John Chapters 13 to 17, Part 9
by Karl Kemp
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We continue the verse-by-verse study of John chapters 13-17 here 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.
1 John 4:4 and 5:4 are quite relevant here; I'll quote these verses. "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them ["Them" refers to the false prophets who are motivated by the evil spirits of Satan's kingdom (see 1 John 4:1-6).] because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world [the evil one and his evil spirits]." "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world - our faith."
Now I'll continue to quote from 1 John 5:18. (We are still under John 17:15.)]], AND THE EVIL ONE [[Whereas the Greek behind "the evil one" is ambiguous in John 17:15 in that it could be masculine ("the evil one") or neuter ("the evil"), the Greek behind "the evil one" here in 1 John 5:18 (and in 1 John 2:13, 14) is masculine and clearly refers to Satan.]] DOES NOT TOUCH HIM. [[The idea here is that the evil one cannot touch the Christian who keeps himself faithful to God and the new-covenant (by God's grace/His indwelling Spirit through faith) because Satan has no place in him; he has no authority or ability to work in or through him (cf., e.g., John 14:30; Eph. 4:27). The devil will work in and through born-again Christians if they permit him to. It is relevant that the sins of people can be called "works of the devil" (see the discussion on 1 John 3:5, 8 on pages 210-213 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin"); the devil works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2; 1 John 4:4). ((I had a footnote: On people being children of the devil and doing the works of the devil, see under John 8:39-47 in my paper on John chapters 5-8 that is on my internet site and should be on this Christian article site in the near future.)) (This doesn't mean, of course, that people are not responsible for their sins.) It is also true that the righteous lives and works of born-again Christians can be called the work of God in that He works in and through them (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 12:6; Gal. 2:8; 5:16, 22, 23; Eph. 2:10; 3:20; Phil 1:6; 2:12, 13; Col. 1:29; and 1 Thess. 2:13). Now 1 John 5:19:]] (19) WE KNOW THAT WE ARE OF GOD, AND THAT THE WHOLE WORLD LIES IN THE POWER OF THE EVIL ONE. " [[We are of God in that we have become His born-again, set apart/holy children. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one, but we are not part of the world, and the evil one is not supposed to have any place in us. If we KEEP OURSELVES (John 5:18) by the saving grace of God in Christ, which includes resisting the evil one, he cannot touch us (see under 1 John 5:18).]]
The Bible makes it quite clear that we couldn't be righteous and holy (which includes our being kept from doing evil/sinning) and kept from the evil one apart from the sufficient grace of God in Christ; these things come 100 percent by grace, and God must receive all the glory. But the Bible also makes it quite clear that we must do the things God requires of us (by grace, through faith, in accordance with His word), or we won't be righteous and holy and kept from the evil one. We must receive, submit to, understand, and continue in God's word by faith (cf., e.g., John 8:31-35); we must walk in the righteousness and holiness that God makes available through walking in accordance with His word and in/by/after His Spirit on a continuous basis by faith; and we must resist Satan and temptation. Our appropriating and cooperating with God's saving grace by faith is far from being automatic.
Jesus' request in John 17:11 that the Father keep the disciples in His (the Father's) name included His keeping them from the evil one and from doing evil/sinning. Also, Christians being sanctified (made holy) in the truth (John 17:17) includes their being kept from the evil one and from doing evil/sinning. They are set apart for God, His truth, His Word, and His righteousness and set apart from the evil one and from doing evil/sinning. Being kept from the evil one does not mean, of course, that he cannot tempt Christians or persecute them in various ways, but God limits what he can do (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 10:13). Now we'll go on to John 17:16:]] (16) They are not of the world [cf. John 17:6, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15], even as I am not of the world. [The ruler/god of the evil/sinful world is the devil (cf. John 8:23; 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 17:14; 2 Cor. 4:4).] (17) Sanctify them [make them holy; set them apart] in the truth; Your word is truth. [[God sets us apart in His word/truth; He sets us apart for Himself. He sanctifies us (cf. 1 Thess. 5:23), but as we discussed under verse 15, we are not sanctified (made holy/set apart), or kept sanctified, apart from our submitting to His word and cooperating with His saving grace on a continuous basis by faith. By His grace through faith we live in line with His word/truth, which includes living in His righteousness and holiness. In Eph. 4:24 the apostle Paul speaks of Christians putting on the new man (by faith), which includes living/walking "in [the] righteousness and holiness of the truth."
