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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

John 17

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

CONTENTS

The Lord Jesus having finished in the foregoing Chapter his Sermon, here follows it up with Prayer. He first makes the Subject of it Personal, in Relation to Himself and the Father. He next offers up Prayer for his Apostles. And, lastly, for his whole Church.


Verses 1-5

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: (2) As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. (4) I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (5) And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

I desire to enter upon this Chapter with all humility of soul, looking up for continual grace to go before me, and follow me, as I tread over every part of the sacred ground in the contents of it. And I request the Reader to remember, that in every observation which I venture to propose, I propose it but as an humble offering rather of enquiry than of decision. May God the Holy Ghost be my teacher!

And, first, let us contemplate the glorious Speaker, and the manner in which he opened this wonderful prayer. He had been unfolding his very heart in all the fulness which lay there of his love to his people. He now opens his very heart to his Father. And, as our Great High Priest, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, as intimating the heaven of his mind, and said, Father! the hour is come! What hour? Nay, that hour for which the numbering of hours became important, and to which every preceding hour from the fall, in the time-state of the Church ministered. It was that hour to which heaven and earth had respect, in the death of Christ, as the one grand and momentous event of all time, and to the accomplishment of which the Lord of hosts referred, when he said, And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. Zechariah 3:9.

Glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee. I pray the Reader not to overlook in this request of Jesus, the mutual interest which is expressed in the object desired. It hath been before observed, that the glory of the Lord Jesus, as God - Man-Mediator, never was more highly manifested than when it brake through the dark cloud which covered the face of the earth at Christ's crucifixion. And what transcendent dignity and glory did Jehovah put upon Christ, when he committed to him the great work of redemption. Yea, in the very hour, as Christ called it, (though it was six full hours he hung upon the cross,) when Christ bore in his own person the sins of all his Church, and the wrath of God due to sin; yet such was the victory he then obtained over death, hell, and the grave, and such the everlasting happiness he procured by it for his members, and such the rich revenue of everlasting glory and honor to himself by this one offering of himself, that it may be truly said, never did Jehovah more fully glorify his dear Son, through the whole of his ministry, than on that solemn, but most auspicious day. And on the other hand, never was Jehovah more glorified, than by the obedience and blood shedding of his dear Son in our nature. For although, strictly and properly speaking, God in his essence and perfections is incapable of receiving accessions to his glory by any acts offered unto him, no, not even by Christ himself, for so Jesus by the Spirit of prophecy ages before had said; (see Psalms 16:2-3.) yet in the manifested glory of the Lord, as sin had attempted to tarnish it, Jesus, by his great undertaking, had done more than restored it. For what could more display the glory of Jehovah, than One in his own nature fulfilling all his commands, when taking into himself an union with our's , and thus giving a perfection to his obedience, as the obedience of the God - Man Christ Jesus? Here was glory indeed manifested to the Lord, such as the everlasting and unsinning obedience of men and angels, yea, the whole creation of God to all eternity could not have wrought. This then Jesus did, when having by his righteousness brought in an everlasting righteousness, and by his death having overcome death; he finished transgression, made an end of sin, made reconciliation for iniquity, destroyed Satan's empire, procured salvation for his whole body the Church, and restored perfect order among all the works of God. Full of these grand ideas, and infinitely more than our highest conceptions can possibly enter into, we may suppose the mind of the Great Redeemer of his Church to have been occupied, when with his eyes lifted to heaven, he said, Father! the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee!

Our Lord proceeds. As thou hast given him power over all flesh. Here let us pause, and ponder well those words of Christ, which he speaks as Christ-God-Man. Not as God only, for as such he could have nothing given him. All was his, in common with the Father, and the Holy Ghost. But Jesus here speaks in his office-character, in the covenant. It is of the highest importance to have a proper apprehension of these things. The everlasting covenant between the persons of the Godhead, for making manifest all that is communicable of Jehovah's glory to his creatures, consists in certain office-characters, by which each glorious person in the Godhead is known. Both the eternal and original appointment of the Church before all worlds, and the recovery and salvation of the Church during her time-state of being, are the result of everlasting love, equally flowing from the Holy Three in One; and by which the whole become the equal and united object of love, obedience, and praise to all eternity, In these office-characters, the Scriptures inform us, how each glorious person co-operated in the accomplishment of the great design. And, as on the part of the Father, he is said to have sent the Son to be the Savior of the world, 1 John 4:14. and the Lord Jesus is said to have all things given to him by the Father, John 3:35 so here Christ speaks of it under this view, and in his office-character, as God - Man-Mediator. It is in this sense the Lord Jesus thus expressed himself in those words.

