John 17:1-26—Jesus’s Prayer in Behalf of His Apostles

Much of Jesus’s great Intercessory Prayer focuses on his concern for his apostles, but it is about our needs as well, for he said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; hat they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” These are the words of his prayer:

6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

That last phrase, “I am glorified in them,” reads like a remembrance of God’s words to Moses.

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39).

We find it echoed again in the very last words of the Savior’s prayer.

26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).

Earlier in John’s gospel, he introduced Jesus’s conversation with his apostles with these words:

1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end (John 13:1).

Thereafter, throughout their conversation as John recorded it, Jesus repeatedly reminded the apostles of their eternal relationships with each other, with himself, and with his Father. Here are just two examples:

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him (John 14:20-22).

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:7-11).

Jesus’s prayer continues:

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:11-13)

That last phrase asks, “How and why?” At first glance it appears to say that they are a source of his joy. That would be consistent with many of the things he told them. However, with a more careful reading we discover that it is about their fulfillment as a extension of his joy. Now we must ask, as did Nicodemus, “How can these things be? (John 3:9).” Jesus answered the Jewish scholar’s question by explaining his own eternal identity and the power of his Atonement. If we are to answer it here, we must approach it the same way. We must begin by asking “Who is Jesus?” His revelation to the Prophet Joseph that is Section 93 in the Doctrine and Covenaants gives the answer we seek. It tells of his eternal nature and contains a key by which we can discover how his Atonement works so “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

26 The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
27 And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.
…………..
38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers (D&C 93:36-39).

“Innocent before God” in verse 38 is the key.
My best friend at BYU read this verse to me and observed, “Innocence is a relationship.” Ultimately, our innocence is the quality of our being “before God.” We cannot be innocent unless it is within the trust of that comradery. That same principle is also true in this world. Showing how it works in our society may be an effective way of showing how it works with the Atonement, and how the apostles could have Jesus’s “joy fulfilled in themselves.” Here is a parable.
Johnny is an intelligent, healthy child who is inquisitive and rambunctious. While he is at grandma’s house he does something he shouldn’t and breaks one of her favorite dishes. Johnny is terrified. Grandma told him to be careful but he wasn’t paying attention and it got broken. He knows he has to tell her, so in his fear he finds her and shows her the broken dish. Grandma loves Johnny and understands about little boys. She puts her arms around him, tells him thanks for showing her, and explains that he is more important to her than the dish. Everything is OK. Johnny is innocent in grandma’s eyes because she has forgiven him. She is concerned about Johnny and to her the dish is not the issue. Because it is her dish, she, and only she, can make him innocent through her love.
But that is only half the story. Johnny is still afraid and embarrassed. He is not at all sure grandma is not just pretending she is not angry. In a strange but real turnabout, grandma is not innocent in Johnny’s eyes. The dish is still a factor in his thinking even if not in hers. Until he is sure he can trust her, he will not be completely comfortable where she is.

For each of them, innocence is defined by their individual perceptions of their relationship. One’s innocence is only real when it is reflected from the eyes of the other person.
The Savior’s Atonement is something like that. Just as grandma is the only one who can make Johnny innocent of the broken dish, so the Savior is the only one who can make us fully innocent of our sins. He has suffered more than we can suffer so only he can truly say “I understand and it is OK.” His love can take all the burden of guilt from us. However, like Johnny, until we are able to recognize and accept his total love, we still struggle under the burden of not trusting him. That trust is one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. When we are worthy of the constant companionship of the Spirit, the trust will be an integral part of who we are, and we can accept our own innocence in the Savior’s eyes.
There are several veils that separate us from God. One is the veil of forgetfulness that takes from our memory the trust and motives we had in the premortal world that enabled us to dare to enter this difficult time and place. Another is the sense of guilt that we have accumulated while we have been here. It cripples our ability and even our willingness to believe the Savior will ever think of us as being innocent as little Johnny.
This veil of guilt that separates us from God is of our own making. Therefore, it places upon us the responsibility to go behind that veil so we may be where God is. He provides a way and the instructions so we may do that. It is a strange veil, for we can not see it at all. We must recognize that it is there before we can open it to him, as he has already opened it from his side to us.
We are confined to remain outside that veil until we acknowledge that it is real, and are willing to open it, and to let him see us as we really are.
The Atonement has already established the terms of Jesus’s part of our relationship. On his part, those terms have already been met. He has accomplished them in his agony in this world and our being in this world gives us the opportunity to establish ours. Our part is keeping the covenants and honoring the ordinances that we seal in charity in our relationship to him and others.
Charity is the final step. In this world we learn sorrow, disappointment, and hurt. They either make us hard and angry, or enable us to have empathy and compassion for others. The latter enables each of us to play the part of grandma to other people. Until we can acknowledge the innocence of others, the veil that separates us from the Savior’s love remains a wall we are unable to breach. Their innocence, like ours can only be defined in trusting relationships.
For us to achieve that end, sin has to be defined differently from cultural “right and wrong.” For example, breaking the dish was culturally wrong but if it were an accident then there would be no fault except foolishness. To be a real sin it would have to be the product of a still earlier sin. The first and perhaps the greater sin would be the anger or contempt by which we justified our attack on grandma’s dish. The attitude that initiated the deed is often a greater sin than the deed itself because such attitudes are always contemptuous, self aggrandizing, and blind to other people’s needs.
Sin is first the thought then the action which is the consequence of the thought. The dish is broken. Innocence comes through grandma’s love. But if breaking it was deliberate, then the premeditation must be repented of before Johnny can acknowledge and accept the innocence grandma offers. That principle is much of the burden of the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount.