This prayer of Jesus couldn't be answered in any full sense until He had overthrown sin, Satan, and spiritual death through His atoning death and ratified the new covenant in His blood (see verse 19), and until He had given His disciples the promised Spirit, the life-giving, sanctifying (making holy), strengthening, anointing, gift-dispensing Spirit.]] (18) As You sent Me into the world [cf. John 3:17; 17:3, 8, 21, 23, 25], I also have sent them into the world. [The apostles (and to some extent all Christians) were sent into the world to share the gospel and invite the people of the world to repent and forsake the kingdom of this world and become part of the kingdom of God through faith in Christ (cf., e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:21-23; and Acts 1:8).] (19) For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. [[See under verses 15, 17. Jesus was always set apart/sanctified to God the Father and His word and will. He was fully committed to God's word, which is truth (cf. verse 17). This included His living a perfectly righteous and holy life and His perfectly accomplishing all the work the Father had given Him to do (cf. verse 4). Satan had nothing in Jesus (John 14:30). (I had a footnote: As I mentioned, Christians are not supposed to leave any room/place for Satan in them either, "do not give the devil a place" [Eph. 4:27; cf., e.g., 1 John 2:13, 14; 5:18].)
As we discussed under verse 4, Jesus' greatest work involved His atoning death on the cross. We could not have been sanctified/made holy - we could not have partaken of new-covenant salvation, which includes being sanctified/made holy and accomplishing God's will for our lives - if Christ had not sanctified Himself. Many verses demonstrate that our sanctification/holiness (like every other aspect of our full salvation) comes through the atoning death of the Lamb of God (cf., e.g., Isaiah 52:11-53:12; Rom. 6:1-23; 8:1-16; Titus 2:14; Heb. 10:10, 14, 29; 13:12; 1 Pet. 2:24; and 1 John 1:7). Furthermore, Jesus could not have shared His holiness with us if He had not been holy.
The Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; and 16:13) sanctifies us in the truth. (As I mentioned, Eph. 4:24 speaks of the "righteousness and holiness of the truth.") He enables us to understand and to live in line with the truth, to be doers of the truth. I'll quote 2 Thess. 2:13, "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through SANCTIFICATION [HOLINESS] BY THE SPIRIT and FAITH IN THE TRUTH [my emphasis]." We must respond to God's new-covenant call to salvation in Christ with (repentance and) faith and cooperate with His saving grace on a continuous basis by faith."]] (20) I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word [I'm very thankful to be included in this prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ.]; (21) that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in you [cf. John 10:38; 14:10, 20; and 17:11, 22, 23], that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me [cf. John 3:17; 17:3, 8, 18, 23, 25]. [[Jesus concluded verse 11 with the words "that they may be one even as We are." Here in verses 21-26, as in verse 11, the extremely high level of unity between all true Christians that Jesus prayed for was to flow from the high level of unity that Christians are enabled to have with God (the triune God). Talk about a high level of unity - Jesus prayed (in verse 11 and in verses 21-23) that Christians would have the same unity that exists between the Father and the Son. Jesus shares with each Christian (at least He wants to share with each Christian; it is available to us) the love relationship that He has with God the Father.
The primary factor that enables this extremely high level of unity is the great love the Father has for His unique Son and the Son for the Father. Jesus even makes the remarkable, super-glorious statement (in verse 23) that the Father loves Christians as He loves His unique Son. I'm quite sure that most of us couldn't believe that these words are true if they were not in the Bible.
What a spectacular high calling and privilege to be called to a relationship with God the Father like the relationship that Jesus Christ has with the Father. God's salvation plans include Jesus' sharing the relationship He has with the Father with us. He is not ashamed to call us brethren (Heb. 2:11; cf., e.g., Rom. 8:28-30).
Christians being one with one another is an obvious supernatural work of God that will get the attention of the world and help many people of the world to check out Christianity and the God of the Bible. It is also obvious that most Christians of our generation (and most other generations) have not manifested a high level of unity. To the extent we do not submit to God and walk in His will/truth (His will/truth is expressed in His word), which includes walking in/by/after His Spirit on a continuous basis by faith, we will not adequately manifest God's love, unity, righteousness, holiness, etc. God's will isn't manifested in us to the extent we live in the flesh and are worldly. It's a serious problem for Christians to live outside the will of God in any area.
