John Chapters 13 to 17, Part 8
by Karl Kemp
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We continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 13-17 here in Part 8, starting with John 17:6.
(6) I have manifested ["revealed/made known"] Your name [[The NIV translates, "I have revealed you." Compare John 1:18; Psalm 22:22 with Heb. 2:12. For Christ to reveal/make known the name of God the Father was for Him to reveal/make known the Father. God's name (taken in a full sense) includes who He is, what He is like, what He has done, and what He will do, especially dealing with His glorious plan of salvation and His judgment and removal of those who will not repent. God's name includes all that He has revealed about Himself, including His being Creator, Savior, and Judge. In verse 26 Jesus says, "I have made Your name known to them and will make it known...." Also see verses 8, 11, 12, 14.
We could not know God (cf., e.g., John 17:3; 1 John 5:20) if He had not revealed/made Himself known to us. Furthermore, we could not know Him in the full sense spoken of in John 17:3 without the work of the Holy Spirit. For one thing, the Spirit enables us to know God on an experiential level (person to Person) from the time we are born again by the Spirit. We will, of course, know God on a much deeper level after we are glorified (cf. 1 Cor. 13:9-12; 1 John 3:2; and Rev. 22:3-5).
The last words of this verse are, "and they have kept Your word." One primary way that Jesus revealed/made known the Father's name was by revealing/making known the Father's word (cf. John 3:34; 7:16; 12:49, 50; and 14:10, 24). Note that Jesus goes on in verse 8 to speak of the words the Father gave Him, which He had given to the disciples, who had received them, and that He mentions in verse 14 that He had given the Father's word to them. Jesus also revealed/made known the Father through being who He was and doing the things He did.]] to the men whom You gave Me out of the world [[Here "the men" seem to be limited to the apostles (those He was with at the Last Supper), but much that He says here and in the following verses would apply to all those who were faithful disciples at that time. Taken in the fullest sense, the people that the Father has given to the Son include all the elect, all whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life, all who will have a place in God's new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem (cf., e.g., John 17:2, 20-24; Rev. 21:27).]]; they were Yours [[For one thing, at least most of the eleven apostles had been true believers (people of God) under the old covenant; some of them had been disciples of John the Baptist (see John 1:35-51 [These verses are discussed in my paper on John 1:19-4:54, which is on this Christian article site.]).]] and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word [cf. John 8:51; 17:8]. (7) Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me ["Everything You have given Me" includes the word(s) the Father had given Christ Jesus (cf. 17:6, 8). Most of the Jews rejected Christ; they didn't believe that He had been sent by God (the Father).] is from You [cf. John 16:13-15; 17:10]; (8) for the words which You gave Me I have given to them [cf. John 12:47-50; 15:15; 17:6, 14]; and they received them [They received them (in faith), as being the words of God.] and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me [cf. John 16:27, 30]. (9) I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours [See under "to the men whom You gave Me out of the world" of verse 6. Christians live in the world, but they are not part of the kingdom of the world; they belong to the kingdom of God (cf. John 17:14-16; Phil. 3:20).]; (10) and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine [cf. John 16:15]; and I have been glorified in them. [The disciples had glorified Jesus by accepting Him and the words that He spoke, as being from God the Father.] (11) I am no longer in the world [Jesus was no longer in the world (no longer living in the world) from the time of His crucifixion. As we have discussed, Jesus didn't actually go back to the Father until His ascension, forty days after His resurrection.]; and yet they themselves are in the world [cf., e.g., John 15:18-16:4; 17:15], and I come to You [cf. John 13:1, 33; 14:2, 3, 28; 16:16, 17, 28; and 17:13, 24.]