3 John 1:2
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
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(2 a.) (2) Beloved.—St. John’s affection is founded on the high merits of Caius as a Christian.

Above all things.—This may mean “in all things.”

Be in health.—An ascetic would be surprised that one of the greatest of the Apostles should be so earnest on such a point. But the better a man’s health, the more thoroughly he can do the work of God. Sickness may be allowed to chasten the erring or rebellious heart, but a Christian whose faith is firm and character established, can ill afford to despise the inestimable blessing of a sound body. Functional and organic disorder or enervation proportionately lessen the capacity for thought, resolution, and activity.

Even as thy soul prospereth.—The word “prospereth” is literally makes good way, and so links on to the idea of walking, in 3John 1:3-4. The health of the soul came first in the Apostle’s mind: when there is that, he can wish for bodily health to support it.

(2 b.) (3) I rejoiced greatly.—Compare 2John 1:4. “For” introduces the reason of the high praise in 3John 1:2.

The truth that is in thee.—The inward presence of Christ, manifested by the Christian life and consistency of Caius.

Even as thou walkest in the truth.—This is an additional evidence from the brethren to show that the presence of the truth in Caius had been practically tested.

Thou is emphatic in the Greek, showing that there were others, like Diotrephes, of whom this could not be said.

(4) I have no greater joy.—This is a general statement arising out of the particular instance. The comparative is double—a comparative formed on a comparative; it may be only irregular, an evidence that the writer was not a classical Greek scholar, or it may be for intensity. There is a similar comparative in Ephesians 3:8, where the force is evidently intensive.

My children means the members of the churches specially under the care of St. John.

(5) Thou doest faithfullyi.e., worthily of a faithful man, consistently with the Christian character. It may be translated, “Thou doest a faithful work in whatsoever. . . .”

Whatsoever thou doest.—Done from right motives, as unto Christ. Whatever form (it is hinted that the form would be various) the activity of Caius might take, so high was the Apostle’s opinion of his character, that he was sure it would be done wisely and well.

And to strangers.—According to another reading it is, “And that, strangers,” as in 1Corinthians 6:6, Ephesians 2:8, Philippians 1:28. Either way, the strangers would be Christians; but, according to the reading in the text, the brethren would be more or less acquaintances of their host. The duty of entertaining Christians on their travels was of peculiar importance in early times, (1) from the length of time which travelling required, (2) from the poverty of the Christians, (3) from the kind of society they would meet at public inns. The duty is enforced in Romans 12:13; 1Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:2; 1Peter 4:9.

(6) Charity might be translated “love.”

Before the church.—That where the Apostle then was, and from which they had probably been sent forth as missionaries, or, at any rate, with some definite religious object.

Whom if thou bring forward.—Perhaps while they were still staying with Caius, the emissaries sent back a report to the church whence they came. St. John seems to imply that there was still something which Caius could do for them. “If thou bring forward” is in the Greek in the past; “when thou hast sent them on, it will be a good work.”

After a godly sort.—Rather, worthily of God. (Comp. Titus 3:13, 1Corinthians 16:11.) It would imply journey money, provisions, love, care, encouragement, prayer, a humble and reasonable imitation of God’s providence to Caius, proportional to his means, the occasion, and the recipients.

(7) Because that for his name’s sake they went forth.—Their object was the highest possible—the glory of God’s name. Hence there must have been some kind of missionary character in their journey. (Comp. Acts 5:41; Acts 15:40; Romans 1:6; James 2:7.)

Of the Gentiles.—Probably the heathens among whom they were preaching. From settled churches, or wealthy Christians of long standing, there would be nothing inimical to the interests of the message in receiving material support. Among those who were hearing for the first time, it would be highly prejudicial if there were any appearance of selling the truth. (Comp. 1Corinthians 9:18; 2Corinthians 11:7; 2Corinthians 12:16; 1Thessalonians 2:9.)

(2 c.) (8) We therefore.—In contrast to the heathens.

To receive.—In the original there is a play with the word “receiving” in 3John 1:8. (Comp. Matthew 10:40.)

