John Chapter Seventeen
Chapter 17 is divided thus: Verses 1-5 relate to Christ Himself, to His taking His position in glory, to His work, and to that glory as belonging to His Person, and the result of His work. Verses 1-3 present His new position in two aspects: "glorify thy Son"-power over all flesh, for eternal life to those given to Him; verses 4, 5, His work and its results. In verses 6-13 He speaks of His disciples as put into this relationship with the Father by His revealing His name to them, and then His having given them the words which He had Himself received, that they might enjoy all the full blessedness of this relationship. He also prays for them that they may be one as He and the Father were. In verses 14-21 we find their consequent relationship to the world; in verses 20, 21, He introduces those who should believe through their means into the enjoyment of their blessing. Verses 22-26 make known the result, both future, and in this world, for them: the possession of the glory which Christ Himself had received from the Father-to be with Him, enjoying the sight of His glory-that the Father's love should be with them here below, even as Christ Himself had been its object-and that Christ Himself should be in them. The last three verses alone take the disciples up to heaven as a supplemental truth.
This is a brief summary of this marvellous chapter, in which we are admitted, not to the discourse of Christ with man, but to hear the desires of His heart, when He pours it out to His Father for the blessing of those that are His own. Wonderful grace that permits us to hear these desires, and to understand all the privileges that flow from His thus caring for us, from our being the subject of intercourse between the Father and the Son, of their common love towards us, when Christ expresses His own desires-that which He has at heart, and which He presents to the Father as His own personal wishes!
Some explanations may assist in apprehending the meaning of certain passages in this marvellous and precious chapter. May the Spirit of God aid us!
The Lord, whose looks of love had until then been directed towards His disciples on the earth, now lifts His eyes to heaven as He addresses His Father. The hour was come to glorify the Son, in order that from the glory He might glorify the Father. This is, speaking generally, the new position. His career here was finished, and He had to ascend on high. Two things were connected with this-power over all flesh, and the gift of eternal life to as many as the Father had given Him. "The head of every man is Christ." Those whom the Father had given Him receive eternal life from Him who has gone up on high. Eternal life was the knowledge of the Father, the only true God, and of Jesus Christ, whom He had sent. The knowledge of the Almighty gave assurance to the pilgrim of faith; that of Jehovah, the certainty of the fulfilment of the promises of God to Israel; that of the Father, who sent the Son, Jesus Christ (the Anointed Man and the Saviour), who was that life itself, and so received as a present thing (1 John 1:1-4), was life eternal. True knowledge here was not outward protection or future hope, but the communication, in life, of communion with the Being thus known to the soul-of communion with God Himself fully known as the Father and the Son. Here it is not the divinity of His Person that is before us in Christ, though a divine Person alone could be in such a place and so speak, but the place that He had taken in fulfilling the counsels of God. That which is said of Jesus in this chapter could only be said of One who is God; but the point treated is that of His place in the counsels of God, and not the revelation of His nature. He receives all from His Father-He is sent by Him, His Father glorifies Him. 
We see the same truth of the communication of eternal life in connection with His divine nature and His oneness with the Father in 1 John 5:20. Here He fulfils the Father's will, and is dependent on Him in the place that He has taken, and that He is going to take, even in the glory, however glorious His nature may be. So, also, in chapter 5 of our Gospel, He quickens whom He will; here it is those whom the Father has given Him. And the life He gives is realised in the knowledge of the Father, and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
He now declares the conditions under which He takes this place on high. He had perfectly glorified the Father on earth. Nothing that manifested God the Father had been wanting, whatever might be the difficulty; the contradiction of sinners was but an occasion of so doing. But this very thing made the sorrow infinite. Nevertheless Jesus had accomplished that glory on the earth in the face of all that opposed itself. His glory with the Father in heaven was but the just consequence-the necessary consequence, in mere justice. Moreover Jesus had had this glory with His Father before the world was. His work and His Person alike gave Him a right to it. The Father glorified on earth by the Son: the Son glorified with the Father on high: such is the revelation contained in these verses-a right, proceeding from His Person as Son, but to a glory into which He entered as man, in consequence of having, as such, perfectly glorified His Father on earth. These are the verses that relate to Christ. This, moreover, gives the relationship in which He enters into this new place as man, His Son, and the work by which He does so in righteousness, and thus gives us a title, and the character in which we have a place there.
