Category Archives: JOHN 17

The prayer of the Lord Jesus before He went to the cross, and in anticipation of His return to heaven.



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Survey of the chapter

In chapters 13 and 14 of John’s Gospel the Lord had prepared His own for His departure, and had given them instruction to help them when they would be gathered together after His ascension. In chapters 15 and 16 He prepared them for their task of bearing testimony in the world with all its hostility. In chapter 17 He prays for them, and for those who would believe as a result of their faithful testimony. By doing this in their hearing, (if verse 11 is to be understood as meaning they were with Him), He gave them insight into His concern for them, and gave them the underlying purpose of their testimony, namely to enable Him to glorify His Father in the giving of eternal life to those who would believe on Him through them.

There is a marked difference between the synoptic gospels, (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and John’s gospel in relation to the prayers of the Lord Jesus just before His arrest. We could set them out as follows:





Not known

Position adopted:

Fallen on His face

Lifting up His eyes to heaven

Themes of prayer:

Suffering and death

Glory and eternal life

Subject of prayer:


Himself, the apostles, believers

Times spoken:

Three times



Alone, (for His sufferings cannot be shared)

Apostles possibly present, verse 11, for will share glory.

Form of address:

Abba, Father

Father, Holy Father, Righteous Father


“Thy will be done”

“I will”

We know from Matthew 26:30 that Christ went from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives, and then to a place called Gethsemane, verse 26. We know also from John’s account that He had left the Upper Room before His teaching about the True Vine, and the coming of the Spirit to guide into all truth. Before, also, His prayer as recorded in John 17. It was after this prayer that He crossed the brook Cedron, and went into Gethsemane, John 18:1.

We may have difficulty in seeing how the one who prayed the prayer of John 17, with all its confidence that He would be glorified in His Father’s presence, also prayed the earnest prayers in Gethsemane that the cup of suffering might pass from Him. But one emphasises the reality of His Deity, and the other the reality of His manhood. “Great is the mystery of godliness”, so we should not be surprised if we have difficulty. But faith accepts what Scripture says, even though it baffles the mind.

Structure of prayer
The prayer consists of an opening statement, then five requests with the reason for the request, then a final statement, as follows:


Opening statement:

Verse 1

“Father, the hour is come”.


First request:

Verse 1

“Father…glorify Thy Son”.


Verse 2

“As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh”.


Second request:

Verses 5-11a

“O Father, glorify Thou Me”.


Verse 4

“I have glorified Thee on the earth”.


Third request:

Verses 11b-19

“Holy Father, keep…those Thou hast given Me”.


Verse 12

“I kept them in Thy name”.


Fourth request:

Verses 20-23

“That they all may be one”.


Verses 21,23

“That the world may believe”.


Fifth request :

Verse 24

“Father, I will…may be with Me”.


Verse 24

“For Thou lovedst Me”.


Final statement:

Verses 25,26

O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee…I will declare it (name)”.

The Son addresses His Father six times, as follows:

First, verse 1, addressed to the Father.

Intimacy of a shared relationship.

Second, verse 5 begins with “O Father”.

Intensity of a solemn request.

Third, verse 11, “Holy Father”.

Interest in a sanctified company .

Fourth, verse 21, “Thou, Father”.

Integration in a special oneness.

Fifth, verse 24, “Father”.

Incentive of a shared affection.

Sixth, verse 25, “O righteous Father”.

Indignation over a spurned revelation.

The structure of the prayer may also be thought of as follows:

Verses 1-3

He speaks of Himself in the third person, “Thy Son”.

Verses 4-8

He speaks of the apostles.

Verses 9-18

He prays for the apostles.

Verses 19-23

He prays for those who would believe through the ministry of the apostles.

The first three verses are in the third person, as if the Lord is connecting with what He said about His relationship with the Father in John 5:19-29, (which also is in the third person), and basing His prayer on it. He had also spoken in the third person in John 7:18 when He said, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him”. We are assured, therefore, that His request for glory in this prayer is only so that He may glorify the Father even more, and in a fresh way.

(i) Opening statement: “Father, the hour is come”.

First request, verses 1-4

“Father…glorify Thy Son”.

Reason, verse 2, “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh”. Intimacy of a shared relationship.

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:

