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Bible Commentaries
John 17

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-26

Chapter 17

These words spake Jesus, and he lifted up his eyes to heaven ( John 17:1 ),

Now He is finished with His disciples and He turns now to the Father. He said, "I am not alone; the Father is with Me." And conscious of the Father, He now offers what should be titled the Lord's Prayer, for this is indeed the Lord's Prayer. He gave to the disciples a model prayer, which is often called the Lord's Prayer. But this is the true Lord's Prayer. "He lifted up his eyes to heaven,"

and he said, Father, the hour is come ( John 17:1 );

When He began His ministry in Cana of Galilee, and Mary came to Him and said, "Son, they have run out of wine," He said to his mother, "What's that to Me? My hour is not yet come." And, all through His life, He was conscious of His movement towards a definite hour, a definite time. And this was always, from the beginning of His ministry, the movement was towards this hour. Many times we read, "For His hour was not yet come." He was always conscious of the hour that was coming. And now He has come to it. And He declares, "Father, the hour is come."

glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee ( John 17:1 ):

The hour is come, but how is the Son to be glorified? By being lifted up on the cross. And so here, Jesus is talking to the Father about the cross and saying, "Let's go on with it, glorify Thy Son," that in and through the cross He might glorify God.

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

How is the Father glorified? By Jesus granting to you eternal life, citizenship in the heavenly kingdom. "Father, the hour is come; now glorify Me. Let Me go ahead and bear the cross, let Me die in order that through My death I might grant eternal life to those who will believe, as many as You have given Me." Interesting term. In Acts we read, "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

And this is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do ( John 17:3-4 ).

Jesus said that He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Now He declares His work is finished. On the cross it was complete. He cried out His last words before commending His spirit to the Father, "It is finished." What? The work of redemption for man. The path back to God is complete. Man does not have to live alienated from God any longer. Man can now walk in close communion and fellowship with the Father once again. His work of redemption is finished. Provision for man's sin is now made. And that which has separated man from God can be put away and man can live in fellowship with God.

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was ( John 17:5 ).

Now this is moving on from the first. The first was talking about the cross. Now He's talking about that glory in the heavenly kingdom. "Now, Father, the work is finished. I'm going to the cross; it's finished. Now glorify Me with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was." "He who was in the beginning with God and thought it not robbery to be equal with God..." "Now, Father, I want to enter back into that glory that I had with You before the world ever existed. I have manifested Thy name unto the men which You gave Me out of the world. Thine they were, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word." Now, what does Jesus mean?

I have manifested thy name unto the men which you gave me out of the world ( John 17:6 ):

God is not His name; God is His designation. Lord is not His name; that is His title. His name is Yahweh, or Jehovah. And how did Jesus manifest His name? The name Jesus itself is a contraction of the Hebrew "Yahovah-shua" or "Yashua," which is Jehovah is Salvation. Jesus said, "I have manifested Your name." He bore the name of the eternal God, the name Yashua, Jehovah is Salvation. "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which You have given to Me out of the world."

thine they were, you gave them to me; and they have kept your word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which you gave me; and they have received them, and have surely known that I came out from thee, and they have believed that you did send me ( John 17:6-8 ).

And so, Jesus, in the first part of His prayer, is praying concerning this little company of believers, the disciples that are with Him. And in this first part, His prayer is centered around them. "You have given them to Me. I have manifested Your name to them. They are Yours, but You have given them to Me, and I have given to them Your words. And things are now complete because they believe that You have sent Me."

And I pray for them: I don't pray for the world ( John 17:9 ),

At this point. He's not praying for the world; He's praying for this special group, the disciples.

but for them which you have given to me; for they are yours. And all that is mine is yours, and yours are mine; and I am glorified in them ( John 17:9-10 ).

"Oh, that Christ might be glorified," Paul said, "in my body whether by life or by death." And that should be the desire of each of us; "Oh, God, glorify Thy Son in and through me." "I am glorified in them."

