Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 17:16

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
New American Standard Version

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Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

See John 15:19.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 17:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

John 17:16

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world

The unworldliness of Christ

This does not mean

That He cared nothing for the world. There are men so utterly selfish, and absorbed with their own concerns that in a sense they may be said to be “not of the world.” They care nothing for it. But Christ was intensely interested in the men about Him. “He went about doing good.”

2. That He did not appreciate the natural blessings of the world. There are austere souls who are “not of the world” in this sense: its innocent amusements they regard with a pietistic horror; they have a superstitious fear of eating and drinking lest they should give their body an advantage over their soul. But Christ came “eating and drinking.” What is the world? It is

I. PRACTICALLY ATHEISTIC. It is “without God.” Not theoretically, for the laws of the mind render Atheism as a conviction an impossibility. But practically men have been “without God” ever since the Fall, His presence is not acknowledged, nor His will consulted, practically, and were it assured to-day that no God existed, its life would remain unaltered. Christ was intensely theistic. The Father filled His own horizon, and was never out of His mind. The moment the soul feels God to be in the world, the world assumes a new form.

II. PRACTICALLY MATERIALISTIC. Men ever since the Fall “judge,” “walk,” “live” after the flesh. Christ was intensely spiritual. Men are carnally minded.

1. Their pleasures are material. “What shall we eat, what shall we drink?” Christ’s pleasures were spiritual,” I have meat to eat that ye know not of.”

2. Their honours are material. The highest honour is an earthly crown; the highest victories those of the sword. Christ’s kingdom was not of this world. He did not war after the flesh; His empire was Spirit; His weapons truth; His legions saints and angels.

III. PRACTICALLY SELFISH. Every man seeks His own. There are as many interests in the world as men; hence the collisions, domestic, social, ecclesiastical, natural. Christ was love, and pleased not Himself. Conclusion: The subject furnishes

1. A test of genuine Christianity. A true Christian is like Christ.

2. A guide to man’s grand interest--which is to get out of the moral spirit of the world, which is the Babylon of the soul. “Arise ye, and depart,” &c. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The unwordliness of a Christian life

This text teaches us


1. Christ came down from a higher world into this. He was not the product of the age in which He lived. Some say that He was.

(a) Christ was full of fresh life, whilst the age was dead.

(b) Christ was spiritual, whilst the age was formal.

(c) In a time in which “the oracles were dumb,” Christ spoke forth that which men felt to be the word of God.

(d) In an age of artificiality, He was real.

If Christ had been the creation of His age, He would have perished with it. Christ was crucified by the Jews, because He did not answer their expectation of a political Messiah.

2. If all this is true, we might naturally expect that Christ would be unworldly. Anything which puts a man before his time tends to make him so, because it withdraws him from the influences which are at work around him into a higher sphere. I understand by a worldly man, one who does not seek to raise the standard of his generation, but who conforms to it. The worldly standard differs in different ages. In the last century it was favourable to duelling and drinking. In the present day, it is against all outward breaches of decorum, but it is strongly in favour of the worship of wealth and outward success. The worldly spirit is the utter antipodes of the spirit of Christ. All Christ’s teaching was unworldly. He praised the very virtues which worldly men do not praise. He did not look upon either things, or men, or women, or cities as the worldly man looks upon them. He did not regard the distinctions of society, but looked below them all.


1. It has not been always expected that disciples should have the same disposition or lead the same life as their Teacher. It has been enough if they received His system. But no adherence to a system will make us disciples of Christ. “If we have not the spirit of Christ, we are none of His.” Not that a disciple is perfectly like Christ: he may be very imperfect, as were the first disciples. A disciple is a learner, and you do not expect a learner to be perfect. But in the very act of entering Christ’s school His disciples turn their backs upon the world and deny themselves its vanities. Hence Christ said, “If any man will be My disciple, let him take up his cross and follow Me.”

2. If you will be Christ’s disciples

3. The history of the struggle between the Christian life and the spirit of the world may be divided into two periods.

(a) The world corrupted the Church with heathenism. All the true Christian life in the Middle Ages had to struggle up towards the light shining through any loop-holes which there might be in that dense system of superstition.

(b) The world corrupted the Church with her vices. Superstition, in the long run, leads to vice. All the institutions of the Church gradually degenerated till indulgences became a regular source of income to the Pope. It was these indulgences which roused the spirit of Luther, and led to his crusade against the Papacy.

