Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

3 John 1:2

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Hospitality;   Zeal, Religious;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Missionary Work by Ministers;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Gaius;   Soul;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Diotrephes;   Gaius;   John the Apostle;   John, the Epistles of;   Timothy, the First Epistle to;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Love;   Truth;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Brotherly Love;   Diotrephes;   Excommunication;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Joy;   Walk (2);   King James Dictionary - Wish;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - John the Baptist;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I wish above all things - Περι παντων ευχομαι· Above all things I pray that thou mayest prosper, and be in health, και ὑγιαινειν· to which one MS. adds εν αληθεια, which gives it a different meaning, viz., that thou mayest be sound in the truth. The prayer of St. John for Caius includes three particulars:

  1. Health of body;
  • Health of soul; and
  • Prosperity in secular affairs. That thou mayest Prosper and be in Health, as thy Soul Prospereth. These three things, so necessary to the comfort of life, every Christian may in a certain measure expect, and for them every Christian is authorized to pray; and we should have more of all three if we devoutly prayed for them.
  • It appears from the last clause that the soul of Caius was in a very prosperous state.

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    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    Beloved, I wish above all things - Margin, “pray.” The word used here commonly means in the New Testament to pray; but it is also employed to express a strong and earnest desire for anything, Acts 27:29; Romans 9:3; 2 Corinthians 13:9. This is probably all that is implied here. The phrase rendered “above all things” - περὶ πάντων peri pantōn- would be more correctly rendered here “concerning, or in respect to all things;” and the idea is, that John wished earnestly that “in all respects” he might have the same kind of prosperity which his soul had. The common translation “above all things” would seem to mean that John valued health and outward prosperity more than he did anything else; that he wished that more than his usefulness or salvation. This cannot be the meaning, and is not demanded by the proper interpretation of the original. See this shown by Lucke, in loc. The sense is, “In every respect, I wish that it may go as well with you as it does with your soul; that in your worldly prosperity, your comfort, and your bodily health, you may be as prosperous as you are in your religion.” This is the reverse of the wish which we are commonly constrained to express for our friends; for such is usually the comparative want of prosperity and advancement in their spiritual interests, that it is an expression of benevolence to desire that they might prosper in that respect as much as they do in others.

    That thou mayest prosper - εὐοδοῦσθαι euodousthaiThis word occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Romans 1:10, rendered “have a prosperous journey;” 1 Corinthians 16:2, rendered “hath prospered;” and in the passage before us. It means, properly, “to lead in a good way; to prosper one‘s journey;” and then to make prosperous; to give success to; to be prospered. It would apply here to any plan or purpose entertained. It would include success in business, happiness in domestic relations, or prosperity in any of the engagements and transactions in which a Christian might lawfully engage. It shows that it is right to wish that our friends may have success in the works of their hands and their plans of life.

    And be in health - To enjoy bodily health. It is not necessary to to suppose, in order to a correct interpretation of this, that Gaius was at that time suffering from bodily indisposition, though perhaps it is most natural to suppose that, as John makes the wish for his health so prominent. But it is common, in all circumstances, to wish for the health and prosperity of our friends; and it is as proper as it is common, if we do not give that a degree of prominence above the welfare of the soul.

    Even as thy soul prospereth - John had learned, it would seem, from the “brethren” who had come to him, 3 John 1:3, that Gaius was living as became a Christian; that he was advancing in the knowledge of the truth, and was exemplary in the duties of the Christian life; and he prays that in all other respects he might be prospered as much as he was in that. It is not very common that a man is more prospered in his spiritual interests than he is in his other interests, or that we can, in our wishes for the welfare of our friends, make the prosperity of the soul, and the practice and enjoyment of religion, the standard of our wishes in regard to other things. It argues a high state of piety when we can, as the expression of our highest desire for the welfare of our friends, express the hope that they may be in all respects as much prospered as they are in their spiritual concerns.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    3 John 1:2

    Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

    “Gaius the beloved”

    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.)

    St. John’s prayer for Gaius

    I. Prosperity of soul is the chief and most valuable prosperity. Sin is the disease of the soul; and when the power of it is subdued, and the principles and habits of holiness implanted and cherished, by the Divine and almighty Physician, then the health of the soul is restored and it becomes prosperous. It is in some measure healthful and prosperous when it is filled with useful knowledge; when it is able to discern those things that differ; and hath a clear understanding of the Divine will, and the various motives by which obedience to it is enforced. But knowledge is only the foundation of religion. Health of soul chiefly consists in piety and righteousness; in an ardent love to God, a high delight in the exercises of devotion; in a sincere faith in Jesus Christ, and a regular and circumspect conversation, founded upon the principles, and conducted by the rules, of His gospel.

    II. A person may have a prosperous soul, and yet want external prosperity. Their souls are ill lodged; and the tabernacles in which they dwell do not appear to suit the dignity and worth of the inhabitants. This is sometimes owing to disorders conveyed to them from their parents. It is frequently owing to the ill-judged indulgence of their parents. “Many” (as Mr. Baxter observes, who was himself an instance of it) “struggle all their days with pain and sickness, through the folly of their mothers; who breed them up delicately, and deny them nothing which they like and crave, how injurious soever to their health.” Sometimes they are made to “possess the iniquities of their youth”; particularly impurity, intemperance, idleness, or ungoverned passions. In many cases the immediate hand of God is to be acknowledged in the weaknesses and languors of our frame. He exerciseth His servants with this painful discipline, to make their hearts better, to quicken their diligence and excite their sympathy and concern for the good of others.

    III. We may very properly wish and pray that our friends may enjoy temporal prosperity, especially health. Much of the comfort of life depends upon health. Where that is enjoyed, we can discharge those active services which our several relations and connections demand, and can enjoy the bounties of providence with relish and pleasure. If an instrument be out of tune, the most skilful hand can produce no harmony. If the body be disordered by pain and sickness, the soul cannot act by it with ease, freedom, and cheerfulness. It needs great strength and prosperity of soul to behave well, amidst wearisome days and nights, and months of vanity. Therefore it is reasonable and proper that we should pray to that God who raised this curious frame and hath all nature under His control, that we may prosper and be in health. And if we hope for His interposition, it should be our care to avoid everything that would injure the health, and to take proper methods to restore and confirm it, when it is impaired.

    IV. It is happy for our friends when we can wish them to be as prosperous and healthful as they are good. Application:

    1. To those who have no prosperity, neither temporal nor spiritual.

    2. To those who have temporal, but no spiritual prosperity.

    3. To those whose souls prosper, but they want temporal prosperity; who, like Gaius, have sickly constitutions, but healthy souls. The instance in the text shows how unreasonable it is to conclude that your souls do not prosper, because the outward man doth not. (J. Orton, D. D.)

    Soul prosperity

    I. The character of gaius.

    1. The indwelling of the truth of God. He walked in the truth--he was a fellow-helper of the truth--he was beloved for the truth’s sake. By the indwelling of God’s truth, living principles are implanted in the soul. They are a fountain spring, whence well forth love, benevolence, active well-doing, and the end is eternal life and glory.

    2. The external manifestation of his piety. The truth moulded and shaped his outer life. His daily actions bore its holy impress. His creed was not one thing, and his walk another. As a citizen of the world, and as a member of Christ’s Church, his entire conduct was influenced by what he believed and professed.

    3. The fidelity that characterised him. He acted as a good steward of God’s bounty.

    4. The brotherly love he displayed. To this his brethren in the Church, and the strangers that visited the place bore testimony.

