III John: 1-4 Prospering In The Truth.
Once again John, who could have addressed his friend Gaius as an Apostle, chooses to refer to himself as the Elder. There was no flattery here in his address. He loved his friend with agape love, and it was true or sincere (v. 1 Cf. II Jn. 1). Those with Gaius were also beloved. In his first letter, John emphasized the necessity of praying according to God’s will. Therefore, it is very interesting to have him tell us what it was that he was praying about for the beloved. Of first importance, he prayed that their souls would prosper. The word ‘euodoutai’ translated here as ‘prosper,’ is used only here and a variation at Romans 1:10. The ESV translates this as “be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
Strong’s uses other expressions like, “succeed in reaching, to help on the road.” It very clearly is a progressive action. It is not an instantaneous thing. Christ has purchased for us everything we need, but there is a progression in how this happens in each of our lives. We are not yet perfect, but it is God’s will, and must be our prayer, that the people of God make good progress to this end. John’s prayer is also not strictly “spiritual” only. He also prays that all things, including the health of the beloved, may also prosper, or make good progress (v. 2). However, what he specifically rejoiced in learning, was that they were all walking in the truth (v. 3). How we prosper depends on what we believe.
We can only prosper if we believe and walk in the truth. What we believe must be lived, and how we live reflects on what we believe. Walking in the truth is a command we have from the Father (II Jn. 4). John also shows us an example to follow, not just in our own believing and walking in the truth, and prospering in this, but in having no greater joy than to learn that our fellow believers are also making good progress in doctrine and life. His beloved were his children, those whom he had ministered to in the faith. Paul had the same attitude (I Th. 2:19-20). Paul was a Father to many, even as John was the Elder (I Cor. 4:15). Ministers ought to be personally invested in the lives of those they serve.