That we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.—Fellow-helpers with them. The principle of co-operation was one of the earliest and leading ideas of the kingdom of Christ. Those who try to work alone lose the mighty force of sympathy, are sure to make mistakes, cannot help arousing opposition, and run the risk of nursing in their own souls an unsuspected spirit of self-will, self-confidence, and spiritual pride. Those who do not care to help the good works of others are at best cold Christians, feeble believers; they fail in the great critical testing virtue of Christian love; they limit the operation of God, who has chosen to work by human means; they hinder the spread of the gospel, and delay the second coming of Christ. (Comp. 2Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 4:11; 1Thessalonians 3:2.) (2 d.)

(9) I wrote unto the church.—“I wrote somewhat unto the Church.” This may either have been a copy of his Gospel or his First Epistle, or a lost letter of no special importance. The Church was that of the place where Caius and Diotrephes lived. Nothing whatever can be said of Diotrephes, except that his personal ambition led him into the grievous sin of rejecting the authority of the bosom friend of the Saviour; that he talked malignantly against St. John and his friends; that he refused to entertain the emissaries of the Church in which St. John was residing; and that he actually went so far as to eject from the local congregation those who were willing to entertain them. We may conjecture that, on account of the loyalty of Caius to St. John, there was so little intercourse between him and Diotrephes, that he would not even hear that St. John had written; that the greater part of the people of the place adhered for the present to Diotrephes, so that in addressing Caius St. John calls them “the church,” and “them;” and, from 3John 1:11, that even now St. John did not think it superfluous to urge Caius not to follow the example of Diotrephes or submit to his influence.

Loveth to have the preeminence.—Makes it his evil aim to have the whole influence of the community in his own hands.

(10) If I come.—Comp. 1John 2:28. St. John was evidently expecting in both Letters to set out on the same journey.

Prating.—Idle slander; the moths that are always attracted to “the fierce light that beats about a throne.” The intense spiritual affectionateness of the Apostle of love might be easily misunderstood by an unconverted pretender; but it is needless to imagine the groundless babble of a tyrannical upstart.

Casteth them out.—Not necessarily formal excommunication; but Diotrephes had so far succeeded in his object that he was able to exclude these better disposed persons from the Christian society of the place.

(2 e.) (11) Follow not that which is evil.—One of those simple exhortations so characteristic of St. John, which derive an intense meaning from the circumstances and the context. There was probably every reason why Caius should follow Diotrephes: peace, good-fellowship, the dislike of singularity, popular example, and the indolent indifference which ordinary men feel for truth and right. But the difference between right and wrong is eternal and irreconcilable. The conduct of Diotrephes was of the devil; and mighty moral consequences might follow if Caius gave way from good-natured pliability. (Comp. John 5:29; John 18:23; Ephesians 5:1; 2Thessalonians 3:7; 2Thessalonians 3:9; Hebrews 13:7; 1Peter 3:10-11; 1John 3:12.)

(2 f.) He that doeth good is of God.—Comp. 1John 3:10. “Doeth good” includes all practical virtue. (Comp. 1Peter 2:14-15; 1Peter 2:20; 1Peter 3:6; 1Peter 3:17.)

He that doeth evil hath not seen God.—Comp. 1John 2:3; 1John 3:6; 1John 3:10; 1John 4:2-4; 1John 4:6; 1John 4:8; 1John 5:19.

(2 g.) (12) Demetrius may very likely be the bearer of the Epistle.

Good report.—Rather, the witness.

Of all men.—All Christians who knew him.

Of the truth itself.—Christ dwelling in him manifested His presence as the Way, the Truth, and the Life in new virtues for every circumstance that arose in the career of Demetrius. His walk, agreeing with the revealed truth of God, showed that God was with him. (Comp. Acts 4:13.)

And we also.—St. John adds his own independent testimony as a third, in the most emphatic manner possible.

And ye know that our record is true.—There is no arrogance or egotism in this: it is solely the appeal to the loyal fidelity of Caius—to the simplicity of Christ’s gospel as set forth by John in accordance with the other Apostles. The personal experience of believers would convince them of the truth of the last of the Apostles. (Comp. John 19:25; John 21:24.)

