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Bible Commentaries
John 17

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Verses 1-2

Vv. 1, 2. “ These things spoke Jesus; then he 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 to all those whom thou hast given him he should give eternal life.

If Jesus had uttered the preceding words on the way from Jerusalem to Gethsemane, He must now have been on the point of crossing the brook Cedron. At this decisive moment, He collects Himself and prays. The words: He spoke these things, clearly distinguish the preceding discourses from the solemn act of prayer. This also is indicated by the lifting the eyes towards heaven. Until this point, Jesus had looked upon the disciples while speaking to them. To raise the eyes towards heaven is a natural effort of the soul to the end of escaping from the earthly prison, an aspiration after beholding the living God, whose glory is, above all, resplendent in the pure serenity of the heavens. No doubt this act can have taken place in a room ( Act 7:55 ); but it is much more easily intelligible in the open air; comp. John 11:41, Mark 7:34. The words: And he said, mark the moment when, beyond the visible heaven, His heart met the face of God, and when in the God of the universe He beholds His Father. The Alexandrian reading: “ having lifted up his eyes, he said,” is more flowing and more in the Greek style; the received reading: “ he lifted up his eyes and said,” is more simple and Hebraistic; could this be a proof in favor of the first?

The name Father expresses the spirit of the whole prayer which is to follow. Jesus certainly employed the Aramaic term Abba; comp. Mark 14:36. This term, in which He was accustomed to concentrate the holiest emotions of His filial heart, became sacred to the Christians, and passed as such into the language of the New Testament, as the expression of the sentiment of divine adoption and filial adoration (Romans 8:15, Gal 4:6 ). The hour is that of which John and Jesus Himself had said many times, in the course of this Gospel, that it was not yet come: it is that of His exaltation through death. But in order that it may result in the glorification of the Son, the intervention of the Father will be necessary; this is what Jesus asks for by the word: Glorify! Some explain this glorification of Jesus by the moral perfection which, with the divine aid. He will cause to shine forth in His sufferings, and by the attractive power which He will thus exercise over the hearts of men. These explanations are, as Reuss acknowledges, incompatible with John 17:5, where we see beyond question that Jesus is thinking of His personal reinstatement in the divine state which He had had before His incarnation. Only it is not necessary to restrict this glory which Jesus asks again as the orthodox interpreters in general suppose to the enjoyment of divine blessedness and glory. For the aim of this request of Jesus is not His own satisfaction, but the continuation and finishing of His work, as is shown by the following words: that thy Son may glorify thee. What He desires is new means of action. He asks consequently for the restoration to His complete divine state, the possession of the divine omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence of which He had divested Himself in order to appropriate to Himself a true human state. He cannot continue to glorify God and to develop the work of salvation, the foundation of which is now laid, except on this condition.

His personal state must be transformed quite as much as it was transformed when Jesus passed from the divine state to the human existence. He speaks of Himself in the third person: thy Son. This is what we always do when we wish to draw the attention of the one to whom we address ourselves to what we are for him. There is nothing suspicious, therefore, in this manner of speaking which John attributes to Jesus. It is, moreover, in conformity with the ordinary manner in which He speaks of Himself in the Synoptics, where He habitually designates Himself by the title: the Son of man. What would be more justly open to suspicion, would be the form presented by the Alexandrian reading, which is adopted by Tischendorf and defended by Weiss and Westcott: “that the Son may glorify thee. ” Instead of expressing the filial feeling of Jesus, as the received text “ thy Son” does, this reading has a purely dogmatic tinge, precisely as in the analogous passages Joh 1:18 and John 16:28. The particle καί after ἵνα , “that also,” is omitted by the Alexandrian authorities and is rejected by Tischendorf, etc. But this little word may easily have been omitted. It brings out well the relation between the glorification of the Father by the Son and that of the Son by the Father, and consequently the filial spirit which animates this petition: Jesus wishes to be glorified by His Father only that He may be able in His turn to glorify Him.

Verses 1-5

Vv. 1-5.

1. The prayer of Jesus has three parts: the first, a prayer for Himself, John 17:1-5; the second, a prayer for His disciples, John 17:9-19; and the third, a prayer for all subsequent believers, John 17:20-24. Joh 17:6-8 form a transition passage between the first petition and the second, and Joh 17:25-26 are a kind of conclusion.

2. The petition for Himself is that He may be glorified. The meaning of δόξασον in Joh 17:1 is to be understood of that glory which is connected with the return of Jesus to His Father, and which is more particularly set forth in John 17:5. It was by means of this glorification that He would be enabled, in connection with the sending of the Spirit and the greater power which would be exerted for the advancement of His kingdom upon the earth, to accomplish the purpose indicated in the ἵνα clause the glorification of the Father upon the earth, in accordance with the measure of the Divine gift of power over all flesh which was bestowed upon Him. To realize the fulfilment of all that was involved in this gift, so that eternal life should be given absolutely to all whom the Father had given to Him, it was necessary that He should pass away from the limitations of His earthly condition to the heavenly state. The hour for this departure from earth to heaven having now come, He prays for the realization of the heavenly glory.

3. In Joh 17:4-5 this glory is spoken of as that which Jesus had with the Father before the existence of the world. He prays to be restored to His former glory. The end in view is that mentioned above; but what the glory referred to is, is now more definitely stated. The ground, also, is presented on which it is asked for: because, through the accomplishment of His work, Jesus has already glorified the Father on earth. He has finished the task assigned Him, and now, when the appointed hour arrives, He asks for the reward.

4. Joh 17:3 gives a definition or explanation of the meaning of eternal life. This life is the knowledge of God and Jesus on the part of the soul of man which is, in one aspect of it, the idea that is everywhere set forth in this Gospel as belonging to these words. There can be no doubt that John views eternal life as a peculiar kind of life it is the life which consists in the knowledge of God, the light-life, the life which resembles God's own life, and which is entered by faith. But the adjective eternal does not seem to be applied to it for the reason that it is the light-life, etc., but because, when it is once possessed by the soul, it never ends. The definition is introduced here in connection with the words of the preceding verses. To give eternal life, it is necessary to give the knowledge of God and of Christ. To give this knowledge to the “all” spoken of in John 17:2, without exception and in its fulness, it is necessary that Jesus should be glorified.

5. The fifth verse distinctly declares the pre-existent state of Christ and His glory in union with the Father in that state. No other legitimate interpretation and explanation of the words can be given. 6. The prayer of Jesus for Himself is evidently not made for the purpose of securing simply a reward or blessedness for Himself, but with a view to the glorifying of God in the accomplishment of the great mission which had been assigned to Him. The work of the Messianic kingdom was not yet completed. It was only the work of His earthly life that was done; and He prays for what is beyond this life, to the end that the glory of the Father, which has already been partially secured, may be completely secured that is, that the kingdom may be fully established.

Verses 1-26


THE third part of the Gospel describes the last moments which Jesus passed with His disciples; while making us acquainted with the supreme manifestations of His love towards them, it initiates us into the full development of faith in their hearts. John thus contrasts with the gloomy picture of Israelitish unbelief the luminous picture of the formation of faith in the future founders of the Church. Christ accomplishes this work in the hearts of His followers: 1. By two acts, the washing of their feet and the removal of Judas, through which He purifies the apostolic circle from the last remains of carnal Messianism; 2. By a series of discourses, in which He prepares His disciples for the approaching separation, gives them the necessary instructions with a view to their future ministry and elevates their faith in His person to the highest point which it can reach at this moment; 3. By a prayer of thanksgiving, by which he affixes the seal to His work now finished. Under the sway of these last manifestations, the faith of the disciples reaches its relative perfection, as fruits reach their maturity in the warm rays of the autumn sun. This faith is subjected to a double test, that of humiliation, through the deep humility of Jesus in the act of washing the feet, and that of self-sacrifice, through the prospect of a violent conflict to be met from the side of the world and a victory to be gained only through the spiritual force of Christ. With such prospects, what becomes of the earthly hopes which they still entertained in their hearts? But the faith of the apostles comes forth from this test triumphant and purified. It has laid hold of the divine person of Christ: “We believe that thou camest forth from God” ( Joh 16:30 ). This is enough; Jesus answers: “ At last you believe ” ( Joh 16:31 ). And He blesses His Father with an outpouring of thanks (chap. 17) for having given Him these eleven who believe in Him and who will bring the world to faith.

Thus therefore there are three sections:

1. Chap. John 13:1-30: The purification of the apostles' faith by two decisive

2. Chap. Joh 13:31 to John 16:33: The strengthening and development of this faith by the last teachings of Jesus, which contain the final revelation of His person.

3. Chap. 17: The thanksgiving for this earthly ministry now ended.

Verse 2

Vv. 2 is an explanatory annex to John 17:1. Jesus reminds the Father of that which gives Him the right to say to Him: Glorify me! In praying thus, He acts only in conformity with the decree of God Himself: As thou hast given him power. This gift consists in the decree by which God conferred the sovereignty over the whole human race ( all flesh) upon the Son, when He sent Him to fulfil here on earth His mission of Saviour ( Joh 10:36 ); comp. Ephesians 1:10.

