Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 17:15

I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.
New American Standard Version

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Nave's Topical Bible - Grace of God;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Prayer;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ask;   Believers;   Christ;   Christ's;   Church;   Family;   Good and Evil Adjacent;   Importunity;   Prayer;   Restraints, Divine;   Secret Prayer;   United Prayer;   Unwise Prayers;   Wicked, the;   The Topic Concordance - Belief;   Declaration;   Disciples/apostles;   Giving and Gifts;   Glory;   Hate;   Jesus Christ;   Knowledge;   Love;   Manifestation;   Sanctification;   Sending and Those Sent;   Truth;   Unity;   Word of God;   World;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Holiness;   Prayer, Intercessory;   Temptation;  
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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ethics;   Priest;   World;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Mediator, Mediation;   Obedience;   World;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Commentary;   Covenant;   Intercession of Christ;   Pre-Existence of Jesus Christ;   Predestination;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Hypostatic union;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Perseverance of the Saints;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Church;   Essenes;   Jabez (1);   Nazarite;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Devil;   John, the Gospel of;   Security of the Believer;   Unity;   World, the;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Children (Sons) of God;   Devil;   Ephesians, Epistle to;   Prayer;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Communion (2);   Dependence;   Force;   Holiness;   Manuscripts;   Mental Characteristics;   Old Testament (I. Christ as Fulfilment of);   Pilgrim (2);   Prayer (2);   Sanctify, Sanctification;   Sin (2);   Social Life;   Wicked;   Wicked (2);   Worldliness (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - 20 To Ask, Request;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Body;   Keeper;  
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Adam Clarke Commentary

That thou shouldest take them out of the world - They must not yet leave the land of Judea: they had not as yet borne their testimony there, concerning Christ crucified and risen again from the dead. To take them away before this work was finished would not answer the gracious design of God. -

  1. Christ does not desire that his faithful apostles should soon die, and be taken to God. No: but that they may live long, labor long, and bring forth much fruit.
  • He does not intimate that they should seclude themselves from the world by going to the desert, or to the cloisters; but that they should continue in and among the world, that they may have the opportunity of recommending the salvation of God.
  • 3. Christ only prays that while they are in the world, employed in the work of the ministry, they may be preserved from the influence, του πονηρου, of the evil one, the devil, who had lately entered into Judas, John 13:27, and who would endeavor to enter into them, ruin their souls, and destroy their work. A devil without can do no harm; but a devil within ruins all.

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    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 17:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-17.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    That thou shouldest take them out of the world - Though they were going into trials and persecutions, yet Jesus did not pray that they might be removed soon from them. It was better that they should endure them, and thus spread abroad the knowledge of his name. It would be easy for God to remove his people at once to heaven, but it is better for them to remain, and show the power of religion in supporting the soul in the midst of trial, and to spread his gospel among men.

    Shouldest keep them from the evil - This may mean either from the evil one that is, the devil, or from evil in general that is, from apostasy, from sinking in temptation. Preserve them from that evil, or give them such grace that they may endure all trials and be sustained amid them. See the notes at Matthew 6:13. It matters little how long we are in this world if we are kept in this manner.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-17.html. 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    John 17:15

    I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil

    The parting prayer

    I.
    THE MOTIVES WHICH PROMPTED THIS PRAYER.

    1. To evince the tenderness of His heart toward His people. Usually, when any master-grief takes possession of the mind, we seldom have much disposition or power, to sympathise with the sorrows of others. Had our Lord been the subject of this infirmity, this was not the time for Him to have been concerned about the future trials of His people. Yet at this moment, when we might suppose His every thought and feeling to have been absorbed in the sword that was about to pierce His soul, we find Jesus turning to consider the comparatively little griefs of His dear disciples, His prayer seems to be--“Holy Father, think not of My coming sufferings, but think of these whom I am about to leave full of sorrows, and keep them.”

    2. That He might instruct His disciples to the end of time in that mighty interest with which He is always engaged for their spiritual preservation. As you go through the successive clauses of this chapter, you will find in almost every verse something to show that God has a direct interest in the consummation of that scheme which Jesus came both to reveal and to accomplish; that “His own great name” was to be furthered thereby, and that it formed part of the covenant which He made with Jesus, that these His people should be saved through His blood.

    II. THE TRUTHS THAT ARE TO BE LEARNED FROM THIS PRAYER. 1 That the world is full of dangers. The world is, and must ever be the Christian’s adversary. It is a sinful place. The prince of evil is its god; the fascinations of evil are its snares; the works of evil are its employments; and the triumphs of evil are its boast and its pride.

    2. That there are ends to be accomplished by our remaining in the world which make it expedient that we should for a time be kept in it. And this expediency consisted in this: these His disciples had a work to do. They had His honour to promote and His gospel to spread. This is true of us. We have all our stated duties to fulfil; we have all a nook in His providence to fill up; we have all our own little wheel to turn in that vast machine, which governs and controls the universe. It is not therefore the language of true obedience to say “My soul is weary of life; would that God would take me to Himself!” It is nothing more than the suicide’s thought, clothed in Gospel language. It is impatience of the yoke Christ has laid on the shoulder. It is not the saint’s desire to “rest from his labour;” it is the worldling’s desire to rest without labour. It is the wish to use that part of our Lord’s prayer, “Father, glorify Thy Son,” without remembering that other part of it, “I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do.”

    3. That the power of this evil of the world is so great, that we can only be delivered from it by the almighty power of God.

    3. That the only lawful measure of solicitude we are to entertain about the things of this world is, that we may be “kept from the evil” which belongs to it. Life is full of disappointed projects and griefs. Then how important is it, that we should be able to ascertain what solicitude we are permitted to entertain. The passage tells us that our only solicitude is to be guided by this; not by the evils themselves, but their spiritual results. I am not to pray against poverty; but I am to pray against its evils. I am not to pray against riches; but I am to pray against their temptations. I am not to pray against the disappointments, and vexations, and crosses, and cares of life; but I am to pray, that however multiplied and grievous are the forms of trial that await me, I may never have a murmuring, unsubmissive, discontented spirit. (D. Moore, M. A.)

    Every-day holiness

    The saintly painter Fra Angelico flung out his thoughts upon the cells of San Marco, and those who visit Florence are arrested and subdued by the purity of his dreams. My friends, that other powerful artist who adorned the ceiling of the Sistine, has traced our figures copied more directly from the study of the human form, but warmed into life by the fire of Divine genius; and of such men we cannot but say that they penetrated the hidden chambers of another world before they could leave before the eyes of five astonished centuries such visions, more lovely or more appalling than the mysteries and marvels of our dreams. But I tell you that in the streets of London, in the streets of Manchester, it is possible for us in our ordinary life to see pictures more pure than the dreams of Angelico, more powerful than the masterpieces of Angelo. Here we are face to face with living men, seine in youth, in the early days of passion and struggle, some in age, when the fire is failing and the eye growing dim, who, in the midst of a world that forgets God, or defies Him, are enabled to do mighty things though hidden to sustain an inner life of loyalty to supernatural principle amidst the fretting care of daily toil. (Knox Little.)

