Good Soul / Well Being (Blog Series)

Part 2

Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2)

I’ll be honest; I’ve wrestled with this verse for quite some time (catch my recent post titled What Was Paul Really Saying? for added context).  There is a tension that exists in this verse that will form a deeper discussion in another post but essentially I think we’ve preached this verse out of context. At the very least I think we miss the point by getting caught up in success and prosperity rather than the spiritual well-being of our soul.

Let’s take a look.

“Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health (physically), just as (I know) your soul prospers (spiritually).” Amplified

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

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” NLT

“Beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul is prospering.” The Passion Translation

The reason I’ve read these translations is that I want to take an exegetical look at exactly what is being said, not my opinion but the text, the Biblical text.

Notice every translation uses the words prosper. For those who do not normally lean towards the traditional NJV we can all agree whether you prosper or prospereth it means blessed?

“Beloved, I pray that you are prospering in every way just as your soul prospers.”

There’s a Greek word eudoomai which literally means ‘to travel well.’ I think we all hope to travel well, to be blessed, to live in prosperity. I think these things come out of a well-being.

So I believe God wants these things for us. But it’s not the central theme of the verse though chronologically it first. The deeper portion of the verse directly speaks to the soul. It’s our spiritual well-being that takes centre stage here and John is taking the time to establish that growth comes from a healthy soul, blessing and rest comes from a health spirit.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is with in me” the Psalmist sang – good things come out of a health soul.

So where do we start?

I recently read a blog post by Karl Faase who sighted Tim Kasser of Knox College who suggested the following:

  1. Be sure to have good friends and build deep relationships
  2. Reach out to those in need. Look beyond yourself in life
  3. Find work which engages your skills
  4. Look after your soul

Let’s start there and keep going forward.

Good Soul / Well Being (Blog Series)

Part 1.

Do me a favour. Go and read John’s third letter to Gaius! They tell us that the average person reads 250 words per minute, this book is only one chapter, fifteen verses – that’s it.

Did you read it? Thanks, I appreciate it.

Hidden within those fifteen verses you just read are four themes that weave through our everyday lives.

First, the power of truth, second is the importance of hospitality. Third, the danger of divisiveness and fourth, the significance of doing good.

Let’s look at truth. The Apostle John writes “I was filled with joy and delight when the brothers arrived and informed me of your faithfulness to the truth. They told me how you live continually in the truth of Christ.”

Notice that truth is something we are faithful to, live in and walk by.

I think we have opportunity to pause here and reflect on some of the truths we may need to remain faithful to, live in and walk by.

Let’s move onto hospitality.

The definition of hospitality is to be friendly and generous to guests, visitors and strangers.

Being married into a different ethnic culture than my own, I was immediately touched by how hospitable the Arab culture is, overwhelming generous to guests and strangers in many ways.

The Prophet Isaiah asked “is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:7. I think hospitality is a significant centrepiece of Christian character.

Switching gears, John’s letter to Gaius takes an abrupt turn in the middle of his greeting to deal with an issue in reference to divisiveness and he doesn’t pull any punches.

Let’s consider the definition of divisiveness, it’s defined as a person with a tendency to cause disagreement or hostility between people. We’ve all got one of those in our lives right? This type of personality is not conducive to healthy relationships, at home or in the work place.

This type of character doesn’t make a good neighbour, better to build higher fences! Worse off, this type of individual doesn’t belong in church though we have a fair share.

So what to do? We will talk about this in our series!

Finally, the ‘doing good’ narrative. The Apostle takes time to establish that ‘works’ matter. There is a scientific phenomenon that exists in everyday life, it’s inescapable… every one of us has an opportunity to ‘do good’ at some point through our daily walk.  Open the door for that someone. Leave space for that car trying to sneak in (we’re all headed somewhere). ‘The way of works is the way of life, for “He who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:17’

But wait, there’s more… keep watching this space.