(c) The world has in our day corrupted the Church with her indifference. There never was an age in which there was more organization for doing good, but the life to animate it is wanting.

III. THAT THOUGH THE CHRISTIAN IS TO BE UNWORLDLY, HE IS NOT TO SEPARATE HIMSELF (verse 16). We are not to desire to be taken out of

1. The world of nature. It is a beautiful world. It is full of emblems of that which is spiritual and Divine. Talk about it being a “waste howling wilderness,” it is our souls which are wildernesses.

2. The world of humanity. Our Lord did not estrange Himself from this world. He ate and drank with publicans and sinners. Is He not our example? While saying this, I do not forget that there is such a virtue as Christian prudence. Some are spiritually strong, others weak. But the Church cannot influence humanity, if she estranges herself from it. We ought not to frown on any pure human joys. We need not pull long faces, or wear a peculiar garb. The true Christian, like his Lord, loves to see the fully developed man in his prime of manhood; the woman with her womanly beauty; the child with its fresh grace and innocent ways.

3. The little world in which we are cast in the order of God’s Providence. It is better for us not to desire to go out of that but rather to shape it after “the patterns in the heavens.”

IV. THAT WE ARE TO PRAY GOD TO KEEP US FROM THE EVIL IN THE WORLD (verses 16). I have been speaking about the bright side of things, but these words remind us that there is a dark side. There is a dark side both to nature and humanity. There are volcanoes, earthquakes, inundations. There has been perpetual struggle and competition. There are disease and death. Sin has been the great curse of the world--the curse of all our lives. But there is One who came down from a higher world, in order to redeem us from captivity to evil. Through His grace many millions have walked through this world’s miry ways, and have kept their souls unstained. There were great differences of race, age, temperament, belief among them; but there was one thing in which they were all alike--they all had unwordly, simple, childlike hearts. (R. Abercrombie, M. A.)

Worldliness described

Worldliness is the spirit of childhood carried into manhood. The child lives in the present hour: to-day to him is everything. The holiday promised at a distant interval is no holiday at all: it must be either now or never. Natural in the child, and therefore pardonable, this spirit, when carried on into manhood, of course is worldliness. The most distinct illustration given us of this is the case of Esau. Esau came from the hunting-field worn and hungry: the only means of procuring the tempting mess of his brother’s pottage was the sacrifice of his father’s blessing, which, in those ages, carried with it a substantial advantage. But that birthright could be enjoyed only after years; the pottage was present, near and certain: therefore he sacrificed a future and higher blessing for a present and lower pleasure. For this reason, Esau is the Bible type of worldliness: he is called in Scripture a profane, that is, not distinctly a vicious, but a secular or worldly person--an overgrown child, impetuous, inconsistent; not without gleams of generosity and kindliness, but over-accustomed to immediate gratification. (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Attractions of worldliness

Nearly all can recall that favourite fiction of their childhood, the voyage of Sindbad the sailor into the Indian Sea. They will remember that magnetic rock that rose from the surface of the placid waters. Silently Sindbad’s vessel was attracted towards it; silently the bolts were drawn out of the ship’s side, one by one, through the subtle attraction of that magnetic rock. And when the fated vessel drew so near that every bolt and clamp was unloosed, the whole structure of bulwark, mast, and spars tumbled into ruin on the sea, and the sleeping sailors awoke to their drowning agonies. So stands the magnetic rock of worldliness athwart the Christian’s path. Its attraction is subtle, silent, slow, but fearfully powerful on every soul that floats within its range. Under its enchanting spell bolt after bolt of good resolution, clamp after clamp of Christian obligation, are stealthily drawn out. What matters it how long or how fair has been the man’s profession of religion, or how flauntingly the flag of his orthodoxy floats from the masthead? Let sudden temptation smite the unbolted professor, and in an hour he is a wreck. He cannot hold together in a tempest of trial, he cannot go out on any cruise of Christian service, because he is no longer held together by a Divine principle within. It has been drawn out of him by that mighty loadstone of attraction, a sinful, godless, self-pampering, Christ-rejecting world. (T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

The danger of worldliness

In this verse Christ repeats the argument used in John 17:14. This repetition is not idle. The reason may be conceived either with respect to the disciples, for whom He prayed, and so it is to inculcate their duty; or with respect to God, the Person to whom He prayed, and so He urgeth their danger.


