Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.


For the world.

John 17:9–11

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. ”

What does Jesus mean when he says, “I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours”? Why contrast praying for the world with praying for those whom You have given Me? Wouldn’t it make more sense if He just said He doesn’t pray for everyone?

Actually, He did say that. The Greek word kosmos (κοσμος) means world, but sometimes in the sense of the entirety of humanity. This sense is obvious in passages like Matthew 5:14–16.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

We are the light of people, not plants and animals. (Note: “men” in verse 16 is ανθρωπων “anthropone” from which we get “anthropology”. It means people; the Greek word for a male is ανδρος “andros”.)

And, unless animals can believe in Jesus, the word “kosmos” in John 3:16 must mean people.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

But even more important than all that is the purpose construction in verse 11.

Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, [for the purpose] that they may be one as We are.

Not only is this an explicit statement of the unity of the Trinity, it implies the oneness of Christians.

That oneness is the purpose of keeping those Christians.

Christianity needs unity desperately. Our disunity is a catastrophe.

Look at the challenges we face. Evil is advancing on many fronts. Yet we waste time arguing over doctrinal details. How did we get so distracted?

We’re not separating the wheat from the chaff. We need to recognize minor issues as minor. The command to love fellow Christians in central to our faith.

Unity is important.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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