Now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, I'm coming to thee. Holy Father, keep through thy own name those whom thou hast given me ( John 17:11 ),

Now He commits the keeping of their lives unto the Father Himself. "Holy Father, keep through Thy own name..." What a beautiful prayer of intercession! It lets us know a little bit of what's going on in heaven. The Bible says that, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who has died, yet rather, is risen again, and is even at the right hand of the Father making intercession" ( Romans 8:34 ). In Heb 7:25 we read, "Wherefore He is able also to save unto the uttermost all who will come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us." And this is a good example of the intercessory ministry of Jesus, as He is praying to the Father for His disciples. And what a fabulous prayer! "Holy Father, keep through Thy own name those that You have given to Me,"

that they may be one, as we ( John 17:11 ).

And now, this is the prayer for His disciples, this unity, "Lord, that they may be one." And as we read this prayer of Jesus, and as we almost feel like we're eavesdropping, you know. You feel a little embarrassed and a little ashamed because it's such an intimate, personal pouring out of His heart to the Father that we're given an insight here to. Absolutely beautiful! I love to just meditate on this seventeenth chapter of John, as I read this ministry of Jesus for His disciples, and then later on, for me. And His prayer for them? That they may be one.

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou hast given to me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled ( John 17:12 ).

"I kept them, Father, all but the one, the son of perdition..." That's quite a title given to Judas Iscariot. Another time we read the same title is given to the Anti-Christ; he is called the son of perdition. There are some who believe that Judas Iscariot will be the Anti-Christ. There are indications that this is possibly so; this is the strongest, and the strongest argument that they can present, the fact that both of them are called the son of perdition. I personally do not believe that Judas Iscariot is the Anti-Christ, but there is that possibility. And I don't deny the possibility. If you want to say, "Yes, he is," I won't argue with you, because I don't know. I don't feel that he is. I feel that evidence points to another, but I wouldn't argue with you and I would say, "Well, it's possible that you are right, because it IS possible that you are right." It is possible that Judas Iscariot could be the Anti-Christ. And I believe that on the basis of the them being called the son of perdition.

Jesus said,

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves ( John 17:13 ).

Now, here Jesus is talking about His joy right in the face of the cross, "that they might have My joy fulfilled in them." Jesus said, "My peace I give unto you, not as the world give I." We have His peace, we have His joy, we have His love. These are those things that He imparts unto us. No other religious system does this. Buddha didn't say, "My love I give to you; abide in my love." They couldn't say that, but Jesus does. He is saying, "Look, it's My joy being fulfilled in you." And so, it is the peace of Christ which passes understanding that keeps our hearts and our minds. His peace, His love, His joy. You see, I cannot in myself fulfill the divine idea. God wants me to love as He loved. I can't. But I can be an instrument through which His love flows. God wants me to have His peace, but I get upset. I can't in myself just mesmerize myself into a placid state. But I have experienced that glorious peace of Jesus Christ in the midst of the most wild situations, the most tense situations. Suddenly, that peace of Christ just comes down and fills my heart and my life; and hey, it's alright, we're going to be okay, we're going to make it. Because the peace of Christ has just filled my life. And again, that joy that is indescribable; it's full of glory, that joy of seeing God work. "My joy fulfilled in themselves."

I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I don't pray that you take them out of the world ( John 17:14-15 ),

I wish He had sometimes! Sometimes I look at what's happening; I see the deterioration of our nation and I see the rising taxes, and I see the attempt of the schools and the government to totally divorce the thought of Jesus Christ and all from our public life. And I see the rulings of the courts and I see so many just plain stupid iniquities. And I get out my atlas, and I start looking for some island in the South Pacific, and I dream of just selling out and saying, "Come on, let's go. I found this island out there in the South Pacific; it's uninhabited, but it's got plenty of fresh water, good clean air and we can just go there and we can build a new world, a new society, you know. And we can start over again, just like our forefathers had the opportunity when they came to the United States." But Jesus said, "Father, I don't pray that you take them out of the world." Oh, that means that I've got to stick around.

but that you should keep them from the world ( John 17:15 ).

