John 17



Jesus Prays For Himself (17:1-5)

1 Jesus prayed: “Father, the time has come; that is, the time of my death has come. glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” God glorified Jesus by letting Him be crucified and then raising Him from the dead. Jesus glorified God through His death and through His victory over Satan on the cross (see John 12:31; 13:31 and comments). Whatever brings glory to Christ also brings glory to God. Christ prayed that He might be glorified only in order to bring glory to God.

In this Jesus has given us an example. Whatever we pray for, it must be for God’s glory, not our own. If we pray for health, let it be for God’s glory. If we pray for wealth, it must be for God’s glory. We can ask God for anything if it is for His glory, and He will give it.109

2 God had already glorified Christ by giving Him authority over all people (see Matthew 28:18; John 3:35; 5:27 and comments). This authority was given so that Jesus might give eternal life to all that God had given Him (see John 3:15; 6:37-40 and comments).

3 Eternal life is to know God and to know Christ. We have all had the experience of knowing a person, from whom we have received great blessing and inspiration. It could be our wife, husband, parent, teacher, friend. Our life has been changed—it has become richer or more joyful—because of that person.

To know God is like that, but much more. To know God is to receive His life. To know God is to enter into eternal life.

Jesus didn’t say that eternal life was knowing any god. He said that eternal life was to know the only true God, and to know His only Son, Jesus Christ. One cannot truly know God without knowing Jesus Christ.

Jesus fully completed all the work that God had given Him to do on earth. But the main work God gave Christ to do was to die on the cross in order to save men and women. Knowing that He would be crucified the next day, Jesus could pray as if that work had already been completed. It was that “work,” that is, His death on the cross, which brought the greatest glory to God (verse 1).

Jesus then prayed that God would restore to Him the glory which He had from before the world began. Jesus here clearly states that He was with God in the beginning (see John 1:1 and comment). God answered this prayer when He carried Christ into heaven forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:9).

Jesus Prays for His Disciples (17:6-19)

6 Jesus prayed: “I have revealed you110 to those you gave me out of the world”—that is, to the disciples. Jesus had made God known to His disciples.111 These disciples had been chosen by God in the beginning (Ephesians 1:4). They belonged to God. God gave them to Jesus (see John 6:37). God took them out of the world—that is, out of Satan’s hands—and put them into Jesus’ hands.

7 The disciples had at last realized that Jesus had come from God (John 16:30), and that all the words Jesus had spoken and the works He had performed were really God’s words and God’s works.

8 Jesus had passed on God’s words to His disciples, and they had accepted them. As a result, they now knew with certainty that Jesus had come from God, and they believed that He had been sent by God to be the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

In this verse we can see three steps to becoming a Christian. First, a person must “accept” the words of God and Christ with an open and repentant mind. Second, he must then “know” who Jesus is; he must recognize Jesus as the Son of God. And third, he must “believe” in Jesus and follow Him. The faith of a true Christian is not a blind faith. We know with certainty whom we have believed (see 2 Timothy 1:12).

9 Jesus said, “I am not praying for the world.” He was only praying for them—that is, for His disciples—and for all others who would believe their message (verse 20).

This does not mean that Jesus didn’t love this world. He was sent to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16), and now His disciples were to spread the Gospel of salvation to all people. But Jesus could not pray for the world in the same way He prayed for His disciples. The “world,” that is, unbelieving mankind, was opposed to God. Jesus’ prayer for the men of the world was that they might believe (verse 21), that they might come out of the world. God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). But for those who refuse to accept salvation through Christ, there is no other hope, no other means of salvation. Therefore, Jesus did not pray for those who had refused to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness, who had refused to accept God’s salvation through His Son. Such men have condemned themselves112 (John 3:18).

10 Jesus said, “All I have is yours (God’s).” All men can truthfully say that to God. Everything we have has come from God and ultimately belongs to Him. But then Jesus said, “… and all you have is mine.” No ordinary man can say that! Only the Son of God can say that (John 3:35).

Jesus said that glory had come to Him from His disciples. In saying this, He was thinking of the future. He knew what great works the disciples would do in His name. Yet even while they were still weak and ineffective, He talked about the glory they brought Him. Jesus had more faith in in His disciples than they had in Him!

11 The disciples were to remain in the world. Therefore, Jesus prayed that God would protect them, that is, protect them from evil. Jesus did not ask that they be protected from trouble—only from evil. That is His prayer for us also.

… protect them by the power of your name.113 The name was the name God had given to His Son—“the name you gave me”—which was “Jesus.” God had given Jesus all power and authority. To pray in Jesus’ name is the same as to pray in God’s name.

How important this prayer of Jesus has been, not only for those first disciples, but for every believer who has come since! This prayer has placed us under God’s protection.

