Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth – 3 John 1:2
Meaning of 3 John 1:2
The meaning of the verse, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” is that the said person should have a good life journey with good health both physically, mentally, and spiritually. The verse is written by Apostle John for Gaius, who was a faithful member of a Church whom John had praised for being warm towards God’s servants. This verse is John’s prayer for Gaius’ good health, a general blessing, and spiritual maturity. He wanted Gaius to continue his good work and that all may go well with him. The phrase “Soul prospereth” is John’s way of making an analogy between physical health and spiritual health. It is believed by Christians that if spiritual health is not well, it will impact their physical health.
Interpretations of 3 John 1:2
The verse of 3 John 1:2 is often used as a promise to Christians and is also misinterpreted by the speaker. Here are some examples.
Interpretation #1 Christians cannot fall sick
The interpretation of the verse, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” is that Christians are not supposed to fall sick. The reader believes that when a Christian falls sick, he or she starts questioning their faith and feel that there is an inadequacy of faith in them. They also believe that their health issues or sickness are a result of a sin they committed. A Christian also believes that they might have doubted God’s providence and healing powers, and that is why they fell sick. In some denominations, sickness is known to be a result of insufficient or lack of faith. Hence, John is telling his readers to pay attention to their lifestyle and to stay healthy.
Interpretation #2 Spiritual and physical health are the same
The interpretation of the verse, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” is that physical and spiritual health are the same. Here, the reader believes that John implies both be equal as he understands that when either one of them is affected, the other faces the consequences too. When a person is suffering from mental issues such as depression, sadness, or any other issue spiritually, their physical health can also be affected in various ways, including lack of hunger, nervous system damage, weakness, gut issues, etc. Hence, the priests at church encourage the believers that it is important to maintain good health in both areas as it will help keep the body in balance.
Interpretation #3 John’s wishes are for the letter’s recipient only
In this interpretation of the verse, the readers believe that John didn’t address the Christians or anyone after his time. The Christians also understand that chapter one was only meant for the recipient, as John clearly addresses the letter to Gaius. He or she thinks that most readers often forget to read the context of the verse, especially previous verses, and apply the verse to themselves as a blessing or wish. However, the verse could have meant only for John’s friend and acquaintance, asking him to stay healthy both physically and spiritually.
Interpretation #4 Christians were sick during that period
In this interpretation, the reader believes that historically, people were more prone to sickness at that time. Additionally, during that era, Christians were facing severe persecution, which led to a lack of food, sickness, and many other ailments. Hence, John encouraged them to stay strong mentally in order to face those challenges. The verse also encourages spiritual health, which was meant to be a hope and respite for Christians at that time for better days and the future.
Interpretation #5 The verse was written to encourage and bless new Christians
The final interpretation of the verse, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” is that the verse is a blessing for Christians, especially new ones. The reader believes that the verse is similar to a blessing or a wish for Christians to prosper both physically, mentally, and spiritually. While the letter was addressed to Gaius, Apostle John wanted his readers at the time of writing, as well as readers in every generation, to be blessed by God in everything they do and persevere.
Historical background of 3 John 1:2
The third book of John was written by Apostle but referred to himself as “the elder” as he did in 2 John. The book was possibly written around AD 90 from the Island of Patmos, and John was perhaps in his 80s. Patmos was also the place where he was exiled. The book was written to a man called Gaius to help him respond to trials and relate to the people who proclaimed the truth. He wanted to make sure that Churches extended a warm welcome to those who were preaching the gospel. The third book of John only consists of one chapter. The third verse, in particular, is John praying for Gaius’ good health, both physically and spiritually.
Literary Devices of 3 John 1:2
The verse 3 John 1:2 is a promise from God. It has a few noteworthy literary devices. Here are some of them.
Theme – The major themes of 3 John 1:2 are health and spirituality. In other words, John wishes for the ‘goodness’ and ‘wellness’ of the reader.
Alliteration – There is one consonant sound repeated in quick succession in verse 3 John 1:2. For example, the sound of /th/ (ð) ‘I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health’.
Consonance – There is also a good use of consonant sounds throughout the verse. However, not all sounds are in immediate succession. For example, the sound of /s/, the sound of /t/, and the sound of /n/ in ‘that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth’.
Assonance – The verse has one vowel sound repeated in the entire verse but not in immediate succession. For example, the sound /i/ and /e/ in ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth’.
Pleonasm – The phrase ‘even as thy soul prospereth’ is a deliberate extension of verse 3 John 1:2 to emphasize on spiritual health.