. Holy Father [[The word Holy is significant here. The holiness (set-apartness) of Christians results from their being set apart by God and for God, who is holy/set apart (cf., e.g., 1 Pet. 1:15, 16). They are set apart from everything that is unholy/sinful/unclean. The holiness/set-apartness of Christians in Christ Jesus (and of Christ Jesus Himself [cf. John 17:19]) is a dominant theme that permeates John 17:6-26. ((I had a footnote: I'll quote a paragraph from what D. A. Carson says here ("Gospel According to John" [Eerdmans, 1991], page 561). "Jesus' petitions for his disciples are prefaced by 'Holy Father'.... ... Not only does it preserve a view of God that combines awesome transcendence with familial intimacy...but, more importantly, it prepares the way for vv. 17-19 and the 'sanctification' or 'consecration' (the underlying Greek term means 'to make holy'...) of Jesus and of his disciples. The thought...is that the holiness of the Father establishes what it means for the Son and his followers to 'consecrate' themselves - the Johannine equivalent of 'I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy' (Lev. 11:44; cf. 1 Pet. 1:16; Matt. 5:48; Barrett, p. 507). The root of Jesus' 'holiness' and ours is tied up in our respective relationships with the holy Father." As Leviticus chapter 19, for example, shows, a big part of what it meant for God to say to His (old covenant) people, "You shall be holy [or, better, "Be holy"], for I the LORD [Yahweh] your God am holy" (Lev. 19:2) was that His people must submit to Him and His word and walk in line with His word, in righteousness and holiness - this was a great privilege, not a burden.))]], keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me [The Father gave His name to Jesus to reveal/make known to His disciples, even as He gave His word(s) to Him (cf. John 17:6, 8, 12, and 14).], that they may be one even as We are. [[In John 17:6 Jesus said that He manifested/revealed/made known the Father's name to the men the Father had given Him out of the world, and that they had kept the Father's word. See under 17:6-8. For the Father to keep Christians in His name is for Him to keep them set apart for Himself and faithful to Him and to His name/word(s). Christians cannot be one with God the Father, with God the Son, or with one another (cf. John 17:21-23; 13:34; 15:12, 17) unless they are faithful to God and His name/word(s), which includes believing His word(s) and living in line with His word(s) by His enabling grace through faith. In verse 12 Jesus goes on to say that He kept them faithful to the Father's name while He was with them. He had kept them faithful, but it is very clear that they very much needed to become recipients of new-covenant salvation, which includes the life-giving, sanctifying (making holy), strengthening, new-covenant work of the Spirit.
For Christians to be one with one another through being one with the Father and the Son by the Spirit (cf., e.g., John 14:21, 23; Gal. 3:28) even as the Father and Son are one is for them to be united in the highest possible sense. ((I had a footnote: It is important to see that Jesus was speaking here of a oneness/unity He had with God the Father at a time after He had become a man (the God-man). After He became a man (the God-man), we could identify with Him. We become united with Him through new-covenant salvation. We die (we die to sin, the old man, and to Satan) and we are buried with Him (cf. Rom. 6:2-4; Col. 2:12); we are raised with Him when we are born again (cf. Rom. 6:4-8; Eph. 2:5, 6; and Col. 2:12, 13); and we will be glorified with Him (cf. Rom. 8:17, 18, 29, 30). Essentially everything we receive in new-covenant salvation is something that the Lord Jesus Christ shares with us, including His relationship with the Father and holiness/sanctification. See John 17:19 ("For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth"); 1 Cor. 1:30, "... Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification [holiness], and redemption.")) Jesus goes on to speak of this spectacular, supernatural oneness/unity in verses 20-23, 26. In verses 15-19 He goes on to request the Father to keep His disciples from the evil one and all evil/sin and to sanctify them in the truth/in His word.
I'll quote part of a paragraph that D. A. Carson has under this verse ("Gospel According to John," pages 562, 563). "...Jesus prays that God will keep his followers in firm fidelity [faithful] to the revelation Jesus himself has mediated to them. The purpose of such faithful allegiance, Jesus avers, is that they may be one as we are one. ... They cannot be one as Jesus and the Father are one unless they are kept in God's name, i.e. in loyal allegiance to his gracious self-disclosure in the person of his Son. A similar pattern prevails in vv. 17-19: persistence in the truth is a prerequisite to participation in Jesus' sanctification [holiness]. ...."]] (12) While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me [See John 17:6, 8, 11.]; and I guarded them and not one of them perished [cf. John 6:39; 18:9] but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. [[See John 6:64, 70, 71; 13:10, 11, 18, 19, 21-31. Judas Iscariot was the "son of perdition" spoken of here. I'll quote John 13:18, "I do not speak of all of you. [Jesus was speaking of the twelve apostles, excluding Judas.] I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME' [quoting from Psalm 41:9]."
