Jeremiah 29:11

I write this post with fear and trembling. This verse is a favorite for a lot of people and I have had it memorized for many years.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
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.

But looking at it in the context of the whole paragraph puts it in a new light.

Jeremiah 29:10-14 NIV
This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD , “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD , “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

God is speaking here to Jeremiah regarding Israel. I don’t know if this necessarily means the premise is invalid but I think there is other Scripture that may be more appropriate like Habakkuk 3:17-19, Matthew 6:33-34, Romans 8:28, Romans 15:13 etc. We need to “be prepared to endure everything with patience while joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light” which may be subject matter for a future post. (Colossians 1:11-12)

During my hesitation to post this I came across this review of The Purpose Driven Life which gives further perspective. I try to stay away from direct criticism of others on this blog because I want to stick to Scripture and because there are a ton of other blogs for that stuff. But I think this quote is beneficial.

‘First we will examine promises Warren says apply to all Christians. One clear example of this is Jeremiah 29:11 which he uses multiple times in the book. On page 31 we read “Wonderful changes are going to happen in your life as you begin to live it on purpose. God says “I know what I am planning for you…’I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future’.” When read in context we see that this verse is not written to apply to all Christians. It is a promise given specifically to the Israelite exiles. By Warren’s logic Jeremiah 44:27 should also apply to all Christians. It reads, “I am watching over them for harm and not for good, and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will meet their end by the word and by famine until they are completely gone.” A pastor once told me “that verse wouldn’t sell as many plaques at the Christian book stores.”’

Also see:
What Jeremiah 29:11 Is Not About

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jeremiah by kidner

63 Responses to “Jeremiah 29:11”

  1. 1 Chris Moran

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. 2 Esteban Vázquez

    A very important reminder, indeed: context is king. As it is so often put, a text without a context is merely a pretext!

    What I think is the most important lesson this teaches is that people should stop looking for inspirational “promises of God” (i.e., mantras) in the Scriptures. For such things, they should consult the crass and shallow tripe put out by the likes of Depak Chopra and Joel Osteen. What they should look for in a passage like this, rather, is an application of its content that is true both to the historical context and the message of the book as a whole.

    So, for instance, the point of passage like this is not God’s totally awesome and radtastically cool plan for, like, YOU, but rather God’s radical faithfulness to His people (which translates into deliverance) even in spite of their unfaithfulness to Him (which always results in judgment from which they need to be delivered)–a common theme running through the prophetic writings. Of course, this (calling as it does for radical obedience, that is faithfulness, to God) is much more sobering than the vacuous high that a contextless Jer. 29:11 produces, and thus such considerations are not nearly as popular.

    The author at the “Discerning Reader” is quite right–Jer. 44:27 would not sell many plaques, or whatever other blasphemous trinketry is found in Christian bookstores these days. I have often thought that I should start my one Christian gifts company, specializing in such products as framed pictures of delightful baskets of kittens with inset Bible verses: perhaps Psalm 137:9 (“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones”) or Hebrews 10:31 (“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”).

    Anyway, thanks for this, and sorry for the rant. 🙂

  3. 3 ScriptureZealot

    Thank you for ranting. I liked it better than mine and you articulated many of the same sentiments I have but in a more awesomer way than I could.

  4. 4 William Starks

    Would you say the Jeremiah 29:11 would be applied to those christians that are in the midest of a dark situation where it seems hopeless.

  5. 5 Scripture Zealot

    Hi William,
    I think there are many more general Scripture passages like those found here. Hab 3:17-19 is nice is someone feels hopeless. Although it’s also specific to Israel it finds support in other Scripture.

  6. 6 Darren Raley

    I agree that much scripture is taken out of context and that it is difficult to understand without that context, but here you have a pretty clear message.  The problem, to me, seems to be one of perspective – God’s view of prosperity vs. ours and God’s plan vs. ours.  It is similar to Paul’s “all things work together for good…” or any of a number of other “prosperity promises” so prevalent today.  We overlook the simple fact that we are also promised suffering – and that it’s a good thing.  Just because we don’t like it doesn’t make it bad, it may make it hard… but that’s different than bad. 
    It is too simplistic to pigeon-hole God as a celestial Santa Claus, expecting the tree to be surrounded by all the shiny, new things we want.  That being said, many short change themselves by making God too small and powerless.  Scripture is there to help us get to know Him, to teach others about Him, and, through that relationship, to find hope and a future – and, yes, perhaps even a little prosperity.Sorry to go on so long… Peace

  7. 7 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks Darren. That was a very good comment. Peace to you.

