I'm aware of the recently asked question When was Jesus rich? 2 Corinthian 8:9, and it's very likely that some readers will almost knee-jerkly react by voting to close this question as a duplicate. However, let me provide my reasons for asking this question in the first place, if perhaps by doing so I might convince you to keep the question open. It's basically for the same reasons I asked a related question in the past: At what exact moments did Jesus start and finish emptying himself in Philippians 2:5-8?, i.e., previous questions did not explicitly emphasize the exact moment when Jesus transitioned from being rich to being poor. This lack of explicit emphasis on the moment of transition leaves room for answers that are ambiguous in this regard, such as this, this, this, this and this.

Question: at what exact moment did Jesus give up whatever was making him rich, thus becoming poor?

  • At his conception?
  • At his birth?
  • At his baptism?
  • When he began his ministry at age 30 (Luke 3:23)?
  • At his crucifixion?
  • At some other point?

Please, I just want to know the exact moment the transition occurred and the exegesis process that led you to come to that conclusion.

Below 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV) for reference:

9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

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    Another related interesting question is what becoming rich through his poverty means? Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 2:17
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    Until you work out what 'rich' means, the time is irrelevant
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 2:25
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    All those ref of emptying himself, becoming poor depicts his incarnation into a mortal man.
    – Michael16
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 2:56
  • It is (should be) obvious that Paul uses the word "rich" (πλούσιος) and the expression "became poor" (ἐπτώχευσεν, from πτωχεύω) in a figurative-rhetoric sense. Your Question is answered by my Answer to the Question When was Jesus rich? 2 Corinthian 8:9. See also my comment in reply to your comment there. Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 10:09

6 Answers 6


At what exact moment did Jesus give up His "wealth?"

Answer: It depends on how we interpret 2 Corinthians 8:9 as suggested in the OP.

I. Was this at his birth? Well, we might be even more specific: "Was this at His conception?" We should recognize that Christ was unfathomably wealthy as the Creator of the universe. Hebrews 10:5 may help here:

Hebrews 10:5: "Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME" (emphasis added).

It could certainly be argued that this is exactly the point at which He became poor. If we are referring to the time of Christ's birth, Joseph and Mary were forced, by necessity, to reside in an area reserved for animals, instead of a guest room, as they used a manger as a makeshift crib for the Baby Jesus.

Either way, Christ left His eternal state with the Father to become a human being in a terribly fallen world. If this doesn't represent "though rich, yet for [our sakes] He became poor" I don't know what the passage is describing at all.

II. At His crucifixion? This could hardly be the answer. Christ suffered in profound agony during this time; the only possible outcome was to be relieved of His horrific burden — one which itself would constitute wealth compared to the alternative. But this has nothing to do with any transition from wealth to poverty; quite the reverse.

III. At some point in between His birth and Crucifixion? Here, some have made what seems a valid argument that the gifts from the magi would have constituted great wealth for Joseph and Mary.

If so, why remain a carpenter? Why not retire in luxury? Again, this seems unlikely, even though it is certainly possible that Christ's family had above-average or even wealthy status. Nonetheless, relative to that described in 2 Corinthians 8, this material perspective seems extraordinarily trivial.

IV. At some other point? Based on one of the comments, there are those who believe that Christ became poor at His baptism. That is a very interesting perspective because many understand that we become alive at baptism — alive from the death of this world. (We are otherwise dead to God.)

However, Christ is a unique case because He is God. He is, therefore, incapable of having His "sins washed away" because there are none. It seems possible that the efficacy of baptism became a reality upon Jesus' baptism. That is, without it, there might never be any redeeming aspect to baptism, just as no animal sacrifice would have meaning without the retroactive effect of Christ's Sacrifice.

Based on all these considerations, I suggest the first point (I) is the most plausible.

