3 John 2-4 – “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” NKJV
We have no real way of identifying Gaius the beloved to whom John writes but it appears he was a godly man, an elder, and walking uprightly before the Lord. I have heard a number of sermons and teachings on this passage and some used it as an explanation for sickness or disease causing havoc in a person’s body. Some have used it to piously proclaim the reason for their financial prosperity. Some have been troubled by it and expressed wonder how any could enjoy the rich blessings of the Lord with the conditions John places on PROSPERITY.
I want to approach it from a three-fold view. John expresses it is his wish, desire, and/or prayer that Gaius would have PROSPERITY on at least three fronts. One manuscript adds “en aleetheia” to the verbiage and that would give it a very different meaning, “that you may be sound in truth.” I believe that is applicable but let’s consider the points John makes in his prayer.
- He prays for Gaius to Prosper in HEALTH OF BODY.
Physical health is, in my understanding of Scripture, something a believer can have as well as physical healing. According to Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; for by whose stripes you are healed.”
Please understand I am not saying if you are sick or a fatal disease comes upon you, it is a curse from God or a revelation that your soul is not prosperous and upright. I am saying, that if we are sick we have every reason to call upon God with the expectation to bring about healing in our physical bodies through His work of Grace. So John prays that Gaius enjoy a healthy body just as he enjoys a healthy soul.
- He prays for Gaius to Prosper in HIS SOUL.
Nothing is more important than a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Nothing is more valuable than having a “clean heart” and a “right spirit.” David recognized that and thus prayed in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me.” We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, the Prayer of Paul, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” James 1:21, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
- He prays for Gaius to Prosper in SECULAR AFFAIRS.
Let me give you an amazing passage from Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” There are times when we need favor with men to achieve the objectives set before us and the Bible indicates that God will cause favor to come to us when our “souls prosper.” 2 Corinthians 9:8, the apostle Paul assured his hearers, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” That is incredibly powerful.
To me, it is evident that that he is praying for Gaius to PROSPER and increase in his finances as well as his knowledge, physical health, spiritual walk, and interpersonal relationships. He wanted PROSPERITY for the whole man. Some in the Christian faith seem to believe that financial prosperity is a sign of faith and righteousness and if you do not achieve wealth it is an indication you are either lacking in faith or righteousness. I believe that God wants us to be able to pay our debts and have all we need and more, but the purpose of His financial blessings is not just to bless us but so that we can be blessings and be a flow through for the Kingdom. We have the Promise of God in Philippians 4:19, “…my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
It is important that we have spiritual health and our souls be healthy. It is a wonderful blessing to be healthy in body and have the financial health needed to meet all our needs and have the ability to give to every good cause God brings before us. Therefore, our objective should be a pursuit of Matthew 6:33, “…seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” God first and foremost in our lives is the fulfillment of John’s prayer.
God bless you as you go through this wonderful day in Him!