God Unknown and Known
John 17:25
O righteous Father, the world has not known you: but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.…

These, the last words uttered by our Lord before he proceeded to his betrayal and passion, are words worthy of the occasion and of the Speaker. They are a prayer, or rather an address, to the Father. Yet they constitute a review of the past, a declaration of the present, a prediction of the future. They explain the reason and the purpose of his mediation and of his ministry to man.

I. THE WORLD'S IGNORANCE OF GOD WAS THE OCCASION OF CHRIST'S MINISTRY. This ignorance is implicitly brought before us in the very language which the High Priest here employs: "O righteous Father, the world knew thee not."

1. The world had no conviction of God's righteousness. No one who is acquainted with heathen religions can question this. Not that there were no upright natures that traced their own love of justice and equity to the eternal Power that rules the universe; but that the gods many and lords many who were honored, feared, or propitiated among the heathen were, for the most part, lacking in the highest moral qualities. A gleam of righteousness or of generosity did now and again break through, to reveal, as it were, the darkness of the firmament. Still, broadly speaking, gross darkness covered the people. The unenlightened heathen attributed to their deities partiality, factiousness, hatred, cruelty - any quality but justice. In all this the lack of righteousness in men themselves was reflected upon their gods. The world by wisdom knew not God.

2. The world had no conviction of God's Fatherhood. If there were those who worshipped a supposed deity whom they called "the father of gods and men," we must not be misled by such language into supposing that the scriptural idea of fatherhood was involved in their religion. This idea is distinctively that of revelation, of Christianity. The moral attributes which we attach to the conception of the Divine Fatherhood have not come to our apprehension through the ministrations of pagan priests or pagan philosophers. Apart from Christ, the race of mankind is conscious only of fatherlessness and fear.

II. CHRIST'S KNOWLEDGE OF THE FATHER, GOD, WAS INTIMATE AND PERFECT. The expression Jesus here employs, "I knew thee," evidently suggests the natural and immediate knowledge which he had of the Father. He did not come to know God by a process of inquiry or reflection, or by the reception of lessons and revelations. His knowledge was direct. This we gather from his own assertions, and also from many intimations to be discerned in his words and in his conduct. There is no sign of uncertainty in any of Christ's declarations with respect to the Supreme. On the contrary, he speaks simply, directly, and decisively in all he says. He claims the closest intimacy, as when he says that he is "in the bosom" of the Father, i.e. in possession of the counsels and secrets of the eternal mind. He even goes further than this, claiming unity with the Father, as when he says, "I and my Father are one." Our Savior's knowledge of God was not inferential, but intuitive; not acquired, but natural; not imperfect, but complete.


1. The first step in this revelation is the conviction, which Christ awakens in his disciples' minds, that his mission is from God himself. The character of Christ, his discourses and conversations, his mighty works, all witnessed to his special authority and commission. They were constrained to ask, "Who is this?" "What manner of Man is this?' "Whence is he?" and When these questions were suggested, they could lead to only one answer which could satisfy the inquirers' minds. The conviction was produced, in some cases by a gradual process, in other cases as by a sudden flash of revelation, that this Being was from above, that he was the Son of' God.

2. The second step in this revelation is the declaration of the Divine "Name," by which we are to understand the character and the purposes of the Father. When the Lord Jesus had communicated to his disciples the fact that God is a Spirit, and the fact that he is the Father in heaven, he had in great measure made known the Divine Name; but it was a further and richer revelation that he made when he told of the Father's purposes of compassion and mercy towards his children - when he, in the Name of the Almighty and All-merciful, assured his faithful people of spiritual salvation and of eternal life.

3. But the glory of this assertion is not yet exhausted. Christ says that he will yet make known the Name of God. The reference may be to the approaching manifestation of the Divine heart in the sacrifice and the subsequent exaltation and victory of the Son. But it may, and probably does, include the whole future revelation of God through the Holy Spirit, and throughout the spiritual economy. There are those who consider revelation to have been continuous and progressive throughout this dispensation; there are others who consider that the objective revelation is complete in itself, but that the quickening influences of the Holy Spirit enable successive generations to discern ever new beauty, power, and preciousness in him who is "the Light of the world," and "the Life of men?'

IV. DIVINE LOVE AND FELLOWSHIP ARE THE GREAT END OF THE DIVINE REVELATION AND OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE. Our acquaintance with God is a mysterious and glorious privilege, yet we may with reverence hold that it is the means to an end. We love only those whom in some measure we know; yet by loving we may learn to know them more. As Christ is formed in his people, and as his character and life are revealed by them, the Father cherishes and displays towards them the very affection with which he regards his well-beloved Son. It is thus that the incarnation and sacrifice of the Redeemer produce their precious and immortal results. Ignorance, sin, estrangement, stud hatred are, by this Divine provision, expelled; and in their place the new humanity, the spiritual kingdom, the Church of the living God, is penetrated by the Spirit of Christ, filled with the light of holy knowledge, and blessed with the enjoyment of imperishable love. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

WEB: Righteous Father, the world hasn't known you, but I knew you; and these knew that you sent me.

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