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Christ prayeth to his Father to glorify him: to preserve his apostles in unity and truth: to glorify them and all his other faithful disciples with him in heaven.
Anno Domini 33.
John 17:1-2. These words spake Jesus,— Our Lord, having thus finished his ministry, and given his disciples all the instructions that he judged necessary, closed the whole with a solemn prayer to God; wherein, first, he prays for himself, Joh 17:1-5 secondly, for the apostles, Joh 17:6-19 and again, Joh 17:24-26 thirdly, for all believers, John 17:20; Joh 17:23 and, fourthly, for the world, John 17:21-23. In this prayer he comprizes all that he had said from ch. Joh 13:31 and seals, as it were, all he had hitherto done, beholding things past, present, and to come. The present chapter contains the easiest words and the deepest sense of any, perhaps, in all the scripture; yet here is no incoherent rhapsody, but the whole is closely and exactly connected. This has been called our Lord's intercessory prayer, because it is considered as a pattern of the intercession which he is now making for his believing people in heaven. He addresses God the Fatherwithasimplicityofappellation, Father, highly becoming the only and eternally begotten Son of God; to which a believer then makes the nearest approach, when he is fullest of love and humble confidence. The hour is come, &c. "The time of my sufferings is at hand; and therefore I pray, that thou wouldst glorify me, thy Son, in those signal appearances for my honour and support in death, in my recovery from the grave, and my ascension into heaven, which thou hast promised to me, and which I know that thou wilt punctually fulfil; that thy Son also, in the whole series of his conduct, both in this world, in the heaven of heavens, and through the universe, may successfully glorify thee. For thou hast sent thy Son into the world, and given him power over all men, that he may bestow eternal life upon as many as thou hast given him, that is to say, on all who have yielded to thy sacred drawings, and who, through thy grace, having heard thy word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience; a consideration, upon which heever reflects with the highest joy." See Joh 6:37 and the parallel passages.
John 17:3. And this is life eternal;— But, or now, this is the eternal life, &c. "Now, the way to this eternal life, the beginnings and earnests of it, the evidences of right and title to it, lie, not only in their approving and fiducial knowledge of thee, under the character of the only true and faithful God, in opposition to all other gods; but also in the like knowledge of me, the anointed Saviour, whom thou hast sent into the world under the character of the only true Mediator, in opposition to all other mediators, or other ways of approaching thee, and finding acceptance with thee." That our blessed Lord here speaks of the only true God, in distinction from idols, and not to the exclusion of himself, appears from his speaking of himself as the object of the same fiducialknowledgewiththeFather,andfromhisdistinguishinghimselffromtheFather, not by any essential title, but merely by his office-character, viz. Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. And the same apostle, who recorded this prayer, expressly says of Christ, This is the true God and eternal Life, in opposition to idols. See 1 John 5:20-21.
John 17:4-5. I have glorified thee on the earth, &c.— "I have all along invariably intended and displayed thy glory, in the whole of my doctrine, miracles, and life, and am ready to honour upon earth all thy perfections by my death, which I am so fully resolved upon, and which will be so certainly and so soon accomplished, that I may speak of it as if it were already over; and I have thereby perfected the great work of atonement, answerably to the utmost demands of thy justice, and to the trust which thou didst repose in me, as the Head and Surety of all thy faithful saints. And now, O my heavenly Father, I plead, that, according to thy engagements to me, thou wouldst advance my incarnate nature to the highest glory at thy right hand, where I may appear in my human nature, and in my mediatorial office, like myself, and may shine in all that divine Majesty, which has been obscured in my state of humiliation on earth, and which I was possessed of, together with thyself, from all eternity."
John 17:6. I have manifested thy name— In the Hebrew language the name of any thing signifies the thing itself, Acts 3:16. Our Lord's meaning is, "I have explained thy nature and perfections; I have declared thy merciful designs towards the world; and I have fully taught thy will and worship unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world, the persons who were chosen by thee out of all mankind to be my apostles. See ch. John 6:44. Thine they were, &c. My apostles belonged to thee, and thou gavest them to me; and they, under my powerful influence upon their hearts, have embraced, and have adhered to the testimony which thou hast given to me, and to the doctrine which I have delivered from thee." By the apostles belonging to God, our Lord means, "they were originally God's, the creatures of his hand, the happy objects of his choice; his by creation, as well as by being sincere disciples of the former dispensation which God had given by Moses."