These words spake Jesus- this is probably a reference to the previous words in chapter 16. Of course John is writing about an historical person and event, and therefore uses the personal name of Jesus by which He is known to men generally. He and his fellow apostles never addressed the Lord Jesus as simply Jesus; and nor should we. He said to them, “Ye call Me master and Lord: and ye do well; for so I am”, John 13:13.
And lifted up his eyes to heaven- He was conscious that there was nothing between His Father and Himself. Aaron had to make a cloud of incense to protect him from the sight of God and His glory, but this is not necessary for the Son of God, even when become flesh. The seraphim veil their faces in the presence of God, Isaiah 6:2, but He, the Son of God, needs not to do so. The physical act of lifting the eyes is symbolic of the attitude He always had, and also anticipates His ascension, and His subsequent priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. He appears “in the presence of God for us”, Hebrews 9:24, which means He is face to face with God.
The sinner of Luke 18:13 “would not so much as lift his eyes up to heaven”, but this one is sin-free, and has nothing on His conscience. Job had said long before that “God shall save the humble person”, or as the margin renders it, “the man of downcast eyes”, Job 22:29, but this is a different sort of man, who needs not to avert His gaze from God.
And said, Father, the hour is come- these words assure us that He knew the Father’s mind as to when He should die. John has already told us that “He knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father”, John 13:1. Even at that point He was in spirit projecting Himself forward into the Father’s presence, so eager was He to be back there. It is one of the signs of His equality with the Father that He sees what the Father is doing, John 5:19, and this is no exception. He is freely able to tell the Father this fact, knowing that the Father knows too.
Glorify Thy Son- note the simple title, “Thy Son”, showing He is confident of His relationship as Son, and confident, also, that He will not be confused by the Father with anyone else. This shows us there is a marked difference between angels as sons of God and the Only Begotten Son of God. Only Divine persons have a right to glory, (believers shall be glorified only because of Divine grace).
The reference to Himself is in the third person, just as in John 5:17-26, where He sets out the doctrine of His relationship with the Father. There it is for the benefit of men, so that they may believe on Him, here, so that His apostles may be reminded of that discourse, and the truth it contained. There is a difference in John 5 however, for there it is simply “the Son”, whereas here the consciousness of the relationship comes out more fully, “Thy Son”.
His appeal to the Father is for a particular sort of glory to come to Him, whereas in Gethsemane the prayer will be for a particular sort of suffering to pass from Him. But He instantly adds here, “that Thy Son may glorify Thee”. He is not asking for selfish reasons, but so as to be enabled to glorify His Father in a more intense way. He is aware that as a man He is committed to glorifying the Father. How He will do this is told us in the next verse.
That Thy Son also may glorify Thee- when we glorify someone we speak of his qualities and emphasise them, whereas when God glorifies He actually adds to the person. Here what is added is the glory of the freedom to give eternal life to men. This gift of eternal life was known by men even in Old Testament times, or else they could not commune with God as they did; but it is now going to be given, not as before, in connection with the earthly reign of the Messiah, but His place in heaven. The only two places in the Old Testament where eternal life is mentioned are Psalm 133:3 and Daniel 12:2, where the idea is of the enjoyment of eternal life in the kingdom of the Messiah on earth.

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.

As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh- so this request is made in view of the truth of John 5:26, where we learn that the Father has given to the Son to have life in Himself. Not in the sense that He personally did not have life before, obviously, for He is “that eternal life which was with the Father” before He was manifest on earth, 1 John 1:2. Rather, He is given the task as Son of God become man, of being the vessel from which the precious gift of eternal life is dispensed. It is in relation to that task that He asks to be glorified in heaven so that He may do it freely, with the cross of Calvary behind Him.
Eternal life is the life of God, and is imparted to a person the moment they believe the gospel, for the Saviour Himself said, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”, John 5:24. Clearly, to not hear His word, and not believe God, is to be in a state of spiritual death, and to be under condemnation from God. Those who have eternal life are safe from that condemnation.
So He has authority over all flesh, being the Son of God with life in Himself for others. Part of this authority will involve sending forth His own to preach and convert men. This work will be expedited by His return to heaven and the sending from there of the Holy Spirit. As He said in John 14:12, “greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to the Father”, for His return to heaven will set in train a process which will enable greater works to be done.
That He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him- notice the deliberate contrast here between “flesh”, unbelievers, and “eternal life”, the life believers have. This is highlighted in the next verse by the reversal of the word-order. Flesh is the word for man in his frail and mortal state; eternal life is the life of those who are empowered and destined for resurrection glory. The Son has authority over all flesh, the whole of mankind in their weak and vulnerable state. He has the right to remedy their pathetic state. And He remedies it by granting the great gift of eternal life when they believe. “Should give” is not obligation, but opportunity; they come so He can give them life.
In theory it was possible to inherit eternal life by keeping the law perfectly, in letter and spirit. The Lord Jesus agreed with the lawyer that if he kept the law he would have eternal life as a right, because he had earned it, Luke 10:28. But as the parable of the Good Samaritan which follows indicates so clearly, man is far from keeping the law, for those who taught the law, like the priest and the Levite, had no interest in loving their neighbour as themselves, for they passed by on the other side. And certainly the half-dead man was in no condition to keep the law. Only an exhibition of grace could remedy the situation. To inherit eternal life is impossible to man, but to receive it as a gift is a glorious and available possibility, in Christ.
This gift is given only to those who have been given to the Son. We know from John 6:36-45 who these people are. They are those who have listened to the testimony of the Word of God, (“For they shall be all taught of God”), and as a result, having heard from the Father concerning the Son, they come to Him in faith. There were those who had physically seen the Lord Jesus, yet were unbelieving; only those who see Him for who He is as the Scriptures enlighten us shall come in the proper way, the way of faith. It is everyone who seeth the Son and believeth on Him who is given by the Father to the Son.
So when the Lord says “whom Thou hast given Him”, He is looking at things from the perspective of what will be true of many in the future, as they come to Him. He will be able to say, in effect, “The Father has given Me these people, therefore I will give them eternal life”. So the Father gives to the Son; the Son accepts them, for He knows it is His Father’s will that He should do so, John 6:37-39, and then the Son gives them eternal life.

