"For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." (John 17:19)

What does Jesus mean by 'sanctified'?

Jesus is continuing his open prayer to the Supreme Being. But what does this mean?

Remember that "them" is referring to Jesus' students and disciples who have been following him. But why would Jesus need to be sanctified so that they too will be sanctified?

The word "sanctified" is being translated* from the Greek word ἁγιάζω (hagiazō), which can mean, according to the lexicon, to be "purified" or "cleansed" - but this is only a shadow of the full meaning of this word as Jesus is using it.

And this element - to "sanctify" or "purify" - is often misinterpreted.

This is due to missing the meaning of purification or sanctification taught by Jesus. Having an objective of gaining followers, they have misinterpreted this to be about becoming "saved."

This has been dangled with the threat of "going to hell." They have put forth a proposal that we will go to hell if we do not become their followers and join their institutions - and put money into their coffers to pay for lavish salaries, living quarters, and pope mobiles.

This has been comingled with the concept - which Jesus never taught - that we will be saved from going to hell just by accepting that Jesus died for our sins. Assuming of course we join these institutions.

Yet there is a deeper meaning of Jesus' use of the word "sanctify" - coming from the Greek word ἁγιάζω (hagiazō).

Besides purification, Thayer's lexicon states that ἁγιάζω (hagiazō) means:

- to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow
- to separate from profane things and dedicate to God
- consecrate things to God
- dedicate people to God"

This gives us a glimpse of the deeper meaning of Jesus' statement in his prayer. He is talking about the purification that comes from dedicating oneself to God.

This is the kind of dedication that Jesus wanted his followers to make in their lives, which would in turn sanctify or purify them.

What Jesus is really discussing is a change of heart - which in turn purifies our consciousness. It is the changing of our purpose and objectives in life from being self-centered to being God-centered.

Is Jesus referring to becoming God-centered?

Jesus wants to change the hearts of his students and disciples - thereby purifying their consciousness. But he knows that he can only do that if he himself is purified. And he doesn't assume that he is pure (even though most certainly he is) because Jesus is humbling himself before the Supreme Being.

Let's say that a wealthy business owner becomes the benefactor of a poor young man and gives him a great job and gives him a big salary and the supervision over many others. Now let's say the young man is in the owner's office and he is talking about himself and those he supervises. 

Will the young man proudly say how great he is and deserving of his big salary and big job? No. Because he knows all he has is a result of the kindness of the business owner, he will be respectful, reminding himself and his boss that his big job and salary are only the result of the kindness of the owner.

In the same way, Jesus humbly submits himself to the Supreme Being in this prayer. His approach to God is not one of being proud of his purity. He is stating that his purification is a result of the Supreme Being's mercy.

Yet Jesus is not the Supreme Being - evidenced here in this prayer to God. Would Jesus be praying to himself?

What about Jesus' saving people?

Can he do this? Yes, but not in the way sectarian institutions have been teaching. Consider Jesus' clear statement:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)
Does this say anything about Jesus' needing to die on the cross to save anyone? Absolutely not, because Jesus never taught this.

It is clear from Jesus' teachings that what will save a person is hearing and applying Jesus' teachings ("hears my word" - "word" is translated from the Greek word λόγος (logos) which is better translated to "teachings") - and "believes Him who sent me."

Jesus is not saying that all people have to do is believe in God and they are saved. That would be way too easy. That would make even the most demoniac person - who might believe God exists but still rejects Him - saved.

So what does "believes Him who sent me" mean? Actually "believes" is not a good translation here. The word "believes" is being translated from the Greek word πιστεύω (pisteuō), which means, according to the lexicon, to "place confidence in" or to "trust."

This translates in the real world to taking refuge in God.

Did Jesus take refuge in God?

Jesus is talking about relying upon the Supreme Being. To rely on a person also includes depending upon that person. Jesus is talking about not only trusting in the Supreme Being, but surrendering our lives to the Supreme Being - and having confidence that He will take care of us. This is what the word πιστεύω (pisteuō) indicates within the context of that statement.

This also ties perfectly with Jesus statement in his prayer, where "sanctify" is being used. The fact that Jesus is talking about dedicating himself to God is clear. But we also find that Jesus' motivation is not for himself. He is not interested in his own purification. He says clearly:
"For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."
"For them" means that Jesus is dedicating himself to God for their benefit. This is equivalent to an offering. Jesus is offering himself to God - not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of his students. He doesn't care about his own spiritual life - or about being "saved." He only wants them to be purified - and thus receive the benefits of Jesus' teachings.

What is the benefit?

That they become lovers of God. That they renew their loving relationship with this Supreme Being - and thus dedicate their lives to God.

And we must also engage part of the meaning of ἁγιάζω (hagiazō) here within the context of Jesus' teachings: "to be venerable or hallow." 

Yes, Jesus wants us to "hallow" the Supreme Being. To "hallow" means to praise Him and glorify Him and His Holy Name. Jesus confirms this in this instruction:
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name...." (Matt. 6:9)
To "hallow" God's Holy Name means to repeat and praise God's Name. It means to glorify God's Holy Name.

Jesus wants them - and all of us - to be happy. And this is only accomplished when we dedicate ourselves to the Supreme Being - venerating Him, glorifying Him, serving Him.

Why? Because the Supreme Being is our Best Friend. He is the person we are looking for as we look for someone to share our lives with. He is the person we are looking for as we look for that special someone to fall in love with and spend our lives with.

This is why Jesus' most important teaching (λόγος (logos))- is:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

*Here is the translation of this part of Jesus' prayer from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"For their sake I am purified, so they may also be purified in the Truth.” (John 17:19)