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1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
Ver. 1. And lift up his eyes to heaven ] This and the like outward gestures in prayer, as they issue from the fervency of the good heart, so they reflect upon the soul, whose invisible affections by these visible actions, in the saints, are the more inflamed. Howbeit, hypocrites, though they have their hands elbow deep in the earth, will seem to pierce heaven with their eyes lift up in prayer. Videntur torvo aspectu caelum ad se attrahere, saith Calvin somewhere; they so fix their eyes in public prayer, as if they would leave them on the roof of the church; when all is but histrionical, theatrical, counterfeit, προς το θεα θηναι , to be seen of men,Matthew 6:1; Matthew 6:1 . The eagle, when she soareth highest, have ever an eye to the prey below; so hath the hypocrite to profit, credit.
The hour is come ] q.d. I ask not before the time is come, I am ripe and ready for thy kingdom. Some would be in heaven ere they have done their work upon earth. But what said that ancient? Domino, si tibi sim necessarius, non recuso vivere: Lord, if thou hast any further service for me to do, I am willing to live longer. When we come to heaven, the reward will be so large, that we shall repent us (if it were possible there to repent for anything) that we have done no more work. It is not lawful, saith Capel, to wish for death simply, neither to be set free from the troubles, fears, and cares of sin, nor that we would not conflict, nor wrestle any longer (for this were to serve ourselves, and seek our own ease and ends), but in hatred to sin, as it is sin.
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
Ver. 2. That he should give eternal life ] And what more free than gift? Note this against our merit mongers, who not only cry, with Novatus, Non habeo, Domine, quod mihi ignoscas, I have done nothing that thou shouldest forgive me; but with Vega, Vitam aeternam gratis non accipiam, I will not have heaven for nothing. How much better St Augustine, Homo agnoscat, saith he, ut Deus ignoscat. Man knows that God may forgive. And William Wickam, founder of New College, who though he did many good works, yet he professed that he trusted to Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Ver. 3. That they may know thee ] To know God in the face of Christ is heaven beforehand; Qui non habet Christum in horoscopo, non habet Deum in medio caeli. (Bucholcer.) "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many," saith God concerning Christ, Isaiah 53:11 , that is, by faith; which enfolds assent of the judgment, consent of the will, and affiance or assurance of the heart. Papists place faith in the will only, and exclude knowledge. Nay, Bellarmine affirmeth that faith may be better defined by ignorance (that mother of devotion) than by knowledge. They dig out men’s eyes (as they dealt by Samson) and then make sport with them; they confine faith to the will, that they may do what they will with the understanding and the heart; as the friars send men on pilgrimage, that they may lie with their wives the while.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
Ver. 4. That thou gavest me to do ] Our Saviour counts his work a gift; so should we take it for a favour, that he employs us, that we may have any office about him, that we may magnify him with our bodies, "whether by life or death,"Philippians 1:19; Philippians 1:19 . As a heretic I am condemned, said Mr Bradford, and shall be burned, whereof I ask God heartily mercy that I do no more rejoice than I do, having so great cause as to be an instrument, wherein it may please my dear Lord God and Saviour to suffer. And the greatest promotion, said Latimer, that God giveth in this world, is, to be such Philippians to whom it is given, not only to believe, but also to suffer. Ignatius professed he would rather be a martyr than a monarch. John Noyes took up a fagot at the fire, and kissed it, saying, Blessed be the time that ever I was born to come to this. The apostles rejoiced that they were graced so as to be disgraced for Christ, Acts 5:41 .