Acts 1:15-26 speak of the betrayal of Judas, of the fact that his betrayal was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and of the need to choose a person to replace his ministry as one of the twelve apostles. I'll quote Acts 1:16-20 (the apostle Peter is speaking): "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. (17) For he was counted among us [the twelve apostles] and received his share in this ministry. (18) (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. (19) And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood. [See Matt. 27:3-10 with Zech. 11:12, 13.]) (20) For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT' [Psalm 69:25]; and 'LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE' [Psalm 109:8]."
The words "son of perdition" are explained by the translation of the NIV, "the one doomed to destruction." The same Greek words are used of Antichrist in 2 Thess. 2:3.]] (13) But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. [["These things" probably include all that Jesus said to His apostles that last evening before His crucifixion. Compare John 15:11 (see under that verse); 16:22, 24. The apostles (and all Christians) will have the same joy that Christ had (through their union with Him by the indwelling Holy Spirit), abiding in the Father's love, if they, like Him, know the truth and walk in the truth, always living in the center of the will of God, which includes doing the things He calls and enables them to do and appropriating all the grace and blessings He makes available to them.]] (14) I have given them Your word [The disciples had submitted to God's word and kept His word (cf. John 17:6, 8, 12, 14).]; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world [cf. John 8:23; 17:16]. (15) I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. [[The KJV has, "from the evil"; the NASB; NKJV; and NIV have, "from the evil one" (the NASB: NKJV have "one" in italics, which I prefer; the NIV doesn't). It probably is better to translate "from the evil one" ((cf. 1 John 2:13, 14; 4:4; 5:4, 18, 19 [I had a footnote: The Greek behind "the evil one" here in John 17:15 is ambiguous in that it could be taken as masculine or neuter. If masculine it would be translated "the evil one"; if neuter, "the evil." In 1 John 2:13, 14; 5:18, however, the Greek behind "the evil one" is not ambiguous; it is clearly masculine. 1 John 2:12-14 are discussed at the end of this study of John chapter 17.])), but it is clear that Jesus included the idea that His disciples (all Christians]) be kept separate from doing evil/sinning. ((I had a footnote: Verses 20-26 confirm that these very important words of verses 13-19 (which are words that Jesus prayed) apply to all Christians, not just to the apostles. For one thing, we could not have the oneness/unity (with God [the triune God] and with other Christians) spoken of in verses 20-23 without the holiness/set-apartness prayed for in verses 15-19.)) If Christians are doing evil/sinning, they are yielding to the evil one and cooperating with him.
1 JOHN 5:18, 19 ARE AN IMPORTANT CROSS-REFERENCE. (The apostle John also wrote 1, 2, and 3 John and the book of Revelation.) We'll discuss these verses (covering several pages) before we go on to John 17:16. I'll quote these verses and make several comments in brackets. I'll put the words of these verses in capital letters to make them more obvious. "WE KNOW THAT NO ONE WHO IS BORN OF GOD SINS [[The NIV has, "...anyone born of God does not continue to sin"; the NKJV has, "...whoever is born of God does not sin." The Greek here is the equivalent of the Greek in 1 John 3:9: "No one who is born of God practices [is doing] sin..."; the NIV has, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin"; the NKJV has, "Whoever has been born of God does not sin...."
This epistle (1 John) is very strong on the fact that born-again Christians can and should walk with the victory over all sin (without sinning) - this is good news! (See the discussion of 1 John 1:5-2:6; 2:28-3:12 on pages 200-216 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.") But the apostle John also makes it clear in this epistle that born-again Christians can commit acts of sin and remain born-again Christians, in that restoration is available, when they repent, through their Advocate, Christ Jesus, on the basis of His atoning death (see 1 John 2:1, 2).