21 Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;
22 But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment.
…….
23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—
24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.
…….
27 Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery;
28 But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.
29 Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart;
30 For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.
…….
43 And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy;
44 But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.
…….
14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (3 Nephi 12:21 through 13:15).

As Johnny must accept grandma’s love with the same genuineness that she gives it to him, so he must give it to others so that each may be innocent in the friendship they share.
I believe it was that principle the Savior was expressing in his prayer when he said, “…that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” A way of describing the celestial society is that it is a perfect comradery that is born of mutual understanding, mutual acceptance, and mutual love. This is the way the Prophet Joseph described it:

92 And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;
93 Before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.
94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;
95 And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.
96 And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one.

the criteria for that kind of salvation as it is listed in Moroni 7:23-24. Comparing that with the similar list in 2 Peter 1:5-7, we find a one-to-one coloration with all the ideas except “hope” and “brotherly kindness.” However, thoughtful analysis shows that they are each used the same way, as the entrance into charity. Therefore, it follows that in those passages hope must mean the same as philadelphia.
Then, to check its correctness, I compared that conclusion with hope in Moroni 7: 39-48. It is apparent that in all three contexts. Peter’s philadelphia, and Mormon’s hope, each is equivalent to hesed. Because with each, as with hesed , it is the necessary prerequisite to charity.
As an entree to charity, the hesed relationship must be with one’s own true Self, with God, and with those individuals who share one’s personal hesed environment. (One’s Self, like a temple, is too sacred to be entrusted to just anyone.)
I have previously defined hope as “living as though the covenants are already fulfilled.” That remains true, except it is now apparent that one cannot live to the eternal covenants without an honest hesed relationship with Self, God, and the people we love. Hesed & hope & ultimately charity are equivalents

The Savior’s prayer in behalf of his apostles continued.

14 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.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
…………………..
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:14-26)

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Chapter 51 * John 17 & 13:38—All Things Are By Covenant

The Savior’s prayer in John 17 is a review and report of his and his apostles’ eternal covenants. All things that matter and persist in eternity are made by covenants that are validated by ordinances. The Savior was explaining that concept when he said,

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23, 3 Nephi 14:21-23).

The wording in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is the same as in 3 Nephi. However, the Prophet’s Inspired Version clarifies it. Where Matthew says “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23), the Joseph Smith translation says, “Ye never knew me” (JST Matthew 7:33).
The Book of Mormon shows that the Matthew version is correct, but the Prophet’s change shows that the Savior’s intent was to describe a relationship that never happened.
Herbert B. Huffmon has shown that the Hebrew word “yada”, translated “know” in the Bible, is a technical term “to indicate mutual legal recognition” in a covenant or treaty and “is also used as a technical term for recognition of the treaty stipulations as binding.”{1} He cites “a number of texts in which “yada” would seem to be used in reference to covenant recognition of Israel by Yahweh.” One of those is Amos 3:2.

1 Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,
2 You only have I known [yada`] of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? …
7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret [sode] unto his servants the prophets (Amos 3:1-7).

In verse 7, “secret” is sode in Hebrew and refers to the covenants made at the Council in Heaven. Jeremiah understood this, for when he was called to be a prophet the Lord said,

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew [yada`] thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).

As Jeremiah struggled to teach Israel to repent he prayed, “But thou, O Lord, knowest [yada] me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee” (Jeremiah 12:3).
Huffmon cites that verse as an example of “the frequent combination, ‘know’ and ‘see’” and Deuteronomy 34:10 is an example of one “whom Yahweh knew face to face.”

10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew [yada`] face to face. 12:3).

The beautiful 36th Psalm puts it all together in a single verse.

10 O continue thy lovingkindness [hesed] unto them that know [yada`] thee; and thy righteousness [zedek] to the upright in heart (Psalms 36:10).

So it appears that when the Savior says “I never knew you,” or “You never knew me,” that what he was saying is “I never made a covenant with you,” or “No covenant you made with me was ever sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.”
Once again, we are back where we began: at the Council in Heaven where we made those covenants. One of those covenants is what James called the “royal law.”

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well (James 2:8)

John assures us that the royal law was taught “from the beginning.”

7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth
9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him (1 John 2:7-10).

Nothing ever changes! That royal law which was taught “from the beginning” is still the sealing power that binds those in the celestial kingdom together in a perfect order. We are assured,

1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy (D&C 130:1-2).

It is, and has always been, about relationships: with family, with friends, and with God, and those lasting relations are founded upon eternal covenants.