  8. 8 holly

    i agree that it’s important not to take the Bible out of context as if it’s a big fortune cookie, but i also believe that there are times that God will use His living Word to encourage you in times of need.  i had some really bad news this week and drove home asking Him, “Lord, i only want your will in my life, but i don’t know what you want me to do in this situation.  are you really there?  do you have a plan for me?”  as soon as i got home, the phone rang and it was a friend who told me to read the verse.  when i read it, it was a revelation for me.  i understood for the first time in 32 years of going through this difficult journey that even when God tells you “no” or “not yet”, He is still working out His perfect will in my life.  Through this paragraph in Jeremiah, i got it that the “no” and “not yet” is just as important in a lifelong walk with God as the “yes” and “right now”, and as a result, i feel joyful about the situation that all of my family and friends think is devastating.

    again, i agree that we have to take the Bible in context, but we can not discredit those times when God can use Hid word as He sees fit to encourage.

    and i like the reference to Habakkuk….as a matter of fact, as i drove home asking God for direction, i began by telling Him that i am so grateful for His sovereignty and i rejoice even though this situation is difficult.  my prayer was eerily similar to the Habakkuk passage.  and no one can convince me that God did not use the Jeremiah verse to help me understand why He doesn’t always give you the answer you hope for.  He is always, however, faithful to fulfill His perfect will and plan in our lives when we seek Him.   And i am not one of those nuts who just opens their Bible for today’s “fortune cookie message”.  I get it….i totally get it.

  9. 9 Finley

    I’m wondering if the context in Jeremiah 29:10-14 includes a timeless principle about God’s perspective versus our own. The people of Israel despaired. They could see what was in front of them, and it was short sited and depressing. God’s word spoken into that situation is for them to remember that even though they don’t see the plans He has for them, He knows the plans…and that brings comfort to the God-follower. So though we don’t have a cookie cutter promise that tells us “it’s all good,” we can benefit from realizing God sees the big picture as opposed to our limited picture. And since He’s trustworthy and sovereign, that brings comfort to us today. What do you think?

  10. 10 Scripture Zealot

    Hi Finley,
    Not that I’m an expert in OT interpretation but I like what you have to say. Since I wrote this post I’ve been softening a bit and being a little more open about it being a general principle but at the same time I still think it’s largely misinterpreted.

    I think your second to last sentence sums things up well.

  11. 11 Ingrid

    “Plans to give you hope and a future”…Promise to every Believer. That is what Jesus died for.

  12. 12 Scripture Zealot

    Good point Ingrid.

    For some people, future involves suffering which isn’t what people envision when they use Jeremiah 29:11 as a platitude.

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting.


  13. 13 Archie

    Context is critical, but can be equally misleading if the chosen context is too narrow.  Anything other than the full panoply of God’s word and our knowledge of other truths about him, his nature and disposition towards us, may potentially lead to too narrow an understanding.
    So what do we know?
    · We know that God is omniscient. Psalm 139:1-4 for example, or Hebrews 4:13;
    · We know that God has plans for us. Ephesians 1:11 makes this very clear;
    · We know that all things work for good…. (Roman 8:28)
    I think there are two main issues here.
    1. Firstly, so many Old Testament verses have double meanings. They have a direct application to the circumstances of the day, but they have a parallel and no less valid meaning when interpreted in a new covenant context (I say new, but the new covenant was always there underlying the old). Just as God promised never to leave or forsake Joshua in Deut 31:6, so this is repeated for the benefit of all his children in Hebrews 13:5. But the key difference is that his promises to us are spiritual in nature, not physical. Hebrews 13:6 goes on to ask “What can man do to me?” Well, in a physical sense the answer must be “some pretty horrific stuff” – from the earliest martyrs onwards. So the promise can’t be about physical safety and well-being and is, I think, clearly about our spiritual condition.
    2. God’s promises are so often conditional – two-way covenants. I think the other real problem with “fortune-cookie hunters” as they’ve been dubbed, is that the conditionality gets glossed over. A classic example is Romans 8:28 – “…..of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It’s very easy to blithely say you love him. But test your love against the standard in Deut 6:5 & Matt 22:37 and be brutally honest with yourself and God. That standard is absolute, unconditional, complete and utter. God’s promises are conditional and I think there may often be a pro-tanto blessing depending on the degree to which we satisfy the condition.
    In light of these points, Jeremiah 29:11 “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.” is a wonderful reassurance of God’s love for us, his plans for us and the security we can know if we rest in that. But in the broadest context, we take it for granted at our peril. Unless, and only to the extent that, we put God and his will for our lives at the absolute centre of everything we think, say and do, can we look to his promises with complete confidence for our spiritual well-being and safety. Proverbs 3:6 sums this up – “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

  14. 14 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks Archie.