In 1 John 5:16, 17 (the verses just before the two verses we are discussing), John spoke of the possibility of born-again Christians committing a sin that does not lead to death and of committing a sin that does lead to death (spiritual/eternal death). See my paper, "Once Saved, Always Saved?" on this Christian article site. ((I had a footnote that goes on for two paragraphs: A good example of a sin that leads to death is close at hand. Throughout this epistle (1 John) John warned his readers that they must avoid the heresy of Gnosticism, a heresy that was attacking Christianity at that time. That heresy, for one thing, denied that sin is the problem and that the blood of Jesus Christ is the answer. (See my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin" for more details.) For born-again Christians to submit to the "gospel" of the Gnostics was for them to deny the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death and to commit a sin that leads to death (spiritual/eternal death). The fact that born-again Christians had committed a sin unto death didn't mean that there was no possibility for them to repent and be restored.
I would always encourage Christians who have turned their backs on God and gone off into sin (including the sin of accepting heresy) to repent and come back to God, whether they had fully lost their salvation, or not (I'll leave that detail with God). But it is very dangerous to go off into sin. It is dangerous to leave any room for sin; sin is nothing to play with. For one thing, sin distorts the thinking and sears the conscience and some get to a place where they have lost any openness to repentance.)) Now I'll continue quoting 1 John 5:18.]]; BUT HE WHO WAS BORN OF GOD KEEPS HIM [[I rather strongly prefer the NKJV translation for these words (the KJV is very similar to the NKJV), BUT HE WHO HAS BEEN BORN OF GOD KEEPS HIMSELF
((I had a lengthy (important) footnote that goes on for eight paragraphs: I wouldn't have any problem if the apostle John had said something like "God keeps him," or "the Son of God keeps him" (or the equivalent), but I believe it is extremely unlikely that John referred to Christ here with the words "He who was born of God." These words ("he who was born of God") perfectly fit born-again Christians, and I believe that John was referring to born-again Christians here. (And if we haven't been born again by the indwelling Holy Spirit we aren't true Christians according to the New Testament.) John emphasizes throughout this epistle that true Christians are born-again children of God, and he spoke of them as those who have been born of God earlier in this verse.
Significantly, the fact that they have been born of God (born again/born from above) enables them to keep themselves set apart from the evil one and evil/sin. Christians keep themselves by the grace of God in Christ through faith, and God must receive all the glory. I'll quote three sentences from what Stephen S. Smalley says here ("1, 2, 3 John" [Word, Incorporated, 1984], pages 302, 303). "The identity of 'the one who derives from [is born of] God' is not immediately clear. Some scholars insist that the reference is to the believer, rather than to Jesus, on the grounds that...[the aorist participle with the article that is translated "He [he] who was born of God" by the NASB] is a unique description of Jesus in the NT, and surprising in this context (why not 'Son of God,' as in verse 20?). So Law, "Tests," 408-409; Schnackenburg, 280, 281...."
The viewpoint reflected in the translation of the NASB, that John was speaking here of Christ's keeping Christians, is the most common viewpoint. I believe this is another place (of many places) where the majority is wrong, but it is clearly Biblical to speak of Christ's (or God the Father's) keeping Christians from sin and Satan (cf. John 17:11, 12, 15).
Some Greek manuscripts have "auton," which is translated "him" here; other Greek manuscripts have "heauton," which is translated "himself." As I mentioned, I rather strongly prefer the translation "himself." The editors of the United Bible Societies' "Greek New Testament" (Fourth Revised Edition, 1983) prefer "auton" with a B rating, which means (from their point of view) that that reading "is almost certain." In the 3rd edition (1975) of this "Greek New Testament," however, the editors preferred "auton" with a C rating, which meant (from their point of view) that "there is a considerable degree of doubt whether...[the reading ("auton" or "heauton")] is the superior reading."
The Greek behind "one who is born of God" earlier in this verse [1 John 5:18] has the same five words as the Greek behind "he/He who has been born of God" here except for the fact that John switched from the perfect tense for the participle to the aorist tense. I don't believe he intended any substantial difference in meaning by switching tenses here. Either tense is fully appropriate for born-again Christians. John probably switched tenses for sake of variety.
