Joh 17:1-26. The
(See on Joh 14:1). Had this
prayer not been recorded, what reverential reader would not have
exclaimed, Oh, to have been within hearing of such a prayer as that
must have been, which wound up the whole of His past ministry and
formed the point of transition to the dark scenes which immediately
followed! But here it is, and with such signature of the Lips that
uttered it that we seem rather to hear it from Himself than read it
from the pen of His faithful reporter.
1-3. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his
eyes—"John very seldom depicts the gestures or looks of our
Lord, as here. But this was an occasion of which the impression was
indelible, and the upward look could not be passed over" [Alford].
Father, the hour is come—(See on Joh 13:31, 32).
glorify thy Son—Put honor upon Thy
Son, by countenancing, sustaining, and carrying Him through that
him power over all flesh—(See on Mt 11:27; Mt 28:18-20).
give eternal life to as many as,
&c.—literally, "to all that which thou hast given him." (See
on Joh 6:37-40).
3. this is—that.
life eternal, that they might—may.
know, &c.—This life eternal, then,
is not mere conscious and unending existence, but a life of
acquaintance with God in Christ (Job 22:21).
thee, the only true God—the sole
personal living God; in glorious contrast equally with heathen
polytheism, philosophic naturalism, and mystic
and Jesus Christ whom thou hast
sent—This is the only place where our Lord gives Himself this
compound name, afterwards so current in apostolic preaching and
writing. Here the terms are used in their strict
signification—"Jesus," because He
"saves His people from their sins"; "Christ," as anointed with the measureless
fulness of the Holy Ghost for the exercise of His saving offices (see
on Mt 1:16); "Whom Thou
hast sent," in the plenitude of Divine Authority and Power, to
save. "The very juxtaposition here of Jesus Christ with the
Father is a proof, by implication, of our Lord's Godhead. The
knowledge of God and a creature could not be eternal life, and
such an association of the one with the other would be inconceivable"
4, 5. I have glorified thee on the
earth—rather, "I glorified" (for the thing is conceived as
I have finished—I finished.
the work which thou gavest me to do—It
is very important to preserve in the translation the past tense,
used in the original, otherwise it might be thought that the work
already "finished" was only what He had done before uttering
that prayer; whereas it will be observed that our Lord speaks
throughout as already beyond this present scene (Joh 17:12, &c.), and so must be supposed to
include in His "finished work" the "decease which He was to accomplish
5. And now—in return.
glorify thou me—The "I Thee"
and "Thou Me" are so placed in the original, each beside its
fellow, as to show that A PERFECT RECIPROCITY
OF SERVICES of the Son to the Father first, and then of the
Father to the Son in return, is what our Lord means here to
with the glory which I had with thee before the
world was—when "in the beginning the Word was with
God" (Joh 1:1), "the
only-begotten Son in the bosom of the Father" (Joh 1:18). With this pre-existent glory, which He
veiled on earth, He asks to be reinvested, the design of the veiling
being accomplished—not, however, simply as before, but now in
6-8. From praying for Himself He now comes to
pray for His disciples.
I have manifested—I manifested.
thy name—His whole character towards
to the men thou gavest me out of the
world—(See on Joh 6:37-40).
8. they … have known surely that I came out
from thee—(See on Joh 16:29; Joh 16:31).
9-14. I pray for them—not as individuals
merely, but as representatives of all such in every succeeding age (see
on Joh 17:20).
not for the world—for they had been
given Him "out of the world" (Joh 17:6), and had been already transformed into
the very opposite of it. The things sought for them, indeed, are
applicable only to such.
10. all mine are thine, and thine are
mine—literally, "All My things are Thine and Thy things are
Mine." (On this use of the neuter gender, see on Joh 6:37-40). Absolute COMMUNITY
OF PROPERTY between the Father and the Son is here expressed as
nakedly as words can do it. (See on Joh
11. I am no more in the world—(See on Joh 17:4).
but these are in the world—that is,
Though My struggles are at an end, theirs are not; though I have gotten
beyond the scene of strife, I cannot sever Myself in spirit from them,
left behind and only just entering on their great conflict.