  15. 15 livin4theoneabove

    hey. i totally agree with holly. yes i agree with ‘not to take things out of context’ that can become too airy-fairy but don’t discredit a scripture just because it was in a context 2000 years ago. it is still relevant today. as 2 Tim 3:16 says “all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. All scripture is profitable in instruction (among other things…) so whilst Jeremiah 29:11 can be taken out of context and lose some its meaning. It can still be used and apply to situations occuring today.

  16. 16 Scripture Zealot

    Hi livin,
    Context here would refer to the context of the Bible text not the cultural context. I would agree that Scripture is certainly relevant today.

  17. 17 Angel

    I just wana know if you believe that God is able to prosper His children? what I meant is not only spiritually but also financially or materially? because sometimes,with many promises of God in the scriptures,that inspires many Christians, there are also many Christians that say, “Oh,God does not really mean that” or “you are out of context”
    Does Jesus death and resurrection is only for our spiritual well being? or also for our physical well being? are you a christian who does not believe in healing? or does not believe that God wants a good life for His children? (I am not saying a storm free,but storm proof)
    I just wonder, what this verse means to you, by the way, this is one of my favorites: Psalm 103:5 He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like the
    eagle. 😉

  18. 18 Scripture Zealot

    Certainly God is able to prosper His children.
    1 Timothy 6:17

    I’m not sure how much Jesus’ death and resurrection has to do specifically with that. God has been doing that from the beginning.
    Gen 26.22
    Jer 1.8
    1 Sam 2.7
    Job 22.23
    many in Proverbs

  19. 19 Maria

    A scripture taken out of context is a pretext for error. This is something I was taught.

  20. 20 Scripture Zealot

    I wish I was taught that from the beginning.

  21. 21 Javis Sneed

    Wow, there are some great comments to this blog, I love to hear the personal interpretations of scripture from other men and women of God. Thanks for the post Jeff – I understand the fear and trembling, I have looked hard at both sides of this “battle” and I think that we all benefit from a closer look at where our own hearts are at when commenting on others interpretations, whatever they may be. I know I do 🙂

    I think the key words in this passage are “…to give you an expected end” (vs 11 – KJV). The context is as written to the Jews of the first captivity, but I think it is safe to say that Israel in the OT is an example of us as believers today.

    Just as the children of Israel did – we murmur against God, sit in unbelief as the Lord’s providence is evidenced by our living conditions, food availability, access to the gospel etc. yet we take it all for granted, as they did. There are so many parallels, it is undeniable that we are to read about them and realize that we are also Gods chosen, and the promises then also have an application for us today. And if that isnt enough read Galatians 3:29 🙂

    As Ingrid stated above the parallel here is our salvation, which has been paid for at the cross.

    The conflict comes in on the prosperity part. Not because some Christians take this verse and apply it to themselves as a basis for their future gain – which by the way is supported in scripture – But because some other Christians react to that interpretation as instant blasphemy, very vocally (and unlovingly) stereotyping these people who believe this way as shallow and pleasure seekers.

    I disagree with Esteban – I think there is nothing wrong with looking for “inspirational promises of God”, in fact, we should look for them all and speak them all in our prayers to align our prayers with Gods Word! Not as a “mantra” but as an agreement to Gods eternal unchanging Word.

    What we cannot do is stand on that truth without standing on the rest of it, because, as someone else already stated Gods ways are above ours and He has more for us than just what we think is good now.

    Its a shame that some pick and choose the parts of the Bible they want to believe, but its also a shame that because some pick and choose, the messages of increase and prosperity in God’s word are written off by some others as something from Santa Claus or as any less significant than the truth from the Creator of the universe.

    I dont think we should throw out the epistles because we arent members of the church at Rome or Thessalonica or Ephesus. The book of Galatians fully addresses the believers position as a fellow heir to the promises of God to Abraham. The focus is justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but there is no condition that limits it from any promise of increase or prosperity either.

    The “see what I can get” mentality is more of a heart issue than anything else, which is Gods business – to deal with us individually. You can stand on Jeremiah 29:11 with or without your heart right before God…I pray that God would search my heart and continue to renew my mind concerning scriptures whose differing interpretations can divide believers instead of build and encourage.

  22. 22 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks for the nice comment Javis. I agree with most of what you say.

