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John 17:17

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Sanctify them - Ἁγιασον, from α, negative, and γη, the earth. This word has two meanings:

  1. It signifies to consecrate, to separate from earth and common use, and to devote or dedicate to God and his service.
  • It signifies to make holy or pure. The prayer of Christ may be understood in both these senses. He prayed -
  • That they might be fully consecrated to the work of the ministry, and separated from all worldly concerns.
  • That they might be holy, and patterns of all holiness to those to whom they announced the salvation of God.
  • A minister who engages himself in worldly concerns is a reproach to the Gospel; and he who is not saved from his own sins can with a bad grace recommend salvation to others.

    Through thy truth - It is not only according to the truth of God that ministers are to be set apart to the sacred work; but it is from that truth, and according to it, that they must preach to others. That doctrine which is not drawn from the truth of God can never save souls. God blesses no word but his own; because none is truth, without mixture of error, but that which has proceeded from himself. Our Lord still acts here in reference to the conduct of the high priest, to whom it belonged to sanctify the priests, the sons of Aaron: see on John 17:1; (note).

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Sanctify them - This word means to render pure, or to cleanse from sins, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 6:11. Sanctification in the heart of a Christian is progressive. It consists in his becoming more like God and less attached to the world; in his getting the ascendency over evil thoughts, and passions, and impure desires; and in his becoming more and more weaned from earthly objects, and attached to those things which are unseen and eternal. The word also means “to consecrate, to set apart to a holy office or purpose.” See John 17:19; also the notes at John 10:36. When Jesus prayed here that God would sanctify them, he probably included both these ideas, that they might be made personally more holy, and might be truly consecrated to God as the ministers of his religion. Ministers of the gospel will be really devoted to the service of God just in proportion as they are personally pure.

    Through thy truth - Truth is a representation of things as they are. The Saviour prayed that through those just views of God and of themselves they might be made holy. To see things as they are is to see God to be infinitely lovely and pure; his commands to be reasonable and just; heaven to be holy and desirable; his service to be easy, and religion pleasant, and sin odious; to see that life is short, that death is near; that the pride, pomp, pleasures, wealth, and honors of this world are of little value, and that it is of infinite importance to be prepared to enter on the eternal state of being. He that sees all this, or that looks on things as they are, will desire to be holy. He will make it his great object to live near to God and to glorify his name. In the sanctification of the soul God makes use of all truth, or of everything fitted to make a representation of things as they are to the mind. His Word states that and no more; His Spirit and His Providence do it. The earth and the heavens, the seasons, the sunshine and the rain, are all fitted to teach us his goodness and power, and lead us to him. His daily mercies tend to the same end, and afflictions have the same design. Our own sickness teaches us that we are soon to die. The death of a friend teaches us the instability of all earthly comforts, and the necessity of seeking better joys. All these things are fitted to make just representations to the mind, and thus to sanctify the soul. As the Christian is constantly amid these objects, so he should be constantly growing in grace, and daily and hourly gaining new and deeper impressions of the great truths of religion.

    Thy word is truth - All that thou hast spoken - that is, all that is contained in the Bible. All the commands and promises of God; His representations of His own character and that of man; His account of the mission and death of His Son; of the grave, the resurrection, judgment, and eternity, all tend to represent things as they are, and are thus fitted to sanctify the soul. We have here also the testimony of the Saviour that the revelation which God has given is true. All that God has spoken is true, and the Christian should rejoice and the sinner should tremble. See Psalm 19:7-14.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Christ next prayed for the disciples, that they might not only be kept from evil, but made good. It is the prayer of Jesus for all that are his, that they may be made holy. Even disciples must pray for sanctifying grace. The means of giving this grace is, "through thy truth, thy word is truth." Sanctify them, set them apart for thyself and thy service. Own them in the office; let thy hand go with them. Jesus entirely devoted himself to his undertaking, and all the parts of it, especially the offering up himself without spot unto God, by the eternal Spirit. The real holiness of all true Christians is the fruit of Christ's death, by which the gift of the Holy Ghost was purchased; he gave himself for his church, to sanctify it. If our views have not this effect on us, they are not Divine truth, or we do not receive them by a living and a working faith, but as mere notions.
    Ellen G. White
    Christ's Object Lessons, 100-1

    “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. The Scriptures are the great agency in the transformation of character. Christ prayed, “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.” John 17:17. If studied and obeyed, the word of God works in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin, and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, conforming us in body, soul, and spirit to His own image. Then God can use us to do His will. The power given us works from within outwardly, leading us to communicate to others the truth that has been communicated to us. COL 100.1

    The truths of the word of God meet man's great practical necessity—the conversion of the soul through faith. These grand principles are not to be thought too pure and holy to be brought into the daily life. They are truths which reach to heaven and compass eternity, yet their vital influence is to be woven into human experience. They are to permeate all the great things and all the little things of life. COL 100.2

    Received into the heart, the leaven of truth will regulate the desires, purify the thoughts, and sweeten the disposition. It quickens the faculties of the mind and the energies of the soul. It enlarges the capacity for feeling, for loving. COL 101.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 317

    As a family, you need to be sanctified through the truth. Dear sister, will you see the work to be done for you and take hold of it without delay, that your influence may be saving? Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” 2T 317.1

    There are enough profitable subjects upon which to meditate and converse. The conversation of the Christian should be in heaven, whence we look for the Saviour. Meditation upon heavenly things is profitable, and will ever be accompanied with the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Our calling is holy, our profession exalted. God is purifying unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. He is sitting as a refiner and purifier of silver. When the dross and tin are removed, then His image will be perfectly reflected in us. Then the prayer of Christ for His disciples will be answered in us: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” When the truth has a sanctifying influence upon our hearts and lives, we can render to God acceptable service and can glorify Him upon the earth, being partakers of the divine nature and having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2T 317.2

    Oh, how many will be found unready when the Master shall come to reckon with His servants! Many have meager ideas of what constitutes a Christian. Self-righteousness will then be of no avail. Only those can stand the test who shall be found having on the righteousness of Christ, who are imbued with His spirit, and walk even as He walked, in purity of heart and life. The conversation must be holy, and then the words will be seasoned with grace. 2T 317.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 378

    God is the author of all truth; and truth practiced prepares the way for more advanced truth. When God's delegated servants proclaim fresh truth, the Holy Spirit moves upon the mind which has been prepared by walking in the light, quickening the perceptive faculties to discern the beauty and majesty of truth. TM 378.1

    But the truth is no truth to the one who does not reveal, by his elevated spiritual character, a power beyond that which the world can give, an influence corresponding in its sacred, peculiar character to the truth itself. He who is sanctified by the truth will exert a saving, vital influence upon all with whom he comes in contact. This is Bible religion. TM 378.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Counsels on Stewardship, 165

    It is in doing the works of Christ, ministering as He did to the suffering and afflicted, that we are to develop Christian character. It is for our good that God has called us to practice self-denial for Christ's sake, to bear the cross, to labor and sacrifice in seeking to save that which is lost. This is the Lord's process of refining, purging away the baser material, that the precious traits of character which were in Christ Jesus, may appear in the believer. All dross must be cleansed from the soul, through the sanctification of the truth.... CS 165.1

    Through the grace of Christ our efforts to bless others are not only the means of our growth in grace, but they will enhance our future, eternal happiness. To those who have been coworkers with Christ it will be said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”—The Review and Herald, June 27, 1893. CS 165.2

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