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

And this is life eternal- there is highlighted now the great difference between believers and unbelievers. The latter simply have natural life to enable them to have dealings with the natural world and other men. Those who have eternal life are able to appreciate God and His things. This appreciation comes through the possession of eternal life, which enables God to be known, for it is the very life of God.
The words, “This is life eternal” do not introduce a definition of eternal life, but rather give an indication as to how eternal life expresses itself, namely in the progress in the knowledge of God.
That they might know Thee the only true God- it is important to notice the significance of the word “that”. It means “in order that”, giving the idea of a purpose to be realised, a goal to be reached. And indeed there is a goal to be reached, and it is the knowledge of God. The eternal life which those who believe receive the moment they exercise faith in Christ enables them not only to know God initially, but also to progress in the knowledge of God and His Son. The result of this progress is detailed for us in 1 John 2:12-27, where the apostle reviews the progress of those in the family of God, and divides them into infants, young men and fathers. The apostle Paul also spoke of this matter to the Colossians and wrote about “increasing in the knowledge of God”, Colossians 1:10. Peter also exhorted his readers to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”, 2 Peter 3:18. The knowledge of natural earthly things pales into insignificance compared to this knowledge. Yet too often we prefer the earthly to the heavenly, the natural to the spiritual, but this is to our loss. It also dishonours the One who gave the great gift to us.
he description of God here as the only true God is appropriate in the context of the mention of all flesh. It is not just Jews who are able to receive the gift of eternal life; Gentiles also, even though sunk in idolatry, may do so also, once they have learnt from the Father. When they have realised that there is but one God who is True to the concept of God, then they are in a position to know Him. God is the only Being that possesses the features that God should have, hence He is true, meaning He is real, ideal and genuine.
And Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent- it is important to notice the title Christ gives to Himself here. It is not “that they may know Thee, the Father, and Thy Son”, but “God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent”. It is God’s Son as sent into the world, with all that implies in terms of His incarnation, teaching, death, and resurrection, that He is to be known.
Some who teach error have highlighted this apparent separation between the only true God and Jesus Christ. They say that this goes to show that He is not God. This is not the case however, for other scriptures testify fully that Jesus Christ is God. We could raise the same objection in 1 Corinthians 8:6, where the apostle writes, “but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him”. We could argue that there is one God, known as the Father, and therefore the Lord Jesus is not God. But we could also argue that because there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, then the Father is not Lord. But God is certainly Lord in the Old Testament! And the Lord Jesus referred to Him as Lord in Matthew 11:25, as did the believers in Acts 4:24. And if He is Father, who is He Father of? Paul does not write “our Father”, but “the Father”, so He is emphasising a Person, not a relationship with believers. He is the Father of the Son, and they share the same nature.
The reason the apostle writes of God and Lord is because he has referred to the demons behind idol-worship as “gods many and lords many”, verse 5. In that case, the gods and the lords were the same beings, (the false god Baal for instance, with Baal meaning “lord”). The point is that demons present themselves as gods, in opposition to God, and as lords in opposition to Christ. Christianity will have none of that, and recognises but one God and one Lord. As if to clear up any misunderstanding on this point, the apostle John writes of the Lord Jesus in his first epistle, “This is the true God, and eternal life”, 1 John 5:20.
So the reason why Jesus Christ is mentioned separately is because He has been sent, and has come into manhood. He is Jesus, the man, and Christ, the Messiah. As such He makes eternal life available to men, not only through who He is, but also by what He did at Calvary. The fact that He is the Sent One is proof of His Deity. As is also the fact that to know Him is to know God. In the Father is the essence of eternal life, and also in the Son, but in addition, as Jesus Christ the Sent One He gives the exhibition of eternal life, for “the life was manifested”, 1 John 1:2. This does not undermine His Deity, but reinforces it.

17:4 I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.

I have glorified Thee on the earth- the mention of being sent leads on to what He was sent for. He glorified the Father on earth, and now is asking for further opportunity to do so in heaven, on the basis that He has been faithful to His mission. Note that it is “on the earth”, not “in the world”. It is the geographical location that is in view here, in contrast to heaven, where He is in spirit already.
I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do- His whole mission is seen as one work, and is described in verse 6. When, on the cross, He said “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” the Lord was alluding to Psalm 31:5, which was the evening prayer of a pious Israelite when he laid down to sleep, his work done for the day. This is the basis for His next request. If He was faithful in glorifying His Father on earth, He will be faithful in glorifying Him when He gets back to heaven, and bestows eternal life on those who believe.

(iii ) Second request, verses 5-11a

“O Father, glorify Thou Me”.

Reason, verse 4, “I have glorified Thee on the earth”.

The intensity of a solemn request.

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.

