Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.3 John 1:2(NASB)
It sounds as if Gaius, to whom John addressed this little letter, was a dearly beloved disciple of the Lord Jesus. He sounds as if he were advancing in years, because John refers to Him as “Gaius, the Elder”, and yet it is likely that this elderly gentleman was brought to faith in Christ, through the ministry of John, himself – for in addressing him, the apostle writes; I have no greater joy than this – to hear of my children walking in the truth.
John makes no secret of his love and respect for this man, whom he admits to “love in truth”, for it appears that his whole life was dedicated to the Lord, and Gaius must have been a wonderful testimony of a godly man, who walked in grace and love, for we read that his “soul prospered”. The life of Gaius appears to be that of a mature man of God, who reflected the character of Christ.
The world ‘soul’ and ‘life’ are used interchangeable in the Word of God, and we discover that this man’s spiritual life was fruitful – his soul was flourishing. He was working the works of God in his life through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He was carrying out the work that God had prepared for him to do, with a Christian maturity, that caused John to acknowledge.. “your soul prospers” – your life is honouring to the Lord.
It also sounds as if Gaius had a physical disability or some health problems, for in his initial salutation John expresses a certain concern by saying: Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health – just as your soul prospers. John’s prayer, was that the physical health of this beloved saint might ‘prosper’, in the same way that his spiritual health was prospering.
The word, ‘prosperity’ today nearly always refers to material wealth… but in context, we see that it is this dear man’s physical health and bodily condition that John is praying will prosper – John’s prayer is that Gaius’ physical health will reflect his obvious spiritual strength and Christian maturity.
This verse clearly contradicts the distorted teaching of certain ‘prosperity teachers’ and ‘faith-healers’, who insist that if sick people do not recover, it is due to a lack faith.. or that if you are materially poor you are not a spiritual believer because God wants all Christians to be materially wealthy!!! Such teaching is false and biblically incorrect.
May we seek to be more like the beloved Gaius, who walked in spirit, truth and love, and was faithful in whatsoever good works he undertook, for the sake of saints and strangers alike. May we behave as he did, no matter what physical problems we may encounter, for although this dearly beloved elder had an obvious disability, he was a worthy example of godly saint, who lived a life that was pleasing to the Lord, and for His greater praise and glory.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the exemplary life of Gaius, and the many things that we can learn from the lives of other godly men and women, You place in our path. Thank You for the privilege of prayer.. so that we may approach Your throne of grace for help in time of sickness and need. We lift up all our brothers and sisters in Christ, body, soul and spirit – praying each would grow in grace, in all they say and do, and come to a deeper knowledge of the Lord Jesus – for Your greater praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.