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    @user48152 I was just responding to each point asked by the OP: "At his birth? At his crucifixion? At some point in between? At some other point?"
    – Xeno
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 2:29
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    Well if you want to include all the major Christian views you have to include conception, no question about it. Your argument against IV should apply most of all to his birth - how would that be relevant? Though actually there has been another time that has been suggested by non-Trinitarians before: the baptism of Christ. That's a common view of adoptionists I think.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 6:10
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    I didn't say Jesus's baptism was his birth. I meant that according to adoptionists, his baptism could be the time he stopped being 'rich'. Meanwhile I don't understand how the birth would make a difference - how was he rich while in Mary's uterus compared to being outside her uterus? If 'becoming poor' refers to leaving the Father then that surely refers to the conception, not the birth.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 6:31
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    @curiousdannii I edited to try and accommodate your points.
    – Xeno
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 7:22
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    @user48152 It is unwise to suggest that hermeneutics must always arrive at one conclusion. Sometimes it requires examination of multiple choices to begin whittling down the less likely conclusions. Other times, it pays to work backwards, from the present to as far back as it's possible to go. But there's no guarantee that sound hermeneutics will provide one clear-cut answer. Sometimes the answer must be, "This is not a clear-cut, black-and-white matter with one correct answer."
    – Anne
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 11:28

Jesus was the poorest of the poor when he cried upon the cross as he had nothing left, including his only clothes.

At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Psalm22: 14 through 18 speaks volumes.

14As waters I have been poured out, And separated themselves have all my bones, My heart hath been like wax, It is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15Dried up as an earthen vessel is my power, And my tongue is cleaving to my jaws. 16And to the dust of death thou appointest me, For surrounded me have dogs, A company of evil doers have compassed me, Piercing my hands and my feet. 17I count all my bones — they look expectingly, They look upon me, 18They apportion my garments to themselves, And for my clothing they cause a lot to fall.

He lost the sense of the presence of the Father in the midst of everything around him and inside him crushing him. He was the most alone being in the entire universe.

It was His faith in God the Father that was tried and tested and became the salvation of all. His poverty became our riches by giving us his life!

  • Welcome. Sadly and thankfully, that popular narrative of Jesus being abandoned, forsaken by God is without merit. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/56291/…
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 22:40
  • @Sherrie I agree. Jesus laid down his own life, both his physical life and the life of his spirit in God (Jn 17:20). "No one has taken it away from me" (Jn 10:18). In the offering of his life, in every sense of the word, he became the source of life for all (Jn 17:22-26). His poverty became our riches.
    – Nhi
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 11:54

2 Cor 8:9 says this:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

There are several things to notice about this "divine exchange":

  1. It was Christ's poverty that was the key to our salvation
  2. Christ's poverty was gained at the expense of Christ's riches
  3. Christ did this for our sake

Therefore, During Christ's incarnation his "poverty" referenced here is nothing to do with his bank account and material wealth or lack of it. The reference here is to something much bigger than monetary wealthy and poverty.

Paul's argument in the previous verses is about his encouragement of the church at Corinth to be generous toward the churches in Macedonia. To buttress his pitch for donations he uses the example of Jesus who, in His pre-incarnate state was vastly more "wealthy" in heaven than anyone could imagine! Yet Jesus "emptied Himself", "humbled Himself", and "became human" and even "obedient to death on the cross" (Phil 2:5-8). See appendix below.

Thus, the humility of Jesus in giving up the power, prestige and honor of the majesty of heaven is a wonderful example of generosity and love to needy, sinful, helpless humans. That is Paul is arguing from the greater example (of Jesus) to the lesser example (of sinful humans).

So, when did this happen? Jesus' humility began with the incarnation - the moment He became human and began His life in the womb of Mary.

As a result of this, sinful humans can find salvation by grace in Jesus, and can one day enjoy the "riches" of heaven with Jesus when we "see his face" (Rev 22:4).

Note that the metaphor of salvation being called "riches" is used in several other places as well such as: Rom 11:2, Eph 2:4, James 2:5, Rev 2:9, 3:17.

APPENDIX - The Divine Exchange

  • 2 Cor 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Gal 1:4, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
  • Gal 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.
  • John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • 2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
  • Isa 53:4-6, Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

That is, Jesus was treated as we deserve so that we can be treated as He deserved.