The work of salvation which He has to fulfil in the midst of mankind has indeed as its condition the position of Lord; comp. Matthew 28:18: “All power has been given to me,” a passage in which the sovereignty which has been gained serves as a basis for the command to teach and baptize all the nations that is to say, to take possession of them. The second clause: that he may give life, is parallel to the second clause of John 17:1: that he may glorify thee. The true means of glorifying God is to communicate eternal life that is to say, to associate men with the life of God. In presenting the aim of His petition under this new aspect, Jesus therefore gives the ground for it in a different way. His petition is equivalent to saying: “Grant me the Ascension, that I may be able to bring to pass the Pentecost.” For it is through the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus communicates life to believers ( Joh 7:37-39 ). Weiss does not recognize this relation, which is so simple, between the life and the Spirit, and wishes to see here only the extension of the action of Jesus to the whole world. Πᾶν , all, designates the future body of believers, that unity, that ἕν (of which John 7:33, John 11:52, Ephesians 2:14, speak) which God has eternally completed and given to the Son ( Rom 8:28 ). The word πᾶν is a nominative absolute; comp. John 6:39. Afterwards, the same idea is taken up again and placed in its regular case in the limiting word αὐτοῖς , to them. This plural pronoun individualizes the contents of the totality, which is the object of the gift. For if the gift made by God to Christ is a collective act including every one who believes, the communication of life by Christ to believers is an individual fact.

The term: that which thou hast given him, recalls the expressions of ch. 6: “those whom the Father teaches, draws, gives to the Son” (John 6:37; John 6:44-45; Joh 6:65 ); they are those whom the influence of the law and prophecy lead with eagerness for salvation to the feet of Jesus.

The form δώσῃ is not Greek; it recurs, however, in Revelation 8:3; Rev 13:16 in some MSS. We must see in it either a future subjunctive, a later form of which some examples, it is thought, are found in the New Testament (Baumlein cites ὄψησθε , Luke 13:28; καυθήσωμαι , 1 Corinthians 13:3; κερδηθήσωνται , 1 Peter 3:1; εὑρήσῃς , Rev 18:14 ); or may it be the subjunctive of an incorrect aorist ἔδωσα , instead of ἔδωκα ? It would indeed have been difficult to say δώκῃ . But the true reading is perhaps δώσει ( Vatic.), of which it was thought a subjunctive must be made because of the ἵνα (comp. the reading γινώσκωσι in Joh 17:3 ). The reading δώσω in the Sinaitic MS. is incompatible with the third person used throughout the whole passage. The reading αὐτῷ , to it (the πᾶν ), in the same MS., is also an evident correction.

The meaning of the expression: all that which thou hast given him, is less extensive than that of the term all flesh; it refers only to believers. If Jesus has received power over every man living, it is with reference to believers whom it is His mission to save. Comp. Ephesians 1:22: “He has given Him to the Church as head over all things,” that is to say, as its head, who, at the same time, is on its behalf established over all things.

Verse 3

Vv. 3 establishes the connection between the idea of glorifying God ( Joh 17:1 ) and that of giving eternal life ( Joh 17:2 ): to live is to know God; to glorify God is, accordingly, to give life by giving the knowledge of Him.

Ver. 3. “ Now this is eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou has sent, Jesus Christ.

Jesus contemplates that eternal life in which He is to make mankind participate; He fathoms the essence of it; it is the knowledge of God. Such a knowledge is certainly not, in His thought, a purely rational fact. The Scriptures always take the word know in a more profound sense. When the question is of the relation between two persons, this word designates the perfect intuition which each has of the moral being of the other, their intimate meeting together in the same luminous medium. Jesus has described in Joh 14:21-23 the revealing act from which there will result for His own this only real knowledge of God. It is the work of the Spirit, making Jesus, and with Him God, dwell in us.

The epithet only neither refers, as Luthardt says, to the word true, nor to the word God, but to the entire phrase true God. The term ἀληθινός , true, declares that this God is the only one who answers perfectly to the idea expressed by the word God. How is it possible not to find here, with Meyer, the contrast to manifold divinities and divinities unworthy of this name which appertained to the reigning polytheism? I do not see how Weiss can refuse to admit this tacit antithesis. It suits precisely the idea of the extension of Christ's action beyond the limits of Israel, which is, according to him, the idea of John 17:2. Does not the word all flesh call up the image of all these peoples foreign to Israel, which compose the idolatrous portion of mankind?

But Meyer is certainly mistaken in making the words: the only true God, the attribute of σέ , thee: “recognize thee as the only....” In this construction the word know takes a meaning too intellectual and one contrary to the part here ascribed to the knowledge as being one with the life itself. The expression: the only true God, is appositional with σέ : “ to know thee, thyself, the only true God. ” Thus the word to know preserves the profound and living sense which it should have. This does not at all exclude the contrast with polytheism indicated above.

If Jesus had prayed only with a view to Himself, He would have limited Himself to these words: “ That they should know thee, the only true God. ” But He prays aloud, and consequently associating in His prayer those who surround Him. This is the reason why He adds: “ and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ. ” While rendering homage to God, as the first source of eternal life, He has the consciousness of being Himself the sole intermediate agent through whom those who listen to Him can have access to this source; for it is in Him that God manifests and gives Himself ( Joh 14:6 ). The possession of eternal life is identified therefore in His view, for all that is called man, with the knowledge of Himself, Jesus, as well as with that of God. Since Augustine, some interpreters ( Lampe, etc.) have made the words “( him) whom thou hast sent,” etc., a second apposition to σέ , thee.

The aim of this impossible construction is evidently to save the divinity of Christ; but this is exposed to no danger with the natural construction. The words: “ Him whom thou hast sent,” are certainly the object of the verb that they should know. No more need we make the word Christ the attribute of Jesus: “that they should know Jesus whom thou hast sent as the Christ;” this construction would bring us back to the intellectual sense of the word know. The words Jesus Christ are in apposition with the object, him whom thou hast sent. But we need not unite them in one single proper name, in conformity with the later use of this phrase, as Weiss, Reuss and some others do, who see in such an expression, which could not, as they say, be placed in the mouth of Jesus Himself, a proof of the freedom with which the evangelist has reproduced this prayer.

Tholuck also finds here a coming in of the later ecclesiastical language; even Westcott regards these words, as well as the preceding ones: the only true God, as glosses due to the evangelist who is explaining the Master's prayer an explanation which is indeed certainly superfluous. Bretschneider is the one who has most severely criticised this form; he sees in it a gross historical impropriety from which he derives a proof against the authenticity of the Gospel. We think that this objection, on the contrary, springs from the fact that one does not place himself, in a sufficiently living way, in the historical situation in which this prayer was uttered. Until now, Jesus had always avoided assuming before the people the title of Christ. Rather than use this term, subject to so many misapprehensions, when the ordinary designation Son of man was not sufficient, He had had recourse to more strange circumlocutions (John 8:24, John 10:25 ff.). He had acted in the same way in the circle of His disciples (John 13:13; Joh 13:19 ). Once only, and by way of exception, in Samaria, on non-Jewish ground, He had openly assumed the title of Messiah ( Joh 4:26 ). In the Synoptics, He conducts Himself in the same way. Matthew 16:20, while accepting Peter's confession, He takes occasion to forbid the disciples to designate Him publicly as the Christ. This reticence must not continue to the end. And since the moment was come when the new word of command for mankind, Jesus Messiah, was to be proclaimed throughout the whole earth by the apostles, it was necessary that once at least they should hear it coming expressly from the lips of their Master Himself. And under what more favorable circumstances and in what more solemn form could this watchword of the new religion be proclaimed than in this last conversation with His Father, which was setting the seal upon His whole work? This is what Jesus does in this solemn formula: Jeschouah hammaschiach ( Jesus Messiah).

John has not therefore committed an inadvertence here. He has faithfully reproduced this inexpressibly serious and thrilling moment, when he heard Jesus Himself, by this declaration, explicitly sanction at last the faith which had not ceased to develop itself within him since the day when he for the first time drew near to Jesus ( Joh 1:42 ) that faith which he and his colleagues had henceforth the mission of preaching to the world. Would to God that all the confessions of faith, throughout the Church, had always been, like this, acts of adoration!

It has been objected that the word χριστόν , without the article, can only be regarded as a proper name. But comp. John 9:22, where John says, “If any one confessed him as the Christ,” without using the article. As to John 1:17, we have there the technical form indeed, but as a reproduction by the pen of the evangelist of the more living form which is found in our prayer.

This second clause of the verse separates the new religion from Judaism, as the first does from Paganism.

The Arians and Socinians have combated the divinity of Jesus Christ by means of this verse in which Jesus is placed beside and apart from the only true God. But John takes the same course in speaking of the Logos, John 1:1. No one is more express in his statements of subordination than John. And yet, at the same time, no one teaches more distinctly the participation of Jesus, as the Word, in the Divine nature. In this very verse Jesus is presented as the object, and not only as the intermediate agent, of the knowledge which is eternal life. How could the knowledge of a creature be the life of the human soul?

The conjunction ἵνα , that, is used here rather than ὅτι , because this knowledge is presented as an end to be reached, the supreme good to be obtained.

After this outpouring, Jesus returns to the prayer of John 17:1; He presents to God in a new form the same ground to justify the petition: Glorify me! He insists on all that He, Jesus, has already done, to establish on the earth this twofold knowledge which is eternal life, and on the actual necessity of a change in His position in order to finish this divine work ( Joh 17:4-5 ).

Verses 4-5

Vv. 4, 5. “ I have glorified thee on the earth; I have accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do. 5. And now, Father, glorify thou me, with thyself, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

After having thus described the life which He desires to communicate to the world, Jesus returns to His request: Glorify me, in John 17:1. He has founded this request on what He is to do in the future; He now justifies it by what He has already done hitherto. As far as He has been able to do it here below, in His earthly condition, He has glorified God, He has caused His holy and good character to shine in the hearts of men. But to do more than this, He must have a new position, with new means of activity. It is thus that in Joh 17:4 the way is prepared for the repetition of His petition in John 17:5.