    II. His spiritual prosperity.

    1. Pre-eminent soul-prosperity. This is by no means a common condition among the people of God--to be more prosperous in spiritual interests than in other interests.

    2. The living embodiment of truth. The indwelling truth came forth in embodied action. If we are rooted and grounded in doctrinal truth by the Holy Spirit, we shall give a living manifestation of that in our practical godliness.

    3. Devotional solitude combined with energetic action. The prosperous Christian lives much alone with God. But he has also much to do with society. His field of labour is the world.

    4. Largeness of heart. With many self is first and last, all and in all. Spiritual prosperity to such is a thing unknown.

    5. Deep humility of soul. It has been well said that a haughty, self-sufficient professor is a doubtful character; and that high minds are like high hills, blasted and barren. We may say, then, that lowly minds are like well-watered, fruitful valleys.

    III. The bearing of this subject on our circumstances.

    1. The great want of the Church of Christ is soul-prosperity.

    2. Individual solicitude is requisite in order to meet that want.

    3. The vital spring of spiritual prosperity is found in the presence and mighty operations of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 44:3-4; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Ezekiel 37:14). (P. Morrison.)

    Prosperity and piety

    We have recorded here one of the most remarkable prayers of which we have any information; for the word translated “I wish,” not only expresses the fact that the thing is desired, and that the person thus desiring would have pleasure in securing it, but it carries the additional idea of so desiring it as to make it a matter of earnest and formal petition. In considering the prayer--

    I. The person who offers this prayer--it is the Apostle John. We know from all his writings that he was eminently affectionate. Whilst his heart abounded in affection, he was still most discriminating in his views. Probably there is no portion of the New Testament which contains severer tests of Christian character than are to be found in the three short Epistles of John. They are very spiritual, and they enter very largely into the inward workings of the grace of God upon the heart. He manifested throughout his long and eventful life the greatest solicitude for those who were converted under his ministry.

    II. The person for whom the prayer was offered--“it is for the well-beloved Gaius.

    1. First, his character. It is very excellent, and caused him to be much loved by all lovers of good men. Two ingredients, however, are particularly named as forming his character. These are his piety and his benevolence: With this union of piety towards God and good-will towards men his soul prospered. A plant is said to thrive and prosper when it brings forth fruit, a field when it abounds with precious grain, a human body when it is healthy and vigorous and active. So a soul prospers when it abounds in the love of the truth, in the love of those who hold the truth, and yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness richly, in large measure, and in a corresponding practice.

    2. But notice his condition. From the language of the text it is gathered that he was a man of feeble health. The particular Greek word used encourages this idea. Whether it was a permanent weakness of constitution or an occasional fit of illness, we cannot tell, though it is obvious from the prayer of the apostle, that he might be in health, but that he was at that time an invalid. From the prayer that he might prosper, there is reason to suppose that Gaius had suffered in his worldly property, was somewhat reduced in circumstances. Some are of opinion that he suffered from persecution, and that by the violence of wicked men his property was wrenched away from him. There is much plausibility in this supposition. Others, however, think, that by reason of his great liberality to the saints he had actually impoverished himself. This opinion is strengthened by the account we have in the Acts of the Apostles of the liberality of the early Christians. At any rate the situation of this Gaius was such as to call for the prayer of the Apostle John that he might again be prospered.

    III. The prayer offered in behalf of Gaius. It is very short, but it is very comprehensive. It is that in all things he may be prospered, and be in health. Thus we see that it is proper to pray for temporal blessings. Beside this, a special promise is made to the diligent. Yet of all mere temporal blessings, health stands as that most valuable; for without it, we can neither labour for God, nor enjoy the good with which he favours us. But this prayer, whilst it is concerned about temporal prosperity, contains one peculiarity; it is--that this prosperity and this health may be in proportion to the prosperity of the soul. Oh! what an exaltation this gives to spiritual things above all temporal affairs! Here is the revelation of wisdom--that the spiritual state of the soul is the proper rule of prayer, and that it is the just standard of desire for health and prosperity. This is a rule most sifting in its operation, a rule that tries to the very uttermost the spirit of prayer as well as the confidence of our hearts in God.

    1. Now, in reviewing this subject, we learn in the first place, how careful men would be if this rule of praying was their constant, honest practice--if every one in the retirement of the closet should put up this prayer--“O Lord God, grant me this day health of body equal to the health of my soul. O Lord God, grant that I may prosper in my business, exactly as my soul prospers.”

    2. Secondly, how fearful a thing it is by the loss of piety to convert property from being a means of grace to become a source of danger and ruin! If all Christians would live in the spirit of this prayer, how every interest of religion would prosper! Again, true piety will seek the prosperity of the soul above all things.

    3. And now, finally, we learn that the injury of riches is in the motive for which we desire them. If for their own sake we desire them, for the purpose of accumulation, then this is mammon worship. Again, if we desire them for the power, or for the gratification which they afford us, then this is mere selfishness. If, on the other hand, it is to do good, this induces benevolence. (W. Patten, D. D.)

    Spiritual health

    I. It is a law of life that health is essential to perfect enjoyment.

    II. Perfect soul health is the best safeguard against the force of temptation. It is becoming more and more acknowledged that bodily disease is due not so much to outward causes as to predisposing causes. It arises not so much from the presence of disease germs without, but susceptibility of tissue that provides soil for their ready growth. When the seeds of disease are already in the body, outward causes may soon provoke their development. Is it not so with the soul’s life? When the pulse of the soul is feeble and the moral tone low, a man soon succumbs to moral taint.

    III. Perfect soul health is essential to true spiritual growth. “Dwarfs are much more common in the spiritual than in the physical sphere.” Many Christians remain at the earliest stage of the Christian life. They are ever in religious childhood.

    IV. The means to be employed for the maintenance of spiritual health. It is a sine qua non that a healthy Christian breathes pure air. When a diver goes down into the sea he takes full care to be supplied with a sufficient amount of pure air from above. Our daily duties may bring us into surroundings very uncongenial to the religious life. We have no right, however, to involve ourselves in any situation or engage in any pursuit where the atmosphere of prayer cannot reach us. No one expects to nourish and build up a robust physical frame on mere condiments and confectionery. The result would soon become apparent in impoverished blood and feeble pulse. Aye, and men cannot nourish their souls on daily newspapers and exciting novels. An old writer says: “Thou canst not read the Scriptures too much, and what thou readest thou canst not read too well, and what thou readest well thou canst not too well understand, and what thou understandest well thou canst not too well teach, and what thou teachest well thou canst not too well live.” Food may be received into the system, but the body is not nourished and strengthened unless its various faculties are brought into suitable exercise. Half the worries and vexations which afflict many Christians would disappear if they were more active for their master, “working with both hands earnestly” for His cause. (J. G. Greaves.)

    Spiritual and temporal prosperity

    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. (W. Dickson.)

    Spiritual prosperity

    There are two worlds in which every man lives, two distinct yet equally real scenes of existence in which we spend the days and hours of life. To the outward world, with its material objects and interests, no man altogether or exclusively belongs. You have but to close the eye or abstract the thoughts from outer things, and instantly you pass into another region:. you become, as it were, the dweller in an inner world--that strange mysterious region of thoughts and feeling and desires, of memory and conscience and will--that microcosm, that little but most real world within every human breast. Corresponding to these two worlds, the external and the internal, there are two lives we all may be said to lead,--the outer life of sense, the inner hidden life and history of the soul. The visible material life is but the scaffolding under which the unseen and eternal life is rearing. With respect to each of us, there has been, from the dawn of our existence, a mental as well as a material history--a life of the soul, a course of inward progress or retrogression, series of changes for good or evil in the character of that mysterious dweller beneath every breast, more worthy to be chronicled, fraught, would we but believe it, with interest deeper, more momentous far, than the fortunes and vicissitudes of our outward career. In the passage before us, the apostle, as you will perceive at a glance, makes reference to the two courses of human experience of which we have just spoken--the outward and the inward. The text is simply an expression of affectionate desire for the welfare of one who seems to have been very dear to the writer. It is the friendly greeting of a believer to a brother in Christ. And you perceive that the particular form it takes is, not that merely of a simple wish for the friend’s happiness, but of a wish more specifically for his happiness, his prosperity, at once in the inward and the outer life.