And now- as a consequence of verse 5. He is not asking for glory to be given Him at that moment, “now, this minute”, but as a consequence of what He has stated befo0re.
O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self- a very personal request, based on His relationship with the Father, (the word “Thou” is emphatic). Others will glorify Him, but the glory He longs for most is from His Father. “O Father” tells of strong feelings of love for the Father.
With the glory which I had with Thee before the world was- time began when the world began, (“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, Genesis 1:1), so this is eternal glory. Note that He is aware of what His position was before He came into the world. He addresses the Father as His Father, so He must have been His Son in eternity.
It is not that He lost or left behind the glory of being associated with God as an equal, but He asks for more of the same glory, but this time as a man. When He was in eternity with His Father before the world was created, He had the glory that is suited to the Son of God, who is equal with the Father. The world did not recognise that glory when He came to earth, and instead of showering Him with glory, they showered Him with stones because He claimed equality with God. The name “Jesus” will cause all to bow, as they are compelled to acknowledge that He is God, as is written, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; an d that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”, Philippians 2:9-11. It had already been prophesied that every knee would bow to God. The prophet records God’s words, “I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, ‘That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear'”, Isaiah 45:23. So the insistence by God that every knee should bow to His Son is the sure sign of His Deity.

There are nine passages at least that tell us about conditions in eternity:

Divine Glory

“the glory which I had with Thee before the world was”, John 17:5.

Divine Love.

“Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world”, John 17:24.

Divine Power.

“for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead”, Romans 1:20.

Divine Choice.

“according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world”, Ephesians 1:4.

Divine Purpose.

“according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord”, Ephesians 3:11.

Divine Equality.

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God”, Philippians 2:6.

Divine Promise.

“in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began”, Titus 1:2.

Divine Foreordination.

“the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world”, 1 Peter 1:19,20.

Divine Communion.

“that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us”, 1 John 1:2.

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.

I have manifested Thy name- we now learn what the finished work mentioned in verse 4 was. The expression “Thy name” means all that comes to mind when the Father is named. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God told Him His titles and attributes. “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation’. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped”, Exodus 34:5-8. These are the features that may be seen in Christ as we read the gospel records, as He manifested His Father’s name. Even the visiting of iniquity was plainly spoken of, even though He had not come to condemn the world but to save.
The apostles were privileged to see the glory of the ideal relationship between Father and Son, “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth”, John 1:14.
Unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world- the apostles, despite being Israelites, were in the world, for the status of Israel as a nation was diminished. They no doubt thought it to be a privilege to be in Israel. They will soon learn that the best blessing is to be in the church.
Thine they were- the apostles are in view in verses 6-19. They belonged to the Father in that they believed in the God of Israel. Then they came to the Son, and He accepted them as a gift from His Father.
And Thou gavest them Me- they were given to Christ as apostles and companions, after His night in prayer.
And they have kept Thy word- this is the supreme test. Have they received and retained the truth expressed from heaven at Christ’s baptism, “This is My beloved Son”? Their apostleship began when He chose them, but they had all been with Him since the time He was baptised, for the qualification for apostleship was to have seen Him from His baptism until His ascension, Acts 1:21,22. There is a sense in which all believers have heard from the beginning, but only because they have accepted the testimony of the apostles who were there personally to hear the word from heaven which declared that Jesus of Nazareth was God’s beloved Son. What they heard and saw they have passed on, as indicated in 1 John 1:3; 2:24.

17:7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee.

Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee- the apostles came to realise and believe that the things Christ said to them were from the very presence of the Father, as He communed with Him day by day. He is privy to the ongoing Divine Conversation in heaven. The Father did not give Him words that were from some other source. The next verse shows that the “all things” refers to words.

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.

For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me- the subject matter of the Divine Conversation was passed on. It is not now the word from the Father at Jordan, but “the words”, meaning the detailed sayings about the relationship between the Father and the Son, as given by John’s gospel. Just as the apostle John lay in the bosom of Christ and learnt His secrets, 13:23, so the Only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, tells out His secrets, 1:18; 8:26; 12:49,50. He not only hears, but tells what He hears. John tells us, “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, ‘How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?’ Jesus answered them, and said, ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him'”, John 7:14-18.
And they have received them- not only are the doctrines safely passed on by the Son, but they are received in faith by the apostles.
And have known surely that I came out from Thee- in the previous chapter we read that the Lord said, “‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father’. His disciples said unto Him, ‘Lo, now speaketh Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things, and needest no that any man should ask Thee: by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God'”, John 16:28-30. They had become convinced of His authenticity as the Son.
And they have believed that Thou didst send Me- this is His authority as the Son, for He is commissioned by the Father. This is important, for He said to them after His resurrection, “as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you”, John 20:21. They knew what was involved in them being sent by appreciating what was involved in Him being sent. They were apostles, sent ones, but He is “the apostle and high priest of our profession”, Hebrews 3:1. He was sent from heaven as God’s Apostle, and has returned to heaven to act as High Priest.

17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.