Jesus prayed for God’s protection over the disciples so that they [might] be one. Jesus knew that Satan would attack the disciples after He had gone. Satan’s main method of destroying them would be to divide them. Jesus had Himself taught that if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand (Mark 3:25). That is why Jesus gave His disciples the “new command” that they should love one another (John 13:34). Only in this way could they overcome Satan and remain united. Their unity among themselves must be like the unity of the Father and the Son. This unity is based on the love between Father and Son. All true unity among believers must be based on this divine love, which is given to us through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

12 Jesus had protected His disciples from evil while He was with them. He kept them safe by that name—that is, by God’s power and authority which God had given to Jesus. Only Judas Iscariot was lost, so that the Scripture (Old Testament prophecy) might be fulfilled (see John 13:18 and comment).

Let us never forget the frightening example of Judas. He was counted among the twelve, but he did not belong to Christ. Likewise, in every church there are those who are counted members, but who do not belong to Christ.

13 See John 5:11 and comment.

14 Jesus had given His disciples God’s word, that is, God’s entire teaching. The disciples were not of this world, because they had been called out of the world. That is why the world hated them. The same is true for all who have ever followed Jesus (see John 15:18-19 and comment).

15 The place of Jesus’ disciples was in the world. They were to establish Christ’s church in the world (see verse 18). They were to be in the world, but not of it. Jesus’ main concern was that they be protected from the evil one, that is, Satan, the ruler of the world (see Matthew 6:13; John 12:31; 1 John 5:19).

16 See verse 14 and comment.

17 Sanctif y them by the truth. To “sanctif y” means to “set apart,” to “make holy.” This is done by God’s truth, that is, by God’s word. … your word is truth. All believers are sanctified by God’s word; that is, they are set apart for a holy purpose. We can also say that all believers are sanctified by faith in Christ. Christ is God’s Word; He is full of grace and truth (John 1:1,14).

Only when we are sanctified are we fit to serve God in this world. But to be sanctified, we must obey God’s word, God’s truth. God’s word by itself does not sanctif y us; we must obey it.

18 Jesus sends us into the world just as God sent Jesus into the world. We have been given an opportunity by Christ to be His witnesses. Just as Christ came to be a witness for God, so we are called to be witnesses for Christ (Acts 1:8).

19 For them (the disciples) I sanctif y myself. Jesus sanctified Himself through His death on the cross. He died for them, His disciples. By His death, the disciples were made holy in God’s sight. Jesus took their sins upon Himself, and they became clean.

In the same way, through faith in Jesus and through His death for us, we too are sanctified and made fit for God’s service.

Jesus Prays for All Believers (17:20-26)

20 Here we see that Jesus was not praying for His eleven disciples alone, but also for all who have ever believed (and will yet believe) in the Gospel of Christ. Now in this third part of Jesus’ final prayer, He prays especially for us.

21 What does He pray for us above all? He prays that we might be one. All believers are to be one in mind and heart. We are to be one in love. We are to be one in Christ and in God, just as God and Christ are one in each other (John 10:30). This oneness is a spiritual oneness. It is a unity brought about by the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 4:3-4 and comment).

Next, Jesus prays that we might remain in Him and in God (see John 15:4-5,8). Only when we are united with God and Christ can we be united with each other. When we remain in God and in Christ we will bear fruit. People will see that we are continuing Christ’s work. Then, because of the fruit we are bearing in Christ’s name, people will believe that God indeed did send Christ into the world. The two fruits that are easiest for the world to see are our unity and our love. If Christ’s followers demonstrate these fruits, then the world will surely know that Christ was sent from God.

22 Christ gave His disciples His own glory, which He had received from His Father. This glory is spiritual life and love. It is the glory of sanctification. Jesus gave them His glory, that they [might] be one, even as He and the Father were one (see verse 11 and comment).

23 This verse repeats the thought of verse 21. Our unity with each other comes from our unity with God and Christ. We are in them. They are in us. They are in each other. We are branches of the same vine. When the world sees our unity, it will know114 that God sent Christ, and that God loves us, even as He loves Christ (see John 15:9). The world will know that our unity is not based on human love, but on divine love.

Think of that! God loves us as much as He loves His own Son Jesus. And He has made us sons also, because we have believed in Jesus (see John 1:12 and comment).

But let us ask ourselves something. Does the world see unity among Christians? Does the world see love among Christians? How successful the devil has been in dividing us! May God forgive us for not having preserved the unity of His church.

24 Jesus had already told His disciples that He would come back to get them (John 14:3). Here He expresses this same intention to God. He wanted His disciples to see His glory, the glory that He had from the beginning (see verse 5).

25 The world does not know God, but Christ knows Him (John 8:55). Christ came from God to reveal God to men (see Matthew 11:27; John 1:18 and comments). He revealed God especially to His closest disciples. Therefore, He could say to God, “They know that you have sent me.

26 Jesus said, “I have made you115 known to them, and will continue to make you known.” Jesus continued to make God known to the disciples through the Holy Spirit. And He is still doing so today. Jesus makes God known to us through the Holy Spirit, so that God’s love might be in us and so that Jesus Himself might be in us. Through the Holy Spirit we know God, we know His love (Romans 5:5), and we have Jesus living in us. All this is the work of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is continuing to do this work in the life of every believer today.