    I. Of what in the language of the world is commonly designated prosperity, perhaps the two main elements are wealth and power. Now there are in the spiritual condition of man elements analogous to these, of which his inward prosperity may be said to consist.

    1. There is, it will need very little reflection to perceive, a wealth which may be predicated of the inward as well as of the outward life. Money, property, worldly goods, are not more real possessions than thought, knowledge, wisdom. Nor are the outward comforts and luxuries, the gratifications of sense and appetite that may be procured by the former, more literally a man’s own, what belongs to him, what makes him richer, than are warm affections, a fertile imagination, a memory stored with information, and, above all, a heart full of God’s grace. The common phraseology of life recognises this fact, when we speak, for instance, of “a richly-furnished mind,” a mind “rich in intellectual resources,” “a rich vein of thought,” “an ample fund of information,” and the like. Nor let it be said that this is merely the language of metaphor. Take two men, one in comparatively straitened circumstances, yet possessed of great mental abilities and attainments--the other, overflowing with money, yet narrow-souled and ignorant; you would not hesitate to say which is really the richer of the two. And if this be true of mere intellect, if even secular knowledge constitute a wealth more valuable than any outward possession, surely not less true must the same thought be when applied to that wisdom which maketh wise unto salvation. Surely that man is indeed the richest, who bears within his bosom the treasure of a soul at peace with God, and safe for all eternity! For money, property, every worldly possession, is out of the man. It does not come into the soul. It can be separated from him. It is but an accident, not an essential property of his being. But knowledge, faith, spiritual-mindedness, love to Christ, these are a sort of wealth that go into and become transfused through the very essence of the man. Yours, too, is the only unvarying wealth. A soul, on which the image of Christ is impressed, is a thing precious everywhere, and for ever; it has not, like man’s wealth, a different value in different countries and at different times; it will pass current everywhere--it is free of the universe. Yours, finally, is the only lasting wealth. The time will come when the richest must abandon his wealth for ever. The only thing you shall be able to keep, is that which you have stored up in the soul itself. That alone will go out with the soul into eternity.

    2. The other element, commonly included in the idea of “prosperity,” is power. He is universally esteemed a prosperous man in his outward circumstances who is advancing or has risen from comparative lowliness and obscurity to a position of eminence and influence in society. Now, to this also there is a parallel in the inward life. We may be inwardly as well as outwardly powerful. In the little world within the breast there are stations of rank, dominion, authority, to which we may aspire, or from which we may fall. There is a real subjection, degradation, slavery of spirit, to which we may be reduced; there is a real power, freedom, emancipation, to which we may attain. It is not a mere metaphor, for instance, when, in common language, we say that the profligate man is “the slave of his appetites.”

    II. The reasons for which this soul-prosperity should be regarded in our desires as the standard or measure of outward prosperity.

    1. Can it be doubtful to any one that wealth, power, prosperity, are no blessings where God’s grace has not come before them?--that it is not good to be happy if first we are not holy? The rich, gay, happy, outward life, and the dark moral antithesis within! It is good to be gay, where the gaiety is real. But it is not good, it is not seemly, it is, sooth to say, the sorrowfullest thing under heaven, to be gay where there is every reason to be sad. Right pleasant, too, it is to behold the ruddy hue on the cheek, and the bright sparkle in the eye of health. But have you never felt that no sight is so truly melancholy as the unnatural brightness in the eye, or the glow that often gathers on consumption’s cheek, the more beautiful as the end draweth near? And yet, sad though these contrasts are, there is something more truly pitiful, there is a more awful, because a moral sadness, in the sight which the minions of outward prosperity, of worldly comfort and happiness, not seldom present to a thoughtful observer’s eye. Looking on an irreligious man’s life, mindful how rapidly the stream of time is bearing him onward to the unseen, does there not force itself on the mind a sense of something horribly incongruous in all this gaiety, as were the mirth of men in a sinking ship, or wild shouts of laughter from some crew hurrying onward to the torrent’s brink!

    2. Outward prosperity is not desirable for a man’s own sake, if unaccompanied by inward, because of the bad moral influence which it has on his own character. For an irreligious man, nothing is more to be deprecated than an uninterrupted flow of worldly good. Only in proportion as the dew of God’s hidden grace is descending on the heart, can it be safe for a man to be exposed to the hot sun of worldly prosperity; and if that secret element of strength and fertility be not continually supplied, the scorching heat must speedily wither up, in the spiritual soil, every green and beautiful thing.

    3. It is not only for a man’s own good, but also for the good of others, that he should prosper outwardly only in the measure in which his soul prospereth. For, obviously, wealth, power, influence, all outward advantages, are just so many means of doing good or evil put into a man’s hands; and whether such advantages shall be for the benefit or injury of mankind, depends on the inward character of him to whom they are intrusted. Mankind are losers when a selfish man prospers; they are gainers by the prosperity of the generous and liberal-minded. The latter receive the blessings of God’s providence as the sun receives light, to brighten and gladden the world, or as the healthy plant the influences of nature, to scatter them abroad in fertility and fragrance again. The former, on the contrary, like an excrescence on the fruit-tree absorbing the moisture that might have gone to produce leaves and fruit, receive any blessing at God’s hand only to retain or abuse it; or, like a rank weed, draw in the genial influences of the soil and atmosphere of life only to poison all the air around them. (J. Caird, D. D.)

    The Christian’s New Year’s compliment

    This is the New Testament expression of a formula to which we have been accustomed from our youth, and is alike benevolent, seasonable, and beautiful. Such an expression is music to the heart of him who hears it; and it is the expression of a noble and a Christian interest in him who gives it utterance.

    1. Let us look, then, at the benevolence of this wish. Christianity is a system of benevolence, nay, not of benevolence only, or of good wishes, but of good deeds. Every line that is written in the gospel is charged with love.

    2. In the second place, notice in this wish of the aged John the fact that his benevolent wish goes beyond the year that passeth by; and he wishes him not only prosperity of body, but health and prosperity of soul. He wishes him not simply a happy new year, but a happy eternity. “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” And that wish that looks on man and regards him as the subject simply of this world, is a very imperfect one. It is the least worthy of a Christian.

    3. Now notice in the next place the comprehensiveness of this wish.

    4. But note again the discriminating character of this wish. “Beloved, I wish that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” In other words, if I translate it into common phraseology, it is--Gaius, I am anxious for your health; I am desirous that you should be a rich man, and a great man, a healthy man and a happy man, but I am desirous still more that your soul may be right in its relationship to God. Such is the wish of John as expressed to Gaius; and nothing can be more reasonable than this.

    5. Thus we see in this prayer of John, not only benevolence, but comprehensiveness and discrimination; we see in it also intensity. It is no bare expression--a wish with the lip, that has no counterpart in the heart. In Scripture there is courtesy, but it is the courtesy of Christianity. But what is this prosperity of soul that is spoken of? I am sure you will concur with me when I say that it must be preceded by a state of acceptance with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Not only a change of state, which is justification, but a change of nature, which is regeneration.