3 John


3 John 1:2.

This little letter contains no important doctrinal teaching nor special revelation of any kind. It is the outpouring of the Christian love of the old Apostle to a brother about whom we know nothing else except that John, the beloved, loved him in the truth. And this prayer-for it is a prayer rather than a mere wish, since a good man like John turned all his wishes into prayers-this prayer in the original is even more emphatic and beautiful than in our version. ‘Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth,’ says the Revised Version, and that slight change in the position of one clause is at once felt to be an improvement. We can scarcely suppose an Apostle praying for anybody ‘above all things’ that he might get on in the world. But the wish that Gaius may prosper outwardly in all things, as his soul prospers, is eminently worthy of John. He sets these two types of prosperity over against one another, and says, ‘My wish for you is that you may be as prosperous and robust in spiritual matters as you are in bodily, and material things’.

I. Now note-in the; first place, What makes a prosperous soul?

That question might be answered in a great variety of ways, but I purpose for the present to answer it by confining myself to this letter, and seeing what we can find out about the man to whom it was addressed. ‘I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee.’ There is the starting-point of true health of soul. That soul, and only that soul, is prosperous, in which what the Apostle calls here ‘ the truth’ is lodged and rooted; and by ‘ the truth’ he means, of course, the whole great revelation of God in Jesus Christ; and eminently Jesus Christ Himself who is the embodied Truth. Whether we take the phrase as meaning the abiding of Jesus Christ in the heart, or whether we take it as meaning more simply the incorporation into the very substance of the being, of the motives and principles that lie in the Gospel, comes to pretty much the same thing. The one thing which makes a man’s soul healthy is to get Jesus Christ into it. That acts like an amulet that banishes all diseases and corruptions. That is like the preserving salt which, rubbed into a perishable substance, arrests corruption and makes food sweet and savory. It is the engrafted word that is able to save the soul, and howsoever many other things may contribute to the inner well-being and prosperity of a man, such as intellectual acquirements, refined tastes, the gratification of pure affections, the fulfilment of innocent and legitimate hopes, and the like, the one thing that makes the soul prosperous is to have Christ in His word deeply planted and inseparably enshrined in its personality and being.

And how is that enshrining to be brought about? Alas, we all know the way a great deal better than we practice it. The prosperous soul is the soul that has opened itself in docile obedience for the entrance of the quickening and cleansing word. And just as a flower will open its calyx in the sunshine, and being opened by the sunshine playing upon its elastic filaments, will, because it is opened, receive into itself the sun that opened it and so grow; in like manner, that heart that disparts itself at the touch of Christ’s hand, and welcomes Him into the inner chambers and shrine of its being, will find that where He comes He brings warmth and fragrance and growth and all blessing. The prosperous soul is the Christ-inhabited soul. By willing reception, by patient waiting, by the study of God’s word, by the endeavour to bring ourselves more and more under the influence of the truth as it is in Jesus, does that truth that makes prosperity take up its abode within us.

But the letter gives another of the characteristics of the truly prosperous and healthy soul. ‘Thy brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.’ The Apostle is not afraid of a confusion of metaphors which shocks sticklers for rhetorical propriety. The truth is, first of all, regarded as being in the man; and then it is regarded as being a road on which, and within the limits of which he walks, or an atmosphere in which he moves. The incongruity is no real incongruity, but it strikingly brings out the great and blessed fact of the Gospel that the man who has the grace of God, the truth as it is in Jesus, within him, thereby finds that there is prepared for him a path within the limits of that truth in which he can safely walk. There will be progress if there be prosperity. The prosperous spirit is the active and advancing spirit, not content merely with sitting and saying, ‘I have the truth in my soul. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I sin not against Thee’; but recognizing that that truth is the law of his life, and prescribes for him a course of conduct. The prosperous soul is the soul that confines its activity within the fence which ‘the truth as it is in Jesus,’ who is the pattern, and the motive, and the law, and the power, has laid down for us; and within those limits makes daily and hourly advance to a more entire conformity with the example of the Lord. The prosperous soul is the soul that walks-not that sits idle-for action is the end of thought, and the purpose of the truth is to make men good, and not merely wise-a soul that acts and advances, yet never passing out of the atmosphere of the Gospel, nor going beyond the principles and motives that are laid down there.

