Thursday, August 4, 2016


Jesus uses the imperative mode to make His request for us to the Father when He says, "Sanctify (αγιασον) them in the truth, your word is truth" (John 17:17). His request for our sanctification arises out of the reality that we are not part of this world just as He is not part of this world (vs.16). Our otherworldliness leads to hostility from the world system and forms the basis of our sanctification.

Sanctify does not mean to purify which would be the verb καθαριζω (BAGD, p.387). Sanctify means to set apart for God, to consecrate or dedicate (BAGD, p. 8). The verb was frequently used in the LXX, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, for the sanctifying of priests to serve God and the sanctifying of the sacrifices for the worship of God (NIDNTT, 2:232). The priests and the sacrifices were set apart exclusively for God's use. Purity, of course, is the necessary result of sanctification because that which is sanctified must no longer be profane.

Jesus' sanctification is the basis for our sanctification (vs. 19). Jesus said, "I sanctify myself on behalf of them (υπερ αυτων) in order that (ινα) they, themselves, might be sanctified in truth." Jesus needs no purification. He sets Himself apart (sanctifies Himself) to carry out the Father's will. He is sanctified to die as our sacrifice for sin - an idea drawn from the Old Testament doctrine of sanctified sacrifices.

The truth found in God's Word is the means of our sanctification. We are sanctified in the sphere of truth (εν τη αληθεια). God sets us apart within the orbit of truth's influence so that truth defines our lives. God's Word is truth. "Your word" has the definite article (ο λογος ο σος), but "truth" does not have the definite article (αληθεια). The absence of the article is intentional. "Truth" and "Word" are not "convertible" terms (Robertson, Grammar, p. 768). The absence of the article does not make truth indefinite. Truth is qualitative. Truth describes the quality that defines the Word of God. We are sanctified as God's Word permeates our lives with His truth. We become God's as God's Word becomes ours. The more we immerse ourselves in God's Word, the more we set ourselves apart for God's work.

Service is the purpose of sanctification (vs. 18). Just as God sent (απεστειλας) Jesus into this world so Jesus sent (απεστειλα) us into the world. He was commissioned to die for us, and we are commissioned to live for Him (Carson, Farewell Discourse, p. 193). Jesus' purpose in sanctifying us is to send us out to serve Him in this world.

Jesus prays for our sanctification. He is not praying for our moral purity as much as He is praying for our consecrated service. Moral purity is a corollary to consecration. We are to live holy lives because profane lives render us useless for His service. We are sanctified to serve.

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