It is safe to say that for many Christians, 3 John 1:2 is one of those “favorite” verses in the Bible. But the reason this is case, as this short study will attempt to demonstrate, is that it is often misinterpreted.
3 John 1:2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
We hope that you will join us in studying the scriptures for yourself, and examining this article. We look forward to your comments based on your own study of the scriptures, telling us whether or not we have misinterpreted the verses we are using in this study.
[Note: We are using the New King James Version of the Bible]
What makes 3 John 1:2 so appealing is the “…I wish above ALL things…” segment, which appears to reveal God’s utmost desire for you and me. And that desire, which is above everything else, is that we prosper in everything, whether it be in our health, our finances, or anything else in between. How can one not love this declaration? Indeed, this interpretation is one favored by many churches. But we have reason to believe that this interpretation is simply wrong.
We submit to you three arguments, using the same verse and its immediate context to show why we believe the interpretation of 3 John 1:2 above is simply wrong!
Argument 1: …even as thy soul prospereth
The Greek word translated “even” is the word kathos which means “just as” or “to the degree that”. Therefore the Apostle’s wish above all things is that Gaius (the person he is writing to) would prosper and be in health “to the degree that or just as” his soul is prospering. The syntax of the statement shows clearly that what John wishes above all things “depends first” on the prosperity of his soul. The verse makes it clear that “all things” is NOT all inclusive since it does NOT include the prosperity of his soul. In stark contrast, what the verse makes clear is that it is the fact that his soul was prospering that the wish for him to prosper “equally” in other areas of his life was expressed.
Argument 2: …3 John 1:3
We believe Argument 1 is supported further by the very next verse. In verse 3, the Apostle explains why he wishes above all things that Gaius may prosper and be in health. It is because he heard how greatly his soul was prospering!
3 John 1:3 – “For” I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
The conjunction “for” at the beginning of the verse links this verse to the previous one. Gaius walked in the truth. People testified of his faith, of his godly life. And John was exceedingly (that is the Greek word lian translated greatly in 3 John 1:3) joyful about the testimony of the people about Gaius.
Think about it: Given that Gaius had such exemplary walk in the truth, how could John not wish that the rest of his life (such as his health) would also experience the “same” level of prosperity? Indeed, “given” what I am hearing about you Gaius, how you contend for the truth, and how you live it; how you walk the walk and honor our Lord Jesus-Christ, and God our Father, I have no greater wish for you Gaius, that in every single other aspect of your life, you will experience the same degree of prosperity, be it health or anything else!
Argument 3: …3 John 1:4
The next verse in the passage, leaves – in our opinion – absolutely NO room for misinterpreting 3 John 1:2 as we believe we usually do. 3 John 1:4 states that there is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that brings more joy to God than to hear that his children walk in truth.
3 John 1:4 – I have NO GREATER JOY than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Could this verse be any clearer? What the Apostle heard from everyone regarding Gaius, as he stated in 3 John 1:3, was exactly the kind of things that brings him the most joy…Gaius was walking in truth!
Now, let us think: If nothing can bring greater joy to John than hearing that we walk in truth, how could his “greatest” wish for us be anything other than walking in the truth? It simply cannot be!
The way 3 John 1:2 is often interpreted may sound good, and may make us feel good, but it is NOT the truth, at least if our interpretation is correct. The truth is that the greatest wish of God, His utmost desire for us is…for us to walk in the truth! There is NO way around it! We have to walk the walk of Christ. Nothing brings God more joy. And this truth is in the period of Grace! Even in this Grace period, there are certain things that have not changed, and will never change: There is nothing greater than walking in truth! This is how we honor the Father, and this is what brings Him the most joy!
My friends, we believe this short study demonstrates the need to study the scriptures for ourselves. If you are not in the habit of doing so, I pray that you will start reading and meditating on the scriptures for yourselves? Do not let yourself be conditioned and sometimes deceived by your “spiritual” leader? Roll your own sleeves, take your own bible, pray to the Father, and then my friend…start reading…just read! Your Father in heaver WILL guide you, if you genuinely seek to understand and walk in the truth. Remember, there is nothing than brings Him more joy than to know that you walk in truth. He will help you if you call Him and ask. Call Him, ask Him without doubt, and the Father will respond.
Glory to His highest, our Father in heaven. Glory to the Son, our Lord Jesus-Christ. Glory, honor and dominion forever, to the Father and the Son. The Son is King of kings and Lord and lords, for His Father has willed it. Father, may you teach us to walk in truth, for in this you delight, in Jesus name. Amen.