In the last installment of misusing the Bible, we discussed the 'verseless' principle of interpreting the Bible. In this article, we focus on one of the most commonly misused and abused verses of the Bible.
As the saying goes, 'A lie told often enough becomes the truth'. That is the axiom that resonates with the continuous use of bible verses to arrogate to oneself things that God has not promised. The verse in view today is 3John 1:2 which says: 'Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well'
This singular verse has now become the motto for prosperity preachers around the globe. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater so quickly. I understand there are some who do not really know what this verse is really talking about. The only thing they know is what they have been told. For these ones, I will state my case.
The epistle were letters written by the apostles to Christians of their time and like every letter, each epistle had an opening salutation, the body of the letter and the closing. These three sections as we know are also visible in our writings today as well. Secondly, they are directed to the church or persons in the church. Now let us read this passage without verses so we can get the flow of thought.
The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:1-4 (KJV).
Reading this passage, one does not need an advanced degree in English and Literature to know that the writer of this passage identified himself as 'the Elder'. We can also see that he was writing to a beloved friend named Gaius. The Elder, who is popularly believed to be John the Apostle, is full of joy because the report he got about Gaius was very positive and encouraging. He makes a prayer for Gaius, wishing he prospers in all he does (which most likely was God's work), remains in good health and have healthy mental strength.
No where in the text do we see or feel or hear about a promise from God for prosperity. It is NOT a PROMISE from God that we be in good health as our soul prospers! This was simply a greeting/salutation from one friend to another. We are to teach a doctrine NOT a salutation.
One is amazed at the number of popular televangelists misquoting this and making it a promise from God to every believer. Little wonder we are creating a lot of shallow Christians.
...to be continued.