1. They may be tedious to nature

2. But it is profitable to grace.

(a) Our knowledge is little. Narrow-mouthed vessels take in liquor by drops, so do we Divine truths, and therefore you have need to hear the same things often, that your understandings may grow familiar with them Isaiah 28:10).

(b) Our attention is small. We do consider it when we understand it. Study findeth out a truth, meditation improveth it.

(c) Our memories are weak. A man needeth no remembrancer to put him in mind of worldly gain, and to revenge injuries; but as to good things, our memories are as a bag with holes, or as a grate that retaineth the mud, and lets the running water go (Hebrews 2:1).

(d) Our wills are slow and averse (2 Peter 1:12-13; 1 John 2:21).

(a) Meditation. The mind works freely upon such objects to which it is accustomed; in things rare and seldom heard of there is more need of study than meditation, to search them out.

(b) Application. We hear to do and practise, not only to know. We do not hear to store the head with notions, but that the life and heart might be bettered.


1. As regards their constitution and temper of mind. Christ repeats it again; and so learn that we need to be cautioned often and often against the world.

(a) It is a part of original sin. It is hard for any to say they are not tempted to covetousness; it is their nature.

(b) We are daily conversant about the things of the world; our affections receive taint from the objects with which we usually converse.

(c) It is of a present enjoyment; we have the world in hand and heaven in hope, and think heaven a fancy and the world substance.

(d) It is a sin applauded by men (Psalms 10:3).

(e) It is a cloaked sin. It is hard to discover it and find it out, there are so many evasions of necessity and provision. It is a great part of religion to “keep ourselves unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

(a) Adultery (James 4:4).

(b) Idolatry (Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5).

(c) Enmity with God (James 4:4).

(a) To the new nature (1 John 5:4).

(b) To our hopes. God has provided heaven to draw us off from the world.

(c) To the aim of Christ (Hebrews 11:16).

(a) Consider our condition--“strangers and pilgrims.”

(b) We are called to better things (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). It is not for princes to embrace the dunghill.

(c) Take the Apostle’s argument (1 Timothy 6:7). A man’s wealth does not follow him, but his works do. In our birth we are contented with a little cradle, at death with a little grave.

(d) Consider how hard it is to have Christ and heaven and the world Matthew 16:26).

(e) Thou art as thy love is. If thou lovest this world thou art worldly; if thou lovest God thou art godly. Take a glass, put it to,yards heaven, there you shall see the figure of heaven; put it towards the earth, and you see the figure of the earth, trees, meadows, fruits: thou receivest a figure from the objects to which thou appliest thy heart, earthly things or heavenly.

(a) When thou wantest the world. Be not over-careful; use the means God hath ordained, trust God with the issue and event of all (Luke 12:22).

(b) When thou hast the world. A godly man may be a rich man; but do not trust in riches, &c., for they are vain; nor delight in them, for they are snares; nor be proud of them, they do not make us better; we do not value a horse by the trappings, but by his spirit and courage.

(c) Be not over-sorrowful when thou losest them.

2. As regards the outward condition of the disciples: “They are not of the world, i.e., not respected by it, left out of the world’s tale and count.

(a) Let them alone; look after better things (Psalms 17:14).

(b) Remember by whose providence it falleth out. Many times God raises bad men to high places, not because they deserve it, but because the age deserves no better.

(c) If you are favoured by God, why should you trouble yourselves about the world’s respects? Thou hast the testimony of God’s Spirit, and many now in hell have had much of the world’s respects. Their disrespect cannot hurt thee; It may profit thee.

(a) It is our duty. In His example we have a taste of His Spirit: “I am not of the world,” saith Christ; and we should “imitate Christ as dear children” Ephesians 5:1).

3. It will be your comfort. It is a sweet comfort in all conditions to remember the similitude of condition between Christ and us (Colossians 1:24).

4. It will be for our profit. First suffer, then enter into glory; winter is before the spring (Romans 8:17). (T. Manton, D. D.)

Danger of absorption in worldly things

I once saw a picture of an artist sitting on a rock in the ocean, which had been left bare by the retreating tide. There he sat, sketching on his canvas the beautiful scenery around him, sky and wave and sea, all unconscious that the tide had turned, had cut him off from the shore, and was rapidly covering the rock on which he sat. The tempest, the waves, the rising sea were forgotten, so absorbed was he in his picture; nor did he hear his friends calling to him from the shore. (W. Baxendale.)