I pray for them- “I” is emphatic, “I, the One who is in equal relationship with Thyself”. He knows they will be attacked by those who deny His Deity. He has prepared them for this in the upper room, now He prays for them as well, for they may not always appreciate what He told them, and He is charged with keeping them safe from apostasy.
I pray not for the world- He will pray for the world on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”, Luke 23:34. Such is the marked difference between His own and the world, that He is able to pray for them without praying for the world.
But for them which Thou hast given Me- they are entrusted to Him, and He faithfully prays for their preservation, especially from departure from the truth. Because the Father loves the Son, He has entrusted all things to Him, including the task of caring for His people, see John 3:35.
For they are Thine- they were believers in God before they met Him. He said to them in the upper room, “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me”, John 14:1. They did believe in Him at that point, so the exhortation is to believe in Him just as much when He was gone away as when He was with them. They had not seen the Father, yet believed in Him. They would not see the Son physically after His ascension, but that should not prevent them believing in Him still.

17:10 And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.

And all Mine are Thine- we might have expected Him to say, first of all, “All Thine are Mine”, but that might make us think that the Father has given them over so completely that they are not His own any more. Rather, the Lord is saying that all those He now has as His own still belong to the Father.
And Thine are Mine- all that still belong to the Father are His as the Son. Only Divine persons can each possess the same persons wholly, without depriving the other. The Father has given them to the Son, but they are still His. The Son has accepted them as belonging to the Father still, but they are His also.
And I am glorified in them- both the Father and the Son are glorified through those who possess eternal life, in accordance with His request at the outset of His prayer, “glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify thee”, that is, by giving eternal life, verse 1. He is glorified through all who receive the gift of eternal life, but the reference is here specifically to the apostles, who will be the means whereby the life-giving word of the gospel will be initially spread abroad. He is confident that they will be faithful in their evangelism, and so bring glory to Him.

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.

And now I am no more in the world- in spirit He is back with the Father, and this gives character to the prayer. He is praying as if He is back in heaven, even though He has not yet endured the cross.
But these are in the world- His departure will leave them vulnerable. As the Good Shepherd, He is concerned about leaving them in a world full of thieves, robbers and wolves.And I come to Thee- with all that implies in terms of His acceptance by the Father, (of which He is confident), and His present ministry in heaven for them. He would not only make His presence known to them as they go forth preaching, but He will sit on the right hand of God, still serving their interests there, for He has taken servant-hood for ever, Mark 16:19,20. He looks at going to the cross as the way to come to His Father. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, Hebrews 12:2. He despised the shame from men, but prized the glory from His Father

(iv)  Third request, verses 11b-19

“Holy Father, keep…those Thou hast given Me”.

Reason, verse 12 “I kept them in Thy name”.

The interest in a sanctified company .

Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me- the Holy name of His Father, (that is, His Holiness of character and actions), will shield them from the unholiness of the world. “Be ye holy, for I am holy”, 1 Peter 1:16. Holiness is a positive thing, for God was holy before there was unholiness. God is separate from sin and from error, and those who are preserved in the atmosphere of the holiness of God will be separate from sin and error too. God’s Holy Spirit will enable this to happen in practical terms.
That they may be one, as We are- the oneness of the apostles was vital. That is why Judas must go before Pentecost, and be replaced by another, so that Peter can stand up with the eleven, Acts 2:14, presenting a united front. The oneness “as We are” may simply be oneness of aim and intention here, rather than the more intense oneness of verses 21-23. Note that the oneness is based on separation from sin and error. There can be no true fellowship between believers when sin and error is condoned.

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.

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name- He ever sanctified the Lord in His heart, and therefore did nothing to offend Divine Holiness, and therefore His own were preserved from defiling influences. It might be asked why He cannot continue to do from heaven what He had been doing on earth. Is not the answer that when He was here, the Holy Spirit was with them because He was with Christ, 14:16,17. With Him gone, the Holy Spirit will come to indwell them to show them what is holy.
Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost this even included physical protection, as is seen in the Garden of Gethsemane, “‘If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way:’ that the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake, ‘Of them which Thou hast given Me I have lost none'”, 18:8,9.
But the son of perdition- John is careful to tell us that Judas stood with the soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane, 18:5. He had changed sides, and removed himself from Christ’s protection. He is called the son of perdition or destruction, for he not only sides with those who seek to destroy Jesus, but also destroyed himself by suicide, and went to “his own place”, Acts 1:25, for he had opted for hell not heaven. After Pentecost the believer is joined eternally to Christ. Whilst he may live a carnal life, he cannot be lost, for “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit”, 1 Corinthians 6:17. The Spirit of God has formed a link which is on the very highest level, and it cannot be broken.
That the scripture might be fulfilled- the apostle Peter made it clear that Judas “by transgression fell”, so he was not predestined to fall. The Lord made several attempts to bring him back, but he was determined. It was not that Christ let him slip through His fingers so that a scripture could be fulfilled, but rather that he allowed himself to be manipulated by Satan, and finished up as the betrayer. By that process, scripture was fulfilled. The betrayer is not named in the Old Testament. He was spoken of in terms of the actions of Ahithophel, David’s trusted companion who turned against him. See Psalm 41:9; 69:22,23; Psalm 109:6-8.

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.