And it may not be improper to remark, that this power is said by Christ to be given to him over all flesh. Not simply in relation to his Church, but as universal and eternal Lord of heaven and earth. Paul saith, that by Christ were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth. And not only created by him, but for him; and that by him all things consist. So that he is not only the head of his body the Church, but the fulness which filleth all in all. I pray the Reader to consult those scriptures. Colossians 1:15-20; Ephesians 1:15, to the end. We begin at the middle of the subject in relation to Christ as God-Man-Mediator, when we begin at his work of redemption. The Son of God, as the Wisdom of God, was set up from everlasting. Proverbs 8:22-31. And the Church had a being in Christ, as Christ, before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4; Eph_3:9-11. And who shall say what other objects were designed in the infinite mind of Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in One of those sacred Persons taking into union with himself that holy portion of human nature, by which the Son of God became man? Who shall determine what other glory, beside that of Jehovah's glory in the Church, hath been and shall everlastingly be manifested by it? Nay, who shall draw the limits to what that glory shall extend, in the wonderful discovery made of Jehovah in the person of Christ, without whom, as it should seem from scripture, no manifestation could have been made forever? John 1:18. - But I can venture no further.

We see then by our Lord's words, that Christ hath power given him over all flesh. And Jesus adds, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father had given him. Pause over these precious words. And, first, observe what an unanswerable proof they carry with them of the Godhead of Christ. For who less than the Eternal God, can give Eternal life? The very possession of the property implies the eternal nature of the possessor. Reader! never lose sight of this! Next observe what Jesus speaks of those to whom he is to give eternal life. It is to as many as the Father hath given him. If there were no other passage in Scripture, this would be sufficient in proof that Christ hath a Church, for whom this blessing of eternal life, with all its preliminaries, is intended. But the word of God is full in point to the same purport. John 6:37; Joh_10:27-30; 1 John 5:11-12; Jude 1:1. Reader! what a sweet thought ariseth out of this view, short as it is, concerning Christ's power, and concerning Christ's office-character. Jesus hath eternal life, yea, is himself eternal life. And Jesus hath it to impart to as many as the Father hath given him; yea, is himself their life, and their portion forever. John 14:19-20.

Our blessed Lord next proceeds to shew, as far as our present unripe faculties can comprehend the subject, in what this eternal life consists. Jesus saith, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Our apprehensions go but a little way in this subject. Life, in every sense of the word, is a mystery. Our natural life is involved in endless difficulties to explain. That we live, and that we perform the several actions of life, we know. And the word of the Lord informs us, that it is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28. But further our greatest discoveries do not extend. Spiritual life becomes yet more remote from our knowledge, more than of the fact itself. And eternal life Jesus here declares to consist in the knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. Here then we have authority to conclude, that in the proper apprehension of the only true God, in his three-fold character of persons, and of the person, and offices, and relations of Jesus Christ, as the God-Man-Mediator the glorious Head and Husband of his Church, this is life eternal. Our Lord doth not say that it leads to it, but that it is. Not that this knowledge shall hereafter bring the happy possessors of it to life eternal, but that it is now already in possession. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. John 3:1. So that this eternal life, be it what it may, is not to be the possession only of the world to come; but in the present state. For being in Christ, in the possession of Him; his people possess eternal life in him.

