John 17:1-26 - Outline of John (MENU page)
17:1. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said,
Father, the hour is come;
Chapter 17 consists entirely of the longest recorded prayer of Jesus.
This is the Lord's High Priestly Prayer.
It is quite different from the prayer referred to as 'the Lord's Prayer' (Mat 6:9-13),
  • which was intended as a pattern or example to teach the disciples how to pray (Luk 11:1-4).
  • which contained aspects which could not apply to Him (eg., Mat 6:12).
Here, Jesus prays as no one else could pray...
  1. with direct intimacy, based on His eternal fellowship with the Father.
    "Father..." - He approaches directly, with no special preparation, no confession of sin, no hint that the One addressed is other than He is. (contrast Mat 6:9,10,12)
  2. as our High Priest, based on His completed sacrifice.
    "the hour is come..." cp. 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1
    • He speaks of His sacrificial death as already accomplished,
      though it is yet several hours away.
    • He speaks as the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 5:6; 13:8), who was about to finish the work which the Father had given Him to do (v.4; cp. 4:34; 19:30).
    • He communes with the Father regarding things previously discussed in the counsels of God.
Who He is and what He has done form the basis of His approach to the Father,
and also the basis of our salvation, and access into the Father's presence (cp. 16:26-27).
This prayer is truly Holy ground.-
When the LORD appeared in the burning bush, He warned Moses concerning his approach to holy ground (Ex 3:4,5). On that occasion, the LORD intended to speak with a man. But here, we draw near to overhear the intimate communication between God the Son and God the Father. What a privilege He has afforded us. How inadequate we are to comprehend what is said here. The editor is acutely aware of his own insufficiencies. Any human attempts to explain (like Moses' tools) may detract from the holy substance before us (eg., Ex 20:25). Therefore, please take time to prayerfully read through the full text of John ch. 17, before considering the notes below.
He makes Seven Requests-
-- Two for Himself (v.1, v.5),
-- Five for His own (v.11, v.15, v.17, v.21, v.24)
- Request #1 -
glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
17:2 As thou hast given him power {ie., authority} over all flesh, {cp. 5:19-27}
that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
17:3 And this is life eternal,
that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth:
I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
glorify- GK=doxazo, honor, magnify.
The word 'primarily denotes "to suppose" (from doxa, "an opinion"; and dokeo, "to seem").' [WEVine]
Not all who are honored are what they seem.
  • As used of God, it speaks of His Self-revelation of His character,
    and of the work of specific Persons of the Godhead to make the other Persons known. cp. 11:4; 12:28; 13:31; 16:14
  • In this context, the effect of this word is: "to make Him known for who He is."
    ie., 'Father... make your Son known for who He is, that He may make You known for who You are.'
glorify... that thy Son may glorify thee-
He prays, in dependence upon the Father's provision. 5:19,20
glorify... as thou hast given... that He should give... to as many as thou hast given...-
He prays, in accord with the Father's will.
The Father gave the Son whom He loved, for the world which He loved, that as many as believe might live. 1:12; 3:16; 10:11,18
this is life eternal, that they might know thee...-
cp. Isa 53:11; Jer 9:23,24; Mat 11:27; 2Cor 4:6; 1Joh 5:11,12,20
Eternal life is found in a personal relationship of dependence upon the everliving One.
I have glorified thee... I have finished the work...- cp. 12:27,28; 19:30 (also see 4:34; 5:36)
Jesus glorified the Father through His life of complete obedience. He held nothing back for Himself, but poured Himself out for the Father's glory (Isa 50:4-6; Isa 53:12). In doing these things, He brought many sons into glory (Heb 2:9,10), and He revealed to all creation the glorious character and purposes of God (Rev 5:9-14).
- Request #2 -
17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self
with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
glorify... with thine own self...- As the Son would glorify the Father with His own self, on His cross,
so, the Father would glorify the Son with His own self, on His throne. cp. Acts 2:33; Heb 12:2
...with the glory which I had with thee before...-
When He came into the world, God the Son laid aside many aspects of His glory.-
  • He became a man (limited by time and space).
  • He became a servant (not exercising His power & authority).
  • He came to die.
  • Yet, as a man, He was still fully God.
    "He was still King of the Universe- but He laid aside His robes and crown, so the poorest of us could know Him." [McGee]
    Now, He asks to be restored to the fullness of His former glory as God. See Php 2:6-11.
17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world:
thine they were, and thou gavest them me;
and they have kept thy word.
17:7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;
and they have received [them], and have known surely that I came out from thee,
and they have believed that thou didst send
{GK=apostello, send on a mission} me.
