John 17 Study Notes


17:1-26 In his final prayer in this chapter, Jesus gave an account of his earthly mission to the Father who sent him. He prayed first for himself (vv. 1-5), then for his disciples (vv. 6-19), and finally for all future believers (vv. 20-26). In his prayer, Jesus adopted the stance of one who has completed his mission (v. 4, cp. 4:34), having been sent by the Father and now preparing to return (13:1; 16:28). His prayer was fulfilled when he cried out from the cross, saying of the mission of redemption and revelation he had come to accomplish, “It is finished” (19:30).

17:1-5 The first unit in Jesus’s prayer is his intercession for himself.

17:1 Jesus looked up to heaven, striking a customary posture in prayer (Ps 123:1; Mk 7:34; Lk 18:13). On the hour has come, see note at 2:4. The opening petition, Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, is a claim to deity since the OT affirms that God will not give his glory to another (Is 42:8; 48:11). On Jesus as the sent Son, see note at Jn 3:16-18.

17:2 God’s granting of authority to Jesus (5:27) marks the beginning of a new era (Is 9:6-7; Dn 7:13-14; see Mt 11:27; 28:18).

17:2-3 Eternal life comes from knowing God and Jesus the sent Son (1:4; 5:26; 20:31). Knowing God is not confined to intellectual knowledge; it involves living in fellowship with him. That God is the only true God is affirmed in the Shema (Dt 6:4; cp. Jn 5:44; 1Jn 5:20). Jesus, in turn, is the one and only sent by the Father (Jn 1:14,18; 3:16,18) and the only way to him (14:6). In the Gospel of John, the full name Jesus Christ is found only here and in 1:17, forming a literary inclusio. Note that in these verses Jesus referred to himself in the third person.

17:4 The reference to Jesus’s work in the singular harks back to 4:34, another inclusio.

17:5 Again, Jesus claimed preexistence (v. 24; 1:1,14; 3:13; 6:62; 8:58; 16:28).

17:6-19 The second unit of Jesus’s prayer contains his intercession for his disciples, beginning with a review of his ministry to them (vv. 6-8). Jesus’s prayer for his followers in vv. 9-19 includes petitions for their protection (vv. 11-16) and for their consecration for service in the truth (vv. 17-19).

17:6 Jesus’s revelation of God’s name included making known the Father’s works and words (1:18; 8:19,27; 10:38; 12:45; 14:9-11).

17:7-8 The portrayal of Jesus here is reminiscent of the description of the “prophet like” Moses in Dt 18:18.

17:9-11 Here begins Jesus’s actual prayer for his disciples. His primary prayer is for protection from the evil one, which will be realized as they are unified and made holy in the truth, God’s word.

17:12 Even Judas’s betrayal happened in fulfillment of Scripture. The antecedent passage is probably Ps 41:9. This text is applied to Jesus in Jn 13:18. Other Scriptures fulfilled through Judas are Ps 69:25 and 109:8 (cited in Ac 1:20).

17:13-17 These things probably refers to the entire farewell discourse. In the midst of the world’s hostility, Jesus’s desire is that his followers have joy. The end of being made holy by the truth is being equipped for God’s service.

17:18-19 These verses look forward to the commission that Jesus assigned his disciples after his resurrection (20:21).

17:20-26 Jesus did not stop at praying for himself (vv. 1-5) and his disciples (vv. 6-19); his vision transcended the present (Dt 29:14-15). Jesus was concerned for his followers’ unity (Jn 17:21-23) and love (v. 26). The vision of a unified people of God was previously expressed in 10:16 and 11:52. Unity among believers results from the indivisible unity of God (10:38; 14:10-11,20,23; 15:4-5). Once unified, believers are able to bear witness to the true identity of Jesus as the one sent by God.

17:25 Jesus addressed God as Righteous Father. The OT teaches that God is righteous and just (Ps 116:5; 119:137; Jr 12:1). Though his betrayal, torture, and death were looming, Jesus affirmed the righteousness of God his Father.

17:26 The phrase I may be in them is filled with covenantal overtones (v. 23; 14:20). After the giving of the law at Sinai, God came to dwell in the midst of Israel in the tabernacle (Ex 40:34). As they moved toward the promised land, God frequently assured his people that he was in their midst (Ex 29:45-46; Dt 7:21; 23:14).