Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The subject of the Epistle of 3 John is encouragement to the fellow workers in the truth. In this message we shall consider 3 John 1-8. Verses 1 through 4 are the introduction, and verses 5 through 8 speak of hospitality to traveling workers.
The beginning of 3 John is similar to that of 2 John. In verse 1 the apostle John says, “The elder to Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth.” Like Peter, John was an elder in the church at Jerusalem before its destruction in A.D. 70. According to history, after returning from exile, John stayed in Ephesus to care for the churches in Asia. Probably he was an elder in the church at Ephesus, where he wrote this Epistle.
The Epistle of 3 John is addressed to “Gaius the beloved.” This is not the Gaius of Macedonia (Acts 19:29), the Gaius of Derbe (Acts 20:4), nor the Gaius of Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14; Rom. 16:23), but another with the name of Gaius, a name that was very common at the time. According to the contents of this Epistle, Gaius must have been an outstanding brother in the church.
In verse 1 John speaks of loving Gaius in truth. Here “truth” denotes the revealed divine reality—the Triune God dispensed into man in the Son Jesus Christ—becoming man’s genuineness and sincerity, to live a life that corresponds to the divine light (John 3:19-21) and to worship God, as God seeks, according to what He is (John 4:23-24). This is the virtue of God (Rom. 3:7; 15:8) becoming our virtue, by which we love the believers. In such truth, the apostle John, who lived in the divine reality of the Trinity, loved Gaius the beloved.
In verse 2 John says, “Beloved, concerning all things I wish that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” According to the context of this verse, “all things” refer to external and material things. Probably the word “wish” is used in the sense of prayer. Literally, the Greek word for “prosper” here means to have a good journey, to go on well, that is, to succeed in reaching a desired end; thus, to prosper. “Health” here is bodily health, as in Luke 5:31; 7:10; and 15:27.
In verse 2 John speaks of the soul prospering. Man is of three parts: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thes. 5:23). The soul is the mediating organ between the body and the spirit, possessing self-consciousness, that man may have his personality. The soul is contained in the body and is the vessel to contain the spirit. With the believer, God as the Spirit dwells in his regenerated spirit (Rom. 8:9, 16) and spreads from his spirit to saturate his soul, that it may be transformed to express Him (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18). This is the prosperity of the believer’s soul. When our soul is occupied and directed by the Spirit of God through our spirit to direct and use our body for God’s purposes, it prospers. The apostle wishes that the one who receives his Epistle, who is a beloved brother, outstanding in such prosperity of his soul, may prosper in all things and in bodily health, just as his soul prospers in the divine life.
Our body may prosper in health, and our living may prosper in many material things. However, our soul needs to prosper in the divine life. What, then, is the prosperity of our soul? The prosperity of our soul is the spreading of the divine life into the soul. Through regeneration the divine life has been imparted to our spirit. Now from our spirit this life needs to spread into our soul. If this takes place, our soul will prosper by the spreading of the divine life into it. I hope that we all shall pursue this so that we will have adequate experience of the prospering of our soul through the spreading of the divine life into it.
The beloved brother Gaius was prospering in his soul. The apostle John wished that this brother would not only prosper in his soul, but also prosper in material things and that he would be in health. This greeting here is particular; it is unique in the entire Bible.
The New Testament is a book on spiritual prosperity, not on material things or bodily health. Nevertheless, John, who writes concerning divine things, wished that the one who received this letter would prosper in bodily health and even in material things.
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