3 John 1:2
Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
I. DEPRIVATION. Gaius was deprived of physical health. John's prayer for him implies that his affliction was severe, that it was not a mere passing ailment. For the present affliction is not "joyous," but "grievous "; and pain is felt as keenly by the sensitive nerves of the pious as by the most abandoned of mankind. And there is an element in affliction that pains the good man that the godless know nothing about. The fact that the state of his bodily health prevents him from carrying out certain purposes for the benefit of his fellow-men is a severe and painful trial to him. The afflicted are not able to meet with their brethren in their public gatherings. This is a serious loss to them. However anxious Gaius might have been to assist in the world's work, the probability is that the state of his health precluded the possibility of his doing so. And yet there was one very important thing he could do — he could endure affliction patiently. That is no little matter. To suffer affliction, showing an example of submission, of meekness and sweetness of temper, is one of the highest and noblest services God has given His truest children to do.
II. COMPENSATION. Though his body was afflicted, his soul was in health and prospered. His soul grew strong and flourished on truth. Such men are invaluable blessings to their age; they are the pillars upon whom the moral fabric of their time rests. Their integrity, their transparent honesty, their pure motives, and their faithfulness in all they attempt to do, is what makes the world what it is — a place worth living in. A soul that has some truth has the germs of spiritual health; a soul that is filled with truth is vigorous and will grow apace. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," free from all that hinders the development of the spirit's life. So thoroughly was Gaius possessed of the truth, that he walked in it; it was the potent principle that guided his whole conduct in his relation to men and God. He would not swerve the slightest degree to the right or to the left from its dictates. The vessel that is to arrive at the "desired haven" must not be allowed to run out of the lines of the compass. Gaius "walked in the truth," as the only path that leads to the home on high. The truth as it is in Jesus saves the soul. Further, Gaius possessed charity. "Brethren and strangers.., bear witness to thy charity before the Church." In his case, love was not a weak sentiment, an effervescence merely, but a strong and rational passion of the soul. He was not content to love in "word or in tongue" only, he showed his love in kind deeds. He was not a little fragment of human nature, like a diminutive island in mid -ocean cut off from the rest of the earth; but a noble part of the great whole of mankind, and a model member of the universal Church of the living God.
III. COMPASSION. John felt keenly for Gaius in his affliction. Genuine brotherly sympathy, which is the utterance of a warm and true heart, is like rich and copious showers of rain that fall upon the scorched and chapped earth, and seem to hasten to run into the many crevices to soften the divided parts and to bring them together again that the many-pieced earth might be healed. Observe, John's sympathy in this instance took the form of a prayer; he prayed that Gaius might prosper and be in health, even as his soul prospered. The measure of physical health he desired for him was the measure of spiritual health which he then enjoyed. If this were the rule for prayer, how poor, and frail, and sickly would the health of the great majority of mankind be! "What is the value of this estate?" said a gentleman to another with whom he was riding, as they passed a fine mansion and through rich fields. "I don't know what it is valued at; I know what it cost its late possessor." "How much?" "His soul." A solemn pause followed this brief answer. The late possessor referred to was the son of a pious man who supported his family by the labour of his hands. The son early obtained a subordinate position in a mercantile establishment in this city. He was then a professor of religion. He continued to maintain a reputable profession until he became a partner in the concern. He then gave increasing attention to business, and less to religion. Just before he died, he said, "My prosperity has been my ruin." Many may wonder why they are kept so poor here; they don't seem to know that spiritual wealth is essential to the wise and safe handling of material riches.
(D. Rhys Jenkins.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.