17:9 I pray for them:
I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
17:10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
{Eph 1:12}
Even during His earthly ministry, the things pertaining to the Father belonged to the Son:
-- thy Name, v.6. He revealed God's nature to us. cp. 1:18; 3:13
-- the men, whom you gave me out of the world, v.6
-- all things, whatever you have given me, v.7
-- the words, which you gave me, v.8
-- all thine are mine, and mine are thine, v.10
the men whom thou gavest me-
Seven times, He speaks of the 'men given' to Him. (v.2; 6 (2x); 9; 11; 12; 24)
From eternity past, God knew who would be saved (Eph 1:3,4). Christ died for the sins of the whole world, but not everyone will benefit. Those, who are His, respond to the Gospel preached to every creature (6:37). They are 'whosoever believes' (3:16), and 'as many as receive Him' (1:12).
These men are set apart from the world, in that they...
  • have kept (obeyed, v.6) and received (v.8) God's Word,
  • have known and believed the Truth concerning God's Son and the mission on which He was sent into the world (v.8).
I pray for them... not for the world...-
The Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, prays for those given to Him, from the foundation of the world.
- Request #3 -
17:11 And now I am no more in the world,
but these are in the world, and I come to thee.
{16:28; Acts 1:9-11; Heb 9:24}
Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me,
that they may be one, as we [are].
17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name:
those that thou gavest me I have kept,
and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
{13:18; Psa 41:9}
17:13 And now come I to thee;
and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
17:14 I have given them thy word;
and the world hath hated them,
because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Jesus had brought His disciples into fellowship with the Father (v.4, v.6; 13:10; 14:20; 1Joh 1:1-7);
and He had maintained them in a condition of fellowship with the Father. v.12
Now, before departing from them, He commits them into the Father's care.
Holy Father... -
As the Father is holy, so these men must be holy to remain in communion with Him. 1Pet 1:15,16
keep...- GK=tereo, preserve, watch over -
  • ...through thine own name... - God's "name" encompasses all that He is.
    He is able to keep them. 10:28-30; Psa 17:8,9; 1Pet 1:5; Jude 1:1,24
  • ...that they may be one, as we are- ie., So that they may remain in communion with Us.
    cp., 'I kept them in thy name' (v.12)- ie., In such a condition that the things which characterize and pertain to the Father might continue to characterize and pertain to them.
    [This 'oneness' will be discussed further at v.21.]
  • ...that they might have my joy... (v.13)-
    ie., The joy of fulfilling God's Will through dependence upon Him. 15:10,11; 16:22-24
  • ...{because} the world hates and opposes them- v.14; 15:19,20; 16:33
- Request #4 -
17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world,
but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
keep them from the evil {ie., the evil one (Satan)}.- cp. 1Joh 5:18,19
In v.11,12, the same word 'keep' refers to preservation in their relationship to God.
Here, the meaning is protection from the Enemy.
Believers are 'in the world' (v.11) but not 'of the world' (v.16).- They are born of God.
Once, we willingly followed the spirit of Satan, and the lustful ways of fleshly men. Eph 2:1-6
But now, as God's children, we have the Spirit of His Son. cp. 14:30; Gal 4:6; 5:16-25
I pray not... take them out of the world-
The time will come when He will take us home to Himself. 14:3; Rev 22:12
But meanwhile, He is able to 'keep' us, even in a world dominated by Satan. 16:33
- Request #5 -
17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
17:18 As thou hast sent {GK=apostello, sent on a mission} me into the world,
even so have I also sent
{sent on a mission} them into the world.
17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself,
that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Sanctify- GK=hagiazo, to separate from profane things, to set apart for God.
(This word comes from the word 'holy,' cp. v.11.)
Sanctify them...
  • ...through thy truth ...thy Word - Psa 119:9-11,104,144,151,152; Joh 15:3; Eph 5:26
  • thou hast sent me- ie., my mission- 2Cor 5:18-21; cp. Joh 18:37
    As the vessels of the OT Tabernacle were set apart for God's service, so we are to be set apart, purified, and prepared to serve as His representatives in a sinful world.
I sanctify myself...- Christ set Himself apart to do the Father's will, and for our benefit.
The One who is 'the Truth' died under our sins in order to set us apart for God. Heb 2:9-11
17:20 Neither pray I for these alone,
but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
Jesus had His eleven remaining disciples in mind first, as He made the above requests (# 3, 4, 5).
But He anticipates the needs of every believer who would follow them. He prays for you and me.
- Request #6 -
17:21 That they all may be one;
as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:
that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them;
that they may be one, even as we are one:
17:23 I in them, and thou in me,
that they may be made perfect in one;
{"in order that they, having been brought to the state of completeness with respect to oneness, may persist in that state of completeness" [Wuest]}
and that the world may know that thou hast sent me,
and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
that 'they all' may be 'one'-
Was Jesus praying that all 'people of faith' would be united in one great ecumenical church that would set aside all doctrinal differences?
No. Such an interpretation attempts to make this passage more inclusive than it is.
'They all...' -- is limited to all true believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (v.20).
-- is inclusive of all true believers regardless of certain factors that would otherwise separate them, eg., time (v.20), geography, culture, race... cp. Joh 10:16; Gal 3:28
''- This 'oneness' is...