——————
FOOTNOTE

{1}Stephen D. Ricks, and RoseAnn Benson—“Treaties and Covenants: Ancient Near Eastern Legal Terminology in the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2005), Volume – 14, Issue – 1, Pages: 48-61, 128-29.
Herbert B. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew Yada’,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No.1 B 1 (Feb., 1966), pp. 31-7 Published by: The American Schools of Oriental Research Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1356118 Accessed: 09/02/2015 12:10
The Hebrew word Vada` (Strong # 3045) also can mean the very intimate relationship in marriage, which also has strong contractual overtones. Adultery violates the terms of that contract.
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Chapter 51 — John 17 & John 13:38 — All Things Are By Covenant

Chapter 51 — John 17 & John 13:38 — All Things Are By Covenant

The Savior’s prayer in John 17 is a review and report of his and his apostles’ eternal covenants. All things that matter and persist in eternity are made by covenants that are validated by ordinances. The Savior was explaining that concept when he said,

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23, 3 Nephi 14:21-23).

The wording in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is the same as in 3 Nephi. However, the Prophet’s Inspired Version clarifies it. Where Matthew says “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23), the Joseph Smith translation says, “Ye never knew me” (JST Matthew 7:33).

The Book of Mormon shows that the Matthew version is correct, but the Prophet’s change shows that the Savior’s intent was to describe a relationship that never happened.
Herbert B. Huffmon has shown that the Hebrew word yada, translated “know” in the Bible, is a technical term “to indicate mutual legal recognition” in a covenant or treaty and “is also used as a technical term for recognition of the treaty stipulations as binding.”{1} He cites “a number of texts in which “yada” would seem to be used in reference to covenant recognition of Israel by Yahweh.” One of those is Amos 3:2.

1 Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,
2 You only have I known [yada`] of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret [sode] unto his servants the prophets (Amos 3:1-7).

In verse 7, “secret” is sode in Hebrew and refers to the covenants made at the Council in Heaven. Jeremiah understood this, for when he was called to be a prophet the Lord said,

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew [yada`] thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).

As Jeremiah struggled to teach Israel to repent he prayed, “But thou, O Lord, knowest [yada] me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee” (Jeremiah 12:3).

Huffmon cites that verse as an example of “the frequent combination, ‘know’ and ‘see’” and Deuteronomy 34:10 is an example of one “whom Yahweh knew face to face.”

10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew [yada`] face to face. 12:3).

The beautiful 36th Psalm puts it all together in a single verse.

10 O continue thy lovingkindness [hesed] unto them that know [yada`] thee; and thy righteousness [zedek] to the upright in heart (Psalms 36:10).

So it appears that when the Savior says “I never knew you,” or “You never knew me,” that what he was saying is “I never made a covenant with you,” or “No covenant you made with me was ever sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.”

Once again, we are back where we began: at the Council in Heaven where we made those covenants. One of those covenants is what James called the “royal law.”

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well (James 2:8)

John assures us that the royal law was taught “from the beginning.”

7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth
9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him (1 John 2:7-10).

Nothing ever changes! That royal law which was taught “from the beginning” is still the sealing power that binds those in the celestial kingdom together in a perfect order. We are assured,

1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy (D& C 130:1-2).

It is, and has always been, about relationships: with family, with friends, and with God, and those lasting relations are founded upon eternal covenants.
——————
FOOTNOTE

{1} Stephen D. Ricks, and RoseAnn Benson—“Treaties and Covenants: Ancient Near Eastern Legal Terminology in the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2005), Volume – 14, Issue – 1, Pages: 48-61, 128-29.
Herbert B. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew Yada’,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No.1 B 1 (Feb., 1966), pp. 31-7 Published by: The American Schools of Oriental Research Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1356118 Accessed: 09/02/2015 12:10
The Hebrew word Vada` (Strong # 3045) also can mean the very intimate relationship in marriage, which also has strong contractual overtones. Adultery violates the terms of that contract.

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John 17:22—“And this is Life Eternal”

John 17:22—“And this is Life Eternal, that They Might Know Thee the Only True God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast Sent”

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:1-3).

The Savior himself explained that verse to the Prophet Joseph:

21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.
23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.
24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law (D&C 132: 21-24).

“To know God” does not mean the same as “to know about God.” Whether Jesus was speaking in Greek or Hebrew the word he would have used means the same: to know intimately and the intimacy has a strong covenantal connotation.{1} For example, we encountered that same word in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said:

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).

One way to understand that is that Jesus said, “You and I have never entered into a covenant, so why are you here?”
The mood and the message of the Savior’s magnificent prayer is established with some of his first words, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” This is an assertion of the perpetuation of past, present, and future relationships. This great prayer in John 17 is a study on the theme of eternal relationships. In that prayer, Jesus affirms his relationship with his Father and theirs with the apostles and with those who will believe in the apostles’ words.

The stated object of his prayer is to preserve the eternal love that created those relationships before this world and to project them into the future eternities. Jesus prayed:

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 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.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:19-23).

I think the best way to understand the relationship that Jesus is looking forward to is to examine the characteristics of those persons in the celestial kingdom as described in Doctrine and Covenants section 76.

The importance of that is easy to grasp when we understand the revelation on the three degrees of glory as a definition of their societal relationships. The greatest differences between the three degrees of glory as described in that revelation as the quality of their togetherness—or lack thereof.

Little is said about those in the terrestrial world except that they are “honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men,” and “are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus. Their associations with each other are probably as congenial and amicable as it was in this world.

Those in the telestial kingdom are a sorry lot. Their “glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament.” “These are they who are thrust down to hell.” “These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.” They appear to be as single and separate as the stars, sharing nothing. They are resurrected, so they cannot murder each other and the property arrangements probably preclude theft and fraud.

