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Monday, April 22nd, 2024
the Fourth Week after Easter
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Bible Commentaries
John 17

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

1 The passage in Mat 6:9-13 is popularly referred to as "The Lord's Prayer." That is not accurate, but in refuting it we may hear another statement that is likewise not accurate. After criticizing the aforesaid phrase, a speaker may ask, "where do we find the Lord's Prayer," and with an air of finality another person will say, "John 17 is the Lord's Prayer." One would get the impression from the above conversation that Jesus uttered Just one prayer while on earth. It is true that this chapter is the longest prayer of .Jesus that is recorded, but prayers of Jesus are recorded in Mat 11:25-26; Mat 26:39; Mat 26:42; Mat 27:46; Joh 11:41-42 and Luk 23:34. Besides these recorded prayers, Luk 6:12 tells of one instance when he prayed all night. Hour is from HORA, and Thayer defines it at this place, "The fatal hour, the hour of death." Jesus knew that ere the setting of another sun, he would lie in death at the hands of his enemies. But that very tragedy was to bring glory on both the Father and the Son. Lifted up his eyes to heaven means he looked up toward the sky, that being one of the definitions of the Greek word translated "heaven." Heaven as the place where God dwells, is neither up or down, since those words are relative only, and would not mean anything as to direction were it not for the existence of the earth.

Verse 2

2 Power is from EXOUSIA, and its first definition is "authority," and it is the same word that is rendered "power" in Mat 28:18. Over all flea means Jesus was to have dominion over the Gentile as well as the Jew, and that he would exercise that dominion for their salvation.

Verse 3

3 This is life eternal denotes that the fruit of knowing (recognizing and obeying) God and Christ is eternal life. There is no way of obtaining such a reward except through a life on earth that is patterned faithfully according to divine law.

Verse 4

4 The verb glorify is from DOXAZO, and Thayer's definitions of it include, "1. To think, suppose, be of opinion. 2. To praise, extol, magnify, celebrate. 3. To honor, do honor to, hold in honor. 4. To make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendor. To cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged. To exalt to a glorious rank or condition." The word has such a wide range of meanings, that we need to consider who is being glorified and who is doing it, before we can know which part of the definition should be applied. By finishing 4e work on earth that God gave him to do, Jesus did honor to the name of God.

Verse 5

5 Glory is the noun form of the same word for glorify. Before Jesus came to the earth he was wholly divine. In order to fulfill the work his Father had for him to do, it was necessary for him to take upon him the nature of man in the flesh. That required him to "lay aside his robes of glory" and humble himself to the rank of a servant (Php 2:7). Now that his mission was performed, and he was about ready to leave the earth, he prayed his Father to restore him to his former place in the glory world. The passage in 1Jn 3:2 indicates that his prayer was answered, since "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1Co 15:50).

Verse 6

6 This refers to the apostles who had been chosen from among the men whom John baptized. Thine they were. John did not baptize any of the Jews into the name of Christ; he only baptized them for the remission of sins, and they belonged to God in a special sense as those who had been reformed according to Mal 4:5-6. The pronoun "I" in that passage refers to Gad personally, who was to send John into the world. After that great era came, the Jews who came under the influence of John's work were prepared for the service of Christ when he came upon the scene. When he did so and received the men to be his apostles, baptized and prepared for his service, Jesus regarded them as having been given him of God. Manifested thy name unto the men. Throughout his association with the apostles, Jesus kept his Father's name and honor before their attention, impressing them with his dependence upon God in all that he did upon the earth.

Verse 7

7 The apostles were made to know this by the fact that Jesus constantly kept his Father's name before them. By such a procedure, they accounted for the forcefulness of the work of their Master by considering the might of God.

Verse 8

8 This verse has virtually the same thoughts as the preceding one, but with the application being made specifically to the teaching of Jesus. The perfect agreement between the words of Jesus and those of his Father (as far as they had heard them), was evidence that God sent Jesus into the world. He would not have corroborated the sayings of Jesus had his coming been without the authority of his Father.

Verse 9

9 I pray not for the world. That is, he was not praying for the world in that part of his prayer; that will come later in his petition. They are thine is explained by the comments on verse 6.

Verse 10

0 This beautiful verse shows the complete and affectionate unity that existed between Jesus and God, in all of the affairs concerning the plan of salvation.

Verse 11

1 Am no more in the world is accommodative language. It means that the life work of Jesus was so near the end that his departure from the world was virtually at hand. These (apostles) are in the world. They were to live on in the work for which Jesus had chosen them. I come to thee. This was true spiritually at that very instant, in that Jesus was coming to God in prayer on behalf of his apostles. It was true personally in that the time was near when He would leave his chosen ones on earth and go to his Father. Hence Jesus saw the need for the grace of his Father to keep the apostles in the bonds of love that their work required. One is from HEIS, and Thayer's definition consists solely of the one word in the passage as we have it, which is "one." But he uses one whole page in his lexicon in discussing and commenting on the many phases of the word as it is used in the Greek Testament, and then indicates that he has not exhausted the subject. That is because the word may be used with regard to its numerical value, or in cases where various persons or things are being distinguished, or in compositions where unity of principle is the subject. Under the numerical phase of the word, it would be considering whether the things being spoken of were one in principle only, or one thing literally and bodily. We know that God and Christ were not one in person, hence the oneness of the apostles which was to be as we are could not mean they could be one personally. The only conclusion possible is that Christ wished his apostles to be one in purpose and activities in the Master's service.

