John 17:1-26 - Outline of John (Book Notes menu page)
The Lord's 'upper room discourse' (ch.13-16) had continued as the group left that room (Joh 14:31) and began their walk toward Gethsemane. Now, having completed His words of comfort and instruction to His disciples, He pauses to speak with His Father. It seems likely that this prayer was offered in the Temple, because "when Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron {Kidron}..." (18:1).
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).
  • contained elements which could not apply to the sinless One (eg., Mat 6:12,13).
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. Joh 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. Joh 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 intentionally spoke 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. Like the tool that defiles an altar of stone (eg., Ex 20:25), there is a danger that any human attempt to explain these words may detract from the holy substance before us. 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. Joh 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.
  • The word 'glorify,' as used of God, 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.'
the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee.-
Glory is the visible manifestation of the holiness of God. (See Note at Isaiah 6:1-3.)
Two different types of glory are presented in Christ's first two requests.
  • The Essential glory of who Christ is, was, and evermore shall be (in v.5).
    This is the mutual glory of the Persons of the Godhead,
    as viewed by angelic creatures in heaven, long before earth's creation.
  • The Acquired glory of what Christ accomplished in 'His hour' (v.1).
    Through His death and resurrection, the characteristics of God, the Father and the Son, would be made known to men on earth, and also, in new ways, to the angels of heaven (eg., Eph 3:9-11,21).
He prays, on the basis of His essential equality with the Father. Yet, as a Man, He prays, in humble submission to the Father's will, and in complete dependence on the Father's provision. Joh 5:19,20
glorify thy son...
  • as thou hast given him power {ie., authority}...
    As a man, Jesus received His authority from the Father. Joh 3:35; 5:21-29; Mat 28:18
  • that He should give eternal life...
    God so loved... that He gave His beloved Son, to give eternal life to dying sinners.
    Joh 1:12,13; 3:16; 10:11,18,27-29; Rom 6:23
  • to as many as thou hast given him.-
    Believers are the Father's love gift to His Son. Joh 6:37-39
this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God...-
As outlined, in the points above (from v.2), eternal life belongs to those who have entered into a personal relationship with the ever-living One, through faith in Christ. 1Joh 5:11-13,20
     In v.3, we are given the purpose and primary benefit of eternal life: so that we may know God (Mat 11:27; 2Cor 4:6; 1Joh 5:20).
     The natural man possesses temporal life which enables him to understand man's worldly wisdom. But only those who possess eternal life (through being born of God's Spirit, by faith in Christ) can understand the things of God (1Cor 2:9-16).
I have glorified thee... I have finished the work... (v.4)-
His prayer is so unlike mine. He has no regrets for words misspoken, and no need of repentance for deeds mistaken or left undone. Rather, He confesses only that He has faithfully accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do, and that He has done all things well.
     Jesus glorified the Father through His life of complete obedience. He held nothing back for Himself, but poured Himself out as the ultimate sacrifice in fulfillment of the Father's will (Psa 40:6-10; Heb 10:4-10).
"I have... I have..." (v.4)- He speaks in the past tense, of future things.
He does not say 'I will finish the work,' though it would be several hours before He would make that announcement from the cross (Joh 19:30). Yet, His completed work was a fact established in the timeless counsels of God.
   In the remainder of this chapter, Jesus repeats the words "I have..." eight times:
  • Seven times, in regard to His ministry to His own.
    (We will consider those occurrences as we come to them.)
    But here, we note that God's fore-ordained purposes, for those who belong to Christ,
    are also stated as accomplished fact (eg., Rom 8:30; Eph 2:6; 2Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2).
  • The fulfillment of those purposes rests upon the eternally faithful One,
    whom our Lord identifies in the remaining occurrence of "I have..." (v.25).
- 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 (speaking and acting in the Father's authority & power).
  • He became a man to die for others.
  • 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 rightful glory in the Godhead.
     See Php 2:6-11; Heb 2:9,10; Rev 5:9-14.
- In v.6-10, our Great High Priest identifies those for whom He is about to intercede.
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.
the men whom thou gavest me...-
Seven times, He speaks of those who had been 'given' to Him. (v.2; v.6 (2x); v.9; v.11; v.12; v.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 would benefit. Those, who are His, respond to the Gospel preached to every creature (Joh 6:37,44). They include 'whosoever believes' (3:16), and 'as many as receive Him' (1:12). Our Lord's prayer encompasses all who would come to faith during the Church Age (v.20). However, as He voiced these words, His first concern was for the eleven men who would bear witness, following His resurrection and ascension.
His disciples were set apart from the world, in that they...
