Joseph Prince (Has Again) Twisted & Distorted God’s Word to Support his Prosperity Gospel Doctrine – by Rev George Ong (Dated 6 Apr 2022)
(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)
“… the LORD God has set you high above all the nations of the earth and all these blessings will come on you and overtake you… (Deut 28:1-2). The very first thing He does before all the blessings come on you and overtake you, He set you on high, Amen. And that’s what has happened to us. The promise to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 28 is our reality.
We are seated with Christ in heavenly places and we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Eph 1:3b). And these spiritual blessings, mind you, this wisdom that translates into something material as well. It’s not spiritual blessings, means it’s only heavenly, and nothing to do with earth. No. These are spiritual blessings because everything that you see, the children of Israel have; even in the natural, you know whatever happens to them that caused them to walk in favour and prosperity is because of the spiritual blessing of wisdom for example, or the spiritual blessing of favour or the spiritual power to get wealth (Deut 8:18) that is promised in Deuteronomy 8:18 – all that is from the Bible.”
Joseph Prince has deliberately chosen to deceive when he quoted just a part of Deuteronomy 28:1-2 and not the entire 2 verses. He wanted to give the false impression that the blessing of wealth is unconditional for every believer.
It is important to note that Prince only quoted the part of Deuteronomy 28:1-2 that is in blue. But he intentionally left out those which are in red as follows:
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NKJV
1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:
What is clear is that even under the Old Covenant, there are conditions, such as obeying God and His commandments (in red), to be observed before the blessing of wealth can be appropriated (in blue). These conditions of wealth (in red) are so important that they are stated twice, not only at the beginning of the promise (in blue) but also at the end of it.
Yet, Joseph Prince selectively claims only the promises of prosperity and wealth of the Old Covenant people, without telling his followers that there are conditions to meet for these promises.
Only those Old Covenant people who obey God and His commandments are promised wealth and prosperity (Deut 28:1-2). In other words, even under the Old Covenant, not every Old Covenant believer is promised wealth and prosperity. So how can Joseph Prince use the Old Testament to support his doctrine that every New Covenant believer is entitled to the blessings of wealth when that is not even true under the Old Covenant?
Yes, the Old Covenant people were promised blessings of prosperity and wealth. But such blessings aren’t unconditional. These blessings are only promised to those who obey God and carry out His commandments.
That being so, how can Joseph Prince claim the promise of wealth under the Old Covenant without telling his followers that such a promise requires the condition of obedience?
Joseph Prince is happily claiming and teaching the wealth promises of the Old Covenant, but is he and his followers also prepared to fulfil the conditions of the promise – to be obedient to God and His commandments?
The big joke is that Joseph Prince teaches against both obedience to God (much of the time as a form of legalism) and His commandments (as Prince says the Ten Commandments are no longer in force for New Covenant believers).
Joseph Prince also didn’t tell his followers (even though he is well aware) in the same passage of Deuteronomy 28 that those who disobey God and His commandments are cursed with sickness, poverty and tragic deaths inflicted by their enemies (Deut 28:15-68):
Deuteronomy 28:15 NKJV
15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
Are Joseph Prince and his followers prepared to be cursed by God with sickness, poverty and even death, if they disobey Him?
But what is worse is that Joseph Prince himself is using the Mosaic Covenant in Deuteronomy 28 – the very thing that he rejects and preaches against as no more applicable to New Covenant believers to teach his Prosperity Gospel doctrine of the promise of wealth to his New Covenant followers.
The biggest joke is that Joseph Prince has contradicted himself without him even knowing it. This is another concrete example of His double-talk. How can one who consistently double-talks be a true teacher of God’s word?
Joseph Prince based his Prosperity Gospel doctrine mainly on the Old Testament, which God promises prosperity to the nation of Israel if they obey Him.
But this promise of prosperity and wealth was never repeated in the New Testament to the corporate church or any individual believer as there is a discernible and clear difference between the Old Testament and the New with regards to wealth.
While the Old Testament’s focus is on material prosperity, the New Testament’s focus is not on material prosperity, but adversity: suffering and persecution. Friends, the truth is, the emphasis has dramatically changed in the New Testament from material prosperity to adversity.
