BIBLE VERSES EXPLAINED
Jeremiah 29:11—“I Know the Plans I Have for You”
“‘I well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward you,’ declares Jehovah, a ‘thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope.’”—Jeremiah 29:11, New World Translation.
“‘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.’”—Jeremiah 29:11, New International Version.
Meaning of Jeremiah 29:11
Jehovah God promised his worshippers that he had a peaceful future in mind for them. Although written to people in the past, these words still describe God’s thoughts. He is “the God who gives hope.” (Romans 15:13) In fact, he recorded such promises in the Bible so that “we might have hope” for a better future.—Romans 15:4.
Context of Jeremiah 29:11
These words were part of a letter sent to the Israelites in Babylon, who had been taken captive from Jerusalem. b (Jeremiah 29:1) God told the exiles that they would remain in captivity for a long time and that they should build homes, plant gardens, and raise families. (Jeremiah 29:4-9) However, God added: “When 70 years at Babylon are fulfilled, I will turn my attention to you, and I will make good my promise by bringing you back to [Jerusalem].” (Jeremiah 29:10) God thus guaranteed that he would not forget them and that their hope of returning home would come true.—Jeremiah 31:16, 17.
God kept his promise to the Israelites. As he had foretold, Babylon was conquered by Persian King Cyrus. (Isaiah 45:1, 2; Jeremiah 51:30-32) Thereafter, Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. After 70 years of captivity, they were back in Jerusalem.—2 Chronicles 36:20-23; Ezra 3:1.
The fulfilled promise of Jeremiah 29:11 assures those who hope in God’s promises today. These promises include earth-wide peace by means of the Kingdom of God under Christ Jesus.—Psalm 37:10, 11, 29; Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 6:10.
Misconceptions About Jeremiah 29:11
Misconception: God has a specific “plan” for each individual.
Fact: God lets people choose for themselves the course they will follow. His words at Jeremiah 29:11 were addressed to the Israelites in Babylon as a group, and he had a thought in mind for that group—a future of peace. (Jeremiah 29:4) However, God allowed each person to choose whether to benefit from His promise or not. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; Jeremiah 29:32) Those who chose to seek God did so by praying to him with a sincere heart.—Jeremiah 29:12, 13.
Misconception: God will prosper his worshippers with material riches.
Fact: The word “prosper” found in some Bibles at Jeremiah 29:11 is translated from a Hebrew word that means “peace, health, and well-being.” According to the context, God promised to give the exiled Israelites not wealth but peace and welfare. They would continue to exist as a people and would one day return to Jerusalem.—Jeremiah 29:4-10.
Read Jeremiah chapter 29 along with explanatory footnotes and cross-references.
a Jehovah is the personal name of God.—Psalm 83:18.
b Regarding Jeremiah 29:11, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states: “It is difficult to find a more wonderful promise anywhere in Scripture that expresses the tender compassion of Yahweh [Jehovah] toward these exiles and setting before them, at last, a real reason for optimism and expectation.”—Volume 7, page 360.