As John began his 2nd letter, so did he begin his 3rd letter. He refers to himself simply as “The Elder.” He writes, “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. 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.” By dating this letter, it appears that John was the only Apostle left alive. Most commentators agree that it was probably John’s last Epistle penned before his death sometime around 90 AD. If the term “Elder” referred to those Apostles who exercised authority over many churches, it’s easy to understand why John called himself “The” Apostle. All the rest were dead by that time.

John is writing to the “beloved Gaius.”

Paul addressed one of his prison epistles to Philemon, and here John addresses his 3rd Epistle to an individual named “Gaius.” Osborne observes,  “Several people with the name Gaius are mentioned in the NT: (1) a Macedonian traveling companion of Paul (Acts 19:29); (2) a native of Derbe in Lycaonia, who traveled with Paul from Ephesus to Macedonia (Acts 20:4); (3) a prominent believer who hosted Paul and the whole church in Corinth (Rom 16:23; 1 Cor 1:14). The Gaius in 3 John was probably a different person than these three inasmuch as “Gaius” was a common name in those days.”[1] Instead of the literal “beloved,” some translations say “my dear friend.”  As a dear friend, John is legitimately concerned for Gaius and tells him that he is praying for him. Maybe John is setting an example of how we should pray for each other.

John prays that all will go well with Gaius.

This is a general prayer for favorable life circumstances. Life is complicated for everyone, and I expect it was for Gaius. Although modern advances make our lives more difficult, relationships never change. We all have those complications. John is praying that these situations are pleasant in Gaius’ life. I take comfort in thinking that John might even care for my well-being. I would expect that when John asks, “how are you?” he really wants to know. I should learn something from that.

John also prays for Gaius’ health.

Specifically, he prays, that you may enjoy good health. At many of our church prayer meetings, this is a primary concern. Recently, we’ve struggled with a Covid pandemic, and we’ve all had it, or we know those that have had it. We’ve prayed for people to recover from this quickly with no lasting effects. We’ve also prayed for more severe afflictions like cancer and life-threatening things. It’s good to lift each other up regarding our health.

But John also prays for the Gaius’ soul.

I’ve wrestled with what John means by this. In the Church, it seems that the “soul” refers to that inward part of man that can connect with God. Case suggests, “We can say that John’s concern is for the inner being of Gaius, in all of its functions related to mind, emotion, will, and faith.”[2] The way this prayer is worded, it appears that John is saying my prayer is that “you may be as prosperous and robust in spiritual matters as you are in bodily and material things.”[3] There is such a thing as soul prosperity that does not have to be connected with material or physical prosperity. According to Paul, contentment in whatever life circumstances we find ourselves in is great gain. I can see that in the prison cell in Philippi where Paul and Silas were locked up yet singing hymns. I want that soul prosperity, wouldn’t you?

[1] Osborne, Grant, Philip W. Comfort. 2007. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 13: John and 1, 2, and 3 John. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Case, David A., and David W. Holdren. 2006. 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude: A Commentary for Bible Students. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

[3] MacLaren, Alexander. 2009. Expositions of Holy Scripture: 1 John 5, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.