John Seventeen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

John 17:1 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:

spake Jesus. The words of Christ in John 14-16 are often called “the discourse in the upper room,” but over half of it was delivered as He and the disciples were walking toward Gethsemane (note the final clause in John 14:31—”Arise, let us go hence”). Likewise the Lord's “high priestly prayer,” recorded in John 17, was offered outdoors, at night, as He raised His eyes toward the stars of heaven. His hour had finally come—the very hour for which He had come into the world (John 12:27; 13:1). This was the last time He would refer to this appointed hour (the first time was at Cana; see John 2:4).

John 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

finished the work. Jesus had finished His work of teaching and witness (John 12:46-50; 17:8, 14; Revelation 1:5), but His great work of redemption and salvation had yet to be accomplished on the cross. Then, He would shout the great victory cry: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

John 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.

before the world was. Jesus was the eternal Word by whom God created the world (John 1:1-3; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:1-3), but Jesus laid aside His glory for a time (Philippians 2:6-8) to finish God's work (John 17:4) with His creation.

John 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.

manifested. Jesus “manifested”—that is, “openly declared”—God's name as “Father” to all who would become His children through faith in the Lord Jesus. Compare John 1:18.

John 17:7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

John 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 me.

John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

John 17:10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

glorified in them. This is an amazing thing, that Christ can somehow be glorified in His people as they demonstrate to “the principalities and powers in heavenly places … the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10), evidently showing God's power to redeem and purify and keep lost sinners for Himself.

John 17:11 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.

keep. Beginning in this verse, the Lord makes five wonderful petitions for His disciples. These are: (1) security in salvation (John 17:11); (2) victory over Satan's temptations (John 17:15); (3) sanctification through the Word (John 17:17); (4) unity with God and each other (John 17:21); and (5) ultimate glorification with God in heaven (John 17:24). The Father had already promised the Son that not one whom He had given the Son would be lost (John 6:37-39), and we are now given still further assurance through this prayer. The Father will certainly answer the prayer of the Son!

John 17:12 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.

John 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.

John 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.

John 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

from the evil. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. “The evil” is “the evil one”—that is, “the prince of this world,” Satan. Because of this prayer of Christ, no doubt, “he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (xTerm 5:18).

John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

not of the world. We are now, because of Christ, citizens of His world, rather than this world (note Philippians 3:20). We now serve in this world as “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

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

Sanctify them. The process of sanctification (that is, of being set apart from this world for His service) is accomplished through the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26), by “the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

John 17:18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

sent them. Jesus frequently spoke of being sent into the world by His Father (e.g., John 10:36). He was sent for one main purpose—“that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). In the same way, and for the same purpose, His disciples are now sent into the world (John 20:21).

John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

for them also. This petition assures us that the Lord was praying for every one who would ever believe on Him, not just for the eleven who were with Him at the time. In fact, “He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Note the many assurances that He continually prays for us (e.g., Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34; Romans 8:26, 34; xTerm 2:1; Hebrews 9:24). Thus, the wonderful requests He made in this prayer (see note on John 17:11) are for all true believers, and surely will be granted.

John 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.

one in us. The prayer for unity is repeated five times (John 17:11, 21-23) and is thus very important. However, it has been misused by ecumenicists to try to amalgamate true Christians and pseudo-Christians. True unity must be both unity of the Spirit and “unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:4, 13).

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

John 17:23 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.

John 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.

may behold my glory. God will surely answer this prayer of His beloved Son. Thus we can be absolutely sure that, if we truly belong to Christ through faith in him, we shall one day “see the king in His beauty,” and “shall behold the land that is very far off” (Isaiah 33:17). And then, “when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (xTerm 3:2).

lovedst me before. The Father loved the Son long before there was ever any other kind of love, for this eternal love in the bosom of the Father existed before He created the universe. All other loves—marital love, parental love, filial love, brotherly love, love of country, any kind of love—have their source in the love of the Father for the Son (and, indeed, the love within all the Persons of the Godhead). It is significant in this connection that the Gospel of John uses the word “love” more than any other book of the Bible, and the first Epistle of John has its second most frequent usage. The first one of all these, significantly, is John 3:16, telling us that the Father gave the Son because of His love for those He had created! See also the notes on Genesis 22:2.

John 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.

John 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.