3Jn 1:1-4 “The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
In John’s second letter, he speaks to the elect lady (the local church congregation collectively) and her children (the individual members). He gives counsel concerning the need to love one another and be faithful to God. In this final letter, he treats with a friend on a very personal level. As ministers and servants of Jesus Christ, we will find ourselves dealing throughout our lives in the same fashion: with the collective body of a congregation, the individual members of that body and in a very personal way with those who will draw close to us.
We all wish to see our friends do well. Many times, we approach this as an internal desire from us to them. However, the Greek word translated as “wish” in this verse carries with it the implication of a request (prayer) made to God. It is a wonderful blessing to go to God’s throne of grace and pray for those whom we love in the truth. We should always remember them before God’s throne, and as John demonstrates here, there is nothing wrong with praying for them to be successful (that thou mayest prosper) and to be well (to be in health).
I find the condition that John placed on this request both insightful and encouraging. The example here is to pray that the success and health of those whom we love well in the truth be in direct relation to the success (prosperity) of the soul. The primary desire and prayer is for the soul to prosper and for the success and health of life to be secondary to that.
How do we know that the soul is enjoying prosperity? Gaius’ and John’s brethren apparently had an occasion to visit with John. During this visit their talk turned to how well Gaius was doing. The brethren testified of the prosperity of Gaius’ soul; they talked about the truth that was in Gaius. This was manifested by his walk; by the way he was living.
It is still true today that the prosperity of our soul is found in the truth of Jesus Christ that is in us. The proof that it is in us shows up in our outward walk. As parents, we have all enjoyed the report from neighbors and teachers of how well our children behave themselves. As servants of God we have an even greater joy in hearing that our brothers and sisters, who are made in our hearts as our children as we labor with them in the truth, are walking successfully in the truth. Our success is demonstrated in that we are able to overcome the world and its adversities and maintain our joy in the Lord.
May we know the great joy of hearing always that those we love are prospering in the walk of truth!