John 17:7-8. Now they have known, &c.— "These men are fully persuaded, that the commission whereby I act, the doctrine of salvation which I teach, the miracles which I perform, and the authority with which I am clothed, as Mediator, are all derived from thee. In this indeedthey have acted upon the surest evidence; for I have revealed to them those mysteries of the kingdom, relating to my person, offices, and benefits, which thou hast authorized me to make known for their instruction and edification; and they, under my grace, have cordially entertained them with faith and love, and accordingly have been well assured in their own minds and consciences, that I, as a divine Person, came into this world from thee; (ch. John 16:30.) and they have savingly believed in me as the true Messiah whom thou hast sent."
John 17:9-10. I pray for them, &c.— The persons here prayed for, are not regenerate men in general, in opposition to the unregenerate, who are often called the world, but those good men in particular who were given to Jesus by the Father to be his apostles, and who, by that office, were distinguished from the rest of his disciples. This appears from Joh 17:12 where he says, he had kept all the persons he was praying for, in the faith and practice of his true religion, except the son of perdition; and from Joh 17:18 where he says, he had commissioned them to go forth into the world, for the same purpose that the Father had sent him into the world; and from Joh 17:20 where he expressly distinguishes the persons whom he was praying for from all other believers whatever. The reason assigned for making the apostles the immediate subject of his special prayers at this time, is remarkable;—for they are thine; "I employ the last moments of my life in praying particularly for my apostles, because they are more especially thy servants, destined for that work which is the great object of my attention;—the instruction and salvation of the world. Indeed, all my servants are thy servants, (John 17:10.) that is, whoever assists me in my work, serves thee in thy great designs of love and mercy to men. For the same reason thy servants are my servants; every one who really serves thee, must join issue with me, and assist me in my work; and by the zeal, faithfulness, and success of my servants in converting the world, I am greatly honoured." The words in the 10th verse are very high and strong expressions, too grand for any creature to use, as implying that not only servants and ministers, but all things whatsoever— τα παντα,— are the common property of the Father and the Son; and this is the original ground of that peculiar property, which both the Father and the Son have in the persons who were given to Christ the Mediator; according to what is said in the close of the verse, of him, I am glorified in them,—namely, by their yielding to the drawings of the Father, and, in an honest and good heart, hearing the word, and keeping it, and cordially believing in the true Messiah, the God-man. See Joh 6:37 and the parallel passages.
John 17:11. And now I am no more in the world,— "Having finished the work thou gavest me to do, I am no longer to continue in the world:—But these are in the world. My apostles are to continue in the world, to carry on the gracious design of redemption, and I am coming to thee." It is very plain that this clause could not be intended as an additional argument to introduce the following petition; for Christ's coming to the Father was the great security of his faithful people; but seems rather to be a short reflection on that pleasing subject, so familiar to his mind, with which he refreshed himself for a moment in the course of his humble and pathetic address: immediately after which, he goes on to intercede for his apostles, Holy Father, preserve, &c. "O thou, who art the Source of all truth and righteousness, let those men, whom thou hast given me for assistance, be for ever preserved by thy power, in the firm faith of the doctrines that I have taught them, and in the uninterrupted practice of the precepts which I have delivered unto them; that, when they go abroad into the world, they may teach the same things, and be ever united in thesame blessed design, after the pattern of that most perfect union of counsels and designs which subsists between me and thee."
John 17:12. While I was with them— "During my personal abode with them, I kept them in the firm faith, and in thesteadfast practice of the precepts of my holy religion, so far as I revealed those unto them. I say the twelve men whom thou gavest me for apostles I have thus kept, insomuch that none of them have apostatized, but Judas Iscariot, that wicked person, who deserves perdition; and therefore it was long ago predicted in the scriptures, particularly in Psalms 109:8." See on ch. John 13:19. As the phrase, son of death, 1 Samuel 26:16. [Margin,] signifies one who deserves death; and a child of hell, Mat 23:15 signifies one who deserves hell; so here son of perdition, signifies a person who deserves perdition.
