I am no more in the world - I have finished my work among men, and am about to leave the world. See John 17:4.
These are in the world - They will be among wicked men and malignant foes. They will be subject to trials and persecutions. They will need the same protection which I could give them if I were with them.
Keep - Preserve, defend, sustain them in trials, and save them from apostasy.
Through thine own name - Our translators seem to have understood this expression as meaning “keep by thy power,” but this probably is not its meaning. It is literally “keep in thy name.” And if the term name be taken to denote God himself and his perfections (see the note at John 17:6), it means “keep in the knowledge of thyself. Preserve them in obedience to thee and to thy cause. Suffer them not to fall away from thee and to become apostates.”
That they may be one - That they may be united.
As we are - This refers not to a union of nature, but of feeling, plan, purpose. Any other union between Christians is impossible; but a union of affection is what the Saviour sought, and this he desired might be so strong as to be an illustration of the unchanging love between the Father and the Son. See John 17:21-23.
I am no more in the world - I am just going to leave the world, and therefore they shall stand in need of peculiar assistance and support. They have need of all the influence of my intercession, that they may be preserved in thy truth.
Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me - Instead of οὑς δεδωκας μοι, Those whom thou hast given me, ABCEHLMS, Mt. BHV, and nearly one hundred others, read ᾡ, which refers to the τῳ ονοματι σου, thy name, immediately preceding. The whole passage should be read thus: Holy Father, keep them through thy own name Which thou hast given me, that they may be one, etc. By the name, here, it is evident that the doctrine or knowledge of the true God is intended; as if our Lord had said, Keep them in that doctrine Which thou hast given me, that they may be one, etc. This reading is supported by the most ample evidence and indisputable authority. Griesbach has admitted it into the text, and Professor White in his CRISEΩ S says of it, Lectio indubie genuina, "It is, without doubt, the genuine reading."
That they may be One - That they, and all that believe through their word, (the doctrine which I have given them), may be one body, united by one Spirit to me their living head. The union which Christ recommends here, and prays for, is so complete and glorious as to be fitly represented by that union which subsists between the Father and the Son.
To the early church had been entrusted a constantly enlarging work—that of establishing centers of light and blessing wherever there were honest souls willing to give themselves to the service of Christ. The proclamation of the gospel was to be world-wide in its extent, and the messengers of the cross could not hope to fulfill their important mission unless they should remain united in the bonds of Christian unity, and thus reveal to the world that they were one with Christ in God. Had not their divine Leader prayed to the Father, “Keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are”? And had He not declared of His disciples, “The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world”? Had He not pleaded with the Father that they might be “made perfect in one,” “that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me”? John 17:11, 14, 23, 21. Their spiritual life and power was dependent on a close connection with the One by whom they had been commissioned to preach the gospel. AA 90.1
Only as they were united with Christ could the disciples hope to have the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit and the co-operation of angels of heaven. With the help of these divine agencies they would present before the world a united front and would be victorious in the conflict they were compelled to wage unceasingly against the powers of darkness. As they should continue to labor unitedly, heavenly messengers would go before them, opening the way; hearts would be prepared for the reception of truth, and many would be won to Christ. So long as they remained united, the church would go forth “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Song of Solomon 6:10. Nothing could withstand her onward progress. The church would advance from victory to victory, gloriously fulfilling her divine mission of proclaiming the gospel to the world. AA 90.2
The organization of the church at Jerusalem was to serve as a model for the organization of churches in every other place where messengers of truth should win converts to the gospel. Those to whom was given the responsibility of the general oversight of the church were not to lord it over God's heritage, but, as wise shepherds, were to “feed the flock of God, ... being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2, 3); and the deacons were to be “men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.” These men were to take their position unitedly on the side of right and to maintain it with firmness and decision. Thus they would have a uniting influence upon the entire flock. AA 91.1Read in context »
God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. The church is the depositary of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ, and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory. The prayer of Christ that His church may be one as He was one with His Father will finally be answered. The rich dowry of the Holy Spirit will be given, and through its constant supply to the people of God they will become witnesses in the world of the power of God unto salvation. TM 50.1