They go through eternity filled with hate, not really able to hurt each other so they are limited to whatever satisfaction they get by telling lies that may stir even more discontent.
The “glory” of the celestial kingdom is both a product of and a definition of their unity and mutual love, hesed. This is a united society where peace is the perpetual and universal state. There is no place in that part of the revelation where anyone (not even the Father or his Son) is defined as a single unit, but all are described with characteristics that are common to each of the others.

50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—
51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
55 They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—
59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
60 And they shall overcome all things.
61 Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.
62 These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
63 These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.
64 These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection.
65 These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.
66 These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
67 These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.
68 These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.
69 These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.
70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical. (D&C 76:50-70)

Jesus’s prayer was projecting into the celestial society which is not so much about separate relationships as it is about multiple friendships that are intertwined into a single, cultural whole. The Savior’s prayer continues by further clarifying their mutual love, still linking their present with their eternal past.

4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word (John 17:4-6).

The “glory which I had with thee before the world was” is also about multiple individual friendships. We have two short looks into that premortal society. One is through Nephi’s description of his father’s sode experience.

8 And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God (1 Nephi 1:8).

Lehi saw the members of the Council in Heaven who were not actually singing, but were “in the attitude of singing and praising their God.” What he recognized was their unspoken, but ever pervasive joy and love.

The other one was is Enoch’s personal description of his own sode experience.

1 On the tenth heaven, which is called Aravoth, I saw the appearance of the Lord’s face, like iron made to glow in fire, and brought out, emitting sparks, and it burns.
2 Thus in a moment of eternity I saw the Lord’s face, but the Lord’s face is ineffable, marvelous and very awful, and very, very terrible.
3 And who am I to tell of the Lord’s unspeakable being, and of his very wonderful face? And I cannot tell the quantity of his many instructions, and various voices, the Lord’s throne is very great and not made with hands, nor the quantity of those standing round him, troops of cherubim and seraphim, nor their incessant singing, nor his immutable beauty, and who shall tell of the ineffable greatness of his glory.{2}

Enoch says one cannot tell “the quantity of those standing round him, troops of cherubim and seraphim, nor their incessant singing.” Their “incessant singing” would sound like chaos unless, like Lehi, what he was describing was an attitude of shared incessant joy.

What they have described to us is the expression of a large community. It could not be summarized better than by the Savior’s words, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us;” or by these concluding words of the revelation to the Prophet Joseph:

116 Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him;
117 To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves;
118 That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.
119 And to God and the Lamb be glory, and honor, and dominion forever and ever. Amen (D&C 76:116-19).

Even though the “seeing and knowing” are gifts to individuals, they are also an induction into a very privileged community.

—————————-
ENDNOTES

{1} Yada (Hebrew) Strong # 3045, and ginosko (Greek) # 1097.

{2} The Secrets of Enoch in Charles, R. H., ed. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), Chapter 22:1-3
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John 16:15-24—Ask, and Ye Shall Receive, that Your Joy May Be Full

Jesus said “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Prayer, especially the kind of prayer the Savior was talking about, is best understood as part of a viable friendship-relationship. A true prayer is quite different from a nearly-memorized and oft-repeated shopping list. It is a conversation that reflects and expands the relationship of the participants.

The Savior had just entrusted his apostles with the power of his NAME. A name is an identity. To be given permission to use another’s name as though it were one’s own presupposes a remarkable trust. That trust presupposes covenants that are already in place that give reason for the trust. In the New Testament, “faith” is the Greek word pistis which is best translated as “contract” or “covenant.” A prayer in faith is an affirmation on the part of both parties of the validity of the covenant. Therefore, a prayer in faith must be a conversation where one listens as well as speaks. That brings us full circle: Prayer is part of a viable friendship-relationship, hesed.

The Savior had promised that he would return to his apostles after his resurrection. He went beyond that and gave them the authority to use his name even when he was no longer with them. The Savior said:

15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
……………….
22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing [but it shall be done unto thee— JST]. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:15-24).

In that statement, “ye” is plural. It is a promise he gave them collectively as well as individually. By giving them his name, the Savior had established a bond among them and with himself—that their “joy may be full.”

A name is a legal identity. That is especially so in matters of priesthood authority. To be given another’s name is like being given their reputation and resources, or in a legal sense, their power of attorney. To use another’s name without authorization is a kind of forgery. “Identity theft” is a phrase we use now. “Taking the name in vain” is the scriptural way of saying it. The Hebrew word translated “vain” also means falsely, lying, and vanity (Strong # 7723), so “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is to use it falsely without authorization or vainly without intelligent thought.

The kind prayer that the Savior was explaining to his apostles was not unique to them. He made the same promise and taught the same thing to his Nephite disciples.

19 Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
20 And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
21 Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed (3 Nephi 18:19-21).

The sanctity with which God holds his own name is illustrated by the covenant he made with Nephi, the son of Helaman. While pondering, Nephi had an intimate conversation with God.

3 And it came to pass …. as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:
4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done …
5 … I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

Then the Lord sealed the covenant by stating the NAMES of each of them.

6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people (Helaman 10:2-7).

