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John 17:17-19

Context
17:17 Set them apart 1  in the truth; your word is truth. 17:18 Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. 2  17:19 And I set myself apart 3  on their behalf, 4  so that they too may be truly set apart. 5 

1 tn Or “Consecrate them” or “Sanctify them.”

sn The Greek word translated set…apart (ἁγιάζω, Jagiazw) is used here in its normal sense of being dedicated, consecrated, or set apart. The sphere in which the disciples are to be set apart is in the truth. In 3:21 the idea of “practicing” (Grk “doing”) the truth was introduced; in 8:32 Jesus told some of his hearers that if they continued in his word they would truly be his disciples, and would know the truth, and the truth would make them free. These disciples who are with Jesus now for the Farewell Discourse have continued in his word (except for Judas Iscariot, who has departed), and they do know the truth about who Jesus is and why he has come into the world (17:8). Thus Jesus can ask the Father to set them apart in this truth as he himself is set apart, so that they might carry on his mission in the world after his departure (note the following verse).

2 sn Jesus now compared the mission on which he was sending the disciples to his own mission into the world, on which he was sent by the Father. As the Father sent Jesus into the world (cf. 3:17), so Jesus now sends the disciples into the world to continue his mission after his departure. The nature of this prayer for the disciples as a consecratory prayer is now emerging: Jesus was setting them apart for the work he had called them to do. They were, in a sense, being commissioned.

3 tn Or “I sanctify.”

sn In what sense does Jesus refer to his own ‘sanctification’ with the phrase I set myself apart? In 10:36 Jesus referred to himself as “the one whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world,” which seems to look at something already accomplished. Here, however, it is something he does on behalf of the disciples (on their behalf) and this suggests a reference to his impending death on the cross. There is in fact a Johannine wordplay here based on slightly different meanings for the Greek verb translated set apart (ἁγιάζω, Jagiazw). In the sense it was used in 10:36 of Jesus and in 17:17 and here to refer to the disciples, it means to set apart in the sense that prophets (cf. Jer 1:5) and priests (Exod 40:13, Lev 8:30, and 2 Chr 5:11) were consecrated (or set apart) to perform their tasks. But when Jesus speaks of setting himself apart (consecrating or dedicating himself) on behalf of the disciples here in 17:19 the meaning is closer to the consecration of a sacrificial animal (Deut 15:19). Jesus is “setting himself apart,” i.e., dedicating himself, to do the will of the Father, that is, to go to the cross on the disciples’ behalf (and of course on behalf of their successors as well).

4 tn Or “for their sake.”

5 tn Or “they may be truly consecrated,” or “they may be truly sanctified.”



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