Friday, March 6, 2009

Thomas Manton on John 17:17


Thomas Manton was an English Puritan who lived between 1620-1677. Please excuse the slight modification to his picture above, let's face it, the 17th Century style for men wasn't the manliest- put a chin beard on a dude and it all changes.

Manton is known for his excellent and rich expository preaching. Several of his expositional sermon series have been printed with his work on James probably being the best. Additionally I have discovered his sermons on the gospel of John, particularly John 17. He delivered 48 sermons on John 17 alone!

I am preparing to preach on John 17:17 this Sunday-

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Here is a wonderful remark from Manton regarding this profound saying of Jesus-


Every true light will not serve the turn, but it must be the light of the word. God hath reserved this honour of sanctifying the heart to the doctrine of the scriptures, to evidence their divine original: James 1:18, 'Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.' The great change that is wrought in the heart of man is by the word. A moral lecture may make a man change his life, but the word of God roaketh a man change his heart. Regeneration is only found in the school of Christ: 'He hath begotten us by the word of truth.' And the ordinance of preaching the word is consecrated to this purpose: Eph. 5:26,' That he might sanctify them by the washing of water through the word.' There are other occasional helps, but this is the instituted means. God will work no other way in his ordinary and revealed course, and will accept no other obedience and sanctification but by the word. Holiness, or that piety which is proper and genuine, is wrought by a divine truth, otherwise it is superstition, not godliness; civility, not holiness of conversation.


Though men have never so good an inclination, yet because they have not a divine revelation for their warrant, it is but a bastard religion, superstition, or framing a strictness of our own, accompanied with opposition against the truth. The word and Spirit are in conjunction. It is for the honour of the scriptures that God hath annexed them: 1 Thes. 5: 19-20, 'Quench not the Spirit; despise not prophesying.'


Preaching of the word and pouring out of the Spirit go together.

4 comments:

Frontier Forest said...

Okay Pastor, please forgive me, I am an Okie. So with my own lack of formal educating in mind, may I make this humble request? True, I am looking very forward to this week’s powerful Felich exegesis of John 17:17, but hoping you can offer better clarity towards a New English translation from the thoughts that Old English Puritan, Thomas Manton. I didn’t understand a thought he was trying to convey. But for sure, the important doctrine stated I did understand was, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

Rick Calohan said...

The Reform faith can be summed up in this verse from The High Priestly Prayer John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. In other words Set them apart (for holy service to God)

From: John Calvin’s Commentaries on John 17:17

“17. Sanctify them by thy truth. This sanctification includes the kingdom of God and his righteousness; that is, when God renews us by his Spirit, and confirms in us the grace of renewal, and continues it to the end. He asks, first, therefore, that the Father would sanctify the disciples, or, in other words, that he would consecrate them entirely to himself, and defend them as his sacred inheritance. Next, he points out the means of sanctification, and not without reason; for there are fanatics who indulge in much useless prattle about sanctification, but who neglect the truth of God, by which he consecrates us to himself. Again, as there are others who chatter quite as foolishly about the truth and yet disregard the word, Christ expressly says that the truth, by which God sanctifies his sons, is not to be found any where else than in the word.

Thy word is truth; for the word here denotes the doctrine of the Gospel, which the apostles had already heard from the mouth of their Master, and which they were afterwards to preach to others. In this sense Paul says that the Church has been cleansed with the washing of water by the word of life, (Ephesians 5:26 True, it is God alone who sanctifies; but as the Gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth, (Romans 1:16,) whoever departs from the Gospel as the means must become more and more filthy and polluted.

The truth is here taken, by way of eminence, for the light of heavenly wisdom, in which God manifests himself to us, that he may conform us to his image. The outward preaching of the word, it is true, does not of itself accomplish this, For that preaching is wickedly profaned by the reprobate; but let us remember that Christ speaks of the elect whom the Holy Spirit efficaciously regenerates by the word. Now, as the apostles were not altogether destitute of this grace, we ought to infer from Christ’s words, that sanctification is not instantly completed in us on the first day, but that we make progress in it through the whole course of our life, till at length God, having taken away from us the garment of the flesh, fills us with his righteousness."

Reepicheep said...

OK Woodster, lets walk through this together:

"Every true light will not serve the turn, but it must be the light of the word."

- Only the Word of God is the true light

"God hath reserved this honour of sanctifying the heart to the doctrine of the scriptures, to evidence their divine original: James 1:18, 'Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.'"

- The Scriptures are the main agent of sanctification for us as believers, of course, with the ministry of the Holy Spirit assisting (he says this later). He quotes James 1:18 speaking of the power of God's Word in converting us.


"The great change that is wrought in the heart of man is by the word."

- Again, sanctification (the process of being made more like Christ) is done by the ministry of the Word of God


"A moral lecture may make a man change his life, but the word of God roaketh a man change his heart."

- A good speech can inspire a person to change a certain direction his/her life is taking, but it may only be skin deep. The Word of God changes us from the inside (our heart) out. Much more profound indeed!


"Regeneration is only found in the school of Christ: 'He hath begotten us by the word of truth.' And the ordinance of preaching the word is consecrated to this purpose: Eph. 5:26,' That he might sanctify them by the washing of water through the word.'"

- Becoming born again only happens through Christ, who is revealed by the Scriptures, particulary the Word of God preached. So, Justification and Sanctification are tied to the Word of God working on/in us.

"There are other occasional helps, but this is the instituted means."

- It's not that God is limited to using his Word to sanctify us, indeed, there are "occasional" other helps (though he doesn't really list what they are)- BUT- the chief means of growth for us is the Word of God read, taught, and preached. The Word of God is the "instituted" or planned means for growing us in Christ.


"God will work no other way in his ordinary and revealed course, and will accept no other obedience and sanctification but by the word."

- True obedience comes only by and through the Word of God

"Holiness, or that piety which is proper and genuine, is wrought by a divine truth, otherwise it is superstition, not godliness; civility, not holiness of conversation. "

- We're fooling ourselves if we think we will grow in holiness APART from God's Word. It is impossible. Our spiritual growth is relative to our exposure to the Word of God.

"Though men have never so good an inclination, yet because they have not a divine revelation for their warrant, it is but a bastard religion, superstition, or framing a strictness of our own, accompanied with opposition against the truth."

- oh my, he said "bastard"...ha ha. Seriously, he's just saying that any behavior or standard followed or insisted upon that is not based on the Word of God is a superstition, indeed a pseudo-religion. So religions based on something other than the Bible are actually opposed to THE truth.

"The word and Spirit are in conjunction. It is for the honour of the scriptures that God hath annexed them: 1 Thes. 5: 19-20, 'Quench not the Spirit; despise not prophesying.'"

- Making the Word of God effective is the Spirit of God. In this way the Scriptures are alive, dynamic. It's not just the reading of God's Word that quickens our hearts,it's the Word of God PLUS the work of the Holy Spirit.

"Preaching of the word and pouring out of the Spirit go together."

- This is self-explanatory, even an ole' Okie can get this.

Frontier Forest said...

Are you sure I should understand? I copied only your explanations and then pasted them all together. I will spend time reading your prayed over thoughts and be prepared to receive the Word this Lord’s Day. I know He gives simple and clear revelation.
It’s a shame I kept myself in bondage for so many years! Slaving over stagnated, dead, legalistic teachings, it’s just hard to shed those decaying grave- cloths of Wesleyan doctrine. But thank God, for He is the Chief means to Sanctify me, according to and through His Truth agent, The Word, and not according to man’s teachings, examples, circumstances, emotions or feelings.