And now come I to Thee- the construction of the words “and now” often introduces a fresh aspect to things. So the contrast may be between Judas going to perdition and Christ going to heaven; or between the “with them in the world” of verse 12, and “now come I to Thee” of this verse.
He is conscious of His destination, and confident that Calvary would satisfy the Father’s heart, and He would be raised to return to being with the Father, this time in a body. He would set Himself down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, confident He had the right to do so. John’s Gospel is the “Burnt Offering Gospel”, and the burnt offering was also called the ascending offering.
And these things I speak in the world- this may well indicate that He spoke out loud with His disciples present. They could not share in His Gethsemane sufferings, so He withdrew from them a distance. They will share His heavenly glories, so He speaks so they can hear, and be encouraged.
That they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves- if they had heard His groanings in Gethsemane they would have despaired utterly. They can hear these words and be filled with joy. But it is not primarily that they would be blessed, but that He would be glorified. This is His joy, the joy of returning to His Father, the joy that strengthened Him to endure the cross, Hebrews 12:2. Being with Him will involve sharing His joy. The joy would be fulfilled in themselves personally, so they would not just be joyful because He would be joyful. They would find that His joy would fulfil its purpose in their hearts, as they changed from being filled with sorrow because He said He was going away, 16:6, to returning to Jerusalem with great joy after the ascension, Luke 24:52,53. As He said to them, “If ye loved Me ye would rejoice that I said unto you ‘I go to the Father'”, 14:28. Note the other things that are especially Christ’s: “His own”, 13:1; “My peace”, 14:27; “My love”, 15:9; “My glory”, 17:24.

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.

I have given them Thy word- this has the idea of a body of teaching. Either the sum total of what He had told them during His ministry, or the teaching in the upper room. Whichever is meant, it was the word of the Father, faithfully transmitted to them.
And the world hath hated them- to side with Christ is to oppose the world and be hated by it. The world cannot be indifferent to those who love Christ, for He came into the world to cause division, and He has succeeded. The condemnation of this world is that light is come into it and men loved darkness rather than light, and went further, and hated the light, John 3:19,20. To believe in the light is to be hated by the world. The hostility against the disciples increased after the raising of Lazarus, 12:10. Before, He had shielded them by taking the force of the opposition upon Himself, but He is now preparing them to take the force themselves.
Because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world- this world-system is centred around opposition to God. To distance one-self from it is to be like Christ, and therefore to be hated.
They are not of the world because they are born of God; He is not of the world because He is the Son of God from heaven. Relationship to God is in view in each case, although not of the same kind exactly.

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

I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world- because they have the life of God in their souls, and believe in Him, they are able to overcome the world, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4,5. Because believers have eternal life, and that life is superior to the life of the world, they can safely be left in it, especially as they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Believers are needed in the world to testify about Christ, and bring glory to Him in this hostile scene, thus demonstrating the superiority of faith.
But that thou shouldest keep them from the evil- perhaps He refers in particular to the evil doctrines which deny the Father and the Son, which represent the greatest evil in the world.

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

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world- these words are similar to verse 14, but there it was the reason for the hatred of the world. Here it is advanced as the reason why the Father should sanctify them, verse 17. The Son asks the Father to have dealings with them because they are not of the world, implying that they are of the Father. All that is in the world is not of the Father, 1 John 2:16, so the fact that they are not of the world implies that they are of the Father.

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

Sanctify them through Thy truth- as those who are not of the world they are separated to God. This is the Son’s desire for His own, that the Father who begot them may keep them separate from everything that does not harmonise with the life they have been given. Eternal life is in contrast to the life of men in the flesh, verse 3, so they are separate from Adam’s world, but they still have the capability of walking after the flesh, even though not in the flesh, Romans 8:9,4. “Thy truth” is everything that tells us about the Father.
Thy word is truth- the source of that truth about the Father is found in the word the Son gave to them from the Father, verse 14. That is the standard in a world full of error about the Father and the Son. The word separated us from the world in the first place, for we are begotten by the word of truth, James 1:18, and what separates initially, separates constantly. The true believer knows the truth about Divine Persons, and is able to distinguish it from error, 1 John 2:21. Antichrists deny the Father and the Son, 1 John 2:22. The statement “Thy word is truth” is for the benefit of the disciples. He is still speaking mainly about the apostles, and He knew they would be under extreme pressure after Pentecost, for they would be teaching things that the ruling religious classes would resist. It is vital that they do not give way, but hold fast to that which He taught them.

17:18 As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world- He desires the Father’s protection for them, since they have been sent into a world full of error to preach the truth. He sent them forth to bear fruit, 15:16, and bear witness, 15:27.

