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The New Testament Commentary Vol Iii John by B.W. Johnson

The Lord's Prayer.

This prayer, so solemn and so tender, would never have been recorded had it not been intended for our study and profit, but I approach it with a feeling that it is almost too sacred for the usual verbal and textual criticism. It is the overflow of the full soul of the Lord in devotion to the Father, a fitting close to the wonderful discourses beginning in chapter 13; offered, standing, in the Upper Room, just before the Lord led his disciples out into the moonlit night, on the way to Gethsemane. This is the real Lord's Prayer of the sacred word; the prayer of Matt.6:9-13, is the disciples' prayer, taught to them by the Lord. In order to drink in its spirit, the student must realize that the Lord stands at the foot of the cross, is about to suffer, and before the separation from his disciples and the agony and shame of the cross, he goes to the Father in their behalf and in his own.

Dr. Wm. Milligan, of Aberdeen, outlines this remarkable prayer as follows: |The chapter on which we now enter contains what is generally known as our Lord's High-priestly Prayer. Such a name is appropriately given it; partly, because it is the longest and most solemn utterance recorded of the intercessions with which Jesus approached the throne of his heavenly Father on his people's behalf; partly, because he was at this moment standing on the threshold of his especial work as their great High Priest. No attempt to describe the prayer can give a just idea of its sublimity, its pathos, its touching yet exalted character, its tone at once of tenderness and triumphant expectation. We are apt to read it as if it were full of sorrow; but that is only our own feeling reflected back upon what we suppose to have been the feelings of the Man of Sorrows. In the prayer itself sorrow has no place; and to think that it was uttered in a tone of sadness is to entirely mistake what must have been the spirit of Jesus at the time. It speaks throughout of work accomplished, of victory gained, of the immediate expectation of glorious reward. It tells, not of sorrow, but of 'joy,' joy now possessing his own soul, and about to be 'fulfilled' in his disciples (verse 13). It anticipates with perfect confidence the realization of the grand object of his coming, -- the salvation of all that have been given him (verse 12), their union to himself and the Father (verse 21), their security amid the evils of this world while they execute in it a mission similar to his (verses 11, 15, 18,) and, finally, their glorification with his own glory (verse 24). . . . The prayer naturally divides itself into three parts; in the first of which Jesus prays for himself, in the second for his immediate disciples, and in the third for all who, in every age, shall believe in him. But the three parts are pervaded by one thought -- the glorification of the Father in those successively prayed for, the accomplishment in each of the Father's purpose, and the union of a in the perfect, the spiritual, the eternal bond of love.|

|Here is holy ground; here is the gate of heaven. No such prayer was ever heard before or since. It could only be uttered by the Lord and Savior of men, the mighty Intercessor and Mediator, standing between heaven and earth before his wondering disciples. Even be could pray it only once, in the most momentous crisis of history, in full view of the approaching sacrifice for the sins of the world, which occurred only once, though its effect vibrates through the ages. It is not so much the petition of an inferior suppliant, as the dialogue of an equal, and a solemn declaration of his will and mission. He intercedes with the eternal Jehovah as the partner of his counsel, as the executor of his will of saving mercy. He looks back on his pre-mundane glory with God, and forward to the resumption of that glory, and comprehends all his present and future disciples in unbroken succession as a holy and blessed brotherhood in vital union with himself and his Father.| -- Schaff. (Joh 17:1)

1. Father, the hour is come. After the discourses were ended, he |lifted up his eyes,| the very attitude being stamped on the memory of John, and began his prayer. |The hour| of the great sacrifice, of the tragedy of the cross, the hour for which Christ came into the world had now come; in this hour he needs the Father's presence. Glorify thy Son. He was about to stoop to shame. It was an unutterable humiliation for the Son to die as a malefactor. He prays that God may lift him from this humiliation to his former glory, that he may glorify the Father. Had he been left in the tomb, the shame would have been complete. Christ not only prays that he shall be |lifted up,| but that he may so |drink the cup| that the cross itself shall be a glory. The glorification of the Son in his resurrection and exaltation demonstrates the glory of his self-sacrifice and humiliation. (Joh 17:2)

2. As thou hast given him power over all flesh. This shows how the Son is to be glorified. It is by |giving him all power in heaven and earth,| and |committing all things| to him, raising him from the dead so that |he should give eternal life.| (Joh 17:3)

3. This is life eternal, that they might know thee, etc. The knowledge of God as manifested in Jesus Christ is the first requisite to salvation and life eternal. When there is full knowledge, a recognition by the heart as well as the intellect, of God in Christ, then comes submission and eternal life. Man cannot know Christ by the intellect alone. That knowledge requires faith and love. Not God alone must be known, but Christ also, for he |is the way, the truth, and the life.| (Joh 17:4)

4. I have glorified thee on the earth. He had done this because he could say, |I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do.| In a few hours he would cry from the cross, |It is finished.| (Joh 17:5)

5. And now, O Father, glorify me, etc. In this prayer the word Father occurs six times. Jesus never says, |Our Father,| as he teaches us to pray, nor |My Father,| which would separate him from us, but |Father.| He repeats the requests to be glorified and explains what he means. He asks a restoration of his former glory, that he had before he took on himself human form. (Joh 17:6)

6. I have manifested thy name to the men which thou gavest me, etc. In the first five verses he had prayed for himself. Now he prays for his disciples. The apostles are especially meant. To them he had |manifested the name by revealing the Father in himself and showing God's matchless love. (Joh 17:7)

7. That all things . . . given me are of thee. The Lord had taught with great emphasis that he and the Father were one, and that his words and works were of the Father. This the apostles were now learning. As all was of God it would stand firm and eternal, in spite of the cross. (Joh 17:8)