He now speaks of the disciples; how they entered into their peculiar place in connection with this position of Jesus-into this relationship with His Father. He had manifested the Father's name to those whom the Father had given Him out of the world. They belonged to the Father, and the Father had given them to Jesus. They had kept the Father's word. It was faith in the revelation which the Son had made of the Father. The words of the prophets were true. The faithful enjoyed them: they sustained their faith. But the word of the Father, by Jesus, revealed the Father Himself, in Him whom the Father had sent, and put him who received them into the place of love, which was Christ's place; and to know the Father and the Son was life eternal. This was quite another thing from hopes connected with the Messiah or what Jehovah had given Him. It is thus, also, that the disciples are presented to the Father; not as receiving Christ in the character of Messiah, and honouring Him as possessing His power by that title. They had known that all which Jesus had was of the Father. He was then the Son; His relationship to the Father was acknowledged. Dull of comprehension as they were, the Lord recognises them according to His appreciation of their faith, according to the object of that faith, as known to Himself, and not according to their intelligence. Precious truth! (compare chap. 14:7).
They acknowledged Jesus, then, as receiving all from the Father, not as Messiah from Jehovah; for Jesus had given them all the words that the Father had given Him. Thus He had brought them in their own souls into the consciousness of the relationship between the Son and the Father, and into full communion, according to the communications of the Father to the Son in that relationship. He speaks of their position through faith-not of their realisation of this position. Thus they had acknowledged that Jesus came forth from the Father, and that He came with the Father's authority-the Father had sent Him. It was from thence He came, and He came furnished with the authority of a mission from the Father. This was their position by faith.
And now-the disciples being already in this position-He places them, according to His thoughts and His desires, before the Father in prayer. He prays for them, distinguishing them completely from the world. The time would come when (according to Psalm 2) He would ask of the Father with reference to the world; He was not doing so now, but for those out of the world, whom the Father had given Him. For they were the Father's. For all that is the Father's is in essential opposition to the world (compare 1 John 2:16).
The Lord presents to the Father two motives for His request: 1st, They were the Father's, so that the Father, for His own glory, and because of His affection for that which belonged to Him, should keep them; 2nd, Jesus was glorified in them, so that if Jesus was the object of the Father's affection, for that reason also the Father should keep them. Besides, the interests of the Father and the Son could not be separated. If they were the Father's they were, in fact, the Son's; and it was but an example of that universal truth-all that was the Son's was the Father's, and all that was the Father's was the Son's. What a place for us! to be the object of this mutual affection, of these common and inseparable interests of the Father and the Son. This is the great principle-the great foundation of the prayer of Christ. He prayed the Father for His disciples, because they belonged to the Father; Jesus must needs, therefore, seek their blessing. The Father would be thoroughly interested for them, because in them the Son was to be glorified.
He then presents the circumstances to which the prayer applied. He was no longer in this world Himself. They would be deprived of His personal care as present with them, but they would be in this world, while He was coming to the Father. This is the ground of His request with regard to their position. He puts them in connection, therefore, with the Holy Father-all the perfect love of such a Father-the Father of Jesus and their Father, maintaining (it was their blessing) the holiness that His nature required, if they were to be in relationship with Him. It was direct guardianship. The Father would keep in His own name those whom He had given to Jesus. The connection thus was direct. Jesus committed them to Him, and that, not only as belonging to the Father, but now as His own, invested with all the value which that would give them in the Father's eyes.
The object of His solicitude was to keep them in unity, even as the Father and the Son are one. One only divine Spirit was the bond of that oneness. In this sense the bond was truly divine. So far as they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they had but one mind, one counsel, one aim. This is the unity referred to here. The Father and the Son were their only object; the accomplishing their counsels and objects their only pursuit. They had only the thoughts of God; because God Himself, the Holy Ghost, was the source of their thoughts. It was one only divine power and nature that united them-the Holy Ghost. The mind, the aim, the life, the whole moral existence, were consequently one. The Lord speaks, necessarily, at the height of His own thoughts, when He expresses His desires for them. If it is a question of realisation, we must then think of man; yet of a strength also that is perfected in weakness.