The Alexandrian reading τελειώσας , having accomplished, seems to me much more after the Greek than the Hebrew style, in other terms, much more Alexandrian than apostolic. The juxtaposition of the two verbs in the T. R. is therefore, in my view, preferable to their syntactic fitting to each other in the other text.

The words: “ I have accomplished the work,” express with a sublime candor the feeling of a perfectly pure conscience. He does not perceive in His life, at this supreme moment, either any evil committed or even any good omitted. The duty of every hour has been perfectly fulfilled. There has been in this human life which He has now behind Him, not only no spot, but no deficiency with reference to the task of making the divine perfection shine forth resplendently.

Verse 5

Ver. 5. The most potent means of action of which He has need in order to continue this task, He can only obtain by recovering His state anterior to the incarnation. And this is the purpose for which He asks it again. There cannot be any temerity on His part in doing this, since this state of divine glory appertains to His nature, and He has voluntarily renounced it in order to serve God here on earth.

By the words: with thyself, Jesus opposes the divine sphere to that in which He is at present living ( on the earth, John 17:4.), John 13:32. The expression: the glory which I had, is opposed to His present humiliation. No doubt, in His human state He has also a glory, even a glory “as that of the only begotten Son having come from the Father” ( Joh 1:14 ). But it differs from His heavenly glory as the dependent form of the human existence differs from the autonomous form of the divine existence. This filial position in relation to God, which He has as man, is only a reflection of the filial position which He has had as God. Reuss thinks that this verse does not imply absolute pre- existence, eternity, but only a certain priority with relation to the world. But from the biblical point of view, the world embraces all that appertains to the sphere of becoming, and beyond this sphere there is only being, eternity. Comp. the opposition between γίνεσθαι and εἶναι , John 1:1; John 1:3, John 8:58, and Psalms 90:2. Παρὰ σοί , with thee, cannot have the purely ideal sense which the Socinians give to it, and which now again Beyschlag and Sabatier endeavor to maintain in somewhat different forms. This theory does violence to John's terms no less than to those of Paul ( Php 2:6-11 ). He who says, I had...with thee, emphasizes His own personality previous to the incarnation, no less than that of God ( Joh 17:24 ). The I who asks for the glory is the one who has had it. It is equally impossible to find here the least trace of the idea which Sabatier finds in the passage of Paul (Phil.), that of a progress from the glory of Christ before His earthly life to His glory afterwards. The only difference between these two conditions is that this latter glory is possessed by Him even in His humanity, elevated to the sphere of the divine existence (Acts 7:55, Matthew 26:64, where the term Son of man is still applied to the glorified Christ). See on John 8:58.

From the fact that Jesus says: before the world was, and not “before I came into the world,” Schelling concluded that the humiliation of the Logos began from the time of the creation, and not only with the incarnation. This conclusion is not well founded exegetically. For Jesus only means here to oppose this glory to a glory which may have had some sort of beginning in time.

Verses 6-8

Vv. 6-8. “ I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou hast given me out of the world; thine they were, and thou hast given them to me; and they have kept thy word. 7. Now they have known that all that thou hast given me is from thee. 8. For the words which thou hast given me I have given them; and they have received them, and they have known truly that I came forth from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

The general idea expressed in these words is that of the worth which the apostles have acquired by the ministry of Jesus among them and by the success of this work. Thus is the way prepared for the prayer by which Jesus is about to commend them to the care of the Father. And first, what Jesus has done for them. The aorist ἐφανέρωσα , I have manifested, is connected with the similar aorists in John 17:4. The most important portion of the work which Jesus felicitates Himself in having accomplished ( Joh 17:4 ) was precisely the preparation and education of these eleven persons.

The name of God, which He has revealed to them, designates the divine character fully manifested to the consciousness of Jesus Himself, and through Him to the disciples in proportion as the consciousness of their Master has become their own ( Mat 11:25-26 ). It is by revealing Himself as Son, that Jesus has revealed God to them as the Father. This is the reason why He must necessarily testify of Himself, as He does in the Fourth Gospel; it was an essential element of His teaching respecting God.

After having recalled His labor on their behalf, Jesus recalls to the Father what He has Himself done for them. The apostles were His, and He has given them to Jesus. The question here is not of what they were as men and as Jews, but of the relation which they sustained to God through their inward disposition, as faithful Jews; comp. the expressions: to be of God (John 7:17, Joh 8:47 ), to be of the truth ( Joh 18:37 ), to do the truth ( Joh 3:21 ). These expressions designate the moral state of the Israelites or heathen who adhere to the light of the law or of conscience. These beings who belong to God, God has led to Jesus by the inward drawing or teaching of which He has spoken in John 6:37; John 6:44-45; John 6:65. And He possesses them now as gifts of the Father.

Then, to what God and Jesus have done for the disciples, Jesus adds what the disciples have themselves done. This gift of themselves, once accomplished, they have faithfully maintained. Notwithstanding all the temptations to unfaithfulness which have assailed them during these years ( Luk 22:28 ), they have kept in their heart the teaching of Jesus. They have preserved intact and pure from all alloy this name of God imprinted by Him upon their consciousness. The words “ thy word,” instead of “ my word,” are explained in John 17:7: the word of Jesus has been only a reproduction of that of the Father. Finally, Jesus sets before the Father all that which the disciples have become through this communication which He has made to them of His Word. They have discerned its divine origin, and they have received it in this character. There is at the first glance a tautology in the two expressions: which thou hast given me, and: is thine. But the first is derived from the consciousness of Jesus; the second is borrowed from that of the apostles: “They have recognized that all which I gave them from thee came really from thee.” It is, that in fact (John 17:8.) Jesus never added anything to it from His own resources.

Then, from the recognition of the absolutely divine character of His word, they are raised finally to the faith in the divine origin of His person ( I came forth) and His mission ( thou hast sent me). In these words there breathes also the feeling of inward joy and lively recognition which Jesus has just experienced a few moments before: for it is very recently that this result for which He blesses the Father at this moment has been obtained ( Joh 16:29-31 ). The harvest seems scanty, no doubt: eleven Galilean artisans after three years of labor! But this is enough for Jesus: for in these eleven He beholds the pledge of the continuance of the divine work on the earth.

There is an advance in the three verbs of these two verses: “ They have known: ” on the authority of their consciousness; “ they have received: ” by submission to this testimony; “ they have believed: ” by the surrender of their whole being to Him who thus manifested to them His divine character. The forms ἐγνωκαν , τετήρηκαν , are Alexandrian, and the question to be determined is, as in so many other similar cases, whether the apostles themselves used them or whether they were introduced by the Alexandrian copyists.

After having thus prepared the way for His petition, Jesus utters it, and ends by giving the ground of it:

Verses 6-19

Vv. 6-19: Jesus asks for the support of His apostles in faith and their full consecration to the divine work.

It seems to me that it is altogether wrong for Weiss, with Lucke, de Wette, etc., to connect the passage, John 17:6-8, with what precedes, as developing the work of Christ on the earth, and as still intended to give a ground for the first petition: glorify me. The question henceforth is rather of what the disciples have become through the work of Christ, to the end of giving a ground for the prayer on their behalf ( Joh 17:9 ). As it is with a view to the work of God that He asks His own glory again, it is also in view of this work that He commends to His Father the instruments whom He has chosen and prepared for the purpose of continuing it. This prayer has first an altogether general character: I pray for them, John 17:9; then it is given, with precision and in form, in two distinct petitions: τήρησον , keep them ( Joh 17:11 ), and ἁγίασον , sanctify them ( Joh 17:17 ), which are the counterpart of the δόξασόν με , glorify me, for Jesus Himself. Joh 17:6-8 prepare the way for the first general petition, for which Joh 17:9-10 will finally give the grounds.


Vv. 6-19.

1. Joh 17:6-8 are connected both with the preceding and with the following context. In relation to the preceding verses, they indicate, by the presentation of the case of those in whom the work had been accomplished in the highest degree, and through whom, as the human instruments, it was to be carried forward in the time to come, the proof of what is stated in John 17:4. On the other hand, these verses evidently prepare the way for the petition of John 17:9, giving a reason why these persons, and not the world, are commended to the care of the Father. In these verses there is, in reality, a summing up of what has been presented in the entire record of this Gospel as connected with the reception of the Divine life: ( a) The persons in question are those who have the susceptibility to the truth, Thine they were and Thou gavest them to me; (b) Jesus has made known to them the Father's name the name, here as elsewhere, standing as the representative of all that is involved in the revelation of God through Christ; ( c) This revelation comes through the word which Jesus has spoken to them; and they have kept it in their heart and life; ( d) In receiving and keeping the word, they have recognized fully the great truth which it involved namely, that the origin of Christ's teachings and mission is from the Father. The work which had been given Him to do is thus fulfilled in their case.

2 John 1:9-13; 2 John 1:9-13. The prayer is for the disciples, and not for the world. The explanation of the exclusion of the world here is, not that those who belong to the world are excluded from the prayers of Christ, but that this prayer is, like the discourses of the preceding chapters, a prayer of the departing one who is leaving his friends behind him. At such an hour, the prayer for enemies does not have its proper place. The petition is for the friends only, with reference to the state of separation from Jesus which was just before them.