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Ver. 5. With the glory which I had, &c. ] Our Saviour then is no upstart God, and of a later standing, as the Arians and Mahometans would make of him. Mahomet speaks very honourably of Christ, except only in two things. First, he denied that he was crucified, but that some other was crucified for him. Secondly, he took up the opinion of the Arians, to deny his Divinity. Arius at Constantinople, sitting upon the close stool, purged out his guts. Mahometism is now there in that place, as it were the excrements of Arius.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Ver. 6. I have manifested thy name ] The Jews seek to detract from the glory of our Saviour’s miracles, by giving out, that he did them by I know not what superstitious or magical use of the name of Jehovah. (Bernard.) But that name of God that he is here said to manifest, is that nomen maiestativum, that holy and reverend name of God, set downExodus 34:6-7; Exodus 34:6-7 , a name that would fill our hearts with heaven, and answer all our doubts, had we but skill to spell out all the letters in it.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
Ver. 7. Now they have known, &c. ] That the gospel is a plot of God’s own contriving, and no device of man, as that Evangelium regni Gospel of power, was, set out by the family of love; and those fanatics mentioned by Irenaeus, that were besotted with an opinion of themselves, that they accounted their own writings to be gospels. In the year 1220, certain monks at Paris set out a gospel full of all filthiness and blasphemy, naming it Evangelium aeternum, the eternal Gospel. And in the book called Conformitates S. Francisci, made in the year 1389, it is written, that the same book is better than the gospel, and St Francis set in Lucifer’s chair above angels. The Council of Constance comes in with a non obstante against Christ’s institution, withholding the cup from the laity. And when the pope sets forth any bulls, commonly he concludes thus; Non obstantibus coustitutionibus et ordinationibus Apostolicis, caeterisque contrariis quibuscunque, and the pope’s interpretation of Scripture, be it what it will, seem it never so contrary to the Scripture, is ipsissimum Dei verbum, the very word of God, saith Hosius.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them , and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Ver. 8. For I have given unto them ] A sweet and precious gift. It was the Jews’ primary privilege that unto them were committed the oracles of God. There is a "chiefly" set upon it, Romans 3:2 , πρωτον , Primarium quiddam et res magni momenti.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
Ver. 9. I pray for them ] Christ hath left us this prayer here recorded, as a pattern of that intercession he incessantly maketh for us at the right hand of his heavenly Father. Joab was heard for Absalom: shall not Christ for us? Solomon denied his mother’s request, 1 Kings 2:22 ; God will not deny Christ’s. The prodigal came without a mediator to his father, and was embraced; much more shall we, presented by Christ.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
Ver. 10. And I am glorified in them ] It will be a singular prop to our prayers, if we so carry ourselves, that Christ in his daily intercession may give this testimony of us to the Father. He undertakes for us, as it were, and gives his word, that we, being mindful of our reconciliation by him, shall shun sin by his grace, and not provoke him as before. This should cause us to live so as Christ may have credit by us, and we may have courage to come to God by Christ.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are .
Ver. 11. Keep through thine own name ] "The name of the Lord is a strong tower," Proverbs 18:10 ; "A munition of rocks," Isaiah 33:16 . Hither the saints run for the securing of their comforts and safe guarding of their persons, as conies do to their burrows, all creatures to their refuges, as the Shechemites fled to their tower, when their city was beaten down to the ground,Judges 9:51; Judges 9:51 . The lame and blind, the most shiftless creatures, when they had gotten the stronghold of Sion over their heads, thought then they might securely scorn David and his host, and yet their hold failed them, 2 Samuel 5:6-7 . So doth not God those that fly to his name. Pray to be kept by it.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Ver. 12. But the son of perdition ] This exception shows that Judas was never of Christ’s body, for can he be a Saviour of a son of perdition? But why is he then excepted? First, by reason of his office he seemed to be of his body. Secondly, our Saviour speaketh here in particular of the twelve; and to be an apostle was in itself but an outward calling.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
Ver. 13. And these things I speak in the world ] Not for his own or his Father’s sake, but for the comfort of his disciples; to cure them of their anxiety and anguish, when they heard him praying and providing such things for them. For this also it was, that he prayed thus in their presence (when at other times he went apart), for their consolation doubtless and instruction. Mr Bradford, martyr, when he shifted himself in a clean shirt made for his burning, he made such a prayer of the wedding garment, that some of those that were present were in such great admiration, that their eyes were as truly occupied in looking on him as their ears gave place to hear his prayer.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Ver. 14. I have given them thy word, &c. ] I have put my word into their mouth, therefore the world hateth them; Persecution being the black angel (as Calvin said) that dogs the gospel. When our Saviour preached at Nazareth, so long as he was opening his text, they admired him; but when he came to apply it close to their consciences, they pulled him out of the pulpit, and would have broken his neck down the hill, Luke 4:29 . The book that the angel gave John to eat "was sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his belly," Revelation 10:9 ; to note that the knowledge of divine truths is pleasant, but the publishing of them, whereby the fruit thereof might come to the rest of the members (like the concoction and distribution of meat digested in the stomach), is full of trouble.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Ver. 15. That thou take them out of the world ] Many godly men, weary of the world’s ill usages, are found often sitting under Elijah’s juniper, and wishing to die; for what are they better than their fathers? "Oh that I might have my request!" saith Job, "and that God would grant me the thing that I long for." And what was that, think you:! "Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off," Job 6:8-9 . But was that well prayed, Job? Or was that wisely done, Jonah? to fret one while at God’s goodness to the Ninevites? to faint another while at the loss of the gourd? and both times to wish to die, saying, "It is better for me to die than to live?"John 4:3; John 4:3 ; John 4:8 . Were it not better to serve out your time, with David,Acts 13:36; Acts 13:36 ; to finish your course, with Paul, 2 Timothy 4:7 ; to wait till your change shall come, Job 14:14 ; well assured that that "wicked one shall not touch you," as St John hath it, 1 John 5:18 ; that is, tactu qualitativo (as Cajetan senseth it), with a deadly touch?