This is the sum of the Lord's desires-sons, saints, under the Father's care; one, not by an effort or by agreement, but according to divine power. He being here, had kept them in the Father's name, faithful to accomplish all that the Father had committed to Him, and to lose none of those that were His. As to Judas, it was only the fulfilment of the word. The guardianship of Jesus present in the world could now no longer exist. But He spoke these things, being still here, the disciples hearing them, in order that they might understand that they were placed before the Father in the same position that Christ had held, and that they might thus have fulfilled in themselves, in this same relationship, the joy which Christ had possessed. What unutterable grace! They had lost Him, visibly, to find themselves (by Him and in Him) in His own relationship with the Father, enjoying all that He enjoyed in that communion here below, as being in His place in their own relationship with the Father. Therefore He had imparted to them all the words that the Father had given Him-the communications of His love to Himself, when walking as Son in that place here below; and, in the especial name of "Holy Father," by which the Son Himself addressed Him from the earth, the Father was to keep those whom the Son had left there. Thus should they have His joy fulfilled in themselves.
This was their relationship to the Father, Jesus being away. He turns now to their relationship with the world, in consequence of the former.
He gave them the word of His Father-not the words to bring them into communion with Him, but His word-the testimony of what He was. And the world had hated them as it had hated Jesus (the living and personal testimony of the Father) and the Father Himself. Being thus in relationship with the Father, who had taken them out from the men of the world, and having received the Father's word (and eternal life in the Son in that knowledge), they were not of the world even as Jesus was not of the world: and therefor the world hated them. Nevertheless the Lord does not pray that they might be taken out of it; but that the Father should keep them from the evil. He enters into the detail of His desires in this respect, grounded on their not being of the world. He repeats this thought as the basis of their position here below. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." What then were they to be? By what rule, by what model, were they to be formed? By the truth, and the Father's word is truth. Christ was always the Word, but the living Word among men. In the scriptures we possess it, written and stedfast: they reveal Him, bear witness to Him. It was thus that the disciples were to be set apart. "Sanctify them by thy truth: thy word is the truth." It was this, personally, that they were to be formed by, the Father's word, as He was revealed in Jesus.
Their mission follows. Jesus sends them into the world, as the Father had sent Him into the world; into the world-in no wise of the world. They are sent into it on the part of Christ: were they of it, they could not be sent into it. But it was not only the Father's word which was the truth, nor the communication of the Father's word by Christ present with His disciples (points of which from verse 14 till now Jesus had been speaking, "I have given them thy word"): He sanctified Himself. He set Himself apart as a heavenly man above the heavens, a glorified man in the glory, in order that all truth might shine forth in Him, in His Person, raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father-all that the Father is being thus displayed in Him; the testimony of divine righteousness, of divine love, of divine power, totally overturning the lie of Satan, by which man had been deceived and falsity brought into the world; the perfect model of that which man was according to the counsels of God, and as the expression of His power morally and in glory-the image of the invisible God, the Son, and in glory. Jesus set Himself apart, in this place, in order that the disciples might be sanctified by the communication to them of what He was; for this communication was the truth, and created them in the image of that which it revealed. So that it was the Father's glory, revealed by Him on earth, and the glory into which He had ascended as man; for this is the complete result-the illustration in glory of the way in which He had set Himself apart for God, but on behalf of His own. Thus there is not only the forming and governing of the thoughts by the word, setting us apart morally to God, but the blessed affections flowing from our having this truth in the Person of Christ, our hearts connected with Him in grace. This ends the second part of that which related to the disciples, in communion and in testimony.
In verse 20, He declares that He prays also for those who should believe on Him through their means. Here the character of the unity differs a little from that in verse 11. There, in speaking of the disciples, He says, "as we are"; for the oneness of the Father and the Son shewed itself in fixed purpose, object, love, work, everything. Therefore the disciples were to have that kind of unity. Here those who believed, inasmuch as receiving and taking part in that which was communicated, had their oneness in the power of the blessing into which they were brought. By one Spirit, in which they were necessarily united, they had a place in communion with the Father and the Son. It was the communion of the Father and of the Son (compare 1 John 1:3; and how similar the language of the apostle is to that of Christ!). Thus, the Lord asks that they may be one in them-the Father and the Son. This was the means to make the world believe that the Father had sent the Son; for here were those that had believed it, who, however opposed their interests and habits might be, however strong their prejudices, yet were one (by this powerful revelation and by this work) in the Father and the Son.
Here His prayer ends, but not all His converse with His Father. He gives us (and here the witnesses and the believers are together) the glory which the Father has given Him. It is the basis of another, a third,  mode of oneness. All partake, it is true, in glory, of this absolute oneness in thought, object, fixed purpose, which is found in the oneness of the Father and the Son. Perfection being come, that which the Holy Ghost had produced spiritually, His absorbing energy shutting out every other, was natural to all in glory.
