John Chapter 17


Christ’s prayer for himself. (Verse 1-5.)

His prayer for his disciples. (Verse 6-10.)

His prayer. (Verse 11-26.)

The entire chapter is a prayer from the Son to the Father.  Some of those who do not believe that Jesus is God (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, etc.) like to point to this chapter as “proof” of their position.  Their reasoning is that if both the Father and Son are God, then for Jesus to pray to the Father would be nothing more than God “talking to himself.”  This simplistic argument however simply overlooks the fact though they are “one,” they (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are three distinct persons – or as I John 5:7 says, “these three are one.”  Attempting to explain the “mystery of godliness” (I Timothy 3:16) in human terms will get you into all kinds of problems.  The Bible believer should have no difficulty in simply accepting the Bible as it stands – that both the Father and Son are God and that the Son on earth could pray to the Father in heaven.

This chapter breaks down into a simple, three point outline: 1) Christ’s prayer for himself – vs. 1-5; 2) Christ’s prayer for his disciples – vs. 6-19; and 3) Christ’s prayer for all believers – vs. 20-26.

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

[Matt 11:27, 28:18, Luke 10:22, John 3:35, 1st Cor 15:27, Eph 1:21]

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

another attack on the Godhood of Christ is launched by some from this verse.  The phrase “the only true God” which appears in the verse is plainly a reference to the Father.  Some would therefore conclude that the Father is the only true God and Jesus Christ could not be God.  This wrong interpretation fails to remember that Jesus Christ is just as much God as his Father.  Such people also fail to compare scripture with scripture – First John 5:20 says of Christ, “This is the true God.”  Such a statement is not a contradiction, but merely reaffirms the fact that the Father and Son are not both true Gods, but rather both are THE TRUE GOD – the two are ONE! (10:30; 17:11)

4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

note that Jesus existed with the Father before the creation of the world – compare with John 1:1-3

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.

7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

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 me.

9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11 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.

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.

the only disciple that was “lost” was Judas Iscariot (here called the “son of perdition”); compare this verse with John 13:18

13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

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.

notice that the disciples are “in the world” (vs. 11), but not “of the world” (vs. 14).  In the same sense the Christian must be in the world (live on this planet) but not of the world (not a part of the world’s ungodly system).

15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

[1st Cor 5:10, Matt 5:37, Matt 6:13, Matt 13:19, Matt 13:38, 2nd Thess 3:3, 1st John 2:13, 1st John 3:12, 1st John 5:18]

[evil = the evil one]

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

“Sanctify” means to cleanse or set apart.  Notice that it is the word of God that does this sanctifying (compare with John 15:3).

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

[1st Cor 1:2]

Jesus “set apart” himself to die on the cross for our sins

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

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.

[1st Cor 6:17, Eph 4:4, Eph 5:30]

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

the word “perfect” has two major meanings (see any good dictionary); it can mean “without sin or fault” or it can mean “complete.” The reference in this verse is to “completion.”

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.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

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.

Jesus prays to his father not to take (rapture) these Jews who foreshadow the tribulation saints out of the world away from its persecution, but rather to give them the strength to go through it with his Father’s help.

No doubt the saints during the tribulation period will wish from time to time that they too could be raptured as the church will be, but they will not until the end, and these words will have to give them comfort as they did the early disciples.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.
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