Monday, March 4, 2013

Are we sanctified? Is it a process? A look at John 17:19

One of my church pastors mentioned this verse in his sermon recently.
For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:19, WEB)
Recently, an article I read on the web puts doubt in me regarding our sanctification. So when I come across this verse I thought I might study it to see it for myself. My question is: "Are we sanctified or is it only referring to a possibility for us to be sanctified that it may happen but has not happened yet?" Is sanctification a process? I tried the different bible versions - amplified, message, WEB, NASB but I don't get a clear indication.

Let's take a look at the verse. Here, the verbs denote action and they become important. The verse with the tense of the verbs inserted are shown below:
For their sakes I sanctify (Present Indicative Active) myself, that they themselves also may (present subjunctive active) be sanctified (Perfect Participle Middle) in truth. 
Let's look at the sentence in detail:
  1. If you look carefully, this statement is a conditional statement that has a "if" portion followed by a "then" portion. There are 4 classes of conditional sentences in NT Greek, when subjunctive moods are used in a sentence. The sentence structure of this verse with the main verb in conditional part of the sentence (the word "sanctify") set in Present Indicative mood shows that it is a 1st class conditional statement. 1st class conditional statement means that the reality of the condition is affirmed (see ref 2, 3, 4). 
  2. The word "sanctify" in its tenses means Jesus is always making Himself holy and that is a fact (see ref 1).
  3. "may" is in Present Subjunctive Active. Because the word has a subjunctive mood and it is in a results clause the action should not be thought of as a possible result, but should be viewed as a definite outcome that will happen as a result of another stated action. (see ref 1).
  4. "sanctified" is in Perfect Participle Middle. Perfect tense means "the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on, in full effect. In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence." (see ref 1).
Combining the 4 points above, we can paraphrase the sentence as:

"For our sakes, Jesus is constantly making Himself holy (a fact) and as a definite result, we have been made holy in truth and the effect of this holiness is continuous"

In short, as a result of Jesus' action, we have already been sanctified. It is not a process. It has happened, and we are now enjoying its fruits. Wow. Praise God for that! We have already been made holy forever by Jesus! No wonder in the new testament they refer to believers as Saints. Praise the Lord! We can really rest, knowing that the Lord has done the work.


1) Understanding Greek verbs




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