Distinguishing character of Christians

I. NEGATIVELY. The text does not imply

1. That they have no connection with the men of the world. Grace does not dissolve the union between man and man.

2. That they are to be wholly disengaged from the things of the world. They have their farms and their merchandise as well as others, and it is not requisite that under a pretence of religion they should sequester themselves from all secular concerns. They may be as much in their duty while in their worldly callings as in the closet. An idle Christian is no good character: for if we do not find ourselves some employment, Satan will. “Not slothful in business” (1 Corinthians 7:24; Acts 20:34).

3. That even the best of men are entirely divested of a worldly spirit, though they are not of the world. Those whose affections are set on things above, and whose conversation is in heaven, have frequent occasion to say, “My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken Thou me accordingly to Thy word.” After the fullest conviction of the emptiness and vanity of creatures, we shall still find our hearts strongly attracted by them.


1. They are in a considerable degree mortified to the things of this life, so as not to have “the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God.” They are in the world, but not of it: it is their residence, but not their portion. Real Christians are neither terrified by the frowns nor allured by the smiles of the world. The possession of the good things of this life does not excite immoderate joy, nor the want of them occasion inordinate grief. The world, notwithstanding all his endeavours to drive it out, may occupy some corner of the Christian’s heart, but the uppermost room and principal seat are reserved for his Lord and Master. His motto is, “In one Jesus I have all.”

2. They possess different tempers and dispositions from the men of the world. “Old things are passed away, and all things become new.” The bias of the soul receives another direction: it has a new taste, new appetites, and new enjoyments. Their treasure being in heaven, their hearts are there also. They “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The spirit of the world is hateful, sensual, discontented, overwhelming men with ignorance, guilt and misery; but the spirit which is of God is humble, teachable, contrite, benevolent and submissive, active in doing good, and patient in suffering.

3. They speak a different language from the rest of the world. It may be said to the Christian as it was said to Peter, “Thy speech betrayeth thee.” And so it may be said of the opposite character: “He that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth.” The world is placed in their heart, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. But God’s promise to His people is, that He will turn to them a pure language, so that they shall speak the truth without hypocrisy, address Him without formality, and talk of Divine things with holy freedom. Flattery will be as much avoided by them as detraction, and equivocation as a known lie. Their common discourse will be seasoned with salt, ministering grace unto the hearers; and they will be ready to give to every one a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear. The talk of a carnal man will be about the world through which he is passing; that of a good man about the world to which he is going.

4. They are neither influenced by the maxims of the world, nor do they imitate its customs. The real Christian is the world’s nonconformist; not in an affected singularity of speech or dress, in the shape of his coat or form of his hat, but in the whole tenor of his life and conversation.

5. They do not take up their rest in this world. They are born from heaven, and are bound to heaven. Their language is, “Arise, let us depart hence: this is not our rest, because it is polluted.”

III. TO ILLUSTRATE THIS CHARACTER, CHRIST HAS GIVEN US HIS OWN 1 John 4:17). Conclusion: From this view of the subject we may learn

1. What judgment we are to form of those about us.

2. What is duty with respect to ourselves. (B. Beddome, M. A.)

The character of Christ’s people

We shall take our text and look at it.

I. DOCTRINALLY. It is not so much that they are not of the world, as that they are “not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world.” This is an important distinction, for there are people who are not of the world, and yet they are not Christians. Amongst these I would mention sentimentalists. Their spirits are so refined, that they cannot attend to ordinary business. They live in the air of romance; would like continually to live in a cottage near a wood, or to inhabit some quiet cave, where they could read “Zimmerman on Solitude” for ever. I heard of one young lady, who thought herself so spiritually-minded that she could not work. A wise minister said to her, “That is quite amusing! very well, you are so spiritually-minded that you shall not eat unless you do.” These people are “not of the world,” truly; but the world does not want them, and the world would not miss them much, if they were gone. There are others, too, so like monks, who are not of the world. They are so awfully good, that they cannot live with us sinful creatures; or if they condescend to do so, they must be distinguished from us in many ways. They could not be expected to wear worldly coats and waistcoats. They must wear nondescript dresses, that none may confound them with ordinary men. We have also in our Protestant Churches certain men who think themselves so eminently sanctified that it would be wrong to indulge in anything like sensible pronunciation. Such persons are, however, reminded, that it is not being “not of the world,” so much as being “not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world.”