There are many evidence that wealth is no longer the emphasis in the New Testament, and in fact, discouraged and even warned against.
Let me just show you one example in which the Apostle Paul himself had warned against riches:
1 Timothy 6:7-10 NIV
7 “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
The teaching of the New Testament is not about getting rich, but how, through adversity, believers can be strengthened in their faith.
Let me give you just a sampling of the New Testament passages that focus on adversity, such as suffering and persecution:
Jesus warned that believers are bound to face persecution,
“…‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…” (Jn 15:20 NIV).
Paul alerted that tribulations are to be expected in their entering of the kingdom of God,
“…We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NKJV).
Paul reminded the believers in Rome that suffering is part and parcel in their journey to eternal inheritance,
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom 8:17-18 NIV).
Paul warned that persecution is the price of godliness,
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12 NIV).
Peter cautioned believers not to be surprised by suffering as it is the typical experience to be encountered by believers,
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Pet 4:12-14 NIV).
While the Old Testament’s focus is on material prosperity, the New Testament’s focus is not on material prosperity, but adversity: suffering and persecution. The emphasis has dramatically changed in the New Testament, from material prosperity to adversity.
From the blessing of physical land and material and earthly wealth in the Old Covenant, we, the New Covenant believers, are now asked to focus on our spiritual, eternal and heavenly inheritance.
This is why the Apostle Peter said:
“And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:4 NIV).
“Now we hope for the blessings God has for his children. These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:4 NCV).
The shift is most discernible when the Lord Jesus Himself declared that His kingdom is not of this world:
“Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (Jn 18:36 NIV).
This is in line with what the author of Hebrews said that our inheritance is a heavenly country and a heavenly Jerusalem:
“Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Heb 11:16 NIV).
“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” (Heb 12:22 NIV).
Jesus Himself has redefined the content of blessings from material wealth in the Old Testament to spiritual wealth in the New Testament.
This is clearly seen in His Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:3-12 NIV
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Did Jesus say as Joseph Prince constantly teaches,
“Blessed are those who pray in faith, for the material wealth of the world will be theirs to claim”?
“Blessed are the poor and miserable for they will become rich and happy”?
“Blessed are the wealthy for they shall become very wealthy as Abraham was as we are the seed of Abraham”?
Joseph Prince talked so much about blessings and being blessed with wealth by God, but why is he discernibly silent about the kind of spiritual blessings that Jesus came to give in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12?
Why is Prince’s teaching on blessings so different from what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount? Prince teaches so much about the material blessings of wealth, but this same blessing of wealth is not even mentioned by Jesus.
I thought Prince has been shouting to the world that he is Christ-centred. If that is so, why isn’t he emulating what Jesus has taught in the Beatitudes – about the need to mourn, to be pure in heart and be persecuted, etc, so that we can be spiritually blessed?
Again, did you notice that the blessings of wealth that Joseph Prince teaches, is totally absent in the blessings that Jesus came to give us in the Beatitudes? Did you realise that none of the material blessings, such as silver and gold, hard cash and material assets, are mentioned in the Beatitudes?
The only blessings Jesus came to give are the spiritual and heavenly blessings, which culminate in
“…great is your reward in heaven…” (Matt 5:12).
With the coming of Christ, He has transformed the blessings of wealth into blessings arising from persecution and suffering. It is not material reward, but spiritual reward or blessings that believers will be bestowed not on earth but in heaven:
“…great is your reward in heaven…” (Matt 5:12).
If you go through the New Testament scriptures, from Jesus to Paul and Peter, you cannot miss the pervasive theme of suffering and persecution. Even the Apostle John, who wrote Revelation, lays out the stark fact that the last generation of believers will go through the most severe persecution and suffering under the Antichrist.
But, praise the Lord, these believers will receive the spiritual and heavenly blessing for being persecuted and even martyred:
“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (Rev 14:12-13 NIV).
And gloriously, Christ has come to encourage us that those who go through persecution and even martyrdom are the blessed ones, and they will receive their great reward in heaven (Matt 5:10-12).
In the footsteps of his master, the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Peter also speaks a lot about suffering in the book of 1 Peter, and for those who go through persecution Peter called them the blessed ones:
13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Pet 1:13-14 NASB).