    Christ’s prayer for His disciples

    I. WHAT OUR LORD ASKS FOR US. His petition has two sides--a negative and a positive. To be kept from evil in the world means

    1. To be engaged in the world’s business, and have it rightly directed. Some have thought that we would be more Christian if we were to withdraw into solitude. But this is impossible for the mass of men, and it is in direct opposition to the example of Christ, and to the spirit of His gospel. Paul did not think his office suffered when he wrought as a tentmaker, and was not labour consecrated by the Son of God Himself? Whatever is open to men, that is just and right in business, is open to Christians, and whatever their hands find to do, they are to do it with their might. The gospel asks of its friends that all their business should be

    2. To suffer under its trials, and to be preserved from impatience. If a man would escape trial, he must needs go out of the world, and when Christ prayed that His disciples should be kept in it, He knew that they were to suffer affliction. Moral distinctions are not observed in the providential allotment of calamity. This stumbles many. But if God were to exempt His friends from trial, He would take away from Christians one of the most effective means of their training, and one of the most striking ways in which they can prove their likeness to Christ. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, but it is not seen in his being saved from suffering; it is in the way in which he meets it. Few things do more to raise the tone of our own Christian life, and to prove to men that there is a hidden property in religion which can turn the bitterest thing in this world into sweetness.

    3. To be exposed to its temptations, and preserved from falling into sin. God has not seen fit to deprive sinful things of their attractiveness, nor to disarm the great enemy of his fiery darts, nor to quench at once and altogether the inflammable material in our heart. This would be fighting the battle and gaining the victory without us, and there could then be no perfected purity, no established character, no conqueror’s crown. This should mark a Christian in the world, that he should have a deeper view of what is to be aimed at in character--of what is meant by being kept from evil. It is not to be preserved from misfortune, or sickness, or reproach, or bereavement, but from sin.

    II. WHY HE ASKS IT.

    1. For the benefit of the world. If Christ were to remove men so soon as they become His followers, He would be taking away from the world its greatest blessings. True Christians are the salt of the earth and its light.

    2. For the honour of His own name. There is glory that accrues to the name of Christ when a sinner drops the weapons of rebellion, and when His redeemed are brought home. But it is for His honour also that there should be an interval between--a pathway of struggle, where the power of His grace may be seen preserving His friends in every extremity. It was a glorious thing for the Head Himself to enter the lists of battle, and to depart a victor, triumphing through endurance to the death. But it multiplies His triumph, or brings out all that was hidden in it, when we see it repeated in the victory of the weakest of His followers. It is like the sun reflecting His image from every dewdrop, folding out His treasures in the green leaves and colours of all the flowers, and flashing His light along the beaded moisture of gossamer threads--for we believe that not a blessing or a comfort, not a grace or virtue rises out of the night of our sin and suffering--not the slightest filament of feeling sparkles into hope--but it will be found that it owes its source to the fountain of light and life which God has opened for His world in Jesus Christ.

    3. For the good of Christians themselves. “Master, it is good for us to be here,” Peter said on the Holy Mount, “Let us build here three tabernacles. Why go down again into the dark world of opposition and trial, when we can enjoy at once the heavenly vision”? But “he wist not what he said,” and he was compelled to descend and travel many a weary footstep, before he reached that higher mount where he now stands with his Lord in glory. We, too, may sometimes feel that it would be better for us to be carried past these temptations and struggles, and to enter at once into rest. But He who undertakes for us knows what is best, and as it was expedient for us that He should depart, so must it also be that we should for a season remain behind, Not that this is indisipensable for our sanctification, for the Saviour who could carry the dying thief at once to paradise, could do the same for all of us. The reason seems rather to be that there are lessons which we have to learn on this earth which can be taught us in no other part of our history.

    Conclusion: Let this petition point out

    1. Our duty. What He asked for us we must aim at. Let us fear nothing so much as sin; and feel that our life can aim at a true and noble end, only when it breathes the air of this prayer of Christ.

    2. Our security. The life of a Christian man is in no common keeping. It is suspended on the intercession of Christ (John 17:24). (J. Ker, D. D.)

    Christ’s prayer for the disciples

    I. THAT FOR WHICH CHRIST DID NOT PRAY. The reasons for this negative prayer are twofold.

    1. Those which were personal to the disciples.

    2. That which related to the world. It was for the world’s sake that our Lord would not have His disciples removed. They were to be its “light.”

    II. THAT FOR WHICH CHRIST DID PRAY. The man who has turned to Christ is not freed from the possibility of falling. There is not given him such a measure of grace as to render his relapse impossible, nor does Satan give up hope of recovery. What an encouragement to endurance and effort that Christ prayed then and prays still! Learn

    1. The necessity of constant watchfulness and endeavour. Christ prays for us, but we by our own acts must render the prayer effectual.

    2. A lesson of confidence. By ourselves we must fall, but we are not by ourselves. (W. Rudder, D. D.)

    The Christian in the world

    Christ is “come into the world,” and therefore thou needest not “go out of the world” to meet Him. He doth not call thee from thy calling, but in thy calling. The dove went up and down from the ark and to the ark, and yet was not disappointed of her olive-leaf. Thou mayest come to the house of God at due times, and thou mayest do the business of the world in other places too; and still keep thy olive, thy peace of conscience (Genesis 24:27; 1 Corinthians 5:10). (J. Donne, D. D.)

    The disciples in the world

    I. THE WORLD. The world is a globe some eight thousand miles through and three times eight thousand miles round. It is one of the lesser members of a family of worlds. The whole universe, within the telescopic horizon, is composed of gigantic continents of suns, the dim lines of which shimmer in the ethereal depths. Yet our planet, relatively so small, is a vast world. What moral interests centre in it I It was not the first theatre of intelligence and responsibility. When the progenitors of our race received their being, there were mighty tides of good and evil, bliss and misery, sweeping from an unknown past into the unfathomable gulfs of the endless future. When but one pair of human beings was alone amidst the otherwise unpeopled solitude, they were caught and borne along by the evil current. Murder broke out in the first family; and sin has been in every household since. What a world is ours at the present moment! Call before you its heathenisms and its inadequate reception of the gospel in what are called Christian lands. Portray to your imagination its wars, vices, diseases, sufferings. Barbarism conceals none of its iniquities; civilization is often as guilty behind its decorous exterior. Poverty brings temptation, and riches are full of snares. Ignorance surrounds our path with danger; and learning is commonly only a variation of peril. Deformity makes life sordid; and beauty as frequently ministers to luxury. Idleness breeds mischief, and occupation tends to nurture ambition and greed. Disappointment chills and sours not a few; and success destroys many more. The seeming goodness of one droops in hours of ease; another falls in the time of conflict. And oh l of what delusions and perils the best men are conscious! The godly feel their evil and see their dangers as no others can.

    II. OUR SAVIOUR’S DESIRE THAT HIS DISCIPLES MIGHT REMAIN IN THE WORLD.

    1. How differently our Lord regarded human life from many whose history inspired men have handed down to us! Jesus never desired for Himself or His followers an unhonoured escape from the tests of this mortal career. When the patient Job was overwhelmed with affliction, he longed for the hour of death. So did the Psalmist (Psalms 55:5); Elijah (1 Kings 19:4); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:2); and Jonah (Jonah 4:3). Oh! how transcendently unlike all this is the bearing of Jesus! “Thy will be done” is His lifelong prayer.

