John 17:15
I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world.—The thought may naturally have come to their minds that they would be most effectually kept from the hatred and danger of which He had spoken if they were to be with Him taken out of the world. But there is for them a work in the world (John 17:18; John 17:24). He has finished the work His Father gave Him to do; He has glorified the Father on the earth (John 17:4). There is a work for them to glorify Him (John 17:10), and He prays not that they should be taken out of the world before their work is done. The Christian ideal is not freedom from work, but strength to do it; not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome it; not freedom from suffering, but joy in an abiding sense of the Father’s love; not absence from the world, but grace to make the world better for our presence; not holy lives driven from the world, and living apart from it, but holy lives spent in the world and leavening it.

But that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.—Comp. Note on Matthew 6:13. The usage of St. John is, beyond question, in favour of the masculine. The only other passages where he uses the word in the singular are 1John 2:13-14; 1John 3:12; 1John 5:18-19. We have to bear in mind also that the present passage occurs in the second “Lord’s Prayer,” and that His prayer for them may with probability be interpreted in the same sense as the words in which He taught them to pray. On the whole, therefore, it seems likely, but yet is by no means certain, that we ought to read here, “that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one.”

17:11-16 Christ does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven. The prosperity of the soul is the best prosperity. He pleaded with his holy Father, that he would keep them by his power and for his glory, that they might be united in affection and labours, even according to the union of the Father and the Son. He did not pray that his disciples should be removed out of the world, that they might escape the rage of men, for they had a great work to do for the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind. But he prayed that the Father would keep them from the evil, from being corrupted by the world, the remains of sin in their hearts, and from the power and craft of Satan. So that they might pass through the world as through an enemy's country, as he had done. They are not left here to pursue the same objects as the men around them, but to glorify God, and to serve their generation. The Spirit of God in true Christians is opposed to the spirit of the world.That thou shouldest take them out of the world - Though they were going into trials and persecutions, yet Jesus did not pray that they might be removed soon from them. It was better that they should endure them, and thus spread abroad the knowledge of his name. It would be easy for God to remove his people at once to heaven, but it is better for them to remain, and show the power of religion in supporting the soul in the midst of trial, and to spread his gospel among men.

Shouldest keep them from the evil - This may mean either from the evil one that is, the devil, or from evil in general that is, from apostasy, from sinking in temptation. Preserve them from that evil, or give them such grace that they may endure all trials and be sustained amid them. See the notes at Matthew 6:13. It matters little how long we are in this world if we are kept in this manner.

15-19. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world—for that, though it would secure their own safety, would leave the world unblessed by their testimony.

but … keep them from the evil—all evil in and of the world.

Christ doth not pray that his Father would take up his saints out of this sinful and troublesome world into heaven, because he knew that they were to be of use to him for a time in the world; but he prays that the Lord would keep them from the evil one, (so some would have it translated), or from the evil thing; by which we must not understand what is penally and afflictively evil, but only what is sinfully evil: and by his example he hath directed us how we ought to pray; not for death, nor absolutely for a deliverance from the evils and miseries of this life; but that we may be delivered from those temptations to sin, to which a multitude of sharp trials and afflictions will expose even the best of men. I pray not that thou shouldest take theft of the world,.... Either in an unusual manner, by a translation, as Enoch and Elijah were; or by death in its common form, before their time, and purely to be rid of afflictions: this he prayed not for; for he had much work for them to do, by preaching the Gospel, for the conversion of sinners and comfort of saints; and it was for his interest they should live longer; and it would make most for his glory, and be best for his chosen people and churches:

but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil; either of sin, which is an evil and bitter thing, being committed against a good God, and a righteous law, and brings ruin and destruction upon men; from this the apostles were kept, and all the saints are; not from indwelling sin, nor from the commission of sin, but from the dominion of it, and from falling into it and by it, so as to perish eternally: or from the evil of the world; not from afflictions in it; nor from the reproach and persecution of it; but from its wickedness and lusts, and from the evil men of it: or from Satan the evil one, who is eminently, originally, and immutably so; not from being tempted by him, but from sinking under his temptations, and from being devoured by him. Christ's praying for this, after this manner, shows that evil is very abhorrent, pernicious and powerful; the danger saints are in by it; their incapacity to keep themselves from it; and that the Lord alone is the keeper of his people; but does not suggest that Christ has dropped the charge of them, or is unequal to it; but by so doing he expresses his great love to them, how dear they are to him, and what care he takes of them, and what concern he has for them.