3. The particle ὅτι of Joh 17:9 is to be connected with σοί εἰσιν and δεδόξασμαι , the words from the first καί to the second ἐμά of Joh 17:10 being parenthetical in their character. The ground of the prayer which is here presented is thus, in substance, what has been already mentioned that they belong to the Father, and that Jesus has been glorified in them. In Joh 17:11 the additional reason, relating to the future, is given that they were to remain in the world bereft of His care.

4. The petition for the disciples is set forth in two forms: first, in the more general way in John 17:11, keep them in thy name, and, secondly, more particularly in John 17:15; John 17:17 -in Joh 17:15 on the negative side, keep them from the evil, and in Joh 17:17 on the positive side, sanctify them in the truth.

5. The explanation of Joh 17:13 given by Meyer seems to be the correct one: “ But now I come to thee, and since I can no longer guard them personally as hitherto, I speak this (this prayer for thy protection, Joh 17:11 ) in the world (‘jam ante discessum meum,’ Bengel), that they, as witnesses and objects of this my intercession, knowing themselves assured of thy protection, may bear my joy (as in John 15:11, not Joh 14:27 ) fulfilled in themselves.

6. John 17:14-19. Joh 17:14 is to be regarded as introductory to John 17:15, as Joh 17:16 is to John 17:17. In both cases, the fact that the disciples are not of the world, as Jesus Himself is not of the world and thus ( Joh 17:14 ) that they are objects of the hatred and enmity of the world is made the ground of the special petition. The turn of thought, therefore, from the more general to the more particular request is made, not at John 17:15, but at John 17:14.

7. The words τοῦ πονηροῦ of Joh 17:15 may be neuter, or they may be masculine. This is the only instance in which the expression is found in this Gospel, but in the First Epistle of John there are five cases which may be compared with the one in this verse. In 1Jn 2:13-14 the masculine form is beyond doubt, you have overcome the evil one, τὸν πονηρόν . In 1 John 3:12 -Cain was ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ the connection of the verse with those which precede, in which the devil is spoken of, makes it substantially certain that the words are masculine and refer to the evil one. In 1Jn 5:18 the reference to the evil one is certain, for the words are ὁ πονηρός , and in 1 John 5:19, where the dative ἐν τῷ πονηρῷ is used, the contrast of the two closely united sentences is such as to give an overwhelming probability in favor of the same reference. So far, therefore, as the usage of the writer can be determined from these passages, the argument derived from it is altogether in favor of the same explanation of the phrase in the verse before us. The same explanation is favored by the fact that John's Gospel seems distinctly to present the idea of two spheres or kingdoms, each presided over by a ruler. The use of τηρεῖν ἐκ in Rev 3:10 may be regarded as justifying the use here, if τ . πον . is taken as masculine. Godet, who holds that this genitive with ἀπό and ῥύεσθαι in Mat 6:13 refers to the evil one, thinks that the preposition ἐκ is more naturally referred to a domain, from which one is taken, than to a personal enemy. Of the most rrecent commentators on this Gospel, Weiss, Keil, Westcott, Milligan and Moulton, like R. V., regard the words as masculine.

8. Joh 17:17 gives the positive form of the request: Sanctify them in the truth. The word ἁγίασον refers, as we may believe because of its connection with the idea of τηρήσης κ . τ . λ . , and also with the words of John 17:18, to that consecration of the disciples with reference to their future work, which would be accomplished for them by their being made holy in the sphere of the Divine truth. “The prayer,” says Westcott, “is that the consecration which is represented by admission into the Christian society may be completely realized in fact; that every faculty, offered once for all, may in due course be effectually rendered to God ( Rom 12:1 ).”

9. The last sentence of John 17:17, Thy word is truth, is best understood, with Godet, DeWette and others, as denoting the means by which the sanctifying process is to be accomplished, or rather (since the ἐν of the first part of the verse is not the instrumental preposition, as Godet takes it, but means in the sphere of) as giving a more definite statement of what is referred to in the words the truth. Thy word is truth, hence when I pray for these disciples, says Jesus, I pray for their consecration in the sphere of the truth.

10. Joh 17:18 gives the special reason for making the prayer a prayer for their consecration namely, that they have a mission like to His own, and Joh 17:19 adds the declaration that to this end He also consecrates Himself in offering Himself to death. This fact: that He thus devotes and consecrates Himself, is also, like the words of John 17:18, a reason for urging His petition ( Joh 17:17 ).

Verses 9-10

Vv. 9, 10. “ I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me, because they are thine. 10. And all that which is mine is thine, and that which is thine is mine, and I am glorified in them.

From the infinite value which these antecedents give to the person of the disciples, Jesus draws this conclusion: “ I pray for them. ” ᾿Εγώ , I, at the beginning: “ I, who have labored so much to bring them to this point and to whom they now belong.”

Then, immediately afterwards, and before the verb, the limiting words περὶ αὐτῶν , for them: For them, this fruit of my labors, this present which thou hast made to me.” This general prayer is equivalent to an: “I commend them to thee.” Thus is the antithesis explained: I pray not for the world. Jesus has not the same grounds for commending the world to God; if He wished to pray here for the world, He would formulate His petitions on its behalf quite differently. Luther rightly says: “What must be asked for the world is that it should be converted, not that it should be kept or sanctified. ” Assuredly the refusal of Jesus to pray for the world is not absolute. He Himself says on the cross: “ Father, forgive them! ” Is not this to pray for the world? Only He does not, as here, allege this ground: They have known ( Joh 17:8 ); He says, on the contrary, “ For they know not what they do. ” He cannot make an appeal to God for the world, as for a precious being which belongs to Him, as He does here for His disciples. All that He can do on the cross is to make an appeal to His compassion towards a being who is guilty and is lost. Moreover, the words of John 17:21: “ That the world may know that thou hast sent me,” contain also an implicit prayer on behalf of the world. Comp. John 3:16. The refusal of Jesus to pray for the world becomes absolute only when its moral character of opposition to God is irrevocably fixed, and when it has become the society “of those who not only are enemies of God, but who desire to remain such” ( Gess).

Before expressing the more special petitions included in this general prayer, Jesus presents again the two principal claims which the disciples have to the divine interest: 1. God has Himself given them to Jesus, and He must keep this gift for Him. Still more, by thus becoming the property of Jesus, they have not ceased to be that of God. For all property is common between them, and this bond connecting them with Jesus strengthens forever that which bound them to God. Would a mere creature express himself in this way? Luther says: “Every man can say, What I have is thine; but the Son alone can say, What is thine is mine.” The present, “ are thine,” is purposely substituted for the imperfect, “ were thine,” John 17:6, in order to express the idea that the gift made to Jesus has only served to confirm their belonging to God. 2. The second ground which commends them henceforth to the Father's interest is, that they are become the depositaries of the glory of the Son (perfect, δεδόξασμαι ). We must not make this clause depend on the ὅτι of John 17:9, which would render the sentence dragging, and would force us to make a parenthesis of the first part of John 17:10.

The expression: I am glorified in them, has been understood in different ways. There is no reason to depart from the constant sense of the term: to be glorified. Notwithstanding His form of servant, Jesus has been manifested to them inwardly in His divine character; even before having been restored to His glory, He has regained it within them by the fact that they have recognized Him as the Son of God. This is the testimony which Jesus has borne to them, John 17:7-8.

With this general commendation there are connected two more precise petitions. The first: keep them, is prepared for by John 17:11 a, expressly stated John 17:11 b, and supported by reasons John 17:12-15.

Verse 11

Ver. 11. “ And I am no more in the world; but they are in the world; and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, them whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

At the moment of asking God more specially for His protection for His disciples, the thought of Jesus naturally turns towards the dangers to which they will be exposed in the state of desertion in which His departure is about to leave them: “Keep them, these precious vessels ( Joh 17:6-10 ), which are from this moment so exposed ( Joh 17:11-15 ).” Jesus is no longer with them, in the world, to keep them, and He is not yet with God so as to be able to protect them from the midst of His heavenly glory. There is a sorrowful interval, during which His Father must charge Himself with this care. This reason would be absolutely incomprehensible, if the Fourth Gospel really taught, as Reuss thinks, that the Logos is susceptible neither of humiliation nor of exaltation, or, as Baur affirms, that death is for Him only the divesting of bodily appearances. Joh 17:5 has proved that, when once His divine state is abandoned, there remains for Him, as a mode of existence, only His earthly presence with His own, and Joh 17:11-12 prove that, when this presence comes to an end, there is nothing else to do for them except to lay them in the arms of the Father. Weiss thinks that even in His state of exaltation He will do nothing except through asking it of the Father. The passages which he alleges do not seem to me to prove this (John 14:13; Joh 14:16 ); and this idea is in direct contradiction to Matthew 28:20.

The title: Holy Father, must be used in connection with the petition presented. Holiness, in man, is the consecration of his whole being to the task which the divine will assigns to him. Holiness, in God, is the free, deliberate, calm, immutable affirmation of Himself who is the good, or of the good which is Himself. The holiness of God, therefore, as soon as we are associated therewith, draws a deep line of demarcation between us and the men who live under the sway of their natural instincts, and whom the Scriptures call the world. The term: Holy Father, here characterizes God as the one who has drawn this line of separation between the disciples and the world.

And the petition: keep them, has in view the maintenance of this separation. Jesus supplicates His Father to keep the disciples in this sphere of consecration, which is foreign to the life of the world, and of which God is Himself the centre and the author. The words: in thy name, make the relation of the divine character which is granted to the apostles as it were the inclosing wall of this sacred domain in which they are to be kept.