Pondering, as Mormon used the word here, is like a thought-filled conversation with a dear friend, where neither say much, but their thinking is in sync. When the other party in the conversation is the Holy Ghost, the pondering is a thoughtful prayer. President Joseph F. Smith described his pondering very much like that.

1 On the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures;
2 And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world (D&C 138:1-2).

Before Moroni hid the gold plates, he added several bits of historical information which were not in 3 Nephi. Among them is this conversation between the Savior and his Nephite disciples.

1 The words of Christ, which he spake unto his disciples, the twelve whom he had chosen, as he laid his hands upon them—
2 And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles (Moroni 2:1-3).

That occurred soon after the resurrected Christ came among the Nephites. Later on, after he had left them, we are told how his disciples maintained their relationship and how the Savior taught them about the significance of using his name.

1 And it came to pass that as the disciples of Jesus were journeying and were preaching the things which they had both heard and seen, and were baptizing in the name of Jesus, it came to pass that the disciples were gathered together and were united in mighty prayer and fasting.
2 And Jesus again showed himself unto them, for they were praying unto the Father in his name; and Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them: What will ye that I shall give unto you?
3 And they said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter.
4 And the Lord said unto them: Verily, verily, I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?
5 Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;
6 And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.
7 Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
8 And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church
(3 Nephi 27:1-8)

In each of those instances, we are not only told about the importance of using his name correctly, but we are also told about how they prayed. The Savior instructed, “Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer.” That is what they did, “the disciples were gathered together and were united in mighty prayer and fasting.”

We may judge from the way that the phrase “mighty prayer” is used elsewhere in the scriptures that “mighty” is not about emotional or urgent intensity. Rather, it suggests a conversation and implies priesthood authority as well.

The phrase “mighty prayer” is used several times in the scriptures. Each time it is a description of a prophet’s prayer. In the Book of Mormon, Nephi was the first to use the phrase when he quoted his own psalm as a prayer on the small plates.

24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them. (2 Nephi 4:24-25)

Enos’s prayer culminated in his hearing the voice of God.

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away (Enos 1:3-6).

Mormon shows that the mighty prayer was sometimes a group prayer. In describing Alma’s successful mission among the people of Zarahemla he reports:

6 Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God (Alma 6:6).

“Mighty prayer” appears to be a conversation that ends with a covenant. That promise is expressed differently in other scriptures. For example, the Savior said:

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

That promise is repeated in Luke 11:9-10 and 3 Nephi 14:7-8. In our own dispensation, the Lord told the Prophet Joseph and some of his closest friends:

62 And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near—
63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you (D&C 88:62-64).

John the Beloved tied the promise to its ultimate condition: that we love one another. Then he expanded that relationship to our mutual love of the Savior

22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his [God’s] commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us (1 John 3 22-24).

13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1 John 5:13-15).

That brings us full circle where the Savior said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Prayer, especially the kind of prayer the Savior was talking about, is a conversation between friends

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John 15:26-27, 16:1-17 — The Spirit of Truth and Jesus’s Forty Day Ministry — LeGrand Baker

It is likely that in these verses Jesus was promising his apostles that the Holy Ghost would come to them after he was not with them any more. This is what Jesus told his apostles at Jerusalem.

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
……………..
5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?
6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (John 15:26, 16:5-7).

The Comforter in verse 7 may have been the Holy Ghost. However, there is another possibility that I would like to explore. It could be that he was speaking of himself in the second person. Referring to oneself that way was typical of writers in New Testament times. For example, the Savior referred to himself as “him” and “he” in John 17, and John never describes himself as “me.” Rather, he refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

This second interpretation of Jesus’s words being about himself is possible because there are several scriptures where the Savior identifies himself as the “Spirit of Truth.” It would be instructive if we knew whether or not he were doing the same thing here

It may be that Jesus was promising that he would return after his resurrection to teach them things they could not now understand. If that is correct, then his 40 day ministry would have been the fulfillment of that promise.

Here is what the Savior promised his apostles.

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?
6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove [convict Strong # 1651 ]the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
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.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? (John 15:26-27, 16:1-17)

Here are some examples.

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you (John 14:15-18).

We can know that Jesus was referring to himself as both “another Comforter” and as “the Spirit of truth” because we have Jesus’s own commentary on those verses in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph.

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you who have assembled yourselves together to receive his will concerning you:
2 Behold, this is pleasing unto your Lord, and the angels rejoice over you; the alms of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world.
3 Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.
4 This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;
5 Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son— (D&C 88:1-5).

=====================

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you (John 14:15-18).

====================

7 And he [John the Baptist] bore record, saying: I saw his glory, that he was in the beginning, before the world was;
8 Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation—
9 The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.
10 The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.
11 And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.
…………………….
26 The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
27 And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things (D&C 93:7-11, 26-28).

If the Spirit of truth Jesus was talking about is the Holy Ghost rather than himself, then what I write below is not correct (It sure wouldn’t be the first time!).

It seems to me that Jesus may have been telling his apostles that he must leave them now, but when he is gone he will have a greater power to assist and teach them than he had when he was surrounded by persistent mortal enemies in this world.

