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Eve of Pentacost
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Bible Commentaries
John 17

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-26

The Last Supper John 13:1 to John 17:26 gives us the story of the Last Supper between Jesus and His twelve apostles in which the Lord gives a lengthy discourse to prepare His disciples for His departure. During this discourse Jesus will explain how His Passion will be a fulfillment of two Old Testament prophecies. Otherwise, the theme of the contents of His teachings is about His departure and glorification in order to prepare His disciples for the things that are about to take place.

Although this event is recorded in all four Gospels, John gives us the longest account. Matthew and Mark record the partaking of communion and Jesus’ comments of His betrayal, His crucifixion and Peter’s denial. Luke tells the same, but adds the dispute among His disciples of who will be the greatest. However, the account in John’s Gospel is unique in that it gives us a lengthy discourse of Jesus preparing the disciples for His departure during this meal, while omitting the details of the bread and the wine. He first washes the disciples’ feet, and then tells them of the coming of the Holy Spirit, in whom they were to abide and that He would work through them to do the same works that He had been doing. Jesus testifies to them of His deity using figurative language (John 16:25) such as the Way, the Truth, the Life and as the True Vine. Jesus also discusses His betrayal, His departure and glorification. He tells them that He has spoken these things in order that they continue in His joy and not stumble (John 13:17; John 14:25; John 15:11; John 15:17; John 15:21; John 16:1; John 16:4; John 16:6; John 16:25; John 16:33; John 17:13). This event ends with Jesus’ prayer to the Father. In these chapters the author records two Old Testament Scriptures that are fulfilled during Jesus’ Passion.

Jesus understood that these were the last moments that He was to have with His disciples. He knew that they were going to have to focus their attention from being led by Him to being led by the Holy Spirit. Thus, in John 13-16 we see Jesus attempting to introduce them for the first time to the person of the Holy Spirit, someone that they had seen at work in the life of their Lord, but someone whom they had not experienced for themselves.

In the business world we call this event a “handover,” when one manager over a business or a ministry hands the leadership over to another. In order to accomplish this task, Jesus uses simple, figurative language that they would understand in order to explain the character of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of abiding and walking in the Spirit. Jesus explains to them what it is like to fellowship with the Holy Spirit by comparing it to their experiences of walking with Him. Jesus’ goal in this final discourse is to bring His disciples to a place of doing the works that He Himself has been doing. In order to do this, they must learn to receive the Holy Spirit, to abide in the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit. Thus, His teachings to them follow an order, or procedure, in order to do the works of God.

Jesus first washes their feet as a foreshadowing of His future office as our Great High Priest (John 13:1-17). Jesus Christ is about to ascend to the right hand of the Heavenly Father and enter into this office where He will continually intercede for the saints in order to maintain their right standing before God. He will pay for our sins on Calvary so that we might be justified before God the Father. Then He will be our High Priest in order to keep us right before God through our daily cleansing. John then records the betrayal of one disciple (John 13:18-30) and the failure of another (John 13:31-38) as an example of everyone’s need for daily cleansing. While Judas Iscariot did not repent and soon killed himself, Peter did repent and God used this experience to make him stronger. These two events served as an excellent example within the context of this passage in which to teach on the need of Jesus as our High Priest. Jesus then explains to them the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:1-27), who would take the place of Jesus Christ as their “other Comforter” and as the One who is to guide them after His departure. Thus, Jesus refers to Him also as the “Spirit of Truth,” because of His immediately role as a Teacher and Guide (John 16:12-13). This is why Jesus explains the need for the Holy Spirit when reminding them of His departure (John 14:28-31). After the Holy Spirit comes and fills the disciples, as we see in the book of Acts, they must learn how to stay filled. Thus, Jesus teaches them in John 15:1-17 how to abide in Him in order to bear fruit. Such a lifestyle of walking in love and testifying of Him will lead to persecutions (John 15:18 to John 16:4). He then tells them the work of the Spirit as they preach the Gospel (John 16:5-15). Jesus then tells them of their authority in prayer within the conversation of His departure (John 16:16-33). When the disciples finally acknowledged their understanding of this teaching, Jesus ends His discourse with them and commends them unto the God by praying to the Father (John 17:1-26). This commendation is the “handover.” This handover will be completed on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes and fills the believers. Thus, Jesus explains to His disciples the present-day office and ministry of the Trinity to the Church in John 13-17.

A major change was about to take place in the Trinity. Jesus, who had been the Word of God from eternity, and has presently been our Apostle sent to earth, was not going to move into the office of our Great High Priest. The Holy Spirit was about to leave Heaven and indwell every believer. The Father would continue in His role as the eternal God who knows and predestines the redemption of mankind.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Son - Jesus Foreshadows His office as High Priest John 13:1-38

2. The Holy Spirit The Comforter John 14:1 to John 16:33

3. The Father - Jesus Commends Disciples unto the Father John 17:1-26

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on John 17". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/john-17.html. 2013.
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