John 17:19 (NASB)

19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

Is this sanctifying of Jesus in reference to his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension, or something else entirely?

Is our, in turn being sanctified, according to this specific passage, referring to our justification, the indwelling of the Spirit for our growth and maturity, our glorification on the last day, or something else entirely?

You can use this translation or another if you think it will better help to explain the meaning of these words within this verse.

  • I'm having trouble white this question and I believe it is because of the bible translation you are using. There is a slight different tense on the word "Hagaison" which is not distinguished in many bible versions. Such and the KJV – Marc Sep 24 '15 at 4:18
  • The John 17:19 link I provided at the top, connects to a page that provides many parallel translations, use any one you want to help support your answer. I purposely left the translation ambiguous in an attempt to not try and sway anyone in terms of wording. I had to choose a word for the question for it be understood. – Matt Clark Sep 24 '15 at 4:31
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    I can appreciate your intention in linking to multiple translations rather than citing the text of one, however, for the sake of having a good, clear question that doesn't require clicking through a link, it is preferable to choose at least one and actually include the text. – bruised reed Sep 24 '15 at 5:03
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    It looks like the translators of the NLT have an opinion on this, so the question is, are they right? With questions like this, you can go one of two ways: specify a particular denominational/doctrinal frameword whose interpretation of this you'd like to know about (question needs to be edited, but would then be a good fit for this site); or focusing on the hermeneutical approach (would be better at BH.SE) – bruised reed Sep 24 '15 at 5:10
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    To put it another way, here you can ask for a dispensational understanding of this text, or a Roman Catholic one, etc. On BH.SE, you can ask about things like the meaning of the Greek words in the original text and the author's intent. – Nathaniel is protesting Sep 24 '15 at 12:34

Jesus' ultimate sanctification occurred at the cross. The cross was the primary reason Jesus came to earth: to die, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).

Unlike all the members of the human race who are born to live (though ultimately they will one day die), Jesus as the God-Man was born to die. We know, of course, his death was not the end of the story; rather, it was just the beginning. After his resurrection and ascension to heaven, the Scripture tells us that Jesus

ever liveth to make intercession for [us] (Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus as the Son of God could simply not die. Along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus is eternal. His priesthood, likewise, is eternal, and it was not based on his genealogy, since Jesus came not from the priestly line according to the flesh, but from the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14). His priesthood, we are told, resembles the priesthood of Melchizedek, who the book of Hebrews tells us was

Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but [was] made like the Son of God [and therefore] he remains a priest perpetually (v.3).

In verse 16 of the same chapter, the writer tells us Jesus became this perpetual high priest

by virtue of the power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16)

Jesus as the Son of Man, however, could die if he chose to do so. When Governor Pilate foolishly said to Jesus on the day he was crucified,

"Do you not know I have the authority to release you, and I have authority to crucify you?" (John 19:10),

Jesus told Pilate,

"You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above, for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin" (v.11).

Jesus' sanctification by his Father from eternity past meant that no one could take Jesus' life from him. Of a truth, Jesus said

"I lay down my life--in order to take it up again" (John 10:17).

Jesus' willingness to lay down his life pleased his Father. The prophet Isaiah tells us,

But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring; He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand (53:10).

Jesus' willingness to lay down his life for the sheep--you and me--not only demonstrated his love for sinners, but it demonstrated his love for his Father, and in turn it engendered anew the Father's love for him (see John 10:17a).

Sanctification, of course, is the process of being set apart by God for a specific purpose. The prophets, priests, judges and kings of the Old Covenant were set apart by God for a specific calling or purpose. Prophets foretold and forth-told God's will and word; priests interceded for themselves and the people through their service within Israel's sacrificial system; judges often delivered God's people from threatened extinction at the hands of their enemies; and kings reigned over the people in righteousness--that is, when their hearts were committed to God and God alone.

Today, God's will for his children is that they, too, be sanctified, in the sense that they separate themselves from sin and become useful in the service of their king. As Paul tells us in 2 Timothy,

. . . if anyone purifies himself from these things, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work (2:21 CSB, my emphasis).

Jesus, on the other hand, did not need to separate himself from sin, since there was no sin in him (see John 8:46). However, at the cross

[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In gratitude to God, then, for what Jesus has done on our behalf at the cross, the least we can do is to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God and to his good and acceptable and perfect will for us (Romans 12:2). As we submit ourselves to God, his sanctifying work in our hearts will progress, albeit sometimes in fits and starts, until one day it culminates in our glorification (see Romans 8:29-30).

In conclusion, from eternity past, Jesus was set apart by God to become the one and only Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36). In so doing, Jesus fulfilled the roles of both prophet and priest. Moreover, one day he will fulfill his roles of both judge and king: the judge of all mankind, and the King of kings and the Lord of lords,

so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10, 11).

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    So in this passage Christ is set apart (sanctified) for the work done on the cross, and his followers are set apart from sin to walk in obedience. Any insight on what "truth" is being referenced to specifically, at the end of this verse? Thank you for the time and thought that you put into your answer. – Matt Clark Sep 25 '15 at 1:13
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    @MattClark: Jesus did not need to be sanctified by truth, because he IS forever the incarnation of truth. We, on the other hand, NEED the truth to effect our sanctification. IOW, the Bible's truth informs our transformation. Jesus' cross-death made that transformation possible in 2 ways: 1) via the new birth, whereby our spiritual STANDING in Christ is forever secure, and 2) via progressive sanctification, whereby we become increasingly like Jesus. His sanctification was gradual, too, but only in the sense that his cross-death came at the culmination of his relatively short life, – rhetorician Sep 25 '15 at 20:20
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    when what was settled in eternity became a reality in space and time. Don. By the way, Matt, I forgot to say "you're welcome!" I enjoy participating in this open forum. Also, your question was a good one. Keep up the good work! – rhetorician Sep 25 '15 at 20:29

In John 17:19, what is Jesus referring to specifically regarding His sanctification, and how does this then apply to us being sanctified?

In the context of this portion of the prayer Jesus is making to the Father Jesus is concerned with his disciples. He declares that they are not of the world as a result of the word which they have been given. In acknowledgment of the difficulty they can expect, Jesus asks not that they be taken out of the world, but that they be protected from the evil in the world.

John 17:14-21 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. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 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.

We get a little understanding here that some of the protection they will need will result from the sanctification they receive through the word which is truth.

It can be helpful at this point to consider some previously described concepts.

Jesus is called the word of God.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Jesus is called truth.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Jesus and the Father live within the believer.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

The Spirit of truth is also in believers.

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The process of sanctification (setting aside) is in two parts. The first, Jesus (who is truth) is setting himself aside for our benefit. Secondly we are sanctified by Jesus so that we can go into the world protected by the sanctification of truth which is Christ in us.

This is seen in the comparison of us with Jesus to Jesus with the Father. It is explicitly described that this process is not for the disciples only but for all who believe.

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  • Some good points to consider here, thanks Tim. – Matt Clark Sep 26 '15 at 1:04

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