In the sixties, when I was in grade school, I think that some of the tools popular at NASA spilled over into the public school curriculum. One such topic was “set” theory. At the time, most students and parents wondered what this “new math” was all about. Turns out, I benefited from that instruction much later in my life when I found the need to program computers for a living. Now, a “set”, in mathematics, is a well-defined collection of distinct objects. For example, the books in my bookshelf may be considered a set. The cars in my garage make up a different set. A set has to do with specific instances of things. In set theory, it’s not enough to talk about oranges, or even a specific number of oranges, such as “five oranges take away two oranges is three oranges.” What is important in set theory are those specific oranges that are on the counter of my kitchen at 3:01 pm on Thursday, 27-Oct-2016. By tomorrow, that set will be a different set, because one of them may have been eaten!
Now, in John 17:10, Jesus says to His Father, “All mine are thine.” In other words, all those people who belong to the Lord Jesus, also belong to His Father. These are individuals who are named and uniquely identifiable throughout time and eternity. By His statement, all who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ also belong to the Father. But that is not all our Lord said here. If that were all that He said, we would have to allow that there may be some who belong to the Father that do not also belong to the Son. For example, my wife and I have six children. My wife and I have never had any other children than those we had together. Therefore, not only are all of my children her children, but all of her children are my children. A nerd-like person might say that we share the same “set” of children. She has no children that are not also mine. And I have no children that are not also hers. The only children I have are the children she has. And vice-versa. This is what our Lord is saying here in John 17:10. All of those people that are His, are all of those that belong to the Father. The Father has no people but those that belong to the Son. The Son has no people but those that belong to the Father. The Father has given all of His people to His Son. And the Son has become Surety for all of the people, the sheep, that belong to the Father. He makes them sure to God in spite of the guilt and corruption of their sin and the demands of God’s holy law and justice. There are no others included in this “set” who are “the elect of God.” Therefore, every person whom God the Father chose before the foundation of the world, were given to the Son of God to have as His own children, people, sheep, church, bride, temple, generation, nation, body (1 Pet. 2:9). They were given to Him to redeem, to make holy and blameless by His one offering of Himself to God in their place (Eph. 1:4-7; Heb. 10:10,14). He would fulfill His assignment and present them to God the Father as the adopted, redeemed sons of His eternal love (Eph. 1:4-5; Heb. 2:10; John 11:49-52; 1 John 3:1-2). The Father gave all of His elect to Christ. And all those given by God the Father to Christ to bring to glory, are the only people that belong to Christ. He has no others.
But to this fact our Lord adds these all-important words of fulfillment. “And I am glorified in them.” This final statement is Divinely sovereign and glorious! What is He saying here? That Christ is glorified in all those chosen by God the Father before time began. In other words, Christ is glorified in them because He has finished the work God gave Him to do. He is glorified in their eternal redemption. He is glorified because they are conformed to His image. He is glorified in their preservation. He is glorified in their presentation to God the Father as faultless and blameless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24-25)! His work now completed (John 17:4), our Lord speaks of the everlasting covenant fulfilled in His blood in the ever-present now of eternity. What was set in unalterable purpose by the will of God in eternity, is fulfilled in the unfailing, successful work of Christ. God’s will and decree and covenant and promises and His word and His work all concern the same individuals and the same eternal purpose in Christ Jesus the Lord (Eph. 1:3-11; 3:11). And here in John 17:10, our Lord Jesus speaks of that work as complete. All has been fulfilled in all those chosen by God and predestinated according to the good pleasure of Him whose will and word cannot be altered. All the thoughts of His heart and His counsel shall stand forever. He will do all His pleasure (Ps. 135:6; Isa. 46:9-11; Ps. 33:11; Job 23:13)!
"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good" (Num. 23:19)?
"The gifts and callings of God are without repentance" (Rom. 11:29).
"Whom he did predestinate...them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30).