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20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

 


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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 gone.

21. that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they may be one in usThe 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 given.

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 17:21).

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 readers.

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 (Joh 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 Father.

26. And I have declared—I made known or communicated.

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 succeeding ages.

that the love wherewith thou hast loved—lovedst.

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].




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