    2. Jesus surpassed all others in His lofty estimate of the possibilities of a human life in this world of mystery, sin, and death.

    III. OUR SAVIOUR’S PRAYER THAT HIS DISCIPLES MIGHT BE KEPT FROM THE EVIL OF THE WORLD.

    1. Our Lord knew that the end of a life like ours cannot be attained except through a probation like ours. He did not cry, therefore, “Father, stay the direful ordeal, and rearrange the lot of man.” But He prayed, “Father, keep these from evil.”

    2. He knew that the life of God in the soul was endowed with all the properties necessary to its triumph. The one thing that represses, hinders, and overthrows, is sin. Keep this deadly influence away, and there will be progress and victory. Hence Jesus stretched the bright shield of His intercession over the heads of His disciples, saying, “I pray,” &c.

    Conclusion:

    1. A Christian has every reason to cultivate a temper contented, jubilant, as he surveys this mysterious scene. The adamant of a Saviour’s intercession is stretched over every soul that confides in His redeeming grace.

    2. The great end of life is not ease and comfort. The great concern is, to be preserved from evil. The terrible tests of life are not to be lowered. We are to bear them (James 1:12).

    3. How sad is the contrast of multitudes, to whom the gospel is preached, and who seek no deliverance and preservation from evil! (H. Batchelor.)

    Better to stay than go

    We have here

    I. A NEGATIVE PRAYER.

    II. THE MEANINGS OF THIS PRAYER.

    1. That they should not, by retirement and solitude, be kept entirely separate from the world. Hermits and others have fancied that if we were to shut ourselves from the world we should then be more devoted to God and serve Him better. But monasticism has demonstrated its fallacy. It was found that some sinned more grossly than men who were in the world. There are not many who can depart from the customs of social life and maintain their spirit unsullied. Common sense tells us that living alone is not the way to serve God. It may be the way to serve self. If it be possible by this means to fulfil one part of the great law of God, we cannot possibly carry out the other portion--to love our neighbour as ourselves. I have heard of a man who thought he could live without sin if he were to dwell alone, so he took a pitcher of water and store of bread, and provided some wood, and locked himself up in a solitary cell, saving. “Now I shall live in peace” But in a moment or two he chanced to kick the pitcher over, and he thereupon used an angry expression. Then he said, “I see it is possible to lose one’s temper even when alone,” and at once returned to live among men.

    2. That they should not be taken out of the world by death. That is a blessed mode of taking us out of the world, which will happen to us all by and by. How frequently does the wearied pilgrim put up the prayer,” Oh that I had wings like a dove!” &c. But Christ does not pray like that; He leaves it to His Father, until, like shocks of corn fully ripe, we shall be gathered into our Master’s garner.

    III. THE REASONS.

    1. It would not be for our own good. We conceive that the greatest blessing we shall ever receive of God is to die; but it is better for us to tarry, because

    2. It is for the good of other people. Why may not saints die as soon as they are converted? Because God meant that they should be the means of the salvation of their brethren. You would not, surely, wish to go out of the world if there were a soul to be saved by you. Mayhap, poor widow, thou art spared in this world because there is a wayward son of thine not yet saved, and God hath designed to make thee the favoured instrument of bringing him to glory.

    3. It is for God’s glory. A tried saint brings more glory to God than an untried one. Nothing reflects so much honour on a workman as a trial of his work and its endurance of it. So with God.

    IV. THE DOCTRINAL INFERENCES.

    1. Death is God taking His people out of the world; and when we die we are removed by God.

    2. Dying is not of one-half so much importance as living to Christ. It may be an important question, How does a man die? but the most important one is, How does a man live? Do not put any confidence in death-beds as evidences of Christianity. The great evidence is not how a man dies, but how he lives.

    V. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS.

    1. That we never have any encouragement to ask God to let us die.

    2. Do not be afraid to go out into the world to do good. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    The world’s need of Christians

    A young lawyer, going to the West to settle for life, made it his boast that he “would locate in some place where there were no churches, Sunday schools, or Bibles.” He found a place which substantially met his conditions. But before the year was out he wrote to a former classmate, a young minister, begging him to come out and bring plenty of Bibles, and begin preaching, and start a Sunday school; for, he said, he had “become convinced that a place without Christians, and Sabbaths, and churches, and Bibles was too much like hell for any living man to stay in.”

    Unworldliness in the world

    Though Sir Thomas More lived so much in the world and at Court, yet his heart was kept unworldly by the singular virtue of his private life. If he entertained his equals freely, he also frequently invited the poor to dine and sup with him; the more he was in the king’s palace, the more he resorted to the cottages of the poor; when he added to his house a library, he provided also a house near his own for the comfort of his aged neighbours; and when most involved in worldly business he built himself a chapel. He never entered on any fresh public employment without an act of devotion and a participation in the Lord’s Supper--trusting, as he said, more to the grace of God thus derived than to his own wit; and so long as his father lived he never sat on the judgment-seat--that seat was the Lord Chancellor’s--without asking his blessing on his knees. (F. Myers, M. A.)

    Mutual necessity; or, why saints are left to sojourn in a sinful world

    I. BECAUSE THE WORLD NEEDS THEM. It needs

    1. Their example. They are the lights of the world. In their character, duties, and sufferings they show the blessed influence of religion. A good example has a wonderful attraction. Godly men are living epistles.

    2. Their testimony. They are God’s witnesses. They go into the world and bring the truth in contact with men’s minds. The world needs them as it needed the glorious mission of their Lord and Master. Think of the results of their labours. Be faithful, and testify fearlessly for God and truth.

    3. Their prayers. The prayers of the Church are like Moses’ rod. Israel needed Elijah’s prayers. Jerusalem sinners needed the prayers which preceded the pentecostal visitation. May the Lord increase the number of praying ministers, teachers, and parents!

    4. Their sympathies. See the glorious institutions of our Lord, the ministrations to the sick and dying, &c., &c. What is the source of such benevolence? The life of religion in the souls of men.

    II. BECAUSE THEY NEED THE WORLD.

    1. For the trial of their faith (Hebrews 11:1-40.). The Christian’s trials are necessary as a heavenly discipline. They come forth as gold. Reliance on Jesus is faith’s first exercise; confidence in God as a Father is established as we pass through this world of care and temptation.

    2. To prove the sincerity of their love. We are in a state of probation. Our profession of love must be tested. Thus it was with Peter: “Lovest thou Me?”--then go and give tangible proof thereof. Saints are sent into the gospel vineyard, and in the next world the Great Proprietor will say to the faithful, “Well done,” &c.

    3. For their progressive sanctification. High situations are attained by degrees; health promoted by exercise. Strength and skill are obtained by conflict. Storms clear the atmosphere. Thus with the book of “truth” as our guide and help, we struggle onward and upward, gathering strength as we go, and rejoicing in anticipation of that world where sin has never found an abode. Let the saint and the sinner, respectively, inquire, Am I improving the period of my earthly existence? (Congregational Pulpit.)

