King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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John 17

Christ’s prayer for himself. (1-5) His prayer for his disciples. (6-10) His prayer. (11-26)

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Christ’s prayer for himself

1 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:

2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

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

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

His prayer for his disciples

6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out 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 which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

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

His prayer

11 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.

12 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.

13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

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

15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

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

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art 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 gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 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.

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

25 O righteous 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 declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible 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. Wi.

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 S. Aug. says, (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 Cor. v. 15. Wi. — 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. S. Chrys. 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. S. Aug. 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 S. Chrys. 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 Jo. 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. Wi. — 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 Jo. xi.

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 Cor. xv. 26. Ephes. i. 22. Wi.

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 v. 10. — And to me thou gavest them, inasmuch as I am become man, their Saviour, their Redeemer, &c. Wi. — 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. S. Aug. tract. 106. in Joan.

Ver. 7-8. Now they have known that all things which thou gavest me, are from thee. That is, says S. Aug.[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. Wi.

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 (v. 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. Wi. — 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 S. Aug. to whom equally belong all things, and all persons; on which words S. Chrys. also says, (hom. lxxxi.) Do you see the equality? Wi. — 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. S. Chrys. 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 S. Aug. takes notice, that Christ saith afterwards, (v. 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, (Matt. 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 S. Aug. 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 S. Chrys. S. Cyril, and S. Aug. on these words. Wi. — 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 S. Chrys. 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. Psal. cviii. He hath perished, that is, now is about being lost, by his own fault, says S. Chrys. on this place. And S. Aug. on Psal. cxxxviii. How did the devil enter into the heart of Judas? he could not have entered, had not he given him place. Wi. — 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 S. Aug. (lib. de Unit. Eccl. c. 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. S. Aug. 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. Wi. — For the same intent as Christ himself was sent, were the apostles sent also: whence S. Paul says, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and he has placed in us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor. v. 19. Glossarium.

Ver. 19. And for them do I sanctify myself[6]. S. Aug. expounds it, I sanctify them, who are my members, in myself. The interpretation of S. Chrys. and S. 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. Wi. — By this Christ shews, that he sanctified the apostles, by sanctifying himself; because they are the members of his body. S. Aug. tract. 107. in Joan. — Or, according to S. Chrys. 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, Rom. xii. Exhibit your members a living sacrifice, holy, &c. S. Chrys. 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; (S. Aug. 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. S. Chrys. 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. B.

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.” S. Chrys. hom. lxxxi. in Joan.

Ver. 22. The glory which thou gavest me, I have given to them. S. Chrys. expounds this of the power of working miracles: S. Aug. 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. Wi.

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. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxi. in Joan.

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[1] V. 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] V. 3. Ut cognoscant te, &c. S. Aug. tract. 105. p. 671. Ordo Verborum est, ut te, & quem misisti Jesum Christum, cognoscant solum verum Deum. See also S. Amb. (l. v. de fide, c. ii. t. 4. p. 138.) where he treats of this verse at large. S. Chrys. 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 S. Greg. Naz. Orat. xxxvi. p. 586.

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

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

[5] V. 12. Cum essem, cum eis, &c. He speaks, says S. Chrys. as man, os anthropos dialegetai. hom. pa. p. 480. — Ibid. nisi filius perditionis, ei me, &c. nisi, it is not, alla, sed. — Non perdom, that is, says S. Chrys. 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. S. Aug. Quomodo diabolus intravit in cor Judæ, non intraret, nisi ille locum daret.

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