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John 17:14-19

14. I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them; because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15. I ask not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17. Sanctify them by thy truth: thy word is truth. 18. As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

 

14. I have given them thy word. He employs a different argument in pleading with the Father on behalf of the disciples. It is, because they need his assistance on account of the hatred of the world. He likewise declares the cause of that hatred to be, that they have embraced the word of God, which the world cannot receive; as if he had said, “It belongs to thee to protect those who, on account of thy word, are hated by the world.” We must now keep in remembrance what we have lately heard, that the end of this prayer is, that Christ’s joy may be fulflled in us As often, therefore, as the rage of the world is kindled against us to such an extent that we think we are very near destruction, let us learn suddenly to ward it off by this shield, that God will never forsake those who labor in defense of the Gospel.

Because they are not of the world. He says that his disciples are not of the world, because all those whom he regenerates by his Spirit are separated from the world God will not suffer his sheep to wander among wolves, without showing himself to be their shepherd.

15. I ask not that thou shouldest take them out of the world. He shows in what the safety of believers 121121     “Des fideles.” consists; not that they are free from every annoyance, and live in luxury and at their ease, but that, in the midst of dangers, they continue to be safe through the assistance of God. For he does not admonish the Father of what is proper to be done, but rather makes provision for their weakness, that, by the method which he prescribes, they may restrain their desires, which are apt to go beyond all bounds. In short, he promises to his disciples the grace of the Father; not to relieve them from all anxiety and toil, but to furnish them with invincible strength against their enemies, and not to suffer them to be overwhelmed by the heavy burden of contests which they will have to endure. If, therefore, we wish to be kept according to the rule which Christ has laid down, we must not desire exemption from evils, or pray to God to convey us immediately into a state of blessed rest, but must rest satisfied with the certain assurance of victory, and, in the meantime, resist courageously all the evils, from which Christ prayed to his Father that we might have a happy issue. In short, God does not take his people out of the world, because he does not wish them to be effeminate and slothful; but he delivers them from evil, that they may not be overwhelmed; for he wishes them to fight, but does not suffer them to be mortally wounded.

16. They are not of the world. That the heavenly Father may be more favourably disposed to assist them, he again says that the whole world hates them, and, at the same time, states that this hatred does not arise from any fault of theirs, but because the world hates God and Christ.

17. Sanctify them by thy truth. This sanctification includes the kingdom of God and his righteousness; that is, when God renews us by his Spirit, and confirms in us the grace of renewal, and continues it to the end. He asks, first, therefore, that the Father would sanctify the disciples, or, in other words, that he would consecrate them entirely to himself, and defend them as his sacred inheritance. Next, he points out the means of sanctification, and not without reason; for there are fanatics who indulge in much useless prattle about sanctification, but who neglect the truth of God, by which he consecrates us to himself. Again, as there are others who chatter quite as foolishly about the truth and yet disregard the word, Christ expressly says that the truth, by which God sanctifies his sons, is not to be found any where else than in the word.

Thy word is truth; for the word here denotes the doctrine of the Gospel, which the apostles had already heard from the mouth of their Master, and which they were afterwards to preach to others. In this sense Paul says that

the Church has been cleansed with the washing of water by the word of life,
(Ephesians 5:26

True, it is God alone who sanctifies; but as

the Gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth,
(Romans 1:16,)

whoever departs from the Gospel as the means must become more and more filthy and polluted.

The truth is here taken, by way of eminence, for the light of heavenly wisdom, in which God manifests himself to us, that he may conform us to his image. The outward preaching of the word, it is true, does not of itself accomplish this, For that preaching is wickedly profaned by the reprobate; but let us remember that Christ speaks of the elect whom the Holy Spirit efficaciously regenerates by the word. Now, as the apostles were not altogether destitute of this grace, we ought to infer from Christ’s words, that sanctification is not instantly completed in us on the first day, but that we make progress in it through the whole course of our life, till at length God, having taken away from us the garment of the flesh, fills us with his righteousness.

18. As thou hast sent me into the world. He confirms his prayer by another argument; namely, because the calling of Christ and of the apostles is the same calling, and is common to both. “I now,” he says, “appoint them to an office, which I have hitherto held by thy command; and, therefore, it is necessary that they should be furnished with the power of thy Spirit, that they may be able to sustain so weighty a charge.”

19. And for their sales I sanctify myself. By these words he explains more clearly from what source that sanctification flows, which is completed in us by the doctrine of the Gospel. It is, because he consecrated himself to the Father, that his holiness might come to us; for as the blessing on the first-fruits is spread over the whole harvest, so the Spirit of God cleanses us by the holiness of Christ and makes us partakers of it. Nor is this done by imputation only, for in that respect he is said to have been made to us righteousness; but he is likewise said to have been made to us sanctification, (1 Corinthians 1:30,) because he has, so to speak, presented us to his Father in his own person, that we may be renewed to true holiness by his Spirit. Besides, though this sanctification belongs to the whole life of Christ, yet the highest illustration of it was given in the sacrifice of his death; for then he showed himself to be the true High Priest, by consecrating the temple, the altar, all the vessels, and the people, by the power of his Spirit.


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