Berean Bible Study Notes

John 17: The Lord's Prayer



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John 17

Now, we're going to take a look at one of the most loved, most read chapters of the whole Bible. Some famous Bible scholars of the past made it a point to read this chapter over and over again. In this chapter, which is almost entirely Jesus' prayer to His Father, Jesus is acting as our Great High Priest (See Hebrews 5 - 8)

He is already making intercession for all believers, even though His suffering lies just ahead of Him.

Heb 7:24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Here's what J. Vernon McGee says about it (McGee, J. Vernon. 1991. Thru the Bible Commentary Series: John, Chapters 11-21. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville):

(If any of you are familiar with J. Vernon McGee, try to hear this in that famous voice of his)

Here is the entire prayer:

Jesus Prays for Himself

John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

John 17:6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

9 "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

John 17:20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

24 "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

 

This is truly the Lord's Prayer. What we usually call "The Lord's Prayer" from Matthew 6 and Luke 11 is actually a model prayer for the disciples (and us) that Jesus Himself could never pray.

The Model Prayer

(Also Luke 11:2-4)

Matt 6:5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. (This can be like repeating a single word or phrase over and over again. It does not mean repeating conscious prayer over and over. This "vain repetition" can be dangerous. Some info here)

8 "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Or, for those who learned it this way: Matt 6:9 (KJV) Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts (or trespasses), as we forgive our debtors (or those who trespass against us). 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This was to be a model of prayer (not necessarily to use those exact words) for US. It wasn't for Jesus to pray. He could not ask for forgiveness of sins (debts) because He had none. He would never stray into temptation, and He had fully conquered the evil one. This prayer, however, in John 17, is completely the Lord's prayer. It is not one that we could pray, ever.

OK, to take it a piece at a time, first Jesus prays for Himself:

Jesus Prays for Himself

John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

And, breaking it down further:

John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him

Jesus spoke these words. What words are those? The last chapters that we've been going through. It's taken us weeks, but that was just one conversation, taking place on one evening - the evening of the Last Supper.

He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said. . .That's an odd place to pause, but notice a few things about it. Jesus is praying out loud, and this isn't the first time. The Bible records many times that Jesus prays out loud. Sometimes it's for the benefit of the people, but many times, it seems to be just for Him. Jesus prays often, sometimes all night long, and He prays out loud. Here's God the Son, who is in constant connection with His Father, and yet He not only prays a LOT, He prays out loud. I think it's something that we should consider doing ourselves. The Bible calls us to "pray constantly," and of course, people explain that by saying that the life of a Christian is a prayer in itself. That's probably true, and yet, I think it also means, pray constantly.

1 Thess 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Luke 18:1 (NIV) Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Rom 12:12 (NIV) Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Eph 6:18 (NIV) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Col 4:2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

Spiritual Pride: Asking God Once Is Enough By A. W. Tozer

There's something to be said about praying out loud, too. Perhaps it's just that I am more focused and don't get distracted as easily, but it seems like my prayers are much more intense when I pray out loud. Of course, you can't do that just anywhere, or you'll get some very odd looks.

Here's what Jon Courson says about this section: (Courson, J. 2003. Jon Courson's Application Commentary . Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN)

Back to our verses. Then, He says, Father, the hour has come. All through John, we've been hearing about this "hour" that was to come. Back in Cana, He told His mother, "My hour has not yet come." Or, He would escape from the Jewish leadership because "His hour had not yet come." Well, now His hour HAS come. That was why He came, to give His life as a ransom:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him

Why is Jesus asking for glory? Because that would mean that the mission would be completed, the work finished. When God the Father raised Jesus from the dead and restored Him to His right hand, it meant that everything had been accomplished and that Jesus' work had been accepted as full payment. Without the resurrection and return to glory, there is no assurance that it was enough. In fact, without Jesus' resurrection, Paul says we are still in our sins:

1 Cor 15:17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Note also, that Jesus' return to glory is to bring glory to the Father. Everything Jesus ever did was in obedience to His Father and to bring His Father glory. Note also how the first thought, Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, is tied to the last thought, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. Jesus' return to glory allows Him to give eternal life to us. It signifies the accepted payment.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

It's hard to see the full picture of this in English. When Jesus says, And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, He's not just saying "know God's name" or "know who God is." This "know" is to really know and understand. If you really know and understand God the Father and God the Son, you will have eternal life. There's also the idea here that in our eternal life, we will know, fully understand (it will probably take all eternity), the true God. The "sent" here embodies all that Jesus was sent for, that He came from God, that He's being obedient to His Father.

