John xvii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Glorify thy Son, by signs and miracles, lest dying so disgraceful a death, I seem to be no more than another man: that thy Son may glorify thee, that my death may make thee praised and glorified. (Witham)

Ver. 2. Power over all flesh, that he may give life everlasting to all[1] whom thou hast given him. He speaks of himself, as made man, and the Redeemer of mankind. If we ask, who are they, who in this sense are said to be given to Christ: it is true, only the elect, or predestined, are given by a special and uncommon mercy. In this sense St. Augustine, (tract. 111. p. 779.) They are not said to be given, to whom he shall not give life everlasting. Yet not only the elect, but all believers, nay, all men whatsoever, may be said to be given to him, inasmuch as by his coming to redeem all, sufficient helps and means are offered to all men, whereby they may be saved: and inasmuch as Christ came, suffered, died, and offered up his death for all men. See 2 Corinthians v. 15. (Witham) — Thou hast given him power over all flesh: by this our Saviour shewed, that his preaching was directed, not to the Jews only, but to every nation of the earth. Are then all saved? Christ has done sufficient for the salvation of all, and if they are not saved, it is the fault, not of him that speaketh, but of those that receive not his word. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxix. in Joan.)

Ver. 3. This is life everlasting; that is, the way to life everlasting, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent[2]. The Arians, from these words, pretended that the Father only is the true God. St. Augustine and divers others answer, that the sense and construction is, that they may know thee, and also Jesus Christ thy Son, whom thou hast sent to be the only true God. We may also expound them with St. Chrysostom and others, so that the Father is here called the only true God, not to exclude the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are the same one true God with the Father; but only to exclude the false gods of the Gentiles. Let the Socinians take notice, that (1 John v. 20.) the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is expressly called the true God, even with the Greek article, upon which they commonly lay so much stress. (Witham) — Life everlasting. Both the life of glory in heaven, and of grace here, consisteth in the knowledge of God; the former in perfect vision, the latter in faith working by charity. For knowledge of God, without keeping his commandments, is not true knowledge, but unprofitable knowledge. (1 John xi.[ii.?])

Ver. 5. And now, glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I had with thee, before the world was. Glorify me, is the same as make me known to men; so that the sense may be, make men know, that I had the same glory with thee, before the world was created, and from all eternity. Others understand, that Christ as man, here prays that his eternal Father would make known to men, that glory, which it was decreed from eternity should be given him: that is, that all creatures should be made subject to him, even as he was man, and appointed to be judge of the living and the dead. See 1 Corinthians xv. 26; Ephesians i. 22. (Witham)

Ver. 6. To the men whom thou gavest me out of the world. By whom we may understand his apostles and disciples. They were thine, and also mine, as I am God. See ver. 10. — And to me thou gavest them, inasmuch as I am become man, their Saviour, their Redeemer, &c. (Witham) — Had then the Father any thing which the Son had not? By no means. But Christ, as Son of God, had from eternity what he had not as Son of man; because he had not yet taken flesh of his virgin mother. All that he had as God, he attributes to his Father. (St. Augustine, tract. 106. in Joan.)

Ver. 7-8. Now they have known that all things which thou gavest me, are from thee. That is, says St. Augustine,[3] they now know, and will know more perfectly hereafter, that I myself am from thee, or proceed from thee, and am sent by thee to redeem the world. (Witham)

Ver. 9. I pray for them, I pray not for the world. That is, now in this prayer, when I desire special graces and assistances for them, to discharge their duty, as my apostles; yet we must take notice, that (ver. 20.) Christ prays for all those, who should believe in him. He also prayed (Luke xxiii. 34.) for all, even for those that crucified him, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Witham) — The prayer I now offer up to thee, O my Father, is all in behalf of my disciples, it is not for the world. I pray not now for the incredulous Jews, nor for such of the Gentiles as shall afterwards believe in me; for them I will pray at another time. At present I speak to thee for my apostles only: they call for my first care, because they are thine, and thou has given them to me. (Calmet) — Jesus Christ prayed with an absolute and an efficacious prayer, for all those, for whom his prayer was to be heard: he begged for them, whatever his Father had predestined to give them; but he asked for nothing, that his Father had predestined not to give them.

Ver. 10. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine. They must needs be equal, says St. Augustine, to whom equally belong all things, and all persons; on which words St. Chrysostom also says, (hom. lxxxi.) Do you see the equality? (Witham) — And all mine are thine, and thine are mine: as if he said: whatever thou hast given to me, remains still thine, for mine are thine; and whatever is thine, is likewise mine, for thine are all mine. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxx. in Joan.)

