(Lisa Robinson)

As a follow to this post on life verses, I’ve been reminded that Jeremiah 29:11 is a fairly common one claimed as a personal, individual promise. But is Jeremiah 29:11 a promise for us today or was it related to a particular situation at a particular time? Was it an individual promise or a corporate promise?  Voddie Baucham has some interesting things to say in this 6 minute clip. (Although I wish he would have left out the God killing part given controversy over recent statements).

YouTube player

Examining vs 11 in context of the entirety of what Jeremiah tells a different story than how the verse has been claimed. It’s why I wrote here that we have to careful when turning narrative or prophetic discourse into a personal prescription for today. As Baucham points out, it can have very harmful consequences.

What do you think? I would be interested to hear a defense for using it today.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    17 replies to "Jeremiah 29:11 As a Life Verse?"

    • Scott

      While I completely agree we cannot claim the promise for our lives today, don’t you think we can take the promise of a future hope basedon God’s covenant and draw significance for our lives for the future hope that awaits the believer in Christ? In other words, God is not promising to bring prosperity to us, but reading this text in light of the New Testament, we can say that God has a plan for our lives and it comes to completion at Christ’s return. Therefore, no matter how tough life gets here in this life, we can be assured it is meant for our sanctification and will culminate in our glorification with Christ.

    • Mike O

      First of all, that was a great clip. After watching it, I think people *do* misuse that verse. I know I did. Not in the prosperity gospel way that he portrays, but in the way I take that verse personally.

      However ….

      Is it better to say that God does *not* have good plans for me? Not in a prosperity way, but in a “god has a plan for me” way? I think it would be very difficult to look at the whole of scripture and come away with the message that God *doesn’t* have good plans for ME. But I would temper that with the notion that I don’t know what “good” looks like. As he said, I have bad days. Lots of them. I’m having them right now. But that doesn’t change the fact that God has my best in mind. Even if I don’t like it. Even if it means I die.

      To your point about taking “a verse” … Jer 29:11 … and “using it” to say God is going to prosper me, I agree with you that that verse doesn’t say that to ME. But at the same time, God DOES have good plans for his people as individuals. Plans to prosper us as individuals and to give us as individuals a hope and a future. We just can’t pin it on that verse, we have to pin it on the whole of scripture.

      Even though life may be hard or even deadly, that does not change the fact that Gods plans for me are GOOD (by his definition, not mine). He has given me a GOOD future (by his definition, not mine).

      But point taken … that verse, taken out of context like we have, is probably being misused to make the case for God’s good favor towards us as individuals. Towards ME.

    • HC

      “controversy over recent statements”

      what is this?

    • mbaker

      While I agree that we cannot just proof text only the verses that we want to apply to us, I do think Mike O. is right is saying that the whole of scripture points to a good future for us, if not on earth then certainly in heaven.

      Sometimes i think context is a bit overused. If we only take the Bible in historical context probably none of the stuff would apply to us in the epistles, since Paul was speaking directly to the the churches of his time. I just don’t think context alone is thorough enough hermeneutics to make me totally discourage ‘life’ verses.

      As I have said before the biggest verse we use as a corporate church is John 3:16, to use in the conversion of non-believers, so we would have to take that of the picture as well, if we are to totally disregard the value of life verses in reaching people.

    • God’s scripture is for all of us as well as His promises.

    • Mike O

      @BTCIO, did someone suggest otherwise? Are you saying Jer 29:11 a promise God made to you?

    • Dan

      all are doing there interpretation just to make money,
      and we are stupid to linsent to them.

    • EMSoliDeoGloria

      What does it mean to consider it a “life verse?”

      Jer 29:11 isn’t a talisman nor is it a specific promise to every person who ever lived. True enough.

      But it is a verse that has reminded me of God’s care, his faithfulness to his people, and his nearness to be found by me when I seek him (because he first called me out of darkness and in to light).

