|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:6-10. Christ prays for those that are his. Thou gavest them me, as sheep to the shepherd, to be kept; as a patient to the physician, to be cured; as children to a tutor, to be taught: thus he will deliver up his charge. It is a great satisfaction to us, in our reliance upon Christ, that he, all he is and has, and all he said and did, all he is doing and will do, are of God. Christ offered this prayer for his people alone as believers; not for the world at large. Yet no one who desires to come to the Father, and is conscious that he is unworthy to come in his own name, need be discouraged by the Saviour's declaration, for he is both able and willing to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him. Earnest convictions and desires, are hopeful tokens of a work already wrought in a man; they begin to evidence that he has been chosen unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. They are thine; wilt thou not provide for thine own? Wilt thou not secure them? Observe the foundation on which this plea is grounded, All mine are thine, and thine are mine. This speaks the Father and Son to be one. All mine are thine. The Son owns none for his, that are not devoted to the service of the Father.
Verse 9. - I - very emphatic - am praying for them (for this use of ἐρωτῶ see note, John 16:23). We must remember that this is perfectly consistent with the fact that, in the day of the spiritual manifestation to the disciples, when both the Father and Son came to them, the disciples would ask the Father for the gifts which his love to them was waiting to supply; and he, Christ himself, would hear them if they asked in his Name; and that then there would be no need that he should pray the Father for them. That time had not yet come, though it was coming. Both statements are also perfectly consistent with his "intercession" for us. Not concerning - or, not for - the world am I praying. Surely this is not an assertion that he would never pray, or that he had not already prayed, for the world. Nay, his entire ministry is the expression of the Father's love to the whole world (John 3:16). He came as Jehovah's Lamb to take away its sin (John 1:29), he bade his disciples (Matthew 5:44) pray for their enemies, and he cried at the last for a blessing on his murderers. He "came to seek and save the lost," to "call sinners to repentance," "not to condemn, but to save the world." Moreover, in this prayer (Ver. 21) he does pray for those who should ultimately, though they do not now, believe on him through the word of the disciples; therefore it is inconceivable that he should here dogmatically limit the range of his gracious desire. Calvin here observes, "We are commanded to pray for all (l Timothy 2:1)," and quotes Luke 23:34 that Christ prayed for his murderers. "We ought to pray that this man and that man and every man may be saved, and thus include the whole human race, because we cannot distinguish the elect from the reprobate." Calvin implies that Christ is here within the sanctuary, and places before his eyes the secret judgments of the Father. Lampe goes much further. Luther says, "In the same sense in which he prays for the disciples, he does not pray for the world." But the best explanation is that the high-priestly intercession at this supreme moment is concerned with those who were already given to him, and who have come to believe in his Divine Person and commission. He expressly and divinely commends to the Father those whom thou hast given me - the burden of the thought is contained in the motive he suggests for this commendation, viz. - because they are thine; i.e. though thou hast given them to me, though they have "come to me," through thy drawing, they are more than ever "thine." This most fervent yielding to the attraction of Jesus, and utter moral surrender to his control, do not alienate the heart from the Father, but make it more than ever his.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I pray for them,.... This is to be understood of Christ, not as God; for as such he is the object of prayer; nor need he pray to any other; nor is there any superior to him under that consideration to pray unto; but as man and Mediator: nor is his praying any argument against his deity; nor proof of inferiority to his Father with respect to his divine nature; since it is not in that, but in his human, nature, that he prayed; though this may be ascribed to his whole person as Godman; hence he had the greatest qualifications and abilities for this work, and his prayers were always heard: praying, as attributed to Christ, must be restrained to his state of humiliation; prayer is never spoken of Christ but whilst he was here on earth; his intercession in heaven is never expressed by prayer; and the saints when they come thither, will have done praying, Christ whilst on earth, was an excellent pattern of prayer; of private and solitary prayer; of social prayer; for and with his disciples; of frequent and fervent prayer; of submission to the will of God in prayer; and of praying even for enemies: the persons he is here said to pray for are his apostles; which shows their danger and their wants, his care over them, and concern for them, and his love unto them:
I pray not for the world; the inhabitants of it, the carnal unbelieving part of the world, which lie in sin, and will be condemned; as he died not for them, so he prayed not for them; for whom he is the propitiation, he is an advocate; and for whom he died, he makes intercession; and for no other in a spiritual saving way:
but for them which thou hast given me; out of the world, as distinct from them, to be saved with an everlasting salvation by him; and to be preserved safe to his kingdom and glory; for these he prays, for the conversion of them, the application of pardon to them, their final perseverance and eternal glory:
for they are thine; not merely by creation, and as the care of his providence, but by eternal election, and special grace in calling; which is a reason why Christ prayed for them, and an argument why the Father should, and would regard his prayers.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9-14. I pray for them—not as individuals merely, but as representatives of all such in every succeeding age (see on Joh 17:20).
not for the world—for they had been given Him "out of the world" (Joh 17:6), and had been already transformed into the very opposite of it. The things sought for them, indeed, are applicable only to such.
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