John 17:13. And now come I to thee;— "I am now about to return to thee, having finished my work; yet, before I leave the world, I offer this prayer in behalf of my apostles, with this intention, that, being heard for them, they may receive all the endowments necessary to qualify them for converting the world, and be filled with my joy; the great joy that I have in saving mankind." See on ch. John 15:11.
John 17:15. I pray not, &c.— "My meaning is not that, on account of these difficulties, Joh 17:14 thou shouldest remove them out of the world by death; I know that the purposes of thy glory, and their own improvement and usefulness, will require their longer continuance. I only pray, that thou wouldst grant them the direction of thy Spirit, and protection of thy providence, whereby they will be preserved both from the evil of sin and temptation, and from the subtlety and malice of the evil one,— του πονηρου ." See 1 John 5:18-19.
John 17:16-19. They are not of the world,— "It is with great pleasure that I reflect on their being separated from the world, both in principles and practice, and that in this respect they so nearly resemble me. Hence I am the more solicitous that they be preserved untainted and blameless after my departure; wherefore I pray, that, through the influence of thy truth upon their minds, thou wouldst give them such a strong inclination to the work of the ministry, that they may wholly devote themselves to it, to whatever difficulties it may expose them. Do this, I beseech thee, for the effectual spreading of thy word, which I have commissioned them to preach as the truth itself. I beseech thee, sanctify them by thy truth, Joh 17:17-18 because I have sent them into the world, to prosecute that great and glorious design upon which thou sentest me into the world." Dr. Whitby would translate the original of Joh 17:17 sanctify them for thy truth, that is, for the propagation of it. To sanctify imports not only to make holy in the moral sense, but "to dedicate and set apart for religious uses." Thus the word is used often in the Old Testament, and this sense the connection directs us to put upon it here; though, at the same time, it must be acknowledged, that, when we consider the passage separately, the common sense is extremely just, the word of God, which itself is truth, being the great means of the sanctification of men. Our Lord goes on, John 17:19. And for their sakes, &c. "One grand point which I had in view when I entered on my ministry was, that my apostles might be prepared for the work of the ministry, by the truths I was to teach, and by the miracles I was to perform before them in the course of my ministry. It is likewise one of the ends for which I now devote myself to death, as a victim to be sacrificed, (though the making of an atonement for the sins of the world is infinitely the chief,) inasmuch as the doctrines I have taught them, and which they are to teach, being thus sealed with my blood, will be offered to the world with the strongest evidence; not to mention that my resurrection from the dead will be a most strong proof, first of my divine mission from thee, and next of theirs who act by authority from me." Our Lord's words, in this verse, may perhaps be more fully and strongly expressed thus: "I devote myself as a victim, to be sacrificed for their sakes, for this end among others still more glorious, that they also, taught by my example, and animated by my dying love, may be confirmed in their faith, rendered more holy in their conduct, and be found ready to sacrifice their lives also for the truth."
John 17:20-21. Neither pray I for these alone,— "I do not make my apostles the only subjects of this my last prayer; but I pray also for all those who shall be converted by my apostles; intreating for them the gracious influences of thy Spirit, that they may maintain the unity of the faith, and all agree in one doctrine; that, as in this great design ofinstructing,converting,andsavingtheworld,a most perfect union subsists between thee and me, they also may be taken into the union, and agree as perfectly with us, and among themselves, as thou with me, and I with thee; the effect whereof will be, that the world, discerning their agreement among themselves and with us, will believe that I their Master have been sent into the world by thee, and am one with thee in essence, perfections, and unity of counsels." The importance of this request will appear to all who consider, that many of those who were converted by the apostles, applied themselves to preach and propagate the gospel; and the expression, that the world may believe, &c. plainly intimates, that dissensions among Christian professors would not only be most uncomfortable to themselves, and a hindrance to their own salvation, but would be a means of bringing the truth and excellency of cur most holy religion into question. And he must be a stranger to what has passed, and is daily passing in the world, who does not see what fatal advantages those divisions have given to infidels to represent it as a calamity, rather than to regard it as a blessing to mankind.