    I’m with Esteban on this one, possibly because I know him and other things he’s said about that matter. Go into almost any general Christian bookstore in the U.S. and you’ll find all sorts trinkets and plaques that have one verse taken out of a passage that’s to make someone feel that life is nice and comfy with butterflies and humming birds all around. I’m exaggerating but that’s the sentiment much of a time and a lot of the time those verses shouldn’t be by themselves.

    But I like you’re balanced view and than you for stopping by and taking the time to write. That one was really worth reading.

  23. 23 Helen

    I love this verse and have loved it for years, but I understand that not all Christians are prospered financially (the way many of us would like to interpret the verse). If that were the case, wouldn’t all Christians be rich? What about those who live in third world countries, have little or nothing and suffer daily for the sake of Christ? I know there are Christians who are stronger in their faith than I am, have less than I do, and deserve more. I also believe that it is not God’s plan to prosper us all in the same way. In looking up the word “prosper” in my Bible dictionary, the first meaning I come to is “to help on one’s way or journey”. Although in context (verses 7-8), I think Jeremiah is speaking of prospering the exiles in a physical or material way, by reading “to help on one’s way or journey”, not only does verse apply to every Christian, but it gives us more hope for our futures.

  24. 24 Scripture Zealot

    Helen, I really like what you have to say. Not because I’m an expert and can dissect every statement but you really thought out and have come to understand what this passage means and then you use it for encouragement the way it was meant to be (Romans 15:4). That was a nice addition to this post. Thank you.

  25. 25 Josh2102

    God is no respector of persons, it is for all Christians.

  26. 26 christinanoel

    Wow! I say. These comments are excellent, well written and less bias and emotional than I’ve seen in a very long time, especially in light to an extremely touchy subject. To the writer of this blog: I am very humbled by you and encouraged. You aren’t so hard that you fail to revise your views when others make sense. In your learning, I’ve learned.

  27. 27 Scripture Zealot

    Thank you Christina and thanks for stopping by.

  28. 28 cathy

    This was a very touching scripture, thank you so much for the way you,ve analised it

  29. 29 Scripture Zealot

    You’re welcome.

  30. 30 Mark

    Can you please tell me exactly how you (or ANYONE else) knows what God is saying when you read thie verse? I read the verse and the words and thats about it. Since the Bible has been transulated so many different ways, how can I and why should I believe anything written? Who are you to read 2 sentences and know exactly what God is or supposedly was thinking when this was supposedly written long long ago in a distant land?

  31. 31 Scripture Zealot

    If you could read the post, where I gave it some context, read it in larger context and read some commentaries. My local library has a lot of good commentaries which surprised me at first. You can also read books like How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth and other helpful books. I would highly recommend:

    How to Enjoy Your Bible which I reviewed. It will give you confidence in Scripture and help you to want to read it.

    Jeremiah can be tough to understand sometimes. If you haven’t read any of the Bible let us know so we can help out.

    Since the Bible really was “written long long ago in a distant land” it helps us to understand the who what where why which others can help us with.

    Thanks for commenting and I hope and pray you’ll keep pursuing.

  32. 32 Edris Raymond

    Yes we can apply both Jer. 29:11 and Jer.44:27 to ourselves as Christians.
    your Babylon may be anything that keepks you in bondage. (Ex.your sickness, your troubles your bad relationships….)

    He took them out of Egypt(Slavery). They shouldnt be still there…..
    Your Egypt is anywhere that you are in bondage that God took you from.(Ex. sins). ( see the list in your Bible) If you still there He should be watching you until you are completely gone. This applies to Backsliders who never came back after the fell into sins.

  33. 33 Scripture Zealot

    Edris, I never said–thanks for the reply.

  34. 34 Paul

    Great comments. I’m preparing a message on this text (1-14) and everything that was said has been helpful to me. I view scripture as a journey into the heart and mind of God and it is a wonderful, perilous, often challenging journey to say the least! But I am enjoying the ride of faith, blessings to you all! keep writing!!

  35. 35 Scripture Zealot

    I’m glad you like how this turned out Paul. Rough, but helpful also.

  36. 36 Bret Mitchell

    The plan mentioned in Jer. 29:11 can be reference BACK to Jer. 24:5-7, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: “Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. 6 For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. 7 Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”

    People of Israel or Christians? Jews, of course. Specifically to them. Now if we were to say these were Christians, then we could say the principle of being corrected is in view for us all since any one of us would have been the Adam or Eve disobeying God by eating the forbidden fruit having listened to Satan instead of our Creator. God’s good plan for any of us to return our worship to Him alone is always a safe view to hold. Hab. 3:17-19 is such a wonderful expounded truth of this very same God who sent His people, the Judeans, or Jews, away to Babylon, because he will not tolerate sin anywhere, anytime. Yes, He may seem to delay the deportation of our own lives to our Babylon, but the principle is the same for any of us.

