Sorry for not writing often enough. I have been quite busy of late and time seems to have flown by so quickly! In this article, I will be looking at one of the bug bears of the WOF teachings. If you can, please get the message preached on the 9th Jun entitled “Actively possess your possessions.”
In this particular sermon, there are two parts, the first speaks of 3 John 1:2 whereby God wants all of us to prosper and be in good health and in part two, PP speaks of the truth of grace and salvation and eternal life as well as forgiveness. So let’s look at the first part, which is the more contentious part.
The reading comes from 3 Jn 1:2:
“ Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” –KJV
or another translation states:
“ Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” – ESV
PP starts the sermon by saying that …
“ what is the thing that he(John) prays for believers above all things? He says beloved, that is you and I, I pray that you may prosper in all things…God wants us to pray for each other that you prosper and not only prosper but be in health… even as your soul prospers!
Now let us look at the context and original plain meaning of the verse. In this letter, John the elder is writing a letter to his friend Gaius. He then starts by writing “beloved, I pray that all may go well with you…” or as the KJV states that thou mayest prosper.
So the question one may ask by just reading v2 is, does God want us all to prosper and be in health?? Oris it just, if you just plainly read it, John’s personal greeting to his friend Gaius?
According to Gordon Fee, ( Disease of the health and wealth gospels), this combination of wishing for things to go well and for the recipient’s ‘good health’ was the standard form of greeting in a personal letter in antiquity (pg 82). It is simply an opening greeting in any letter that we may write ourselves. It is like saying, “ Dear John, I hope everything is well with you.”
To over-spiritualise it and extend it to mean that God wants ALL of us to prosper is simply not the original intention of the writer! In addition, if you look up the greek word for prosper, it is euodoo. It is made up of two root words, Eu, which means “good” and “hodos”, which means a road or progress or a journey. Therefore, John may be simply wishing his friend a good, safe and healthy journey through life! This same word, Euodoo, is also used in Rm 1:10 where Paul states:
“always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.” (NASB)
the word for succeed in greek is ALSO Euodoo! I do not think the apostle Paul meant that he wants to prosper by coming to the Romans!
The KJV translates this more clearly:
“Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” (KJV)
Clearly, the apostle Paul is not advocating getting wealth in Romans, nor should we assume that the apostle John, in his letter to his friend, is instructing all of us Christians that GOD wants us All to prosper!
Interestingly, PP does not speak of the original greek words but would rather study on the nouns and verbs instead. One would assume any study of greek would naturally talk about the words themselves but PP does not talk about this at all in this sermon.
So after using this verse to justify God’s wish for all Christians to be prosperous and be in health, PP, as if remembering what the bible says about prosperity (See James 5 and 1 Tim 6:9), says that in proverbs, “Prosperity destroys fools..” (Prov 1:32) So surely, this does mean that Christians are not fools because prosperity will not destroy us? If so, what does Paul mean to say in 1Tim 6:9 and to whom is he addressing it to?
Is riches only a snare to the unbeliever or is it also a snare to Christians? Again, PP does not expand upon this and goes on to say when your soul prospers, your prosperity becomes a servant. Of course, this is not the meaning of 3 John 1:2 here as I have explained above. At this point, PP suddenly changes the topic to the topic of truth and continues to speak about grace and truth and the forgiveness of sins. He never goes back to the above topic again. It is interesting to note how the main topic gets obscured by the main doctrines of Christianity which are more acceptable than the questionable one in 3 John. I will not go into the main points about the grace message here but will leave you at this point before coming back to it again at a later stage.