There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach, and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places; and for any man to call the attention of the world and other churches to this church, denouncing her as Babylon, is to do a work in harmony with him who is the accuser of the brethren. Is it possible that men will arise from among us, who speak perverse things, and give voice to the very sentiments that Satan would have disseminated in the world in regard to those who keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus? Is there not work enough to satisfy your zeal in presenting the truth to those who are in the darkness of error? As those who have been made stewards of means and ability, you have been misapplying your Lord's goods in disseminating error. The whole world is filled with hatred of those who proclaim the binding claims of the law of God, and the church who are loyal to Jehovah must engage in no ordinary conflict. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Those who have any realization of what this warfare means will not turn their weapons against the church militant, but with all their powers will wrestle with the people of God against the confederacy of evil. TM 50.2
Those who start up to proclaim a message on their own individual responsibility, who, while claiming to be taught and led of God, still make it their special work to tear down that which God has been for years building up, are not doing the will of God. Be it known that these men are on the side of the great deceiver. Believe them not. They are allying themselves with the enemies of God and the truth. They will deride the order of the ministry as a system of priestcraft. From such turn away, have no fellowship with their message, however much they may quote the Testimonies and seek to entrench themselves behind them. Receive them not, for God has not given them this work to do. The result of such work will be unbelief in the Testimonies, and, as far as possible, they will make of none effect the work that I have for years been doing. TM 51.1Read in context »
The great day of God is upon us, and hasteth greatly, and there is a great work to be done, and it must be done speedily. But we find that amid the work that is to be done, there are those professing to believe the present truth who know not how to expend the means entrusted to them, and because of a lack of meekness and lowliness of heart they do not see how great is the work to be done. All those who learn of Jesus will be laborers together with God. But those who go forth to proclaim error, expending time and money in a vain work, lay upon the true workers in new fields increased burden; for instead of devoting their time to advocating truth, they are obliged to counteract the work of those who are proclaiming falsehood and claiming that they have the message from heaven. TM 44.1
If those who have done this kind of work had felt the necessity of answering the prayer of Christ that He offered to His Father just previous to His crucifixion,—that the disciples of Christ might be one as He was one with the Father,—they would not be wasting the means entrusted to them and so greatly needed to advance the truth. They would not be wasting precious time and ability in disseminating error, and thus necessitate the devoting of the laborer's time to counteracting and quenching its influence. A work of this character is inspired, not from above, but from beneath. TM 44.2
“Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of Mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” The message that has been borne by those who have proclaimed the church to be Babylon has made the impression that God has no church upon earth. TM 44.3Read in context »
The true higher education is what makes students acquainted with God and His word, and fits them for eternal life. It was to place this life within their reach that Christ gave Himself an offering for sin. His purpose of love and mercy is expressed in his prayer for His disciples. “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee: as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” Every instructor of youth is to work in harmony with this prayer, leading the students to Christ. FE 431.1
Jesus continues, expressing His care for His own: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world.” FE 431.2
Suppose we catch the spirit that breathed in this prayer that ascended to heaven. Christ here shows what methods and force He used to keep His disciples from worldly practices, maxims, and dispositions: “I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world.” Their actions, their words, their spirit, are not in harmony with the world, “even as I am not of the world.” And the Saviour adds, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” The children and youth should receive an education in the line that Christ has here indicated, that they may be separate from the world. FE 431.3Read in context »
Christ had finished the work that was given Him to do. He had gathered out those who were to continue His work among men. And He said: “I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.” “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; ... I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” John 17:10, 11, 20-23. AA 24.1
After the death of Christ the disciples were well-nigh overcome by discouragement. Their Master had been rejected, condemned, and crucified. The priests and rulers had declared scornfully, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” Matthew 27:42. The sun of the disciples’ hope had set, and night settled down upon their hearts. Often they repeated the words, “We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” Luke 24:21. Lonely and sick at heart, they remembered His words, “If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Luke 23:31. AA 25.1Read in context »