The only example I know of that partly relates to that situation is when Joseph Smith explained to Benjamin F. Johnson that Joseph’s own death would give him greater power to assist the Saints when his enemies were not hindering him at every turn. It is difficult to know how Joseph Smith felt then. He knew and later said “that he had to die.” {1} He wished to stay with his friends, yet he longed for a rest. Benjamin F. Johnson reported a conversation that occurred not long before the Prophet died. While Joseph was visiting the Johnson home,

with a deep drawn breath, as a sigh of weariness, he sank down heavily in his chair, and said, “O! I do get tired and weary, that at times I almost yearn for my rest,” and then proceeded to briefly recount to us some of the most stirring events of his life’s labors, sufferings and sacrifices, and then he said, “I am getting tired and would like to go to my rest.” His words and tone thrilled and shocked me, and like an arrow pierced my hopes that he would long remain with us, and I said, as with a heart full of tears, “O! Joseph, what could we, as a people, do without you and what would become of the great Latter-day work, if you should leave us?” He saw and was touched by my emotions, and in reply he said, “Benjamin, I would not be far away from you, and if on the other side of the veil I would still be working with you, and with a power greatly increased, to roll on this kingdom.” {2}

Joseph’s most immediate task was to prepare the Church for his own death. The Saints could never be prepared for the emotional shock, but he did need to settle the questions of who would have the responsibility of directing the Church after its Prophet was dead? {3}

After Jesus’s resurrection, the author of the gospel of Luke wrote the book of Acts. In the first sentences of Acts, he tells that Jesus remained with the apostles for 40 days after his resurrection and that he taught them “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me (Acts 1:1-4).

There are a number of apocryphal writings that tell about Jesus’s 40 day ministry. One of the most fascinating to me is the Pistis Sophia. I suspect that if Joseph Smith had translated it into “Mormonese” it would be among our prized possessions. However, he did not. Hugh Nibley has given us the next best thing. Nibley wrote a shortened and readable rendition in Appendix IV of his The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri. {4}

The following are five excerpts from Nibley’s interpretation of the Pistis Sophia. The first is an explanation of what the Pistis Sophia is. The other four are examples of the kind of teaching the Savior may have given his apostles after his resurrection.

The Pistis Sophia is a third-century Christian work from Egypt, written in the Coptic dialect of Thebes, where our own Book of Breathings—a near contemporary—was found. The opening statement, that Jesus taught these things to his disciples “after he had risen from the dead” and that they extended to “the first degree (topos, phase, step) of the ordinances (mysteria),” namely, “what is within the veil,” puts the writing in the category of the “Forty Day Literature,” i.e., the higher teachings given by the Lord to the apostles in secret after his resurrection, many of which writings were hidden up by the ancient Christian communities and have come to light only in our own day. {page -273}
————–
For this purpose I (Jesus) have brought the key of the mysteries of the heavens, without which no flesh on earth could be saved, since without an ordinance (mysterion) no one, whether righteous or unrighteous, shall enter into the kingdom of the Light. Wherefore I have in this wise brought the keys of the mysteries to earth that I might deliver those sinners who shall believe on me and obey me; that I might deliver them from the bonds and seals of the Rulers (of this world) and bind them in the sealings and garments and degrees of Light. … Proclaim it to the entire world: … “Strive to receive the mysteries of the Light in this time of tribulation so that you might enter into the Kingdom of Light.” … For when the number of those who receive initiation (lit. the teleioi) is completed, I will shut the doors of Light and no one will enter from that time on. … All who receive the Mystery of the Kingdom of Light shall go individually to receive that inheritance which corresponds to the degree to which one has attained (received) in the world. He who accepts less will inherit the lesser mystery and he who receives the higher mystery will inherit a higher place (topos). And everyone will remain in his place … and have authority over those orders (taxis) that are below him, but not over the degrees which are above him. (States the same in different words) … they who receive ordinances of the minor mysteries will find themselves in a minor degree (of glory, taxis); in a word, each one will remain in that taxis of inheritance of Light which corresponds to (the share of) the mystery (ordinance) he has received. {page -274-}
————–

(The candidate always moves in a company of his kind; each arithmesis—set number—of souls has its time and place on earth, and when the number is fulfilled or the initiation completed of teleioi psychai, the group of souls moves on to) a higher inheritance in the Light…. Everyone must remain in the topos in which he is until he is ready to receive the mysteries of the next. (Only) one in 10,000 will ever attain to the Mystery of the First Mystery. (An important episode of the group initiation is the Prayer Circle, which we have treated elsewhere.) (There are mysteries far beyond any known on earth.) When I lead you to the topos of those who have received their inheritance … the Sun will look like nothing but a tiny speck of cornmeal, because of the enormous distance, and because the new world is so much greater. (These higher mysteries are not for the unqualified, who are terrified of them; they go far beyond mortal comprehension.) {page 278}
————–

When they of this earth become exalted by the mysteries, they will be with me in the topos of the Light, and each of them will be a king over his dominions (emanations, probolai) … according to his measure of glory. … everyone according to the measure of glory he has received will rule with me in the Inheritance of the Light. All who receive the ordinances will be fellow-kings with me in my Kingdom. {page 278}

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And when Jesus had finished saying these things to his Disciples, he added,…Behold, I have put on my garment, and have been given all authority (exousia) by virtue of (hitn) the First Mystery. Yet a little while and I will tell you all the Mysteries…. (The Key to the whole thing) is that mystery which lies beyond the world (etn.bol hm-p-kosmos), for the sake of which the universe itself exists, ever mounting up, ever expanding (srebol)…. Come to us, for we are your fellow-members, all of us identical with yourself; we are all one and you are one with us. {5}
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FOOTNOTES

{1} Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:601.