Holy Father—an expression He nowhere
else uses. "Father" is His wonted appellation, but "Holy"
is here prefixed, because His appeal was to that perfection of the
Father's nature, to "keep" or preserve them from being tainted by the
unholy atmosphere of "the world" they were still in.
keep through thine own name—rather,
"in thy name"; in the exercise of that gracious and holy character for
which He was known.
that they may be one—(See on Joh 17:21).
12. I kept—guarded.
them in thy name—acting as Thy
Representative on earth.
none of them is lost, but the son of
perdition—It is not implied here that the son of perdition
was one of those whom the Father had given to the Son, but rather the
contrary (Joh 13:18)
[Webster and Wilkinson]. It is just as in Lu 4:26, 27, where we are not to suppose that
the woman of Sarepta (in Sidon) was one of the widows of
Israel, nor Naaman the Syrian one of the lepers in
Israel, though the language—the same as here—might
seem to express it.
son of perdition—doomed to it (2Th 2:3;
13. I speak in the world, that they might have my
joy fulfilled in themselves—that is, Such a strain befits
rather the upper sanctuary than the scene of conflict; but I speak so
"in the world," that My joy, the joy I experience in knowing
that such intercessions are to be made for them by their absent Lord,
may be tasted by those who now hear them, and by all who shall
hereafter read the record of them,
15-19. I pray not that thou shouldest take them
out of the world—for that, though it would secure their own
safety, would leave the world unblessed by their testimony.
but … keep them from the
evil—all evil in and of the world.
16. They are not of the world, even as I am not of
the world—(See Joh 15:18, 19). This is reiterated here, to pave the
way for the prayer which follows.
17. Sanctify them—As the former prayer,
"Keep them," was "negative," asking protection for them
from the poisonous element which surrounded and pressed upon their
renewed nature, so this prayer, "Sanctify them," is positive,
asking the advancement and completion of their begun
thy truth—God's revealed truth, as the
medium or element of sanctification; a statement this of immense
thy word is truth—(Compare Joh 15:3; Col 1:5; Eph 1:13).
18. As thou hast sent—sentest.
me into the world, even so have I also sent
them—sent I also them.
into the world—As their mission was to
carry into effect the purposes of their Master's mission, so our Lord
speaks of the authority in both cases as co-ordinate.
19. And for their sakes I
myself that they also might—may.
be sanctified—consecrated. The only
difference between the application of the same term to Christ and the
disciples is, as applied to Christ, that it means only to
"consecrate"; whereas, in application to the disciples, it means to
consecrate with the additional idea of previous sanctification,
since nothing but what is holy can be presented as an offering. The
whole self-sacrificing work of the disciples appears here as a mere
result of the offering of Christ [Olshausen].
the truth—Though the article is
wanting in the original here, we are not to translate, as in the
Margin, "truly sanctified"; for the reference seems
plainly to be "the truth" mentioned in Joh 17:17. (See on Joh
20-23. Neither pray I for these
alone—This very important explanation, uttered in
condescension to the hearers and readers of this prayer in all time, is
meant not merely of what follows, but of the whole prayer.
them also which shall believe—The
majority of the best manuscripts read "which believe," all future time
being viewed as present, while the present is viewed as past and
21. that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art
in me, and I in thee, that they may be one in us—The
indwelling Spirit of the Father and the Son is the one perfect bond
of union, knitting up into a living unity, first all believers amongst
themselves; next, this unity into one still higher, with the Father and
the Son. (Observe, that Christ never mixes Himself up with His
disciples as He associates Himself with the Father, but says I in
THEM and THEY in US).
that the world may believe that thou hast sent
me—sentest me. So the grand impression upon the world at
large, that the mission of Christ is divine, is to be made by the
unity of His disciples. Of course, then, it must be something that
shall be visible or perceptible to the world. What is it, then?