  • were given to Him, out of the world, by the Father (v.6).
  • 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).
Even during His earthly ministry, the things pertaining to the Father belonged to the Son:
  • thy Name, v.6 - I have manifested thy name...-
  • 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
    • In this verse, He distinguishes between the 'words' (v.8) and the 'word' (v.6,14,17,20). The 'words,' which Jesus spoke during His earthly ministry, comprised a portion of the full Word of God, which includes the OT and the NT scriptures which were yet to be written by the apostles as the Holy Spirit taught them (eg., 16:13-15).
  • all thine are mine, and mine are thine... I am glorified in them. v.10
I pray for them... not for the world...-
Today also, our High Priest continues His ministry of intercession for His own (Heb 7:25).
- Request #3 -
17:11 And now I am no more in the world,
but these are in the world, and I come to thee.
{Joh 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,
{Joh 6:39}
and none of them is lost,
but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
{Joh 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.
now I am no more in the world... I come to thee...-
His ascension was still a few weeks in the future.
Yet, He speaks as though already present in the heavenly throne room.
but these are in the world...-
He had foretold the troubles which His disciples would face in the world (Joh 15:18-21). He knew that they could not stand on their own (16:32).
I have kept... those that thou gavest me... none of them is lost... but the son of perdition.-
Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus) was never one of those whom the Father had given to Jesus. Jesus did not 'lose' him. Judas spent three years in close association with Jesus as one of His twelve disciples. Like the others, he had been exposed to Jesus' miracles and teaching, and had been active in the ministry. Yet, Judas had never truly believed (cf. v.7,8; Joh 6:70,71), and was, therefore, destined for perdition {ie., destruction} (Mark 14:21).
I kept them in thy name...-
During His earthly ministry...
  • God's Son had manifested His Father to the men given to Him. v.6; Joh 14:6-11; 1Joh 1:1-7
  • God's Son had maintained them in a condition of fellowship with the Father (v.12a).
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, guard, preserve from loss or injury -
  • ...through thine own name... - God's "name" encompasses all that He is.
    The Father is able to keep all whom He has given to the Son. Joh 10:28-30; 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.
    The Holy Father is asked to keep them, as Jesus kept them: 'in thy name' (v.12a).
    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 fulfilled {lit., filled full} in themselves... (v.13)-
    ie., The joy of doing God's Will through dependence upon Him. Joh 15:10,11; 16:22-24
  • ...{because} they remain in the world that hates and opposes them- v.11,14
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.
The Word of God, which gives life to those who receive it, condemns and offends the world.
Joh 5:24; 8:43-47; 15:18-21
- 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 word 'keep' (kept) refers to preservation in their relationship to God.
Here, the sense is protection from the Enemy of God.
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, who lives to please the Father. 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. Joh 14:3; Rev 22:12
Until then, He has a purpose for His own, here. eg., Mat 28:18-20
Meanwhile, He is able to 'keep' us, even in a world dominated by Satan. Joh 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.
(The root of this word is GK=hagios, 'holy,' cp. v.11.)
Sanctify them...
  • ...through thy truth... thy Word is truth.-
    'Truth' {GK= aletheia} is the negative form ('a-') of GK= lanthano, to escape notice, to be hidden.
    God's Word reveals what we would otherwise misunderstand (eg., the character and purposes of God, the character and self-deception of the human heart, etc.). Understanding the truth, the believer seeks to live true to the Lord. Psa 19:7-14; 119:9-11,104,144,151-152
  • thou hast sent me {ie., on my mission of truth}...- eg., Joh 18:37
    As the priests and vessels of the OT Tabernacle were set apart for God's service, so, we are to be set apart, purified, and prepared, as His representatives to proclaim the truth. 2Cor 5:18-21
I sanctify myself...- Christ set Himself apart to do the Father's will.
Our sanctified High Priest offered Himself for our justification and sanctification.
The One who is 'the Truth' died under our sins in order to set us apart for God. Joh 14:6
Scripture reveals three modes of the believer's sanctification:
  1. by the blood of Christ, the believer is set apart as a child of God. Heb 10:14
  2. by the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the child of God grows, becoming more like Christ. 1Cor 6:11; 2Cor 3:18
  3. by feeding on the Word of God, the child of God becomes conscious and desirous of the Lord, His ways and His will. Eph 5:25-27; Col 3:16,17; 2Tim 3:16,17; 1Pet 2:2
17:20 Neither pray I for these alone,
but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
The eleven disciples were first in His mind, as Jesus made the requests above (# 3, 4, 5).