{2} Benjamin F. Johnson, “An Interesting Letter to Elder George S. Gibbs” (typed copy in BYU library).

{3} These paragraphs were taken from LeGrand L. Baker, Murder of the Mormon Prophet—The Political Prelude to the Death of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, Eborn Books, 2011), 221-22.

{4} Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975), 273-78.

{5} Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975), 278.

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John 15:16-27 — ‘They hated me without a cause’ — LeGrand Baker

Jesus’s message to his apostles was both a warning and a promise. The warning was:

20 They hated me without a cause. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you (John 15:20).

The promise would come soon, but for now, Jesus’s explanation shows that this hatred and its consequences were also part of the Law which he must fulfill.

25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause (John 15:25).

The question is why is that phrase so important and how was it to be fulfilled? In its context, this is what the Savior said to his apostles.

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
(John 15:16-27)

The answer to our question is found in the ancient Israelite temple drama. The drama and rites performed at Solomon’s Temple were a multi-layered story that contained many messages. The first and most important was a symbolic eternal biography of their Messiah, from his role as Jehovah, through his earthly experience and Atonement, until the 8th day of the drama when he presided at their final salvation.

My premise is that Jesus and his apostles knew the ancient temple drama, including how and where each of the Psalms were used in the drama. Therefore, a reference to a psalm was also a reference to that part of the drama where the psalm was sung. For example if we were in a conversation and someone asked in jest, “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” That would be enough to take our minds to the play, the act, and the romantic balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet. Just that short quote might cause laughter and the conversation would proceed with everyone knowing the before and after of the short quote as though they had just walked out of the theater.

Similarly, the conversation between Jesus and his apostles makes much more sense if we understand the Psalms as the backdrop to what they say to each other. The part of their discussion we are now reading in John 15 fits that formula. My understanding of how the Psalms were used in their temple drama is explained in the book Stephen Ricks and I wrote called Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord. {1} “Part One” of the book is a reconstruction of much of the ancient temple drama using the Psalms as the liturgy. “Part Two” shows that the sermons in the Book of Mormon were based on the Nephite temple experience. This present discussion of the Gospel of John is simply an extension of that premise showing that many of Jesus’s conversations with his friends were also based on their mutual knowledge of the psalms and the ancient temple drama.

Most of the drama was performed outside, something like our Hill Cumorah Pageant. The king was the chief actor. In the course of the drama he played the part of himself in the Council in Heaven, of Adam in the Garden of Eden, and of himself again in this world. However, this was a participatory drama where the same things that happened on the stage to the king symbolically also happened to each of the men in the congregation.

In John 15, during the conversation we are discussing, Jesus is rehearsing part of the king’s role and reminding the apostles that what happens to the king on the stage will happen to him and eventually also to each them. Jesus said,

25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

There are two psalms that contain such prophecies. Both are spoken by the king during the stage production of the temple drama. The first is a lament and a plea for help, but it is difficult to know where it fit in the drama. The drama is presented as a kind of autobiography of the king (and also of each person in the congregation). Its sequence ranges from the Council in Heaven, to the war in heaven, through this world’s experience, and to the final judgment. However, the Psalms are no longer in their correct order, so one can no longer read them consecutively to get the story. There are so many events in the play where the king would need help that we cannot tell in which scene Psalm 109 belongs.

1 Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise;
2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.
4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.
5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.
7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin (Psalms 109:1-7).

The drama follows the same pattern as the “cosmic myth” or “hero cycle.” It is the same basic story as is in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythology where the hero’s story follows the same set pattern. He has to leave home, is given a difficult task and some of the tools to perform it. He meets an obstacle that makes his success impossible. The gods give him more tools so he can succeed and returns home triumphantly. In the middle of that story his task becomes impossible without the help of the gods. The pattern of the story—but not its details—rings true because it is our own eternal biography, the plan of salvation, the outline version of the Savior’s mission, and the story told in the ancient Israelite temple drama.

Psalm 119 portrays one of the most dramatic events in the drama. It is the pinnacle of the story where the king is killed and therefore cannot possibly succeed without the intercession of Jehovah. Of course, the story does not end there. The king is rescued from death and hell by the power of Jehovah’s Atonement. Together, they return triumphantly to the Jerusalem. They are joined by the people and in a procession (of which the Savior’s “triumphal entry” reminiscent) they dance around the city, they enter the city gates and move to the temple area, then to the Temple itself. (This is where they sang Psalm 24) Within the Temple the king (again representing every man in the congregation) is adopted as Jehovah’s son and heir. He is coronated as king and goes beyond the great Temple veil into the Holy of Holies, sits on God’s throne and reigns on earth as God’s legitimate son. Unlike in Egypt, the Israelite king is not divine, but he does represent the Divine.

That was the conclusion of the drama, but our concern is what happened to the king at the time of his symbolic death and before his triumphal return.