John 17:22-23. And the glory which thou gavest me, &c.— "Moreover, the glory of inspiration, of a divine mission, and of the power of miracles to confirm that mission, which thou gavest unto me, I have bestowed on my apostles; and on those who should be converted by them, and employed to preach the gospel to the world; in order that, being commissioned by the same authority, and illuminated with one Spirit, they may fully agree in their doctrine, and their labours may lead to one end: so may they become worthy messengers of thee and thy only-begotten Son, and cause the world fully to know both that thou hast sent me their Master, and that thou approvest of them and their undertaking, even as thou hast approved of me." How fully this prayer for the unity of the first preachers was answered, we learn from the history of the Acts; and their unity must appear very remarkable, when it is considered what vastnumberswereemployedin preaching the gospel throughout the various countries of the world. Nevertheless, our wonder will cease, when we call to mind that all who possessed the power of miracles, and preached with any authority, were inspired by the Spirit of God; so could not but all agree in the same glorious and divine scheme of religion. We may just observe here the sum of our Lord's whole prayer, first,
"Receive me into thy own, and my glory: secondly, let my apostles share therein: thirdly, and all other believers; and, fourthly, let all the world believe."
John 17:24. Father, I will, &c.— See John 17:5. "Not only with respect to those apostles whom thou hast particularly given me, but also to those in every age and country, who shall sincerely and perseveringly believe in and obey me, my will is, that, after their work here is over, they may be with me in heaven, whither I am going, (John 17:11.) That they may behold thefull splendor of my glory, and be made happy with seeing me so, and enjoying me for ever. (1 John 3:2.) For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. As thou lovedst me before I came into the world, nay, even before the world was, that is to say, from all eternity, I shall not be less the object of thy love now that I have accomplished the work which thou gavest me to perform. My disciples, therefore, in beholding the glory which I shall enjoy with thee in my glorified humanity,will be completely happy, both as it will shew them how much thou approvest my design, and how infinitely happy I am made thereby,and by the fruition and communication of thy glory." See John 17:26.
John 17:25-26. O righteous Father, &c.— "O Father, who art the Author of all righteous designs, and the lover of righteous men; nay, and from whose very righteousness flows the admission of believers to thee; though the world, wilfully ignorant of thy nature and perfections, and of thy gracious counsels for man's salvation, has rejected me, I have notwithstanding every where demonstrated that I am fully acquainted with thy counsels; and my apostles knowing that thou hast sent me, and that I am one with thee, have believed in me as the Messiah; which is the reason I am so solicitous, that they should behold the glory thou hast given me: and for this reason I have, with the greatest care, taught them thy nature, perfections, and counsels, John 17:26. Nevertheless, being now incapable, by reason of their prejudices, of receiving full information in these points, I will instruct them afterwards by the illumination of my Spirit, that the love which thou hast borne to me, as thy most divine messenger, may be shewn to them, as thy messengers likewise; and that, being inspired by my Spirit, and enjoying, in their hearts, a revelation of my divine nature, they may have me dwelling within them, so as always to act by my authority, and always to be happy in my love."
Inferences. With what pleasure should we behold our gracious Redeemer in this posture of humble adoration,—lifting up his eyes to his heavenly Father with a solemn devotion, and pouring forth his pious and benevolent spirit in those divine breathings which are here recorded. From his example we may learn to pray, and, from his intercession, to hope. We know that the Father heareth him always (ch. John 11:42.) and singularly did he manifest that he heard him now, by all that bright assemblage of glories, which shone around him in the concluding scenes of his abode upon earth, and in those which attended his removal from it: and in all these did the blessed Jesus manifest his zeal for the glory of the Father. May we emulate the same holy temper! And, when we pray, even for our own consummate happiness in the heavenly world, may we consider that happiness as ultimately centering in the honour and service of God!