It is significant that the way these words ("He [he] who was born of God") are used here in 1 John 5:18 don't fit Christ well at all. He wasn't born of God in any sense comparable to our being born again. He always existed with the Father as the Son of God, and after He became the God-man through the virgin birth He never sinned or needed to be born again. (See my paper "Did Jesus Die Spiritually?" on my internet site.) Jesus was the firstborn of/from the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5), referring to His resurrection and birth into the fullness of eternal life, but it would have been quite confusing for John to refer to that birth here, or to refer to the virgin birth of the eternal Son of God.
Most commentators who opt for the viewpoint that these words ("He [he] who was born of God") refer to Christ here don't get into the details regarding in what sense He was born of God, but I noticed that a few commentators take the viewpoint that John was speaking of an eternal begetting/generation of the Son here. I don't believe the Bible teaches an eternal begetting/generation of God the Son. I agree with the widespread viewpoint that John 1:14; 3:16, 18; and 1 John 4:9; cf. John 1:18 should not be translated with the words "ONLY BEGOTTEN Son." They should be translated "UNIQUE Son," or the equivalent. For one thing, I have learned from experience that some wrongly think that the words "only begotten" include the idea that there was a time when God the Son did not exist. (See the discussion under John 1:14 in my paper on John 1:1-18 on my internet site; that paper will probably be on this Christian article site in the near future.)
Those Christian scholars who have spoken/speak of the eternal begetting/generation of Son agree that the Son always existed with God the Father and the Spirit. To speak of an eternal begetting/generation of the Son doesn't really add any helpful biblical information about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. God hasn't revealed those details to us, and it would probably be beyond our ability to understand at our present level of existence. It is sufficient, it seems to me, to affirm the full deity of God the Son, which includes His eternal existence, without getting into details that apparently haven't been revealed.
It is important to see the Son of God is the UNIQUE SON of God. The angels are called sons of God, as are born-again Christians, but God the Son certainly is the UNIQUE SON. For more on God the Father and God the Son see my papers "Who Do We Worship?"; "Who Do We Pray To?"; "More on the Trinity"; and "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son" on this Christian article site. I believe in the Trinity, but these papers deal mostly with God the Father and God the Son. This is the end of the footnote.))
It is appropriate and biblical to speak of Christians keeping themselves from evil (sin) and the evil one. In 1 John 5:21 the apostle John concludes this epistle with the words, "Little children [John is speaking to all the Christians (cf. 1 John 2:1).], guard yourselves from idols." "Guard yourselves from idols" is comparable in meaning with "keep yourselves from idols." Christians purify themselves, just as God is pure (1 John 3:3); they cleanse themselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1); they do not give the devil a place in them (Eph. 4:27); they are required to walk by the Spirit on a continuous basis and not do the sinful works of the flesh (Gal. 5:16); they have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24); they keep themselves free from sin (1 Tim. 5:22); they keep themselves unstained from the world (James 1:27); they keep themselves in the love of God by continuing to believe the truth and to live the truth of the gospel of the new covenant by grace through faith (Jude 1:21); they submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9); they walk in the light, which includes walking in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God (1 John 1:7); they keep the commandments (1 John 2:3-6); they do righteousness, just as God is righteous (1 John 3:7); and there are many more such verses (cf., e.g., Rom. 6:11-18; 1 John 2:13, 14 [I John 2:12-14 are discussed at the end of this study of John chapter 17.]).
Of course there is no idea of Christians keeping themselves from the evil one and evil/sin (or doing anything else that is good) by their own righteousness, strength, etc. They are able to keep themselves from sinning/doing evil and from being touched by the evil one by God's grace/indwelling Spirit through faith BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN BORN OF GOD (as 1 John 5:18 says) through the saving grace of God in Christ. I quoted the first part of 1 John 3:9 above. I'll quote the entire verse from the NIV, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN BORN OF GOD [my emphasis]." The apostle John makes it clear that it is the "seed" of God, which undoubtedly refers to the Holy Spirit who indwells Christians from the time of the new birth, that enables them to have the victory over the evil one and evil/sin.
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 13-17 in Part 9. We are in the middle of a discussion of 1 John 5:18, 19, verses that help us understand the meaning of the words, "but to keep them from the evil one" of John 17:15.
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