The reading which nearly all the Mjj. present would signify: “in thy name which thou hast given me.” But where in the Scriptures is the name of God spoken of as given to the Son? The expression: “ My name is in him ” ( Exo 23:21 ), is very different. I do not accept this reading even though it is so strongly supported; comp. John 17:12, where it is even far more improbable. Since the received reading: those whom ( οὕς ) thou hast given me, has in its favor only Mnn., I think that the reading ὃ δέδωκας , “ that which thou hast given me,” must be preferred, which is preserved in the Cambridge MS., but that we must make these words the explanatory apposition of αὐτούς , them, which precedes; it is the reverse construction of that in John 17:2, where the plural αὐτοῖς is the explanatory apposition of the singular πᾶν .

Comp. also John 17:24 (in case the reading ὅ for οὕς must be adopted in that verse): “Keep them in my name, them, that which thou hast given me.” This reading gives the same sense as that of the T. R. ( οὕς ); and it easily explains the origin of the Alexandrian reading ( ᾧ substituted for ὅ which was referred to ὀνόματι ). The conjunction that may depend either on δέδωκας , or, what is the only possible meaning with the reading which we prefer, on keep them: “Keep them in the sphere of thy knowledge (those whom thou hast given to me to introduce into it), that they may remain one as we are, and that no one of them may be lost in isolation by means of the rupture of the bundle which my care had formed.” What indeed would have become of Thomas if, after the resurrection, he had persisted in keeping himself separated from his brethren?

The words as we are signify that, as it is by the common possession of the divine nature that the Father and the Son are one, it is by the common knowledge of this nature ( the name), that the disciples may remain closely united among themselves and may each one of them be individually kept.

Verses 12-13

Vv. 12, 13. “ When I was with them, I kept them in thy name; those whom thou hast given me, I have watched over; and none of them is lost, except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13. But now, I come to thee; and I say these things while I am in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Joh 17:12-15 justify the petition: Keep them, by developing the ground of it, as it had been briefly indicated in John 17:11 a: They have need of thy protection. “ When I was with them,” resumes the idea of: I am no more...( Joh 17:11 ). The words of the T. R.: in the world, are probably a gloss.

The ἐγώ , I, contrasts Him who has kept them hitherto with Him who is to do it for the future. The ἐτήρουν , I kept them, indicates the result obtained ( conservabam); the ἐφύλαξα , I have guarded, relates to the action put forth for this end ( custodivi).

The reading ᾧ is still more inadmissible in this verse than in the preceding. It has only three Mjj. in its favor, instead of sixteen in John 17:11. The reading ὅ is also abandoned by the three Mjj. which supported it, and has here in its favor only the Egyptian Versions. It only remains to read οὕς ( those whom), with the T. R. and the majority of the Mjj., which suits the meaning of John 17:11.

By the word son of perdition and the citation of the prophecy, Jesus discharges Himself from responsibility, without lessening that of Judas. As to the latter, he has freely yielded himself to play the part traced out beforehand by the prophecy.

We may compare here what is foretold concerning Antichrist. We know through prophecy that this person will exist, and yet this fact will not prevent the man who shall accept this part from freely doing so. Comp. p. 235, the remarks on the relation between the divine foreknowledge and human freedom. In the Hebraistic phrase son of the abstract complement indicates the moral principle which determines the tendency of the individual thus designated. The passage of which Jesus is thinking is Psalms 41:10, cited in John 13:18. Must we conclude from the expression εἰ μή , if it is not, that Jesus counted Judas also in the number of those whom the Father had previously given Him? I do not think that this form of expression obliges us to draw this conclusion; comp. Matthew 12:4, Luke 4:26-27, etc.

This remark was a parenthesis intended to justify, with regard to the loss of Judas, the watchfulness of the Lord. After this Jesus returns ( Joh 17:13 ) to the idea of His approaching departure; this is the fact which gives the ground for His petition. And He adds that, if He utters aloud (this is the meaning of λαλῶ ) these words in presence of His disciples, before leaving them, it is that He may associate them in the joy which He Himself enjoys. This joy is that which is inspired in Him by the certainty of the protection with which the Father shelters Him at all times, a certainty which is also to become theirs.

The need which they have of being kept is set forth in the following words in a still more pressing way than before. They are not only going to remain alone in the world, but as objects of its hatred.

Verses 14-15

Vv. 14, 15. “ I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, 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.

The word of Jesus, which they have faithfully received, has made them strangers in the world, as Jesus Himself was. They are become thereby, like Him, beings antipathetic to purely earthly humanity. Jesus might therefore easily allow Himself to ask of God to withdraw them from the world with Himself. But no; for He has separated them from the world for the precise purpose of preparing them to fulfil a mission to the world. It is necessary that they should remain here to fulfil this task; only it must not be that the line of demarcation which He has succeeded in drawing between the world and them, by placing His word in them, should be effaced.

While remaining in the world, they must be kept from the evil which reigns therein. Jesus thus closes this passage by presenting again the petition which was its text. The limiting word τοῦ πονηροῦ , it seems to me, must be taken here in the neuter sense: from the evil, and not: from the evil one; for the preposition ἐκ , out of, refers rather to a domain, from the midst of which one is taken, than to a person from whose power one escapes. It is otherwise in the Lord's Prayer, where the preposition ἀπό and the verb ῥύεσθαι are used, two expressions which rather refer to a personal enemy ( Mat 6:13 ). It is wrong, therefore, for Reuss, Weiss, etc., to explain here: “ from the power of the devil.” Hengstenberg observes that the form τηρεῖν ἐκ does not appear again except in the Apoc. ( Joh 3:10 ).

From the prayer: Keep them, which has rather a negative aim (to prevent their return to the world), and which especially refers to their own salvation, Jesus passes to the second petition, which has a positive end in view, and which refers rather to their mission: Sanctify them. It is prepared for in John 17:16, stated in John 17:17, then justified and developed in John 17:18-19.

Verses 16-17

Vv. 16, 17. “ They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. 17. Sanctify them by the truth;thy word is truth.

Joh 17:16 is the transition from the first petition to the second. Jesus has introduced them into the sphere of holiness in which He Himself lives; but it is not only necessary that they should abide there ( keep them); they must also penetrate farther therein, that they may be strengthened; for they have the mission to introduce the world into it. ῾Αγίασον , sanctify: this word does not merely designate their own moral perfection (Lucke, de Wette), but also the consecration of their whole life to the service of God's work ( Joh 17:18 ). According to John 10:36, a consecration preceded the sending of Jesus to the earth: “me whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world.” He was marked with a seal of holiness that He might establish here on earth the kingdom of holiness. The same thing is to be repeated for His disciples. The word ἁγιάζειν , to sanctify, is not synonymous with καθαρίζειν , to purify. Holy is not the opposite of impure, but simply of natural or profane (without the idea of defilement).

To sanctify is to consecrate to a religious use what hitherto had appertained to the common life, without the idea of sin. Comp. Exodus 40:13, Leviticus 22:2-3, and Matthew 23:17: “Which is greater, the gold or the temple which sanctifies the gold?” But from the Old Testament point of view, the consecration was an external, ritual act; in the new covenant, where all is spiritual, the seat of consecration is above all the heart, the will of the consecrated person. Jesus, therefore, in saying Sanctify them, asks for them a will entirely devoted to the good that is, to God and to His service, and consequently to the task which God gives them to discharge in the world. All their forces, all their talents, all their life, are to be marked with the seal of consecration to this great work, the salvation of men; a thing which implies the renouncing of all self-gratification, however lawful it may be, the absence of all interested aims, of all self-seeking. This is the sublime idea of Christian holiness, but regarded here, where the question is of the apostles, as about to be realized under the special form of the Christian ministry, in the same way as each believer is to realize it under the form of the special task which is providentially assigned to him. We have given to ἐν , in the translation, the instrumental sense by, as in John 1:31; John 1:33. The divine truth is thus designated as the agent of the consecration. Meyer, Weiss and others translate in: In this sphere of truth, where I have placed them, complete the work of sanctifying them.” But to what purpose, in this case, the addition of the words: “Thy word is truth”? Must they not serve to present the truth as the means by which alone this consecration can be effected? Weiss tries in vain to give another sense.

The T. R. reads σοῦ ( of thee) with the words the truth in the first clause; this pronoun is wanting in the Alexandrian authorities, and was probably added from the following clause ( thy word).

The truth is the adequate expression of the character of God and of His relation to us. This truth is found only in the word of God addressed to the world by the mouth of Jesus. The second ἀληθεία does not have the article: This word is truth, nothing but truth.

In support of this prayer, Jesus alleges two reasons, one drawn from what they will have to do for the world ( Joh 17:18 ), the other from the work which He accomplishes upon Himself on their behalf ( Joh 17:19 ). Their mission is His, and His holiness will be theirs.

Verses 18-19

Vv. 18, 19. “ According 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 in truth.

If Jesus asks for them the spirit of their charge ( Joh 17:17 ), it is because He has confided to them the charge itself. The term ἀπέστειλα , I have sent, alludes to the title of apostles which He has given them. But how does Jesus say that He has sent them into the world, when they are already in it? It is because He has drawn them to Himself and raised them into a higher sphere than the life of the world ( Joh 17:16 ), and it is from thence that He now sends them to the world, as really as He was Himself sent from heaven. And the mission which He gives them is only the continuation of that which the Father has given Him ( καθώς , according as); herein is the first reason which He presses in support of His petition: Sanctify them.