1. Christ was not of the world in nature.

2. In office

3. In character. Look at Jesus’ character; how different from every other man’s--pure, perfect, spotless, even such should be the life of the believer.

II. EXPERIMENTALLY. Every Christian will feel that he is not of the world.

1. When he gets into very deep trouble. You have had at times deep sorrows. Did you break under them? If you did, methinks you are no Christian; but if there was a rising up, it was a testing moment, and it proved that you were “not of the world,” because you could master affliction.

2. When he is prosperous. Some of God’s people have been more tried by prosperity than by adversity. Do you feel that these comforts are nothing but the leaves of the tree, and not the fruit, and that you can not live upon mere leaves? Or do you say, “Now, soul, take thine ease,” &c.

3. When he is in solitude and in company.


1. Thou who art of the world, whose maxims, habits, feelings, are worldly, listen to this. It is God’s solemn truth. Thou art none of His. With all your profession thou art “in the gall of bitterness.”

2. You who are children of God. Have we not often been too much like the world? (C. H. Spurgeon.)


In the 14 th verse this separation of the disciples from the world is assigned as the reason of the world’s hatred to them; and here it is made the reason for special intercession on their behalf. There can be no difficulty in understanding what is meant by “the world,” though the phrase is used with considerable latitude of signification in the Scriptures. But here the meaning is unquestionably moral and spiritual, and the expression marks off all other than godly people. Now, it is of considerable importance that we should know how we are to understand this statement what precisely is its significance.


1. Well-meaning, though certainly not over-wise, people there are, who seem to think their godliness calls for harsh views and depreciating language concerning the earth on which God has placed us. It is the proper thing with them, and evidences their other-worldliness, to regard this world as a place which by its wretchedness serves chiefly as a foil to the better land above. It is a sort of dark background, bringing the other world into relief. It is to them a “desert,” a “vale of tears,” a “waste, howling wilderness.” Such a state of mind, where it is not the result of ignorance, tells at once of unhealthiness and perversion. Such people appear to forget that it is God’s world of which they thus speak, made by Him to be the fitting abode of men.

2. Nor must we look for this unworldliness in a lack of interest in the world’s affairs--in its government, for instance. If politics have reproach attached to them, no little Of the blame lies at the door of those who could have done better, but have culpably stood aloof and allowed so vast a power and so solemn a trust to fall into unscrupulous hands. No man can deal thus with divlnely-entrusted responsibilities and be blameless. The proper government of our country, the just settlement of national and international questions, profoundly concerns us all, and each has a responsibility here of which he cannot divest himself.

3. Neither, again, must we look for this unworldliness along the line of abstention from all the social pleasures and amenities of life. For that means a strained and unnatural kind of piety, and there was nothing forced about the life of Jesus, who is our Exemplar here as elsewhere. He was no ascetic. We must seek elsewhere than in such particulars for the lines of demarcation. Where are those lines, then?


1. Christians form, and were by our Lord intended to form, a community distinct and separate from the world. All through the Scriptures this idea of separatedness runs. The Jews were in the most literal and extreme sense a people set apart. By geographical limits, by mode of government, by peculiarity of laws and customs, as well as by religion, they were marked off from all other nations. Christians are in the truest and highest sense a separated people. Jesus set up His Church in the world with the intention that all who avowed themselves His disciples should form part of an organized community. This is the body of which He is the Head; the household of which He is the Master.

2. But especially are we to look for this unworldliness of Christians in their spirit and in their principles of action. This is the great dividing line. The spirit of the world is distinctly and essentially irreligious; there is no right apprehension or estimate of spiritual things; godless maxims, and fashions, and laws rule--that is the nature of a worldly spirit. The Spirit of Christ is just the opposite. And it is along the line of spirituality of character and conduct that our unworldliness as disciples of Jesus is to be manifested. But now, lest the practical significance of this should be overlooked, note a few details in which this spirit will show itself.

(a) For their own safety;

(b) as a visible declaration of the side on which they are.

