“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.” (John 17:6-7)
The sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners is once again acknowledged in the Gospel of John. As before in John 1:12-13, 6:35-66, and 10, Jesus speaks of God the Father’s sovereign grace in His High Priestly Prayer.
As commentator explains, “The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17 can be divided into three basic sections: Jesus’ prayer for Himself (vv. 1–5), Jesus’ prayer for His first disciples (vv. 6–19), and Jesus’ prayer for the wider church (vv. 20–26).”
In today’s passage, we see Jesus begin to pray for His first disciples, revealing two particular truths. First, that the disciples are a gift from God the Father to God the Son and second, that the disciples had kept the Father’s word. Let’s examine each point specifically.
First, Jesus said ““I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me.” To manifest means to make known, to make plain or to reveal. Jesus had revealed the name, or the person, of God the Father to the disciples who God the Father had given to God the Son: Jesus Christ.
These first disciples, as by implication all other disciples of Jesus, God the Father gave to God the Son from out of the world. The word “world” again refers to the fallen, anti-God system of rebellion and rejection of God as Lord and Savior of sinners. These eleven men, along with Jesus’ other true followers at this time (Acts 1:15) always belonged to God the Father. Now they belong to God the Son.
Dr. John MacArthur states that, “Again, the Son emphasized that those who believed in him were given by the Father (see note on v. 2). “They are yours” (cf. v. 9) is a potent assertion that before conversion, they belonged to God (cf. 6:37). That is true because of God’s election. They were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), when their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 17:8). Cf. Acts 18:10, where God says he has many people in Corinth who belong to him but are not yet saved.”
Second, Jesus prayed, “and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.” Even though the eleven disciples understanding of Jesus’ person and work was at this time rudimentary and undeveloped, it was still genuine and true.
Professor Robert Rothwell explains that, “Despite their failures, the disciples (except Judas) remained with Jesus, knowing that He is the source of eternal life (6:66–69). And ultimately, they did this because God had chosen them, for many heard Jesus preach and yet did not believe.”
John Calvin comments, “Jesus points out the eternity of election and secondly, the manner in which we ought to consider it. Christ declares that the elect always belonged to God. God therefore distinguishes them from the reprobate, not by faith or by any other merit, but by pure grace. The certainty of that election by free grace lies in this, that He commits to the guardianship of His Son all whom He has elected.”
Today’s text, among others, indicates that the true children of God should be the most humble of people. This is due to the truth that salvation from beginning to end, from first to last, is of God.
May truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!