1.These words spake Jesus. After having preached to the disciples about bearing the cross, the Lord exhibited to them those consolations, by relying on which they would be enabled to persevere. Having promised the coming of the Spirit, he raised them to a better hope, and discoursed to them about the splendor and glory of his reign. Now he most properly betakes himself to prayer; for doctrine has no power, if efficacy be not imparted to it from above. He, therefore, holds out an example to teachers, not to employ themselves only in sowing the word, but, by mingling their prayers with it, to implore the assistance of God, that his blessing may render their labor fruitful. In short, this passage of the Lord Jesus Christ might be said to be the seal of the preceding doctrine, both that it might be ratified in itself, and that it might obtain full credit with the disciples.
And lifted up his eyes to heaven. This circumstance related by John, that Christ prayed, lifting up his eyes to heaven, was an indication of uncommon ardor and vehemence; for by this attitude Christ testified that, in the affections of his mind, he was rather in heaven than in earth, so that, leaving men behind him, he converted familiarly with God. He looked towards heaven, not as if God’s presence were confined to heaven, for He filleth also the earth, (Jer_23:24,) but because it is there chiefly that his majesty is displayed. Another reason was, that, by looking towards heaven, we are reminded that the majesty of God is far exalted above all creatures. It is with the same view that the hands are lifted up in prayer; for men, being by nature indolent and slow, and drawn downwards by their earthly disposition, need such excitements, or I should rather say, chariots, to raise them to heaven
Yet if we desire actually to imitate Christ, we must take care that outward gestures do not express more than is in our mind, but that the inward feeling shall direct the eyes, the hands, the tongue, and every thing about us. We are told, indeed, that the publican, with downcast eyes, prayed aright to God, (Luk_18:13,) but that is not inconsistent with what has now been stated; for, though he was confused and humbled on account of his sins, still this self-abasement did not prevent him from seeking pardon with full confidence. But it was proper that Christ should pray in a different manner, for he had nothing about him of which he ought to be ashamed; and it is certain that David himself prayed sometimes in one attitude, and sometimes in another, according to the circumstances in which he was placed.
Father, the hour is come. Christ asks that his kingdom may be glorified, in order that he also may advance the glory of the Father. He says that the hour is come, because though, by miracles and by every kind of supernatural events, he had been manifested to be the Son of God, yet his spiritual kingdom was still in obscurity, but soon afterwards shone with full brightness. If it be objected, that never was there any thing less glorious than the death of Christ, which was then at hand, I reply, that in that death we behold a magnificent triumph which is concealed from wicked men; for there we perceive that, atonement having been made for sins, the world has been reconciled to God, the curse has been blotted out, and Satan has been vanquished.
It is also the object of Christ’s prayer, that his death may produce, through the power of the Heavenly Spirit, such fruit as had been decreed by the eternal purpose of God; for he says thatthe hour is come, not an hour which is determined by the fancy of men, but an hour which God had appointed. And yet the prayer is not superfluous, because, while Christ depends on the good pleasure of God, he knows that he ought to desire what God promised would certainly take place. True, God will do whatever he has decreed, not only though the whole world were asleep, but though it were opposed to him; but it is our duty to ask from him whatever he has promised, because the end and use of promises is to excite us to prayer.
That thy Son also may glorify thee. He means that there is a mutual connection between the advancement of his glory and of the glory of his Father; for why is Christ manifested, but that he may lead us to the Father? Hence it follows, that all the honor which is bestowed on Christ is so far from diminishing the honor of the Father, that it confirms it the more. We ought always to remember under what character Christ speaks in this passage; for we must not look only at his eternal Divinity, because he speaks as God manifested in the flesh, and according to the office of Mediator.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
1. These words] More exactly, these things, as in Joh_16:1; Joh_16:4; Joh_16:6; Joh_16:25; Joh_16:33.
lifted up his eyes] in calm confidence and in the assurance of victory (Joh_16:33). The attitude is in marked contrast to His falling on His face in the garden (Mat_26:39). ‘To heaven’ does not prove that He was in the open air: comp. Act_7:55; Luk_18:13.
Father] This is His claim to be heard. Comp. ‘Abba, Father’ in Mar_14:36, and see Lightfoot on Gal_4:6.
the hour] See on Joh_2:4 and Joh_12:27. S. John loves to mark each great crisis in Christ’s life; this is the last.
glorify thy Son] By His return to glory (Joh_17:5) through suffering and death. Comp. Php_2:9-11.
that thy Son also may glorify] By making known the glory of God, through the Son. To make God known is to glorify Him. ‘Also’ must be omitted, and for ‘Thy Son’ we ought perhaps to read ‘the Son.’
Jesus spake these things; i.e. the discourse which precedes, and then turned from his disciples to the Father. The place where the prayer was offered is comparatively unimportant, yet it must have been uttered somewhere. It has been well suggested that the Lord, with the disciples, sought the comparative quiet of the Father’s house, and in some of the courts of the temple, within sight of the golden gate with its mighty vine, had enacted all that is recorded in Jn 15-17. This does not interfere with the idea that the starry sky was visible to them, and that from some portion of the temple-courts our Lord should have lifted his eyes to heaven; for the heavens are the perpetual symbol of the majesty of God, and show that side on which, by instinctive recognition of the fact, men may and do look out upon the infinite and the eternal. And having £ lifted up his eyes to heaven—or, lifting (Revised version) up his eyes to heaven—he said, in a voice which the wondering, believing, and troubled disciples might hear (see Joh_17:13), and from which they were intended to learn much of the relation between their Lord and the eternal Father. There is a twofold division of the prayer: From Joh_17:1-5 he offers prayer for himself, but in special relation to his own power over and his own grace to the children of men; from Joh_17:6-19 he contemplates the special interests of his disciples, in their present forlorn condition, in their work, conflict, and ultimate triumph; from Joh_17:19-26 he prays for the whole Church,
(a) for its unity,
(b) for its expansion,
(c) its glory.
“For himself he has little to ask (Joh_17:1-5), but as soon as his word takes the form of intercession for his own (Joh_17:6-26), it becomes an irresistible stream of the most fervent love. Sentence rushes upon sentence with wonderful power, yet the repose is never disturbed” (Ewald). Father; not “my Father,” nor “our Father,” the prayer given to his disciples, nor “my God” as afterwards upon the cross; nor was it the customary address to “God” of either Pharisee or publican; but it recalls the “Abba, Father” of the garden, which passed thence into the experience of the Church (Rom_8:15; Gal_4:6). The hour which has so often presented itself as inevitable, but which so often has receded, and which even now delays its full realization (Joh_2:1-25., 7., 12., 13.) as part of a Divine plan concerning him, the hour of the fiery baptism, of the solemn departure, of the conflict with the prince of this world, and of complete acceptance of the Father’s will, has come; glorify thy Son, that (thy) the Son may (also) glorify thee. Lift thy Son into the glory which thou hast prepared, that the Son whom thou hast sanctified and sent into the world may glorify thee. It is very noticeable that he speaks of himself in the third person. This is justified by the fact that he here conspicuously rises out of himself into the consciousness of God, and loses himself in the Father. The glorification of the Son is first of all by death issuing in life. He was crowned with glory in order that he might taste death for every man. The conflict, the victorious combat with death, was the beginning of his glory. In taking upon himself all the burden of human sorrow, and exhausting the poison of the sting of death, he would “glorify God” (cf. Joh_21:19). This does not exhaust the meaning, but the further forms and elements of his glory are referred to afterwards.
2.As thou hast given him. He again confirms the statement, that he asks nothing but what is agreeable to the will of the Father; as it is a constant rule o prayer not to ask more than God would freely bestow; for nothing is more contrary to reason, than to bring forward in the presence of God whatever we choose.
Power over all flesh means the authority which was given to Christ, when the Father appointed him to be King and Head; but we must observe the end, which is, to give eternal life to all his people. Christ receives authority, not so much for himself as for the sake of our salvation; and, therefore, we ought to submit to Christ, not only that we may obey God, but because nothing is more lovely than that subjection, since it brings to us eternal life.
To all whom thou hast given me. Christ does not say that he has been made Governor over the whole world, in order to bestow life on all without any distinction; but he limits this grace to those who have been given to him But how were they given to him ? For the Father has subjected to him the reprobate. I reply, it is only the elect who belong to his peculiar flock, which he has undertaken to guard as a Shepherd. So then, the kingdom of Christ extends, no doubt, to all men; but it brings salvation to none but the elect, who with voluntary obedience follow the voice of the Shepherd; for the others are compelled by violence to obey him, till at length he utterly bruise them with his iron scepter.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
2. As thou hast given him power] Better, Even as Thou gavest Him authority. The authority was given once for all, and is the reason for the petition in Joh_17:1. Comp. Joh_5:27.
all flesh] A Hebraism not used elsewhere in this Gospel. Comp. Mat_24:22; Luk_3:6; Act_2:17; Rom_3:20, &c. Fallen man, man in his frailty, is specially meant; but the Second Adam has dominion also over ‘all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea.’ Psa_8:7-8. In the following texts ‘all flesh’ includes the brute creation; Gen_6:19; Gen_7:15-16; Gen_7:21; Gen_8:17; Gen_9:11; Gen_9:15-17; Psa_136:25; Jer_32:27; Jer_45:5. Once more, therefore, Jewish enclusiveness is condemned. The Messiah is King of ‘all flesh,’ not of the Jews only.
that he should give, &c.] Literally, in order that all that Thou hast given Him, He should give to them eternal life. ‘All that’ is neuter singular; ‘to them’ is masculine plural. Believers are given to Christ as a united whole; they earn eternal life as individuals. Comp. Joh_1:11, Joh_6:37.