  1. compared to the oneness of God the Father and God the Son.
    • as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee... (v.21)
    • as We are one (v.22; also v.11)
      The Father and Son are distinct as Persons, but one in Essence (eg., having one Glory, Nature, Purpose, Will, Word, Work, etc. ... cp. v.1-10 and related notes).
  2. descriptive of the relationship of the believer with the Father and the Son.
    • that they also may be one in us. (v.21); cp. v.3
  3. made possible only because Christ has placed His nature within the believer.-
  4. meant to enable God's people to fulfill His purpose of proclaiming salvation through Christ.-
    'That the world may believe' (v.21) and 'know...' (whether they believe or not, v.23) -
    • ...that thou hast sent me, cp. Acts 4:32,33
    • ...that thou hast loved them {ie., the believers}, as thou hast loved me. cp. Php 1:27,28
This oneness is not- union with all who 'profess' to be Christians.
- - If all denominations were to join in one great church organization, it could not fulfill Jesus' prayer for oneness, because every denomination contains a mixture of true believers and mere professors. Although the percentage of believers varies from group to group, the visible church (the earthly organization of religious people) does not consist entirely of those who are born of God's Spirit...
- - The 'wheat and tares' can never be 'one,' though they grow intermingled in the same field (Mat 13:24-30), because they are essentially different in nature. Those who have a nature acceptable to the Father (the wheat), have such a nature only through faith in Christ. He has placed His Life ('the glory') within them. 1:11-14,16; 3:3,5-7; 14:6; 15:5
-- Believers can have no true union with unbelievers. cp. Eph 5:11; 2Cor 6:14-18; Jam 4:4
In one sense, Jesus' prayer has already been answered by the Father.
The Holy Spirit has united all true believers into Christ's Body, the true (invisible) Church. 1Cor 12:13; Eph 4:4-6
In another sense, Jesus' prayer addresses an ever present need in the true Church.
  • Although true believers are joined to Christ and to one another in Christ's Body, it is possible for fleshly divisions to break our fellowship in the furtherance of the Gospel. Members of Christ's Body are enabled to love one another and participate together in His work, as they abide in Christ and His Word, and yield to His Spirit. Joh 13:35; Eph 4:3; Php 2:1-5; Col 3:8-15; Jam 3:14-18 (note the order: "...first pure, then peaceable...")
  • Oneness with Him should govern our relationships with other believers.-
    - - He is our peace. Eph 2:14-18
    - - He gives grace to enable us to live in love and peace, with our brothers in Christ. cp. Eph 3:14-21; 4:1-3
- Request #7 -
17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am;
that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me:
for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
17:25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee:
but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]:
that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
I will that they... be with me where I am... - His request encompasses...
  1. our future bodily presence with Him.- cp. 14:3; Col 3:4; 1The 4:17
    "The love that desired reunion with the Father in glory (v.1 and v.5) equally desired the fellowship of His loved disciples in glory (v.24), and His entrance into that glory after having finished the work of their redemption (v.4), guaranteed their presence there (v.2). His being there was their title to be there." [GWms]
  2. our present spiritual presence with Him.- cp. Eph 1:3,20; 2:6
for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.- cp. v.5
His equality with the Father forms...
  • the basis of His prayer {"I will...", v.24}, and
  • the necessity for our knowledge of Him ("that they may behold my glory...")
    - - He wants us to be near Him, so that we might know Him better (cp. v.3).
I have known thee... these have known that thou hast sent me.-
Note the great gulf between the knowledge which Jesus has of the Father (7:29; 10:15)
and the knowledge that the disciples had of Him (v.8; 16:27).
Through their limited knowledge of, and faith in, Him... they were given access to a growing knowledge of Him.
I have declared {ie., 'made known'}... thy name {v.6}, and will declare it {cp. Psa 22:22; Heb 2:12}-
Christ will make the character and purposes of the Father known...
  • through the Church -
    The world, which has 'not known' Him due to unbelief (v.25), and which is, therefore, excluded from Christ's presence (v.24), will eventually acknowledge the wisdom and righteousness of God (cp. v.23; v.25) for His judgment of sin and for His justification of believers. cp. Eph 3:10; Php 2:10,11
  • to the Church -
    1. 'that they may be indwelt by the love
      which the Father has for the Son.' v.26 (cp. v.24); cp. 1Pet 1:8; 1Joh 5:1,2
    2. that they may be indwelt by Christ Himself. cp. 15:4; Eph 3:13-21; 4:13; Col 1:27
Thus, our Great High Priest earnestly prays...
seeking only to glorify the Father, and to bring many sons unto glory (Heb 2:10).
His prayer does not close with the word 'Amen' ('so be it'). For He Himself is the 'Amen' (2Cor 1:20).
For these things to be, He must offer His all sufficient sacrifice. The hour has come.

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