But He anticipated the needs of everyone who would come to faith through the witness of the apostles (including their written testimony in the NT). 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 much 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 (Joh 10:16; Gal 3:28)...
...may be 'one.'-
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
      Believers are granted a relationship of harmonious communion with God.
  3. made possible only through Christ's death and resurrection in behalf of believers.-
    • the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one (v.22)...-
      This is the 'acquired glory,' which Christ purchased in 'His hour,' by which He has authority to give eternal life to those whom the Father has given Him (v.1-4).
         Because of this eternal life received from God, the believer is born anew as a child of God, and brought into communion with God, in order that he might know the Father and Son.
      Joh 1:12,13; 2Cor 4:6,7
    • I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect {complete} in one (v.23).
      The glory which Christ gives to God's child is not intrinsic to the believer. Believers do not enter into the Godhead. The 'essential glory' of Christ (v.5; Joh 1:14) exists only in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is as Christ dwells within believers, that His glory is displayed in them, "of {GK= ek, 'out of'} His fulness" (Joh 1:16).
  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 (all religious people in christendom) 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. Joh 1:11-14,16; 3:3,5-7; 14:6; 15:5
     Believers can have no true union with unbelievers. cp. 2Cor 6:14-18; Eph 5:11; 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.
  • Fleshly divisions, too often, break our fellowship with fellow believers.
    Although true believers are permanently joined to Christ and to one another in Christ's Body, relatively minor differences of understanding can cause us to lose sight of our common heritage and mission. God's Word frequently admonishes members of Christ's Body to love one another and participate together in His work, through abiding in Christ and His Word, and yielding to His Spirit. eg., Joh 13:35; Eph 4:1-3; Php 2:1-5; Col 3:8-15; Jam 3:14-18 (note the order: "...first pure, then peaceable...")
  • True Oneness with other believers rests upon our mutual realization of...
    • The glory given to us by Christ: eternal life, as the children of God. v.22; cp. Heb 2:11
    • The glory of Christ within His church (all whom He has reconciled to the Father):
      to 'perfect' our oneness in Him. v.23a; cp. Col 1:17-22,27
    • The love of the Father: 'Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.' v.23b
      Though totally unworthy, all who are 'in Christ' are 'accepted in the Beloved' (Eph 1:6).
      God is able to enable us (beyond what we think possible) to exhibit His love toward our brothers in Christ (Eph 3:14-21). We, also, ought to ask.
- 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, which thou hast given me, be with me where I am...-
His request encompasses...
  1. our future bodily presence with Him.- cp. Joh 14:3; Col 3:4; 1The 4:16,17
    "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 communion with Him.- cp. Eph 1:3,20-23; 2:6,7; Rev 3:20
...that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me {ie., His acquired glory, v.1-4}...
for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world {ie., His essential glory, v.5}.
His equality with the Father forms...
  • the basis of His prayer {"I will...," v.24}
    The heart desire of the Son is also the will of the Father.
  • 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).
    - - Does your heart yearn to truly know Him? Php 3:8-10
O righteous {GK= dikaios, right, just} Father, the world hath not known thee...
Jesus addressed the Father differently, depending on the nature of His requests:
  • Father...- when pertaining to Himself or His relationship to the Father. v.1,5,21,24
  • Holy Father...- when pertaining to 'the men given to Him':
    that they be kept and sanctified, in their relationship to the Holy Father. v.11
  • Righteous Father...- when differentiating between categories of people. v.25
    • the world that does not know God,
      and which hates God's word and God's people (v.14).
    • Jesus Christ, who being One with the Father, is the only man known,
      loved, and sent by the Father, from before the world began.
    • true believers, who like Christ, are not of the world (v.14,16),
      because they have received and believed the One sent from the Father. v.7,8
God is 'Righteous' to judge between the world and those who have been called out of the world, on the basis of Christ's sacrifice for the remission of sin. Rom 3:23-26; 6:23
but 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 (Joh 7:29; 10:15)
and the knowledge that the disciples had of Him (v.8; 16:27).
     They had placed their faith in Him, because of what little they knew of Him. His desire is that they should know Him fully. cp. 1Cor 13:12
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, to His own...
  1. 'that they may be indwelt by the love which the Father has for the Son.' v.26
    • The Father loves those who are in Christ, as He loves Christ Himself (v.23).
    • Those who truly know Christ will have, within them, that same kind of love, for Christ (1Pet 1:8), and also for all who are in Him (1Joh 5:1,2).
  2. that they may be indwelt by Christ Himself. cp. Joh 15:4; Eph 3:14-21; 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 His requests 'to be,' He must offer His all sufficient sacrifice.
The hour has come.

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