    Having noticed, then, these two as preliminary to the soul’s health, let us notice what are some of the signs and features of real health of soul.

    1. I would say, first of all, that a growing, deepening sense of unworthiness in the sight of God is one of the best and most unequivocal signs of a state of grace and healthiness of soul.

    2. Another sign is a clearer apprehension of the suitableness and sufficiency of Christ as our Saviour.

    3. Another sign of this soul health is greater teachableness.

    4. Another sign of this spiritual health will be greater delight in hearing the gospel.

    5. Another evidence of this soul-prosperity is less bondage to the world. Just as a Christian grows in true spiritual prosperity will he have less care about what men say of him, and more anxiety that God should think well of him.

    6. Another sign of this true spiritual prosperity and progress is more entire acquiescence in God’s will. The number and the frequency of your waverings is evidence that you are far from spiritual truth. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

    New Year’s wishes

    Life may become a parable, if we will make it so. Our New Year’s wishes or our longings and cravings after some earthly good may remind us of those higher blessings without which every living man is poor--those great gifts which are more precious than all the treasures of this world, and yet not beyond the reach of the poor outcast, who wanders over it without a home and without a friend.

    I. Let me say, first, that when we talk of prosperity, every man, as its first condition, asks that he may be safe and free. If I cannot sit at ease in my own home, if I dare not sleep without a guard at my chamber-door, if I crouch and watch in my lair, no man in his senses would think of calling me happy and prosperous. A kingdom would be a poor bribe for which to accept a life like that. Now we do but say the simple truth when we declare that the servant of God is the only safe man in the world. Others may have a bold step and a proud look; they may feel secure because they walk with the crowd, and may take the fool’s course of living in the present, without care for the future; but there is no escape from the sweeping declarations of Scripture as to our death in sin and our life in Christ, no reversal of the sentence which leaves every impenitent, unsanctified man without hope.

    II. Let me speak of another thing which enters largely into the common notion of prosperity--bodily health and ease. Our common greetings take this direction. Ailments are a serious kind of drawback to men’s happiness. Yet what a plague lieth on men’s souls, and few apprehend the half of its malignity and danger!

    III. Another element of prosperity is success; advancement, I mean, as distinct from mere possession.

    IV. One more particular I must mention, which most men deem a prime requisite for a prosperous or happy life--friends. (J. H. Gurney, M. A.)

    The health and prosperity of the soul

    Every minister is, or ought to be, a physician of souls. He should know how to feel the soul’s pulse and to read its spiritual symptoms. He has the experience of his own inner life. He should understand the art of anatomy. He should know the intimate connection of the spiritual with the physical. Is the level of your religious good health at the level of your bodily health? How comfortable, how robust, how active, how capable your body is! but your soul--your real life inside your body--how is it with that? What would be the result of a careful examination this morning of your soul’s health?

    I. Let us examine, first, what may be at this moment the sickness of the soul to which you are subject, and from which you may now be suffering. It may be that your soul looks better, healthier, than ever it did in your life. But inwardly you are getting weaker and weaker; you do not know it--you scarcely feel it. You think that all is right; that you will be better to-morrow: that’s consumption! Or, you have no religious feelings at all; you are neither happy nor unhappy. Your vital power is passing away, but you do not know that it is decreasing--you do not care about it: that is paralysis, creeping paralysis! Or, on the contrary, you are very excited; you talk very much about religion, often very foolishly, very wildly. Your words are extravagant; you cannot restrain yourself; it is all high-flown: that’s fever! Or you have run down to the opposite extreme; every feather is a burden, every shadow distresses you. You are miserable. That’s inanition or melancholia! It is a heart disease. Or your soul generally seems right. But there is one very sore, bad place, and you cannot get rid of it--it grows: that’s ulcer--perhaps cancer! Or, worse still, some immorality is vitiating your soul. An allowed sin is sapping everything that is good: that’s poison--poison of the blood! Or every thing that is good and true in you is dying--dying slowly, surely. There is no pain now; there is no pain: that’s mortification: that’s death!

    II. But now the question is, what is the remedy? What are the secrets of the recovery of the spiritual life to a diseased soul?

    1. The first and all-important and sure remedy is to go at once to the Good and Great Physician Himself; He can and He will cure all.

    2. Then go and do exactly according to His orders.

    3. Next bathe yourself in blood. He will show you the fountain, and Himself will do the washing.

    4. Take the medicines which He prescribes. They will, perhaps, be bitter, very bitter: penitence, tears, losses, afflictions, severe self-discipline--it may be amputation! But there will be something very sweet to take away the bitterness and lull all the pain!

    III. But now let me suppose, that you are “in health,” that “your soul prospers,” or, as the word is in the original, more literally, that “your soul is in a good way”--what shall you do to keep well?

    1. First, keep very near to the Good Physician to whom you owe your recovery, and consult Him very often, and wait for His answer.

    2. Then, use His prescription, for He is the Counsellor to the soul, always ready to listen patiently; He knows the exact treatment your constitution requires, and His remedies are infallible.

    3. Then, you must never forget two things: one, the fact that you have a soul, and the other, that your soul is a very delicate thing, easily and immediately affected by all outward things, and has a great tendency to relapses.

    4. Fourthly, you must be very careful of the atmosphere in which you live; see that it be a pure atmosphere, free from all impurities!

    5. Your soul must never omit its daily exercises: some good work which you have in hand for God, some labour of love. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)


    I. We will examine the words of the text.

    1. “I wish“; more correctly, “I pray.” Prayer is a wish sanctified. Turn your wishes into prayers.

    2. “That thou mayest prosper.” We may ask for prosperity for our friends; especially if, like Gaius, they serve God and His cause with their substance.

    3. “And be in health.” This is necessary to the enjoyment of prosperity. What would all else be without it?

    4. “Even as thy soul prospereth.” We are startled at this wish: the spiritual health of Gaius is made the standard of his outward prosperity! Dare we pray thus for many of our friends? Dare we pray thus for ourselves? What would be the result if such a prayer were answered?

    II. We will mention the symptoms of ill-health.

    1. A low temperature. Lukewarmness is an ill sign. In business, such a man will make but little way; in religion, none at all.

    2. A contracted heart. If we do not love the brethren, there is something wrong with us.

    3. A failing appetite as to spiritual food.

    4. A difficulty in breathing. When prayer is an irksome duty, everything is wrong with us.

    5. A general lethargy: unwillingness for holy service, want of heart, etc.

    6. An ungovernable craving for unhealthy things.

    III. We will suggest means of recovery.

    1. Seek good food. Study the Word.

    2. Breathe freely. Do not restrain prayer.

    3. Exercise yourself unto godliness. Labour for God.

    4. Return to your native air: breathe the atmosphere of Calvary.

    5. Live by the sea. Dwell near to God’s all-sufficiency.

    6. If these things fail, here is an old prescription: “Carnis et Sanguinis Christi. This taken several times a day, in a draught of the tears of repentance, is a sure cure.

    IV. We will conclude with an exhortation.

    1. Brother Christian, is it a small matter to be weak and feeble? Thou needest all thy vigour. Go to Calvary, and recruit thyself.

