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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
John 17

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-26


Christ's High-Priestly Prayer

1-26. Christ's Great Intercession for Himself, for the Apostles, and for the World. This prayer is often, and suitably called Christ's 'High-priestly prayer,' because in it He solemnly consecrates Himself to be priest and victim in the approaching sacrifice. The veil is drawn back for a moment from the inner sanctuary of His mind, and we are enabled to contemplate with awe and reverence the nature of that close communion which He habitually maintained with His heavenly Father.

Christ prays (1) for Himself (John 17:1-5), that as He has glorified the Father by His life on earth, so He may also glorify Him by His death, and after death may receive again that glory which for our sakes He resigned at His Incarnation. (2) For the Apostles (John 17:6-19), that they may be kept from sin, and from unfaithfulness in the midst of a wicked and hostile world, that they may be perfectly united in affection and will, and that they may be consecrated, even as He is consecrated, for the solemn mission which they are to undertake. (3) For the world (John 17:20-26), that it may be converted (John 17:21), for believers that they may have perfect union and communion, visible and invisible, with one another, in virtue of their union with the one God through the one Christ; and that finally all may attain to everlasting salvation, and see Christ enthroned in that glory which He had with the Father before the world was.

1. The hour] viz. of My glorification through death. Glorify thy Son] Christ asks the Father to glorify Him by accepting the sacrifice of His death, and by raising Him from the dead. When this is done, the Son will glorify the Father by converting the world.

2. Power] RV 'authority.' At the Incarnation the Father gave the Son authority to die for the sins of the whole world, and to proclaim the Father's gracious offer of salvation to all mankind. As many as thou hast given him] RV 'whatsoever thou hast given him.' Those whom the Father 'gives' to Christ, are those who freely accept the offer of salvation which is freely made to all.

3. Eternal life consists in a knowledge of God, and of Jesus as the Messiah sent from God, i.e. as a preëxistent, divine being. 'Knowledge' here is not intellectual knowledge, but knowledge based on the religious experience of the devout Christian soul.

4. Our Lord's sinlessness and moral perfection are implied.

5. The memory of Jesus extends beyond His birth, and beyond the creation of the world, back to eternity, when He was 'in the form of God,' and 'equal to God' (Philippians 2:6); cp. John 17:24. With thine own self] i.e. at Thy side.

6. Thy name] i.e. Thy nature. The men] i.e. the Apostles. Kept thy word] an expression especially characteristic of St. John's Gospel, 1st Ep., and Rev. (John 8:51; John 14:23; 1 John 2:5, etc.).

9. I pray not for the world] rather, 'I am not now praying for the world.' Jesus prays for the world in John 17:20-26, especially in John 17:21, and enjoins others to do so, Matthew 5:44, etc. That Christ prays for the world is proved by the entire nature of His work, the object of which is the salvation of the world (John 4:42, etc.).

10. All mine, etc.] RV 'all things that are mine are thine, and thine are mine.' All the attributes which belong to the Son belong to the Father; and all the attributes which belong to the Father (omniscience, omnipotence, etc.) belong to the Son.

11. Keep through thine own name] RV 'keep them in thy name which thou hast given me,' i.e. keep them in a state of grace defended by that almighty power, which, by Thy gift, I share with Thee. God's 'name' here is practically His divine nature and omnipotence. One] How close must be that union and fellowship, which is compared with the unity of Persons in the Godhead, itself!

12. The son of perdition] i.e. him who is destined to perdition, viz. Judas Iscariot. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the expression is used of Antichrist.

The phrase is a Hebraism: cp. Matthew 23:15,; 'a son of Gehenna.' The scripture] in accordance with John 13:18, is Psalms 41:9.

13. My joy] i.e. the joy which I derive from loving communion with the Father, as in John 15:11 : see 1 John 1:4.

14. Thy word] i.e. Thy whole revelation of Thyself as disclosed in My life. Hath hated them] i.e. will hate them, the past tense expressing the certainty of the hatred, already so clearly foretold, John 16:2.

15. I pray not, etc.] Because, if the Apostles were taken out of the world, they would not be able to convert it. From the evil] more correctly rendered by the RV, 'from the evil one.' St. John habitually conceives of evil as personal: see 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18, 1 John 5:19.

17. Sanctify them (RM 'consecrate them') through thy truth (RV 'in the truth')] Consecrate them to their apostolic office, endowing them also with divine illumination and wisdom for their work: cp. Exodus 28:41. Our Lord also was 'consecrated' for His work when He entered the world: see John 10:36.

18. 'As Thou didst not send Me into the world without first consecrating Me (see John 10:36), so now I consecrate My Apostles before sending them forth.'

19. 'Now once more I consecrate Myself, not this time as a mere teacher, but as priest and victim in the approaching sacrifice. The blood of the new covenant, which My death will initiate and ratify, will consecrate My Apostles to their office and work.' For 'sanctify' in the sense of offering a victim in sacrifice, see Exodus 13:2; Deuteronomy 15:19 : cp. 2 Samuel 8:11. Through the truth] RV 'in truth,' i.e. truly.

21. That they all may be one] A leading passage on the unity of the Church. The centre of unity is not on earth but in heaven. Christians are 'one,' because they are spiritually united to the Father and the Son, whose divine life and blessed union they share through the faith that gives eternal life (John 3:16, etc.), and through believing participation in the sacraments (John 3:5; John 6:56; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 1 Corinthians 12:13). In this, its deepest sense, the unity of the Church cannot be broken by outward divisions. But inward unity ought also to show itself in visible outward unity, 'that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me.' Hence every Christian is bound to pray and work for the reunion of Christendom.

22. The glory] i.e. according to the context, mainly the glory of unity and love.

23. That the world may know] The whole world will be converted when the Church of Christ presents the spectacle of perfect love and visible unity. Divisions hinder the work of Christ, unity advances it.

26. Thy name] i.e. Thy nature.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on John 17:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/john-17.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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