And well may we be encouraged to hope for this happiness, when we reflect that Christ has an universal power over all flesh, and over spirits superior to those who dwell in flesh; with which he is invested on purpose that he may accomplish the salvation of all his faithful people. We see the certain way to life eternal, even the knowledge of God in Christ. Let us bless God, that we have so many opportunities of obtaining it; and earnestly pray, that he who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, would, by his divine rays, shine also forth on our benighted souls; and so animate us in his service, from the noblest principles of gratitude and love, that we may be able to say, even in our dying moments, with somewhat of that spirit which our Lord expressed, Father, we have glorified thee on earth, and finished the work which thou gavest us to do; and now, being no more in the world, we come unto thee. Then may we hope, in our humble degree, to partake of that glory to which he is returned, and to sit down with him on his victorious throne.
In the mean time may our faith see, and our zeal confess Christ! May we acknowledge his divine authority, as having come out from the Father, and as being in his Godhead with him from everlasting! May we be united in love to him and to each other, and be kept by that divine Word to eternal life! Let the fearful instance of the son of perdition, who perished even from among the apostles, the chosen of God, teach us a humble jealousy over our own hearts, whatever external privileges we may enjoy; and engage us to maintain a continual regard to him, who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy! Jude, John 17:24.
What perpetual reason of thankfulness have we, that our gracious Master delivered these words in the world, and recalled them thus exactly to the memory of his beloved disciple so many years after, that we, in the most distant ages of his church, might, by reviewing them, have his joy fulfilled in us! Let us also with pleasure recollect, that Christ not only prayed for his apostles, but for all that should believe on him through their word; and therefore for us, if we are real, and not merely nominal believers. For us doth he still pray, not that God would immediately take us out of the world, though for his sake we may be continually hated and injured in it; but that he would keep us from the evil to which we are daily exposed. For our sakes also did he sanctify himself, as a propitiation for our sins, that we also might be sanctified through the truth: for He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:14.
O may these wise and gracious purposes of his love be fulfilled in us!—May we be one with each other, and with him! May that piety and love appear in the whole of our temper and behaviour, which will evidently shew the force of our religion, and reflect a conspicuous honour upon its great Founder!
It is the declared will of Christ,—and let us never forget it, that his faithful saints should be with him where he is, that they may behold his glory which the Father has given him. And there is an evident congruity, as well as mercy, in the appointment, that where he is there also should his faithful servants be. The blessed angels do undoubtedly behold the glory of Christ with perpetual congratulation and delight: but how much more reason shall we, if faithful, have to rejoice and triumph in it, when we consider it as the glory of one in our own nature,—the glory of our Redeemer and our Friend! O let us often be lifting up the eyes of our faith towards this glory, breathing after heaven in this view; and in the mean time, with all due zeal, and love, and duty, acknowledging the Father and the Son; that so the joy of heaven may be anticipated in our souls, while the love of God is shed abroad there by his Spirit, which is given unto us, even something of that love, wherewith he hath loved Jesus, our incarnate Head!
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Our Lord having finished his discourse, closes it with a prayer: for those to whom we preach we should also pray. In this chapter Christ recommends his faithful saints to the care and keeping of the Father of mercies; and the blessed effects of it they continue to reap to this hour, and shall to the end of time.
1. He addresses his prayer to the Father, whom, as Mediator and Head of his church, he regarded as his superior, and in whose love he herein expresses his confidence. He approaches him as a Son with reverence and godly fear, lifting up his eyes to heaven, the place where he peculiarly manifests his transcendent glory. Note; (1.) The object of prayer is God only. (2.) Christ lifted up his eyes to heaven to sanctify this gesture to us, and to justify it against the ridicule of scoffers. (3.) None can possibly belong to Christ, who do not shew, in a course of habitual and constant prayer, their dependence upon the Father of Mercies.