{4} I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

(4) He shows what type of deliverance he means: not that they should be in no danger, but that in being preserved from all they might prove by experience that the doctrine of salvation is true, which doctrine they received from his mouth to deliver to others.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 17:15. The simplest escape from the anger of the world was removal from it, but for this He would not ask: οὐκ ἐρωτῶ ἵνα ἄρῃς αὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου. They had a work to do which involved that they should be in the world. It also involved the fulfilment of the petition, ἵνα τηρήσῃς αὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ. Luther, Calvin, etc., take πονηροῦ as neuter; recent interpreters in general consider it to be masculine, “from the evil one,” as in 1 John 2:13; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:18; cf. Matthew 6:13. “The evil one” as the prince of this world and “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44) was the instigator of persecution.15. I pray not] See on John 14:16. The nature of the protection is made clear to the listening disciples; not exemption from attack and temptation, but freedom from the permanent influence of the enemy.

from the evil] Rather, from the evil one; comp. 1 John 2:13; 1 John 3:12, and especially John 5:18. ‘From’ = ‘out of:’ just as Christ is that in which His disciples live and move, so the evil one, ‘the ruler of this world’ (John 12:31, John 16:11), is that out of which He prays that they may be kept. Thus “the relation of man to good and evil is a personal relation:” comp. 1 John 4:4.John 17:15. Ἄρῃς, that Thou shouldest take them out) now; for hereafter, I will or wish it, John 17:24.—ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ, from the evil) This means the Wicked one, ὁ πονηρὸς, under (in) whom the world lieth; who “is in the world,” 1 John 4:4. The world is estranged from the truth: John 17:17.Verse 15. - The prayer of Jesus based on this. I pray (ἐρωτῶ, not αἰτεω; see Ver. 9; the ἵνα here defines the contents of the prayer) not that thou shouldest take them away - lift them up and out - out of the world, as thou art taking me by death. This natural desire on the part of some of them is not in harmony with the highest interests of the kingdom. Those interests it would henceforth be their high function to subserve. There is much testimony for them to bear, there are many great facts for them completely to grasp, many aspects of truth which they must put into words for the life and salvation of souls, individuals for them to teach and train, victories for them to win, examples which they must set before the world. If they are all to vanish from the eyes of men as Christ will do, the end of the manifestation will be sacrificed. The Lord prays, not that they should be taken out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them (τηρήσῃς, not φυλάξῃς) from the evil. The ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ is different from Matthew 6:13, ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ, and may possibly mean "from the evil one." Reuss, Meyer, and Revised Version accept the same translation here in virtue of 1 John 2:13; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18; Revelation 3:10, where the devil is regarded as dominating, the realm, the atmosphere, the spirit, and the kingdom of this world. Over against this kingdom the Lord Christ, as the devil's great Rival, rules in the kingdom of grace. Luther, Calvin, Hengstenberg. Godet, Authorized Version, and numerous other commentators, have regarded τοῦ πονηροῦ as neuter, as referring to the great characteristic and all-subduing temper, the far-reaching glamour and the godless disposition of the world. Τὸ πονήρον includes ὁ πονήρος. From the evil (τοῦ πονηροῦ)

Or, the evil one. This rendering is according to John's usage. See 1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:14; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18, 1 John 5:19; and compare John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11. From (ἐκ), literally, out of, means out of the hands of.

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