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

And for their sakes I sanctify Myself- He separates Himself from being in the world by going to heaven to minister to them from there, the place of power at God’s right hand. The Father sanctified Him and sent Him into the world, 10:36, and now He makes the return journey, confident He has the right to go back to heaven. Just as He was not made more holy in order to come down, He is not making Himself more holy to return. He does not need to be purified, as Aaron did before he was made high priest, for He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens”, Hebrews 7:26.
That they also might be sanctified through the truth- what sanctified or separated the apostles from the Rabbis and the other teachers in Israel was the truth given to them exclusively by the Lord Jesus. That truth was about the relationship between the Father and the Son, and all that flows from it. If He did not separate Himself by going back to heaven, the Holy Spirit would not come to empower them as they made known this truth in a world that was hostile to it. In this way they would “also” be sanctified, that is, as well as Him being sanctified.
There is no mention of the Holy Spirit in this prayer, but His coming is implied here. It was after He had returned to heaven that the Lord Jesus prayed the Father that He would give His people the Holy Spirit, John 14:16; 15:26.

(v) Fourth request, verses 20-23

“Thou, Father…that they all may be one”.

Reason, 21,23, “That the world may believe…know”.

The integration in a special oneness.

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

Neither pray I for these alone- up to this point He has concentrated on the apostles.
But for them also which shall believe on Me through their word- the word is given to them, and they so make it their own, and are so empowered by it, that it becomes their word. Luke tells us that “Then they that gladly received his word, were baptised”, Acts 2:41. Peter had made the word his own.

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.

That they all may be one- unity is vital if the world is going to believe. This unity is now defined for us. Because it is modelled on the oneness of the Persons of the Godhead, this unity is not organisational nor ecumenical.
As Thou, Father, art in Me- the Father is perfectly expressed in the Son, for “he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father”, 14:9. To know the Son is to know the Father, 14:7. This shows the oneness of the Father and the Son. The ways, works and words of the Son were all an expression of the Father, for God was manifested in the flesh in the person of Christ. The fact that He was a man in the body, far from being a hindrance, was an asset, for He, a Divine person, was able to express a Divine Person perfectly, but do it in a way that could be comprehended by those who were seeking the truth.
And I in Thee- He is in Him in the sense that there is no point at which they diverge, whether it be in nature, character, will, or action. In 14:10 these two phrases are the other way round, perhaps because the disciples would have more difficulty with the idea that a man in the flesh was one with the Father. He does not communicate the truth regarding the Father as one who is merely a separate agent. He does so as one with the Father. The prophets of old time were agents God used to bring His truth to the people, but in the last days He has spoken by His Son, Hebrews 1:1,2.
That they also may be one in us- this does not mean, of course, that believers are one with Divine persons, but they are one with one another because of their relationship with Divine persons, who are themselves one in essence and aim. Eternal life is the life of God, and the believer has that eternal life in common with all other believers, and that forms a bond of unity. We are to abide in the Father and the Son, 1 John 2:24. Clearly, the oneness here is not organisational, but living, the unity of those who share eternal life with one another. No amount of amalgamation of denominations can produce this unity. The ecumenical movement is a tool of Satan to bring in a world “church” that will facilitate the emergence of the Antichrist.
That the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me- this is not guaranteed, but the potential is there. It is “may”, not “shall”. But on the other hand, the Lord does not exclude any as being beyond belief. When the people of the world see Divine life worked out in the lives of God’s people, then they will see the same thing in principle as when Christ was here. Just as we read “And many believed on Him”, so, ideally, many should believe through the testimony of Christians. Someone has said, “The world does not believe because it does not believe we believe the things we say we believe”.

17:22 And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one:

And the glory which Thou gavest Me- He is conscious that His request for glory in verse 5 will be answered, and He prays now on the basis that it is. He sought the glory of the recognition of His person, that He was equal with the Father even though a man upon the earth.
I have given them- believers are to be associated with Divine persons, but only mediately through Him. Still it is His glory that they receive. He speaks in the past tense, for He is anticipating His departure to the Father, and the association of believers with Him there. The apostle Paul also spoke in the past tense when he said, “whom He justified, them He also glorified”, Romans 8:30. The eternal state of glory of believers opens out before the apostle’s mind, and so certain is it that he can speak, inspired of the Holy Spirit, as if it is realised already.
That they may be one, even as we are one- the way this will happen is told us in the next verse. Divine persons have the same will as one another; believers when conformed to the image of God’s Son will never deviate from the will of God.

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.

I in them- according to the words He had spoken earlier in the upper room, it would be at Pentecost that He would come to them, for the Godhead is one, and the coming of the Spirit makes good to us in our hearts the presence of the Father and the Son, John 14:23.
And Thou in Me- the Spirit indwells us, the Son is in us by that Spirit, and the Father is in the Son, working out His purpose through Him. So all three persons of Godhead are active in believers, and this is the ground of unity.
That they may be made perfect in one- if Divine Persons form the unity, then it must be perfect. It is not a process, as if believers were perfected into one gradually, but the moment a Divine person takes up residence, the work is done.
And that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me- the disciples had said, “we believe that Thou camest forth from God”, 16:30. As they went forth and preached that, and its implications, then some would believe. These words, however, look on to beyond that, for it is not the world believing, as in verse 21, but the world knowing, irrespective as to whether any believe or not.
And hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me- the Father’s love towards them is of the same sort as His love for His Son. This does not mean that it is to the same degree, for that would devalue the Father’s love for the Son. (The word meaning “precisely as” is not used here). As the world sees the believers living in the good of the love of their Father, they will realise that their faith is real. “By this shall all men know ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another”, John 13:35. Disciples are learners, so as those who are learning of Him, we are to live out what we learn.