I do not think it necessary, to detain the Reader, with endeavouring to explain, what all the Bible in every part is explaining, in relation to the knowledge of God, and of Christ. I shall only beg to observe, that it is not concerning the nature and Being of Jehovah, and the mode of his existence, that is proposed to us in those words of Christ, or any other part of Scripture, to know. These subjects must ever be, both in time, and to all eternity, beyond the grasp of our faculties. Jehovah would no longer be incomprehensible, if any of his creatures could attain that knowledge. But the knowledge our Lord speaks of, is in relation to those discoveries, which he hath been pleased to make of himself, in his threefold character of Persons, in the departments of nature, providence, grace, and glory; and which have a special regard to his Church and people. Reader! I humbly conceive, that this is life eternal, to know God the Father in his office-character! his everlasting love to the Church in Christ before the foundation of the world: to know God the Son in his office-character, his oneness and union with the Father in his divine nature; and his oneness and union with his Church in his human nature: And to know God the Holy Ghost, as distinct in Person from both, yet in essence and in glory One with the Father and the Son; and in relation to his office-character to the Church, loving the Church with the same everlasting love, and as engaged in all Covenant offices, for her being, and well being in Christ, to all eternity.

This I humbly conceive to form the outlines of what the Lord Jesus Christ hath here said, of life eternal: to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Isaiah 48:16.

Our Lord proceeds. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. Reader! let you and I seek grace to bless God, for what Jesus hath here said. None but Jesus could thus speak. No angel of light; no, nor the whole creation of God, could ever adopt such language. For although Jehovah's glory is seen in them, and by them; and in this sense the Psalmist speaks, when he saith, The heavens declare the glory of God, etc. Psalms 19:1. Yet nothing can add to Jehovah's glory, neither can any take from it. But in the Person of the God-Man Christ Jesus, Jehovah is glorified, and hath been glorified, when in the dignity of his Person and work, the glory of Jehovah is made manifest, to the whole intellectual creation of God. And what endears this view of Christ still more, is the part which his Church bears in it; because in the great work, the Lord Jesus stood forth and acted as the Head, and Representative of his people. Reader! do not fail to connect this view of the subject, with Christ's finished work. The Church of Christ, in every individual member, hath all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Jesus, our Head and Husband, hath fulfilled all righteousness; and hath done the whole for his people. Yea, in consequence of the perfection of his Person, and the perfection of his work, being the obedience and merits of God-Man Mediator; he hath done more in honoring God's law, than we have done by sin to dishonor God: and infinite in value, and in efficiency, is the finished work of Christ. Oh! for grace, while we thus contemplate our Great High Priest and Representative, in the close of his ministry, thus speaking to the Father, in giving in before him the blessed accomplishment of his mission; all his Church and people may by faith come under the Censer of his Incense, and behold our complete justification in Him!

And now, (saith Jesus,) O Father, glorify thou me with thine own-self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. The work finished, Christ looks to the consequences, as by Covenant settlements agreed upon. Hence the Apostle saith, when speaking of Christ; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2.

The great question here is, what glory doth Jesus here allude to! I speak with all possible reverence when I say, I humbly apprehend, it could not be that essential underived glory, which equally belongs to the whole, and to each Person of the Godhead, as Jehovah. For the Son of God, as God, could never ask, or receive this; being from all eternity his own. But the glory here spoken of by Christ, seems very plainly to refer to that glory which belonged to Him as God-Man Mediator, when from everlasting he stood up, the Head, and Husband of his Church. There was a Personal glory as God-Man, which he had with the Father before the world was, before that he became incarnate; in the time-state of the Church, and consequently before that Jesus had acquired any office-glory, in finishing the work the Father gave him to do. Yea, the Son of God had this glory, as God-Man, from the union of nature of God and Man in one Person, though he had never in the time-state of the Church purchased the glory of redemption, in bringing his Church out of the ruins of the fall. But while I say thus much, I beg it may be understood, that I do not presume to say which of those glories it was to which Christ referred: whether of Person or of Office, or of both, when he thus addressed the Father.

Thus much, however, we may, under divine teaching, safely say; Christ had a glory with the Father before the world was. In the time-state of the Church during his ministry, this glory was in a great measure obscured. For, although he manifested forth his glory by miracles; and occasionally as in the Mount of Transfiguration, there was given certain burstings forth, in proof, that in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:9. Yet it may be truly said, that while upon earth, he for the most part appeared, as the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. But though I presume not to speak concerning the nature of that glory which the Lord Jesus had in view in those words: yet I detain the Reader to observe, that we learn from them those very sweet and precious instructions. First, That Christ, as Christ, that is, the Son of God in our nature, had glory in this Personal Character with the Father before all worlds. Secondly, That the glory Jesus here speaks of, was a glory which he had with the Father; though the distinction of the Persons at the same time is hereby plainly proved. And thirdly. As the Lord Jesus prays to be glorified by the Father, with thine own self: (as Jesus wordeth it,) the unity and design of the whole Godhead, in all the purposes and pleasure of Jehovah, concerning the Church, is fully manifested and confirmed. My Father worketh hitherto, (saith Christ,) and I work. John 5:17.