The second is set forth in John 17:19. The force of καί , and, at the beginning of this verse, is this: “And to obtain for them this consecration which I ask for, I begin by consummating my own.” Jesus asks nothing of the Father except after having done, or when doing Himself what depends on Himself to the end of making possible the realization of His prayer; comp. John 17:4; John 17:6; John 17:8; John 17:12; John 17:14. It is on what He does for His own sanctification that theirs will be founded. The words ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν , for them, are at the beginning because they set forth the aim of His work with reference to Himself. The word sanctify does not by any means imply, as we have seen, the removal of defilement; for it is not synonymous with purify ( καθαρίζειν ); it is therefore a wrong course in some interpreters to find in this word a proof of the existence of sin in Jesus.

The majority of interpreters ( Chrysostom, Meyer, Reuss, Weiss, etc.) apply this word to the consecration which Jesus makes of His person at this moment in view of His expiatory death. Weiss sustains this meaning by the ordinary use of the word hiquedisch in the Old Testament to designate the idea of sacrificing. But this last reason proves nothing; for this term, as well as the Greek word, designates all consecration, even that which does not issue in death; comp. Matthew 23:17, which we have just cited. And this sense is not admissible here, because it is inapplicable in the following clause, unless we see, with Chrysostom, in the sanctification of the apostles their acceptance of martyrdom, or refer it, as Meyer and Reuss do, to the gift of the Holy Spirit as the result of the expiatory death, or give up, as Weiss does, assigning the same meaning to the verb ἁγιάζειν in the two clauses, and find therein a special nicety of expression; all which interpretations are quite improbable, the first, because the greater part of the apostles do not seem to have been martyrs; the second, because the relation between the two acts of consecration would be much too indirect; the third, because the ἵνα , that, as well as the καί , them also, implies two consecrations of a homogeneous character. We must, therefore, with Calvin, abide by the natural meaning of ἁγιάζειν : to take a thing away from a profane use in order to consecrate it to the service of God. Jesus possessed a human nature, such as ours, endowed with inclinations and repugnances like ours, but yet perfectly lawful. Of this nature He continually made a holy offering; negatively, by sacrificing it where it was in contradiction to His mission (the culture of the arts and sciences, for example, or the family life); positively, in consecrating to the task assigned Him of God all His powers, all His natural and spiritual talents.

It is thus “ that He offered Himself to God without spot, through the eternal Spirit ” ( Heb 9:14 ). When the question was of sacrificing a gratification, as in the desert, or of submitting to a sorrow, as in Gethsemane, He incessantly subjected His nature to the work to which the will of the Father called Him. And this was not effected once for all. His human life received the seal of consecration increasingly even till the entire and final sacrifice of death, when “by the things which He suffered” He finished the “learning obedience” ( Heb 5:8 ).

The pronouns I and myself set forth the energetic action which Jesus was obliged to exercise upon Himself in order to attain this result.

Thereby Jesus realized in His own person the perfect consecration of the human life, and He thus laid the foundations of the consecration of this life in all His followers. This is what is expressed by the following clause: That they also may be sanctified, which develops the meaning of the first words: for them. According to Weiss, Jesus speaks here of a purely negative fact: the removal through the expiatory sacrifice of Christ of the guilt resulting from the defilements contracted by the believer, a guilt which would prevent his consecration to God. This is to fail to recognize the difference in meaning between the two terms sanctify and purify, and arbitrarily to change the meaning which the word sanctify had in the preceding clause. The meaning is indeed as follows: The sanctification of every believer is nothing else than the communication which Jesus makes to him of His own sanctified person. This is what He had already intimated in John 6:53-57; John 6:63, and what St. Paul develops in Romans 8:1-3, where he shows that Christ began by condemning sin in the flesh (condemned to non-existence), in order that the (moral) righteousness, required by the law, might be realized in us. Jesus created a holy humanity in His person, and the Spirit has the task and the power to reproduce in us this new humanity: “ The law of the Spirit of life which is in Jesus Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death. ” In this point, as in all others, the part of the Spirit consists in taking what belongs to Jesus (this perfectly holy human life), to give it to us. If this holy life had not been realized in Christ, the Spirit would have nothing to communicate to us in this regard, and the sanctification of humanity would have remained a barren aspiration. It is difficult to understand how Weiss can say that, with this interpretation, everything is reduced to the imitation of the example of Christ.

Let us remark finally that by reason of John 17:17, the question here is of the apostles, not only as Christians, but especially as ministers ( Joh 17:18 ). Jesus Himself, while sanctifying Himself as man and for the purpose of realizing in Himself the ideal of human holiness, sanctified Himself at the same time as Saviour and for the purpose of giving life to mankind. In the same way, the task of the apostles will not only be to realize the consecration in that general form under which all believers are called to it; by freeing them from every earthly vocation and sending them into the world as His ambassadors, Jesus desired that their personal sanctification might be effected under the particular form of the apostleship. This form is not more holy, but it has, more than any earthly vocation, the character of a special consecration to the work of God. ᾿Εν ἀληθείᾳ , in truth, must have here, because of the want of the article, the adverbial sense: in a true way, in opposition both to the false Pharisaic consecration and to the ritual consecration of the Levitical priesthood. Thus from the general petition: I pray for them, there have been evolved these two clearly progressive petitions: “ Keep them in holiness! Consecrate them by an increasing holiness, to the end that they may become, after me and like me, the agents of the sanctification of the world.” It is natural that Jesus should pass from this to a prayer on behalf of the world itself, at least as to the future believing portion of it, John 17:20-26. Jesus prays for the believers and asks for them two things: John 17:20-21, spiritual unity; John 17:22-24, participation in His glory; finally, He justifies these petitions in John 17:25-26.

Verses 20-21

Vv. 20, 21. “ And it is not for these only that I pray, but for all those who believe on me through their word, 21, that they all may be one; that, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, they also may be in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Jesus has commended to God the author and the instruments of the work of salvation; He now prays on behalf of the object of this work, the body of believers. The Church appears here elevated by faith into unity with God, and rendered capable thereby of beholding and sharing the glory of the Son. It is the realization of the supreme destiny of humanity which He contemplates and asks for, the contents of that “ hidden wisdom which God had foreordained before the ages for our glory ” ( 1Co 2:7 ).

The question therefore is not only, as is often supposed, of the union of Christians among themselves, but above all of the union which is the basis of this, that of the body of believers with Christ and, through Him, with God Himself. This sublime unity it is which Jesus, in what follows, contrasts with that of the world. The true reading is certainly the present participle πιστευόντων , the believers, and not, as the T. R. reads, almost without any authorities, the future πιστευσόντων , those who shall believe. These believers are undoubtedly not the believers at the moment when Jesus is praying, since they had believed through His word and not through that of the apostles. But He pictures to Himself all believers, speaking absolutely. He sees them in spirit, these believers of all times and places, and by His prayer He unites them in one body and transports them, in some sense, to glory. This present cannot be rendered, in French, in an altogether exact way. In Reuss's view, this present participle proves that it is the evangelist and not Jesus who is speaking. This is to ascribe great unskilfulness to so able a composer.

The last words assign to the apostolic teaching a capital part in the life of the Church. Jesus recognizes, in the future, no faith capable of uniting man to God and preparing him for glory except that which is produced and nourished by the word of the Eleven. The term word ( λόγος ) does not, as the term testimony ( μαρτυρία ) might do, designate merely the narration of the evangelical facts; it contains also the revelation of the religious and moral meaning of the facts. It is the contents of the Epistles, as well as that of the Gospels. Men cannot really come to faith in Christ ( εἰς ἐμέ , on me), at any time, except through this intermediate agency. How can Reuss infer from this passage that the apostles have no other privilege relatively to other believers but that of priority? This saying assigns to them a unique place in the life of the Church. No teaching capable of producing faith can be other than a reproduction of theirs.

The following verses present the object of the petition under the form of an end to be attained by this very prayer ( ἵνα , in order that); Joh 17:21 designates this end in itself; Joh 17:22 states what Jesus has done already to the end of the possibility of its realization; Joh 17:23 shows it perfectly attained.

It seems to me that the first clause of Joh 17:21 is formed only of the words: that all may be one, which indicate the general idea; then, that the clause: as thou, Father,...depends on the following that, by an inversion similar to that of John 13:34. There is, therefore, here an explanatory resumption: “That they may be one; that, I say, as thou, Father,...they also may be in us.” This construction does not have the dragging character of that which makes the as depend on the first that. After having asked for the general unity of believers ( all), Jesus describes it as a unity of the most elevated order; it partakes of the nature ( καθώς ) of that of the Father and the Son. As the Father lives in the Son and the Son in the Father, so the Son lives in the believers and, by living in them, He unites them closely one with another. Instead of: “that they may be one in us,” some Mjj. read: “that they may be in us.” It may be said that the context requires the idea of the unity of believers, and that the small word ἕν was easily lost in the ἐν ἡμῖν which precedes. The idea, however, does not imperatively require this word. It is by being in Christ and through Him in God ( in us), that believers find themselves living in each other. That which separates them is what they have of self in their views and will; that which unites them is what they have of Christ, and thereby of the divine, in them. It is clear that this dwelling of Christ and consequently of God in them is the work of the Spirit, who alone has the power to cast down the barrier between personalities, without confounding them.