    As for the peace versus evil read Jer. 30-33 to see that God ultimately returns His people, the Judeans, back to Israel for blessings. This is the expected end, or “future and a hope.”

    Context of a verse is helpful to KNOW OUR GOD for how He may discipline us in our lives. But to use a verse out of context {Jer. 29:11} for our graduation wishes is to butcher the Author’s Intended Meaning [the AIM].

    Mark, a reader of this blog asked “Who are you to read 2 sentences and know exactly what God is or supposedly was thinking when this was supposedly written long long ago in a distant land?”

    Jeff, your remarks were helpful in guiding him with the resource mentioned. Might I add the following AIM:

    Who is the author?
    Who are the recipients and key people in the text?

    What is the historical background and social setting?
    What is the political and cultural circumstances?

    Where does the episode take place?
    Where in scripture is the same thing taught?

    When was the book written?
    When did the episode take place?

    Why was the book written?
    Why is the author saying what he is saying?

    So What?

    What areas of my life does this speak to?
    What is the application to my life?

    There is more, but suffice it to say this is most basic to honoring God by honoring the text as was Intended.

    Jeff, thanks for posting good leading thoughts!

  37. 37 Scripture Zealot

    You’re welcome and thank you for taking the time to post this. It’s much better than anything I would have written. I like (or don’t like) the part about graduation wishes which is worse than having it by itself on a mug or plaque without it being meant for any occasion.

    If there is a principle in the passage that applies to us I like to find another passage that’s more appropriate like you did.

  38. 38 david

    I actually work at one of the aforementioned Christian bookstores, and have permanent teeth marks in my tongue from having to bite it so much at work. I understand the real need for hope, but I don’t want to see Christians duped into accepting a false or superficial hope. Jeremiah 29 *needs* to be read with an understanding of Jeremiah 28.

    For the exiles in Babylon, “hope and future” could mean only one thing–returning home. The prophet Hananiah told them that God would deliver them in two years, and that they would be able to replant in Judah. Sounds great! Then Jeremiah comes in, calls Hananiah a dirty rotten scoundrel, predicts his death, and sets the exiles straight. They wouldn’t return in two years, but more like 70: “Don’t start packing your bags yet. In fact, settle in for the long haul. Im sorry, but you’re going to die here in Babylon. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. You’ll never see Judah again. There’s good news, though–God still has a very good plan for Judah. And while you won’t see the fruit of that yourself, have hope, because God hasn’t given up on His people. Your grandchildren will be able to build homes and plant crops and drink the wine of their own vines back home in Judah.”

    The people that this promise was originally made to died in their bondage. In exile. As refugees. But God still had a plan for His people (plural) and for their descendants. That’s *really* different than believing that God’s plan for your individual life only involves prosperity and no harm. Try telling that to the Christians in Somalia who are burying their children this week because of the record-breaking famine there. I fear that a shallow understanding of God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 won’t hold up against the storms of life.

  39. 39 Scripture Zealot

    Thank you David for another Biblical perspective. Very sobering.

  40. 40 Jodie

    While everyone has awesome comments and I have learned a lot about verses before and after I am a little concerned that a new christian might think that those of us that know our Bible are little calloused and hard in our thinking. The story or verse would not have been in the Bible if it was not meant for us. We are “all sinners and fallen short of the Glory of God”. As christians we should not condemn someone for how they tend to cope with an issue. It is all there to get us through this life that we know is hard. What kind of hope would we have if we didn’t have scripture to hide in our hearts for such a time as this? Whatever your “this” may be. I do not believe in the feel good preachers that preach this life is good all the time, but I do think these scriptures hold us in our faith and hope until the day we see heaven. Our real future.

  41. 41 Peggy

    Just happened onto your blog which I found to be fastinating. So much bits of truth woven together by the many who wrote. I belive the WORD is alive and can have different applications to different people at differnt times in one’s life. I believe maturity in your faith and understanding can change the way one sees or applies the scripture to your own life. I belive all scritpture is good and meant to help us through this life. Bottom line is that we are GOD’s creation, and we were created for his pleasure and purpose, and he loves us. He wants us to intimately know him, and I for one believe that every person who searches scriptures will find GOD will help him understand if his heart is truly seeking GOD. He will discipline us, and won’t live us alone. He will help us finish our race as long as we seek after HIM. I can’t help but feel that GOD is glorified as we His children discuss and take apart our understanding and glean together in love.
    Thank you for facilitaing this coming together Zealot, and also to all who have added their input. GOD is with us.