Thus far, this prayer of our Lord, had special respect to himself and his Father. In which the Reader will perceive, how much our dear Lord dwells upon those great points; the glory which he had manifested of his Father, in his finished work in time: and the glory to which Jesus looked, both in what was opening before him, in the hour now come; and in the future enjoyment of the same glory, which he had with the Father, before all worlds. Precious Jesus! may all thy Church know thee in all thy glory; and every knee bow before thee, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.


Verses 6-19

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. (7) Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. (8) For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. (9) I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (10) And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. (11) And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may he one, as we are. (12) While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (13) And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (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 pray 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 through thy truth: thy word is truth. (18) As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. (19) And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

In this part of our Lord's prayer, Jesus hath a special eye to his Apostles; not indeed to the exclusion of any of his Church, which no doubt were all alike equally dear to him; but probably, as the first Preachers, Ministers of his Gospel, and in an age when peculiarly difficulties would arise to oppose their persons and their labors; the Lord had them more immediately in view. And before we enter upon the several parts of our Lord's prayer, concerning them, I cannot but notice with particular attention, and entreat the Reader to regard it with me also, how very gracious it was in Jesus to say what he hath said, in the strong recommendation which he makes of them to his Father, in their hearing; that they might perceive, how deep they lay in his heart. Neither was it less attentive in God the Holy Ghost, to cause it to be recorded, that the Church in all ages might see, how much Christ loved his people; what interest and property the Father had in them: and with what care and love, the Holy Ghost watched over them, in preserving such sweet testimonies of the Redeemer's affection, in everlasting remembrance.

I must not indulge myself as I could wish, to go over, verse by verse, the many blessed things which are contained in them. It would far exceed the limits of a Poor Man's Commentary. I shall therefore content myself, (and I hope the Reader will be contented also,) in just sketching some of the more prominent parts of this most unequalled prayer of our Lord. May the Lord bless it.

And here, first, I beg the Reader to notice, the ground, upon which Jesus lays the principal stress of confidence, in the recommendation of his people to his Father. He speaks of them, as the men whom the Father gave him out of the world: that they were the Father's, before he gave them to Christ; his property, and consequently his care. Yea, Jesus intimates by the earnestness of his recommendation of them, that he prized them the more highly, on the Father's account. And the Lord Jesus found the greater confidence from this consideration, that his Father would preserve them, and keep them, and watch over them, for good, and at length bring them home, to behold that glory, which the Father had given him and be with him forever. Reader! do not fail to observe, these sweet things in Christ's prayer. Neither overlook, how much Jesus dwells upon that one consideration, of the Father's property in his Church and people. He repeats it again, and again: thine they were, and thou gavest them me. All mine are thine; and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. Think how dear that Church must be in God the Father's view, who in proof of it, gave that Church to his dear Son? And think how dear to Christ, in that he hath redeemed it with his blood? And how dear to God the Holy Ghost, who notwithstanding that He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; yet condescends to make the bodies of those poor sinners his temple? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

The next thing to be noticed, in this most blessed prayer of Christ, is his own personal love for his Church, and particularly manifested to the Apostles, as representatives of the Church, in thus taking such concern for them, before his departure. Nothing can more fully express the love of the blessed Jesus, than in the very earnest pleadings he here makes use of, with the Father, in their behalf. He knew their nature, their weakness, their corruptions. He knew the enemies which they would have to encounter; and the sharp exercises of persecutions, to which they would be exposed, after he had left them. And hence the earnestness and vehemency of his recommendation of them to the Father. Holy Father! keep (said he) through thine own name those whom thou hast given me. Reader! do not forget, that in this vast interest Jesus took in the concerns of his disciples then, that he equally takes concern in all the interests of his people now. He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are but dust. And if the Apostles needed such attention, surely Jesus will not be less regardful of us. Never fail to connect such regard of Jesus for the Church, in every age of her warfare, while beholding the Lord's tenderness over the Apostles. His love is the same: and his attention the same. Having loved his own which are in the world, he loveth them unto the end. John 13:1.