John 17:4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

All the underlined verbs are in the aorist tense - that tense that has the element of being outside of time, unaffected by time, or without regard for time. In our concept of time, Jesus had finished living a perfect life at this point, but that wasn't the completed work, because the cross was still ahead of Him. In God's time, He could speak of it as already completed, because it absolutely would be. It was part of the plan from the very beginning:

Rev 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

This time, the tense is the imperfect tense. It kind of means, "the glory which I always had and will keep on having with you." It's an ongoing thing.

Now, some people think that Jesus stopped being God when He became a man. He never stopped being God. He didn't make full use of His God-hood, but He never stopped being God. What He did do, is set aside His glory. All the glory due Him from being our creator, the Lord of the universe, God Himself, He set aside for us:

Phil 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Then, God the Father restored that glory, just as Jesus asks in His prayer:

Phil 2:9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

John 17:6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

Now, Jesus begins to pray for His disciples. He says He manifested the Father's name. That "manifested" is phaneroo (fan-er-o'-o). It means to make visible what had been invisible - to make known what had been unknown. You can see a similar thought here:

Matt 11:27 (NIV) All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

What does it mean that Jesus manifested the Father's name? According to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, that "name" or onoma (on'-om-ah), means "everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is roused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, or remembering, the name."

There is something very profound about God's name. You could do an entire study of it. Try looking up references to "calling on the name of the Lord," or just the "name of the Lord." You can find that phrase 109 times in the King James - 99 times in the NIV. I know it means a lot more than I'm getting. The Jehovah's Witnesses have made a religion out of what they consider the "name of the Lord." This verse is very interesting in that light, though:

Ps 138:2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

Who is the Word? Jesus is. In my opinion, this verse is there exactly for the JW's.

Now, the men whom You have given Me out of the world, is interesting, because that idea, that God gave the disciples to Jesus, appears exactly seven times in this prayer. Some scholars have figured out that there are 49 patterns of seven in this prayer. I haven't found more than a couple myself, but I have no doubt that they're there.

Now, if the Gospel of John was just the work of man - and nothing else - how long would it take to word it so perfectly that you wound up with exactly 49 (7x7) patterns of seven? Of course, that works out to be 7x7x7, which would represent the Trinity in perfect completeness.

Back to the thought itself.

John 17:6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

If you look down to verse 24, you'll see the same thought applied to all believers:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

We belong to the Father, who has given us to the Son. I wonder what all that means?

They have kept Your word. That "kept" means to guard, to keep safe, to prevent from losing. I hope the same will be said of us.

John 17:7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

9 "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.

At this point, Jesus is not praying for the world. It doesn't mean that He never does or never will, but right now, He does not. In this prayer, this high priestly prayer, He prays for believers alone.

John 17:11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

The disciples had belonged to the Father, who gave them to the Son. While Jesus was on earth, He kept them (same word as before - guard, keep safe, prevent from losing) in all the power of the name of the Father. None were lost except the "son of perdition," who was lost that Scripture would be fulfilled. Now, Jesus is leaving the earth, so He is passing the care of the disciples - and those who would come after (us!) into the hands of the Father.

John 17:14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

That "have given" is in the perfect tense, meaning fully completed. There wasn't anything that Jesus held back from the disciples. Whatever the Father gave Jesus to say, He passed on. The "world has hated them" is in the aorist tense - outside of time. It really hasn't happened, yet - but it will. The world always hates the true things of God, because right now, the world is still in the hands of the evil one.

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world is not a commentary on the presence or lack of the rapture. The time will come when Jesus does take believers out of the world. It is more a caution against isolating yourself in some sort of Christian-only existence. Some use this verse to suggest that there shouldn't be Christian schools or colleges. What is your opinion on that?