There is a third characteristic in this letter, which we may also take for an illustration of the Apostle’s idea. For he says: ‘Thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest.’

Now ‘faithfully’ is not here used in the sense of righteously discharging all obligations and fulfilling one’s stewardship, but it means something deeper than that. The root idea is ‘whatever thou doest thou doest as a work of Christian faith’; or, to put it into other words, the prosperous soul is the soul all whose activity is based upon that one great truth made its own by faith, that Jesus Christ loves it, and so is all the result of trust in Him. Faith in Christ is the mother-tincture, out of which every virtue can be compounded, according to the liquid to which you add it. The basis of all, the ‘stock’ from which all the rest is really made, is the act of faith in Jesus Christ. And so the prosperous soul is the soul that has the truth in it, and walks in the truth which it has, and does everything because it trusts in the living God and in Jesus Christ His Son.

Is that your notion of the ideal of human nature, of the true and noble prosperity of an immortal spirit? Unless it be you have yet to learn the loftiest elevation and the fairest beauty that are possible for men. The prosperous soul filled with Christ within, and walking with Christ by its side, and drawing laws and motives, pattern and power from Him, is the soul that truly has fulfilled its ideal, and is journeying on the right road. For that is the literal meaning of the word that is rendered here ‘prosper’; journeying on the right road to the true goal of human nature.

II. Look at the wished-for correspondence between this soul-prosperity and outward prosperity. ‘Beloved,’ says John, ‘I wish above all things,’ or rather, ‘I wish that in regard to all things, thou mayest prosper and be in health as thy soul prospereth.’

How would you like that standard applied to your worldly prosperity? Would you like not to get on any better in business than you do in religion? Would you be content that your limbs should be no more healthy than your soul, or that you should be making no more advances in worldly happiness and material prosperity than you are in the Divine life? Would you be content to have your worldly prosperity doled out to you out of the same spoon, of the same dimensions, with which you are content to receive your spiritual prosperity? ‘As thy soul prospereth’-that would mean a very Lenten diet for a good many of us, and a very near approach to insolvency for some commercial men. Brethren, there is a sharp test in these words. I suppose this good Gaius to whom the letter was written was very likely in humble circumstances, and not improbably in enfeebled health. And John was probably wishing for him more than he had, when he wished him to get on as well in the world as he did in his spiritual life, and desired that his soul might prosper as much as his body. It would be a bad thing for some of us if the same standard of proportion were applied to us.

Another consideration is suggested by this correspondence, and that is that it is always a disastrous thing for Christian people when outward prosperity gets ahead of inward. It is the ruin of a good many so-called Christian people. When a man gets on in the world he begins, too often, to decline in the truth. It is difficult for us to carry a full cup without spilling it. And the worst thing that could happen to many Christian people would be what they fret, and fume, and work themselves into a fever, and live careful days and sleepless nights in order to secure-and that is, outward prosperity. The best thing is that the soul should be more prosperous than the body, and the worst adversity is the outward prosperity that ruins or harms the inward life.

III. So, lastly, note the superiority of the inward prosperity.

There is no overstrained spiritualism here. John has set us an example that we need not be afraid to follow. If he that leaned upon Christ’s bosom, and had drunk in more of the spirit of his Master than any of the Twelve, was not afraid to pray for this good brother that he might have worldly good and health, we need not doubt that for ourselves, and for those that are dear to us, it is perfectly legitimate and right that we should desire and pray for both things. There is no unnatural, artificial, hypocritical pretence of despising the present and the outward in the words here. Although the Apostle does put the two things side by side, he does not fall into the error of casting contempt upon either. He is a true disciple of the Master who said, ‘ Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.’ And if your Father knows that you have need, then you may be quite sure that you will get them, and it is a lie to pretend that you do not want them when you do.