And as another token of Christ's love to his Church in this beautiful prayer, I pray the Reader to observe, with what tenderness and affection Jesus speaks of them: They have kept thy word. They have received the words which I have given them. They have believed that thou didst send me. everything by which the Lord Jesus could recommend them, he graciously takes notice of, by way of endearment. Not a word but in their favor. No complaint of their dullness, and unbelief, which they had frequently manifested, during his going in and out before them. But all is tender and affectionate in Jesus, in presenting them to his Father. Reader! remember, such is Jesus now. Though he knows what subjects we are of sin, and temptation; and what fools and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken: yet doth he still take up our cause, plead for all our mercies, and never ceaseth, nor will cease, his intercession, until he hath brought home his whole Church to glory.

Neither should we overlook, in this, prayer of Jesus, the striking contrast he makes, between his Church and the ungodly. The Lord draws in it a line of the most marked discrimination. I pray for them, (saith Christ,) I pray not for the world. The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world; even as I am not of the world. Reader! If there be a single truth of God more pointed and express than another, surely it is that, in which Christ's union and: personal relationship with his people is insisted upon. The Lord seems to delight in it. He dwells upon it. His Father's interest in his people. His own interest, and the Holy Ghost's interest. His people's distinction from the world; the world's hatred on this account: and their union with him, the cause of the whole. Upon this subject I would just add, If Jesus delighted to make this discrimination between his people and the world, ought not his people to do the same? Did Jesus mark it in his prayer, and shall not we in praise? Was the Lord pleased to behold his people with this marked distinction, and to speak of it with complacency and delight; and shall not his people, the highly favored objects of discriminating grace, notice it in like manner.

One observation more in this sweet prayer of Jesus. H e saith, that, those whom thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. What a subject is opened and answered in those few words, in confirmation of discriminating grace? And how very fully do they prove, what indeed all the other parts of Scripture concur in, to the same point: that the Church of Christ is chosen in Christ, all the members preserved and kept in Christ, have their being and well being in Christ; and being one with Christ, He is their sole life of grace here, in the time-state of the Church, and will be their life of glory in the eternal world forever. While on the other hand, where there is no grace-union with Christ, in the original and eternal purpose of Jehovah: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; in the Father's gift, the Son's betrothing, and the Holy Ghost's unction; the fall in the Adam-nature must remain, and from having no relation to Christ, neither interest in Christ, the Scripture must be fulfilled; that while all that are given to Christ are kept, the son of perdition cannot but be lost, And in relation to Judas, to whom Christ here refers; though given, and chosen as an Apostle, yet not as a member of Christ's mystical body. He had indeed obtained part of the ministry, but not the least part of grace. Jesus knew him for a devil, at the time he chose him for an Apostle. And the subsequent acts of his life, were the effects of that diabolical influence. (See John 13:2-17 and Commentary). And the preservation of the eleven Apostles, was not from works of righteousness which they had done, for they were men of like passions with ourselves; but for their safety, and security in Christ. Jesus saith: those whom thou gavest me I have kept. Their being chosen in Christ, and accepted in the beloved, the Holy Ghost declares, by Paul, to have been prior acts to those of redemption through Christ's blood, and the forgiveness of sins. I pray the Reader to notice these grand and momentous truths, with the attention they so highly merit, as they are stated; Ephesians 1:3-7. And may the Lord the Holy Ghost be praised, for the very great sweetness and preciousness of that Scripture. In relation to the awfulness of this doctrine, in our Lord's prayer, it would be the wisdom of the Lord's people, to ponder well their high privileges, and rejoice with trembling. And some of those many sweet scriptures, which are in confirmation of the truths of God, will always bring relief to the mind, under every distressing thought, which may at times arise, concerning the reprobate. Strictly, and properly speaking, the Church hath no more to do with the fall of man, in the graceless and irreclaimable; than we have to do with the fall of angels. And those soul reviving words of the Lord Jesus, will act on the mind, when graciously applied by the Holy Ghost, in any dark and tempting hour, as an anchor to the soul, both sure and stedfast, which like an anchor to the ship on an enemy's coast, enables the mariners to weather out the storm. I thank thee, O Father, (said the Lord Jesus,) Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Matthew 11:25-26.

