Summary: I believe by and large Christians don’t have total understanding of what it means for our soul to prosper. Many people say the spirit and the soul are the same thing, however the Word of God differentiates them...
-- American Standard
3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
-- Darby’s Bible
3 John 1:2 Beloved, I desire that in all things thou shouldest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.
I have been meditating on and contemplating this Scripture lately. I believe by and large Christians don’t have total understanding of what it means for our soul to prosper. It would be enlightening to understand what the soul is first before we go on. Many people say the spirit and the soul are the same thing, however the Word of God differentiates them.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
If the soul and spirit were the same thing then why would there be a need to divide them as the Word of God is saying here? Meaning the thoughts and intentions of the heart are not the same as the thoughts and intentions of the soul. Since they are different and need to be divided, it would be beneficial for us to understand this and know why this needs to be so.
What are the differences and why is it important for us to know the differences to have a prosperous soul as the Apostle John is saying. I believe it is critical for us to understand the difference. I believe it is vital in order to know when we are receiving something from God and when it is just our flesh. I know God is a Spirit and that He always communicates with our born again spirit, not our flesh, or mind or soul. I believe it begins with the Word of God, as the writer of Hebrews says. We have to start here. The Word of God is a divider of spirit and soul.
The word heart is often synonymous with spirit in the Bible. It is not talking about the physical beating heart but our spirit. Jesus said this…
John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
We know He was not talking about physical birth, He specifically said born of spirit. It is the spirit of man that is born again. We know this because he goes on to explain in vs. 6-7.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
"Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born again.’
God’s Word tells us … Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.
It is man’s spirit that communicates with God, and also where God communicates with us, not our intellect or emotions.
So we can see that the spirit of man is born again of God. God’s life has been imparted to the one who acknowledges Jesus as Lord. So the question would be if the spirit of man is born of God, then what is the soul? Well, we know it is not the spirit and we know that it is not the flesh, so what is left? Everything else is left. Our emotions, our intellect, our thought processes, and our minds are all things that are not born again. Some would ask if we are born again then isn’t our soul born again too, isn’t our soul saved as well? That is a very good question and gets to the very heart of this discussion.
The writer of Hebrews says this…
Heb:10:39: But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
The literal translations says preservation of the soul
James said this --- James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
James was writing to believers, not the lost. He did not mean to save your spirit. Their spirits were already born again. He said the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. It is able to save your mind. Our minds or souls are not born again, they have to be renewed by the Word of God. This is a process that takes time, being born again happens instantly; the moment you acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
James goes on to say, 22. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24. for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.