(2) Our recreations. There are amusements which, by association, by inevitable tendency, and by common consent, are worldly. They lie, by general admission, within territory forbidden to Christians; and in such cases, all the special pleading in the world about their being innocent in themselves can have no weight with those who would act worthily and wisely. Remember, we cannot afford, as disciples of Jesus, to see how near the line we can go without overstepping it.

3. Our Home and Business-Life. In the former, in such matters as


1. If such be our character, let us not be surprised if we are misunderstood by the world. It was so with Jesus.

2. Expect to be hindered by the world in your religious life. It has no sympathy with your views, and oft deems your piety fanaticism, and your religious scruples a nuisance.

3. Do not be afraid of a needful singularity. Avoid needless difference, but have the courage of your convictions.

4. Guard against the subtle encroachments of a worldly spirit. The friendship of the world is enmity with God. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

5. Walk prudently to them that are without. Take ears less by a worldly conduct you give the lie to an unworlldy profession.

6. Do not forget we have a mission to the world. “As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world.”

7. Keep your final home in view. Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour. (R. M. Spoor.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "John 17:16". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

See under John 17:14, above.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 17:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. These words are repeated from John 17:14, where they are given as a reason of the world's hatred to them; and here, as showing that they are exposed to the evil of it; and in both are used as an argument with his Father, that he would take notice of them, and preserve them.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 17:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world — (See John 15:18, John 15:19). This is reiterated here, to pave the way for the prayer which follows.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 17:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Repetition of John 17:14 for emphasis.

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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 17:16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

The Fourfold Gospel

I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [one]1.

  1. I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [one]. The care which he asks in protection in, and not removal from, the world. It is best both for the Christian and for the world that he should remain in it. The world is blessed by the Christian's presence (Matthew 4:14-16), and abiding in the world affords the Christian an opportunity of conquest and reward (Romans 8:37; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:21).

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 17:16". "The Fourfold Gospel". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Они не от мира. Христос снова говорит, что весь мир тем больше их ненавидит, чем милостивее приглашает их Небесный Отец. И одновременно показывает, что сами они не виновны в этой ненависти. Она вызвана тем, что мир ненавидит Христа и Бога.




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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 17:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes


kosmos = world-system. John 18:36; John 7:7. (See Scofield "Revelation 13:8").

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on John 17:16". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Ver. 16. They are not of the world, &c.] Here indeed they have their commoration, but their conversation is in heaven, πολιτευμα, Philippians 2:21 : they are clothed with the Sun of righteousness, and have the moon (all earthly things) under their feet, Revelation 12:1. Pearls, though they grow in the sea, yet they have affinity with the heaven, the beauty and brightness whereof they resemble: so here. It is Chrysostom’s comparison.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 17:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

16.] Repeated, as the ground both of the οὐκ ἐρωτῶ,—for they are already not of the world, above the world, so that they need not be removed from it in order to distinction from it;—and of the ἀλλʼ ἵνα,—for they are clean (ch. John 13:10); ‘Keep them from the polluter.’ This leads on to (John 17:17-19) the process of sanctification through the knowledge of the truth imparted to them by Christ, and expanded in them by the Spirit.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 17:16". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



John 17:16. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

SUCH is the enmity of a carnal mind to the will and law of God, that men usually hate us most for those very things which render us most acceptable in the sight of God. The sanctity of Abel was the real ground of the inveterate hatred that rankled in the breast of Cain, and that impelled him to destroy his brother whom he could not imitate. And David in his day complained, that when he put on sackcloth and chastened his soul with fasting, pleasing as that conduct must have been to God, profane scoffers turned it to his reproach. Thus our Lord told his Disciples that the world would hate them because they did not conform themselves to its habits: but at the same time, repeating what he had spoken of their holy singularity, he pleads it as an argument with his heavenly Father to interpose more effectually for their preservation from evil, and their sanctification through his truth [Note: ver. 14–17.]. The assertion before us leads us to shew,

I. In what respects Christ was not of the world—

Our Lord fulfilled with the utmost exactness all his social and relative duties, and wrought, till the age of thirty, at his father’s trade [Note: Mark 6:3.]. But though he filled up his proper station in the world, he was not of the world,

1. In his spirit and temper—

[A levity of mind, a disregard of God, and an indifference about eternal things, characterize the generality of mankind. But no such disposition was ever seen in our adorable Emmanuel. A holy gravity invariably marked his demeanour: he had a continual sense of the Divine presence, a deep impression of the importance of time, and an unremitting zeal to finish the work assigned him: “It was his meat and drink to do the will of him that sent him.”]

