I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me; for they are yours.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I pray for them: I pray not for the world.—Better, I am praying for them: I am not praying for the world. Both pronouns are emphatic. “I who have during my work on earth taught them;” “they who have received the truth” (John 17:8). “I who am about to leave the world;” “they who will remain in the world” (John 17:11). The tense is the strict present, referring to the prayer which He is at this moment uttering, and not to His general practice, which the Authorised version may be taken to express. Against any limitation of the prayer of our Lord, see John 17:21, and His own prayer for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Comp. also His command to His disciples to pray for “them which despitefully used them” (Matthew 5:44). The present prayer was like that which pious Rabbis were accustomed to offer for their pupils. (Comp. Schöttgen’s Note here.) It is from its very nature applicable only to disciples. He is leaving them, and commends them to His Father’s care.
But for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.—This is the special claim on which He commends them to the Father. They were the Father’s before they were given to the Son. By that gift they have become the Father’s more fully (John 17:6-8). They are the Father’s, for all things which are the Son’s are the Father’s, and all things which are the Father’s are the Son’s (John 17:10).John 17:9-10. I pray for them — Who have attended me as my apostles. These only he prays for here, as appears from John 17:12, where he says, he had kept all the persons he was praying for in the faith and practice of true religion, except the son of perdition; and from John 17:18, where he says, he had commissioned them to go forth into the world for the same purpose that the Father had sent him; and from John 17:20, where he expressly distinguishes them from all other believers whatever. I pray not for the world — Not in these petitions, which are adapted to the state of believers only. But this no more proves that our Lord did not pray for the world, both before and afterward, than his praying for the apostles only in these verses proves that he did not pray for them also who should believe in him through their word, John 17:20. But for them which thou hast given me, &c. — See on verse; for they are thine — The reason thus assigned for making them the subject of his prayers at this time is remarkable. It is as if he had said, “I employ the last moments of my life in praying particularly for my apostles, because their are more especially thy servants, destined for that work which is the great object of thy attention, the instruction and salvation of the world.” All mine are thine — All my servants are thy servants; that is, whosoever assists me in my work, serves thee in thy great designs of love and mercy to men. And thine are mine — Thy servants are my servants; every one who really serves thee must join issue with me, and assist me in my work. And I am glorified in them — By the zeal, faithfulness, and success of my servants in converting the world, I am greatly honoured. This, however, is not our Lord’s only meaning in this clause; the original words being τα εμα παντα σα εστι, και τα σα εμα, not, all my servants are thy servants, &c., but, all things that are mine are thine, and thine are mine; expressions too grand for any mere creature to use; as implying, that all things whatsoever, inclusive of the divine nature, perfections, and operations, are the common property of the Father and the Son. And this is the original ground of that peculiar property which both the Father and the Son have, in the persons who were given to Christ as Mediator, according to what is said in the close of the verse of his being glorified by them; namely, by their believing in him, and so acknowledging his glory.
Not for the world - The term world here, as elsewhere, refers to wicked, rebellious, vicious men. The meaning of this expression here seems to be this: Jesus is praying for his disciples. As a reason why God should bless them, he says that they were not of the world; that they had been taken out of the world; that they belonged unto God. The petition was not offered for wicked, perverse, rebellious men, but for those who were the friends of God and were disposed to receive his favors. This passage, then, settles nothing about the question whether Christ prayed for sinners. He then prayed for his disciples, who were not those who hated him and disregarded his favors. He afterward extended the prayer for all who should become Christians, John 17:20. When on the cross he prayed for his crucifiers and murderers, Luke 23:34.
For they are thine - This is urged as a reason why God should protect and guide them. His honor was concerned in keeping them; and we may always "fill our mouths with" such "arguments" when we come before God, and plead that his honor will be advanced by keeping us from evil, and granting us all needful grace.
I am glorified in them - I am honored by their preaching and lives. The sense of this passage is, "Those who are my disciples are thine. That which promotes my honor will also promote thine. I pray, therefore, that they may have needful grace to honor my gospel, and to proclaim it among men."
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.The world seemeth here to signify all mankind, for whom Christ in this place doth not pray; though some interpret it of reprobates, others of unbelievers. Christ afterward prays for the world, John 17:20; that is, for such who, though they at present were unbelievers, yet should be brought to believe by the apostles’ ministry. But to teach us to distinguish in our prayer, our Saviour here distinguishes, and prays for some things for his chosen ones, which he doth not pray for on the behalf of others: these he describes to be such as his Father (whose they were) had given him, either by an eternal donation, or by working faith in 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.I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 17:9. I pray for them! Both in ἐγώ and in περὶ αὐτῶν there lies a motive element in reference to God. That which lies in περὶ αὐτῶν is then further made specially prominent, first negatively (οὐ π. τ. κόσμ. ἐρ.), and then positively (ἀλλὰ περὶ, κ.τ.λ.).
οὐ περὶ τοῦ κόσμου] has no dogmatic weight, and is therefore not to be explained in the sense of the condemnation of the world (Melanchthon), or of absolute predestination (Calvin, Jansen, Lampe), or of the negation of such intercession in general (Hengstenberg), but refers simply and solely to this present intercession, which has in truth no relation to those who are strangers to God, but to His own, whom He has given to Jesus,—and this should all the more move Him to fulfil the prayers. Prayer for the unbelieving has been enjoined by Jesus Himself (Matthew 5:44), and was, moreover, offered by Himself upon the cross (Luke 23:34), and for them did He die, comp. also John 17:20; but here He has only the disciples in view, and lays them, by the antithesis οὐ περὶ τ. κόσμου, the more earnestly on the Father’s heart. Luther well says: “At other times one should pray for the world, that it may be converted.” Comp. John 17:21.
ὅτι σοί εἰσι] Ground of the intercession: because they—although given to me—are Thine, belonging to Thee as my believing ones, since they were Thine (John 17:6) already, before Thou gavest them to me.9. I pray for them, &c.] Literally, I am praying concerning them; concerning the world I am not praying, but concerning them whom, &c. ‘I,’ ‘them,’ and ‘the world’ are emphatic. ‘For them who have believed I in turn am praying; for the world I am not praying.’ On the word here used for ‘pray’ see on John 14:16. Of course this verse does not mean that Christ never prays for unbelievers; John 17:23 and Luke 23:34 prove the contrary; but it is for the chosen few, in return for their allegiance, that He is praying now.
they are thine] Although they have been given to the Son.
9–19. The intercession for the disciples based on their need.John 17:9. Περὶ αὐτῶν, for [concerning] them) Jesus prays for believers: He Himself and believers pray for the world.—οὐ περὶ τοῦ κόσμου, not for the world) This ought not to be taken absolutely: Comp. v. 21, 23, “That the world may believe—know—that Thou hast sent Me.” But what is meant is that Jesus does not pray for the world at this time, and in this place, and with these words, which were applicable to believers alone, John 17:11; John 17:15; John 17:17. Christ says the same things in Psalm 16:3-4, “The saints that are in the earth, and the excellent in whom is all My delight;” and of the ungodly, “I will not take up their names into My lips.” He does not, however, exclude the world [from His prayers], when He commends the disciples chosen out of the world.
 Also His prayer for His murderers on the cross, Luke 23:34.—E. and T.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.
More strictly, I make request. See on John 16:23. The I is emphatic, as throughout the prayer.
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