    2. Sinner, thou art dead, but life and health are in Christ! (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    Soul prosperity

    Whom do you regard as a prosperous man for this world? There are several elements that enter into that condition. The first, we may say, is health. Another is riches. A good name is another. A cultivated taste, well-stored and regulated mind, leisure, and fondness for reading and study, are also indications of prosperity. Now in what respects does soul prosperity answer to these elements of temporal prosperity? It must have them all in order to reach the highest prosperity. First, the soul must be in health. A healthful soul is one all of whose faculties are sound and in harmonious exercise: the eye of the understanding translucent, the muscles of will strong, the nerves of conscience sensitive; all the faculties receptive and digestive of Divine sanative truth. There are riches, too, which the soul may gather and enjoy. There are treasures attainable which are essential to spiritual prosperity. The same term which describes gathering of gold, describes the treasures of the Spirit. “The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich.” It is possible for us to accumulate the “exceeding riches of His grace,” the “unsearchable riches of Christ,” and then “the riches of His glory.” Even “the reproach of Christ is greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” If, then, you would have a prosperous soul you must have a rich soul. A good repute is also necessary to spiritual prosperity, not always in the sight of men, indeed, for the world will speak evil of you were you as holy as Jesus, but in the sight of God. And yet the world, even while it sneers and abuses, is won by a pure life. He has a prosperous soul who deserves the confidence and esteem of his fellow-men for his truthfulness, purity and benevolence, whether the world awards it to him or not. Need I say that a refined taste, cultivated by the study of Divine truth and by communion with the purest hearts and fellowship with the most lovely lives in the Church of God, is an admirable aid to the promotion and preservation of soul health? And, in fine, progress, advancement, success in holy and useful religious industries, is a mark and method of soul prosperity. If you would not call the drone and laggard, who is ever falling backward and eating up his capital and trading only upon his old stock, a prosperous man in any worldly business, how can you call one a prosperous Christian who has no religious enterprise, who satisfies himself with his old experience, and so without progress has nothing but an old stock and a diminished capital to draw upon? Thrift utilises the past, and draws it forward into the present, and pushes it onward into the future. If we look abroad into the world, we shall find that many have temporal prosperity without spiritual. Their bodies are pampered; their souls are starved. Some have spiritual prosperity without temporal. Many of God’s saints are among the poor of this world, with few of the comforts and none of the luxuries which money can buy. Yet they may be such as the Lord loves and guides. Many have neither temporal nor spiritual prosperity. Not all the poor are pure within. A few have both temporal and spiritual prosperity. There are some rich men that are godly. There are more whose circumstances are comfortable, who, above want, and without dread of poverty, enjoy as much of the pleasures of living as their wealthier neighbours. And with this good measure of worldly prosperity they unite the higher enjoyments of peace with God, faith in Jesus Christ, the consolations of the Holy Ghost, and pleasant fellowship with the purest and most refined society of earth. These are they who give power and beauty to the Church, and whose whole existence is benefit and blessing to the world. This is what St. John prayed for Gaius--earthly vigour and resources corresponding to the sincerity of his piety. If your soul health were brought into correlation with your bodily health, how would it be with your soul? The body, in many cases, becoming like the soul, would be transformed from strength and soundness into weakness and sickliness. The subject teaches us that there is often a want of harmony between an inward character and our outward circumstances. The rich in this world’s goods are often very poor in godly wealth. God’s favour they improve in all secular business, and lay up for themselves treasures on earth. God’s grace they neglect and ignore, and lay not up within themselves treasures for heaven. There are thus discords in human nature which the gospel is given to harmonise. Oh! do not consent to remain more rich or prosperous in worldly than in spiritual treasures. (J. L. Burrows, D. D.)

    Gaius, and his soul’s prosperity

    Can that be said of us, my brethren, which John here says of his well-beloved friend Gaius? Let Us ask ourselves, in God’s sight, whether or no our souls have had any true spiritual prosperity this past year. Gaius’s soul was prospering. Gaius was in both moral and spiritual prosperity. And John, and all good men, saw that Gaius’s soul was in prosperity, and they rejoiced to see it. Gaius prospered in the knowledge of the truth, and in the love of the truth, and in the obedience of the truth. He prospered also in his fidelity to whatever he undertook, both to John, and to the brethren, and to strangers.

    1. Has your soul prospered under the preaching of the truth? Has this, or any other pulpit, been of any real assistance and service to your spiritual life this past year? And, if so, in what has your soul’s prosperity manifested itself? And if you have experienced no such prosperity, why not?

    2. But in these days, you are not independent of the pulpit, indeed, but you are not so wholly dependent on it, and instructed by it, as many men are. You have money to buy books and you have time to read books. A man is known by his books. A man cannot always choose his minister. But he can always choose his books. Now, honestly, do the books about God, and about the soul and God, make you uncomfortable? As a matter of fact, do you ever open, and of your own accord and liking, such a book from one year’s end to the other?

    3. But I may be a great authority on the best books; I may be a great collector and devourer of devotional books; and yet, all the time, I may be an utterly unspiritual and undevotional man myself. Philo for this twenty years has been collecting and reading all the spiritual books he can hear of. Philo will ride you forty miles in winter to have a conversation about spiritual books, or to see a collection larger than his own. But Philo never thinks how wonderful it is that a man who knows regeneration to be the whole world should yet content himself with books upon the new birth, instead of being born again himself. For all that is changed in Philo is his taste for books. He is no more dead to the world: no more delivered from himself: as unwilling to enter into war with himself, and to deny his appetites, as he was twenty years ago. Yet all is well with Philo: he has no suspicion of himself. Have you been any better of what you have heard about prayer this last year? I tell you you are cutting your own throat if you come and sit and consent to sermon after sermon on secret and spiritual prayer, and still remain the same prayerless and unspiritual man you have all your life been.

    4. Socrates, the wisest of the Greeks, was wont to insist that a life without constant cross-examination was no true life at all. “Know thyself,” was the holiest and most urgent of the holy texts of his god to Socrates. But a greater than Socrates has preached to us, and on still holier and still more heart-searching texts. How does His dialectic prosper in your souls? To put it in the most elementary and superficial way: Do you know as much as your one besetting sin, and what it really is? Do you know about yourself what all your friends see in you with such pain and shame? and what all your enemies rejoice over and laugh at? Has Christ’s cross-examination taken you down at all among the motives that move you in all you think, and say, and do? Is the holy and spiritual law of God at all within your heart?

    5. Once more: Take from among a thousand things that might be set forth as sure tests of soul-prosperity--take the forgiveness of injuries. This is perhaps the very last grace to which even gracious men, and men prospering in grace, ever attain to. Caesar forgot nothing but injuries. How do you stand in this all-important obedience?

    6. Just one more test of your prosperity. The “taming of the tongue,” as our Lord’s brother calls it. If you are prospering with that great task, then you are well on to being a “perfect man” as James has it. All the roads in the old world led to Rome. And all the prosperities of the soul point to prayer. What a year! and the beginning of what prosperity! it would be to you, if you discovered for yourself, this year, something of the power, and the joy, and the sweetness of secret prayer. (A. Whyte, D. D.)


    is the foundation of all human activity. A sickly man cannot even think healthily. Men would be surprised if they were able to take a survey, to find how many of the things which have filled the world with feuds and laden with errors, may be traced back to a disordered stomach. Who would go to sea in a leaky vessel? (K. Braune, D. D.)

    Health the chief thing

    On one occasion an eminent literary man and a member of the House of Lords were talking with the Duke of Albany when the conversation turned on what gave the best chance of happy life. The literary man said that persons in a middle position who were without ambitions they could not satisfy were in the happiest state. The conversation went on, and one of the speakers said to the Duke that his own position must be a happy one. “You forget,” he said, “I am worst off of all. I want the chief thing. It is health--health--health.”