2. In his desires and pursuits—

[The world affect nothing but the things of time and sense: pleasure, riches, and honour are the idols which they worship. But our Lord desired none of these things. Had he wished for pleasure, he had a mind and body framed for the most exquisite delights of which our nature is capable: as his bodily organs were not weakened by any sinful habit, so his intellectual faculties were capable of comprehending all the wonders of creation, and of deriving the sublimest pleasure from the contemplation of them. But he was occupied with thoughts widely different from these: he found no time for the amusing speculations of philosophers. He had come to atone for sin; and, that he might do so, chose rather to be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Had he desired riches, how easily could he, who commanded a fish to bring him a piece of money to pay his tax, have possessed himself of inexhaustible stores of silver and gold! But he chose rather to be destitute even of a place where to lay his head, and to be a pensioner upon the bounty of some pious women [Note: Luke 8:3; Luke 9:58.]. He did indeed carry a purse, but it was not for the procuring of superfluities for himself, but that he might administer to the necessities of the poor. Had he been ambitious of honour, with what crowds of followers might he have been attended, all of them monuments of his tender compassion and almighty power! But he dismissed them from him, and frequently with the most solemn charges, that they should tell no man what he had done for them: and when the people would have taken him by force to make him a king, he rendered himself invisible, and withdrew from them. So little did he covet what the foolish world admire; and so different was he from the world in the whole of his deportment.]

Singular as he appeared in his day, it will be found,

II. That his Disciples all resemble him—

The followers of Christ, whatever attainments they may have made, were once “walking after the course of this world even as others:” but the very instant that they obtain a saving knowledge of their Lord, they begin to tread in his steps and imitate his example [Note: Galatians 6:14.]: “as they have once borne the image of their earthly father, they now bear the image of the heavenly.”

1. They indulge not a worldly spirit—

[Believers are not free from the imperfections of their former state: their constitutional or acquired habits still in some measure remain: hence one is yet too easily drawn aside to levity, another to earthly-mindedness, and all to the “sins which most easily beset them:” but this is their pain, their grief, their burthen: they desire from their inmost souls to be delivered from such a spirit: though they too often fall into it, they would not indulge it; they would far rather have their souls nourished with spiritual blessings; and would account it an infinitely richer mercy to receive an increase of grace and peace, than to enjoy all the wealth or pleasure that the world can bestow.]

2. Nor do they affect worldly company—

[From their situations in social life they are necessitated to have much intercourse with the men of this world: but they regard the world as a physician does an hospital which it is his office to attend: they consider it as the theatre on which they are called to act; and they endeavour to approve themselves to God and to their fellow-creatures by a diligent discharge of their duty: while in it, they seek the good of those around them, and study to improve themselves by all which they see: but they take not up their abode there; they are glad to retire from it when their work is finished: their friends and companions are selected from among another people; their “delight is in the saints that are in the earth, and in such as excel in virtue:” they shew by their conduct that “light cannot have communion with darkness, nor Christ with Belial, nor he that believeth with an unbeliever [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:14-15.]:” and, like Moses, they would rather suffer affliction with the people of God than participate the pleasures and honours of a court [Note: Hebrews 11:24-26.].]

3. Nor are they engrossed with worldly pursuits—

[They are not indifferent about the things of this world, nor are they of necessity precluded from the enjoyment of them when God in his providence casts them into their lap: they may even seek these things in subordination and subserviency to their more important concerns. But they will not be engrossed with such mean pursuits: they will not suffer their affections to be set on such worthless objects: their hearts are in heaven, and their “conversation also is in heaven.” They seek “pleasures which are at God’s right hand for evermore;” they labour to be “rich towards God in faith and good works;” and they aspire after “the honour that cometh of God,” the honour of being “children of God, yea, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” And though much time and thought is spent by them in things relating to the world, yet when at liberty to follow the bent of their minds, they return to God as their beloved, their only, rest.]

