Sanctified in Truth

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17

Jesus spoke these words during His prayer to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. Up to this point, Jesus had imparted to the disciples everything God expected—His Word and an understanding of His character. Like Jesus, the disciples were set apart from the world. Their affiliation with the living God (rather than the dead works of the law) would draw hatred from those who did not know Father or Son (see John 16:3).

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:14-16)

Jesus asked the Father to protect His own from the enemy. His request was essentially, “Don’t let his snares abort their mission.” Note that:

  • Jesus did not suggest that they should be removed from the world.
  • In order to fulfill the call of God and glorify Jesus (see John 17:10), the disciples had to remain in the world.
  • Keeping the disciples in the world was a sign of Jesus’s love for the world.

In difficult times, Job, Moses, Elijah, and Jonah each prayed to be taken out of the world. Their prayers were not answered. Our relationship with the world should reflect the love of Christ: we are here to bring the Word to the world. Some will receive it. Some will not.

To remain in the world and yet not be part of it, the disciples would need sanctification—to be “set apart” through the Word of God.

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:17-19)

Ephesians 6:14 says, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” The disciples would be fortified by the truth and by feeding on the Word, they would think, speak, and act differently than the world. Instead of being absorbed into the world, they would stand out from it and bring glory to God.

This sanctification was Jesus’s final request to the Father on behalf of the disciples. Jesus spoke of His own sanctification in John 10:36, but here He states that He will sanctify Himself for the disciples’ sake. The Anointed One had always been set apart, but here the consecration of the sacrifice rather than preparation for a task is implied. The Living Bible states it this way:

Make them pure and holy through teaching them your words of truth. As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world, and I consecrate myself to meet their need for growth in truth and holiness. (John 17:17-19 TLB)

Because Jesus was sanctified when He entered through the veil, we too can be sanctified by His Word. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Hebrews 6:19).

Next week, my granddaughter, Isabell, will be posting on what sanctification means for us today!

Today’s blog post is from Marilyn’s master class, John: The Gospel for Real Life. For more information, please visit