I'll quote a few sentences from what R. C. H. Lenski says here ("Interpretation of St. John's Gospel" [Augsburg Publishing House, 1943], pages 1157, 1158). "We are as much one with each other and with God and with Christ as we believe, teach, live, and confess all that is contained in the Word. Every deviation in doctrine, life, and practice from the Word mars and disrupts our oneness and hinders the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer. Those rend the church who deviate from any part of the Word, also those who demand things other than the Word demands. Those permit Jesus' prayer to be fulfilled in them who bring every thought and every act of theirs into subjection to the Word. ...."]] (22) The glory which You have given Me [[Apparently Jesus was speaking here of the glory He was about to receive when He would be glorified by the Father (the glorification Jesus spoke of in John 17:1, 5, and 24) after His all-important crucifixion/atoning death. (See under John 13:31, 32.) It is necessary to see that Jesus' glorification builds on the fact that He (God the Son) had lived in a state of glory with the Father (e.g., John 17:5) before He condescended to become a man (the God-man) and that He had always been loved by the Father.]] I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one [[Jesus could not share the fruit of His glorification with His disciples until after He had been glorified. Most aspects of the glory Christ gives us will not be available until we are glorified at the end of this age (e.g., Rom. 8:17, 18; Col. 1:5, 27), until we are with Him in eternal glory (cf. John 17:24). Although the New Testament typically speaks of our glorification as being still future, there can be no doubting the fact that Christians being one with God the Father and with one another (by the Spirit) as the Father and Son are one, which we are supposed to manifest now, is a glorious thing indeed. So too, things like our being born again by the Spirit and having the fruit and gifts of the Spirit (love is the first fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Gal. 5:22, 23), our being enabled to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God, and our knowing God's plans for the future and our place in them are quite glorious indeed.]]; (23) I in them [Christ in us and us in Him] and You in Me [Compare John 10:38; 14:10, 20; and 17:21. These glorious words make it clear that the unity of Christians flows from the relationship we have with God the Father and God the Son (by the indwelling Spirit), which is modeled after the relationship that God the Son has with God the Father.], that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me [[See John 17:21; 13:35. The unity of Christians (which includes Christians loving one another in a supernatural way, by the Spirit) is a powerful witness to the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is who the Bible says He is and that new-covenant salvation (in union with Christ) is real/truth. We must understand though that there can be no true unity in Christ if we are not united on the foundational doctrines of Christianity (the truth of God's Word) and if we are not living in line with the covenant that we have with God. We are set apart for the word/truth of God (cf., e.g., John 17:6, 8, 11, 14-17). There is no true Christianity apart from faith in God (the triune God) and in the word of God (especially faith in the gospel of the new covenant), and if we have faith in the gospel, we will live the gospel (by God's enabling grace).]], and loved them, even as You have loved Me. [Compare John 14:21, 23; 16:27. These words are spectacular! If they weren't in the Bible, we couldn't accept them. I don't believe that many of us are walking in and experiencing anything close to what Jesus prayed here.] (24) Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me [cf. John 17:2], be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me [[This request will not be answered until Jesus comes back to take us to eternal glory (cf., e.g., John 13:36; 14:2, 3). But we can undoubtedly speak of a partial, preliminary fulfillment when Christians die and go to be with Christ (and God the Father) in the years before the resurrection, rapture, and glorification (cf. 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21, 23; and 1 Thess. 4:14).]], for You loved Me before the foundation of the world [cf. John 1:1-3; 17:5]. (25) O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; (26) and I have made Your name known to them [[See John 17:6, 8, 11, 12. We couldn't have come to know God (which includes knowing about Him, what He is like, what He has done and what He will do, and it includes knowing Him experientially, person to Person) if He had not revealed Himself to us through His Name, Word, Son, and Spirit.]], and will make it known [Jesus revealed the Father's name in more fullness after His resurrection and after His ascension, by the Spirit (cf., e.g., John 14:25, 26; 16:12-15).], so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them [[The love of the Father for the Son being in Christians speaks of our being loved by the Father as Christ is loved by the Father. Jesus shares this love of the Father for Him with us. The idea is probably also included here (it's clear that the idea is included and emphasized in John 17:11-26) that when Christians are experiencing the Father's love they are enabled (and required) to love God and one another (by the Spirit).
Romans 5:5 is an important cross-reference. (Romans chapter 5 is discussed verse-by-verse on pages 89-96 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.") "and hope does not disappoint [[The Christian's "hope" of eternal glory will not be disappointed. (The apostle Paul is assuming that the Christians are being faithful to God in accordance with the new covenant, by grace through faith.) God's word is true, and we will, therefore, inherit eternal glory at the end of this age, as He said we will.]], because the love of God had been poured out within ["into" NIV] our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." [Paul's primary point here is that we can know with certainty that God will glorify us (as individuals) and take us to a state of eternal glory at the end of this age (like He said He will) because He demonstrates His love for us, as individuals, by pouring out (cf. Acts 2:17, 33; 10:45) of His heart into our hearts the abiding love gift of the Holy Spirit. (If God says something is true, IT IS TRUE! But we need to have it confirmed to us, as individuals, that we are included as part of His people; God gives us that confirmation (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:15, 16). The emphasis here is on God's love for us as individuals (see Rom. 5:6-8). The indwelling Spirit enables us to know and experience God's love for us, but it is also true, and quite important, that the indwelling Spirit enables us to love God and to love one another in the body of Christ with the love of God.)]], and I in them.' " [John 14:23 speaks of the Father and Son making their abode with faithful believers (those who love God and keep His word) now, during this present age.]
That concludes the verse-by-verse study of John chapters 13-17, but (as I mentioned) I am including a verse-by-verse study of 1 John 2:12-14 at the end of this study. That study is in Part 10.
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