Sometime, try looking up references to "the world" or "of the world". The Bible is very consistent in the way "the world" is talked about:

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

OK, check out the next verse:

John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

There is an unbelievable amount of "stuff" going on in that verse. I know I have barely scratched the surface. First, the word "sanctify" is hagiazo (hag-ee-ad'-zo). It means, basically, "to make into a holy one." The tense is aorist, active, imperative. The "aorist" takes it outside of time. When did God start thinking about sanctifying you? From the very beginning. Not the beginning of you - the beginning of everything. God the Father was planning to make you into a holy one - and exactly how that would happen - from the very beginning of time. The tense is completely active. It is an active process. And, it's imperative! It's a command! Think about that. Who is Jesus speaking to? He's speaking to His Father.

So, what all is going on in this verse? To catch even a glimpse of it, you need to put at least four verses together:

John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

There is link on the word "sanctify" above to let you study more on what that means in the Greek, and where else it is used in the Bible. That "truth will set you free" gets tossed around a lot, even in the secular world, but when you put these verses together, you can see that there is more going on here. Spend some time on these verses, while praying for God to help you understand them. Jesus is doing more than just saying a nice phrase when He says Sanctify them by the truth. He is putting "life" into the Word for us. He's asking God the Father (actually, commanding!!) to make the Word live in us, change us, transform us. It's an active, ongoing process. You can study more about that by studying the tense of the word "sanctify" here. Click on the "C" to the left of the verse, and then click on the "tense" next to the word "Sanctify". Click on each of the links on that page (the numbers in blue) to get a better understanding of the active nature of the word. You can also click the Strong's number for "Sanctify" and get an even better page on its meaning. I wish I could give you a direct link, but it goes into a temporary directory.

I'm not going to attempt to say more.

John 17:18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Jesus never sinned. He was completely without sin. He was able to do that for Himself, because He is God. We are not able to do that for ourselves, but as we spend time in God's Word, learning about Jesus, God will gradually do it within us. It is what Jesus prayed.

Just a note here about Jesus' prayers. Jesus never did anything that wasn't perfectly in His Father's will. He never did, said or asked anything that wasn't for His Father's glory. That means that every single one of Jesus' prayers was answered with a "yes." There was only one exception - when He asked for the cup to pass from Him if there was any other way. Even then, He submitted to His Father's will, and was asking for His Father's will to be done, which, of course, it was.

Read through this chapter again and understand that every single thing requested here was granted for the disciples - and is being granted for you. When Jesus said, Sanctify them by the truth, God says "Yes." If you are in God's word, you WILL BE sanctified. It doesn't happen all at once, but it does happen.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

John 17:20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

24 "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word." Are there any better words? Everything He is praying for here is for us, too.

John 17:20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Have you ever heard of ecumenism? Ecumenism is the promotion of unity among Christian churches, and lately, among religions in general. Churches in favor of ecumenism point to these verses and declare that Jesus demands unity among Christians.

Ecumenism is artificial unity - trying to take the visible church and make it "one." Remember, though, that Jesus' prayers to the Father are ALWAYS answered "yes." So, true believers ARE one. If we are real believers, we are each part of Jesus' body. There aren't floating body parts off somewhere else that aren't really part of the body.

Now, do we all believe exactly the same way? No. One family might have a toddler and a teenager, and each has a level of understanding about the world. Each has some things right and each has some things wrong. The teenager knows a lot more than the toddler, but he doesn't know everything - yet they are still brothers, still part of the same family.

Compared to God, we are all toddlers, if that. We don't all agree, because in this world, we do not have perfect understanding. We are all still learning. There are some essentials. In fact, Paul spelled them out:

1 Cor 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

We spent a long time going through those essentials, and if you want, you can review those:

The Gospel 1 Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.

The Gospel 2 Christ DIED. Jesus is fully man.

The Gospel 3 Christ died FOR OUR SINS. Jesus is fully God.

The Gospel 4 Jesus was buried and rose again on the third day.

This is not to say that other things aren't important. They are, and if someone is confused and has some wrong ideas, we are to gently correct her. The way to unity is not to discount doctrine. However, you can have some wrong ideas and still be a Christian.

God knows who is truly a member of His church. And His real church IS one - even if it doesn't look like it here on earth.

John 17:20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

What else is this saying? Can you see why people want to read it over and over? Each time you catch the tiniest glimpse of the glory that He refers to, it makes you long to be with Him, doesn't it? That's what Jesus wants, too. See what He says next:

John 17:24 "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Someday - perhaps not that far away, we will be with Him - and then, the wonders that await!

1 Cor 2:9 "Eye has not seen , nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

Ps 31:19 Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men!