Even as thou gavest him authority—an indefeasible claim of influence and intimate organic relations with humanity—over all flesh. [This phrase answers to (col bosor) the Old Testament term for the whole of humanity, the entire race, and is one adopted by New Testament writers (Mat_24:22; Luk_3:6; 1Co_1:29; Gal_2:16).] This authority was implied in his incarnation and sacrifice, and in the recapitulation of all things in him. St. Paul says, “Because he tasted death for every man, God has highly exalted him, and given him the Name that is above every name,” etc. These opening words reveal the universality and world-wide aspects of the mission and authority and saving power of the Son of God. He holds the keys of the kingdom and city of God. The government is upon his shoulder. Through him all the nations on earth are to be blessed. But the dependence of “all flesh” upon a Divine gift of eternal life through him is no less conspicuous; hence the hopelessness of human nature as it is and apart from grace. The end of this glorification of the Son in the Father is that, in the exercise of this authority, he may give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. The construction is unusual, and literally rendered would be, that with reference to the whole of that which thou hast given him, to them he should give eternal life. The clause, πᾶν ὅ δέδωκας, may be a nominative or accusative absolute, which, by the defining αὐτοῖς, is subsequently resolved into individual elements. The redeemed humanity of all time has been given to the incarnate Son, and is undoubtedly different from the (πάσα σάρξ) “all flesh” of the previous clause, but it is further explained to mean the individual men and women who receive from him eternal life. The bestowment of eternal life on those thus given to him is the method in which he will glorify the Father (see notes on Joh_6:37, where the Father is said to draw men to himself by means of the unveiling of his own true character in the Son, and where this drawing is seen to be another way of describing the Father’s gift to the Son). Those who are given to Christ are those who are drawn by the Father’s grace to see his perfect self-revelation in the face of Jesus Christ, of whom Jesus says, “I will by no means cast them out” (Joh_6:37), and concerning whom he avers, “No one cometh unto the Father but by me” (Joh_14:6). Ζώη αἰώνιος, life eternal, is frequently described as his gift. From the first the evangelist has regarded ξώη as the inherent and inalienable prerogative of the “Loges,” and the source of all the “light” which has lighted men. This “life,” which is “light,” came into the world in his birth, and became the head of a new humanity. It is clearly more than, and profoundly different from, the principle of unending existence. Life is more than perpetuity of being, and eternity is not endlessness, nor is “eternal life” a mere prolongation of duration; it refers rather to state and quality than to one condition of that state; it is the negation of time rather than indefinite or infinite prolongation of time. That which Christ gives to those who believe in him, receive him, is the life of God himself. It is strongly urged by many that this eternal life is a present realizable possession, that he that hath the Son hath life, and that we are to disregard the future in the conscious enjoyment of this blessedness; but we must not forget that our Lord obviously refers the life eternal to the future in Mat_19:29; Mar_10:30; Luk_18:30; Mat_25:46. Nor are these statements, as some have said, incompatible with the representations of this Gospel (see Joh_6:40, Joh_6:54; Joh_11:25; Joh_12:25). The aionian blessedness may have a partial realization here and now, but not fill our vision is less clouded and our perils are less severe shall we fully apprehend it. Nor is this inconsistent with Mat_25:3.
3.And this is eternal life He now describes the manner of bestowing life, namely, when he enlightens the elect in the true knowledge of God; for he does not now speak of the enjoyment oflife which we hope for, but only of the manner in which men obtain life And that this verse may be fully understood, we ought first to know that we are all in death, till we are enlightened by God, who alone is life Where he has shone, we possess him by faith, and, therefore, we also enter into the possession of life; and this is the reason why the knowledge of him is truly and justly called saving, or bringing salvation. Almost every one of the words has its weight; for it is not every kind of knowledge that is here described, but that knowledge which forms us anew into the image of God from faith to faith, or rather, which is the same with faith, by which, having been engrafted into the body of Christ, we are made partakers of the Divine adoption, and heirs of heaven.
To know thee, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. The reason why he says this is, that there is no other way in which God is known but in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the bright and lively image of Him. As to his placing the Father first, this does not refer to the order of faith, as if our minds, after having known God, afterwards descend to Christ; but the meaning is, that it is by the intervention of a Mediator that God is known.
The only true God. Two epithets are added, true and only; because, in the first place, faith must distinguish God from the vain inventions of men, and embracing him with firm conviction, must never change or hesitate; and, secondly, believing that there is nothing defective or imperfect in God, faith must be satisfied with him alone. Some explain it, That they may know thee, who alone art God; but this is a poor interpretation. The meaning therefore is, That they may know thee alone to be the true God
But it may be thought that Christ disclaims for himself the right and title of Divinity. Were it replied, that the name of God is quite as applicable to Christ as to the Father, the same question might be raised about the Holy Spirit; for if only the Father and the Son are God, the Holy Spirit is excluded from that rank, which is as absurd as the former. The answer is easy, if we attend to that manner of speaking which Christ uniformly employs throughout the Gospel of John, of which I have already reminded my readers so frequently, that they must have become quite accustomed to it. Christ, appearing in the form of a man, describes, under the person of the Father, the power, essence, and majesty of God. So then the Father of Christ is the only true God; that is, he is the one God, who formerly promised a Redeemer to the world; but in Christ the oneness and truth of Godhead will be found, because Christ was humbled, in order that he might raise us on high. When we have arrived at this point, then his Divine majesty displays itself; then we perceive that he is wholly in the Father, and that the Father is wholly in him. In short, he who separates Christ from the Divinity of the Father, does not yet acknowledge Him who is the only true God, but rather invents for himself a strange god. This is the reason why we are enjoined to know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, by whom, as it were, with outstretched hand, he invites us to himself.
As to the opinion entertained by some, that it would be unjust, if men were to perish solely on account of their ignorance of God, it arises from their not considering that there is no fountain of life but in God alone, and that all who are alienated from him are deprived of life. Now, if there be no approach to God but by faith, we are forced to conclude, that unbelief keeps us in a state of death. If it be objected, that persons otherwise righteous and innocent are unjustly treated, if they are condemned, the answer is obvious, that nothing right or sincere is found in men, so long as they remain in their natural state. Now, Paul informs us that we are renewed in the image of God by the knowledge of him, (Col_3:10.)
It will be of importance for us now to bring into one view those three articles of faith; first, that the kingdom of Christ brings life, and salvation; secondly, that all do not receive life from him, and it is not the office of Christ to give life to all, but only to the elect whom the Father has committed to his protection; and, thirdly, that this life consists in faith, and Christ bestow, it on those whom he enlightens in the faith of the Gospel. Hence we infer that the gift of illumination and heavenly wisdom is not common to all, but peculiar to the elect. It is unquestionably true that the Gospel is offered to all, but Christ speaks here of that secret and efficacious manner of teaching by which the children of God only are drawn to faith.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
3. And this is life eternal] More exactly, But the life eternal is this. ‘The life eternal’ means that which has just been mentioned; and ‘is this’ means ‘this is what it consists in:’ comp. Joh_3:19, Joh_15:12.
that they might know] Literally, in order that they may recognise; comp. Joh_6:29, Joh_15:12; 1Jn_3:11; 1Jn_3:23; 1Jn_5:3; 2Jn_1:6. The eternal life is spoken of as already present (see on Joh_3:36, Joh_5:24, Joh_6:47; Joh_6:54); hence ‘may,’ not ‘might.’ Moreover it is the appropriation of the knowledge that is specially emphasized; hence ‘recognise’ rather than simply ‘know.’ Comp. Wis_15:3.
thee the only true God] i.e. ‘Thee as the only true God.’ For ‘true’ see note on Joh_1:9 and comp. Joh_4:23, Joh_6:32, Joh_15:1 : ‘the only true God’ is directed against the many false, spurious gods of the heathen. This portion of the truth was what the Gentiles so signally failed to recognise.
Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent] Better, Him whom Thou didst send—Jesus Christ; or, Jesus as Christ. This portion of the truth the Jews failed to recognise. But the words are not without difficulty, even when, we insert the ‘as;’ and the run of the Greek words is rather against the insertion of ‘as.’ If ‘Christ’ were a predicate and not part of the proper name we should expect ‘Jesus, whom Thou didst send, as Christ.’ Probably in this verse we have the substance and not the exact words of Christ’s utterance. That He should use the name ‘Jesus’ here is perhaps improbable; that He should anticipate the use of ‘Jesus Christ’ as a proper name is very improbable; and the expression ‘the true God’ is not used elsewhere by Christ and is used by S. John (1Jn_5:20), We conclude, therefore, that the wording here is the Evangelist’s, perhaps abbreviated from the actual words.