2. He prays for himself; that he may be glorified, and enabled, in the completion of the work that he had undertaken most eminently to exalt his Father's glory. Father, the hour is come—for his death according to the will of God; and though it approached with horrors unspeakable, he welcomed its arrival, because he saw that the salvation of his faithful people would be the happy fruit thereof: glorify thy Son; as man and Mediator, he looked for support under his sufferings, that some beams of glory might gild that gloomy scene; that, triumphant over death and hell, he might rise the third day, ascend into heaven, and sit on the throne prepared for him; where angels, principalities, and powers, should be made subject unto him; and thence he should send down his Spirit, effectually to establish his kingdom in the earth; and should execute his judgments on the Jewish people, destroying their city and nation; that thy Son also may glorify thee, by suffering in the stead of sinners, and thereby bringing the highest glory to all the divine perfections; as also by the discharge of his mediatorial office, when, exalted to the throne of glory, by the mission of his Spirit, and the ministry of his servants, his gospel should be spread abroad, and God's name made great among the Heathen. Note; God's glory should always be the great end we propose in all our prayers and services.
3. He pleads the power, with which, in consequence thereof, he was invested, as an argument to enforce his request: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him: all the concerns of fallen man were put into the Redeemer's hand, that he might be glorified in the salvation of all the faithful. (See the Annotations.) Note; (1.) Man in his mere fallen state, is become flesh and not spirit, brutish in his appetites, passions, and pursuits. (2.) Christ has all human affairs under his mediatorial government, and as such is not only King of saints, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. He manages all the temporal affairs of men as is most subservient to the salvation of his faithful saints, and shall at last be the judge of quick and dead. (3.) Eternal life is the gift of Jesus Christ; he hath purchased the title to it; and has, in virtue of his obedience unto death, a right to bestow this inestimable privilege on all his faithful followers. May I be of that blessed number!
4. He explains wherein this eternal life consists, and what is the way to it. This is life eternal, the earnest and foretaste of it, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent; not a speculative knowledge merely, but such as engages fiducial confidence in God, as the only worthy object of our trust and worship, in opposition to all idols; and such a full persuasion of the divine mission of Jesus, as leads us to him as the only Mediator between God and Man, and satisfies the soul in the clear views of his fulness and all-sufficiency to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him.
5. He pleads what he had done to glorify God upon earth, as the reason and ground of his prayer and confidence that the Father would glorify him with himself in heaven. I have glorified thee on the earth, in my doctrines, miracles, and life; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; of most perfect sinless obedience to death, even the death of the cross, for the redemption of sinners. He was now on the very point of concluding this most grand undertaking; and, being fully purposed to go through with it, he speaks of it as already accomplished. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. Having finished his great atoning work, he became entitled to the promised reward, and confidently expects to be exalted to the mediatorial throne; and to return to heaven again, there to make a display of his own eternal and uncreated glory, which, during his humiliation, he suffered to be obscured by the veil of flesh. Note; They who by grace, through faith, are experimentally interested in this glorious redemption, having the same mind which was in Christ Jesus, desire to live only to glorify God upon earth.
2nd, Having offered up his prayer for himself, he proceeds to enlarge on the behalf of his apostles. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world; have particularly revealed to them thy glorious perfections, and designs of grace displayed in my gospel; thine they were, not only by creation, but by faith in thee under an inferior dispensation; and thou gavest them me, by causing them, in a way consistent with thy moral government of the world, to believe in me; (see the Annotations) and they have kept thy word, embracing faithfully the doctrines which I have delivered unto them, publicly professing, and zealously propagating the gospel of the kingdom. Now, of late their minds have been more clearly enlightened, and they have known that all things, whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee; that what I have taught them has the seal of heaven upon it, and that I have acted in all things in perfect conformity, as Mediator, to the commission I have received. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; all the doctrines of gospel-grace relative to man's everlasting peace; how pardon, peace, righteousness, and salvation may be attained through me; and they have received them, in the light and love of them, and have known surely that I came out from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me, as the promised and true Messiah, invested with divine authority to seek and save lost souls, and to accomplish the full salvation of all his faithful saints. I pray for them, that they may be preserved and kept, and that the work begun may be perfected in them; I pray not [just now] for the world in general, but for them which thou hast [already] given me [out of it] for they are thine, having thee for their Father, by their own voluntary choice and surrender, through thy divine grace and Spirit. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; our interests are inseparably the same, as we are one in nature, essence, and operation; and the faithful saints are alike indebted to both for all the blessings of the covenant of grace; and I am glorified in them, by the miracles done by them in my name, and by the converts they make to the true faith in me. Whence we learn, (1.) Those who are here called the world, are they whose joys, desires, pursuits, and aims, centre in worldly things. They live after the fashion of the world, and, if they continue impenitent, will be condemned with the world. (2.) Keeping Christ's word, holding fast his doctrine, and adorning it by a good conversation, is the substantial evidence of our belonging to him. (3.) The study and delight of all genuine believers is to exalt the name of Jesus, and to ascribe entirely to him the glory of that rich and free salvation, of which he has made them partakers.