  42. 42 Scripture Zealot

    You’re welcome and thank you for the comment.

  43. 43 Laura

    I was so glad (and blessed) to stumble upon your site. I think we all need to do more of this-meditate and really dissect God’s word, and take it in as nourishment. I was reading the various comments and was surprised to read one by “holly”. I can’t be sure but I think this is a dear friend of mine who passed away from ovarian cancer. Regardless, “holly” has a great comment that deserves a reply and a second look.
    I think she had the most balanced answer-yes we must always examine context-but all scripture is God breathed and is beneficial to the readers and hearers in many respects-especially in difficult times, not to be taken as a fortune cookie promise-but to be taken as God’s word to us-in its entirety. I think if we just stop there at v 11 and 12 we miss a vital part of the message in v 13-when you seek me with your whole heart, you will find me. We dive in for the promises that sound like a relief in our situations and shy away or maybe inadvertently “skip” over the ones that tell us we need to be acquainted with Christ in His suffering too.

  44. 44 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks Laura. I’m sorry to hear if that really was holly. Nice comment.

  45. 45 Heather

    What a blessing to have found this post and subsequent comments. Until reading everyone’s remarks I was completely guilty of taking Jeremiah 29:11 out of context. What’s interesting to me is now that I have a better understanding (thanks to each of you) of this verse, I realize it is even more poignant and relevant than I understood it to be. It is my belief that the timing of when I heard this verse contributed to rescuing my personal relationship with God and subsequently my life.

    I am just over 30 years old and was seeking treatment for alcoholism when I first heard Jeremiah 29:11. The phrase “rock bottom” fails to capture the emptiness I was feeling. After losing my job, being in an abusive relationship and having financial difficulties, I turned to alcohol. As a result, my relationship with God diminished the more I drank. That was my way of trying to hold on to control of my life’s path.
    After nearly losing my life from drinking, I checked into a 30 day rehabilitation center and struggled with the will to live. I was obsessed with self pity and anger with God. When someone read me Jeremiah 29:11, I experienced the most profound connection with God.. That time was certainly the lowest I have ever been but being reminded that God has a personal plan to prosper me gave me the strength to relinquish control and to realize that this was all part of His plan for me. His personalized, unique plan for a prosper life for me. Instead of garnishing resentment for being unemployed, single and in rehab at the age of 30, instead I was suddenly joyful that God chose to save me.
    Until today, when I read this post and everyone’s comments, financial prosperity entered my mind when thinking about 29:11. Prosperity to me was surviving a day without drinking a half gallon of vodka. Prosperity meant sleeping through the night without hallucinating from alcohol withdrawals. Prosperity meant letting go and surrendering control. Prosperity meant that God chose for me to experience what I did at a young age so I could have a long life with God in the driver’s seat. 14 months later and my life is very prosper. I have never been closer to God and my life is filled with hope for a future where thy will be done. In summary, even though taken out of context, the sentiment of this message and the timing of which I heard it, in my opinion, was part of His plans to prosper me and provide me hope and a future. The important take away for me is that this verse reminds me to give over control to Him – therefore I will not try to control how others understand and interpret this verse, but rather pray that His will be done. Thanks for opening my mind and heart and reminding me how powerful words can be.

  46. 46 Scripture Zealot

    That’s quite a story. I have to realize that God can use Scripture however he wants, even if it isn’t interpreted quite correctly. God really uses suffering for good but I wish it didn’t have to be that way. God has brought me so much closer to him because of it. Thank you for writing out your story.

  47. 47 Victoria

    I was just told to read Jeremiah 29:11

    It helped me tremendously. after twelve years of catholic education I can honestly say I have never read the bible….so I have much to learn.

  48. 48 Scripture Zealot

    I never read the Bible in Catholic education either. Go for it.

  49. 49 Karl

    Hi Zealot, I have been truly blessed to read the comments on this site.

    I love Jeremiah 29:11 it has an instant feel of something good is about to happen from God, and for the exiles, thats just how they could take it. They did prosper in captivity, obviously God had a long term plan and future for them and to prosper in their, here and now, was Part of that plan.