      So, I don’t see it as a prophetic verse for me specifically but it is a passage that I love and remember and am particularly grateful for.

    • mbaker

      “…it is a verse that has reminded me of God’s care, his faithfulness to his people, and his nearness to be found by me when I seek him (because he first called me out of darkness and in to light).

      “So, I don’t see it as a prophetic verse for me specifically but it is a passage that I love and remember and am particularly grateful for.”

      I agree on that, because at one time in my life when I was very, very sick, and thought I was dying, it was what gave me hope to carry on.

      While it should not be our complete theology, and I am totally against that, BTW, it is an example of the Holy Spirit giving us verses we personally need in parts of our lives to give us inspiration.

    • GoldCityDance

      I believe this is one of the instances where “tradition” can be a useful source of truth to interpret Scripture. How did the early Gentile church fathers interpret Jeremiah 29:11? Has this verse been interpreted universally and consistently over two millennia by Christians as a individual promise for Gentile Christians?

      I have a suspicion the personal interpretation is closely linked to the prosperity gospel. Also, if Jeremiah 29:11 is indeed a universal verse applicable for all Christians, why didn’t Paul or the other NT writers use it to comfort the early Gentile Christians (who were being persecuted) in their writings? Surely it would be a very pertinent verse to be deployed under those circumstances.

    • mbaker

      Gold city,

      From what you said, I am not sure how you are discounting this, except that is OT. perhaps you could clarify. You kept mentioning gentiles. Are you Jewish?

      I believe there are extremes on both sides that carry their arguments too far. Nothing wrong with having a favorite scripture but that alone does not mean we are using this one as WOF theology. That’s a sweeping generalization, IIMO.

      Prosperity can mean different things to different to different
      people. To me, it meant a hope for better health that I could believe in the time, and it proved true.

      Our theology should not be based on pick and choose life verses as I have stated before, but we all have our favorite verses. Are we to be condemned because of it? Only if we think that’s all there is to the whole counsel of God.

    • GoldCityDance

      mbaker, I kept making a point about Gentile Christians because when read in context, Jeremiah 29:11 was addressed towards the Jewish nation, particularly those who were exiled at Babylon (verses 1 and 4). So one of the points of debate brought up by this blog post is whether Jeremiah 29:11 is a personal promise for Gentile believers as well.

      No, I am a Gentile.

    • […] Voddie Baucham discusses Jeremiah 29:11 as a life verse. […]

    • Nobuo

      My reading yetdersay included John 12:46-48 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.” It’s just a great reminder to me that we are here lead people to Christ not to judge them, yet at the same time judgment is real which intensifies my desire to help people know the grace and salvation that comes only from Christ. I’m with Stephen Haggerty, great idea for a post, Josh. Hope to see you at camp next week.

    • […] try to set the record straight explaining what is a more probable interpretation. Some examples are Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 18:20, 2 Tim 2:13, and the notion “all sins are equal in God’s eyes” or […]

    • Bob Kundrat


      Would say that Jeremiah 29:16-18 is a promise God made to you or would you say that context indicates that it isn’t directed toward you personally?

      It would seem with a verse like this most would want to state that it’s not directed at them personally because it’s not a comforting verse. I would think the argument would be that from the context it’s clear that this verse is directed toward a specific people under a specific covenant, etc.

      But it’s possible you or someone else might have a different take altogether.


    • sue

      I would have to say that I consider it my life verse, not one I picked for myself. I went through a very tough divorce in which I chose to stand for the marriage. I had a lot of moments of weakness and breakdowns and this verse always would pop up. After seeing it so many times I eventually memorized it. To me It didn’t mean that god would give me wealth and riches. It meant he knew what plans he had even when I didn’t see it, and when I called on him he answered and when I looked his face in my time of need I found him. I understand that it was meant to be for the that time in period but that verse was what got me through struggle and heartbreak. I still see it and it still reminds me of his faithfulness and mercy.

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