But the principle of the existence of this unity, added yet another character to that truth-that of manifestation, or at least of an inward source which realised its manifestation in them: "I in them," said Jesus, "and thou in me." This is not the simple, perfect oneness of verse 11, nor the mutuality and communion of verse 21. It is Christ in all believers, and the Father in Christ, a unity in manifestation in glory, not merely in communion-a oneness in which all is perfectly connected with its source. And Christ, whom alone they were to manifest, is in them; and the Father, whom Christ had perfectly manifested, is in Him. The world (for this will be in the millennial glory, and manifested to the world) will then know (He does not say, "that it may believe") that Jesus had been sent by the Father (how deny it, when He should be seen in glory?) and, moreover, that the disciples had been loved by the Father, even as Jesus Himself was loved. The fact of their possessing the same glory as Christ would be the proof.
But there was yet more. There is that which the world will not see, because it will not be in it. "Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am." There we are not only like Christ (conformed to the Son, bearing the image of the heavenly man before the eyes of the world), but with Him where He is. Jesus desires that we should see His glory.  Solace and encouragement for us, after having partaken of His shame: but yet more precious, inasmuch as we see that He who has been dishonoured as man, and because He became man for our sake, shall, even on that account, be glorified with a glory above all other glory, save His who has put all things under Him. For He speaks here of given glory. It is this which is so precious to us, because He has acquired it by His sufferings for us, and yet it is what was perfectly due to Him-the just reward for having, in them, perfectly glorified the Father. Now, this is a peculiar joy, entirely beyond the world. The world will see the glory that we have in common with Christ, and will know that we have been loved as Christ was loved. But there is a secret for those who love Him, which belongs to His Person and to our association with Himself. The Father loved Him before the world was-a love in which there is no question of comparison but of that which is infinite, perfect, and thus in itself satisfying. We shall share this in the sense of seeing our Beloved in it, and of being with Him, and of beholding the glory which the Father has given Him, according to the love wherewith He loved Him before the world had any part whatever in the dealings of God. Up to this we were in the world; here in heaven, out of all the world's claims or apprehension (Christ seen in the fruit of that love which the Fatherhad for Him before the world existed). Christ, then, was the Father's delight. We see Him in the eternal fruit of that love as Man. We shall be in it with Him for ever, to enjoy His being in it-that our Jesus, our Beloved, is in it, and is what He is.
Meantime, being such, there was justice in the dealings of God with regard to His rejection. He had fully, perfectly, manifested the Father. The world had not known Him, but Jesus had known Him, and the disciples had known that the Father had sent Him. He appeals here, not to the holiness of the Father, that He might keep them according to that blessed name, but to the righteousness of the Father, that He might make a distinction between the world on one side, and Jesus with His own on the other; for there was the moral reason as well as the ineffable love of the Father for the Son. And Jesus would have us enjoy, while here below, the consciousness that the distinction has been made by the communications of grace, before it is made by judgment.
He had declared unto them the Father's name, and would declare it, even when He had gone up on high, in order that the love wherewith the Father had loved Him might be in them (that their hearts might possess it in this world-what grace!) and Jesus Himself in them, the communicator of that love, the source of strength to enjoy it, conducting it, so to speak, in all the perfection in which He enjoyed it, into their hearts, in which He dwelt-Himself the strength, the life, the competency, the right, and the means of enjoying it thus, and as such, in the heart. For it is in the Son who declares it to us, that we know the name of the Father whom He reveals to us. That is, He would have us enjoy now that relationship in love in which we shall see Him in heaven. The world will know we have been loved as Jesus when we appear in the same glory with Him; but our part is to know it now, Christ being in us.
 The more we examine the Gospel of John, the more we shall see One who speaks and acts as a divine Person-one with the Father-alone could do, but yet always as One who had taken the place of a servant, and takes nothing to Himself, but receives all from His Father. "I have glorified thee": "now glorify me." What language of equality of nature and love! but He does not say, And now I will glorify myself. He has taken the place of man to receive all, though it be a glory He had with the Father before the world was. This is of exquisite beauty. I add, it was out of this the enemy sought to seduce Him, in vain, in the wilderness.