"Don't take them out, Father, but keep them from it." The Christian is like a ship which is made to float in the water. As long as it's floating in the water, it's alright. The only danger is when you get the water in the ship. The ship is to be in the water, but you get water in the ship and then you get into trouble. The Christian is made to live in the world. But you start getting the world in the Christian, you get into trouble, like getting water in the ship. You're going to sink. So, "Father, I don't ask You to take them out of the world, but do keep them from the world." What a beautiful prayer! God, keep me from the world. The pressures sometimes are so great to conform to the world, to the worldly patterns. We become accused of all kinds of things; but, Oh, God, keep us from the world.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. But sanctify them through thy truth ( John 17:16-17 ):

That is, "Separate them." And the word sanctify is to separate, to set apart. "Set them apart, Father, through Thy truth."

for thy word is truth ( John 17:17 ).

"Keep them from the world, separate them from the world, Father, through Your truth; for Your word is truth."

And as you have sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself [or, I set myself apart] that they also might be set apart through the truth. Neither do I pray for these alone ( John 17:18-20 ),

Alright! Now He's expanding His prayer beyond the realm of the disciples who were with Him at that moment, and He expands it right on down to you and to me. And now, enter in to that beautiful place...I feel like taking my shoes off, I'm on holy ground, as my Lord now intercedes for me. And what does He pray for me? "Neither pray I for these alone,"

but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ( John 17:20 );

You see, I've come to believe on Jesus Christ through the Word, through the words in the New Testament. And because I have come to believe on Jesus Christ through the Word, I am included in this prayer that Jesus was offering to the Father there in John 17 . And what does He pray for me and for you? Again,

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 you have sent me ( John 17:21 ).

Jesus' prayer for the church is that of unity, that we might be one. And I think of how tragic it is and what a poor witness to the world that the church is so divided and so fractured. Now, that is not an indictment against denominations. I see the purpose of denominations; I have no problem with that. The only problem I have is when people get denominational, when they cannot see the whole church and the whole body of Christ, but they see their own little segment only and exclude the rest. That's contrary to the prayer of Christ.

Someone brought to my attention this morning a letter that they had received from their pastor, who was all shook because they were going to Calvary Chapel. He said, "That name does not exist in the Bible; thus, it's a sin for you to go to a church with that name. And I can document from scripture that it's a sin to go to a church that isn't called the church of Christ." And as I read it, my heart ached for the narrowness, the shortsightedness. He is actually going against the very prayer of Jesus when He was praying, "Lord, may they be one." May God free us from the narrow sectarianism and kind of a thing that would say, "Well, I'm from Calvary Chapel." May we not identify with a particular system or whatever, but may we be able to identify with just the body of Christ and say, "I am a child of God; I'm a Christian," and let that be our identity. And if someone else says, "Well, I'm a Christian," praise the Lord, I'm one with you. "Oh, but I'm a Baptist!" I don't care. "Well, I'm a Presbyterian!" I don't care. You love my Lord? I'm one. Divisions may come, but God help us not to be any part of the division when it comes. If people want to divide themselves, that's their problem. God help us not to become any part of a division of the body of Christ. For when his body is divided, he is the one who bleeds.

I don't want to go against the prayer of Christ in any way. I want to be open to accept as brothers in Christ anyone who has truly received Jesus Christ as their Lord. And I don't care if they baptize forwards or backwards or they sprinkle or whatever! I don't want to divide over those issues.

