Jesus prayed for his apostles, but also for all of his disciples,
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth……. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in you…..”, John 17:16-17 & 20-21
Jesus is affirming that the truth of God’s word sets his disciples apart from the world. This is not because his disciples are better or more worthy than are other folks. Sin makes us all guilty and deserving of its penalty. Rather, Jesus is telling us that the disciples’ response to the truth of God’s word puts them in a completely different relationship to God than folks who do not respond to that truth.
As Jesus’ apostle Peter put it so long ago:
“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God”, 1st Peter 1:22-23
Those who have faithfully obeyed the truth, the enduring word of God, have been born again into God’s family. Those who have not obeyed that truth, remain in the world.
When Nicodemus confessed faith in Jesus, Jesus immediately told him that he needed to be born again by water and the Spirit of God (John 3:1-5). Jesus was very careful to point out to Nicodemus that without the new birth by water and God’s Spirit, Nicodemus would neither see, nor enter the kingdom of God.
It was no mistake when Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). It was no mistake when he told them to preach the gospel to all, and that those who believed it and were baptized would be saved (Mark 16:15-16).
If follows that Peter did exactly as Jesus had instructed them in Acts chapter two, when he preached the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:22-36) and when people responded in faith asking what they should do (Acts 2:37), he told them to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38).
Only those who have obeyed the truth, are set apart by that truth and thereby born again into the family of God and only these, have the right to call one another “brother” by means of the blood of Jesus and the indwelling Spirit of God.
Are you a brother, or another?