The life eternal, of which Jesus has just spoken, is this (cf. for construction, Joh_15:12; 1Jn_3:11, 1Jn_3:23; 1Jn_5:3), that they might know—should come to know—thee, the only veritable God. All ideas of God which deviate from or fall short of “the Father” revealed to us by Christ, are not the veritable God, and the knowledge of them is not life eternal. The Father is here set forth as the fens Deitatis. This does not exclude “the Son,” but is inconceivable without him. The Fatherhood expresses an eternal relation. The one element involves the ether as integral to itself: “I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” There is a knowledge of the Father possible even now. “Henceforth, he has said, ye have seen him, and known him;” yet not till the veil is lifted, and we see face to face, shall we know as we are known (1Co_13:12; 1Jn_3:2), shall we see him as he is. And him whom thou didst send, Jesus the Christ (not Jesus to be, or as Christ, but rather “Jesus the Christ,” as the expansion and explanation of the more indefinite term, “him whom thou didst scud”). Why does our Lord add to this expression one that at first sight seems so incompatible with the idea of this prayer? It has led so careful and reverential a commentator as Westcott to remove the difficulty by supposing that the whole verse is a gloss of the evangelist, expressing the sense of what our Lord may have uttered at greater length. We are loath to admit this method of exegesis, especially as the sole reasons for it are the supposed strangeness of our Lord’s here using a phrase so unaccustomed, and thus giving himself not only his Personal Name, but his own official title. It is unusual. The phrase does undoubtedly belong to a later period for its current and constant use. Yet it must not be forgotten
(1) that this is a unique moment in his career, and unique expressions may be anticipated;
(2) that it was calculated to strengthen his disciples, to allow them to hear once from his own lips the solemn claim to Messiahship (see Godet);
(3) that John himself at once adopted it as his own (Act_3:6, Act_3:20; 1Jn_1:3; 1Jn_2:1, 1Jn_2:22; 1Jn_3:22; 1Jn_4:2, 1Jn_4:3; 1Jn_5:1-20; Rev_1:1, Rev_1:2, Rev_1:5); moreover,
(4) in 1Jn_5:20 Jesus Christ is, himself lifted up into the region of the ἀληθι ́νος, and the apostle adds, “This is the true God, and eternal life” (Hengstenberg). It is from these very words that some critics imagine that the evangelist, rather than the Lord himself, framed the clause;
(5) yet it is quite as rational to suppose that the words uttered by Jesus dwelt like a strain of sacred music in the memory of the apostle. Moreover,
(6) the knowledge of the only true God is really conditioned by the knowledge of him who was indeed the great Revelation, Organ, and Effluence of the Father’s glory. The fullness of this knowledge is the end of all Christian striving. Paul said, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus… and that I may know him” (Php_3:10). How much is there yet to know!
(7) Finally, as our Lord is rising more and more into the glory of an utter self-abandonment, and into the glory which he had with the Father from eternity, the human nature which he still inhabits becomes almost an appendage of his Divine Personality, and he might with awful significance, when referring to the object of human faith and knowledge, say, “Him whom thou hast sent—Jesus the Christ.” Moreover, on any hypothesis of the composition or framing of an intercessory prayer for the Loges Christos to utter, there is an equal difficulty in the insertion into such prayer by St. John of this reference to himself as the Christ. The knowledge of the Father as the only true God, in opposition to the heathen traditions and philosophical speculations of the world, coupled with a corresponding knowledge of the only adequate expression of the Father’s heart and nature, sent forth from him, as One promised, consecrated, and empowered to represent him, is life—ere half life.
4.I have glorified thee. His reason for saying this is, that God had been made known to the world both by the doctrine of Christ, and by his miracles; and the glory of God is, when we know what he is. When he adds, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do, he means that he has completed the whole course of his calling; for the full time was come when he ought to be received into the heavenly glory Nor does he speak only of the office of teaching, but includes also the other parts of his ministry; for, though the chief part of it still remained to be accomplished, namely, the sacrifice of death, by which he was to take away the iniquities of us all, yet, as the hour of his death was already at hand, he speaks as if he had already endured it. The amount of his request, therefore, is that the Father would put him in possession of the kingdom; since, having completed his course, nothing more remained for him to do, than to display, by the power of the Spirit, the fruit and efficacy of all that he had done on earth by the command of his Father, according to the saying of Paul,
He humbled and annihilated himself, by taking the form of a servant. Therefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, (Phi_2:7.)
Cambridge Bible Plummer
4. I have glorified] Better, I glorified. In confident anticipation Christ looks backs from the point when all shall be accomplished, and speaks of the whole work of redemption as one act. Our translators have been very capricious throughout this chapter, rendering aorists as perfects and perfects as aorists. Comp. Joh_17:6; Joh_17:8; Joh_17:18; Joh_17:21-23; Joh_17:25-26.
I have finished] According to the right reading, having finished or perfected. This is the way in which God is glorified, the completion of the work of revelation.
gavest me] Better, hast given Me. Christ did not choose for Himself.
to do] Literally, in order that I may do it: this was God’s purpose in giving it. It is S. John’s favourite particle; comp. Joh_5:36 and see on Joh_17:3.
5.The glory which I had with thee. He desires to be glorified with the Father, not that the Father may glorify him secretly, without any witnesses, but that, having been received into heaven, he may give a magnificent display of his greatness and power, that every knee may bow to him, (Phi_2:10.) Consequently, that phrase in the former clause, with the Father, is contrasted with earthly and fading glory, as Paul describes the blessed immortality of Christ, by saying that he died to sin once, but now he liveth to God, (Rom_6:10.)
The glory which I had with thee before the world was. He now declares that he desires nothing that does not strictly belong to him, but only that he may appear in the flesh, such as he was before the creation of the world; or, to speak more plainly, that the Divine majesty, which he had always possessed, may now be illustriously displayed in the person of the Mediator, and in the human flesh with which he was clothed. This is a remarkable passage, which teaches us that Christ is not a God who has been newly contrived, or who has existed only for a time; for if his glory was eternal, himself also has always been. Besides, a manifest distinction between the person of Christ and the person of the rather is here expressed; from which we infer, that he is not only the eternal God, but also that he is the eternal Word of God, begotten by the rather before all ages.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
5. And now] When the ministry is completed.
glorify thou me] The pronouns are placed side by side for emphasis, as in Joh_17:4, where the Greek runs, ‘I Thee glorified.’ The two verses are parallels; ‘I Thee glorified on earth; glorify Me Thou in heaven.’
with thine own self] In fellowship with Thee. The following great truths are contained in these two verses; (1) that the Son is in Person distinct from the Father; (2) that the Son, existing in glory with the Father from all eternity, working in obedience to the Father on earth, existing in glory with the Father now, is in Person one and the same.
I had] Imperfect tense, implying continual possession.
And now (νῦν)—the very point of time has come—glorify thou me, O Father, explaining the opening of the prayer, “Glorify thy Son.” He identifies his own Personality—”me”—with that of “the Son,” and “thy Son.” With thy own self (παρὰ σεαυτῷ); in closest connection and fellowship with thy-self—a relation which has been arrested or suspended since have been “Jesus Christ,” and glorifying thee amid the toil and sorrow of this earthly pilgrimage. This immediate glorification of the Son embraces the glory of vicarious death, the triumphant resurrection, the mystery of ascension in the strength of his human memories to the right hand of God (Joh_13:31, Joh_13:32). He still further defines this wondrous prospect, as with the glory which I had with thee before the world was—before the being of the κόσμος παρὰ σεαυτῷ … παρὰ σοι Παρὰ in John represents local relationships (see Joh_1:40; Joh_4:40; Joh_14:25; Rev_2:13) or intimate spiritual associations (Joh_14:3). So our Lord remembers and anticipates a “glory with the Father.” That which he refers to as before the existence of the world has been softened down by Grotius, Wettstein, Schleiermacher, and some moderns to mean the glory of the Divine thought and destination concerning him; but the expression παρὰ σοι is far from being exhausted by such a rendering. He who wrote the prologue (Joh_1:2, Joh_1:18) meant that, as the Logos had been πρὸς τὸν Θέον and εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πατρός, and at a special epoch “became flesh,” the beamings forth of his glory on earth were those which belonged to human life, to the form of a servant, and were profoundly different from that μορφὴ Θεοῦ in which his innermost self-consciousness, the center of his Personality, originally dwelt. And now he seeks to carry this new appanage of his Sonship, this God-glorifying humanity, up into the glory of the pre-existent majesty (cf. Php_2:9; 1Ti_3:16; Heb_1:8, Heb_1:13). The δόξα which was visible to the disciples on earth (Joh_1:14) was glory limited, colored, conditioned, by human life and death; but so complete was the Lord’s union with the Loges, that it did not quench his memory of the glory of his omnipresent, eternal Being, nor his remembrance of absolute coexistence with the Father before all worlds. He would lift humanity to the very throne of God by its union with his Person. This stupendous claim both as to the past and future would be utterly bewildering if it stood alone; but the Old Testament has prepared the mind of the disciples for this great mystery (Pro_8:1-36.; Isa_6:1-13.). The theophanies generally, and Joh_8:25 and Heb_1:1-14., with numerous other passages, sustain and corroborate the conception that the Loges of God was throughout all human history on the verge of manifestation in the flesh. The record of the extraordinary God-consciousness of Jesus does transcend all human experience, and baffles us at every turn; but the human consciousness of Jesus appears gradually to have come into such communion with the Loges who had become flesh in him, that he thought the veritable thoughts and felt the emotions of the eternal God as though they were absolutely his own. In addition to this idea of his resumption of his own eternal state, Lange and Moulton, in opposition to Meyer, lay emphasis on the answer to this prayer, consisting in such a manifestation of the premundane glory in his flesh, that it should perfectly establish the relation between the glory of the Father before all worlds, rod the glory of utter and complete self-sacrifice for the redemption of the world. The glory of omnipotence and omnipresence is lost in the greater glory of infinite love. Thus the glory which he had with the Father would be best seen in the completion of his agony, the τετέλεσται of the cross.