Ver. 11. And now I am no more in the world: that is, I am now leaving the world, as to a corporeal and visible presence: yet St. Augustine takes notice, that Christ saith afterwards, (ver. 13.) these things I speak in the world: therefore he was still for some short time in the world. And as to his true invisible presence with his Church, he gave us this promise, (Matthew xxviii. 20.) Behold I am with you all days, even to the end of the world. — Keep them in thy name, whom thou hast given me.[4] Christ, as man, says St. Augustine, asks of his Father, to preserve those disciples whom he had given him, who were to preach the gospel to the world. — That they may be one, as we also are. These words cannot signify an equality, nor to be one in nature and substance, as the divine persons are one, but only that they may imitate, as much as they are able, that union of love and affection. See St. Chrysostom, St. Cyril, and St. Augustine on these words. (Witham) — Here Jesus Christ prays especially, that the apostles and his Church may be kept in unity of religion, and free from schism.

Ver. 12. While I was with them, I kept them in thy name.[5] He still speaks, says St. Chrysostom, as man, and after a human manner, by mentioning the advantage they seemed to enjoy, as long as he conversed visibly with them on earth, not that his invisible presence should be less beneficial to them. — And none of them hath perished, except the son of perdition, the wretched Judas, whose fall was foretold in the Scriptures. (Psalm cviii.) He hath perished, that is, now is about being lost, by his own fault, says St. Chrysostom on this place. And St. Augustine on Psalm cxxxviii. How did the devil enter into the heart of Judas? he could not have entered, had not he given him place. (Witham) — That the Scripture may be fulfilled: this does not any ways shew, that it was the will of God that Judas should be lost; but only that what happened to Judas was conformable to the prophecies, and not occasioned by them. Who will doubt, says St. Augustine, (lib. de Unit. Eccl. chap. ix.) but that Judas might, if he pleased, have abstained from betraying Christ. But God foretold it, because he foresaw clearly the future perversity of his disposition. (Calmet) — See above, (xiii. 18.) one of the principal passages of Scripture relative to the treachery of Judas, in which the traitor’s crime had been predicted.

Ver. 14. He tells his Father the reason why the world hated them, because they were not of the world. By generation, indeed, they were of the world; but by regeneration, they were not of the world. Thus they became like to himself, being born again of that Holy Spirit, by whose all powerful operation, he took upon himself the form of a servant. But although they were not of the world, still was it necessary that they should remain in the world; therefore he continues, I ask not that thou wouldst take them out of the world. (St. Augustine, tract. 107. in Joan.)

Ver. 18. As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. He speaks of that mission, which agreed with him, as man, and become man for the salvation of mankind, to which also the apostles, and their successors were to co-operate, as the ministers and instruments of Christ, by virtue of their mission from him. (Witham) — For the same intent as Christ himself was sent, were the apostles sent also: whence St. Paul says, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and he has placed in us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians v. 19.) (Glossarium.)

Ver. 19. And for them do I sanctify myself[6]. St. Augustine expounds it, I sanctify them, who are my members, in myself. The interpretation of St. Chrysostom and St. Cyril, seems preferable, that to sanctify in the style of Scriptures, is oftentimes the same as to offer up a sacrifice: so the sense here is, I sacrifice, and offer up myself on the cross for them and all mankind. (Witham) — By this Christ shews, that he sanctified the apostles, by sanctifying himself; because they are the members of his body. (St. Augustine, tract. 107. in Joan.) — Or, according to St. Chrysostom, I offer myself up to be the victim in their behalf. For victims, and whatever is dedicated to God, are called holy. He, their head, was offered up, and they also are immolated, according to that of the apostle, Romans xii. Exhibit your members a living sacrifice, holy, &c. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxxi. in Joan.)

Ver. 20. After having prayed for his apostles in particular, he now begins to pray for all that would afterwards, by their preaching, believe in his name; (St. Augustine, tract. 109. in Joan.) and by this he likewise comforts his disciples, shewing them, that they would prove the instruments of the salvation of others. (St. Chrysostom, hom. 80. in Joan.) — This divine prayer of Jesus Christ is a great comfort to all Christians; it is introduced in the holy Canon of the Mass, before the consecration, as here it was made just before his visible sacrifice on the cross. (Bristow)

Ver. 21. Christ does pray that his disciples may be one, as he and his heavenly Father are one; not that the unity may resemble the unity of persons in the divinity, by a perfect and exact likeness; but only as far as it is possible for men to imitate the perfections of God, as when he says, “Be ye merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxxi. in Joan.)