Jesus probably gave up a quite comfortable lifestyle as a carpenter. Being a man of God publicly, and the son of God secretly, he must have excelled in carpentry, with a lot of happy and well-paying customers. This he suddenly gave away and became a wandering preacher and miracle-worker, with no place to lay his head. This could have been the transition from riches to poverty, that was asked for in the question. And if so, it would have happened at about 30 years of age.

  • So, according to you, the correct answer would be "when he was about age 30", as Luke 3:23 says: "23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,"? What about the other alternatives (see last version of the question)?
    – user38524
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 12:42
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    He may have had a comfortable life as a carpenter, but Nazareth was a small town. How rich really could he have been?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 22:03
  • Everything is relative. What is riches to some is poverty to others, and vice versa. Which Jesus also hinted at in the story of the widows mite. Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 0:19

The answer to when depends on what 'rich' means. As has been noted by only ~1 answer so far, this has nothing to do with material or worldly wealth.

Jesus is 'heavenly', he is the fullest expression of God on earth - ever. Heavenly is not a place as such (God is spirit), but a state of holiness, of truth, grace, love, etc. to their greatest extent - all found in God alone - to the point that John says, 'God IS love'.

Therefore, Jesus' wealth/riches are spiritual in nature and barely apprehended by corrupted humanity. Jesus taught specifically that being rich in worldly terms was contrary to entering the Kingdom - he always led by example so we must look elsewhere to worldly riches in this passage of 2 Cor 8:9

I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. Matt 19:24

To be 'worldly rich' is to have excess - to have excess is to be selfish. Was Jesus selfish? The analogy to us is also true -

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Cor 8:9

When we 'become rich', it will not be for worldly things!

The process of 'becoming poor' does not happen by fiat at some particular point in his life. Jesus had his own will - which often differed from the Father. He was empowered, by God's spirit in him, to submit this self-will to God in humble obedience. Obedience we are told came through suffering.

(Jesus) in the days of His flesh, having offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One being able to save Him from death, and having been heard because of reverent submission, though being a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered, and having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those obeying Him Heb 5:7-9

The challenge for Jesus was that the tests and the suffering increased until the garden through to the subsequent walk to Golgotha. At ever increasing need for the Father's provision, he became poorer until that final triumphant breath - "It is finished!"

Only through Jesus' perfect submission could we inherit eternal life, as he subsequently did. To achieve the great victory over pride and self, evil and death, Jesus became poorer - finally being completely empty of self.

Satan was not defeated by Jesus alone - but the power of God's love in Jesus who always looked to the Father for all his needs - by the choice he had as a human.

God didn't defeat Satan alone - but by the willing submission of His son to rely on Him for ALL things.

I can do nothing by Myself; I judge only as I hear. And My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 5:30

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38

Only by Jesus total spiritual poverty - through God's abundant grace, could there be a victory at all - we now share in that victory and will enjoy the riches with God and His son forever more.

In summary, Jesus becoming poor took place from at least his baptism and his receipt of the HS until his last breath.


Jesus could sin - his prayers confirm that (Heb 5:7) If he did sin, it would be because of pride. His tempter gave pride a 'run' and was found wanting - God gave this majestic, beautiful Archangel the flick. The tempter tried the same ploy on Jesus - to fool him into thinking he could go ahead without God - the kingdoms of the world would be his (allegedly) that Jesus could rule the world and that he wouldn't need God anymore - sound familiar? (second Adam)

It's not that Jesus had pride, but he had the potential for pride to get a start if he put his will before God's. Just once and he was doomed, we were all doomed. To misunderstand the logos as God, is to misunderstand what God was doing through His 'logos become flesh'. God's word now had it's own will in Jesus! This is lunacy from a human standpoint! But God is God, His ways are so much grander than our best moments. God's word, which always returned to Him having accomplished what He sent it to do - was now a human with his own will!!! (Is 55:11)

While Jesus did indeed have his own will, his own desires and ideas, his challenge above all was to put God’s will before his own. This wasn’t automatic, it was a test, a trial and a trust in God over everything other human input he received.