6.I have manifested thy name. Here Christ begins to pray to the Father for his disciples, and, with the same warmth of love with which he was immediately to suffer death for them, he now pleads for their salvation. The first argument which he employs on their behalf is, that they have embraced the doctrine which makes men actually children of God. There was no want of faith or diligence on the part of Christ, to call all men to God, but among the elect only was his labor profitable and efficacious. His preaching, which manifested the name of God, was common to all, and he never ceased to maintain the glory of it even among the obstinate. Why then does he say that it was only to a small number of persons that he manifested the name of his Father, but because the elect alone profit by the grace of the Spirit, who teaches inwardly? Let us therefore infer that not all to whom the doctrine is exhibited are truly and efficaciously taught, but only those whose minds are enlightened. Christ ascribes the cause to the election of God; for he assigns no other difference as the reason why he manifested the name of the Father to some, passing by others, but because they were given to him. Hence it follows their faith flows from the outward predestination of God, and that therefore it is not given indiscriminately to all, because all do not belong to Christ.
Thine they were, and thou hast given them to me. By adding these words, he points out, first, the eternity of election; and, secondly, the manner in which we ought to consider it. Christ declares that the elect always belonged to God. God therefore distinguishes them from the reprobate, not by faith, or by any merit, but by pure grace; for, while they are alienated from him to the utmost, still he reckons them as his own in his secret purpose. The certainty of that election by free grace lies in this, that he commits to the guardianship of his son all whom he has elected, that they may not perish; and this is the point to which we should turn our eyes, that we may be fully certain that we belong to the rank of the children of God; for the predestination of God is in itself hidden, but it is manifested to us in Christ alone.
And they have kept thy word. This is the third step; for the first is, the election by free grace, and the second is, that gift by which we enter into the guardianship of Christ. Having been received by Christ, we are gathered by faith into the fold. The word of God flows out to the reprobate, but it takes root in the elect, and hence they are said to keep it.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
6. I have manifested] Better, I manifested: see on Joh_17:4 and Joh_1:31.
which thou gavest] Better, whom Thou hast given: in the next clause ‘gavest’ is right. Sometimes the Father is said to ‘give’ or ‘draw’ men to Christ (Joh_17:24, Joh_6:37; Joh_6:44; Joh_6:65, Joh_10:29, Joh_18:9); sometimes Christ is said to ‘choose’ them (Joh_6:70, Joh_15:16): but it is always in their power to refuse; there is no compulsion (Joh_1:11-12, Joh_3:18-19, Joh_12:47-48).
kept thy word] S. John’s favourite phrase (see on Joh_8:51): the notion is that of intent watching. Christ’s revelation of Himself and of the Father is the Father’s word (Joh_7:16, Joh_12:49); His doctrine as a whole.
7.Now they have known. Here our Lord expresses what is the chief part in faith, which consists in our believing in Christ in such a manner, that faith does not rest satisfied with beholding the flesh, but perceives his Divine power. For when he says, They have known that all things which thou hast given me are from thee, he means, that believers feel that all that they possess is heavenly and divine. And, indeed, if we do not perceive God in Christ, we must remain continually in a state of hesitation.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
7. they have known] Rather, they know: literally, ‘they have recognised, come to know.’ Comp. Joh_5:42, Joh_6:69, Joh_8:52; Joh_8:55, Joh_14:9.
whatsoever thou hast given] Both His doctrine and His mission, as the next verse explains. The whole of Christ’s work of redemption in word and act was in its origin and still is (present tense) of God.
Pop Comm Bible Schaff
Joh_17:7. Now have they learned to know that all things whatsoever thou gavest me are from thee. These words do more than state that the disciples knew this fact. They include a far deeper meaning, intended to bring out more fully the position of the disciples as the representatives of Jesus. For what was it that He knew? What was the element of relation to the Father in which he lived? It was that all He had was from the Father; that all He was the reflex of the Father; that His words, His works, His whole activity, were the Father’s; that He came forth from the Father, and was sent by Him into the world (chaps. Joh_3:13, Joh_6:46, Joh_7:29, Joh_3:34, Joh_13:3). This was the consciousness which especially distinguished Him in the fulfilling of His mission; and now that consciousness has passed over into them.
8.And they have received them. He expresses the manner of this knowledge. It is, because they have received the doctrine which he taught them. But that no one may think that his doctrine is human or is earthly in its origin, he declares that God is the Author of it, when he says, The words which thou gavest me I have given to them. He speaks according to his ordinary custom, in the person of the Mediator or servant of God, when he says that he taught nothing but what he had received from the Father; for, since his own condition was still mean, while he was in the flesh, and since his Divine majesty was concealed under the form of a servant, under the person of the Father he simply means God. Yet we must hold by the statement which John made at the beginning of his Gospel, that, in so far as Christ was the Eternal Word of God, he was always one God with the Father. The meaning therefore is, that Christ was a faithful witness of God to the disciples, so that their faith was founded exclusively on the truth of God, since the Father himself spoke in the Son. The receiving, of which he speaks, arose from his having efficaciously manifested to them the name of his Father by the Holy Spirit.
And have known truly. He now repeats in other words what he had formerly mentioned; for that Christ came out from the Father, and was sent by him, has the same meaning with what went before, that all things which he has are from the Father. The meaning amounts to this, that faith ought to cast its eyes direct on Christ, yet so as to form no conception of him that is earthly or mean, but to be carried upwards to his Divine power, so as to believe firmly that he has perfectly in himself God, and all that belongs to God.
And have believed. Let it be observed, also, that in the former clause he employs the verb know and now he employs the verb believe; for thus he shows that nothing which relates to God can be known aright but by faith, but that in faith there is such certainty that it is justly called knowledge.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
8. the words] Or, the sayings (see on Joh_5:47). This is not the plural of ‘word’ (logos) in Joh_17:6; but the other noun (rhemata), the singular of which is not used by S. John. It means the separate utterances as distinct from the doctrine as a whole.
they have received … have known … have believed] Better, they received … recognised … believed. See on Joh_17:4.
came out from] Better, came forth from (see on Joh_16:28). They recognised that His mission was Divine: they believed that He was sent as the Messiah. They had proof of the first point; the second was a matter of faith.
Here the Divine Intercessor turns from himself, and from the approaching glory of his own mediatorial Person and position, to meditate, for the advantage of his disciples, on what had already been done for them, in them, to them. He clothes these meditations in the form of a direct address to the eternal God, and makes the series of facts on which he dwells the groundwork of the prayer which follows for his disciples, as representative of all who, like them, have come into relations with the Father through him. I manifested thy Name (ἐφανε ́ρωσα here corresponds to ἐδόξασα τελειώσας of Joh_17:4. The force of φανέροω is different from ἀποκα ́λυπτω or ἐμφα ́νιζω; see on Joh_14:21). “I poured light upon, and thus made appreciable, apprehensible, thy Name.” This Name was but partially and imperfectly understood before. The Name of God, the compendium of all his excellences, the essential features of his substantial Being which Christ has thus illuminated, is “the Father.” “Whatsoever is made manifest is light.” This light is the effulgence of the glory of the Father. By being and living on earth as Son of the Father, the Father was revealed. A full revelation of the Father involves and is involved in a manifestation of his own Sonship. The relation between the Father and the Son is one of infinite complacency and mutual affection, and the revelation of it demonstrates the fact of the eternal and essential love of the Divine Being. Thus the fact that “God is love” is manifested in the life of the Son of man, who was in himself a revelation of the Son—the Son of God. “I manifested thy Name,” said Jesus—showing that he regarded his work of self-manifestation and God-revelation as virtually complete—to the men whom thou gavest me (cf. here Joh_6:44 and Joh_10:29). The Father’s “giving” of the sons of men to Christ refers primarily to the men that were made susceptible of his special grace and revelations, who in seeing, saw, in hearing, heard, who, being drawn by inward monitions and Divine grace, and verily taught of God, came to Christ. Thus the Father gave them to Christ. The first monitions, susceptibilities of soul for Christ, which are found throughout the world and the Church, are God’s way of giving men to Christ. The supremacy and monergy of grace is involved in the whole of this representation. Out of the world. They were in the world, but have been drawn out of it by the re-relation of the Father. Thine they were, and thou gavest them me. So that the approach even to the Lord Jesus, the drawing to Christ and to the blessed revelation of the Father, was preceded by a previous condition—”Thine they were.” Before the process of giving and drawing was begun, there was a sense in which they bore this great designation. Their position as creatures, or as Israelites, or as believers in the Old Testament manifestation of the Name, seems to fall short of the solemn assertion, “Thine they were.” There were in every case spiritual predispositions. They were “of God” (Joh_8:47); “doers of the truth” (Joh_3:21); “willing to do the will of God” (Joh_7:17); they were of the truth (Joh_18:37; Joh_6:37, Joh_6:44). All these expressions reveal an extraordinary relation of human souls to the Father, which is presupposed, and precedes the power over them and advantage to them of the grace of Christ. This may throw light on the work of grace in pre-Christian and non-Christian times and places. Thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy Λόγον—the sum total of thy revelation or Word to them. They, these men, these special representative men, have been true to their light, and know of the doctrine whether it be of God. Their own quickened conscience has been strong enough to justify all my διδαχή, my ῥήματα, as Divine assurances. To Christ’s eyes they have already come out of their fiery trial faithful and true. Now, at this point in their training, they have known, by a strong experience, by tasting, handling, seeing, trusting, by vivid flashes of light, by keen, clear intuition of the reality, that all things whatsoever which thou hast given me, are from thee. There is no tautology here; the ὥσα are the truths, the fresh revelations, the glorious communion of the Son of man with the Father, which he made known to the disciples—truths which have a worldwide bearing, and also a direct bearing upon themselves—are from thee (παρὰ σοῦ, not παρὰ σοι). This obscure utterance, in its mystic vagueness, is clearly expounded in the next sentence, which is the echo of the grand assertion of Joh_16:30, which drew from the breaking heart its loud and sublime note of triumph. Because the words, the various sayings, utterances of Divine reality, which thou gavest to me, I have given to them. This blessed recital and exposition of his previous ministry is followed by the record of the effect, without which the whole Christian dispensation would that very night have come to an abrupt end. They believed that all Christ’s words, works, energies, revelations, warnings, promises, like Christ himself, came from the eternal Father, therefore represented the supreme reality, more certain than demonstration, more vivid than intuition. They have rendered invincible assent to them as the Divine, absolute, unchangeable, irrevocable, eternal truth. In this overwhelming and satisfying conviction was laid the foundation of the Church of Christ. And they received them. This was a direct consequence of the Divine giving and of the Divine drawing. And they came to know—discerned, i.e. by personal experience—and truly that I came out from thee, anti believed that thou didst send me. This knowledge and belief is the germ of the communication to others of the Divine manifestation; it is the Lord’s reward for all the toil and sacrifice and Divine humiliation of his earthly ministry (Joh_16:30). The incarnate Word is recognized as such, the only begotten Son of the Father is known to be the Brightness of his glory. We see in this great utterance the true origin of the evangelist’s own words (Joh_1:14-18; 1Jn_1:1-5). This thought of Christ’s has now become their voluntary, spontaneous, assured conviction. The inward reason corresponds with the objective facts.