    The helpfulness of health

    A mower with a good scythe will do more in one day than another that hath a bad one can do in two; every workman knoweth the benefit of having his tools in order; and every traveller knows the difference between a cheerful and a tired horse. And they that have tried health and sickness know what a help it is in every work of God, to have a healthful body and cheerful spirits, and an alacrity and promptitude to obey the mind. (R. Baxter.)

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    Bibliographical Information
    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "3 John 1:2". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

    Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

    Beloved ... "Three of the first eleven words with which the Epistle opens refer to love."[8]

    That thou mayest prosper ... Here the apostle prayed for the prosperity of Gaius, and from this it is clearly not wrong for Christians to pray for prosperity; however, the qualifier should be carefully noted, "as thy soul prospereth!" The prosperity of the soul is paramount. Truly Christian people need prosperity that they may be able, as Gaius was, to dispense hospitality, aid good causes, and prevent themselves from becoming burdens upon the backs of other people. Beza translated the verse here as a prayer "for things temporal as well as for things spiritual."[9] "Prosper literally means to have a good journey."[10]

    And be in health ... Good health is likewise a blessing which Christians are privileged to pray for; because, without good health, Christian service must necessarily be curtailed or abandoned, The apostles were, in no sense, health fadists, Paul even saying that "bodily exercise profiteth little (or for a little while)"; but, having due regard for the transitory nature of all earthly endowments, the child of God should nevertheless strive mightily for the maintenance and preservation of good health, the greatest of all physical blessings.

    [8] John R. W. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentary, Vol. 19 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), p. 218.

    [9] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 158.

    [10] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 218.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper,.... Or succeed in all temporal affairs, in the business of life, in which he was; and as success of this sort depends upon the blessing of God, which maketh rich, it is to be wished and prayed for from him:

    and be in health; that is, of body, which above all things above all outward mercies, is the most desirable; for without this, what are the richest dainties, the largest possessions, or the best of friends? without this there can be no comfortable enjoyment of either of them; and therefore of this sort of mercies, it is in the first place, and above all others, to be wished for, and desired by one friend for another. The rule and measure of this wish is according to the prosperity of his soul,

    even as thy soul prospereth: the soul is diseased with sin, and may be said to be in good health, when all its iniquities are forgiven; and may be said to prosper, when having a spiritual appetite for the Gospel, the sincere milk of the word, it feeds upon it, is nourished by it, and grows thereby; when it is in the lively exercise of faith, hope, and love; when spiritual knowledge is increased, or it grows in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus; when the inward man is renewed day by day with fresh strength; and when it enjoys communion with God, has the light of his countenance, and the joys of his salvation; and when it is fruitful in every good work.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    above all thingsGreek,concerning all things”: so Alford: in all respects. But Wahl justifies English Version (compare 1 Peter 4:8). Of course, since his soul‘s prosperity is presupposed, “above all things” does not imply that John wishes Gaius‘ bodily health above that of his soul, but as the first object to be desired next after spiritual health. I know you are prospering in the concerns of your soul. I wish you similar prosperity in your body. Perhaps John had heard from the brethren (3 John 1:3) that Gaius was in bad health, and was tried in other ways (3 John 1:10), to which the wish, 3 John 1:2, refers.

    prosper — in general.

    be in health — in particular.

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    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
    Bibliographical Information
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    I pray (ευχομαιeuchomai). Here only in John‘s writings. See Romans 9:3.

    In all things (περι παντωνperi pantōn). To be taken with ευοδουσταιeuodousthai and like περιperi in 1 Corinthians 16:1, “concerning all things.”

    Thou mayest prosper (σε ευοδουσταιse euodousthai). Infinitive in indirect discourse (object infinitive) after ευχομαιeuchomai with accusative of general reference σεse (as to thee). ΕυοδοωEuodoō is old verb (from ευοδοςeuodos ευeu and οδοςhodos prosperous in a journey), to have a good journey, to prosper, in lxx, in N.T. only this verse (twice), 1 Corinthians 16:2; Romans 1:10.

    Be in health (υγιαινεινhugiainein). In Paul this word always means sound teaching (1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:3), but here and in Luke 5:31; Luke 7:10; Luke 15:27, of bodily health. Brooke wonders if Gaius‘ health had caused his friends anxiety.

    Even as thy soul prospereth (κατως ευοδουται σου η πσυχηkathōs euodoutai sou hē psuchē). A remarkable comparison which assumes the welfare (present middle indicative of ευοδοωeuodoō) of his soul (πσυχηpsuchē here as the principle of the higher life as in John 12:27, not of the natural life as in Matthew 6:25).

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    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies


    Compare the plural, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:21; 1 John 4:1, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:11.

    I wish above all things ( περὶ πάντων εὔχομαι )

    Wrong. This sense of περί is contrary to New Testament usage. The preposition means concerning. So Rev. “I pray that in all things thou mayst prosper.” Εὔχομαι Ipray or wish, occurs only here in John's writings, and not often elsewhere. See Acts 26:29; Romans 9:3; James 5:16.

    Mayst prosper ( εὐοδοῦσθαι )

    Lit., have a prosperous journey. From ἐν welland ὁδός away. In this original sense, Romans 1:10. The word occurs only three times in the New Testament. See 1 Corinthians 16:2.

    Be in health ( ὑγιαίνειν )

    Used in the New Testament both in a physical and moral sense. The former is found only here and in Luke's Gospel. See Luke 5:31; Luke 7:10; Luke 15:27. Paul uses it of soundness in faith or doctrine. See 1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 Timothy 1:13; Titus 2:2. Here of Gaius' bodily health, as is shown by soul in the next clause.

    Soul ( ψυχή )

    See on Mark 12:30; see on Luke 1:46. The soul ( ψυχή ) is the principle of individuality, the seat of personal impressions. It has a side in contact with both the material and the spiritual element of humanity, and is thus the mediating organ between body and spirit. Its meaning, therefore, constantly rises above life or the living individual, and takes color from its relation to either the emotional or the spiritual side of life, from the fact of its being the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions, and the bearer and manifester of the divine life-principle ( πνεῦμα ). Consequently ψυχή is often used in our sense of heart (Luke 1:46; Luke 2:35; John 10:24; Acts 14:2); and the meanings of ψυχή souland πνεῦμα spiritoccasionally approach each other very closely. Compare John 12:27, and John 11:33; Matthew 11:29, and 1 Corinthians 16:18. Also both words in Luke 1:47. In this passage ψυχή soulexpresses the soul regarded as moral being designed for everlasting life. See Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 10:39; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 4:19. John commonly uses the word to denote the principle of the natural life. See John 10:11, John 10:15; John 13:37; John 15:13; 1 John 3:16; Revelation 8:9; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 16:3.

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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


    ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.’

    3 John 1:2

    St. John’s desire is founded on a reflection of primary importance, namely, that man does not consist of soul only, but rather of body, soul, and spirit. His desire is one in closest harmony with the general will of Almighty God as revealed in the pages of the New Testament, and when to considerations, derived from the New Testament, we add the thought which can hardly fail to strike us, as we note in the Mosaic law the strict sanitary regulations laid down in the Old Testament for Israel, we cannot doubt what is God’s will for man, in his entirety, and we may be sure that His will will not only eventually be accomplished in all who use the appointed means, but also that His blessing, meantime, will rest on all efforts to promote it.