8. They have believed that thou didst send me. The life, teaching and miracles of Jesus had wrought profound faith in his disciples, but they were startled and staggered when he told them he was about to die. Hence, we have these long and tender discourses for their preparation. They have the desired effect, for in chapter 16:29, 30, they repeat their declaration of love, saying: |We believe thou comest from God.| (Joh 17:9)

9. I pray for them. The apostles. The prayer from verse 9 to verse 19 is for these. I pray not for the world. Not at this time; he came into the world to save it, and we are not to conclude that he would never pray for its conversion and welfare. Now, however, his petition is confined to the apostles, the little band who are hanging upon his words. He even bids us to pray for our enemies (Matt.5:44), yet some rigid Calvinists have insisted that Christ would only pray for his chosen ones. Paul bids us pray for all men. (Joh 17:10)

10. I am glorified in them. Christ's glory here upon the earth is manifested by his disciples. These are all God's, for |all mine are thine, and thine are mine.| There are no separate interests. He therefore pleads for his disciples; 1. Because they are the Father's; 2. To them is entrusted the work of manifesting the glory of the Son's redeeming love. They are to proclaim the gospel to the world. (Joh 17:11)

11. I am no more in the world, but these are in the world. He now goes to the Father; these are left behind to preach the gospel, establish his kingdom, manifest his glory. Hence, he pleads that he may |keep them through his name,| or power and love. He especially pleads that they may be kept |one,| united as the Father and the Son. They had often shown jealousies and ambitions, but in order to do Christ's work they must be united as a band of loving brothers, of one family, with one interest and one work. (Joh 17:12)

12. None of them is lost but the son of perdition. God had given him twelve; he had kept them in the name of the Father, and only one was lost, Judas, the traitor, the son of perdition, which the Scripture had predicted. See Ps.41:9. So, even one of those that God had given him could be lost. (Joh 17:13)

13. I speak these things in the world. I am now coming to thee, and about to leave the world, but before I leave it, I speak these things in order that my joy, the joy I feel over my completed work and return to my Father, might be fulfilled in them, by their being partakers of my joy. (Joh 17:14)

14. I have given them thy word. I have entrusted to them the word of the Lord, to preach it, the gospel, to men. (Joh 17:15) (Joh 17:16)

15, 16. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world. The world had hated the Master and was about to slay him, because he was not of the world. So it would hate the apostles, who were not of the world, and seek to slay them; he does not pray that they should be taken out of, the world, for they have a work to do, but that the Father would keep them from the power of the evil one. See Revision. Like him, they are to be |separate from sinners, and undefiled,| but to remain that they may carry on the saving work. (Joh 17:17) (Joh 17:18)

17, 18. Sanctify them by thy truth: thy word is truth. To sanctify is to render holy, or to consecrate. Those sanctified are saints. The means of canonization is not a Pope, but the truth, and lest some should mistake, Christ adds, |Thy word is truth.| He prays for their consecration by the power of the word in their hearts. Every disciple should be thus consecrated, but the means is not |the second blessing,| a miraculous work of grace, but the reception of God's word into our hearts and the complete surrender to his will spoken in his word. The apostles needed that consecration for the work named in verse 18. They were to be sent into the world to work and suffer, as the Father has sent the Son. (Joh 17:19)

19. For their sakes I sanctify myself. He did this when he came into the world, when he made it his meat to do the Father's will, and when he gave himself to death. We sanctify ourselves when we |present our bodies as living sacrifices.| (Joh 17:20)

20. Neither pray I for these alone. We enter upon the third section of the prayer, that for all disciples in every age, a prayer for us, for all who should believe on the Lord through the preaching of the gospel by the apostles. Every one who loves the Redeemer should reverently seek what the Lord prays for in his behalf. (Joh 17:21)

21. That they all may be one; . . . that they my be one in us. This is a prayer for the closest union among the saints. As the Father and Son are one they are to be one. The Lord all through this discourse has shown the intimate union between the Father and himself. The Father is in him and he in the Father, all that is the Father's is his, and his is the Father's. They have no separate will, kingdom, or interests. Such a union is demanded among the disciples of Christ. It is impossible while they are divided into various denominations with separate work, property and interests, separate churches, colleges, papers and missions. Denominationalism is utterly opposed to this prayer, and every apologist for it is disloyal to the spirit of the prayer. Nor is it fulfilled in any church where there are factions, where |all are not perfectly joined together, of the same mind and the same judgment.| If Christ abides in the heart, the one life will draw all who have Christ formed within them, into one family. This unity is needful and the Lord prays for it, That the world may believe that thou hast sent me. There is no other source of skepticism so fruitful as church quarrels and sectarian divisions. The consecration and unity of Christendom would speedily convert the world. The most potent argument of the infidel against the Kingship of Christ is that he has not power to unite his followers. (Joh 17:22) (Joh 17:23)

22, 23. The glory . . thou gavest me I have given them. God gave Christ the glory of Sonship and this resulted in their unity. So Christ gives to his disciples the glory of becoming the sons of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1). This glory, the adoption and gift of the Spirit, ought to effect that they be one as we are one, with Christ in them, and God in Christ. With Christ in us and God in Christ, we ought to be |perfectly joined together,| and be so |perfect in one| that the world would see in our peace, love and unity, that God had sent Christ and that he was reigning in our hearts. (Joh 17:24)

24. I will that they . . . be with me where I am. That in due time all my disciples shall follow me to heaven, where they shall see the glory of Christ. (Joh 17:25)

25. I have known thee. The world knew not God, and Christ came to reveal him. He had revealed him to his disciples and they would reveal him to the world. (Joh 17:26)

26. I have declared unto them thy name. The character and love of God and the blessings of his service.

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