    Kept from the evil

    I. FROM WHAT BELIEVERS SHALL BE KEPT.

    1. Negatively; not

    2. Positively. They shall be kept

    II. WHAT ASSURANCE THERE IS THAT BELIEVERS SHALL THUS BE KEPT FROM THE EVIL, THOUGH NOT TAKEN OUT OF THE WORLD. Note the following considerations

    1. That of the Person praying; the beloved, in whom the Father is always well pleased, and who He always hears.

    2. That of what He asks for, and on what ground. His request is for the preservation of His people, in order to their eternal happiness, which is most agreeable to the will of God, and the end for which He was sent by Him into the world (John 6:39).

    3. That of Him to whom His request is directed, viz., the God who “spared not His own Son,” &c.

    4. That of the persons for whom He intercedes--His children and chosen, such as He has a special interest in and bears a peculiar love unto.

    Application:

    1. Hence learn the greatness and constancy of Christ’s love to His people, and of His desire of their eternal blessedness with Him.

    2. What a powerful argument should it be with all to come to Him unfeignedly. Who would live a day in the world without an interest in this prayer of His, of being kept from the evil?

    3. It may greatly strengthen the faith of true Christians in their daily prayers for deliverance from evil.

    4. How much is the world mistaken as to Christ’s servants, as if they were the most miserable persons in it, when their Lord hath provided so fully for their safety and happiness.

    5. How inexcusable must it be to forsake Christ and His service for fear of suffering. He that would save his life by running from the Lord of life takes the direct way to lose it.

    6. Let this encourage us cheerfully to follow the Captain of our salvation whilst we live, and to commit our souls unto Him when we die. (D. Wilcox.)

    The Christian in society

    (Text in connection with Romans 12:2)

    I. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, RIGHTLY UNDERSTOOD, WHICH REQUIRES ITS DISCIPLES TO ABJURE SOCIETY.

    1. This might be inferred from the consideration of human nature. Man is a social being. He was never intended to spend his life in solitude. The heaviest punishment is that of prolonged solitary confinement. Our villages and cities all proclaim that man was intended for society.

    2. Almost the first appearance of the Saviour in His public ministry was at a social entertainment, and oftener than once He accepted an invitation to a feast, and availed Himself of the opportunity which it afforded to illustrate and enforce the great things of His kingdom. The grand distinction between Him and the Baptist was that the latter sought the wilderness, but Jesus mingled with the people. Thereby He taught that His design was not to turn men into anchorites.

    3. In perfect harmony with this view of the case is the petition in the prayer. It would not be good for the Christian to withdraw from social intercourse, for though solitude is occasionally beneficial, yet it would be extremely injurious to a man to have for a series of months no other companion than himself. The supreme happiness of life is in going out of self for the benefit of others. It is, therefore, quite a false idea, that there is more of holiness and happiness in seclusion than in society. I do not say that no true spiritually-minded ones have preserved their holiness in such a place: the story of Port Royal proves the opposite. But I do affirm that those are most truly walking in the footsteps of our Divine Master who are seeking in daily life to serve their God. There is a manliness and an energy about the piety of such men which we look for in vain even among the most saintly of secluded ones. The hothouse may be indispensable for tropical shrubs, but it would render delicate the Alpine tree. Even so the Christian religion was designed by its Founder to stand the winter of the world; and to nurse it within the artificial protection of the monastery will weaken its vitality.

    4. But neither would it be good for the world if the Christian should abjure his intercourse with society, for how then would the prophecy of its conversion be fulfilled? Jesus said to His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world,” but how shall they dissipate its darkness unless they penetrate its atmosphere? He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” but if the salt come not into contact with that which is to be preserved, how shall its antiseptic qualities begin to work upon it?

    II. THOUGH MOVING AMONG OTHER MEN, THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE DIFFERENT FROM THEM. Here we come to the second text.

    1. The root of the Christian’s nonconformity is his regeneration. The peculiarity about him is that he works from an inward principle that is different from that of other men. By the renewing of his mind he has come to see things in a new light, and so when he acts differently from other men, it is not because he is under the iron law of a superior, but because he chooses so to act, and finds his happiness in taking such a course.

    2. What, then, is this inward principle? It is a regard to the will of God. Thus Peter and John said, “Whether it be right in the sight of God,” &c.; and Paul, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” So every genuine child of God takes the will of his Father to be the rule of his life. Other men ask, “Will it pay?” Others consult their ease or custom; but the Christian regulates himself by the Word of God.

    3. In what way will this inward principle develop itself in the outward conduct?

    III. ON ALL PURELY INDIFFERENT MATTERS, AND WHERE HIS CONFORMITY WILL NOT BE MISUNDERSTOOD, BUT WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE SPIRITUAL BENEFIT OF OTHER MEN, THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE AS THEY ARE: “I am made all things to all men,” &c. Paul did not become like other men in their sinful pursuits, but he cultivated that spirit by which he was enabled to suit himself to the people among whom he moved. He did not needlessly offend prejudice.

    1. In order to benefit men, the believer should be courteous, gentlemanly, polite, in his intercourse with men. Some think that their Christianity gives them a right to set all social distinctions at defiance, and by way of asserting their equality to all they treat all with contempt. Under pretence of being faithful, and of asserting their brotherhood, they are only impertinent; while, again, there are those in the wealthier circles who cannot endure the poorer, and treat them with disdain. Now, all that conduct is utterly inconsistent with Christian principle.

    2. But in taking thought of the courtesy, do not forget the great end which as Christians you ought to have in view. You are in society to benefit it. But even in seeking that, you must be upon your guard against repelling where you desire to attract. Do not drag religion into your talk so as to make it distasteful. Cultivate the art of incidental allusion, and if you make a transition in the conversation, make it naturally, so that your companions may not be jolted into silence. Find out what your friends are interested in, and, descending to their level, you will be able to lift them. A friend went one evening into the room where his son was taking lessons in singing, and found his tutor urging him to sound a certain note. Each time the lad made the attempt, however, he fell short, and the teacher kept on saying, “Higher! Higher!” But it was all to no purpose, until, descending to the tone which the boy was sounding, the musician accompanied him with his own voice, and led him gradually up to that which he wanted him to sing, and then he sounded it with ease. So let us do in conversation with those whom we meet in society, and we may become very skilful in winning souls to Christ. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

    Christians one with the world and yet distinct from it

    Nature never builds fences. The mountain slopes down to meet the valley, the day fades and darkens into night, the shore shelves off into the sea, but the exact point at which the one merges in the other is undetermined. Is there, then, no distinction between them? Is the daytime as the night because no eye can fix the instant when the gates unclose to let the morning through? Is the separation between land and sea unreal because between them lies a narrow strip over which they alternately hold sway? The Christian life must slope downward to meet the world and mingle with it. In business partnerships, in political interests, in social matters, in hundreds of affairs, the Christian and unchristian man must meet on neutral ground. Is the distinction between them therefore lost; even for an instant? Because they have great interests in common, because in many things they act alike, is the one in all essentials like the other? No more than the day is as the night. Narrow is the border-land on which the two men meet. As regards all the great realities the one is in the shadowy valley and the other on the sunlit heights; both touch the twilight’s border-land, but one never passes over it into the day, nor the other beyond it into the night.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "John 17:15". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/john-17.html. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

    I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but thou shouldest keep them from the evil one.