    I. Note first the measure of health which, in a physical and in other points of view, St. John craved for him to whom he wrote.—Observe that he describes his friend as one whose soul was already in health and prospering, so that we may conclude that the quickening, health-giving, and renovating influences of the Holy Ghost had been brought to bear upon his spirit. And in reply to any question which may arise as to what is the ‘spirit’ of man, I would remind you of those significant words of Solomon: ‘The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord.’ The human spirit is the seat and spring of a man’s aims, desires, and ideals; and the wise man here likens it to a candle, because, just as there is affinity between a candle and a flame, so also the spirit of man is capable of being lighted with fire from on high. It is that part of man with which the Divine influences come most directly in contact, and where this is so it becomes the candle of the Lord. And if it be true of our Lord Himself that He was the ‘Light of the world,’ this is true also, in a measure, of those who are touched and illumined by the Divine flame.

    II. But St. John was not yet satisfied.—Attractive as was the condition of his friend, he still desired something more for him. How was this? Because, like other men, Gaius did not consist of soul and spirit only. The Apostle considered him not merely in a spiritual point of view, but in a physical one as well; and therefore said he: ‘Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.’ That man should be renewed in the very sanctuary of his being—his spirit, his very holy of holies, wherein he holds communion with his Maker—this I must assert to be the first and chiefest thing to be sought after. Nevertheless, reason, no less than this clear expression of desire on the part of an Apostle of Jesus Christ, assures us that something more is to be sought after as well, for be it remembered that spirit, soul, and body are intimately connected together. In a marvellous way do they act and react on one another, and, as an eminent physician once remarked to me, ‘To slight and neglect God’s sanitary laws, as we usually speak of them, is a course which comes next door to insanity.’

    III. While the mission of Christ was primarily spiritual in its aims, still a great portion of His work was to heal the sick, to minister to the diseased, and to show care for the human body. And so, when He admonished His disciples to go out into the world to preach the Gospel of His Kingdom, He carefully charged them also to fulfil like practical duties. It is impossible, I think, not to perceive how this view of things sweeps away that unfortunate line of demarcation between what people call their religious and their secular duties. Nothing that is done in the following of Christ can properly be called a merely secular obligation. There is an old saying that cleanliness—and health depends on this—comes next to godliness, and a very true saying it is. Not only for our own sakes, but in the spirit of the truest altruism, which is the very essence of Christianity, it is our bounden duty to do all that in us lies to promote health around us, as also a clear knowledge of those laws on which health depends. The violation of those laws is a constant source of misery, disease, and loss to the human family; and notwithstanding all our boasted civilisation, ignorance of these laws is still widespread. The accounts which any one may read as to the spread of various diseases, and of the preventable injuries thereby inflicted on communities and individuals, are lamentable. Surely the time has come when an earnest desire, such as that recorded in the text, should pervade the hearts and minds of all, and that we should look to the wide promotion of such a desire rather than to the penalties of the law for the amelioration of many of the evils which so largely oppress and degrade us.

    —Bishop Straton.


    ‘As an instance of the close connection between the soul and spirit on the one hand, and the body on the other, I may mention that not long ago heard of a little child who was excruciatingly burnt, and it was found most difficult to alleviate her pain. At last some one suggested that she should be urged to sing her usual evening hymn. She did so, and the soul satisfaction thus engendered at once produced the desired effect, and she immediately fell peacefully asleep. Let no one imagine, then, but that body and soul are closely allied, or that what ministers to the well-being of the one fails to minister also to the other.’



    Let me suppose that your soul is in a good way and is in ‘health’—what shall you do to keep well? Let me offer you one or two rules for sustaining and increasing spiritual health.

    I. Keep very near to the Good Physician to Whom you owe your recovery, and consult Him very often, and wait for His answer.

    II. Use His prescription, for He is the Counsellor to the soul, always ready to listen patiently; He knows the exact treatment your constitution requires, and His remedies are infallible.

    III. You must never forget two things: one, the fact that you have a soul—you carry a soul with you wherever you are; and the other, that your soul is a very delicate thing, easily and immediately affected by all outward things, and has a great tendency to relapses.

    IV. You must be very careful of the atmosphere in which you live; see that it be a pure atmosphere, free from all impurities. For the soul cannot breathe in every climate; the surroundings must be wholesome ones, suited to your health. The presenting of one bad subject to the mind, or the reading of one infidel or immoral book, may have such an influence or leave such a taint as may be very difficult indeed to eradicate from your moral constitution.

    V. See that your soul has its own proper food, its daily diet, on which it is entirely dependent—‘the Bread of Life,’ which is God’s Holy Word, and ‘the Water of Life,’ which is God’s Holy Spirit. Without these, constantly taken, your soul cannot live! And it must take its meals regularly and have time for digestion.

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    Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

    Ver. 2. That thou mayest prosper] Gr. ευοδουσθαι, that thou mayest make a good voyage of it, and come safe and sound to thy journey’s end.

    Even as thy soul prospereth] By the blessing of him that dwelt in the bush, Deuteronomy 33:16. Now the soul prospereth when it hath close communion with God, and enjoys the light of his loving countenance, preferring his favour before the world’s warm sun.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    3 John 1:2

    Spiritual Prosperity.

    I. Of what, in the language of the world, is commonly designated prosperity, perhaps the two main elements are wealth and power. There is a wealth, a power, of the soul. (1) There is, in no exclusively metaphorical sense, a riches of the soul. Money, property, worldly goods, are not more real possessions than thought, knowledge, wisdom. Nor are the outward comforts and luxuries, the gratifications of sense and appetite, that may be procured by the former, more literally a man's own, what belongs to him, what makes him richer, than are warm affections, a fertile imagination, a memory stored with information, and, above all, a heart full of God's grace. (2) Power. We may be inwardly as well as outwardly powerful. In the little world within the breast there are stations of rank, dominion, authority, to which we may aspire, or from which we may fall. There is an inward slavery, baser than any bodily servitude; there is an inward rule and governance of a man's spirit, an object of loftier ambition far than the possession of any earthly crown or sceptre.

    II. Note the reasons for which this soul-prosperity should be regarded in our desires as the standard or measure of outward prosperity. (1) Destitute of inward grace, it is neither for a man's own good nor for that of his fellow-men that he should be possessed of outward wealth or power; (2) and if a man's soul be right with God, the possession of these outward advantages is both safe for himself and profitable for others.

    J. Caird, Sermons, p. 218.

    References: 2.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 463. 4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1148.

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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    3 John 1:2. Above all things In every respect. Schmidius and Doddridge. The word ' Ευοδουσθαι signifies to walk in a right path, or to go prosperously on one's way; from whence it is applied to prosperity in general. See 1 Corinthians 16:2. Comp. Psalms 1:3.

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    Observe here, 1. This holy man, Gaius who was so hospitable an host to the ministers and members of Christ, had but a weak and sickly body, and wanted health; strength of grace and dearness of respect, even from God himself, cannot prevail against diseases; such as are most holy are sometimes most weak and sickly.

    Observe, 2. That though Gaius had but a weak and consumptive body, yet had he a very thriving and vigorous soul; it is a very common, yet a very sad and true, observation, that men of strong, healthy, and active bodies, have weak, lame, sickly, and sinful souls. Ah, wretched sinner! when under obligations to serve thy God best, thou forgettest him most, and prostitutest thy health to the service of thy lusts: how does the health and ease of one day deserve the service and thankfulness of thy whole life! But, alas! instead of that, thou makest him to serve with thy sins, and layest the first fruits of thy time and strength upon the devil's altar.

    Observe, 3. Our apostle's wish on the behalf of Gaius, namely, that his body were as healthful as his soul was holy, that he had as much health in the one, as he had grace in the other; I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

    Behold here, such an improved and well-grown Christian was this holy man Gaius, that our apostle makes the properous state of his soul the measure of all that prosperity which the one could wish, or the other desire; as thy soul prospereth, so may thy bodily health, for the service of God and of thy soul.