We shall conclude the subject with some suitableadvice—

1. Guard against the self-deception which too generally prevails—

[We have reason at this time to adopt the Apostle’s words, and say, that “many walk, of whom we have told you often, and tell you now even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, and that their end will be destruction, because they mind earthly things [Note: Philippians 3:18-19.].” There are, alas! too many who “call Christ, Lord, Lord, but will not obey his commands,” or “walk as he walked.” But let us remember, that “the tree must be known by its fruits;” and that we must judge of our interest in Christ by our conformity to his image: if our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, be excited principally by worldly things, we certainly are of the world: but if, with Christ, we be “crucified to the world,” and our spirit and temper, our desires and pursuits, resemble his, then, and then only, may we conclude, that we are Christ’s; for “all that are born of God have overcome the world; and all that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts [Note: 1 John 5:4. Galatians 5:24.].”]

2. Be not afraid of a necessary singularity—

[We would not recommend a needless singularity, or insinuate that there is any virtue in making ourselves appear ridiculous; but whereinsoever the world deviate from the mind and will of God, there we may, and must differ from them. If we be singular, the fault will be theirs and not ours. No blame can attach to our Lord because he was singular; nor can it to us while we “shine as lights in a dark world,” “holding forth in our conduct the word of life.” We should “make our light to shine before men,” and be “as a city set upon a hill;” and though the besotted world will “gaze strangely at us, and wonder that we run not with them to their excess of riot,” we shall have enough to counterbalance their contempt in the testimony of our own consciences, and in the approbation of our God. We know that it is our duty to despise all the vanities which the world can offer us [Note: 1 John 2:15-16.], and that, if we would not be found enemies of God in the last day, we must relinquish all desire after that friendship of the world, which is enmity with God [Note: James 4:4.]: let us therefore go on boldly in the way of duty, and if we meet with a cross in our road, let us not turn aside from it, but take it up and glory in it.]

3. Seek more and more conformity to the Saviour’s image—

[The command of God is, “Be not comformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.” The way in which we are to comply with this command is set before us in our Lord’s example. We are not indeed to attempt the things which were peculiar to him as a Prophet of the Most High God; but to get the same mind which was in him; to imitate him in his spirit and temper, and to manifest the same superiority to things visible and temporal, and the same decided preference for things invisible and eternal: then, like the higher regions of the atmosphere, we shall remain serene, while those who grovel on the earth are agitated by incessant tempests. “Come out then from the world, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and God will be a father unto you, and ye shall be his sons and daughters [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:17-18.]:” and know that the more your conversation is in heaven now, the greater will be your meetness for it whenever you shall be called hence.]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on John 17:16". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 17:16. ἐκ, of) This sentiment is expressed also in John 17:14, but in a different order of the words (in John 17:14, ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου comes after οὐκ εἰσὶν, in John 17:16, before); which order (viz. that in John 17:14) simply shows the cause of the world’s hatred, and accords with the following verse, 15. But here in John 17:16, the ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, of the world, being put twice in the first place, bears the emphasis of the sentence, in antithesis to ἁγίασον, sanctify, John 17:17. From John 17:16, John 17:17 is deduced; and from John 17:18, John 17:19.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 17:16". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

This is the same thing which he had said before, John 17:14, which he again repeateth, either to fix it in their memories, that they, calling it to their minds, might direct their lives accordingly, or be thereby fortified against the hatred and malice of the world; for which purpose he told them so before, John 15:19, and again in this chapter, John 17:14: See Poole on "John 17:14".

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 17:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 17:16. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. These words met us in John 17:14, but they are again introduced in a slightly different order, the emphasis being now thrown on of the world, in order to prepare the way for the complete antithesis to be immediately expressed.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 17:16". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 17:16. For see Revelation 3:10. The reason of the world’s hatred and persecution is given here, as in John 15:19, ’ “They do not belong to the world, as I am out of the world.”



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 17:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. See the notes at John 17:6-9; and at John 15:18-19. This is reiterated here to pave the way for the prayer which follows:

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 17:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) They are not of the world.—These words are repeated from John 17:14. The thought of their being still in the world leads on to their mission in the world, and the prayer passes from the thought of preservation to that of their sanctification for their work. Their fitness for this is prominent in this verse. Already they are not of the world, even as He is not of the world.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 17:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

16.They are not of the world. That the heavenly Father may be more favourably disposed to assist them, he again says that the whole world hates them, and, at the same time, states that this hatred does not arise from any fault of theirs, but because the world hates God and Christ.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 17:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.