Allow me to call the Reader's attention to one feature more in this part of our Lord's prayer as more immediately relating to his Apostles; and I will trespass no longer. Jesus prays for their sanctification; and declares, that for their sakes he sanctifies himself.

That Christ is the sanctification of his Church, and the complete holiness of his people, is a truth, to which the whole tenor of the Gospel bears record. Hence, all the Persons of the Godhead are said to have concurred in this gracious act. Jude 1:1; Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 10:10. And sanctification is as complete a work as justification. Grace in the knowledge of the Lord, is indeed progressive: for the Church is said to grow in grace and in the knowledge, of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18. But we nowhere read of a progressive sanctification. Indeed the very principle itself implies perfection. A soul regenerated is brought into a spiritual life: made partaker of the divine nature, for that divine power is said to have given all things that pertain to life and godliness. See 2 Peter 1:1-4. And this regeneration is equal in all, whom the Holy Ghost quickens. All the after acts of the Spirit, are acts upon this new life, drawn forth into exercise, upon the Person and work of Christ, in the actings of faith and love. But the life of sanctification in Christ, once imparted, can be no more than life: neither capable of increase or diminution.

In relation to the persons of the Apostles, in the Lord's prayer for them, that they might be sanctified through the truth; I venture to believe, it had respect to their personal ministry, and character: that being sanctified through the truth, they might have more and more enlarged views of truth, in the great purposes of the everlasting Covenant: and from being taught themselves in a more extensive manner, when the Holy Ghost should come upon them, in an open display of his power, they might be made the medium and channel, of informing others. And, Reader! the same holds equally good, with every child of God, when regenerated by the Holy Ghost. That blessed and gracious Covenant work of the Spirit, is as complete an act, as the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, God the Holy Ghost will indeed call forth the soul he hath regenerated, and brought forth, from the death of sin unto a life of righteousness in Christ; in daily actings of faith and grace, as from a soul alive to God, in, and through, Jesus Christ our Lord: but the quickening, from death to life, and sanctifying the renewed nature of the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness is wrought but once, and that all effectual. So that as Paul saith; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11.

And in relation to what Jesus saith, For their sakes I sanctify myself. Never surely can it be supposed, that Christ meant to say, that he made himself more holy, for that was and is impossible; but that he set himself apart for their sakes, in his Office-Character of Redeemer. Not for the Apostles only, but his whole Church: All (as he elsewhere saith,) whom the Father hath given him. John 6:37. And that all might be sanctified in Him, and through Him, the truth. And from this most precious Scripture, every child of God, when regenerated and made alive in Christ, may gather the richest assurance of faith; that in the perfection of Christ, and his dedication of himself for his people, they may know their sanctification, by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. They feel the efficacy of it in their hearts, and consciences. And they are enabled through faith in Christ, and strength from Christ, through the blessed influences of the Spirit, to live and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. For such believing views become the full desire of the soul, in that Covenant that is ordered in all things and sure, and founded in Christ before the world began. Titus 1:2; 2 Samuel 23:5.

So much for the second part, of this most blessed prayer of our Lord; which, beside the general respect, it hath, here and there to the whole Church, hath some more immediate and special regard to the Apostles; and all taken together, serve to lay open the heart of Christ to his people, and to shew, that everything of love, and grace, and mercy, is there flowing, in endless streams, towards his chosen.


Verses 20-26

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (23) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (24) Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (25) O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. (26) And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

