Over the last decade, one of the focal points within certain segments of the Church, the Body of Christ, has been material prosperity. The second verse of the third Epistle of John has been among the verses used to support the view that emphasizes God’s desire for believers to experience physical well-being and material wealth—to be “healthy and wealthy.”
3 John 2
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. (KJV)
The English Standard Version offers this expression of the same verse.
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.
This particular verse brought to mind a poem written as a personal commentary on God’s desire for believers.
A Question of Wealth
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper
in all things and be in health,
just as your soul prospers.
3 John 2
How do you measure the fullest meaning of wealth?
What is the total value? How much is the price
Of a fruitful spirit, a sound mind and good health?
Can you calculate the sum and then square it twice?
To prosper and be in health, even as your soul
Prospers cannot be measured by any amount
Withdrawn from the world’s treasures, for even the whole
Earth could never contain so vast a bank account.
But those who set their affections on things above
And not on things on the earth are free to explore
The infinite riches of God’s favor and love,
For they alone know their true value even more.
The truly rich ask to receive and seek to find
The priceless wealth of strength in God and peace of mind.
In taking a closer look at that particular verse and other related scriptures, we find that the longing of God’s heart extends beyond just the physical or material. God’s ultimate desire is that believers experience a state of total well-being: where everywhere and at all times, we abide in peace. This state of total well-being is reflected in the Hebrew expression “shalom” which we understand to be a universal greeting meaning “peace.” As the following comments by the Refiner’s Fire indicate:
‘Shalom’ is used to both greet people and to bid them farewell, and it means much more than “peace, hello or goodbye”…. Hebrew words go beyond their spoken pronunciation. Each Hebrew word conveys feeling, intent and emotion. Shalom is more than just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony.
According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.
The essence of this sublime state of total well-being is expressed in the phrase “It is well.” In its most literal sense, when one is asked, “How is it going?” The response should be “shalom. . . I have peace. . . It is well.” The phrase “It is well” immediately brings to mind one of the most popular hymns of the Christian Church: “It is Well with My Soul.” Listen to a moving rendition of this timeless classic by the Isaacs, who also provide the historical background of the experience that lead to the composing of the song:
Despite the circumstances of life, which at times can be most tempestuous, God’s desire is that we be whole or that we be complete, perfect or full or experience total “wellness” or wholeness. God’s will is revealed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)
Continually God reminds us through His Word that He is the God of peace, who gives peace through the Prince of Peace, through who we are made whole, that we might be complete, perfect or full or experience total “wellness” or wholeness, that we also might continually proclaim: “It is well with my soul.”