20.And I ask not for these only. He now gives a wider range to his prayer, which hitherto had included the apostles alone; for he extends it to all the disciples of the Gospel, so long as there shall be any of them to the end of the world. This is assuredly a remarkable ground of confidence; for if we believe in Christ through the doctrine of the Gospel, we ought to entertain no doubt that we are already gathered with the apostles into his faithful protection, so that not one of us shall perish. This prayer of Christ is a safe harbour, and whoever retreats into it is safe from all danger of shipwreck; for it is as if Christ had solemnly sworn that he will devote his care and diligence to our salvation.
He began with his apostles, that their salvation, which we know to be certain, might make us more certain of our own salvation; and, therefore, whenever Satan attacks us, let us learn to meet him with this shield, that it is not to no purpose that the Son of God united us with the apostles, so that the salvation of all was bound up, as it were, in the same bundle. There is nothing, therefore that ought more powerfully to excite us to embrace the Gospel; for as it is an inestimable blessing that we are presented to God by the hand of Chrisb to be preserved from destruction, so we ought justly to love it, and to care for it above all things else. In this respect the madness of the world is monstrous. All desire salvation; Christ instructs us in a way of obtaining it, from which if any one turn aside, there remains for him no good hope; and yet scarcely one person in a hundred deigns to receive what was so graciously offered.
For those who shall believe on me, We must attend to this form of expression. Christ prays for all who shall believe in him. By these words he reminds us of what we have sometimes said already, that our faith ought to be directed to him. The clause which immediately follows, through their word, expresses admirably the power and nature of faith, and at the same time is a familiar confirmation to us who know that our faith is founded on the Gospel taught by the apostles. Let the world then condemn us a thousand times, this alone ought to satisfy us, that Christ acknowledges us to be his heritage and pleads with the Father for us.
But woe to the Papists, whose faith is so far removed from this rule, that they are not ashamed to vomit out this horrid blasphemy, that there is nothing in Scripture but what is ambiguous, and may be turned in a variety of ways. The tradition of the Church is therefore their only authoritative guide to what they shall believe. But let us remember that the Son of God, who alone is competent to judge, does not approve of any other faith than that which is drawn from the doctrine of the apostles, and sure information of that doctrine will be found no where else than in their writings.
We must also observe that form of expression, to believe through the word, which means that faith springs from hearing, because the outward preaching of men is the instrument by which God draws us to faith. It follows, that God is, strictly speaking, the Author of faith, and men are the ministers by whom we believe, as Paul teaches (1Co_3:5.)
Pop Comm Bible Schaff
Joh_17:20.But not concerning these only do I ask, but also concerning them which believe in me through their word. From the thought of the disciples whom He was sending forth to carry on His work, Jesus now turns, in the third and last section of His prayer, to the thought of all who through their word shall be brought to faith, to the thought of believers in every country and in every age. They are spoken of as those ‘which’ believe,—not indeed in actual fact, for none had as yet believed through the instrumentality of the disciples; but in idea they rise before the mind of Jesus,—His Church down to the very end of time. The ‘word’ spoken of is that of Joh_17:14, the special word which is the revelation of the Father, and which brings man to recognise the love of the Father as it appears in the Son, and in the Son to them.
21.That all may be one. He again lays down the end of our happiness as consisting in unity, and justly; for the ruin of the human race is, that, having been alienated from God, it is also broken and scattered in itself. The restoration of it, therefore, on the contrary, consists in its being properly united in one body, as Paul declares the perfection of the Church to consist in
believers being joined together in one spirit and says that apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors, were given, that they might edify and restore the body of Christ, till it came to the unity of faith; and therefore he exhorts believers to grow into Christ, who is the Head, from whom the whole body joined together, and connected by every bond of supply, according to the operation in the measure of every part, maketh increase of it to edifcation, (Eph_4:3.)
Wherefore, whenever Christ speaks about unity, let us remember how basely and shockingly, when separated from him, the world is scattered; and, next, let us learn that the commencement of a blessed life is, that we be all governed, and that we all live, by the Spirit of Christ alone.
Again, it ought to be understood, that, in every instance in which Christ declares, in this chapter, that he is one with the Father, he does not speak simply of his Divine essence, but that he is called one as regards his mediatorial office, and in so far as he is our Head. Many of the fathers, no doubt, interpreted these words as meaning, absolutely, that Christ is one with the Father, because he is the eternal God. But their dispute with the Arians led them to seize on detached passages, and to torture them out of their natural meaning, in order to employ them against their antagonists. Now, Christ’s design was widely different from that of raising our minds to a mere speculation about his hidden Divinity; for he reasons from the end, by showing that we ought to be one, otherwise the unity which he has with the Father would be fruitless and unavailing. To comprehend aright what was intended by saying, that Christ and the Father are one, we must take care not to deprive Christ of his office as Mediator, but must rather view him as he is the Head of the Church, and unite him with his members. Thus will the chain of thought be preserved, that, in order to prevent the unity of the Son with the Father from being fruitless and unavailing, the power of that unity must be diffused through the whole body of believers. Hence, too, we infer that we are one with the Son of God; not because he conveys his substance to us, but because, by the power of his Spirit, he imparts to us his life and all the blessings which he has received from the Father.
That the world may believe. Some explain the word world to mean the elect, who, at that time, were still dispersed; but since the word world, throughout the whole of this chapter, denotes the reprobate, I am more inclined to adopt a different opinion. It happens that, immediately afterwards, he draws a distinction between all his people and the same world which he now mentions.
The verb, to believe, has been inaccurately used by the Evangelist for the verb, to know; that is, when unbelievers, convinced by their own experienc, perceive the heavenly and Divine glory of Christ. The consequence is, that, believing, they do not believe, because this conviction does not penetrate into the inward feeling of the heart. And it is a just vengeance of God, that the splendor of Divine glory dazzles the eyes of the reprobate because they do not deserve to have a clear and pure view of it. He afterwards uses the verb, to know in the same sense.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
21. That they all may be one] This is the purpose rather than the purport of the prayer: Christ prays for blessings for His Church with this end in view,—that all may be one.
as] Or, even as. The unity of believers is like the unity of the Father with the Son (Joh_10:30), not a merely moral unity of disposition and purpose, but a vital unity, in which the members share the life of one and the same organism (see on Rom_12:4-5). A mere agreement in opinion and aim would not convince the world. See on Joh_17:11. Omit ‘art,’ which is an insertion of our translators.
may be one in us] The balance of authority is against ‘one,’ which may be an explanatory gloss. In Joh_6:56 and Joh_15:4-5 Christ’s followers are said to abide in Him: this is to abide in His Father also.
hast sent] Better, didst send (comp. Joh_17:18). The eternal unity of believers with one another will produce such external results (‘see how these Christians love one another’), that the world will be induced to believe. Christian unity and love (Mat_7:12; Luk_6:31; 1 Corinthians 13) is a moral miracle, a conquest of the resisting will of man, and therefore more convincing than a physical miracle, which is a conquest of unresisting nature. Hence the divisions and animosities of Christians are a perpetual stumbling-block to the world.