    From ... is from the Greek term meaning "out of," and the obvious reason Jesus did not wish the disciples to be taken out of the world was that such a thing would have made impossible the conversion of the world. That the disciples should be kept "out of" the devil was the important thing. The whole concept underlying asceticism which arose in post-apostolic times was based on a failure to appreciate the meaning of these words. It was Christ's desire that the apostles should remain in the world, in contact with its populations, exposed to its culture, and in direct confrontation with its evil. Only this could enable them to convert the world. In this verse also appears the Saviour's concern for the whole of humanity, the only hope of which was dependent on the apostles' proclamation of the truth.

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    Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    I pray not that thou shouldest take theft of the world,.... Either in an unusual manner, by a translation, as Enoch and Elijah were; or by death in its common form, before their time, and purely to be rid of afflictions: this he prayed not for; for he had much work for them to do, by preaching the Gospel, for the conversion of sinners and comfort of saints; and it was for his interest they should live longer; and it would make most for his glory, and be best for his chosen people and churches:

    but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil; either of sin, which is an evil and bitter thing, being committed against a good God, and a righteous law, and brings ruin and destruction upon men; from this the apostles were kept, and all the saints are; not from indwelling sin, nor from the commission of sin, but from the dominion of it, and from falling into it and by it, so as to perish eternally: or from the evil of the world; not from afflictions in it; nor from the reproach and persecution of it; but from its wickedness and lusts, and from the evil men of it: or from Satan the evil one, who is eminently, originally, and immutably so; not from being tempted by him, but from sinking under his temptations, and from being devoured by him. Christ's praying for this, after this manner, shows that evil is very abhorrent, pernicious and powerful; the danger saints are in by it; their incapacity to keep themselves from it; and that the Lord alone is the keeper of his people; but does not suggest that Christ has dropped the charge of them, or is unequal to it; but by so doing he expresses his great love to them, how dear they are to him, and what care he takes of them, and what concern he has for them.

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    Gill, John. "Commentary on John 17:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-17.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    4 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

    (4) He shows what type of deliverance he means: not that they should be in no danger, but that in being preserved from all they might prove by experience that the doctrine of salvation is true, which doctrine they received from his mouth to deliver to others.
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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 17:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-17.html. 1599-1645.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    Shouldest take (αρηιςarēis). First aorist active subjunctive of αιρωairō (liquid verb).

    From the evil one (εκ του πονηρουek tou ponērou). Ablative case with εκek but can mean the evil man, Satan, or the evil deed. See same ambiguity in Matthew 6:13. But in 1 John 5:18 ο πονηροςho ponēros is masculine (the evil one). Cf. Revelation 3:10.

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    The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-17.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    From the evil ( τοῦ πονηροῦ )

    Or, the evil one. This rendering is according to John's usage. See 1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:14; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18, 1 John 5:19; and compare John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11. From ( ἐκ ), literally, out of, means out of the hands of.

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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-17.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

    That thou wouldest take them out of the world — Not yet: but that thou wouldest keep them from the evil one - Who reigns therein.

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 17:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-17.html. 1765.

    Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

    Take them out of the world; rescue them from it; that is, from the dangers and sufferings which were threatening them.

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    Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-17.html. 1878.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    Не молю, чтобы Ты взял их из мира. Христос учит, в чем именно состоит безопасность благочестивых. Не в том, что они избавлены от всякой скорби и пребывают в праздности и роскоши, но в том, что среди стольких опасностей они спасаются помощью Божией. Христос не учит Отца, как Ему надлежит поступать. Скорее Он помогает немощи учеников, дабы те сдерживали свои часто непомерные желания. В итоге: Христос обещает ученикам не такую благодать, которая полностью избавила бы их от забот и тревог, но такую, которая дает непобедимую крепость против всех противников. Она не позволит им пасть под грузом испытаний, выпадающих на их долю. Итак, если мы хотим сохраниться по правилу Христову, то не должны желать избавления от зол, не должны просить Бога, чтобы Он сразу же перенес нас в блаженный покой, но должны довольствоваться упованием на несомненную победу. Тогда мы мужественно противостанем всем невзгодам. Ведь Христос как раз и молил Отца о благополучном их исходе. В итоге: Бог не изымает Своих людей из мира, поскольку не хочет, чтобы они были ленивыми и слабыми. Он избавляет их лишь от зла окончательной погибели. Он хочет, чтобы они сражались, но не даст им получить смертельное ранение.

     

     

     

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-17.html. 1840-57.

    Scofield's Reference Notes

    world

    kosmos = mankind. (See Scofield "Matthew 4:8").

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    Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on John 17:15". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/john-17.html. 1917.

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

    HOLY KEEPING

    ‘I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.’

    John 17:15

    But why does Christ leave His people in the world at all? Why not at once remove them, and take them home? That is not God’s way.

    I. Christ leaves His own in the world that they may be trained for Him.—Only on earth could they be prepared for heaven; for heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Only on earth could they learn their own weakness and the evil of their own hearts. Only on earth could they walk by faith; therefore earth must come before heaven, the bitter before the sweet, and that will make the sweet the sweeter.

    II. Another reason why the Lord leaves His people in the world is, that they may be His witnesses.—What does the world care for the honour of Christ, or the word of Christ, or the love of Christ? ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto Me,’ the Lord Jesus still says to all who believe in Him.

    III. Christ prays His Father to keep His people from the Evil One.—And I do not doubt that every true believer will be so ‘kept by the power of God.’ The Good Shepherd says of His people, ‘My sheep shall never perish.’ The strongest oak in the forest may be uprooted by the wind; but the ivy that clings to the rock, never. The weakest child that in its weakness clasps and cleaves to Christ is safe and strong; the giant who proudly walks alone will surely fall away. You may be a feeble folk like the conies; but if you make your home in the Rock of Ages no harm shall happen to you, for you shall be kept safe by the prayers of your Redeemer.

    —Rev. F. Harper.

    Illustration

    ‘“Read me that chapter whereon my soul first cast anchor,” said John Knox on his dying bed. It was the seventeenth chapter of John. I do not wonder; for those chapters or texts which have helped us in difficulty, or comforted in sorrow, or cheered us in darkness, become very dear to us; they are staves on which we lean in weakness; we look on them like old friends.’

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    Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 17:15". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-17.html. 1876.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    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?" Jonah 4:3; Jonah 4:8. Were it not better to serve out your time, with David, 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?

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 17:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-17.html. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    John 17:15

    There are two reasons why God does not take His people out of the world, but rather keeps them in it and preserves them from the evil. One reason respects themselves—the other, the world.

