Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, author, and former newspaper columnist. She has degrees in Psychology and Biblical studies
Misunderstanding Biblical Context
When it comes to the Bible, prosperity preachers have been falsely teaching the body of Christ that the Word of the Lord is like a magic charm. Pick a chapter and verse that seems to promise something good and quote it three times a day to make the Almighty move in your life. One scripture in particular that continues to be abused is III John 2 which reads in King James.
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
In pulpits everywhere and especially on “Christian” television, preachers teach that this verse is a guarantee that the Creator desires His children to prosper financially and be healthy. These wolves in sheep clothing say that if you join their church and or give your tithes and offerings to their ministry, this will unlock the power from heaven so your every dream will come true. This a gross example of taking scripture out of context because in III John 2 our Heavenly Father is not speaking. This is actually a letter that John wrote to his friend Gaius.
John sends greetings to Gaius
The context of III John 2 is that John, a disciple and later an Apostle of Jesus Christ has written a letter to a dear associate by the name of Gaius. He opens by addressing his friend as “beloved.” This is a greeting, a salutation from one man to another. Back in the day when most people sent handwritten letters hey often began with: “ I hope this correspondence finds you well and good “ or “ How are you today.” John is the author of this greeting to Gaius and simply saying that he, John wishes to see his dear friend prosper and be in good health above all else. Even so, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard preachers as well as laypeople quote this and follow it with:” God says right here He wants you to prosper and be in good health.” Some have added that if it is in the Bible then you can claim it, but how do you lay hold of a promise He never made?
Certainly, we know that our Heavenly Father desires the best for us but, we live in a fallen world where sickness, disease, and poverty are a result of the original sin. The bottom line of the Bible is that once Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, Satan had a right to us. Christ came 42 generations later to save us from eternal damnation. Christians are supposed to be letting our lights shine and leading others to salvation. Instead, many churches are falsely teaching that the Bible promised good health and prosperity based on III John 2 and other misquoted verses.
The Heavenly Father is not speaking in this scripture
It’s really troubling that so many licensed, ordained, seminary trained, pastors, apostles, and bishops are leading His sheep astray. It’s even more disturbing that untold numbers of church-going saints don’t understand Biblical context. The Bible is said to be written on a fourth-grade level, so III John 2 should be elementary. God is not speaking in this verse, therefore, what John writes to Gaius is not a promise from heaven. Beloved-Gaius, I-John should be easy to understand. Let’s say that again, Beloved Gaius-I John.
By teaching this is a promise from the Father when He is not speaking amounts to lying. This may sound harsh but I know people who have quoted this scripture saying God promises them healing and they died. Genesis 4:1 begins with Adam knew Eve. Everyone Understands that this indicates that the first married couple became intimate. No one ever says that God is speaking or He is promising anything. The confusion comes in with scriptures that mention health and or wealth. Believers in Christ want to believe that John writing to Gaius is a promise from the Lord because they desire prosperity and health. There is nothing wrong with either one but we should rightly divide His word and not attempt to make it say what it does not.
Always seek Biblical truth
If you still believe III John 2 is a promise from the Lord all you have to do is read the verse which precedes it as well as the rest of the chapter.
Verse 1 says:
The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
This chapter starts off by telling the reader that John the Elder is writing to his friend. Nowhere in the entire chapter does it say the Lord is promising anyone anything. This is why it is so important to read the verse before and after those that prosperity preachers are pushing. When you understand Biblical context you can’t go wrong. Always know who is talking and who. it is they are addressing. Be certain of the context of the Written Word, even if you find that truth contradicts what you have been taught. One man sending a written salutation to another is not our Heavenly Father promising anyone anything.
© 2020 Cheryl E Preston
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 06, 2020:
It is obvious that you really care for the flock, and you do a tremendous job educating us. Thanks!
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on February 04, 2020:
Yes Margaret that’s why I enjoy knowing you. I learn a lot from how He used you. He needs His truth shared.
Margaret Minnicks from Richmond, VA on February 04, 2020:
Cheryl, you were crystal clear with your explanation of the scripture that church leaders and laypeople often misinterpret. You are I are so much alike in that we teach that in order to understand a scripture, we must read what comes before it and what comes after it.
The entire book of Third John consists of only one chapter. It is so sad that people don't read that one chapter and get the right meaning. As you stated, they try to make it mean what they want it to mean, especially when it comes to prosperity.
Thanks for sharing this.