In this article, we will look at the question “Do rich people go to heaven”? We’ll start with the simple answer and then look at what it has to do with a camel and the eye of a needle.
Do rich people go to heaven? Rich people can go to heaven. However, it is not because of whether they are poor or rich. It is because of whether they follow Jesus or not.
To answer the question better in detail, we need to look at how people can become rich and what God’s opinion is on this.
Table of Contents
Can a rich person enter heaven?
For starters, one must know: Every person has a chance to go to heaven. It does not matter whether that person is rich or poor.
In principle, a person can become rich in two ways: Through greedy work and selfish behavior or God gives the person wealth. It does not matter whether the wealth is real estate or cash.
And yes: this binary division of people is perhaps a bit unfair. The vast majority of people fall somewhere in between. My point is this: Wealth alone is not necessarily a sign of access to heaven or damnation to hell.
What is it then?
The only access is Jesus Christ.
Every human being has incurred guilt because he disobeyed God. This is called “sin.” If a person has even one sin on his account, the way to heaven is blocked.
This may sound unfair, but God has ordained it that way and we cannot change it. And yes: really everyone has committed sin. Once you’ve lied at some point in your life, for whatever reason, it’s a sin. (And something like white lie already have the word “lie” built in).
This is just an example of sin. And this sin must go away in order for someone to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
You will have guessed it by now: You can’t just buy your way out. Neither with deeds and certainly not with money.
What does this have to do with wealth? Jesus Christ has paid for this debt and is ready to take the punishment that you should actually get. (For that you “only” have to turn your whole life around and follow Jesus. If you’ve heard of this before, you can take the first step now with a life surrender prayer.
And in this “new” life, the characteristic ideal is to follow Jesus more than earthly things. This includes wealth. But not excluding it, since God can give wealth.
We can best see this principle in the Bible passage that is readily quoted for this purpose.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…
It is more likely for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.Mark 10:25
This quoted saying comes from Jesus, after he had explained to a rich man that he should please sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and follow Jesus.
The rich man, however, refused this offer and moved on. Jesus summarized the man’s attitude with the above quote.
This passage has been interpreted and analyzed many times and in many ways. Some people even assume that above the camel should rather be called “ship’s rope”.
Whether camel or ship jam: It could also be called elephant. Also for an elephant it would be an impossibility to come through a small needle eye.
Does this mean that every rich person now cannot enter the kingdom of God (also known as heaven)? In fact, one should look at the antecedent of the saying.
The rich man asked Jesus what he had to do to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus told him that he had to keep all the commandments that God had handed down. The man said that he had done this.
“Commandments” in this case are the laws from God that the Jews of the time had to fulfill in order to stand before God. The rich man claimed to have kept all 613 commandments without exception and at all times. Now I wrote that no one could and can keep God’s commandments completely.
Jesus knew that too (that’s why he came to solve the problem). But the man was so vain that he really thought he had done everything. Jesus showed him with his request to sell everything that this is not so.
(For the specialists among us: there are some people who see from this passage a confirmation that Jesus is God – why else would Jesus suggest to follow him?)
Jesus’ comment (see above) is often understood as insisting on holistic discipleship. Sense-wise, the following expression would probably be closer to Jesus’ opinion than one reads it at first.
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a miser to enter the kingdom of God.
For: squatting on wealth, being rich out of sheer will, is not an example of charity. Refusing to help the poor is not either.
Wealth is not a problem – after all, God can see to it that a person becomes rich – It is rather the handling of wealth! Who clings to the money, and not to God – he does not go to heaven!
The eye of the needle as an entrance gate
There is also the variant that the eye of a needle does not mean the small passage at a needle, but a small, narrow gate in the city wall of Jerusalem nicknamed “eye of a needle”.
The camels had to squeeze to get through this gate and bend their legs comically. Everything that was strapped too much on the camel (were used as pack animals) had to fall down.
This variant is gladly used by the health-and-wealth preachers to supposedly prove that God has promised wealth and physical healing to every single human being now and here.
I consider this variant too far-fetched and absolutely inconclusive when comparing the parable with other parables and their explanatory styles. Besides, it still does not fit… This parable is a thorn;- as if Jesus had known that something like this would come.
Can I go to heaven as a rich person?
If you are in the unpleasant position of being rich, I recommend that you just put that money in my account… I’m kidding.
If you are rich, you can go to heaven. Just trust in Jesus for that and follow him.
Here are practical tips to get you started
Did you become rich by working hard and honestly? Very good! Maybe you can put that money to work somewhere.
Did you get rich by (deliberately) cheating people, or embezzling taxes, or anything else that can be seen as illegal or “gray area”? Then fix that somehow.
Putting your life in order, so that you can live with a better conscience, is a first, good step into an “orderly” discipleship in Jesus Christ.