    I. And first, it is for a good and salutary work on themselves that they are thus brought into contact with temptation, and face to face with evil. None really stands firm but he who has assured his footing. A man may seem to stand, may think he stands, but it may be only because he has never been assailed. His position may be erect, his attitude apparently safe; but the first shock shall dislodge him, because he has never learned how to withstand it; on which side, and how with best effect, resistance may be offered. We are made perfect by trials and conflicts; they are to us as the winds of heaven are to the tree, trying its root—exercising its weak parts one after another, that they may be excited to growth and strength. Our heavenly Father does not take us out of the world, but keeps us in it, within reach of all its allurements and vanities and ungodliness, that we may grow up, by combating and resisting these, into a perfect man in Christ, armed at all points against enemies whom we well know, and with whom we have contested every foot of the ground and painfully won it for Him.

    II. If all God's people were to seclude themselves and fly from temptation, where would be the work of the Church on earth? where our Lord's last command, Go ye into all the world and evangelise every creature? The kingdom of heaven is as leaven. Where does leaven work? From without? No—but from within. And if the leaven is kept out of the lump, how shall the lump become leavened? We must not take ourselves out of the world; for the world's sake, if not for our own. Christ's work is often done, and done most effectually by those who range apparently at a distance from the direct subject itself; who by the influence of ordinary conversation, in which Christian principles are asserted and upheld, impress and attract others, without the use of words to them unusual and repulsive. It is to multitudinous droppings of such unseen and gracious influences, rather than to any great flood of power, in books or in ministers, that we must look for the Christianising of society here and through the civilised world.

    H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. v., p. 109.


    Much of our modern religious teaching favours withdrawal from the world, and even encourages the wish for an early death. In many of our popular hymns the ruling thought is safety in the arms of Jesus, rest in Paradise. Nothing is said of labour, which they must undergo who claim rest; nothing of that conflict with the world, which alone makes it a place of probation. It needs little argument to prove which is the more correct—to pray to live, or to pray to die. When Moses, Elijah and Jonah requested for themselves to die, they erred; and if it still be a doubtful point, Christ's prayer that the apostles should be kept in the world for its good and His glory, that they should mix in its society, and yet be free from its contamination through the sanctification of His Spirit, is conclusive, as it agrees with the feelings of nature and the dictates of reason. It being then a necessity, as well as part of our religion, to be in the world, a right adjustment of claims has to be made between the extremes of overmuch fondness for it, and entire neglect of it.

    I. The first principle of safety I would lay down is the recognition that the world—for which I might read polite society—is still full of danger for those who devote themselves to it in earnest. Though we soften the Bible sentences, and allow for a gradual leavening of modern society by the Gospel, yet its tone is distinctly irreligious, and quite removed from the New Testament ideal. God is not in all its thoughts. Christ is not the object of its faith or its love. The Holy Spirit does not dictate its conversation or moderate its fashions. And yet this is the world, though so manifestly in opposition to God, that we court.

    II. You are not doing enough for Christ, if merely you shun the world; rather you must go into it, pass as one of it—for the Lord knoweth them that are His—possibly be much occupied with it, yet without imbibing its spirit. It will come to be attractive to you in a sense that you would not expect until you approached it with the deeper insight into Christ's purposes concerning it; for it is His creation. He is the light of it, and you a light-bearer. He has loved it and redeemed it, to reconsecrate it to Himself; and you, who know it, are to proclaim that love is the ministry of reconciliation. As Christ came not to condemn the world, but to save the world; so you must not scold it or judge it, but do what you can to improve it.

    C. E. Searle, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, May 13th, 1880.

    Note:—

    I. What Our Lord asks for His followers. To be kept from evil in the world means (1) to be engaged in the world's business and have it rightly directed; (2) to suffer under its trials and be preserved from impatience; (3) to be exposed to its temptations and preserved from falling into sin.

    II. Why our Lord asks for His friends that they should not be taken out of the world. He asks it (1) for the benefit of the world; (2) for the good of Christians themselves; (3) for the honour of His own name.

    References: John 17:14-15; Good Words, vol. iii., p. 317. John 17:15.—J. Vaughan, Church of England Pulpit, vol. x., p, 401; Ibid., vol. xiii., p. 73; E. D. Solomon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 164; J. G. Rogers, Ibid., vol. xxvii., p. 104; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i., No. 47; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 123; J. N. Norton, Every Sunday, p. 274; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 216; H. Batchelor, The Incarnation of God, p. 155; J. M. Neale, Sermons to Children, p. 21. John 17:16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii., No. 78; J. Miller, Pulpit Analyst, vol. ii., p. 481; T. H. Thom, Laws of Life after the Mind of Christ, p. 295; Good News, vol. iii., p. 379; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. iii., p. 90.

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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-17.html.

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    John 17:15. I pray not, &c.— "My meaning is not that, on account of these difficulties, John 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.

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 17:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-17.html. 1801-1803.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    Here observe, 1. That the wisdom of Christ sees fit to continue his children and people in the world, notwithstanding all the perils and dangers of the world. He has work for them, and they are of use to him, for a time, in the world; till their work be done, Christ's love will not, and the world's malice cannot, remove them from hence. Yet Christ prays that his Father would keep them from the evil; that is, from the sins, temptations, and snares of this wicked world.

    Thence note, that a spiritual victory over evil is to be preferred before a total exemption from evil; it is a far greater mercy to be kept from sin in our afflictions, than from the afflictions themselves.

    Learn farther, how necessary divine aid is to our preservation and success, even in the holiest and best of enterprizes, and how necessary it is to seek it by fervent prayer.

    Note, also, that such as sincerely devote themselves to Christ's service, are sure of his aid and protection whilst so employed.

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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 17:15". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-17.html. 1700-1703.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    15. οὐκ ἐρωτῶ] Said mostly for their sakes, for whom it was necessary that they should abide yet in the flesh, to do God’s work, and (John 17:17) to be sanctified by God’s truth.

    τοῦ πον.] Not ‘from the evil,’ as E. V.; but from the evil One, see the usage of our Apostle in 1 John 2:13-14, ὅτι νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν,—ib. 1 John 5:18, and compare ib. 1 John 3:12.

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 17:15". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-17.html. 1863-1878.

    Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

    DISCOURSE: 1711

    PRESERVATION FROM SIN MORE DESIRABLE THAN DELIVERANCE FROM AFFLICTION

    John 17:15. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

    WE admire the solicitude which a dying parent expresses for the future and eternal welfare of his children; nor can we easily shake off the concern which such a spectacle creates in our minds. Such a scene, but incomparably more affecting, is here presented to our view. The Saviour of the world was unmindful of his own impending sorrows, and was altogether occupied with the concerns of his Church and people. Having given his last instructions to his Disciples, he poured out his soul in prayer for them. One of the principal subjects of his prayer is specified in the text.

    We shall consider,

    I. What our Lord prayed for on behalf of his Disciples—

    He prayed “not that they should be taken out of the world”—

    [He had just declared that the world hated his Disciples. Hence we might suppose that he should wish them to be taken out of the world; and many reasons might have been urged by him to enforce such a request. God had often taken away his beloved people in a signal manner [Note: Hebrews 11:5. 2 Kings 2:11.]: he speaks of a sudden removal in evil times as a favour to them [Note: Isaiah 57:1.]. He would hereby manifest his indignation against the world for crucifying his Son; and our Lord might then have carried his Disciples with him as trophies. Nor can we doubt but that such a measure would have been extremely pleasing to his Disciples.