    My girlfriend also loves this verse, and she believes it was given to her by God as a relevant here and now earthly promise as well. I will not discredit her belief in this because I know God can and does use many and varied ways to communicate His will to us. I also know many others feel as she does, that this verse is for them, here and now. And of course Im referring to the properity portion of this verse. And who am I to dispute it.

    We should all know that God does have a plan and a future for us as well as we should all know that God intends for all of us to have hope. But the problem for me is that if we promote this verse to others as a standard for all Christians to live by, for the here and now, as some do from their pulpits and TV studios, we will see, and do see, many dissolutioned baby, and not so baby Christians. They will become angry and bitter toward God when their vission of prosperity for their life isnt being met by the “here and now” (miss applied) Promise of Jeremiah 29:11. What a foot hold for satan in the lives of those who demand that God must prosper them because of what they want to believe about Jeremiah 29:11 and their “here and now”.

    Jeff, you have courage for taking on this issue, and again I am blessed by the interaction of this blog. There are so many well educated people responding to this issue, and I love it. Im not nearly as educated as they and yet God has given me the Spiritual gift of teaching, so accuracy in teaching the scriptures is vital to who God has made me to be. So I came to this site for understanding and insite to this verse. It has been very helpful. My personal convictions have been solidified for Jeremiah 29:11

    Regardless of the promise God made to the exiles of Jeremiah 29:11, He is still able and willing, I believe, to make the whole of that verse true for many believers of today, according to His will for their lives. But it would be injurious for the prosperity of that verse to be the standard of teaching for all Christians in the “here and now” of their lives, when prosperity is so grossly associated with the financial and worldly possessions of life.

    Great blog jeff.

  50. 50 Scripture Zealot

    Thank you so much for the kind words. I still think about this verse a lot and reading your words is almost like reading my recent thoughts. My wife used to feel just like your girlfriend about it, although it was before I knew her. (She told me, I don’t have special powers). So thank you for yet another fine comment on this subject. I appreciate your humility and enter these things with trepidation myself which is why I usually quote gifted saints to back me up along with the highest authority being the Bible of course.

  51. 51 Scripture Zealot

    I added a very accessible commentary if anyone is interested.

  52. 52 Lady687

    I am a big fan of christian fiction books. They are my “me” time when I can go into another world. Reading christian novels has helped my walk with God in many ways including helping me find new scriptures to cherish. This one is obviously in a lot of places and the way it is almost always used by the author is just how you are saying where they are taking it out of context. I didn’t realize this however until I looked it up in my own bible and realized it looked a lot different… Why? Because I read the King James Bible! Now there are lots of arguments I could make for the King James, but I thought I would in the instance let this scripture speak for itself. When I looked at it in the King James, it forced me to read the whole chapter so i could really understand the context. I believe the Bible is the living word and that He is still telling me He does have plans for me, but that I have to seek Him with all my heart…

  53. 53 Scripture Zealot

    Interesting perspective. I can imagine the range of ‘quality’ of Christian fiction and how some could mishandle Scripture. I haven’t read any in a long time so I’m not exposed to it.

  54. 54 David Domincki

    I do consider all the ideas you have presented to your post. They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too quick for starters. May you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  55. 55 Scripture Zealot

    I only have so much time and knowledge. The comments have some great info. Read through them.

  56. 56 Chris

    Thank you for the thoughts, and the comments over the last four years were an interesting read.

    My standard response to the usage of verses like this one is to ask whether the early Christians could have seen the truth of [insert interpretation] while facing execution. Some of these modern teachers have even dared to say that Paul would not have suffered anything if he knew what we know now.

    You approached this subject with fear and trembling. That is good. James said that teachers would be judged more harshly. Anyone who claims God has told them something, or has given them a verse, should exercise the same care. The laws of Moses stated that those who spoke wrongly in God’s name should be killed (Deut. 18:20; prophecy is not only a foretelling of the future).

    No, I do not advocate killing such people today. We do not live in a theocracy; however, the offense is still serious. If we treat the trite drivel from TV evangelists and authors as what it is, we may save people from the destroyed faith of “broken” promises.

    Do be gentle with the individuals, but let them know that the Bible is not a fortune cookie. As others have already pointed out, despite the chapter and verse numbers, the Bible is a series of books and letters that are meant to be read whole — and even with historical context.

    I will get off my soap box now, but thanks again for your post.

  57. 57 Scripture Zealot

    Thank you Chris for the comment. I am definitely not a teacher though. I put things together that I learn from commentaries, books, interviews, other blogs, and whatever else, but I’m just basically passing things along or writing about what I’m learning along the way. If I were teaching, my posts would be much different. But I still post with fear and trembling on many subject because I am handling God’s Words in a way.