But then, that being admitted, look how the higher towers above the legitimate lower. It will always be the case that if a man seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, there will be-in his simple devotion to the truth, and walking within the limits that it prescribes, and making all his life an act of faith-a direct tendency in a great many directions to secure the best possible use, and the largest possible enjoyment, from the things that are seen and temporal. ‘Godliness hath promise of the life which now is’; and the first Psalm, which perhaps may have been in the Apostle’s mind here, contains a truth that was not exhausted in the Old Testament days, because the man whose heart is set on the law of God, and who meditates upon that law day and night, all that he doeth shall prosper. There is in godliness a distinct and constant tendency to make the best of both worlds; but the best is not made of the present world unless we subordinate it and feel distinctly its insignificance in comparison with the future, which is also the present, unseen world.

And even when, as is often the case, the devout and inwardly prosperous soul is compassed about with sorrows that never can be stanched, with griefs through which anything but an immortal life would bleed itself away; or with poverty and want and anxiety arising from causes which no personal devotion can ever touch or affect-even then if the soul prospers it has the power, the magic power, of converting poison into food, and sorrow into a means of growth; and they whose spirits are joined to Jesus Christ, and whose souls ever move in harmony with Him-and therefore are prosperous souls-will find that there is nothing in this world that is really adverse to them. For ‘all things work together for good to them that love God,’ since he who loves God thinks nothing bad that helps him to love Him better; and since he who loves God finds occasion for loving and trusting Him more in every variety and vicissitude of earthly fortune.

Therefore, brethren, if we will follow the directions that this Apostle gives us as to how to secure the prosperity of our souls, God is faithful and He will measure to us prosperity in regard of outward things by the proportion which our faith in Him bears to His faithfulness. The more we love Him, the more certainly will all things be our servants. If we can say ‘We are Christ’s,’ then all things are ours.

3 John 1:2-4. Beloved, I wish — Or, I pray, as ευχομαι is translated by Beza, Estius, Erasmus, Schmidius, Doddridge, and others. Above all things — Or, with respect to all things, as περι παντων rather signifies; that thou mayest prosper and be in health — Namely, of body; even as, I doubt not, thy soul prospereth — In faith, love, and every virtue. For I rejoiced greatly when the brethren — Who went to the church, of which thou art a member; came back and testified of the truth that is in thee — Thy faith, love, and other Christian graces; even as thou walkest in the truth — Adornest the gospel by an exemplary conduct, and all good works. The apostle emphatically terms Gaius’s joining works of charity with faith in the doctrines of the gospel, the truth that was in him. For there is no true faith without good works: it always produces good works: neither are any works good but such as proceed from faith. These two joined constitute the truth of religion. For I have, &c. — That is, nothing gives me greater joy, than to hear that my children walk in the truth — Such is the spirit of every true Christian pastor. It seems probable by this, as has been intimated above, that Gaius was converted by St. John. Hence, in speaking to him, he uses the tender style of paternal love, and his calling him one of his children, when writing under the character of the elder, has peculiar beauty and propriety.

