Feb 18, 2008
Good Morning Reggie: This verse states Our Lord as saying, “I pray not
for the world.” It has come up re intercession. Does it mean that WE
do not pray for the world also? Happy to have you back with us.
Hi, That’s a very interesting question. I’ve always noticed that Christ prayed for the Jews but not for the world. He prayed for Peter that his faith fail not, but there’s no record that He ever prayed thus for Judas. There are some passages that suggest why.
A number of passages show that that Judas was not given to Christ in the same sense as the other eleven. Judas was chosen to be among the twelve to fulfill the scripture, but was not chosen in the eternal sense, since he never believed (compare Jn 6:64-70 with 13:1-11). So your question raises many others. But this much seems clear: Regardless of a person’s view of things like election or predestination, unless someone is a Universalist, it is agreed by all that it has never been the Father’s purpose to save other than those that believe out of the world. The provision of the predestined Lamb is restricted to the “whosoever will” of faith. Only these are definitely given to the Son for the saving and the keeping. “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine … those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost” (Jn 17:9, 12), also, “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (Jn 6:39).
This shows that Christ has a special familial responsibility towards these that no other can claim. Christ’s high priestly intercession has ‘particular’ limitation to the regenerate people of God, simply because only they are His in this unique sense. “Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal; the Lord knows them that are His” (2 Tim 2:19)
Jesus is not at liberty to pray for the world, because He is under authority to pray only in accordance with the perfect will of God. His prayers are limited to those only that do not attempt to come up by any other way than the one divinely-approved means. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them: (Heb 7:25). We are free to pray that certain ones (not the whole world) will come to God by Him. To pray that the whole world come is not in keeping with His declared intention, and is, of course, futile. “I do not say that he should pray for it” (1Jn 5:16).
I mentioned Christ’s prayer for the nation of the Jews. I believe this fulfilled in that final elect remnant that will be miraculously preserved through the throes of Jacob’s trouble until they too are made “willing in the day of His power” (Ps 102:13 with 110:13) in perfect analogy with Paul’s sovereign divine arrest on the Damascus road (Gal 1:15-16).
What a comfort to know that He prays for His own, and particularly that our faith ‘fail not’ in the day of testing. Wow! That’s Grace with a capital G! “Who (specifically those that the Father has eternally given to the Son) are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Did we ever imagine it was anything less that is keeping us? Did we ever imagine that there was ever any hope of our faith unless He is not only its ‘author’ but necessarily also its ‘finisher’?
Oh to grace how great a debtor! Reggie