Psalm 119 is a scene that also takes place in the Temple. But this scene is not a triumph. It is when Israel’s enemies have conquered the city and have met the king in hand to hand combat within the Temple itself. The king tells us his feelings and describes parts of the combat as he confronts his enemy until the very moment he is overcome and killed.

The following descriptions of the battle in the Temple are excerpts from our Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, {2}

In the drama, the challenge began with a symbolic attack by the Canaanites against everything Jehovah loved. Jerusalem was destroyed, its Temple was burned, the people were massacred, and the king himself was killed in their defense. The battle is vividly described in the 74th Psalm, where we hear a fervent prayer by the people imploring God’s assistance:

The final scene of the battle was represented by an enactment of the 119th Psalm. It showed a titanic struggle between the symbolic forces of evil and the young hero king.

Psalm 119 is the longest, and certainly one of the most moving of all the psalms. It is a soliloquy that rivals the soliloquies of Hamlet in its intensity and beauty—suggesting that the Israelite temple drama was performed with all the theatrical power and emotional pathos of a Shakespearian tragedy. In our Bible, the psalm is difficult to read as a single soliloquy because its translators broke it into sections and divided it according to the letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

That the young speaker was king and commander in this battle, there can be no question. The way he identified his enemies and his own social status makes that quite clear:

23 Princes also did sit and speak against me:
but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause:
but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

46 I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings,
and will not be ashamed (Psalm 119:23, 161, 46).

The young king reminded God that while he was completely devoted to the Law, he also had access to the greater sources of knowledge—for he had understood the commandments “of old,” meaning they were known and sustained by him when he was a member of the Council in Heaven:

72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me
than thousands of gold and silver.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers:
for thy testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the ancients,
because I keep thy precepts.

152 Concerning thy testimonies,
I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever (Psalm 119:72, 99-100, 152).

The greatest portion of the psalm is a series of reminders to God—and no doubt to himself as he engaged in this struggle—of his piety and of his devotion to God. One example is toward the end of the psalm, when the young king had become surrounded by his enemies, but he did not give in. Rather, he assured himself that they were still his inferiors because they did not keep the Law:

150 They draw nigh that follow after mischief:
they are far from thy law (Psalm 119:150).

Then it was all over. The king’s body was at the gates of death—but his spirit was still alive, and his faith in Jehovah was not weakened. In the last stanzas of this scene, he prays that his soul will live on—so that, even in death, he may continue to praise the Lord:

173 Let thine hand help me;
for I have chosen thy precepts.
174 I have longed for thy salvation,
O Lord; and thy law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee;
and let thy judgments help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments (Psalm 119:173-76).

Those last words of the psalm strike the final cord of the young king’s time on the earth and express the hope that will become the ultimate triumph of the entire festival drama: In his last appeal to Jehovah, as his soul approaches the darkness of death and hell, the king pleads: “seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.” That was his testimony of who Jehovah is and of his knowledge of Jehovah’s ultimate authority, and of his anticipation of the saving power of the Atonement. As he entered death, he knew that only Jehovah could save him.

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The timing in Jesus’s life when he had this conversation with his apostles was analogous to the time of that final battle within the Temple where the king was overcome and killed by an enemy who only appeared to have won. If the apostles knew the sequence in the drama they should also have understood what was about to happen. Apparently, what they could not understand was that this King could actually be defeated and killed. Nevertheless, that is what the Savior was trying to tell them.

With the ceremonial and symbolic destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the death of the king and his people as the probable background to this conversation, Jesus now moves from the symbolic to the reality.

18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

That was the phrase he is citing near the end of the 119th Psalm:

161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause (Psalm 119:161)

Then Jesus makes a remarkable observation

22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke [excuse] for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

Their hatred was focused on the Savior. That is serious—it is going-to-hell serious! There seems to be an eternal balance in the conditions upon which we come to this world—to discover for ourselves whether we will do good or do evil. This world’s environment enables us to make that discovery. Sometime before, Jesus had this exchange with the Pharisees.

40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth (John 9:40-41).

Not only are we each given sufficient opportunity to go to heaven, but we are also given sufficient opportunity to qualify to go some other place.

25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

Jesus’s enemies knew a cause but it was within themselves. It was the livid discomfort of being exposed that a bad person feels by being in the presence of a righteous person. When that happens it leaves the evil one with three options: to retire, repent, or retaliate. There is a long list of good people who have been persecuted, some killed, because repentance seemed the least desirable of the options.

As the Savior told the apostles what would happen to himself and to each of them, he also told them of the sure antidote for the hatred they would encounter.

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:16-17).

Jesus’s message was first a warning, now it is a promise.

25 …They hated me without a cause.
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning (John 15:25-27).

“From the beginning” in an intriguing phrase. It might be read “from the beginning of Jesus’s ministry,” or it might be read “from the very beginning at the Council in Heaven.”
Some people believe that the 12 following the Savior in Lehi’s vision were his Jerusalem apostles (1 Nephi 1:10). If that is correct, it would give a powerful meaning to his words, “because ye have been with me from the beginning.”

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FOOTNOTES

{1} LeGrand L. Baker and Stephen D. Ricks.. Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord. Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, first edition, 2009, second (paperback) edition, 2011.

{2}Baker and Ricks, Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, “Act 2, Scene 6: The Ritual Combat,” first edition, 397-415; second (paperback) edition. 286-300.

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