 There are three unities spoken of. First of the disciples, "as we are," unity by the power of one Spirit in thought, purpose, mind, service, the Holy Ghost making them all one, their path in common, the expression of His mind and power, and of nothing else. Then, of those who should believe through their means, unity in communion with the Father and the Son, "one in us"-still by the Holy Ghost but, as brought into that, as already said above, as in 1 John 1:3. Then unity in glory, "perfect in one," in manifestation and descending revelation, the Father in the Son, and the Son in all of them. The second was for the world's believing, the third for its knowing. The two first were literally accomplished according to the terms in which they are expressed. How far believers are departed from them since need not be said.
 This answers to Moses and Elias entering into the cloud, besides their display in the same glory as Christ, standing on the mountain.
── John Darby《Synopsis of John》
Christ's prayer for himself. (1-5) His prayer for his disciples. (6-10) His prayer. (11-26)
Commentary on John 17:1-5
(Read John 17:1-5)
Our Lord prayed as a man, and as the Mediator of his people; yet he spoke with majesty and authority, as one with and equal to the Father. Eternal life could not be given to believers, unless Christ, their Surety, both glorified the Father, and was glorified of him. This is the sinner's way to eternal life, and when this knowledge shall be made perfect, holiness and happiness will be fully enjoyed. The holiness and happiness of the redeemed, are especially that glory of Christ, and of his Father, which was the joy set before him, for which he endured the cross and despised the shame; this glory was the end of the sorrow of his soul, and in obtaining it he was fully satisfied. Thus we are taught that our glorifying God is needed as an evidence of our interest in Christ, through whom eternal life is God's free gift.
Commentary on John 17:6-10.
(Read John 17:6-10.)
Christ prays for those that are his. Thou gavest them me, as sheep to the shepherd, to be kept; as a patient to the physician, to be cured; as children to a tutor, to be taught: thus he will deliver up his charge. It is a great satisfaction to us, in our reliance upon Christ, that he, all he is and has, and all he said and did, all he is doing and will do, are of God. Christ offered this prayer for his people alone as believers; not for the world at large. Yet no one who desires to come to the Father, and is conscious that he is unworthy to come in his own name, need be discouraged by the Saviour's declaration, for he is both able and willing to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him. Earnest convictions and desires, are hopeful tokens of a work already wrought in a man; they begin to evidence that he has been chosen unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. They are thine; wilt thou not provide for thine own? Wilt thou not secure them? Observe the foundation on which this plea is grounded, All mine are thine, and thine are mine. This speaks the Father and Son to be one. All mine are thine. The Son owns none for his, that are not devoted to the service of the Father.
Commentary on John 17:11-16
(Read John 17:11-16)
Christ does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven. The prosperity of the soul is the best prosperity. He pleaded with his holy Father, that he would keep them by his power and for his glory, that they might be united in affection and labours, even according to the union of the Father and the Son. He did not pray that his disciples should be removed out of the world, that they might escape the rage of men, for they had a great work to do for the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind. But he prayed that the Father would keep them from the evil, from being corrupted by the world, the remains of sin in their hearts, and from the power and craft of Satan. So that they might pass through the world as through an enemy's country, as he had done. They are not left here to pursue the same objects as the men around them, but to glorify God, and to serve their generation. The Spirit of God in true Christians is opposed to the spirit of the world.
Commentary on John 17:17-19
(Read John 17:17-19)
Christ next prayed for the disciples, that they might not only be kept from evil, but made good. It is the prayer of Jesus for all that are his, that they may be made holy. Even disciples must pray for sanctifying grace. The means of giving this grace is, "through thy truth, thy word is truth." Sanctify them, set them apart for thyself and thy service. Own them in the office; let thy hand go with them. Jesus entirely devoted himself to his undertaking, and all the parts of it, especially the offering up himself without spot unto God, by the eternal Spirit. The real holiness of all true Christians is the fruit of Christ's death, by which the gift of the Holy Ghost was purchased; he gave himself for his church, to sanctify it. If our views have not this effect on us, they are not Divine truth, or we do not receive them by a living and a working faith, but as mere notions.
Commentary on John 17:20-23
(Read John 17:20-23)
Our Lord especially prayed, that all believers might be as one body under one head, animated by one soul, by their union with Christ and the Father in him, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The more they dispute about lesser things, the more they throw doubts upon Christianity. Let us endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, praying that all believers may be more and more united in one mind and one judgment. Thus shall we convince the world of the truth and excellence of our religion, and find more sweet communion with God and his saints.