Such an organism, exercising its functions on the earth, is a manifestation so new that the sight of it must be a powerful means of bringing the world to faith in Him from whom it proceeds. Here is the content of the third that, which is subordinate to the two preceding ones, and indicates the final purpose of them. The word believe is never taken in the New Testament otherwise than in a favorable sense (except in James 2:19, which relates to an altogether peculiar case). It cannot therefore designate a forced conviction, such as that which may be found in Philippians 2:10 f. No doubt, Jesus does not mean to say that the whole world will believe; this would be contradictory to what He said of the world in John 15:20; John 15:22; John 15:24. We must recall to mind the fact that the question is of an end which cannot be accomplished for all. In any case, Jesus declares that in the world estranged from God there are yet elements capable of being gained for faith.

And what the sight of a local and passing phenomenon, like that of the primitive Church in Jerusalem, produced among the Jewish people ( Act 2:44-47 ), will not the same spectacle, when magnified, produce this also on a grander scale, one day, throughout the entire world? Perhaps even Jesus is thinking more especially of the conversion of the Jews at the end of time, when they shall see the Church realized in all its beauty among the Gentiles. In John 15:18; John 15:20, the word world designates, above all, the Jewish people. This supposition is confirmed by the words: that it is thou who hast sent me, that is to say: “that I, this Jesus of Nazareth, whom they have rejected, am really the promised Sent one whom they were expecting.” Romans 11:25; Romans 11:31. Comp. 1 John 1:3; Ephesians 4:13.

After having presented to God this end worthy of His love, Jesus recalls in John 17:22, as in John 17:4; John 17:6; John 17:14; John 17:18, how He has Himself prepared the work of which He asks the completion, and in Joh 17:23 He describes its glorious consummation.

Verses 20-26

Vv. 20-26. Jesus prays for the union of believers with Himself and among themselves.


Vv. 20-26.

1. Joh 17:20-24 . The prayer now turns to the great company of believers in all coming time. These will become believers through the word, spoken or written, of the apostles. The prayer for them is, that they may be one. This was presented in Joh 17:11 with reference to the apostles themselves, as the end for which Jesus asked that the Father would keep them. The unity here referred to is set forth more fully in the following words and verses. It is evidently such a unity as would, by its natural influence, lead the world to believe in the divine mission of Christ ( Joh 17:21 ); it was one which was in correspondence, in some sense, with that which exists between the Father and the Son (John 17:20 b, John 17:22); it was one which was founded upon an indwelling of Christ in them, answering, in some sense, to the indwelling of the Father in Christ (John 17:23 a); it was a perfected unity, which should, by its very existence, prove that the Father loved them after a similar manner to that in which He loved Christ (John 17:23 b). These points, taken together, show that the unity is something more than the unity of love mentioned in John 13:34-35. In addition to the principle of love to one another which makes the company of believers one, there is here a common life-principle which they gain from the revelation and teaching, and also from the spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christ dwells in them and makes their spirits life ( Rom 8:10 ). As Christ lives on account of and in the Father, so they live on account of and in Christ.

2. In Joh 17:24 there is a further request for these believers, which reaches out into their future life in heaven. There is no determination in this verse as to the time when this future union will begin, but, if Joh 14:3 can be interpreted as in Note 35.3, above, it will begin immediately after the death of each believer; and, whether this interpretation be given to that particular verse or not, a union with Christ from that time onward is indicated in other passages in the New Testament. The full blessedness of the believer, however, and the most perfect beholding of the glory of Christ, may perhaps not be enjoyed until after the Parousia. The perfection of unity in and among themselves on earth, and the union with Himself in a dwelling together in heaven, are the two gifts which Jesus asks for all His followers in all ages.

3. The glory spoken of in Joh 17:24 is apparently that which is referred to in John 17:1; Joh 17:5 the glory which is bestowed upon Christ as the reward of His earthly work, and which involves a restoration to that glory which He had with the Father even before the creation of the world. It is spoken of as given to Him, because it is viewed as the reward of His work. As it is, however, the glory mentioned in John 17:5, there can be no reason for doubting that the words thou didst love me before the foundation of the world involve the idea of Christ's pre-existence, which is clearly set forth in John 17:5.

4. John 17:25-26; John 17:25-26. These verses form a kind of conclusion of the whole prayer, and the thought seems to turn back to Himself and the apostles, with a declaration that they stand apart from the world, and an appeal to the righteousness of God to grant the requests because of this fact. There is evidently a contrast in these verses, not merely between the world and the apostles, but between the world, on the one side, and Himself and the apostles on the other. Jesus, however, places Himself here, as elsewhere in the chapter, not in precisely the same position in which He places them. He has the knowledge of the Father in and of Himself; they reach the possession of it through Him. The καί following δικαιε is quite difficult of explanation. It seems to the writer of this note that Meyer's view is probably correct the words being uttered with a pause after δίκαιε , and the suggested thought being: Yes, Thou art righteous; (the καί thus meaning and yet;) and yet the world has not known Thee, but I have known thee, and these who are here with me on this last evening of my life have known Thee. Decide between the two parties according to Thy righteousness, and grant the petitions which I have offered. The objection which Meyer and Weiss make to the view of those who, with Bengel and Ebrard, regard the two καί as equivalent to the Latin et...et, seems decisive namely, that it is inconsistent with “the antithetic character of the conceptions and with the manifest reference of the second καί to ἐγὼ δέ .”

Verses 22-23

Vv. 22, 23. “ And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given them, that they may be one, as we are one, 23, I in them and thou in me; that their unity may be perfect, that the world may know that thou hast sent me and that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.

In this whole prayer, Jesus rests His petitions on the fact that He has already begun that of which He asks the completion. Hence the ἐγώ , 1, placed at the beginning.

What is the glory of which Jesus has already made a gift to His own, and by means of which He has laid the foundation of the unity which He asks for? Chrysostom and, at the present day, Weiss understand by it the glorious power of sustaining their apostolic ministry by miracles. But this outward sign has nothing in common with the inward sphere in which the thought of Jesus is here moving. How could a result like this, which is expressed by the following ἵνα , that, proceed from a miraculous power, an external, passing and individual phenomenon? Hengstenberg refers this term glory to the participation of believers in the unity of the Father and the Son; but this explanation leads to a tautology with the following clause. De Wette, Reuss, Meyer, apply this term glory to the kingdom which is to come, and the word give to a property only by right; but this is to anticipate the meaning of John 17:24. Jesus starts, on the contrary, in Joh 17:22 from a fact already accomplished, in order to make it the point of departure for a coming good ( Joh 17:23 ) which will precede the final glory ( Joh 17:24 ). We read, John 17:24, that the glory of Jesus consists in being the eternal object of the Father's love; the glory which He has communicated to believers is, therefore, the becoming by faith what He is essentially, the objects of this same divine love; comp. John 17:23 ( that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me) and John 17:26. This glory, which is that of adoption, Jesus has communicated to His own by bringing things to this point, that God can, without obscuring His holiness, convey to them the love which He has for Jesus Himself. By this means we understand the following clause: that they may be one, as we [are] one. This love of the Father, of which they are all the objects in common, unites them closely among themselves and makes them all one family of which Jesus is the elder Brother (Romans 8:29, Eph 1:10 ).

The first words of John 17:23, in a clause which is simply placed in juxtaposition with the preceding: “that they may be one as we are,” remind us of the mode of this unity: God living in Christ, Christ living in each believer, and this to the end that the limit of a perfect unity may be attained, and that the organism of humanity consummated in God may appear.

The aim of this admirable unity is that the world may know. This word is undoubtedly not the synonym of believe, John 17:21. The term know includes with the faith of believers ( Joh 17:21 ) the forced conviction of rebels. For how could the word κόσμος , the world, designate only the believers? The question is of the universal homage, voluntary or involuntary, rendered to Christ such as is described in Philippians 2:10, Romans 14:10-12. The whole universe renders homage to the divine messenger who, by transforming believers into His own image, has succeeded in making them loved as He is Himself loved.

Thus is the way prepared for the pointing out of the final end of the ways of God towards the Church of Christ, its participation in the glory of the Son of God:

Verse 24

Ver. 24. “ Father, my will is that those 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.

Perfect unity is the last step before the goal of perfect glory. The repetition of the invocation Father, John 17:24-25, indicates the increasing urgency with which Jesus prays, as He draws nearer the end. The reading ὃ δέδωκας , “ that which thou hast given me,” is probably the true one; it brings out the unity of the believers, that perfect ἕν which the body of the elect will form ( Joh 17:23 ). Θέλω : Jesus no longer says, I pray, but I will! This expression is found nowhere else on His lips; it is ordinarily explained by saying that the Son expresses Himself thus, because He feels Himself fully in accord on this point with the Father. But was not this the case in general in all His prayers! This unique expression must be in harmony with the unique character of the situation. And the unique point in this latter is that it is a question of Jesus as dying. It is His testament which Jesus here places in the hands of His Father, and, as the expression is, His last will.

All that which Jesus has just asked for them had for its aim to render them fit for the immediate beholding of His glory, from the very moment of their death ( Joh 14:3 ). There is no question here of the Parousia, as Weiss thinks. The sphere of this divine manifestation is at once inward and heavenly. Meyer thinks that the glory, of which Jesus says that the Father has given it to Him, cannot be His divine glory before the incarnation, and must designate His glory after His exaltation, and He sees in the following words: for thou lovedst me before,...the ground on which God thus glorifies Jesus. But the ground of the exaltation of Jesus is quite differently described, not only by Paul ( Php 2:9-11 ), but also by John himself, John 10:17, John 13:32, John 15:10: it is His perfect obedience even to death and even to the death of the cross.