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Ver. 16. They are not of the world, &c. ] Here indeed they have their commoration, but their conversation is in heaven, πολιτευμα , Philippians 2:21 : they are clothed with the Sun of righteousness, and have the moon (all earthly things) under their feet, Revelation 12:1 . Pearls, though they grow in the sea, yet they have affinity with the heaven, the beauty and brightness whereof they resemble: so here. It is Chrysostom’s comparison.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Ver. 17. Sanctify them by thy truth ] Affect their hearts therewith, that they may the better affect others; speaking a corde ad cor, from the heart to the heart, which is the life of preaching. Quod iussit et gessit, What he orders and does, saith Bernard of one; και εδειξε, και εδιδαξε , saith Basil of another. A minister had need to pray, as Elisha did, for a doubled and trebled spirit, that he may out of the good treasure of his heart bring forth good things, new and old, for the people’s use.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
Ver. 18. Even so have I sent them, &c. ] Therefore they have need that there be put upon them of my Spirit, that they may be fit for the work. This boon none are to expect, but they that are sent of Christ, and such are sure to be gifted.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Ver. 19. And for their sakes do I sanctify ] As both priest, altar, and sacrifice; and this Christ did from the womb to the tomb; at his death especially, when this Paschal Lamb was roasted in the fire of his Father’s wrath, that his people might be made partakers of his holiness,Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:10 . Here also it is worth the noting, that these petitions in our Saviour’s prayer do so sweetly depend one upon another, that if you take away one, you deface the other. Phavorinus in Gellius, comparing between the style of Lysias and Plato, observes this difference; Quod si ex Platonis oratione aliquid demas mutesque de elegantia tantum detraxeris; si ex Lysiae, de sententia.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
Ver. 20. Neither pray I for these alone ] Lo here a sure and sweet haven for all believers to have recourse to, where they may sit and sing away care of miscarrying; for here Christ doth as much as if he should solemnly swear to secure and set them safe from danger, since the Father denies him nothing, John 11:42 .
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Ver. 21. That they all may be one ] Though not by the same kind of union whereby the Father and the Son are one, yet by a union every way as real and indissoluble; such as whereby the world may be convinced that Christ is the very Messiah, and the faithful the true Church. So it was acknowledged in the primitive times, Acts 4:32 . But what a sad thing was it, that a heathen should soon after have cause to say, Nullae infestae hominibus bestiae, ut sunt sibi ferales plerique Christiani; No beasts are so mischievous to men, as Christians are one to another. (Am. Marcellinus, ii. 2.) Tristissima illa persecutio sub Diocletiano, potissime orta est a petulantia, superbia et rixis sacerdotum. (Euseb.) They had not so learned Christ. Love and humility are his cognizances. Why then should the Turk have occasion to say, that he should sooner see his fingers all of a length, than Christian princes all of a mind? Why should the Jew stumble at our dissensions, which is one of the main scandals they take from Protestants?
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
Ver. 22. And the glory which thou, &c. ] That is, the grace, which is glory begun, as glory is grace perfected; we are here "transformed into the same image from glory to glory," 2 Corinthians 3:18 ; "and set together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," Ephesians 2:6 ; "Such honour have all his saints." Such things are found in them as do accompany or comprehend salvation, Hebrews 6:9 , εχομενα, τουτ εστι κατεχομενα . Scholiast.
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Ver. 23. I in them, and thou in me ] Christ was the only fit mediator; as being God for the business with God; and man for the business with man. He is the bridge that joineth heaven and earth together, saith Gregory. He is that ladder of ascension to God; faith first lays hold upon Christ as man, and by it, as by a mean, makes way to God; and in it embraceth the Godhead, which is of itself fire consuming. We may safely sail through Christ’s blood into the bosom of the Father.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Ver. 24. Father, I will, &c. ] Every word is full of life and joy. I would not (saith Mr Baxter) for all the world that one verse had been left out of the Bible. And again the same author elsewhere saith, there is more worth in those four chapters, John 14:1-31 ; John 15:1-27 ; John 16:1-33 ; John 17:1-26 , than in all the books in the world besides. (Saint’s Everlasting Rest.)
Be with me, where I am ] It is part of Christ’s joy that we shall be in the place where he is. He will not therefore be long without us. David is sent by God to Hebron to be crowned: he will not go up alone, but takes with him all his men, with all their households. They shall take such part as himself, notwithstanding their recent rebellion at Ziklag. So dealeth the Lord Christ with all his, and this should digest all their sorrows. Christ will not be happy alone; as a tender father, he can enjoy nothing if his children may not have part with him.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
Ver. 25. O righteous Father ] God’s righteousness is either, 1. Of equity, to punish offences. Or, 2. Of fidelity, to make good his promises. In which respect it is no arrogance nor presumption (said Master Glover, martyr) to burden God, as it were, with his promises; and of duty to claim his aid, help, and assistance.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it : that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Ver. 26. That the love, &c. ] Claritas in intellecta parit ardorem in affectu. Ignoti nulla cupido. Clarity of mind gives birth to zeal in devotion. The unlearned desire nothing.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29