Commentary on John 17:24-26
(Read John 17:24-26)
Christ, as one with the Father, claimed on behalf of all that had been given to him, and should in due time believe on him, that they should be brought to heaven; and that there the whole company of the redeemed might behold his glory as their beloved Friend and Brother, and therein find happiness. He had declared and would further declare the name or character of God, by his doctrine and his Spirit, that, being one with him, the love of the Father to him might abide with them also. Thus, being joined to Him by one Spirit, they might be filled with all the fulness of God, and enjoy a blessedness of which we can form no right idea in our present state.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on John》
 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
As thou hast given him power over all flesh — This answers to glorify thy Son. That he may give eternal life, etc.-This answers to that thy Son may glorify thee.
To all whom thou hast given him — To all believers. This is a clear proof that Christ designed his sacrifice should avail for all: yea, that all flesh, every man, should partake of everlasting life. For as the Father had given him power over all flesh, so he gave himself a ransom for all.
 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
To know — By loving, holy faith, thee the only true God - The only cause and end of all things; not excluding the Son and the Holy Ghost, no more than the Father is excluded from being Lord, 1 Corinthians 8:6; but the false gods of the heathens; and Jesus Christ - As their prophet, priest, and king: this is life eternal - It is both the way to, and the essence of, everlasting happiness.
 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
I have finished the work — Thus have I glorified thee, laying the foundation of thy kingdom on earth.
 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
The glory which I had — He does not say received - He always had it, till he emptied himself of it in the days of his flesh.
 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.
I have manifested thy name — All thy attributes; and in particular thy paternal relation to believers; to the men whom thou hast given me - The apostles, and so John 17:12.
They were thine — By creation, and by descent from Abraham.
And thou hast given them me — By giving them faith in what I have spoken. So John 17:9.
 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
Now they know that all things — Which I have done and spoken, are of thee - And consequently right and true.
 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 me.
They have received them — By faith.
 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
I pray not for the world — Not in these petitions, which are adapted to the state of believers only. (He prays for the world at John 17:21,23, that they may believe - That they may know God hath sent him.) This no more proves that our Lord did not pray for the world, both before and afterward, than his praying for the apostles alone, John 17:6-19, proves that he did not pray for them also which shall believe through their word, John 17:20.
 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
All things that are mine are thine, and that are thine are mine — These are very high and strong expressions, too grand for any mere creature to use; as implying that all things whatsoever, inclusive of the Divine nature, perfections, and operations, are the common property of the Father and the Son. And this is the original ground of that peculiar property, which both the Father and the Son have in the persons who were given to Christ as Mediator; according to what is said in the close of the verse, of his being glorified by them; namely, believing in him, and so acknowledging his glory.
 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
Keep them through thy name — Thy power, mercy, wisdom, that they may be one - with us and with each other; one body, separate from the world: as we are - By resemblance to us, though not equality.
 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.
Those whom thou hast given me I have guarded, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition — So one even of them whom God had given him is lost. So far was even that decree from being unchangeable! That the Scripture might be fulfilled - That is, whereby the Scripture was fulfilled. The son of perdition signifies one that deservedly perishes; as a son of death, 2 Samuel 12:5; children of hell, Matthew 23:15, and children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3, signify persons justly obnoxious to death, hell, wrath. Psalms 109:8.
 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
In the world — That is, before I leave the world.
My joy — The joy I feel at going to the Father.
 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
That thou wouldest take them out of the world — Not yet: but that thou wouldest keep them from the evil one - Who reigns therein.
 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Sanctify — Consecrate them by the anointing of thy Spirit to their office, and perfect them in holiness, by means of thy word.
 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
I sanctify myself — I devote myself as a victim, to be sacrificed.
 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
For them who will believe — In all ages.
 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.
As thou art in me — This also is to be understood in a way of similitude, and not of sameness or equality.
That the world may believe — Here Christ prays for the world. Observe the sum of his whole prayer, 1. Receive me into thy own and my glory; 2. Let my apostles share therein; 3. And all other believers: 4. And let all the world believe.
 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them — The glory of the only begotten shines in all the sons of God. How great is the majesty of Christians.
 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.
Here he returns to the apostles.
I will — He asks, as having a right to be heard, and prays, not as a servant, but a Son: that they may behold my glory - Herein Is the happiness of heaven, 1 John 3:2.
 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
Righteous Father — The admission of believers to God through Christ, flows even from the justice of God.
