changes what the verse says.


Notice how he displays Proverbs 23:7 at the top of the devotional, but when he quotes the verse in the devotional itself, he adds the word “man” to the verse!


In reality, the word “man” does not appear in any English translation of the verse, nor is it found in the original Hebrew text of the verse.


Secondly, Joseph Prince takes the verse out of context.


Notice how he only quotes the first half of Proverbs 23:7, and leaves out the rest of the verse.


In its entirety, Proverbs 23:6-8 is actually a warning against accepting the generosity of a miser:


Proverbs 23:6-8 NKJV

6 Do not eat the bread of a miser,

Nor desire his delicacies;
7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.
8 The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up,
And waste your pleasant words.


Even if one uses the NKJV, the proper understanding of Proverbs 23:7 in context is that a miser may appear generous, even inviting you to “Eat and drink!” at his expense, but his true self is what he truly “thinks in his heart”, which the later part of the verse explains: “his heart is not with you.”


So, who is the “he” in Proverbs 23:7?


Does it refer to a “man” who can become whatever he thinks himself to be?


Of course not.


Rather, in context, the “he” in Proverbs 23:7 refers to the miser from verse 6.


When read in context, it becomes clear that Proverbs 23:7 is not at all about a person being able to be or become whatever he thinks himself to be.


Thirdly, Joseph Prince’s interpretation relies only on the KJV/NKJV.


The Hebrew word for “thinks” in the KJV/NKJV translation of Proverbs 23:7 means to calculate the value of something.


In this context, it refers to the miser calculating the cost of the meal which he is inviting you to “Eat and drink!”


This is confirmed when we look at Proverbs 23:7 in other translations:

·       “for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.” (ESV)

·       “for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost.” (NIV)

·       “They are always thinking about how much it costs.” (NLT)


Notice how Joseph Prince’s mistaken interpretation could only come from the KJV/NKJV, and does not make sense in other translations.


Even if Joseph Prince does not know any Hebrew, a basic comparison of Proverbs 23:7 in other translations would make it clear that it is not at all about a person being or becoming whatever he thinks himself to be.


Asher Chee

Attending Gospel Light Christian Church, Singapore