1:1-8 Those who are beloved of Christ, will love the brethren for his sake. Soul prosperity is the greatest blessing on this side heaven. Grace and health are rich companions. Grace will employ health. A rich soul may be lodged in a weak body; and grace must then be exercised in submitting to such a dispensation. But we may wish and pray that those who have prosperous souls, may have healthful bodies; that their grace may shine where there is still more room for activity. How many professors there are, about whom the apostle's words must be reversed, and we must earnestly wish and pray that their souls might prosper, as their health and circumstances do! True faith will work by love. A good report is due from those who receive good; they could not but testify to the church, what they found and felt. Good men will rejoice in the soul prosperity of others; and they are glad to hear of the grace and goodness of others. And as it is a joy to good parents, it will be a joy to good ministers, to see their people adorn their profession. Gaius overlooked petty differences among serious Christians, and freely helped all who bore the image, and did the work of Christ. He was upright in what he did, as a faithful servant. Faithful souls can hear their own praises without being puffed up; the commendation of what is good in them, lays them at the foot of the cross of Christ. Christians should consider not only what they must do, but what they may do; and should do even the common actions of life, and of good-will, after a godly sort, serving God therein, and designing his glory. Those who freely make known Christ's gospel, should be helped by others to whom God gives the means. Those who cannot themselves proclaim it, may yet receive, help, and countenance those who do so.Beloved, I wish above all things - Margin, "pray." The word used here commonly means in the New Testament to pray; but it is also employed to express a strong and earnest desire for anything, Acts 27:29; Romans 9:3; 2 Corinthians 13:9. This is probably all that is implied here. The phrase rendered "above all things" - περὶ πάντων peri pantōn - would be more correctly rendered here "concerning, or in respect to all things;" and the idea is, that John wished earnestly that "in all respects" he might have the same kind of prosperity which his soul had. The common translation "above all things" would seem to mean that John valued health and outward prosperity more than he did anything else; that he wished that more than his usefulness or salvation. This cannot be the meaning, and is not demanded by the proper interpretation of the original. See this shown by Lucke, in loc. The sense is, "In every respect, I wish that it may go as well with you as it does with your soul; that in your worldly prosperity, your comfort, and your bodily health, you may be as prosperous as you are in your religion." This is the reverse of the wish which we are commonly constrained to express for our friends; for such is usually the comparative want of prosperity and advancement in their spiritual interests, that it is an expression of benevolence to desire that they might prosper in that respect as much as they do in others.

That thou mayest prosper - εὐοδοῦσθαι euodousthai. This word occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Romans 1:10, rendered "have a prosperous journey;" 1 Corinthians 16:2, rendered "hath prospered;" and in the passage before us. It means, properly, "to lead in a good way; to prosper one's journey;" and then to make prosperous; to give success to; to be prospered. It would apply here to any plan or purpose entertained. It would include success in business, happiness in domestic relations, or prosperity in any of the engagements and transactions in which a Christian might lawfully engage. It shows that it is right to wish that our friends may have success in the works of their hands and their plans of life.

And be in health - To enjoy bodily health. It is not necessary to to suppose, in order to a correct interpretation of this, that Gaius was at that time suffering from bodily indisposition, though perhaps it is most natural to suppose that, as John makes the wish for his health so prominent. But it is common, in all circumstances, to wish for the health and prosperity of our friends; and it is as proper as it is common, if we do not give that a degree of prominence above the welfare of the soul.

Even as thy soul prospereth - John had learned, it would seem, from the "brethren" who had come to him, 3 John 1:3, that Gaius was living as became a Christian; that he was advancing in the knowledge of the truth, and was exemplary in the duties of the Christian life; and he prays that in all other respects he might be prospered as much as he was in that. It is not very common that a man is more prospered in his spiritual interests than he is in his other interests, or that we can, in our wishes for the welfare of our friends, make the prosperity of the soul, and the practice and enjoyment of religion, the standard of our wishes in regard to other things. It argues a high state of piety when we can, as the expression of our highest desire for the welfare of our friends, express the hope that they may be in all respects as much prospered as they are in their spiritual concerns.

2. above all things—Greek, "concerning all things": so Alford: in all respects. But Wahl justifies English Version (compare 1Pe 4:8). Of course, since his soul's prosperity is presupposed, "above all things" does not imply that John wishes Gaius' bodily health above that of his soul, but as the first object to be desired next after spiritual health. I know you are prospering in the concerns of your soul. I wish you similar prosperity in your body. Perhaps John had heard from the brethren (3Jo 3) that Gaius was in bad health, and was tried in other ways (3Jo 10), to which the wish, 3Jo 2, refers.

prosper—in general.

be in health—in particular.

