The apostle John is writing a letter, or epistle, to those whom he was discipling. His words suggest in the English translation that he asks God to bless their physical being, just as He blesses the soul. A closer look at the meaning of the words, “good health” in the Greek, along with a comparison of how that Greek word is used elsewhere in John’s writings may indicate if this interpretation is correct.
· “Good health” = hugiaínein; from the root word origin, “hugiaino” (Strong’s # NT: 5198) meaning, “to have sound health, i.e. be well (in body); figuratively, to be uncorrupt (true in doctrine).
· Hugiaino originates from another root word, “hugies” (Strong’s # NT: 5199) meaning, “healthy, i.e. well (in body); figuratively, true (in doctrine).”
· Both Greek words “hugiaino” and “hugies” find their origin from a primary verb, “auzano” (Strong’s # NT: 837) meaning, “to grow (‘wax’), i.e. enlarge (literal or figurative, active or passive)”
To understand what John meant when using this Greek word in his epistle, one must first examine the CONTEXT of 3 John chapter one:
3 John 1-4
1:1 The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
1:2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
1:3 For I was very glad when brethren came and bore witness to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.
1:4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
The CONTEXT of what John writes is very clear… love in truth… bearing witness to the truth… walking in the truth. Because TRUTH is the subject matter of John’s letter, it would follow that the application of the Greek word, “hugiaínein” in 3 John 1:2 is leaning toward the FIGURATIVE application.
John’s primary concern was helping his beloved friend Gaius, evident by the opening words of this epistle, “…whom I love in truth.” John’s earnest desire was to see Gaius grow strong in a living expression of God’s truth.
The root word origin and meaning of the Greek word “hugiaino” is incorrectly translated as, “good health.” What John is REALLY talking about is having believers that mature in their relationship with the Father, His son Jesus, and one another by following the most direct path leading them to true teaching.
Hugiaino stems from a cognate “auzano,” which means, “to grow (‘wax’), i.e. enlarge.”
In the text of 3 John 1:2 to “wax” means, “To pass from one state to another; to become; as, to wax strong.”
Thayer's Greek Lexicon defines the words, “may prosper,” as follows:
· “May prosper” = (euodooo, euodoo; NT: 2137) meaning, “to grant a prosperous and expeditious journey, to lead by a direct and easy way.”
The Appropriate Translation below accurately reflects what the apostle John meant in 3 John 1:2.
Ministers, preachers, and televangelists, to substantiate their fetish for “health, wealth, and prosperity” doctrines, have misused this passage for decades. They promote a counterfeit set of guidelines, using the passage in 3 John 1:2 to reinforce THEIR perception OF God’s will, which they believe ALWAYS includes physical well-being (i.e. – “good health”) and a disease-free life for the New Testament believer.
God’s ways are not our ways, and the true believer knows suffering, affliction and illness are the sharp instruments of the Great Physician who uses them to cut out “self” and make His beloved child in good health ON THE INSIDE.
Even Jesus was called a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, maladies and sickness. The fact is, Jesus most likely suffered tremendous physical distress and illness for the better part of his adult life.
Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like one from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him. AMP
The next time you hear 3 John 1:2 misused, take an inventory of your own life, and ask yourself this question, “Am I being led on the most direct and uncorrupted path, or am I looking for the road that leads to destruction?”