3 John 1: 2
Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper, etc. The Authorized Version of this verse seems to carry the meaning that St. John valued physical health and secular prosperity above everything else. The original does not convey such a meaning. Revised Version, "Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
I. THE APOSTLE PRAYS THAT HIS FRIEND GAIUS MAY HAVE TEMPORAL PROSPERITY AND PHYSICAL HEALTH. From the expression of this desire in so brief a letter, we may infer that St. John regarded these things as of great importance.
1. Secular prosperity is desirable. Non-success in business is to be deprecated. For our own sake, for the sake of our families, and for the sake of our usefulness, prosperity in temporal things is desirable. Wealth is a wonderful power; and in the hands of a wise man it is a great boon both to himself and to others.
2. Physical health is desirable. Health of body, for many obvious reasons, is one of God's best gifts to man. It is important also for other reasons which are not obvious to all. The state of the body exercises a great influence upon the mind and soul. It is the organ and agent of both; and, if it be unhealthy, our impressions of the outward will be untrue, and our influence upon the outward will be limited and feeble. Our spiritual feelings and expressions are considerably toned and coloured by our physical condition.
II. THE APOSTLE INDICATES THE REMARKABLE SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY OF HIS FRIEND CAIUS. This is clear from his making his spiritual prosperity the measure of the desired bodily health and temporal prosperity. The next verse also contributes evidence of this prosperity of soul. It was seen in his growing acquaintance with the truth and his growing conformity to the truth. "Brethren... bare witness unto thy truth, even as thou walkest in truth." Perhaps Gaius himself needed this assurance of his spiritual prosperity. "The words of the apostle seem to imply," says Dr. Binney," that the health of Gains was somewhat enfeebled. This might affect his feelings, and render the actual prosperity of his soul, while visible to others, unperceived by himself; his excellence was obvious to all who knew him, though bodily infirmity or mental depression concealed the truth from his own consciousness. On this account he was addressed by John in the words of encouragement - words delicately but strongly conveying the apostle's confidence in his spiritual state, and assuring him, at the same time, of his constantly sharing in his supplications and prayers." This spiritual prosperity is more important than material progress and success.
III. THE APOSTLE MAKES THE PROSPERITY OF HIS SOUL THE MEASURE OF THE PHYSICAL HEALTH AND SECULAR PROSPERITY DESIRED FOR GAIUS. This is profoundly significant. Unless our spiritual prosperity be at least commensurate with our temporal prosperity, the latter ceases to be a blessing. All the worldly wealth which a man possesses which is more than proportionate to the wealth of his soul, he will do well to get rid of at once, or by Divine grace bring the wealth of his soul into proportion with it. Without this correspondence we cannot use wealth aright, riches will injure us, the material will crush the spiritual in us. When outward riches are more than proportionate to his godliness and grace, they are a curse to their possessor. But when there is a proportion between the two, wealth is a blessing worthy an apostle's prayer. What astounding revolutions would take place if this prayer were universally realized! What transformations in health! Many now hale and strong would become weak and sickly. Many now diseased and feeble would become sound and vigorous. What transformations in circumstances! Many pampered sons and daughters of riches and luxury would come to poverty and want. Many of the indigent would pass from the abode of penury to the palace of ease and plenty. "A terrible wish this," says Binney, "if it were offered for and were to take effect upon many a professor: it would blast them in body and ruin them in circumstances; it would render them, like the Church that thought itself rich and increased in goods, ' poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.'" Shah I offer this prayer for you? If this prayer were realized, the physical would bear the true proportion to the spiritual, and the temporal to the eternal. Learn how far secular wealth is desirable. - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.