See Poole on "3Jo 1:1"

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper,.... Or succeed in all temporal affairs, in the business of life, in which he was; and as success of this sort depends upon the blessing of God, which maketh rich, it is to be wished and prayed for from him:

and be in health; that is, of body, which above all things above all outward mercies, is the most desirable; for without this, what are the richest dainties, the largest possessions, or the best of friends? without this there can be no comfortable enjoyment of either of them; and therefore of this sort of mercies, it is in the first place, and above all others, to be wished for, and desired by one friend for another. The rule and measure of this wish is according to the prosperity of his soul,

even as thy soul prospereth: the soul is diseased with sin, and may be said to be in good health, when all its iniquities are forgiven; and may be said to prosper, when having a spiritual appetite for the Gospel, the sincere milk of the word, it feeds upon it, is nourished by it, and grows thereby; when it is in the lively exercise of faith, hope, and love; when spiritual knowledge is increased, or it grows in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus; when the inward man is renewed day by day with fresh strength; and when it enjoys communion with God, has the light of his countenance, and the joys of his salvation; and when it is fruitful in every good work.

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
3 John 1:2. Instead of with the usual formula of greeting, the Epistle begins with a wish for the welfare of Caius.

περὶ πάντων] πάντων is not masculine (Paulus: “on account of all, i.e. for the good of all”), but neuter. Several commentators, Beza, Castellio, Wahl, Lücke (1st ed.), Ewald, Düsterdieck, etc., interpret περὶ πάντων = πρὸ πάντων here, and connect it with εὔχομαι; but usus loquendi and thought are opposed to this. Although περί in some passages in Homer indicates precedence, yet this signification is utterly foreign to the LXX. and the N. T.; besides, it is not to be supposed that the apostle would have so specially emphasized the wish referring to the external circumstances of life; περὶ πάντων, with most of the commentators (even Lücke, 2d ed.), is rather to be connected with σε εὐοδοῦσθαι (though not with ὑγιαίνειν) in its usual signification: “in regard to all things.” In reply to the objection which has been made out of the position of the words, Lücke with justice remarks: “it is put first with rhetorical emphasis, corresponding to ἡ ψυχή, which is compared with it, at the end.”

εὔχομαι] it is true, means also “to pray” (Jam 5:15), but usually: “to wish,” so here also; that with John it was an εὔχεσθαι πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, is self-evident.

σε εὐοδοῦσθαι καὶ ὑγιαίνειν] εὐοδοῦσθαι, besides here, is only found in Romans 1:10 and 1 Corinthians 16:2; in both passages it means: “to be fortunate” (see Meyer on Romans 1:10); similarly it signifies here also prosperity; comp. the detailed account of the usage of the word in the classics and in the LXX. by Lücke and Düsterdieck on this passage.

The apostle wishes that it may go well and happily with Caius in all external circumstances; that it is just these he has in view in πάντων, is clear from the contrasted ψυχή. By means of ὑγιαίνειν (= “to be in health,” comp. Luke 5:31; Luke 7:10, and other passages) one element of the general εὐοδοῦσθαι is brought specially out. It is not to be inferred from the wish which is expressed that Caius had been ill (Düsterdieck).

καθὼς εὐοδοῦταί σου ἡ ψυχή] By the prosperity of the soul of Caius, to which the external welfare was to correspond, it is not the natural condition, as the sequel shows, but the Christian state of salvation that is to be understood.

3 John 1:2. Cf. Law, Ser. Call, chap. vii. “Flavia would be a miracle of piety, if she was but half as careful of her soul as she is of her body. The rising of a pimple on her face, the sting of a gnat, will make her keep her room for two or three days, and she thinks they are very rash people that do not take care of things in time.” Penn, Fruits of Solitude: “He is curious to wash, dress and perfume his Body, but careless of his Soul. The one shall have many Hours, the other not so many Minutes.” περὶ πάντων, de omnibus, with εὐοδοῦσθαι καὶ ὑγιαίνειν, not præ omnibus, “above all things”. The latter use is epic (e.g., Horn. Il. i. 287: περὶ πάντων ἕμμεναι ἄλλων), and prosperity and health were not the summa bona in the Apostle’s estimation. εὐοδοῦσθαι, “prosper” in worldly matters. Trouble tests character. “A good knight is best known in battle, and a Christian in the time of trouble and adversity”; and Gaius had stood the test. The hostility of Diotrephes, probably a well-to-do member of the Church, had lessened his maintenance (εὐοδοῦσθαι) and affected his health (ὑγιαίνειν), yet St. John has only admiration for the spirit he has manifested and commendation for the part he has played.