(vi) Fifth request, verse 24

Father, I will…may be with Me”.

Reason, verse 24: “For Thou lovedst Me”.

The incentive of a shared affection.

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.

Father, I will- confident that His prayer will be answered, and that His will and that of His Father is the same, He makes known His will. There is no element of independence in His person because He has become man. We may compare His statement here with the one in His Gethsemane prayer, where He said, “Not My will”. There it was to do with God’s will regarding Calvary; here to do with God’s will regarding those whom He has been given. In other words, He is indicating His will for others.
That they also, whom Thou hast given Me- as well as the apostles who were given Him, verse 6, He now thinks of those who will believe through their word, verse 20. The apostles were given as those who already believed in God. The rest of believers are given to the Son when they come in faith initially. The word “given” is in the past tense because the Lord is projecting His mind to when the last believer is gathered in, and the moment of glory is come; He is thinking of them as having come to Him in the then-past.
Be with Me where I am- is this spoken as if already back in heaven, or is it that we shall be with Him wherever He is? If He is in heaven, we shall be with Him, 14:3; if He is on earth, we shall be with Him there too, Colossians 3:4. We read, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”, Revelation 14:4. That reference is not to church saints, but it illustrates a principle.
That they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me- He wills that the glory of association with the Godhead asked for in verse 5, may be seen by His people. He is confident that His request will be granted, and now He speaks as if it has happened, “Thou hast given Me”. The apostles saw His glory as He lived on the earth, for we read “Jesus manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him”, John 2:11, but this is resurrection, ascended glory, the compensation for the sufferings He endured. When the apostle Paul was caught up to the third heaven, he “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter”, 2 Corinthians 12:2,3. Even the telling of His glory was more than could be taken in, but in eternity believers will have glorified bodies, released from the restrictions of earth, and their minds will be able to take in and appreciate His glory. Remember that glory may be defined as “the display of excellence”.
For Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world- this is the solid ground of the request, an appeal the Father cannot refuse, even if He wished to, which He does not. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand”, John 3:35. He is conscious of having enjoyed the eternal love of His Father; He has not lost the sense of that by becoming man. So the solid basis of the believer’s state of blessedness will be the eternal love of the Father for His Son. And since love is what God is, then the position will be grounded on the very being of God.

(vii) Final statement, verses 25,26

O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee…I will declare it (name)”.

The indignation over a spurned revelation.

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.

O righteous Father- now we have the closing statement of the prayer, beginning with “O righteous Father”, for it has to do with the lack of response to the revelation the Son has given of the Father. The Son is righteously indignant that this is the case, hence the strength of feeling expressed in the “O”, and the title “Righteous Father”.
The world hath not known Thee- not so much that it does not know after He has been here, but, rather, it did not know God when He came. The verb is in the pluperfect, signifying that something was true further back than if the perfect tense had been used. The world has not got to know God after all the interventions He had made during the centuries. This is not an admission of failure, as if to say that even though He has been here the world is still unchanged. It is a tribute to His success that even though the world in general did not know God before He came, (“the darkness comprehended it not”, John 1:5), there are some who now know the Father.
But I have known Thee- the ignorance of the world is contrasted with His perfect knowledge of the Father, which knowledge He has imparted to those who believed on Him.
And these have known that Thou hast sent Me- this sums up their belief, for if they believe He was sent of the Father, they must believe all that He taught them of the Father, being in full agreement with Him.

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.

And I have declared unto them Thy name- not only did He hallow the name of His Father, but He expounded by His life and Person the things that are true of the Father, so that those who believe may have that knowledge too, in their measure. To know Him is to know the Father, 14:7. When Moses asked to see the glory of the Lord, it was the name of the Lord, with all its various characteristics, that was proclaimed to him, Exodus 33:18; 34:5-8. All the features enumerated were seen perfectly in Christ, so we may say that when Jesus of Nazareth passed by, the glory of the Lord passed by.
And will declare it- this declaration of the Father is ongoing, for the cross will bring out fresh features about God. When Judas went out to finalise plans for the arrest, the Lord said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him”, 13:31. The betrayal by Judas would set in motion a train of events leading to Calvary and beyond. The process began with the words to Mary Magdalene, “Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God”, John 20:17. In this way the prophecy of Psalm 22:22 began to be fulfilled, for the Messiah promises, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee”. Instead of being surrounded by those who hate Him as they gather around the cross, He will be surrounded by those who love Him for all eternity.
That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them- the hearts of the believers will be drawn to their Father in love as “the Son of the Father in truth and in love”, 2 John 3, teaches them. The love will not only be “in them” for their own enjoyment, but it will be “in them” to show to others. “And every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God”, 1 John 4:7.
And I in them- the more we know of God and His love, the more we shall realise that He is fully expressed in His Son. The more we realise this, the more we shall hold the Son in our hearts in love, and shall express Him to others. This implies the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as John 14:16-21 explains.