3rdly. Our Lord proceeds in his prayer for his dear disciples, whom he was going to leave; and therefore, as man and mediator, commends them to his Father's care and keeping. And now I am no more in the world, ready to depart, and return to my radiant throne in glory; but these are in the world, left to conflict awhile with temptations, afflictions, and persecutions; and I am going from them, so that they will be deprived of the comfort of my bodily presence, when I come to thee. Holy Father, essentially holy in thyself, and the Author and Source of all holiness to thy creatures; keep, through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me; by thy almighty power, and for thy own glory, preserve them from sinking under their trials; strengthen them against their spiritual foes, Satan, the world, and sin; keep them by thy grace, till thou shalt bring them to thy glory; that they may be one as we are, united in affection and labours, and having the same interests and designs. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name, according to the commission with which I was invested, and by the influences of thy grace: those that thou gavest me to be my apostles, I have kept in the faith and hope of the gospel; and none of them is lost, and left to perish, but the son of perdition, that traitor Judas, that the scripture might be fulfilled (Psalms 41:9; Psalms 109:8.) And now come I to thee, having finished my work, and returning to my glorious rest: and these things I speak in the world, and offer these requests on their behalf, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves, happy in the present experience of my love; in the quickening, guiding, and comforting influences of my Spirit; and in the hope inspired by the great and precious promises that are in me; so that their joys on earth may increase, and be growing up into consummate glory in heaven. I have given them thy word, have put them in trust with thy gospel, and will furnish them with gifts to publish it through the world; and, because they have embraced the truth and boldly confessed it, the world hath hated them, unable to bear the reproofs of their preaching and practice; because they are not of the world, in their principles, tempers, and conduct, opposite to the carnal minds and conversation of natural and sensual men, who mind earthly things; even as I am not of the world; and my example and doctrine have they faithfully observed. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, deliver them at once from all the power of their enemies, and put an immediate period to all their trials and troubles; but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil, supporting them under all their sufferings, preserving them from falling into sin, and bruising the wicked one, Satan, under their feet; thus causing them to triumph over all opposition. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world; therefore they will be sorely thrust at, as I have been: and, as thou hast supported me, let them experience the like protection, and share thy care and love. Note; (1.) The prospect of going to be with God in glory, cannot but make it pleasing to quit a world of wretchedness: the hour of dismission will be to the faithful the beginning of their endless felicity. (2.) The world is the Christian's grand enemy; and the victory that overcometh it, is our faith; and this is the gift of God to the soul that yields to his drawings. (3.) Christ's believing people have work to do for him in the world; and however desirable it is to be with him, they must not be in haste to go before his time; but patiently take up their cross, fight the good fight of faith, and hope to the end. (4.) No man's profession, privileges, gifts, or apparent attainments, where the heart is not right with God, will stand him in any stead; when the hour of trial comes, he will be proved, like Judas, a son of perdition. (5.) The Lord will have his faithful disciples walk joyfully, not mournfully, before him; and he has for this end left them the exceeding great and precious promises, and ever lives to make intercession for them. (6.) The faithful servants of Jesus, who keep his word, and refuse to be conformed to the ways and manners of this wicked world, may expect to be hated by those, against whom their words and works cannot but testify that their deeds are evil.
4thly, Our Lord, having prayed for his disciples' preservation, prays in the next place for their sanctification.