    But on the whole such a petition would have been inexpedient; first, on account of the world. The Disciples were to be the instructors of mankind [Note: Matthew 28:19.], and to be living examples of true piety [Note: Matthew 5:14.]. They were also to intercede on behalf of their fellow-creatures; but, if they were taken away together with our Lord, their commission could not be executed, and the world would lose the benefit of their instructions and prayers. What an inconceivable loss would this have been both to Jews and Gentiles! Yea, in what a state of ignorance should we ourselves have been at this moment!

    Next, it would have been inexpedient on God’s account, if I may so speak. The Disciples were to be, like the dispossessed Gadarene, monuments of God’s mercy [Note: Luke 8:39.]. They were to exemplify in their own persons the all-sufficiency of Divine grace under every situation. They were to be instruments also whereby the eternal counsels of the Deity were to be accomplished: their removal therefore would have robbed God himself of his glory.

    Lastly, it would have been inexpedient on account of the Disciples themselves. They would have been glad to have accompanied their Lord; but it would not have been for their advantage at that time. Their reward was to be proportioned to their labours and sufferings [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:8.]. If they had been taken away at that time they had done but little for God; consequently they would not have possessed so bright a crown as they now do. How glad are they now that their abode on earth was prolonged!]

    The request which our Lord offered for them was far better—

    [He prayed that they might be kept from the evil of it. Satan is by way of eminence called “the evil one.” He is incessantly plotting the destruction of God’s chosen people [Note: 1 Peter 5:8.], and our Lord might have respect to their preservation from him [Note: ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ—Satan is often called πονηρὸς. Ephesians 6:16 and 1 John 5:18.]; but he rather refers to the moral evil that is in the world. And there was good reason why he should pray for their deliverance from that.

    The temptations they would have to encounter were innumerable. Their poverty might beget impatience and discontent; their persecutions might provoke them to retaliation and revenge; their incessant danger of a violent death might tempt them to apostasy. They were to have innumerable trials from without and from within: how needful then was it that they should have an almighty Keeper!

    They were utterly unable of themselves to withstand the smallest temptation. The Disciples were altogether men of like passions with ourselves; nor had they any more sufficiency in themselves than the weakest of us [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:5.]. The most confident of them fell, as soon as he boasted of his strength [Note: Matthew 26:33; Matthew 26:35; Matthew 26:74.]. Almighty power was then, as well as now, necessary to keep any man from falling [Note: Jude, ver. 24, 25.]. How kind then was our Lord’s solicitude to interest his Father in their behalf!

    Their fall would be attended with the most pernicious consequences. It would open the mouths of their adversaries, and cause them to blaspheme [Note: 2 Samuel 12:14.]. It would utterly destroy all hopes of success in their own ministry; and, even if they should be recovered, and saved at last, they would be deprived of a great part of their reward [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:15.]. Hence our Lord’s request was the best that could be offered for them.]

    Hence we may see,

    II. What we should mainly desire for ourselves—

    An exemption from the troubles and calamities of life, however desirable in some points of view, is not greatly to be coveted. St. Paul, it is true, “desired to depart and to be with Christ:” but it was not in order to get rid of his trials, but that he might have full possession of the glory which awaited him; not that he, his earthly tabernacle, might be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:4.].” But

    To be preserved from “the corruptions that are in the world through lust [Note: 2 Peter 1:4.]” is most desirable—

    [The snares with which we are surrounded in this vain world are very many, and replete with danger. “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” are soliciting us continually, and presenting temptations to us exceeding difficult to be withstood — — — Even though we may have withstood them manfully for a season, we are yet in danger of being overcome by them at last, and of perishing thereby with an aggravated weight of guilt and condemnation [Note: 2 Peter 2:20.]. So eminent a character was Demas, that St. Paul himself, a good judge of characters, twice united him with St. Luke in his salutations to the Churches: yet of him it is said, “Demas hath forsaken us, having loved this present world [Note: 2 Timothy 4:10.].” Who then can hope to stand, if he be not upheld by the Almighty power of God? Truly it is God alone who is “able to keep us from falling [Note: Jude, ver. 24.]:” and therefore we should make our supplications to him continually for that end.]

    For the obtaining of this mercy it is not possible for us to be too importunate—

    [It was in order to this end that Christ himself came into the world, and died upon the cross: “He gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father [Note: Galatians 1:4.].” And to produce this blessed effect is the great scope and tendency of his Gospel: “By the cross alone it is that the world is crucified unto us, and we unto the world [Note: Galatians 6:14.].” In fact, there is not a person upon earth that ever gets a victory over the world, except by faith in Christ [Note: 1 John 5:5.]. On the other hand, every one that is really born of God does gain this victory [Note: 1 John 5:4.]. And this is the distinguishing character of all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; they all resemble him in this particular, “not being of the world, even as he was not of the world [Note: ver. 14, 16.].” If then we would reign with Christ hereafter, we must resemble him now; and never cease to implore help from God, that the world and all its lusts may, in answer to our prayers, be put for ever under our feet.]

    In conclusion i would say,

    1. Learn to form a right estimate of the world—

    [It is, in fact, a wilderness, through which we are to pass to the promised land; and we are but pilgrims passing through it, or sojourners taking up our residence in it for a few days at most. Whether we have a more or less gratifying accommodation in it, is a matter of small moment. We are going to our Father’s house, where we shall possess all that our souls can wish; and present things are only of importance as they advance or retard our meetness for our heavenly inheritance. The instant that we have arrived at our journey’s end, we shall see what judgment we ought to have formed of the world, and every thing in it. Let us anticipate that judgment now; and we shall rise superior to the attractions of all created things, and to the solicitations of every unhallowed appetite—]

    2. Seek to have, in reference to it, “the same mind as was in Christ Jesus”—

    [In asking for you a preservation from the snares of the world, he judged right. He wished not to abridge your happiness, but to promote it. And, if we call upon you to renounce the world, and all its lusts, we are not Cynics, as you are apt to imagine, but your best and truest friends. Even when all his own sufferings were coming upon him, the Saviour, forgetful of himself, implored this blessing for you. And if I were never to address you more, I would, with all earnestness, urge this duty on you, and implore this blessing on your behalf. You can only be happy in proportion as you rise above this world to the pursuit and enjoyment of heavenly things. Look at the Saviour, and see how superior he was to all the things of time and sense. That is the state I wish you to attain; and the more you resemble him now, the richer shall be your enjoyment of his presence in a better world—]

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    Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on John 17:15". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/john-17.html. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    John 17:15. ἄρῃς, that Thou shouldest take them out) now; for hereafter, I will or wish it, John 17:24.— ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ, from the evil) This means the Wicked one, πονηρὸς, under (in) whom the world lieth; who “is in the world,” 1 John 4:4. The world is estranged from the truth: John 17:17.

