3 John 1:2
Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
I. A SUPPOSITION MADE, that the soul of him in regard to whom the wish is expressed is prospering.
1. He knew the truth, and knew it well. Every one who desires to be blessed with soul prosperity must be intimately acquainted with it likewise. "The truth" is the great revelation of the gospel concerning the way of salvation by Christ crucified for sinners. This is the great ocean, to which all other truths are but tributary streams, and from whose bosom all the showers of blessings that fall on the moral wilderness of human life and refresh it, derive their origin. Were this truth unknown, what mysteries would encompass us! What unanswerable questions would start up before us! In what uncertainty would we live, in what fear would we die!
2. Gaius believed the truth, and every one who desires soul prosperity must believe it too. Those who content themselves with a mere speculative acquaintance with Divine truth, resemble those who would sit down to a feast, but leave the food untasted before them. And what a vain thing it is to speak about the truth, to profess it, to argue for it, to recommend it, if all the while we never recollect that it is our duty to believe it!
3. Gaius walked in the truth, — that is, he lived in a manner that was consistent with the principles of the gospel; and every one who would attain soul prosperity must do so likewise. Now, if we believe this truth, we cannot but walk in it, and love God as our best friend, and we will feel that He is entitled to all the service that we are able to render; for we are not our own, but are bought with the mighty price of the blood of His Son. Again, the truth of the gospel tells us that sin is a most abominable and dangerous thing, and that holiness is a most excellent and becoming thing; and we must walk in this truth by showing that we really believe it, in our avoidance of sin, and our practice of "whatsoever things are just, and honest, and true, and lovely, and of good report." In the same way we must walk in the truth by showing our faith in every department of revelation, by bringing it into our practice.
4. Gaius loved the truth; and without love to the truth it is impossible to obtain prosperity of soul. If we believe the truth we cannot but love it, because it is so glorious in itself and so suitable to us; and if we walk in the truth, we must love it more and more, as we discover by increasing experience new beauties and excellences.
II. NOTICE THE WISH ITSELF: "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper, and be in health."
1. The apostle here expresses a wish for the worldly prosperity of Gaius. Affliction, then, is not a blessing in itself; nor is worldly prosperity in itself an evil. What the apostle would have called prosperity, in a worldly point of view, would likely have consisted of the two following particulars: first, such an amount of the good things of this world as will preserve us from the oppressive cares of poverty on the one hand, and those almost equally great, and more dangerous, though less unpleasant ones, which must always accompany inordinate wealth. The second element of prosperity which the good man would desire would probably be a tranquil, easy flow of his affairs, without great difficulties, great successes, or great reverses. And such a prosperity as this is what we may wish for ourselves and for our friends.
2. The apostle expresses a wish for the bodily health of his friend. This is necessary to complete the idea of worldly comfort; for without this, all that rank is able to command or wealth to procure will be little enjoyed. To care for the health of the body is a duty; for God has not made so fine a piece of workmanship to be carelessly destroyed. Man is a compound being, consisting of two parts — soul and body; and if it be a duty to care for the one, it is as certainly a duty to care for the other, though certainly it is a duty of far inferior importance, and one of whose neglect there is much less risk of complaining.
III. THE LIMIT APPENDED: "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
1. When we wish for our friends' prosperity and health, the limit "as thy soul prospereth" is necessary for their own good. If we wish for worldly prosperity to a bad man, we wish in general for what will harden his heart, and turn his mind more effectually away from God. But for one whose soul is really prospering, health and prosperity are good things. We may be certain that whatever the wealth or influence of a truly good man, whose religion is prosperous, will enable him to do, he will lend it all to what, in doing good to others, will do good to himself.
2. But if soul prosperity is necessary to render them safe to the individual himself, it is equally necessary to render his health and prosperity a blessing to others.
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.