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John may be hinting here that his dear friend was not well, and that John was praying for restored health: “I want you to be as healthy in body as you are in soul!” If this is the case, then it is evidence that it is possible to be spiritually healthy and physically sick. However, this kind of a greeting was quite common in that day, so we must not build too much on it.

As a general principle, God wants us to be in good health. We should pray for that for all our brothers and sisters.

Dear friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and are in good health, just as your whole life is going well.

3 John 2 (CSB)

However, it is clear that Gaius was a man whose “spiritual health” was evident to all. “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).

  • Physical health is the result of nutrition, exercise, cleanliness, proper rest, and the disciplined order of a balanced life. Spiritual health is the result of similar factors.
  • We must nourish ourselves with the Word, and then “work out” that nourishment in godly exercise.
  • We must keep ourselves clean and avoid the contamination and pollution that is in the world.
  • While exercise and service are important, it is also important that we rest in the Master and gain new strength through fellowship with Him.

A balanced life is a healthy and happy life, a life that honors God.

  • Jeremiah 8:15 (CSB) — 15 We hoped for peace, but there was nothing good; for a time of healing, but there was only terror.
  • John 5:6 (CSB) — 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well?”
  • John 5:9 (CSB) — 9 Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk. Now that day was the Sabbath,
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (CSB) — 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When illness does come, it may not be the result of God’s direct intervention in our lives, but is rather the result of the fallen world, fallen bodies, and poor health and lifestyle choices. And although there are scriptural indicators that God wants us to be in good health, (3 John 2), all sickness and disease are allowed by Him for His purposes, whether we understand them or not.

Sickness is certainly the result of the fall of man into sin, but God is very much in control, and He does indeed determine how far evil can go (just as He did with Satan and Job’s trials—Satan was not allowed to exceed those boundaries). He tells us He is all-powerful over fifty times in the Bible, and it is amazing to see how His sovereignty unites with the choices we make (both bad and good) to work out His perfect plan.

For those who are believers and suffering with sickness, illness, and/or disease in this life, the knowledge that they can glorify God through their suffering tempers the uncertainty as to why He has allowed it, something they may not utterly understand until they stand in His presence in eternity. At that time, all questions will be answered, or perhaps more accurately, we will no longer care about the questions themselves.