Saturday, 4 July 2020
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John -2
John, addressing “the beloved Gaius” of the previous verse, calls him “Beloved.” As the adjective is singular, there is no question that the letter is written to him alone, even if it is now included for our instruction in the Bible. To Gaius, he next says, “I pray that you may prosper in all things.” The KJV incorrectly renders it as “above all things.” Neither the word, nor the context, could imply “above.” Rather, the Greek word peri signifies “concerning.”
The Greek word translated as “prosper” signifies a journey on a particular road. Thus, it figuratively is intended to be used where someone truly prospers. If one is on the wrong path, then there will be a waste of time, energy, and so on. But to be on the right path things will continue as they were intended and budgeted for. While on this path of prospering, John then says, “and be in health.”
Some have deduced that because of these words, Gaius must have been sick. That may be reading too much into John’s words. It is the most common thing to wish continued health on someone who is healthy, or for strong health for someone when we don’t even know what their current health situation is. John is simply combining his desire for Gaius’ physical health with his spiritual health. As he says, “just as your soul prospers.”
John, as can be evidenced by the contents of the coming verse, was fully aware of the sound spiritual health of Gaius. In this, John was – in essence – pronouncing a blessing upon Gaius for a physically healthy walk in this life; he was certainly spiritually healthy.
Life application: John, will use the same term, beloved, at the beginning of each major point, stating it again in verses 5 and 11. His prayer points to temporal things and indicates that it is completely acceptable to pray for temporal blessings.
As we saw, John is praying for a successful journey in all the things of life. However, this is not a call to a prosperity gospel where we can “claim” these things. That is a twisted way of looking at both the word “pray,” and at the rest of Scripture. Instead, a prayer is a petition of request, not a demand.
The same is true for his prayer of health. It, again, isn’t a pronouncement of, or claim for, health by the touch of a faith healer. It is a prayer of petition.
For someone to stand on a stage or on a TV show and claim healing in the name of Jesus is both unbiblical and unwise. It is unbiblical because the Bible doesn’t teach it. And it is unwise because when God, in His sovereignty, decides to not heal someone, then that person’s faith or the faith of others can be damaged. It is a crime against the Lord to demand that which is at His prerogative alone.
Another point is that the word used for “be in health” is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense by Paul when speaking of sound doctrine. But this isn’t the case here. It is speaking of Gaius’ physical health.
Finally, we saw that there was nothing wrong with Gaius’ spiritual condition. John is simply praying that Gaius will be blessed in health and in the temporal things of life, just as he is in his spiritual life. Again, this is a classic verse for deducing that we can’t expect these things simply because we are obedient to the Lord. Instead, we can pray for them and the Lord will respond according to His wisdom and our needs.
The prosperity gospel and the health gospel are both revealed as false teachings from this one verse. Instead, the Christian is to pray for, but never expect or demand, such things.
Lord, at times, we may have fallen prey to the false teachings of the prosperity and health gospels. We may have claimed and expected things which we should have only prayed for. In this, we have overstepped what is right and not allowed room for Your sovereign choices concerning our lives. May we accept whatever You give us as a blessing – be it wealth or poverty, health or ailment. To Your glory alone! Amen.