Jesus had no illusions about going it alone - not for long anyway. Because he and the Father were one in purpose, uncomplicated by the deceptions of sin and self, in spite of the temptations, he was able to keep his eye on God and the goal they were seeking together by God's spirit filling him.

God defeated evil through a man. A man defeated evil with his God. Jesus is the forerunner for us (Heb 6:20) - we too are men and we have the same God as Jesus did.

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    Let me see if I get what you are saying. You are essentially defining richness as "ego" and, thus, someone who is "rich" has a lot of ego and someone who is "poor" has very little ego, correct? If so, 2 Cor 8:9 would read like this: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he had a lot of ego, yet for your sake he became devoid of ego, so that you through his lack of ego might become full of ego. Is that what you are saying?
    – user38524
    Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 4:19
  • user48152 - would you mind including a paragraph in your answer with a formal definition of the word "rich" and how you would paraphrase 2 Cor 8:9 according to that definition?
    – user38524
    Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 8:59
  • Paul does not give your 'formal definition', the best we can do is frame the words with other texts that speak to this matter. To press too far is to make more than is intended and provoke empty speculations. - we have enough of those already.
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 10:12
  • @user48152 I strongly disagree with the statement that "Jesus could sin." Sin brought death to man. But Jesus laid down his own life. His death was an act of self-sacrifice, not the result of sin (1 Peter 1:19).
    – Nhi
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 12:04
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    Then you make a mockery of the whole temptation. If he could not sin, it was all a sham! He did not sin, but the potential was there. Heb 5:7 think about this prayer - or was that just for show too? Why do you think he could not sin?
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 12:11

The context of the verse in question is evidently about remembering the poor:

[2Co 8:1-9 NASB95] 1 Now, brethren, we [wish to] make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. [3] For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, [they gave] of their own accord, [4] begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, [5] and [this,] not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. [6] So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well. [7] But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, [see] that you abound in this gracious work also. [8] I am not speaking [this] as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. [9] For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

According to Matthew, Jesus was wealthy since he was a small child:

[Mat 2:9-11 NKJV] [9] When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. [10] When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. [11] And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

While Paul does not specify the exact moment, I consider it reasonable to suppose that Jesus liquified the gifts of the Magi and put them in a common purse, under the oversight of bishop/overseer Judas Iscariot at the outset of his earthly servanthood, to locate and summon the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel:

[Act 1:20 YLT] [20] for it hath been written in the book of Psalms: Let his lodging-place become desolate, and let no one be dwelling in it, and his oversight let another take.

Judas' "bishopric" meant that he was the treasurer for the Twelve, not Catholic muckety-muck. From that common purse, the poor were blessed. Judas is said to have purloined from the fund:

[Jhn 12:4-6 YLT] [4] Therefore saith one of his disciples -- Judas Iscariot, of Simon, who is about to deliver him up -- [5] 'Wherefore was not this ointment sold for three hundred denaries, and given to the poor?' [6] and he said this, not because he was caring for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and what things were put in he was carrying.

In an often mistranslated and misunderstood passage, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to be generous, as Christ was generous:

Wrong translation:

[Eph 4:32 NASB95] [32] Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

More correct translation:

[Eph 4:32 NASB95 Modified by Ruminator] [32] Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, BEING GENEROUS TO each other, just as God in Christ also has BEEN GENEROUS TO you [or possibly, "to us"].

In that passage, Paul is presumably exhorting the Ephesians on the basis of his saving a place for them at the King's table, ala David to Mephibosheth:

[2Sa 9:10-11, 13 NASB95] [10] "You and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him, and you shall bring in [the produce] so that your master's grandson may have food; nevertheless Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall eat at my table regularly." Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. [11] Then Ziba said to the king, "According to all that my lord the king commands his servant so your servant will do." So Mephibosheth ate at David's table as one of the king's sons. ... [13] So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate at the king's table regularly. Now he was lame in both feet.

[Eph 1:3, 20 NASB95] [3] Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ, ... [20] which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly [places,]

[Eph 2:6 NASB95] [6] and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus,

So, there are at least two examples of Christ's becoming poor and making others rich. When he sold all that he had and gave it to the poor and when he died in order that others would have life abundantly.

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