In this part of the Lord's prayer, his whole Church is included, yea, expressly prayed for. And I have often found cause to bless the Lord Jesus, for the very sweet and gracious manner of expression which he was pleased to use, in the introduction of it, when he said, by way of distinction, from what he had before said for the Apostles: Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me, through their word. It is in my view, as if the Lord Jesus had said: The blessings I am procuring for those my redeemed, which are now around me, and within the hearing of what I say, I mean not to limit to them, but that the whole may be extended to all my Church; in the thousands, and ten thousands of my children, which are yet unborn. And while I desire some more special effects of my great salvation may be communicated to those my Apostles, to qualify them for the ministry of the word; my will is, that the whole body of the Church may partake together, in all the blessed consequences of my mission. That oneness and union, that perfection and glory in me, and that everlasting presence with me, to which the whole Church shall finally be brought; may be the privilege and blessedness of all. I humbly conceive, that our Lord's words, in the opening of this concluding clause of his prayer, may, without violence to the several expressions contained in it, be supposed as conveying those things. And I beg the Reader to remark with me, the manner in which the Lord Jesus enforceth the several blessings he enumerates, Father! I will. Here is no petition, nor request; but what Jesus saith, is expressed in the nature of a right, or demand. And the reason is obvious. In the several transactions of the Holy Three in One, the glorious Almighty Covenanters have mutually engaged to each other. They are all alike equal in Godhead. And they are alike equal in Covenant Offices. They have therefore guaranteed to each other. So that in the Intercession of Christ; though by virtue of his human nature, this office leads to the exercise of prayer: yet not by a way of petition, but of right. Jesus demands the fulfilment of Covenant stipulations; and as such saith, for all he pleads: Father! I will!

I must not indulge here again, no more than upon the former occasion, to enlarge on the several subjects, which are contained in those concluding verses of our Lord's prayer: But I crave the favor of the Reader, that I may be permitted to glance at one or two of the more prominent points, Jesus hath so sweetly dwelt upon.

And first: that union and oneness which Jesus here insists upon; and which, the Lord speaks of so frequently, in this Chapter. We shall do well to notice it at least, though to enter into the full apprehension of it is impossible. That Jesus himself took much delight in it is very certain, for he makes mention of it continually in his prayer. And if it was dear to Christ, how very dear ought it to be to his people? Indeed it forms the basis of all communicable grace and glory. For without union, there can be no communion. Unless married to Christ, we have no claim to maintenance or dower? Unless grafted into this holy Vine, how shall we derive sap or fruitfulness from the Vine? It is by virtue of this oneness with Christ, in the eternal purpose of Jehovah, being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that the Church derives all her blessedness from Christ. This union is the foundation of all the after blessings, which arise out of it. All the blessings and mercies we derive from Christ, in this time-state of the Church, are the result of the Church's being considered as one with Christ, from all eternity. So that our redemption by Christ, is among the blessed effects of this union: and our union with Christ is the cause. Christ came to redeem his Church, from the ruins of the Adam-fall. But this was, because Jesus hath betrothed himself to this Church, before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4; Hosea 2:18.

But while we esteem so very highly this union, on account of the blessings flowing from it: (and never can it be too highly prized, or too often meditated upon,) I would desire the Reader to observe, that the union itself is as far superior, as any cause is to the effect. An union with Christ, makes a child of God one with Christ. It forms a personal union: for the whole Person of Christ, God-Man is one with his Church, in every individual member of it: body, soul, and spirit. He that is joined to the Lord is One Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:17. Hence Christ is precious: not only for his gifts, or for his graces, or for his benefits; but for himself. He is not only the source of happiness, but is himself our happiness. Not only gives his people life, but is himself their life, and their portion forever. So sweet and precious therefore, is this conscious union, with Christ.

Secondly, Jesus saith, that the glory which thou gavest me I have given them. Here also we discover a blessedness, which merits our highest regard, and our unceasing thankfulness. There is a glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in his divine nature as God, one with the Father over all blessed forever. But then this is not communicable, neither was it ever given to him, And there is a glory, even a Personal glory, as God-Man, which is his, and incapable also of communication. And there is a glory of dignity and merit, as God - Man, which he hath acquired by virtue of his sufferings, and death. Philippians 2:6-11. Neither is this capable of being communicated. But his glory as Head of his body the Church, as the head of influence, and the head of communication; this glory, given to him by Jehovah, is purposely given, to be communicated to all the members of his mystical body; and Jesus here saith, he hath given it to his people. And it is most blessed to observe, how the Lord is forever doing it, here in grace, and above in glory! And the oneness of the Church of Christ with Christ, is such, that while the Church is made everlastingly blessed and happy in her Head and Husband, Jesus is made glorious in his Church, and becomes as the Prophet described her, a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of her God. Isaiah 62:3.