It's tragic, the things that have divided the church of Jesus Christ, the divisions that have come. And they're contrary to the very thing that Jesus was praying. May God help us to be so broadened in our view of the church, that when one member suffers we will suffer with him; when one is exalted we'll be exalted with them. That we'll not become jealous because we hear that a fellowship over here is growing rapidly and they've got this and that and the other. "Well, they're this and..." God help us, keep us from that nasty mouth of putting down the body of Christ because they don't go along with us. "Lord, we saw some casting out devils, and they didn't want to come with us. And so we stopped them." Jesus said, "No, you shouldn't have done that. If they are doing it in My name, they can't very well be speaking against Me." "Lord, they don't want to receive us over there. Do you want us to call down fire from heaven and destroy them?" He said, "Wait a minute! You don't understand the nature that you're to have." And so, His prayer is that we would be one.

And the glory which you gave to me I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, you in me, that they may be made [complete] perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me ( John 17:22-23 ).

Now Jesus is saying that this unity should come to pass for a witness to the world. "That the world may believe that You have sent Me." And I believe that there are many people that have been turned away from Jesus Christ because of that terrible faction and party spirit that exists in Christianity, as people have put up their denominational barriers and confined themselves. You know, "We are..." And people look at the church fighting and competing among itself. They see the bitternesses that arise and the church is not that witness that Jesus would have us to be.

Father, I will that they also, whom You have given to me [this that I love], that they may be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given to me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world ( John 17:24 ).

"Father, those that You have given to me, I want them to be with Me in that glory, that they might see Me in My glory." Oh, how I long to behold Jesus in His glory! How I long to see Him there sitting upon His throne, to see Him in that glorified state. How I long to be a part of that company in the book of Revelation that sings, "Worthy is the Lamb, because He was slain, and He has redeemed us by His blood out of all of the nations, tribes, tongues and people, and has made us unto our God kings and priests." And we will reign with Him upon the earth. Worthy is the Lamb to receive glory and honor and dominion and might and power and authority. To see Him in that glory, I long for that day.

Now, the thing that thrills me is that I'm certain that if anybody's prayers are effective, they are the prayers of Jesus Christ. When I've got Him praying for me, I tell you, I can't lose. I'm certain that His prayers are powerful and effective, and that the Father is going to answer His prayers. I have all of the assurance in the universe that I'm going to be there, to see Him in His glory. He asked the Father that that might be so; and surely, the Father will not deny His request. Isn't that exciting!

O righteous Father, the world has not known you: but I have known you, and these have known that you sent me. And I have declared unto them your name, and I will declare it; that the love wherewith you have loved me may be in them ( John 17:25-26 ),

You see, it's going to be in you. You're to love as He loved. He'll put His love in you. He'll do it for you. "That the love wherewith You have loved Me might be in them,"

and I in them ( John 17:26 ).

Christianity, different from religion, because Christianity is a dynamic, it is the dynamic of the Author who has come to dwell within me to take up residence within my life, and to do in me what I cannot do in and for myself. Through the power of the risen Christ, I have the power to live the life that He has asked me to live.

And so, we have just made a cursory study of the seventeenth chapter. I would encourage you before you go on to eighteen and nineteen to go back and read it over two or three more times, just to meditate upon it. Read it a verse at a time, and just stop and think about it and let the Spirit of God minister the truth to your heart. And let the words just sink in, the prayer of Jesus on your behalf. And then, we'll go on next week to chapters 18 and 19. You see, the eighteenth chapter begins, "Now when Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook of Kidron, where there was a garden..." So, this was spoken somewhere between the upper room and the garden, before He came to the Garden of Gethsemane. And so, now we'll enter into the garden with Him, and this experience unto the cross in our next study.

May the Lord be with you this week, working in your life His glorious work. May this be a time of spiritual growth, as you get into the Word and as you study and as you yield your life to God, that His love might be manifested through you. That His joy might be fulfilled in you. And that His peace might just keep your heart, your life, your mind. And may you just begin to experience more and more that beautiful work of God's Spirit in your life, as He conforms us daily into the image of Jesus Christ. And so, God bless you, fill you with the Spirit, keep you in His love. In the name of Jesus. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 17". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/john-17.html. 2014.
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