 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 have declared to them thy name — Thy new, best name of love; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me - That thou and thy love, and I and my love, may be in them - That they may love me with that love.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on John》
Chapter 17. Jesus' Intercession
Shame of Separation
I. Jesus Prays for Himself
II. Jesus Prays for Disciples
III. Jesus Prays for Believers
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
That The World May Know (17:20-23)
1. Shortly before His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, Jesus prayed
to His Father...
a. For Himself - Jn 17:1-5
b. For His disciples - Jn 17:6-19
c. For all His future believers - Jn 17:20-26
2. His prayer is truly remarkable...
a. It has been called "The Lord's High Priestly Prayer"
b. It is truly "The Lord's Prayer", a title normally given to the
sample prayer found in Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4
3. We learn what weighed heavily on our Lord's mind, knowing that
"the hour has come"...
a. He sought to be glorified by His Father
b. He was concerned for the well-being of His disciples
c. He wanted His followers to be one, even as He and the Father were
one - Jn 17:20-23
4. It is our Lord's concern for unity that I want us to examine in this
a. Why was unity so important to Jesus?
b. What has Jesus done that it might be accomplished?
c. In our religiously divided world today, how can we maintain unity
among those who believe in Jesus?
[As we look closer at our text (Jn 17:20-23), we are immediately
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF UNITY
A. "THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE" - Jn 17:21
1. Without unity, it is difficult to persuade unbelievers that
Jesus came from God
a. Those in the world care little about doctrine and
b. But in a world with racial, ethnic and cultural divisions,
unity can capture their attention!
2. This is not to say that doctrine is not important!
a. Jesus had already emphasized the importance of abiding in
His word - Jn 8:31
b. But the proclamation of truth must be accompanied by unity
3. When we are united in Christ, it gives credence to our claims
a. That Jesus was sent from God
b. That as the Son of God who rose from the dead...
1) He lives in our hearts
2) He has transformed our lives by the power of His
-- Which is why some have referred to unity as "The Final
B. "THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW" - Jn 17:23
1. Jesus again emphasizes the power of unity among His disciples
to convince an unbelieving world!
2. Not only that they may know God sent Jesus...
a. But that God has also loved them! - Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:9-10
b. Indeed, even as God loves His only begotten Son ("as You
have loved Me")!
3. What a powerful message we have to share with the world!
a. God loves them even as He loves His Son!
b. But to convince the world of such love, unity among
disciples is imperative!
[In light of Jesus' prayer for unity, no true disciple can be content
with religious division as it exists today (cf. 1 Co 1:10).
in our discipleship should be efforts to eliminate any kind of
religious division that is contrary to the will of Christ!
But how can we be one, even as the Father and the Son are one? Here
are some thoughts on...]
II. THE ATTAINMENT OF UNITY
A. JESUS HAS PROVIDED "GLORY" FOR US TO BE ONE...
1. "Glory" which He had received from the Father - Jn 17:22
a. Which He had given to His disciples
b. Which enabled them to be one just as He and the Father were
2. What is this "glory" to which Jesus refers?
a. It may involve the idea of Jesus abiding in us
1) I.e., the glory of Jesus abiding in us even as the
Father abides in the Son
2) Through such abiding, we may be made perfect in one
- Jn 17:23
b. Certainly without abiding in Jesus, we can do nothing
- cf. Jn 15:4-5
[Whatever the "glory" refers to, we should note that true unity
comes from Jesus Himself; with this in mind, note the following...]
B. JESUS ATTAINED UNITY THROUGH HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS...
1. As Paul expounded in Ep 2:14-16
a. The division between Jew and Gentile ended at the cross
b. Jesus died to make it possible for us to be one body!
- Ep 4:4
2. When we come to Christ through obedience to His gospel, we are
united with all believers in His one body!
a. We are baptized into one body - 1 Co 12:13
b. Thus we begin the Christian life united with all believers
[When it comes to "attaining" unity, Jesus accomplished the unity for
which He prayed! Our challenge is "maintaining" this unity if we wish
to honor Jesus' prayer...]