2–4. Personal Good Wishes and Sentiments

2. I wish above all things that] Rather, I pray that in all respects; literally, concerning all things. It might well surprise us to find S. John placing health and prosperity above all things; and though the Greek phrase (περὶ πάντων) has that meaning sometimes in Homer, yet no parallel use of it has been found in either N.T. or LXX.

prosper] The word (εὐοδούσθαι) occurs elsewhere in N.T. only Romans 1:10 and 1 Corinthians 16:2, but is frequent in LXX. Etymologically it has the meaning of being prospered in a journey, but that element has been lost in usage, and should not be restored even in Romans 1:10.

and be in health] Bodily health, the chief element in all prosperity: Luke 7:10; Luke 15:27; comp. Luke 5:31. We cannot conclude from these good wishes that Gaius had been ailing in health and fortune: but it is quite clear from what follows that ‘prosper and be in health’ do not refer to his spiritual condition, and this verse is, therefore, good authority for praying for temporal blessings for our friends. In the Pastoral Epistles ‘to be in health’ (ὑγιαίνειν) is always used figuratively of faith and doctrine.

The order of the Greek is striking, ‘all things’ at the beginning being placed in contrast to ‘soul’ at the end of the sentence: in all things I pray that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as prospereth thy soul. The verse is a model for all friendly wishes of good fortune to others.

Ver. 2. - Beloved, I pray that in all respects (not "above all things" - St. John would surely never have said that) thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. The apostle wishes that his earthly career may be as bright as his spiritual career is; may he have a sound body for his sound mind, and may his fortunes be sound also. The Greek for "prosper" εὐοδοῦσθαι means exactly to "have a good career." 3 John 1:2Beloved

Compare the plural, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:21; 1 John 4:1, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:11.

I wish above all things (περὶ πάντων εὔχομαι)

Wrong. This sense of περί is contrary to New Testament usage. The preposition means concerning. So Rev. "I pray that in all things thou mayst prosper." Εὔχομαι I pray or wish, occurs only here in John's writings, and not often elsewhere. See Acts 26:29; Romans 9:3; James 5:16.

Mayst prosper (εὐοδοῦσθαι)

Lit., have a prosperous journey. From ἐν well, and ὁδός a way. In this original sense, Romans 1:10. The word occurs only three times in the New Testament. See 1 Corinthians 16:2.

Be in health (ὑγιαίνειν)

Used in the New Testament both in a physical and moral sense. The former is found only here and in Luke's Gospel. See Luke 5:31; Luke 7:10; Luke 15:27. Paul uses it of soundness in faith or doctrine. See 1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 Timothy 1:13; Titus 2:2. Here of Gaius' bodily health, as is shown by soul in the next clause.

Soul (ψυχή)

See on Mark 12:30; see on Luke 1:46. The soul (ψυχή) is the principle of individuality, the seat of personal impressions. It has a side in contact with both the material and the spiritual element of humanity, and is thus the mediating organ between body and spirit. Its meaning, therefore, constantly rises above life or the living individual, and takes color from its relation to either the emotional or the spiritual side of life, from the fact of its being the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions, and the bearer and manifester of the divine life-principle (πνεῦμα). Consequently ψυχή is often used in our sense of heart (Luke 1:46; Luke 2:35; John 10:24; Acts 14:2); and the meanings of ψυχή soul and πνεῦμα spirit, occasionally approach each other very closely. Compare John 12:27, and John 11:33; Matthew 11:29, and 1 Corinthians 16:18. Also both words in Luke 1:47. In this passage ψυχή soul, expresses the soul regarded as moral being designed for everlasting life. See Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 10:39; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 4:19. John commonly uses the word to denote the principle of the natural life. See John 10:11, John 10:15; John 13:37; John 15:13; 1 John 3:16; Revelation 8:9; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 16:3.

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