The blessing and emphasis of wealth, which is a sign of God’s favour on the obedient and the righteous under the Old Covenant, has largely disappeared in the New Testament. This has been replaced by the faithful who will be blessed and rewarded because they will be persecuted, and will experience suffering, hardships, etc, in the New Testament.
Sir Francis Bacon wrote:
“Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New.”
Joseph Prince frequently preaches on prosperity, but he never preaches on self-denial and carrying the cross (Mk 8:34) and hardly on suffering. Hence, Prince is giving a distorted and false picture, that Christianity is just about prosperity and nothing about adversity, such as suffering and persecution. The fact is the New Testament emphasises adversity, such as suffering and persecution, much more than it does on prosperity.
The New Testament never teaches that those who are faithful will be blessed with prosperity and wealth, but their material needs will be provided for (Acts 4:34; Matt 6:33).
So, Jesus has, in the Beatitudes, transformed material blessings into spiritual blessings.
The earthly and material blessing of the physical Promised Land and the material wealth of the nation of Israel that is racially descended from Abraham, have been transformed by Jesus into blessing the church from all nations of the world, with a heavenly land with spiritual blessings.
This is why Paul declares that God
“has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph 1:3b NIV).
Jesus has not come to pronounce the earthly blessings of riches, as Joseph Prince would to New Covenant believers. Christ has redefined material blessings of riches that are bestowed on earth under the Old Covenant to spiritual blessings that will be bestowed both on earth and in heaven under the New Covenant.
Earthly blessings of prosperity and wealth are no longer the mark of God’s blessing for New Covenant believers. (This doesn’t mean we cannot thank God if we have a salary raise or increased business profits, as all good things come from God.)
In consonant with the teaching of Jesus, Paul declares that God,
“has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph 1:3b NIV),
which I have mentioned a short while ago.
“In Christ” (Eph 1:13) – meaning Christ Jesus is, therefore, the key to the transformation of material blessing on earth to the spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms.
Joseph Prince tries to twist God’s word when he says in his Sunday sermon on 3 April 2022, 3 days ago that material blessings are also included in the spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1:3b.
Joseph Prince said,
“We are seated with Christ in heavenly places and we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Eph 1:3b). And these spiritual blessings, mind you, this wisdom that translates into something material as well. It’s not spiritual blessings, means it’s only heavenly, and nothing to do with earth. No.”
But isn’t it clear that the words spiritual blessing in Ephesians 1:3 meant spiritual blessing? How did the words ‘material blessing’ get into the verse?
This is another clear example of Joseph Prince twisting the text to support his Prosperity Gospel doctrine.
Please read through the entire Ephesians chapter 1 yourself and see if you can detect any material blessings that are mentioned in that chapter. The answer is none.
All the blessings that are mentioned in Ephesians chapter 1 are spiritual blessings of sonship, redemption, forgiveness, experience and assurance of the Holy Spirit, etc. None are material blessings.
Yet, Joseph Prince has the spiritual dare to twist and distort God’s Holy word in order to fit his Prosperity Gospel doctrine. How can such a man be a true teacher of God’s word?
Let’s be aware that earthly wealth is only temporary. The material wealth of the Old Covenant was a shadow of the New Covenant’s greater spiritual blessings and heavenly treasure, which cannot fade, perish, or spoil (1 Pet 1:4).
There is absolutely nowhere in the New Testament scripture that promises wealth to New Covenant believers as it did in the Old Testament.
In the light of Christ’s coming that has signalled the change from material blessings to spiritual blessings, Romans 4:13-16 and Galatians 3:23-29 (both written by Paul) have also been spiritualised to only include spiritual blessings of salvation:
Romans 4:13-16 NIV
13 “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”
Galatians 3:23-29 NIV
23 “Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Nothing in these two passages talks about our inheritance of wealth. With the coming of Christ, the material blessings of the Old Covenant have been transformed into spiritual blessings of faith in Christ.
Those who have placed their faith in Christ are Abraham’s seed, and they would stand to inherit all the spiritual and heavenly blessings that come with Christ.
Hence, Joseph Prince’s Prosperity Gospel that every New Covenant believer has the covenantal right to be very wealthy as Abraham was has once again been conclusively debunked.
Rev George Ong