That they all may be one. My prayer is that the many may become one, form one living glorious unity;—every part of which spiritual organism, while living a separate and differentiated life, is yet a part of a whole. In the natural sphere, as the parts of a whole organism are mere and more developed, and increasingly resemble individualities in their separation, they are in the same proportion dependent on the whole for the life that is in them. Even in a highly organized community, as the separate individuals have more and more personal consciousness of special function, they become the more dependent on the whole, and in one sense lost in the unity to which they belong. The branches in the vine form together one vine; the members of a body, being many, are one body and members of one another. It is open to discussion whether the καθὼς clause, which here follows, characterizes the above statement, as Meyer and many others urge, or whether, with Godet, the sentence, “That they all may be one,” should not be taken as a general statement, to be followed by the καθὼς clause, which characterizes the following words. The first method is a more rational interpretation, nor does the sentence drag. According as thou, Father, (art) in me, and I (am) in thee; i.e. the relation between the Father and Son, the manner in which the Father lives in the Son, as in his organ or instrument of manifestation and object of supreme affection, and as the Son is in the Father, abiding ever in the light of his glory, in the power of his Name, and as these two are thus One in being, so, or similarly, the believers are to live in and for each other, becoming a unity, just as the Father and Son are unity. In order that they themselves also may be [one] in us. This ἵνα does not offer a parallel sentence in apposition with the former, nor is the “that” to be inverted, with Godet, who translates, “that according as thou.., they also may be one in us;” but it is the climax of the whole unifying process, after the likeness of the union between the Father and the Son, viz. that they themselves may be included in this unity. Though they are thus to be lost in God, yet they do not lose their own individuality. Nay, in proportion to their organic relation to the fullness of the Godhead and the completeness of their own spiritual fellowship with one another, will this personal consciousness of theirs become more and more pronounced. There is yet a further process contemplated, viz. in order that the world may believe (πιστεύῃ, as in the next verse; γινώσκῃ, in the present subjunctive, rather than the aorist) that thou didst send me. The spiritual life and unity of the Church will produce an impression on the world which now rejects the Christ and does not appreciate his Divine commission. The union which springs from the blended life of the various and even contradictory elements in the Church will prove the reality of its origin. The world will believe,—this is the final purpose of the intercession concerning the disciples; so though above he did not pray for the world as the then immediate object of his intercession, the poor world is in his heart, and the saving of the world the end of his incarnation. If the union between the Father and the Son is the sublime type of the union between those who shall believe, it is not the union of a great society in accordance with certain invincible rules of affiliation and government. The union between the Father and Son is not a visible manifestation, but a spiritual inference. The common indwelling in the Father and Son, the identity of the spiritual emotion and purpose in all who have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, will convince the world by producing a similar inference. Alford: “This unity is not mere outward uniformity, nor can such uniformity produce it. At the same time, its effects are to be real and visible, such that the world may see them.”
22.And I have given to them the glory which thou gavest to me. Let it be observed here, that, while a pattern of perfect happiness was exhibited in Christ, he had nothing that belonged peculiarly to himself, but rather was rich, in order to enrich those who believed in him. Our happiness lies in having the image of God restored and formed anew in us, which was defaced by sin. Christ is not only the lively image of God, in so far as he is the eternal Word of God. but even on his human nature, which he has in common with us, the likeness of the glory of the Father has been engraved, so as to form his members to the resemblance of it. Paul also teaches us this, that
we all, with unveiled face, by beholding THE GLORY OF GOD, are changed into the same image, (2Co_3:18.)
Hence it follows, that no one ought to be reckoned among the disciples of Christ, unless we perceive the glory of God impressed on him, as with a seal, by the likeness of Christ. To the same purpose are the words which immediately follow:
Our Lord now proceeds to record how he has already contributed to produce this result. I also—very emphatic—have given to them—that is, to my disciples—the glory which thou gavest me. Numerous interpretations of this “glory” have been suggested, as e.g., the glory into which he is about to enter in his glorified body; but the emphatic perfect δέδωκα, in connection with the ἐδωκα ́ς, viz.: “I have given and am now and still giving,” renders this improbable. Meyer, who does not accept Baumgarten-Crusius’s view that διδόναι here means “to destine,” yet comes very much to the same thought, and regards it as the heavenly glory of which he had eternal experience, and would ultimately share with his people. But the view variously set forth by Oldhausen, Hengstenberg, Maldonatus, Bengel, Tholuck, Moulton, and Godet appears to be in full harmony with the context, viz. the glory of the supernatural life of Divine Sonship and self-sacrificing love as of the very essence of God. This glory that he should taste death for every man, this glory of nature and character as the incarnate Head of a new humanity, I have given to them, in order that they may be one, living in and for each other, even as we are one. The contrast between his own relation to the Father and theirs is most wonderfully maintained. The union between the Father and Son is once more made the type, in his own unique consciousness, of the union among men who have received as his gift the eternal life and glory of a supernatural love. This is more evident from what follows.
23.I in them, and thou in me; for he intends to teach that in him dwells all fullness of blessings, and that what was concealed in God is now manifested in him, that he may impart it to his people, as the water, flowing from the fountain by various channels, waters the fields on all sides.
And hast loved them, He means that it is a very striking exhibition, and a very excellent pledge, of the love of God towards believers, which the world is compelled to feel, whether it will or not, when the Holy Spirit dwelling in them sends forth the rays of righteousness and holiness. There are innumerable other ways, indeed, in which God daily testifies his fatherly love towards us, but the mark of adoption is justly preferred to them all. He likewise adds,and hast loved them, As Thou Hast Loved Me. By these words he intended to point out the cause and origin of the love; for the particle as, means because, and the words, AS thou hast loved me, mean, Because thou hast loved me; for to Christ alone belongs the title of Well-beloved, (Mat_3:17.) Besides, that love which the heavenly Father bears towards the Head is extended to all the members, so that he loves none but in Christ.
Yet this gives rise to some appearance of contradiction; for Christ, as we have seen elsewhere declares that the unspeakable love of God towards the world was the reason why he gave his only-begotten Son, (Joh_3:16.) If the cause must go before the effect, we infer that God the Father loved men apart from Christ; that is, before he was appointed to be the Redeemer. I reply, in that, and similar passages, love denotes the mercy with which God was moved towards unworthy persons, and even towards his enemies, before he reconciled them to himselfi It is, indeed, a wonderful goodness of God, and inconceivable by the human mind, that, exercising benevolence towards men whom he could not but hate, he removed the cause of the hatred, that there might be no obstruction to his love. And, indeed, Paul informs us that there are two ways in which we are loved in Christ; first, because the Father chose us in him before the creation of the world, (Eph_1:4;)
and, secondly, because in Christ God hath reconciled us to himself, and hath showed that he is gracious to us, (Rom_5:10.) Thus we are at the same time the enemies and the friends of God, until, atonement having been made for our sins, we are restored to favor with God. But when we are justified by faith, it is then, properly, that we begin to be loved by God, as children by a father. That love by which Christ was appointed to be the person, in whom we should be fiercly chosen before we were born, and while we were still ruined in Adam, is hidden in the breast of God, and far exceeds the capacity of the human mind. True, no man will ever feel that God is gracious to him, unless he perceives that God is pacified in Christ. But as all relish for the love of God vanishes when Christ is taken away, so we may safely conclude that, since by faith we are ingrafted into his body, there is no danger of our falling from the love of God; for this foundation cannot be overturned, that we are loved, because the Father hath loved his Son.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
23. I in them, and thou in me] And therefore, ‘Thou in them and they in Thee.’
made perfect in one] Literally, perfected into one; i.e. completed and made one. In the unity the completeness consists. The expression ‘into one’ occurs elsewhere only Joh_11:52 (comp. 1Jn_5:8). For ‘perfected’ comp. 1Jn_2:5; 1Jn_4:12; 1Jn_4:17-18.
may know] Or, come to know, recognise (Joh_17:3) gradually and in time. This is the second effect of the unity of Christians, more perfect than the first. The first (Joh_17:21) was that the world is induced to believe that God sent Christ; the second is that the world comes to know that God sent Christ, and moreover that He loved the world even as He loved Christ. ‘Hast sent’ and ‘hast loved’ in both places are literally didst send and didst love; but in the case of the second of the two verbs the English perfect is perhaps the best representative of the Greek aorist. The second ‘Thou’ in the verse and the last ‘Me’ are emphatic.
I in them, and thou in me. He does not say, “Thou in them, as thou in me,” nor “They in thee, and I in thee;” but he includes in the ἡμει ͂ς of the previous verse, Ἐγὼ καὶ Συ ́, and distinctly regards himself as the mediating link of relation between the Father and the disciples. The Ἐγὼ is that of the Son of God, manifested in Christ’s consciousness of the God-man-hood; the Σύ is the eternal and non-incarnate God. God is in him, as he is in them. They are in him, as he is in the Father. That they may be perfected, completely realizing the end of their being and the meaning of the gift of eternal life, fully ripened in their graces until they reach up into one, into the fullness of the stature of the perfect Man, until they become the one new and immortal body of the living Christ, (εἰς ἓν indicates the sublime result so far as they are concerned). Each individual believer reaching the highest perfection of his being, as according to his own capacity and function he fills his place in the one living body of the Lord The end is not here, however, so far as others are concerned; for this unity, when consummated, is to bring about a yet further result on this earth, and in order that the world may come to know (γινώσκῃ.) that thou didst send me, and lovedst them as thou lovedst me. Our Lord has advanced upon the assertion of Joh_17:21,
(1) by discriminating between “believing” and “coming to know” by personal experiences, overwhelming conviction, and processes which lead to invincible assent. Faith in its highest form melts into knowledge, full assurance, complete certitude.