Sanctify them through thy truth; consecrate them for their sacred office, and let them be under the powerful influences of thy word and Spirit, that in their own souls they may experience increasing purity, and be enabled for the propagation of the truth of the gospel through the world: thy word is truth, infallibly certain in itself, and the great means of purifying the heart. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world, with the same gospel, and on the same errand, to advance thy glory, and promote the salvation of immortal souls. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, am now ready to offer up myself a sacrifice, and to enter on my mediatorial office in glory, as their great High Priest, to be the eternal advocate of all my faithful saints: that they also, in virtue of my intercession for them, and by the mission of the Holy Ghost into their hearts, might be sanctified through the truth, enabled for the practice of all true godliness, and strengthened and made successful in propagating the glad tidings to the ends of the earth. Note; (1.) All Christ's people must be made partakers of true holiness: he saves none whom he does not sanctify. (2.) What was his prayer for his apostles must be ours daily for ourselves, that God would carry on the blessed work of his grace in our hearts, and perfect that which he hath begun. (3.) The word of God is the great means of our sanctification; and by it, through the quickening influences of the Holy Ghost, are we enabled to grow up into him in all things, who is our Head, even Christ. (4.) The real ministers of Jesus are his peculiar concern; and they who are truly his, prove it by the practical influence his word has on their own hearts, and the zeal with which they preach the truth to others. (5.) They who go into the ministry under a divine mission and call, may confidently expect the divine assistance and blessing.
5thly, Christ's prayer is not limited merely to requests for his apostles, but, in the next place, includes all his faithful people to the latest ages.
Neither pray I for these alone, my first ministers or apostles, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, in all succeeding generations; that they all may be one in faith and love, by the preaching of the gospel collected together, and united in one body under the same living Head; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us, animated by the same Spirit; one in judgment, disposition, designs, desires, and admitted into the nearest fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me, beholding the powerful effects of my grace upon them: and the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them; that is to say, the gospel, with all its inestimable blessings; and, to many of them the power of working miracles by my Spirit; that they may be one, even as we are one, in strictest union with us and with each other through the same Spirit; I in them, as the head of vital influences to them; and thou in me, by thy Spirit given without measure unto me; that they may be made perfect in one, be united in the most cordial love, without any jarring affection, or the least mixture of sorrow and complaint: and that the world may know these thou hast sent me, convinced by the present power of thy grace, displayed in their concord, unity, and mutual love. And it shall then appear that thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me, by the mission of thy Holy Spirit, and by all the gracious, miraculous, and glorious fruits issuing therefrom. Note; (1.) The ministry of the word is the great instrument that Christ is pleased to make use of, in order to beget faith in the souls of men. (2.) All true Christians are one in Christ Jesus: he is their living Head: they are by faith and love united to him, and joined in one Spirit to each other. (3.) They who despise, insult, and ridicule the followers of Jesus, will shortly be convinced, to their confusion, how highly these are the objects of his love.
6thly, Our Lord concludes his prayer with a holy but humble demand, as the eternal Son of the everlasting Father, for the eternal salvation of his eleven apostles.
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am. It is my demand, and I claim it as my right, that they be brought to my eternal kingdom, and may behold my glory which thou hast given me, transformed into the same image, adoring and rejoicing; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world, and therefore wilt grant all my requests. O righteous Father, whose will is most just, and whose promises are all faithful and true; the world hath not known thee, thy perfections, councils, or designs; but I have known thee most intimately and perfectly; and these my present disciples and apostles have known that thou hast sent me, the promised Messiah. And I have declared unto them thy name, thy nature, attributes, and designs of grace; and will declare it, by farther discoveries to them of thy mind and will, after my resurrection, and by the mission of the Spirit; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them; and they, knowing it, may, by experience of the same love, be made unutterably blessed and happy; and I in them, taking up my residence in their hearts, and thus preparing them for the fruition of eternal felicity with me in glory. Note; The world lieth in ignorance and wickedness: happy are they who are enlightened by Jesus, and through his grace are come out of the world.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 17". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent