John 17:23 Commentaries: I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
John 17:23
I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) I in them, and thou in me.—These words are best regarded as a parenthesis more explicitly setting forth the thought of the union of the Father, the Son, and the believer. The thought is continued from the last verse, “That they may be one even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.” It is the thought which the words of Christ have uttered again and again, and which we yet feel that no words can utter. The disciples heard the words immediately after they had heard the allegory of the true vine (John 15); and the fullest meaning of separate words and phrases in these chapters is best arrived at by remembering that they were not uttered as separate words and phrases, but that they were spoken as a whole, and should be read as a whole; and that the most unfathomable of them were spoken in prayer from the Son to the Father.

That they may be made perfect in one.—Better, . . . unto one. The unity is the result of their being made perfect. (Comp. Notes on Hebrews 10:14 and 1John 2:5; 1John 4:12; 1John 4:17-18.)

And that the world may know that thou hast sent me.—Better, . . . didst send Me. Comp. John 17:21. “That the world may know” (recognise) here is parallel to “that the world may believe,” in the earlier verse. We are to regard it, therefore, as another instance of the repeated expression of the fulness of thought; and this is borne out by the parallel in John 13:35; John 14:31. The thought which has been introduced here of the conviction of the unbelieving world, seems to be opposed to the context. The prayer is that the world, seeing in its midst the power which binds men together in unity, may believe and know that this is of God, who sent Christ into the world, and may accept for themselves the message of love which the “Sent of God” has brought unto them. (Comp. Note on John 3:16.)

17:20-23 Our Lord especially prayed, that all believers might be as one body under one head, animated by one soul, by their union with Christ and the Father in him, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The more they dispute about lesser things, the more they throw doubts upon Christianity. Let us endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, praying that all believers may be more and more united in one mind and one judgment. Thus shall we convince the world of the truth and excellence of our religion, and find more sweet communion with God and his saints.May be made perfect in one - That their union may be complete. That there may be no jars, discords, or contentions. A machine is perfect or complete when it has all its parts and is in good order when there is no portion of it wanting. So the union of Christians, for which the Saviour prayed, would be complete or perfect if there were no controversies, no envyings, no contentions, and no heart-burnings and jealousies. It is worthy of remark here how entirely the union of his people occupied the mind of Jesus as he drew near to death. He saw the danger of strifes and contentions in the church. He knew the imperfections of even the best of men. He saw how prone they would be to passion and ambition; how ready to mistake love of sect or party for zeal for pure religion; how selfish and worldly men in the church might divide his followers, and produce unholy feeling and contention; and he saw, also, how much this would do to dishonor religion.

Hence, he took occasion, when he was about to die, to impress the importance of union on his disciples. By solemn admonition, and by most tender and affecting appeals to God in supplication, he showed his sense of the value of this union. He used the most sublime and impressive illustration; he adverted to the eternal union between the Father and himself; he reminded them of his love, and of the effect that their union would have on the world, to fix it more deeply in their hearts. The effect has shown the infinite wisdom of the Saviour. The contentions and strifes of Christians have shown his knowledge in foreseeing it. The effect of all this on religion has shown that he understood the value of union. Christians have contended long enough. It is time that they should hear the parting admonitions of their Redeemer, and go unitedly against their common foe. The world still lies in wickedness; and the friends of Jesus, bound by the cords of eternal love, should advance together against the common enemy, and spread the triumphs of the gospel around the globe. All that is needful now, under the blessing of God, to convince the world" that God sent the Lord Jesus, is that very union among all Christians for which he prayed;" and when that union of feeling, and purpose, and action shall take place, the task of sending the gospel to all nations will be soon accomplished, and the morning of the millennial glory will dawn upon the world.

23. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one—(See on [1884]Joh 17:21). I in them; not only as my Divine nature is united to their flesh, but as I have made them partakers of my Spirit, and of the Divine nature; as I have loved them with a special and peculiar love, and am the head, they the members; I the vine, they the branches.

And thou in me, the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in me bodily; I being the brightness of thy glory, the express image of thy person; thou also doing whatsoever I do, and accepting and approving of it, as John 14:10.

That they may be made perfect in one; the Greek is, eis en, into one; in one body, whereof Christ is the Head; which body is the church, keeping a unity of faith; all believing the same things in matter of faith, and those things no other than what thou hast revealed, and I have revealed as from thee. This, O Father, will be a great evidence, both that thou hast sent me, when the world shall see thee bowing men’s hearts to the obedience of the truth of thy gospel; and that thou hast loved them with a tender and everlasting love, as thou hast loved me. I in them,.... Christ is in his saints; not as he is in all the world, being the omnipresent God; or as he is in every man, communicating the light of nature as Creator; or as he is in the human nature, which is united to his divine person; or circumscriptively to the exclusion of him elsewhere; for he is in heaven, his blood is within the veil, and his righteousness without us: but he is in them, in a gracious manner, in regeneration; when he is revealed to them, formed in them, enters into them, takes possession of them, communicates his grace, grants fellowship with himself, and dwells in them; not only by his Spirit and grace, but in person, as the head in the members, as the master of the house, and the King of them; which is an instance of condescending grace, and is peculiar to God's elect: hence all their holiness and fruitfulness; nor shall they ever perish; their bodies shall rise from the dead, and being reunited to their souls, Christ will be in them in a glorious manner to all eternity:

and thou in me; the Father is in Christ, not only by union of nature, nor merely in him, as Mediator, in a way of grace; but as he will show himself in and through him in glory for evermore, and is what is here prayed for:

that they may be made perfect in one; this regards not their justification, which is already perfect; nor their sanctification, which will be; but either perfection in glory, when they will be perfect in knowledge, in holiness, in peace, joy and love: or rather the perfection of their numbers is meant, when the whole election of grace will be completed in regeneration, sanctification, and glorification:

and that the world may know that thou hast sent me: as before; See Gill on John 17:21;

and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. The Oriental versions, the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic, all read the words thus, "and I have loved them, as thou hast loved me"; contrary to all the Greek copies, and other versions, which read as we do. The Father loved Christ as his own Son, and as Mediator; so he loved him when he assumed human nature, and became obedient to his will both in doing and suffering; when his Father left him, and poured out his wrath upon him, and when he laid down his life for the sheep. The instances of his love to him as Mediator are, his putting all things into his hands, showing him all that he does, and concealing nothing from him, and appointing him the only Saviour, the head of the church, and Judge of the world. The nature of this love is, that it is from eternity; is a love of complacency and delight; it is special and peculiar, unchangeable and inseparable, and will last for ever: now God has loved his people, as he has loved his Son; he loves them not merely as creatures, as the descendants of Adam, or as considered in themselves, but as in Christ. The instances of his love to them are, his choosing them in Christ; making a covenant with them in him; the mission of him into this world, to obtain salvation for them; the quickening and calling of them by his grace; the care he takes of them afterwards in supplying their wants, supporting them under temptations, delivering them out of afflictions, and causing all things to work together for their good; to all which add the provisions he makes for them, both for time and eternity. The nature of this love is such as that he bears to Christ; it is from everlasting; a love of the utmost delight and pleasure; it is special and peculiar, unchangeable, and will continue for ever: there is not the same reason for his loving them as his Son; and this as must not be thought to denote equality, but similitude and order.

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 17:23. ἵνα ὦσιν ἕν of John 17:22 becomes in John 17:23 ἵνα ὦσι τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἕν, “that they may be perfected into one”. They are perfected by being wrought to a Divine unity. The work of Christ is accomplished when men are one by Christ dwelling in them. God is in Him, He is in each believer, and thus a true and final unity is formed. One result is the conviction wrought in the world, ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλαςἠγάπησας. The mission of Christ and its results prove not only the Father’s love of the Son but His love for men.23. I in them, and thou in me] And therefore, ‘Thou in them and they in Thee.’

made perfect in one] Literally, perfected into one; i.e. completed and made one. In the unity the completeness consists. The expression ‘into one’ occurs elsewhere only John 11:52 (comp. 1 John 5:8). For ‘perfected’ comp. 1 John 2:5; 1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:17-18.

may know] Or, come to know, recognise (John 17:3) gradually and in time. This is the second effect of the unity of Christians, more perfect than the first. The first (John 17:21) was that the world is induced to believe that God sent Christ; the second is that the world comes to know that God sent Christ, and moreover that He loved the world even as He loved Christ. ‘Hast sent’ and ‘hast loved’ in both places are literally didst send and didst love; but in the case of the second of the two verbs the English perfect is perhaps the best representative of the Greek aorist. The second ‘Thou’ in the verse and the last ‘Me’ are emphatic.John 17:23. Ἐγὼ, I) viz. am.—τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἕν, consummated [“made perfect”] in one) being brought on to perfect unity.Verse 23. - I in them, and thou in me. He does not say, "Thou in them, as thou in me," nor "They in thee, and I in thee;" but he includes in the ἡμεῖς of the previous verse, Ἐγὼ καὶ Σύ, and distinctly regards himself as the mediating link of relation between the Father and the disciples. The Ἐγὼ is that of the Son of God, manifested in Christ's consciousness of the God-man-hood; the Σύ is the eternal and non-incarnate God. God is in him, as he is in them. They are in him, as he is in the Father. That they may be perfected, completely realizing the end of their being and the meaning of the gift of eternal life, fully ripened in their graces until they reach up into one, into the fullness of the stature of the perfect Man, until they become the one new and immortal body of the living Christ, (εἰς ε{ν indicates the sublime result so far as they are concerned). Each individual believer reaching the highest perfection of his being, as according to his own capacity and function he fills his place in the one living body of the Lord The end is not here, however, so far as others are concerned; for this unity, when consummated, is to bring about a yet further result on this earth, and in order that the world may come to know (γινώσκῃ.) that thou didst send me, and lovedst them as thou lovedst me. Our Lord has advanced upon the assertion of Ver. 21,

(1) by discriminating between "believing" and "coming to know" by personal experiences, overwhelming conviction, and processes which lead to invincible assent. Faith in its highest form melts into knowledge, full assurance, complete certitude.

(2) There is superadded to the conviction concerning the Divine mission of the Christ yet another, viz. a conviction of the wonderful love which thou hast shown to them in thus lifting them out of the world into the unity of the spiritual life, into the fellowship of the Son of God. This has twofold bearing. So far as the world is concerned they will see that the love shown to the believers in Christ will be compatible with the same kind of treatment as Christ himself received, and so far as the Divine reality is concerned, it will be seen that they are so closely identified with Christ that the infinite love of God to Christ flows over in its Divine superabundance upon those who are gathered together into him. It is impossible to exclude from these verses the idea of the visibility of the union and life of the Church, and of the Divine love to it. Nothing is said or hinted, however, about the nature of that visibility. Christians are not, by reason of their differences, to exclude from this passage the promise that the whole assembly of the Firstborn would make this gracious and convincing impression on the world. They are far enough, in days of mutual recrimination, from realizing the Divine ideal, and should set themselves to remedy the crying evil; but they have no right to import into the words, by reason of their predilection for particular forms of Church organization, an identification of the body of Christ with any specific form. The spiritual union of Christendom in its one faith, hope, and character, is, notwithstanding the divergence of some of its forms of expression, the most stupendous fact in the history of the world. The elite of all Churches are drawing more and more into a visible unity.
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