III. THE MAINTENANCE OF UNITY
A. REQUIRES THAT WE OBEY THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST...
1. Unity is impossible without adherence to the same standard
a. Unless there were standards regarding weights and measures,
confusion and division would result every time we went to
b. Religious division occurs because people accept different
standards of authority
1) Some accept the authority of a pope, presbytery,
prophet, or preacher
2) We cannot maintain the unity for which Jesus died unless
we can agree on the same standard
2. For Christians our standard of authority must be that which...
a. Originated from Christ - cf. Jn 8:31; Mt 28:18
b. Was delegated to His apostles - cf. Jn 13:20; Mt 28:20;
c. Was proclaimed and written by His apostles - cf. 1 Th 2:13;
1 Co 14:37
3. Taught by His apostles, we must be careful to...
a. Observe ALL that He has commanded - Mt 28:20
b. Not allow traditions of men to make void the commandments
of God - Mt 15:3-6
c. Not teach as doctrine the commandments of (uninspired) men
- Mt 15:9
-- The "apostles' doctrine" (i.e., the New Testament) must be our
standard of authority, even as Jesus acknowledged when He
prayed "for those who will believe in Me through their word"
(i.e., the apostles' teaching) - Jn 17:20
B. REQUIRES THAT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST...
1. As Paul instructed the Philippians - Ph 2:2-5
a. There is no place for selfish ambition or conceit
b. We must esteem others highly, and look out for their
2. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians - Ep 4:1-3
a. We must manifest lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering,
forbearance in love
b. With such diligence, we "keep" (maintain) the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace
-- Without this "mind" of Christ, we will misuse the word of God
and destroy the unity Jesus attained through His death on the
[With His doctrine before us, His mind in us, we can maintain the unity
Jesus attained. With lives transformed by His teachings and His
attitude, we provide visible proof to the world that Jesus did come
from God and that the Father loves them also.
Finally, some thoughts about a providing a "visible" unity ("That The
World May Know")...]
IV. THE DEMONSTRATION OF UNITY
A. MUST BE MANIFESTED IN THE
... LOCAL CHURCH
1. It is in the context of the local congregation that unity will
be most evident
a. For that is where interaction of Christians most often
b. Note that the warnings against division were often
addressed in the context of the local church - e.g., 1 Co
1:10-13; 3:3-4; 11:18
2. Therefore unity truly begins "at home"
a. We may rightly deplore the religious division elsewhere
b. But our first concern must be preserving unity in our own
c. How sad when those who condemn religious division in the
denominations can't even preserve unity in their own
B. PRECLUDES ORGANIZATION ABOVE THE
... LOCAL CHURCH
1. In the New Testament, each congregation was self-governing and
a. Governed by a plurality of elders (bishops, pastors) whose
authority was limited to the flock of God among them - cf.
Ac 14:23; 20:28; 1 Pe 5:1-2
b. There was no authority above the local congregation other
than that of Christ and His apostles
2. It was only after the apostles died that things soon changed
a. "During the second century A.D. churches came to have a
single bishop, and then that bishop came to exercise
oversight over nearby rural churches as well as the city
church so that his ecclesiastical territory became known as
a "diocese" or "see" ("eparchy" in the East). Bishops of
churches that had been founded by apostles were said to be
in succession to the apostles, and hence their teaching was
held to be authentic and their authority collegial. By 400
A.D. in the West, the bishop of
began to assume Rome
extraordinary authority above other bishops." (Holman Bible
b. "Ignatius shows that in the early second century the office
of bishop over the elders had developed, but Lightfoot has
shown that it was not so in the first century." (Word
Pictures, A. T. Robinson)
3. Such changes were not only unscriptural, but set the stage for
a. Churches were expected to line up under one bishop,
patriarch, or council
b. Rather than let the Lord Himself judge each church (cf. Re
2-3), religious hierarchies began determining which
churches were faithful
c. This has led to the denominational division so rampant
today, and which presents a religiously divided picture to
-- As long as the denominational practice of organizing churches
under some hierarchy above the local church continues,
religious division will remain!
1. No true disciple of Jesus should treat religious division with
a. It is contrary to our Lord's prayer for unity - Jn 17:20-23
b. It is condemned by Paul as a manifestation of carnality - 1 Co 3:
2. Unity among disciples of Christ must be a primary concern, for
a. Died on the cross to attain unity
b. Believed it to be "The Final Apologetic" to convince the world
that He came from God
3. Since Jesus attained unity through His death, our task is to
maintain it by...
a. Following the doctrine of Christ as communicated through His
b. Displaying the mind of Christ as we interact with one another in
our local churches
c. Honoring the New Testament pattern of church organization, which
is designed to slow the growth of religious division whenever it
It is not always possible to avoid religious division (cf. 1 Co 11:19),
but may we do all we can to preserve the unity we enjoy in Christ!