The ὅτι therefore means: in that, and serves to explain wherein this glory of the Son consists: it is in having been the eternal object of the Father's love. Is there any glory to be compared with this? The word given may be incompatible with a certain conception of the divine Trinity; it is not so with that of John, which includes as a necessary element the relation of subordination between the Son and the Father; comp. John 1:1 ( with God); John 1:18 ( in the bosom of the Father); John 5:26 (“it has been given him to have life in himself”), etc. The words: before the foundation of the world, imply eternity, for the world includes all that which has come into existence. This saying of Jesus is that which leads us farthest into the divine depths. It shows Christian speculation on what path it must seek the solution of the relations of the Trinity; love is the key of this mystery. And as this love is eternal, and consequently has no more an end than it has had a beginning, it may one day become for believers the permanent object of an immediate contemplation, through which they will find themselves initiated into the mystery of the essence of the Son and of His eternal generation. Far more; as, by the complete community which the Son has succeeded in establishing between them and Him, they are the objects of a similar love to that of which the Son is the object, they will find themselves thus introduced into the eternal movement of the divine life itself. This appears from the word behold. One does not behold a fact of this order without being in some manner associated with it. Here is the height to which Jesus elevates the Church. After having drawn His spouse from the midst of a world sunk in evil, He introduces her into the sphere of the divine life.

Verses 25-26

Vv. 25, 26. “ Righteous Father, the world, it is true, has not known thee; but as for me, I have known thee; and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26. And I have made known to them thy name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and that I may be in them.

Jesus does not say, as He did in John 17:11: “ Holy Father. ” And He certainly has His reasons for substituting here for the title holy the title righteous. What follows does not permit us to doubt that He takes this word in the sense of justice strictly so-called, retributive justice. Hengstenberg, Meyer, Weiss, Keil, Westcott, etc., have clearly seen this. In fact, Jesus opposes to the world, which has refused to know God and has thus rendered itself unworthy to be admitted to the contemplation of His glory, His own ( οὗτοι , these), who have consented to know God and have thus become worthy of the privilege which He asks for them ( Joh 17:24 ). Hence, as it appears to me, it follows that in the first words of Joh 17:25 the καί before οὗτοι and the καί before ὁ κόσμος are two καί of contrast, such as we have seen so many times in John (John 1:10, John 6:36, Joh 15:24 ), serving to bring together, by reason of their very opposition, the two contrary facts. But what has prevented interpreters from apprehending this relation is the fact that John intercalates between the two terms of the principal contrast a third term intended to introduce the second: “But as for me, I have known thee.” If the believers have arrived at the knowledge of God, it is not of themselves, but only by means of the knowledge which their Master had of God and which He has communicated to them. The δέ , but, indicates a first antithesis with reference to the καί , which precedes, relatively to the world, a fact which makes the second καί , before οὗτοι , appear no longer other than the completing of the antithesis expressed by this δέ which accompanies the ἐγώ . We may compare John 16:20, as an example of an antithesis in some sort broken by a secondary antithesis intercalated between the two members of the principal contrast.

This explanation draws near to that of Baumlein, and is in the main accepted by Keil. Meyer also explains the first καί as indicating an opposition, but an opposition to the idea of righteousness expressed in the invocation Righteous Father! And yet (although thou art righteous) the world has not known thee as such.” This non-recognition is, according to this view, that of which Paul speaks in Romans 1:19, which consisted in the blindness of men with reference to the revelation of God in the works of nature. But this idea has not the least connection with the context. Jesus has Himself said (in John 15:22; Joh 15:24 ) that all the sins previous to His coming would not have been imputed to the world, if it had not put the crowning point upon them by the rejection of Him. The terms to know and not to know God can refer here only to the acceptance or rejection of the revelation of the character of God in the appearance of Jesus. Weiss sees in the first καί , not an opposition to the second, but a particle which connects this verse with that which precedes. But what logical connection is it possible to establish between the admission of believers to the spectacle of the glory of Christ ( Joh 17:24 ) and the refusal of the world to know God! This, then, is the meaning of this prayer: “The world, it is true, is the just object of Thy rejection by reason of its refusal to know Thee; but these, in receiving me, who have brought to them the knowledge of Thee, are become worthy of the privilege which I now ask of Thee for them.”

Verse 26

Ver. 26. No doubt the light which has dawned in the hearts of the disciples through the revelation of God in Christ as yet only begins to appear. But Jesus pledges Himself to communicate to them for the future the fulness of the knowledge of the Father which He Himself possesses.

The future: I will make known, does not refer to the death of Jesus, as Weiss supposes, but, according to the preceding chapters (John 14:21; John 14:26, Joh 16:25 ), to the sending of the Holy Spirit and the entire work of Jesus in the Church after the day of Pentecost. Reuss well renders the admirable thought contained in the words: And that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them: “The love of God which, before the creation of the physical world, had its adequate object in the person of the Son ( Joh 17:24 ), finds it, since the creation of the new spiritual world, in all those who are united with the Son.” What God desired in sending His Son here on earth was precisely that He might form for Himself in the midst of humanity a family of children like Him, of which He should be the elder Brother ( Rom 8:29 ).

Jesus adds: And that I myself may be in them. Connected as it is with the preceding words, this expression must mean: “And in loving them thus, it will still be myself in them whom thou wilt love, and thus thy love will not attach itself to anything that is defiled.” Its object, indeed, will be Jesus living in them, His holy image reproduced in their person.

What simplicity, what calmness, what transparent depth in this whole prayer! “It is indeed,” as Gess says, “the only Son who here speaks to His Father. Everything in these beautiful words is supernatural, because He who speaks is the only Son who has come from heaven; but at the same time everything in them is natural, for He speaks as a son speaks to his father.” The feeling which is the soul of this prayer, the ardent zeal for the glory of God, is that which inspired Jesus throughout His whole life. His three petitions that for His personal glorification, that for the consecration of His apostles and that for the glorification of the Church, are indeed the sentiments which must have filled His soul in view of the blow which was about to put an end to His earthly activity. In the details not a word has been met whose appropriateness and fitness to the given situation has not been proved by exegesis. Can it be possible to hold, with Baur, that, at the distance of more than a century, a Christian should have succeeded in reproducing thus the impressions of Jesus? This would be to say that there existed then another Jesus than Jesus Himself.

Weiss and Reuss hold, as we do, that this is the composition of an immediate witness. But they find in certain passages in Joh 17:3 for example the proof that the disciple has reproduced the thoughts of the Master after his own fashion. The second asks whether John had, then, in his hands tablets and pencil to take down word for word the prayer of Jesus.

But, if John truly regarded Jesus as the Logos, we ask once again how could the respect which he must have had for His words have permitted him to make Him speak, and especially pray, according to his own fancy? He undoubtedly did not have his pencil in hand; but the memory is proportionate to the attention and the attention to the interest; now must not that of John have been excited to the highest degree? On the other hand, the words of Jesus, simple, grave, earnest, were of a nature to impress themselves more deeply and distinctly on the heart of John than any other words. Moreover, it is not impossible that, at an inconsiderable remove of time from that evening, John should have felt the need of committing to writing what he recalled to mind of these last conversations and this prayer. Or again, the unceasingly renewed meditation upon these words engraved upon the tablets of his heart and ever refreshed by the action of the Spirit, may have supplied the place of any external means. This inward miracle, if one will call it so, is far less improbable than the artificial composition of such a prayer.

But is the profound calmness which reigns in this scene compatible with the agony in Gethsemane which immediately follows it in the other Gospels? Keim asserts that John by this narrative annihilates the Synoptical tradition.

The conflict in Gethsemane has the character of a sudden crisis, of a violent shock, in some sort of an explosion, after which calmness was re- established in the soul of Jesus as quickly as it had been troubled. This passing crisis has a double cause: the one natural, the singular impressibility of the soul of Jesus, of which we have seen so many proofs in our Gospel, particularly in ch. 11 and John 12:27. By virtue of the very purity of His nature, Jesus was accessible, as was no other man, to every lawful emotion. His soul resembled a magnetic needle, whose mobility is only equalled by the perseverance with which, in every oscillation, it tends to recover its normal direction. Gethsemane must have been for Jesus, not punishment, but the struggle with a view to the acceptance of punishment; and thus the anticipatory suffering of the cross. Such an anticipation is sometimes more painful than the reality itself. The supernatural cause is pointed out by Jesus Himself, John 14:30: “ The prince of this world is coming. ” Comp. Luke 22:53: “ This is your hour and the power of darkness. ” The extraordinary character of this agony betrays itself in its suddenness and even its violence. St. Luke had closed his narrative of the temptation in the desert with the words: “ The devil withdrew from him, ἄχρι καιροῦ , until another favorable moment.” The hour of Gethsemane was that moment which Satan judged favorable to subject Jesus to the new test which he was reserving for Him. There is nothing here which is not in perfect accord with the normal development of Jesus' life.

The sacerdotal prayer is, as it were, the amen added by Jesus to His work accomplished here on earth; it forms thus the climax of this part, which is intended to trace out the development of faith in the disciples (chs. 13-16), and corresponds, notwithstanding the difference of forms, with the passage in John 12:37-50, in which John gave his reflections on the history of Jewish unbelief (chs. 5-12).

Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 17". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gsc/john-17.html.
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