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 17:15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-17.html. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    Christ doth not pray that his Father would take up his saints out of this sinful and troublesome world into heaven, because he knew that they were to be of use to him for a time in the world; but he prays that the Lord would keep them from the evil one, (so some would have it translated), or from the evil thing; by which we must not understand what is penally and afflictively evil, but only what is sinfully evil: and by his example he hath directed us how we ought to pray; not for death, nor absolutely for a deliverance from the evils and miseries of this life; but that we may be delivered from those temptations to sin, to which a multitude of sharp trials and afflictions will expose even the best of men.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 17:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-17.html. 1685.

    Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

    сохранил их от зла В этой ссылке говорится о защите от сатаны и всех нечистых сил, следующих за ним (Мф. 6:13; 1Ин. 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18, 19). И хотя жертва Иисуса на кресте явилась поражением сатаны, он все еще свободен и направляет свою порочную систему против верующих. Он стремится уничтожить верующих (1Пет. 5:8), как, например, Иова и Петра (Лк. 22:31, 32) и сделать зло вообще (Еф. 6:12), но Бог – их сильный защитник (12:31; 16:11; ср. Пс. 26:1-3; 2Кор. 4:4; Иуд. 24, 25).

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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 17:15". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-17.html.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    15.Not’ take’ out of the world—Peter was ready (John 13:37) to follow his Lord out of the world. Wearied Christians often would sigh to depart and be with Christ. But that aspiration must be checked within the most reverent limits. What could the world’s great carcass do if the salt should all depart? What but suffer the fate of Sodom for want of ten righteous men? The good men hated by the world are the world’s preservers.

    Keep them from the evil—For how easy is it for them to assimilate by gentle shadings with the world. The world, then, will no longer hate, however much they will despise them for the compromise. God keeps them, not merely for themselves, but for the honour of his own name, and from mercy to the world that hates them.

     

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-17.html. 1874-1909.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    John 17:15. I ask not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them out of the evil one. The disciples are in the world, and Jesus cannot yet pray that they may be taken out of it, for it is the very purpose of the Father that they shall be left in it to carry on His work. What He does pray for is, that, as their work and His will be identical, so also their preservation may be identical, with His own. The element distinguishing His preservation had been that mentioned in chap. John 14:30,—a total separation between the prince of this world and Him. The same complete separation He would now have for them,—not merely that they may be delivered from attacks of the evil one, but also that they may be kept ‘out of’ him, may have no fellowship with him, no weakening of their testimony by yielding to him, but may be single, pure, and faithful to the last as He had been. The expression ‘to be kept out of the evil one’ may surprise the reader until he re members that in 1 John 5:19-20 the Apostle really speaks of the world as lying in the evil one. The teaching of this Gospel and of the whole New Testament is that there are two spheres in which man may live, that of the world and its prince, and that of ‘Jesus Christ.’ (Compare the many passages which speak of the Christian as ‘in Christ.’) Our prayer ought to be, not that we may be kept ‘from’ the one, but that we may be kept ‘out of’ the one and ‘in’ the other.

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-17.html. 1879-90.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    John 17:15. The simplest escape from the anger of the world was removal from it, but for this He would not ask: . They had a work to do which involved that they should be in the world. It also involved the fulfilment of the petition, . Luther, Calvin, etc., take as neuter; recent interpreters in general consider it to be masculine, “from the evil one,” as in 1 John 2:13; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:18; cf.Matthew 6:13. “The evil one” as the prince of this world and “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44) was the instigator of persecution.

     

     

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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 17:15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-17.html. 1897-1910.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    from = out of. Greek. ek, as in the former clause. the evil = the evil one. See on Matthew 6:13. Compare 1 John 5:19. Three things the Lord requested for His disciples: to be kept from the evil one, to be sanctified through the truth (John 17:17), and to behold His glory (John 17:24).

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 17:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-17.html. 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

    I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world - for that, though it would secure their own safety, would leave the world unblessed by their testimony;

    But that thou keep them from the evil, [ ek (Greek #1537) tou (Greek #3588) poneerou (Greek #4190)] - or 'from evil;' all evil in and of the world. The translation 'from the evil one' is to be rejected here, as not suiting the comprehensiveness of these petitions. See also, in the Lord's Prayer, at Matthew 6:13.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-17.html. 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (15) I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world.—The thought may naturally have come to their minds that they would be most effectually kept from the hatred and danger of which He had spoken if they were to be with Him taken out of the world. But there is for them a work in the world (John 17:18; John 17:24). He has finished the work His Father gave Him to do; He has glorified the Father on the earth (John 17:4). There is a work for them to glorify Him (John 17:10), and He prays not that they should be taken out of the world before their work is done. The Christian ideal is not freedom from work, but strength to do it; not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome it; not freedom from suffering, but joy in an abiding sense of the Father’s love; not absence from the world, but grace to make the world better for our presence; not holy lives driven from the world, and living apart from it, but holy lives spent in the world and leavening it.

    But that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.—Comp. Note on Matthew 6:13. The usage of St. John is, beyond question, in favour of the masculine. The only other passages where he uses the word in the singular are 1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18-19. We have to bear in mind also that the present passage occurs in the second “Lord’s Prayer,” and that His prayer for them may with probability be interpreted in the same sense as the words in which He taught them to pray. On the whole, therefore, it seems likely, but yet is by no means certain, that we ought to read here, “that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one.”

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-17.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
    take
    Psalms 30:9; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Isaiah 38:18,19; 57:1; Luke 8:38,39; Philippians 1:20-26
    keep
    Genesis 48:16; 1 Chronicles 4:10; Psalms 121:7; Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4; Galatians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 John 5:18
    Reciprocal: Luke 22:32 - I have;  John 14:16 - I will;  John 17:11 - keep;  1 Corinthians 5:10 - of this;  2 Corinthians 13:7 - 1pray;  2 Timothy 1:12 - keep;  2 Timothy 4:18 - deliver;  Titus 2:12 - this;  James 1:27 - to keep;  1 Peter 1:5 - kept;  1 Peter 3:11 - eschew

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 17:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-17.html.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    15.I ask not that thou shouldest take them out of the world. He shows in what the safety of believers (121) consists; not that they are free from every annoyance, and live in luxury and at their ease, but that, in the midst of dangers, they continue to be safe through the assistance of God. For he does not admonish the Father of what is proper to be done, but rather makes provision for their weakness, that, by the method which he prescribes, they may restrain their desires, which are apt to go beyond all bounds. In short, he promises to his disciples the grace of the Father; not to relieve them from all anxiety and toil, but to furnish them with invincible strength against their enemies, and not to suffer them to be overwhelmed by the heavy burden of contests which they will have to endure. If, therefore, we wish to be kept according to the rule which Christ has laid down, we must not desire exemption from evils, or pray to God to convey us immediately into a state of blessed rest, but must rest satisfied with the certain assurance of victory, and, in the meantime, resist courageously all the evils, from which Christ prayed to his Father that we might have a happy issue. In short, God does not take his people out of the world, because he does not wish them to be effeminate and slothful; but he delivers them from evil, that they may not be overwhelmed; for he wishes them to fight, but does not suffer them to be mortally wounded.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 17:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-17.html. 1840-57.