    Maybe I’m repeating myself, but Gordon Fee said the worst thing to happen to the Bible is verse numbers. When I read the NT inspired authors quote the OT I think about how well they must know the whole book or at least section that they’re quoting from.

  58. 58 Nikki

    Very inspiring scripture indeed. Very encouraging for me. So many time youths like myself think what is the purpose of ministering to others especially when they feel depressed themselves. Going to share this with my friends today>
    Thank you

  59. 59 Scripture Zealot

    I’m glad you’re encouraged Nikki.

    2 Corinthians 1:3-6 GW
    Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who is compassionate and the God who gives comfort.
    4 He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.
    5 Because Christ suffered so much for us, we can receive so much comfort from him.
    6 Besides, if we suffer, it brings you comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, we can effectively comfort you when you endure the same sufferings that we endure.

  60. 60 Pastor Johnny O

    Warren and the Purpose Driven Life, contradicts scripture in many aspects, and furthermore the blasphemous views that Rick Warren has combining a pagan religion to our true faith in Christ. Causes me to teach people to pray for his salvation …This passage is regarding Israel and the plans the Lord has for Israel, but one can apply the gentiles who sever the Lord by Grace? This is true, but we must never take scripture out of context, the body of Christ or the church is never has nor will it ever be a replacement for Israel! We must come together has scripture teaches “the one new man Jew and Gentile severing and loving the Lord God all might, Yeshua ….Amen” Then and only then will you see supernatural power time and time again has scriptures reveal! ….Bless you, Pastor Johnny O

  61. 61 Donna

    Let me address the subject of prosperity and continue where Hellen left. To appreciate the meaning of prosperity, we must interpret it from the point of view of God. As it is written, “…Man’s ways are not God’s ways”.

    What may be prosperous for one person may not be prosperous for another. Every human being is created unique. To correctly understand prosperity, we must believe that God created every human being with a mission. Each one of us was placed in this world with a role to play. And this role is to be a rich businessman or to be preacher or to be a celibate priest or to be a poor missionary or to be a cancer survivor, or to be a person with disability, the list can go on and on.

    What is the key therefore? We must accept this role with humble obedience. Through humble obedience we will experience earthly prosperity. On the other hand, we need not worry if we are currently suffering, for life is temporary, at anytime it could all be over. The real prosperity is in the eternal life. That is where we will all reap all our rewards.

  62. 62 Vanna

    I don’t think it’s up to anyone to determine whether certain scriptures do or do not apply to some, none or all Christians. I honestly don’t think there should be any discussion of that in the first place. Because if you think about it, if we never talked to each other about scriptures, we wouldn’t have so much of it twisted.. It should be between you & God. Yes, we should share and talk about the bible to our friends, family & counselors, but I don’t think anyone can say whether God did or didn’t mean scriptures (His word) wasn’t for everyone.. I think that is actually kind of tough to say.. “God’s Word isn’t for everyone.” (Everyone being believers that is). Because heaven isn’t meant for everyone, otherwise there wouldn’t be a hell… But talking about Christians specifically, I don’t believe God would want us to read Jeremiah 29:11 & have someone tell us “Oh well that doesn’t apply to you”.. With saying that hardship & trials will happen too.. I don’t think that’s God’s message at all.. Therefore I do believe it does apply to all Christians. But I do believe that people should be careful not to take it out of context.. Know better that a bad plan could send a good message to others, God uses us to teach each other. I just want people to be careful not to discourage one another. That can be incredibly discouraging for one who holds onto that scripture in their darkest hours. There is tough love in the bible, God will teach us that, we don’t need people to decide that for us. Whatever lead someone to that scripture, doesn’t need someone to lead them away from it.

  63. 63 Scripture Zealot

    Vanna, I’m not sure if you’re replying to a commenter or the original post. I’m having a little bit of a hard time understanding exactly what you’re saying, but we do need to follow basic rules of interpretation, in this case considering the context and the original audience. That’s all. As far as it being just between you and God, we do need to check ourselves because our hearts are deceitful and not just be lone ranger Christians, although you also said we need to do this, kind of. The tradition of the church and the people who are gifted with teaching and interpretation are very valuable, and we should be very careful to rightly handle the word of truth. Many people have been disappointed and led astray because they thought this verse meant they would have a happy, healthy and prosperous–in a monetary way–life, and that may not be the case for everyone. He does have plans for us, to prosper all of us in spiritual ways if we work out our salvation, and a future, and gives us hope in whatever circumstances we’re in, that’s for sure.

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