(2) There is superadded to the conviction concerning the Divine mission of the Christ yet another, viz. a conviction of the wonderful love which thou hast shown to them in thus lifting them out of the world into the unity of the spiritual life, into the fellowship of the Son of God. This has twofold bearing. So far as the world is concerned they will see that the love shown to the believers in Christ will be compatible with the same kind of treatment as Christ himself received, and so far as the Divine reality is concerned, it will be seen that they are so closely identified with Christ that the infinite love of God to Christ flows over in its Divine superabundance upon those who are gathered together into him. It is impossible to exclude from these verses the idea of the visibility of the union and life of the Church, and of the Divine love to it. Nothing is said or hinted, however, about the nature of that visibility. Christians are not, by reason of their differences, to exclude from this passage the promise that the whole assembly of the Firstborn would make this gracious and convincing impression on the world. They are far enough, in days of mutual recrimination, from realizing the Divine ideal, and should set themselves to remedy the crying evil; but they have no right to import into the words, by reason of their predilection for particular forms of Church organization, an identification of the body of Christ with any specific form. The spiritual union of Christendom in its one faith, hope, and character, is, notwithstanding the divergence of some of its forms of expression, the most stupendous fact in the history of the world. The elite of all Churches are drawing more and more into a visible unity.
24.Father, I will. To will is put for to desire; for it expresses not a command but a prayer. But it may be understood in two ways; either that he wills that the disciples may enjoy his eternal presence, or, that God may, at length, receive them into the heavenly kingdom, to which he goes before them.
That they may behold my glory. Some explain beholding his glory to mean, partaking of the glory which Christ has. Others explain it to be, to know by the experience of faith what Christ is, and how great is his majesty. For my own part, after carefully weighing the whole matter, I think that Christ speaks of the perfect happiness of believers, as if he had said, that his desire will not be satisfied till they have been received into heaven. In the same manner I explain the Beholding of the glory. At that time they saw the glory of Christ, just as a man shut up in the dark obtains, through small chinks, a feeble and glimmering light. Christ now wishes that they shall make such progress as to enjoy the full brightness of heaven. In short, he asks that the Father will conduct them, by uninterrupted progress, to the full vision of his glory.
For thou lovedst me. This also agrees better with the person of the Mediator than with Christ’s Divinity alone. It would be harsh to say that the Father loved his Wisdom; and though we were to admit it, the connection of the passage leads us to a different view. Christ, unquestionably, spoke as the Head of the Church, when he formerly prayed that the apostles might be united with him, and might behold the glory of his reign. He now says that the love of the Father is the cause of it; and, therefore, it follows that he was beloved, in so far as he was appointed to be the Redeemer of the world. With such a love did the Father love himbefore the creation of the world, that he might be the person in whom the Father would love his elect.
Now passing from this glorification of his people in the convictions and knowledge of the world, our Lord offers “as a Son to a Father,” and therefore with profound naturalness, the prayer of the incarnate Loges to the eternal Father, and therefore an address indubitably supernatural and lifted above all human consciousness. It is a prayer, too, which rises from the high and unique term ἐρωτῶ (one which he never puts into the lips of his disciples) to a yet higher one, θέλω, as one who speaks with ἐξουσία which God had given him over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to those whom God had given him. Θέλω means less than “I will,” and more than “I desire,” and is destitute of that element of “counsel” or deliberation that is involved in βουλόμαι. Very soon after this, when the full force of his human consciousness pressed upon him, he said (Mar_14:36), “Not what (ἐγὼ θέλω) I will, but what thou wiliest.” But here he is so conscious of the Father’s will concerning others that he cries, Father, as for them whom—or, as some ancient codices read, that £ which—thou hast given me, regarded as a mystic unity, as the Bride which he has redeemed, I will that they also be with me where I am. Κἀκεῖνοι resolves the ὅν into the elements of which it is composed. This is the first part of the final petition, and it embraces everything. “With Christ;” “Forever with the Lord;” in his glory and part of it, in the place which he is going to localize and prepare for them, is heaven. The glory which he had already given to his disciples (Joh_17:22) falls far short of this fellowship with him where his undimmed radiance shines, is only a preparation for sharing with him in his ultimate triumph over the world and death, and also for sitting down with him on his throne (Rev_3:21). In this world fellowship with him in his suffering humanity did not finally reveal the transcendent glory (though in Joh_1:14 the apostle says, “We beheld his glory,” etc.) of his Person. To realize this he prays, And that they may also behold the glory which is mine, which thou hast given me. The glory given cannot be the glory of the λόγος ἀσάρκος, according to Meyer, for that is not given, but belongs to him by eternal right; yet Meyer admits that the Father gave the Son to have life in himself; and that even the eternal Sonship itself may be regarded as the eternal bestowment of an infinite love. Seeing that the Lord goes on to give a reason of his θέλημα founded on an eternal or at least pre-mundane manifestation of a conscious love, surely he is thinking of the exaltation of humanity into the eternal glory, which he distinctly relinquished and veiled in the days of his flesh. That which they had hitherto seen they only partially apprehended, though he had even given it to them (Joh_17:22), and though they had been drawn out of the world to high places of transfiguration, that they might behold it and learn how it coexisted with and was compatible with a perfect resignation to the will of God in human redemption. Our Lord prays, nay, wills, that they should hereafter see it in its fullness of grace and beauty, see it when relieved from obstructive hindrances due to the flesh and to the world, see it on the grandest scale, see it as it really is, see the full capacity and infinite momentum of the glory which he had already bestowed upon them. For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. This, say Meyer and Luthardt, is given as a reason of the prayer for his disciples, not as an explanation of the glory which he had with the Father before the world was. It is often said that the exaltation of the Son of man is a reward for his self-humiliation, and the crown of his sacrificial death (Php_2:9; Rev_3:21; Heb_1:1, Heb_1:2), but these very passages couple that exaltation with the premundane glory of him who was, to begin with, and before his work of redemption, the “Effulgence of the Father’s glory,” who was “in the form of God,” and regarded the being equal with God as no ἁρπαγμός—not as a thing to be seized, prized, and held in its integrity. And in Heb_2:9, “He was by reason of his intended passion crowned with glory and honor, in order that he might taste death for every man.” So that the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and therefore before his incarnation, was that very glory of self-devoting and unutterable love into which he would come again with all the trophies of his redemptive work. The new and higher embodiment of his humanity would prove of such a kind that his essential glory would shine through it in undimmed luster. If this be the meaning, we cannot dilute this pregnant saying, one of the most mysterious of all his words, one which leads us up to the highest possible conception of the relations between the Father and the Son. The eternal love of which the Godhead itself is the SOURCE and the OBJECT is that to which we shall be introduced, and which our Lord would have us see and share (cf. 1Jn_3:1-3).
25.Righteous Father. He compares his disciples to the world, so as to describe more fully the approbation and favour which they had received from the Father; for it is proper that they who alone know God, whom the whole world rejects, should be distinguished above others, and most properly does Christ plead with peculiar warmth for those whom the unbelief of the world did not prevent from acknowledging God. By calling him Righteous Father, Christ defies the world and its malice; as if he had said, “However proudly the world may despise or reject God, still it takes nothing from him, and cannot hinder the honor of his righteousness from remaining unimpaired.” By these words he declares that the faith of the godly ought to be founded on God, in such a manner that, though the whole world should oppose, it would never fail; just as, in the present day, we must charge the Pope with injustice, in order that we may vindicate for God the praise which is due to him.
But I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. Christ does not merely say that God was known by the disciples, but mentions two steps; first, that he has known the Father; and, secondly, that the disciples have known that he was sent by the Father But as he adds immediately afterwards, that he has declared to them the name of the Father, he praises them, as I have said, for the knowledge of God, which separates them from the rest of the world. Yet we must attend to the order of faith, as it is here described. The Son came out of the bosom of the Father, and, properly speaking, he alone knows the Father; and, therefore, all who desire to approach God must betake themselves to Christ meeting them, and nmst devote themselves to him; and, after having been known by the disciples, he will, at length, raise them to God the Father.