Thirdly, It is not the smallest part of Christ's regard, which he hath shewn to his Church in this prayer, in the striking discrimination which he hath made, between his Church and the world; and the knowledge his people have of him, compared to the world. O righteous Father, (said Jesus) the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee: and these have known that thou hast sent me. There is somewhat very particular and striking, in Christ calling the Father, in this place, and upon this account, O righteous Father! Was it not (for I only ask the question, without deciding upon it,) to shew the righteousness and strict equity of God, in leaving the world shut up in the unbelief of their own minds by the fall, and revealing himself in Christ, to all the Church; chosen in Christ, and called? Romans 11:7-8. Reader! do not fail to mark this as you pass over the several parts, of this most precious Chapter. And while you mark it, look to God the Spirit, to cause the sweet savor of it, to rest with suitable affection, to call forth praise and love in the mind.

I will only detain the Reader just to observe, with what tenderness and love the Lord closeth the whole of his prayer, with an intimation of continuing to declare unto his people the Name of his Father; that the love of God to Christ, as God-Man Mediator: and the love of God to the Church in Christ, might be unceasingly known and enjoyed, by his whole household. It is impossible that anything could be said more expressive, in token of the Lord's love. He was now in the moment of separation from them. When he had finished his prayer, he was going into the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what would then follow. This was, the last, the farewell interview, of Christ and his eleven Apostles alone. And what were his last words in this sweet season. That the Father's love wherewith he had loved him, might be in them; and (said Jesus) in them. Here was an assurance then, of the everlasting love of Jesus, and the sameness of love in Jesus to his Church, to the end of the world. That love could not increase, neither could it diminish. Jesus leaves his heart with them therefore, and not only them, but ; all the Church, of which they were then the: representatives. That his love shall be with them; and constant, fresh manifestations, and discoveries of it, shall be forever. So the Lord Jesus declared. And so his people in the present hour of the Church, can bear witness; and set to their seal in having received this testimony, that God is true. John 3:33. Amen.


Verse 26

REFLECTIONS

My soul! do thou, with uplifted eyes, and thankful heart, behold thy God and Savior, in this most blessed representation the Holy Ghost hath made of him, in this Chapter, here entering upon His High Priestly Office; and through faith, come under the golden Censer of his Offering! Oh! what a sample hath he here given, of his all powerful, all prevailing, and unchanging Priesthood. Yes! thou blessed Lord! let my poor soul, I pray thee, never lose sight of the Pillar and ground of the truth, on which thy Church, in all her members, both Apostles and people, stand everlastingly firm and secure; the perfection of thy finished work, and the faithfulness of Jehovah's word and oath, in the Covenant, ordered in all things and sure. It is indeed eternal life, and it is thy office-character, to give it, to know Jehovah, the only true God ; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and Jesus Christ, whom Jehovah hath sent.

Oh, ye Apostles of Christ! what unspeakable mercies did Jesus, in this sweet prayer, confer on you! And ye no less, whom in all the after ages of the Church, God the Spirit hath called to the ministry; how are ye all, from age to age, included, in this rich priestly blessing of my God! Oh! for an holy jealousy, over the fold of Christ, in all the under pastors of the Church; to see and know that their commission is of God. Jesus! in mercy to thy Church, grant that none may run unsent; but that all may bear with them, the same sweet testimony as Jesus in this address to his Father gave, concerning his Apostles: As thou hast sent me into the world; even so have I also sent them into the world. Oh! the blessedness for all of this description and character, to have a consciousness of being interested in Christ's prayer; from being sent forth to the ministry from Christ's ordination: Holy Father! keep through thine own Name, those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are!

And no less ye whole Church of Christ! Never , never, lose sight of those most precious words of Jesus, when he said; Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. Yes! thou dearest Lord! though thou hast given some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists; and some Pastors and Teachers: yet the whole is for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ. Thy little ones dearest Lord, are as dear to thee, as the greatest and the best; for all is derived from thee, and none hath ought, but what he hath received from thee. Precious Lord Jesus! the hour is hastening, when that will of thine will be fully accomplished; and from an everlasting Oneness of thy Church and People with thyself, the whole Church will appear as thou hast said: Father I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me! Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on John 17:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/john-17.html. 1828.


Lectionary Calendar
Friday, August 18th, 2017
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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