Ver. 22. The glory which thou gavest me, I have given to them. St. Chrysostom expounds this of the power of working miracles: St. Augustine rather understands the glory of heaven, which he had given, prepared, and designed to give them in heaven. This seems to be the sense by the 24th verse, where he says, Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me. (Witham)

Ver. 26. I will make thy name known to them, by giving them, by means of the Holy Ghost, a perfect knowledge. For if they know Thee, they will likewise know that I am not different from Thee, but thy own well begotten Son. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxxi. in Joan.)


[1] Ver. 2. Ut omne quod dedisti ei, det eis vitam æternam, ina pan o dedokas outo, dose autios zoen aionion. That is, ut omnibus quos dedisti, &c.

[2] Ver. 3. Ut cognoscant te, &c. St. Augustine, tract. 105. p. 671. Ordo Verborum est, ut te, & quem misisti Jesum Christum, cognoscant solum verum Deum. See also St. Ambrose (lib. v. de fide, chap. ii. t. 4. p. 138.) where he treats of this verse at large. St. Chrysostom gives this interpretation (hom. lxxix.) Solum verum Deum, &c. ad eorum qui dii non sunt differentiam. In the Greek, (hom. lxxx. p. 474. t. 8.) Ed. Montfaucon. pros autidiastolen ton ouk onton theon phesi. See likewise St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. xxxvi. p. 586.

[3] Ver. 7. Quia omnia quæ dedisti mihi, abs te sunt. That is, says St. Augustine, (tract. 106. p. 767.) cognoverunt, quia abs te sum, &c.

[4] Ver. 11. Serva eos in nomine tuo, quos dedisti mihi. Some Greek manuscripts have in nomine tuo, quod dedisti mihi, o dedokas moi. Or, as St. Cyril reads, en onomati sou o dedokas moi. which is the same by a Grecism, as o dedokas. — Ut sint unum sicut & nos. St. Chrysostom says, non æqualitate, sed pro homanâ facultate, or quantum hominibus fas est, os anthropois dunaton. (hom. pb. p. 484.) nov. Ed. Ben.

[5] Ver. 12. Cum essem, cum eis, &c. He speaks, says St. Chrysostom, as man, os anthropos dialegetai. (hom. pa. p. 480.) — In the same place, nisi filius perditionis, ei me, &c. nisi, it is not, alla, sed. — Non perdom, that is, says St. Chrysostom in the same place, quantum in me erit, non perdam … non me impellente, vel relinguente: quod si spontè resiliant, non ex necessitate traham. ei de aph eauton apodedosi, pros anagken ouch elko. St. Augustine, Quomodo diabolus intravit in cor Judæ, non intraret, nisi ille locum daret.

[6] Ver. 19. Sanctifico meipsum. Quid est hoc, says St. Augustine, (tract. 108.) nisi eos in meipso Sanctifico, quoniam membra ejus sunt? St. Chrysostom, (hom. pb. p. 484) Offero tibi Sacrificium, prosphero soi thusian. St. Cyril says the same, lib. xi. in Joan. p. 989.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Christ’s prayer for his disciples.

1 These things Jesus spoke, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said; Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee.

2 *As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he may give life everlasting to all whom thou hast given him.

3 Now this is life everlasting, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

4 I have glorified thee upon the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do:

5 And now glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

6 I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou hast given me out of the world. Thine they were, and to me thou gavest them: and they have kept thy word.

7 Now they have known that all things which thou hast given me are from thee.

8 Because the words which thou gavest me, I have given to them: and they have received them, and have known for certain that I came forth from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me: because they are thine:

10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine: and I am glorified in them.

11 And now I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, whom thou hast given me: that they may be one, as we also are.

12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. *Those whom thou gavest me, I have kept: and none of them hath perished, but the son of perdition, **that the Scripture may be fulfilled.

13 And now I come to thee: and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy filled in themselves.

14 I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world: as I also am not of the world.

15 I do not ask that thou take them away out of the world, but that thou preserve them from evil.

16 They are not of the world: as I also am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth.

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

19 And for them do I sanctify myself: that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20 And not for them only do I pray, but for those also who through their word shall believe in me.

21 That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me:

22 And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that they may be one, as we also are one.

23 I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.

24 Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me: that they may see my glory, which thou hast given me: because thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world.

25 Just Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee: and these have known, that thou hast sent me.

26 And I have made known thy name to them, and will make it known: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.



2: Matthew xxviii. 18.

12: John xviii. 9. — ** Psalm cviii. 8.