The prayer is thus over, and once more the great High Priest and victim declares concerning himself some of the mysteries of his Person and of his relation with his disciples and with the world. O righteous Father (cf. Joh_17:1, Joh_17:5, Πάτερ simply; Joh_17:11, πάτερ ἃγιε; Joh_17:24, Πάτερ without any characterization). The righteousness of God is a more exalted perfection than his holiness, one that might seem more at variance with the exercise of his paternal compassion; yet this righteousness is conspicuously displayed in the redemptive love which Christ had thus manifested, and the beloved disciple (1Jn_1:9) declares that God is faithful and “righteous” in forgiving the repentant sinner. The blending of the idea of righteousness with Fatherhood is the sublime revelation made by the Lord Jesus, and he gathers the two ideas together into an indissoluble unity. Justice and mercy are seen by the whole work of the Son of God to have been the outflow and effulgence of the one all-comprehending and infinite love. The καὶ that here follows has created some difficulty, though some manuscripts emit it (D and vulgate), probably in consequence of its inappropriateness; but it is received on strong ancient authority. Meyer and Hengstenberg take it thus: Righteous Father (yea, such thou art), and (yet) the world knew thee not. But would our Lord have hesitated, as it were, to express this truth, without justifying it against the unbelief of the world? Moulton tries to explain the simple adversative force of the καὶ and δὲ by “both the world learned not to know thee, but I learned to know thee.” Godet has expressed the καὶ more effectively by translating, The world, it is true, knew thee not, but I knew thee. The Revised version has, with the Authorized version, simply omitted the καὶ. It is one of the most solemn of the Lord’s condemnations of the κόσμος. The Apostle Paul said (1Co_1:21), “The world through its wisdom knew not God;” and in Rom_1:18-23 he shows that this ignorance was willful and practical and without excuse. The history of the struggling of the world after God has shown how dense the human darkness is. There have been signs that men groped after the idea of a Father who should be blind to their faults and indifferent to their follies, and utter a righteous Lord who has exalted righteousness and hated iniquity; but it was left for Christ to blend these apparently discordant beams into the radiance of a perfect glory. How many illustrations do the sad and shameless perversions of human intelligence supply! But I knew thee, because of the eternity of that ineffable love wherewith thou hast loved me, and because of the depth of that righteous love which thou hast manifested to the world in sending me upon my mission. And these knew—came to know by personal intuition—that thou didst send me (cf. Joh_16:27, and Joh_16:8, Joh_16:23) on the mission of redeeming the world. They have learned that I have come with all thy authority and in all thy power; that I have come out from thee; that I entered into the world; that I have glorified thee among men; that my thoughts are thy thoughts, and my “words” (ῥημα ́τα) are thy (Loges) “Word;” that my works of love are the works of the Father; and that my promises are the manifestation of thy Name to the men whom thou hast given me.
Pop Comm Bible Schaff
Joh_17:25.Righteous Father, both the world learned not to know thee,—but I learned to know thee,—and these learned to know that thou didst send me. Not in the last clause of Joh_17:24, but now,we have the ground upon which Jesus prays that the ‘glory’ of which He has spoken may be conferred upon His people; and it connects itself not so much with the love as with the righteousness of God. It is just and right that those who have been prepared for the glory to be beheld should at last obtain it. Hence ‘Righteous’ (not as in Joh_17:11, ‘Holy’) ‘Father.’ For God as Father is not merely love, but love resting on perfect rectitude,—is One who will see that what befalls His creatures corresponds to what they are. The word ‘both’ here perplexes commentators, but is to be explained by what seems to be the usage of this Gospel (comp. chap. Joh_15:24), in which propositions subordinate to the principal statement are thus introduced; while, at the same time, like a dark background, they bring out the main thought with greater force. In the present instance this thought is contained in the last clause of the verse, and it is made more noteworthy by the fact stated in the first. The intermediate clause, again, ‘but I learned to know Thee,’ appears to be designed to lead us up to the main proposition following. It was because Jesus knew the Father that He had been able to communicate that knowledge to His people. Because they had received this knowledge, therefore, it was fitting that the love into which, along with the knowledge, they had entered, should bring to them its full reward, and should shine upon them as it shone upon the Son in whom they had renounced the world and the world’s ways. It may, indeed,at first sight startle us to find Jesus using such words of Himself as that He ‘learned to know’ the Father. But (1) it has to be borne in mindthat ‘learned to know’ is not in every respecta perfectly satisfactory translation of the original; it only approaches much more nearly to the truth than ‘knew.’ The proper meaning would be ‘got knowledge,’ or ‘came to know.’ (2) There is nothing more startling in the statement than in that of the Epistle to the Hebrews (chap. Joh_5:8), ‘Yet learned He obedience by the things whichHe suffered.’ There, indeed, we have anotherand a separateword for ‘learned;’ but a process, a progress, is also implied in the word of the verse before us. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of an experimental learning of obedience by One who was possessed of a truly human, as well as of a Divine nature,—not the will to obey becoming more perfect, but actual obedience being practically more and more learned in the varying duties and trials of life. So here, He who was human as well as Divine ‘learned,’ practically and experimentally, ‘to know’ the Father; and it was because He so learned that He was able to communicate that knowledge—His own knowledge—to His people. Knowledge such as that spoken of can be acquired by us in no other way; and we have repeatedly seen, in considering this prayer, that what Jesus bestows upon His disciples is first His own.
26.And I have declared to them thy name, and will declare it. Christ discharged the office of Teacher, but, in order to make known the Father, he employed the secret revelation of the Spirit, and not the sound of his voice alone. He means, therefore, that he taught the apostles efficaciously. Besides, their faith being at that time very weak, he promises greater progress for the future, and thus prepares them to expect more abundant grace of the Holy Spirit. Though he speaks of the apostles, we ought to draw from this a general exhortation, to study to make constant progress, and not to think that we have run so well that we have not still a long journey before us, so long as we are surrounded by the flesh.
That the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them; that is, that thou mayest love them in me, or, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be extended to them; for, strictly speaking, the love with which God loves us is no other than that with which he loved his Son from the beginning, so as to render us also acceptable to him, and capablc of being loved in Christ. And, indeed, as was said a little before, so far as relates to us, apart from Christ, we are hated by God, and he only begins to love us, when we are united to the body of his beloved Son. It is an invaluable privilege of faith, that we know that Christ was loved by the Father on our account, that we might be made partakers of the same love, and might enjoy it for ever.
And I in them. This clause deserves our attention, for it teaches us that the only way in which we are included in that love which he mentions is, that Christ dwells in us; for, as the Father cannot look upon his Son without having likewise before his eyes the whole body of Christ, so, if we wish to be beheld in him, we must be actually his members.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
26. have declared … will declare] Better, made known … will make known. The verb is cognate with that rendered ‘know’ in Joh_17:25, and here as there the aorist is used, not the perfect. Christ knows the Father and makes known His name, i.e. His attributes and will (see on Joh_1:12), to the disciples. This imparting of knowledge is already accomplished in part,—‘I made known’ (comp. Joh_15:15); but the knowledge and the love which imparts it being alike inexhaustible, there is room for perpetual instruction throughout all time, especially after the Paraclete has been given,—‘I will make known’ (comp. Joh_14:26, Joh_16:13).
wherewith thou hast loved me] In the Greek we have a double accusative, as in Eph_2:4. ‘Hast loved’ should be didst love (see on Joh_17:4): but possibly this is a case where the English present might be admitted as the best equivalent of the Greek aorist (see on Joh_15:8).
may be in them] May rule in their hearts as a guiding principle, without which they cannot receive the knowledge here promised; for ‘he that loveth not, knoweth not God’ (1Jn_4:8).
I in them] These last words of Christ’s Mediatorial Prayer sum up its purpose. They are the thread which runs through all these farewell discourses. He is going away, and yet abides with them. His bodily presence passes away, His spiritual presence remains for ever; not seen with the eye without, but felt as life and strength within. Having known Christ after the flesh, now they know Him so no more: they are in Christ, a new creation (2Co_5:16-17).
Since they have “learned that thou sourest me,” our Lord, to complete the awful monologue, adds, And I made known thy Name to them, pointing back to the ἐφανερωσάσου τὸ ὅνομα of Joh_17:6. “To make manifest” is not equal in potency with “to make known, to cause them to know;” there is more direct work done in them and to them in order to effect knowledge. Our Lord also declares that he has done this already, but his work of manifestation and teaching are not complete. There is more and more for these to learn. And (γνωρίσω) I will make them to know it. A promise of Divine expansion reaching onward and outward forevermore. By the power of his Spirit, by his return to them in his resurrection-life, by the ministry of the Paraclete, he would prolong and complete the convincing process. In order that the love wherewith thou hast loved me (notice the unusual expression, ἡ ἀγάπη ἣν ἠγαπησάς; and cf. Eph_2:4)—the eternal love of the Father to the well-beloved Son—the love which has flowed forth upon him as the perfect Son of man, and Representative of man, upon him who laid down his life that he might take it again (cf. Joh_10:17)—may be in them; may alight on them as knowing, receiving, loving me (cf. Joh_16:27, “The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me”). However much was involved in the utterance just quoted, in this closing utterance still more is conveyed. The waves on this boundless ocean of love pour in, one behind the other, each nobler and freighted with richer blessing than that which preceded; and the motive of this infinite fullness of eternal love being thus lavished upon them is added: I in them. On this profound suggestion he has already said much, but not until we reach these last words do they flash forth in all their mystic grandeur. His life will be so identified with their life, his abode so blended with their being, his life so repeated in their experience, his personality so much entwined and blended with theirs, that he in them, and because he is in them, prolongs and repeats himself as the Object of an eternal love. We see the same ideas in the Pauline teaching, and can only explain Gal_1:16; Gal_2:20; Gal_4:6; Rom_8:9, Rom_8:10, Rom_8:11; Eph_2:18; Eph_3:19; Col_2:7; Col_3:4, as echoes of the class of teaching which, long before John had recorded the prayer in this form, had yet become the seed and life-principle of the Church. This is not only true of the closing verses, but of the whole prayer and preceding discourse.