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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

    Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

    3 John 1:2. Instead of with the usual formula of greeting, the Epistle begins with a wish for the welfare of Caius.

    περὶ πάντων] πάντων is not masculine (Paulus: “on account of all, i.e. for the good of all”), but neuter. Several commentators, Beza, Castellio, Wahl, Lücke (1st ed.), Ewald, Düsterdieck, etc., interpret περὶ πάντων = πρὸ πάντων here, and connect it with εὔχομαι; but usus loquendi and thought are opposed to this. Although περί in some passages in Homer indicates precedence, yet this signification is utterly foreign to the LXX. and the N. T.; besides, it is not to be supposed that the apostle would have so specially emphasized the wish referring to the external circumstances of life; περὶ πάντων, with most of the commentators (even Lücke, 2d ed.), is rather to be connected with σε εὐοδοῦσθαι (though not with ὑγιαίνειν) in its usual signification: “in regard to all things.” In reply to the objection which has been made out of the position of the words, Lücke with justice remarks: “it is put first with rhetorical emphasis, corresponding to ψυχή, which is compared with it, at the end.”

    εὔχομαι] it is true, means also “to pray” (James 5:15), but usually: “to wish,” so here also; that with John it was an εὔχεσθαι πρὸς τὸν θεόν, is self-evident.

    σε εὐοδοῦσθαι καὶ ὑγιαίνειν] εὐοδοῦσθαι, besides here, is only found in Romans 1:10 and 1 Corinthians 16:2; in both passages it means: “to be fortunate” (see Meyer on Romans 1:10); similarly it signifies here also prosperity; comp. the detailed account of the usage of the word in the classics and in the LXX. by Lücke and Düsterdieck on this passage.

    The apostle wishes that it may go well and happily with Caius in all external circumstances; that it is just these he has in view in πάντων, is clear from the contrasted ψυχή. By means of ὑγιαίνειν (= “to be in health,” comp. Luke 5:31; Luke 7:10, and other passages) one element of the general εὐοδοῦσθαι is brought specially out. It is not to be inferred from the wish which is expressed that Caius had been ill (Düsterdieck).

    καθὼς εὐοδοῦταί σου ψυχή] By the prosperity of the soul of Caius, to which the external welfare was to correspond, it is not the natural condition, as the sequel shows, but the Christian state of salvation that is to be understood.

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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    See Poole on "3 John 1:1"

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

    Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

    молюсь Молитва Иоанна за Гаия очень значительна. Духовное состояние Гаия находилось на таком высоком уровне, что Иоанн молился, чтобы его физическое здоровье соответствовало его духовной силе. Спрашивать о здоровье было общепринятым обычаем в древних письмах, но Иоанн превратил этот обычай в выраженную особым образом похвалу духовному состоянию Гаия.

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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    As thy soul prospereth; that he might be as much favored in his health and outward condition as he was in his piety and beneficence. It is desirable that good men should not only be eminent in piety and good works, but also have health and be in unembarrassed outward circumstances. They should therefore conscientiously and diligently use all suitable means to secure these important blessings.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘ Beloved, I pray that in all things you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.’

    He knows that Gaius’ soul prospers. That is a good testimony to have. He prays that equally his life and health might prosper in every way, that God might ensure that life would treat him well. It may well be that Gaius suffered from physical problems, and that he had these especially in mind. Or John may have had in mind that those who provide for others will find themselves provided for. What a man sows, especially in the name of Christ, he will reap (Galatians 6:7-8)

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    Gaius was in good spiritual condition; he was walking in the light (cf. 1 John 1:7). John prayed that all would go well with him (NIV) and that he might enjoy as good physical health as he did spiritual health.

    "He must surely have learned this from Jesus whose concern for people"s physical troubles is attested in all four Gospels." [Note: Zane C. Hodges, " 3 John," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, p912.]

    The physical and general welfare of others should be of concern to us as well as their spiritual vitality. Usually Christians give more attention to the former than the latter, however, as our prayers often reveal.

    Some see in this verse support of the view that God wants all believers to prosper physically and financially as well as spiritually. However, there is nothing else in the Johannine corpus to indicate that this is what John meant, and there is little support elsewhere in Scripture. [Note: See Yarbrough, p367.]

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    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    wish = pray. App-134.

    above = concerning. App-104.

    prosper. Greek. euodoumai. See Romans 1:10.

    be in health. Greek. hugiaino. See Luke 5:31.

    soul. App-110. 3 John 1:1. As Gaius had a sound mind, John desires for him a sound body also.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. Above all things, [ peri (Greek #4012)] - 'concerning all things.' Alford, in all respects. Wahl justifies the English version (cf. 1 Peter 4:8). Since his soul's prosperity is presupposed, "above all things" does not imply that John wishes Gaius' bodily prosperity above that of his soul, but as the first object to be desired next after spiritual health. I know you are prospering in your soul. I wish you similar prosperity in your body. Perhaps John had heard from the brethren (3 John 1:3) that Gains was in bad health, and was tried in other ways (3 John

    10), to which the wish refers. Prosper - in general. Be in health - in particular.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
    or, pray. above.
    James 5:12; 1 Peter 4:8
    Psalms 20:1-5; Philippians 2:4,27
    3-6; Colossians 1:4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:3-10; 2:13,14,19,20; 3:6-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2:13; Philemon 1:5-7; 2 Peter 1:3-9; 3:18; Revelation 2:9
    Reciprocal: Psalm 119:40 - quicken;  2 Corinthians 7:6 - comforted

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

    E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

    This verse is similar to many passages where the grace of God is wished for the disciples. However, in this the writer is first expressing a wish for the physical health of his convert. He is interested in his spiritual welfare, of course, but he seems to know that Gaius is in satisfactory condition in that respect, which is indicated by the words as thy soul prospereth.

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    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    2.Beloved—Commencing the real matter of the epistle with a direct address.

    Above all things—Rather, in all respects.

    Prosper—Literal Greek, be in a good way.

    Health—So that estate, body, and soul, should all prosper alike. It is a happy fact when the soul is the standard of the prosperity, and the other prosperities are measured up to it.


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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    3 John 1:2. Cf. Law, Ser. Call, chap. vii. “Flavia would be a miracle of piety, if she was but half as careful of her soul as she is of her body. The rising of a pimple on her face, the sting of a gnat, will make her keep her room for two or three days, and she thinks they are very rash people that do not take care of things in time.” Penn, Fruits of Solitude: “He is curious to wash, dress and perfume his Body, but careless of his Soul. The one shall have many Hours, the other not so many Minutes.” , de omnibus, with , not præ omnibus, “above all things”. The latter use is epic (e.g., Horn. Il. i. 287: ), and prosperity and health were not the summa bona in the Apostle’s estimation. , “prosper” in worldly matters. Trouble tests character. “A good knight is best known in battle, and a Christian in the time of trouble and adversity”; and Gaius had stood the test. The hostility of Diotrephes, probably a well-to-do member of the Church, had lessened his maintenance ( ) and affected his health ( ), yet St. John has only admiration for the spirit he has manifested and commendation for the part he has played.



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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    2. My dear friend. The theme of this Letter is to praise Gaius for his good work and to urge hospitality. In good health. It was usual to wish health as a greeting. Here John wishes health, both physical and spiritual. [Some think this implies that Gaius’ health was being drained by his problems with Diotrephes.]




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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 3 John 1:2". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.