"I have given them Your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world." (John 17:14)
What does 'given them Your word' mean?Jesus continues his open prayer to the Supreme Being, and he continues speaking of his closest students and disciples.
"I have given them Your word" could easily be misinterpreted. And it is an odd translation because it can take on an entirely new meaning, derived from our cultural use of the phrase "given your word."
When a person says "I give you my word" about something, they typically mean they pledge that they are being honest about something.
This is not at all what is being communicated by Jesus here.
Here "word" comes from the Greek word λόγος (logos), which can mean "sayings" or "precepts." In this context, Jesus is speaking of teachings - God's teachings. This is consistent with other statements by Jesus, such as:
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)and
"These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (John 14:24)Therefore, we can more appropriately translate this phrase in the verse as:
"I have given them Your teachings...."
Why has the 'world' 'hated' Jesus' followers?While a great many people came out to hear Jesus speak and ask for miracles, there was also a lot of disdain for Jesus and his followers. Much of this revolved around the temple institution teachers - the Pharisees and the scribes - who were envious of Jesus.
As a result, they tested Jesus and tried to trap him into saying the wrong thing numerous times, as we find in the Gospels. These officials were attempting to turn people away from Jesus.
These temple officials led the effort to reject Jesus and his teachings. And as a result, because so much of Judea was run by the temple institution, Jesus' followers were also rejected by much of society.
The bottom line is they rejected Jesus' followers because Jesus' teachings stressed the importance of loving God and serving God, while the temple institution's teachers stressed the importance of rituals and obeying the rules.
This 'worldly' approach to spiritual life - rituals and rules - prompted Jesus to clarify this:
"for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world."
What does it mean to not be 'of the world'?The word "world" is being translated from the Greek word κόσμος (kosmos), which refers to "world affairs" and "the aggregate of things earthly" according to the lexicon. This is of course referring to the physical world - the world of 'things' - or materialism.
In other words, since we know that Jesus was on the planet when he spoke this, and his disciples and students were also on the planet, this is not referring to being on the planet earth or being in the world.
It also does not refer to utilizing material things, because both Jesus and his followers all used material things. They all wore clothing, wore sandals, ate food, and worked. So they had material things. And some of Jesus' followers - for example, Joseph - were wealthy. So Jesus is not speaking about utilizing material things.
Rather, Jesus is referring to self-centered materialism. The drive to satisfy oneself with the materialistic things of this world. These include fame, prestige, wealth, sex, and other components of the physical dimension.
Jesus said they were not "of the world" because they were not committing to the illusions of this world. The physical world is illusory because it tricks us into thinking we will be happy with the next thing we achieve. It tricks us into thinking that we are these physical bodies and this is our home. We think that our family belongs to us and those things we've collected - such as cars, homes, money, furniture and so on - are our possessions.
The reality is that these things do not belong to us. We can know this practically because each of us will die and leave all of these things behind. We see it every time someone's body dies. They leave all their possessions behind - and all their family members scramble for those things they left behind. Since we cannot hold on to these things, they do not belong to us.
The phrase "not of" - taken from the Greek words ἐκ τοῦ - refer to not being a part of this consciousness.
This world is driven by self-interest. Each of us is here looking for our own satisfaction. We are looking to achieve our own enjoyment. Our own happiness. Our own fulfillment.
And yet, even though we spend our lifetimes seeking our own fulfillment, enjoyment and happiness within the physical realm, we are still empty inside.
No matter how much money we have - and all those things money can buy - we are still empty inside.
No matter how famous we are - or how high our political position or how great our achievements are - we are still empty inside.
No matter how big or how together our family is - and no matter how many children and grandchildren we have - we are still empty inside. Our family members will not fill our emptiness. They may help us temporarily forget how empty we are inside. But they won't fill that emptiness.
Thus when Jesus says, "for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world," - or from the King James version, "because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" - Jesus is speaking of not being of a particular consciousness: The consciousness of worldly self-centeredness - also referred to as materialism.
Why doesn't materialism satisfy us?Because we are not these physical bodies. Each of us is a spirit-person dwelling within a temporary physical body. Our physical body is like a car we drive. We get into it for a while and then get out of it when we are finished driving it. And just as filling up our car's gas tank does not fill us up, giving our physical body physical stuff does not fulfill us - the spirit-person within the physical body.
Happiness is found by attaining that which is of our identity as spirit - that of regaining our natural position of being one of the Supreme Being's loving servants.
Yes - seeking our own enjoyment brings us emptiness while seeking God's enjoyment gives us fulfillment.
It is like a finger trying to eat by itself. Say there is a finger and it wants to get nourished so it sinks itself into a bowl of soup. The problem is, the finger is not equipped to assimilate the food. So the finger sits in the soup, remaining malnourished.
But if the finger helps bring some soup to the mouth, the soup gets to the stomach and the finger is nourished.
It is like that for us. God is the enjoyer. That is His role, as He owns and controls everything (and He never dies so He never has to leave anything behind). God created His children to give Him enjoyment. This means our role is to give Him enjoyment. When we love Him and serve Him, we become fulfilled.
Loving and serving is our nature. This is the reason why we feel better inside when we serve others and give to others than when we are served by others or we take from others.
And it is for this reason that Jesus and his disciples were "hated" by others. They had a disdain for worldly self-centered consciousness. They didn't abide by the rituals and rules of institutional temple teachers who were more concerned about their reputations and professional positions than about pleasing the Supreme Being.
Jesus and his sincere students and disciples, on the other hand, were acting on behalf of the Supreme Being. For this reason, they didn't care about what others thought of them. They simply wanted to please the Supreme Being. And this is the reason for Jesus' statement, "the world has hated them."
*Here is the translation of this verse of Jesus' prayer from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"I have given them Your Teachings; and the material world has hated them, because they are not of the material world, just as I am not of the material world..” (John 17:14)