Not certainly a merely formal, mechanical unity of ecclesiastical
machinery. For as that may, and to a large extent does, exist in both
the Western and Eastern churches, with little of the Spirit of Christ,
yea much, much with which the Spirit of Christ cannot dwell so instead
of convincing the world beyond its own pale of the divinity of
the Gospel, it generates infidelity to a large extent within its own
bosom. But the Spirit of Christ, illuminating, transforming, and
reigning in the hearts of the genuine disciples of Christ, drawing them
to each other as members of one family, and prompting them to loving
co-operation for the good of the world—this is what, when
sufficiently glowing and extended, shall force conviction upon the
world that Christianity is divine. Doubtless, the more that differences
among Christians disappear—the more they can agree even in minor
matters—the impression upon the world may be expected to be
greater. But it is not dependent upon this; for living and
loving oneness in Christ is sometimes more touchingly seen even amidst
and in spite of minor differences, than where no such differences exist
to try the strength of their deeper unity. Yet till this living
brotherhood in Christ shall show itself strong enough to destroy the
sectarianism, selfishness, carnality, and apathy that eat out the heart
of Christianity in all the visible sections of it, in vain shall we
expect the world to be overawed by it. It is when "the Spirit shall be
poured upon us from on high," as a Spirit of truth and love, and upon
all parts of the Christian territory alike, melting down differences
and heart burnings, kindling astonishment and shame at past
unfruitfulness, drawing forth longings of catholic affection, and
yearnings over a world lying in wickedness, embodying themselves in
palpable forms and active measures—it is then that we may expect
the effect here announced to be produced, and then it will be
irresistible. Should not Christians ponder these things? Should not
the same mind be in them which was also in Christ Jesus about this
matter? Should not His prayer be theirs?
22. And the glory which thou gavest—hast
me I have given them, that they may be one, even
as we are one—The last clause shows the meaning of the first.
It is not the future glory of the heavenly state, but the secret
of that present unity just before spoken of; the glory,
therefore, of the indwelling Spirit of Christ; the glory of an
accepted state, of a holy character, of every grace.
23. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be
made perfect in one—(See on Joh
24-26. Father, I will—The majesty of
this style of speaking is quite transparent. No petty criticism will be
allowed to fritter it away in any but superficial or perverted
be with me where I am—(See on Joh 14:3).
that they may behold my glory which thou hast
given me—(See on Joh 17:5). Christ
regards it as glory enough for us to be admitted to see and gaze for
ever upon His glory! This is "the beatific vision"; but it shall
be no mere vision, for "we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him
as He is" (1Jo 3:2).
25. O righteous Father, the world hath not known
thee—knew thee not.
but I have known thee—knew thee.
and these have known—knew.
that thou hast sent—sentest
me—As before He said "Holy
Father," when desiring the display of that perfection on His disciples
17:11), so here He styles Him
"Righteous Father," because He is appealing to His righteousness
or justice, to make a distinction between those two diametrically
opposite classes—"the world," on the one hand, which would
not "know the Father, though brought so nigh to it in the Son of His
love, and, on the other, Himself, who recognized and owned Him,
and even His disciples, who owned His mission from the
26. And I have declared—I made known or
thy name—in His past ministry.
and will declare it—in yet larger
measure, by the gift of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost and through all
that the love wherewith thou hast
me may be in them, and I in them—This
eternal love of the Father, resting first on Christ, is by His Spirit
imparted to and takes up its permanent abode in all that believe in
Him; and "He abiding in them and they in Him" (Joh 15:5), they are "one Spirit." "With
this lofty thought the Redeemer closes His prayer for His disciples,
and in them for His Church through all ages. He has compressed into the
last moments given Him for conversation with His own the most sublime
and glorious sentiments ever uttered by mortal lips. But hardly has the
sound of the last word died away, when He passes with the disciples
over the brook Kedron to Gethsemane—and the bitter conflict draws
on. The seed of the new world must be sown in Death, that thence Life
may spring up" [Olshausen].