Verse 12

2 While I was with them refers to the personal association of Jesus with his apostles. Such direct contact would be a strong preventive against being corrupted by the evils of the world. Jesus offered his good influence to all of his apostles alike, and it was not his fault that one man among them failed to profit by it. But such an event was to be expected because it had been predicted that one of the chosen apostles would betray his Lord. Son of perdition means that Judas went to perdition because of his deed of suicide. The first word is from Hums and is used figuratively. Thayer's explanation of this Greek word for son when used figuratively is, "One who is worthy of a thing." By destroying himself, Judas put it out of his reach to be saved, for there is no provision made for salvation that can be embraced after one has passed from this life. That the scripture might be fulfilled means as if it said, "and in so doing, the scripture was fulfilled."

Verse 13

3 These things I speak in the world. While Jesus was still with his apostles in person, he spoke the gracious words of instruction and consolation, so that He could thus leave with them the benediction of his hallowed memory.

Verse 14

4 I have given them thy word. This is the oft-repeated truth that is so important that it cannot be spoken too often. Everything Jesus said to his apostles he received from his Father, because he was always in communion with Him. Such instructions could be delivered to them orally while he was with them, but he was soon to depart from them, hence they would need more direct instruction from God.

Verse 15

5 The work of God and Christ for the salvation of the world, required the personal presence and services of the apostles. That is why Jesus did not ask his Father to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evils of the world, while they were fulfilling their task for the kingdom that was so great.

Verse 16

6 While the apostles were human beings and hence were creatures of earthly birth, yet their conversion to the cause of Christ had lifted them to a "higher plane" of living, even as He had shown them the better way of life.

Verse 17

7 Sanctify is explained in a full quotation from the lexicon, in the comments at chapter 10:36. If the reader will consult that place, he will see why Jesus asked his Father to sanctify the apostles by His truth which is the word of God.

Verse 18

8 God sent his Son from Heaven into the world in the form of a human being. He accomplished his mission within that part of the world that was in Palestine. The apostles were to accomplish theirs by going into "all the world" (Mar 16:15). The part Jesus was to perform in the scheme of human redemption, did not require his bodily presence anywhere except the country that had been the headquarters of God's nation of Israel. That which the apostles were expected to accomplish required them to contact all peoples and languages in every land.

Verse 19

9 Sanctify myself. Jesus never had any impurities from which to be cleansed, hence the definitions 1 and 2 (at chapter 10:36) should apply to him. For their sakes denotes that Jesus consecrated himself to the great work for the sake of the apostles. One result of the consecration of Jesus was the bestowal of divine truth, and that was to be the means by which the apostles were to be sanctified. (See verse 17.)

Verse 20

0 Up to this point the prayer of Jesus has been on behalf of his apostles. Of course he was desirous that they should be saved, and also he wished their work for him to be effective. They were to take the words of truth concerning Christ to the people of the earth, and hence he now includes them in his prayer along with the apostles.

Verse 21

1 See the comments at verse 11 on the meaning of "one." The believers were to be one as God and Christ were, which would rule out the idea of their being only one person. It has to mean oneness of purpose and work. Not only must the believers be united in their work, but Christ prayed that they should be one in us. If the whole religious world should become a perfect unit in its practices, it would not avail anything unless its people were in Christ and God. The great object of that unity for which Christ prayed was that the world may believe that thou has sent me. No doubt many thousands of infidels are made by the divided condition of those who profess to be followers of Christ. It is not enough for the professed disciples of the Lord to insist that "at heart we are united and believe the same things." The world cannot see that, but the outward or bodily activities of the religious groups can be seen, and that is what Jesus was counting on as evidence of the truthfulness of the claims of the Gospel.

Verse 22

2 One of the commonest words in the definition of glory is "honor." It certainly is among the highest of honors to be in the service of Christ. That honor is emphasized by the fact that Jesus bestowed it upon his servants, having received it himself from the Father. Best of all considerations, is the object of the bestowing such honor, namely, that the whole group of interested persons, God, Christ and his disciples, should form a unit in the great cause of human salvation.

Verse 23

3 This is an emphatic repetition of verse 21.

Verse 24

4 This part of the prayer was looking forward to the time after the judgment. It is the same thing that Jesus promised them in chapter 14:3. Again he refers to the glory he had with the Father when he was wholly divine. In order for that to be possible with the disciples, so that they could also have at least some measure of the same personal glory, they would have to be faithful servants of their Master to the end of life. After the resurrection they will be in the glorified state and fit for the association with Jesus in glory. World is from KOSMOS which means the inhabitants of the earth. Jesus existed before all other beings except his Father, and enjoyed His love such as a fond parent bestows on his child.

Verse 25

5 The world in general did not know God in the sense of recognizing and obeying the divine law. These means the apostles, who had learned of the Father through their association with the Son and the teaching that he gave unto them.

Verse 26

6. The general unity of purpose and spirit between God and Christ, including the faithful apostles, makes up this closing verse of Christ's memorable prayer.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on John 17". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/john-17.html. 1952.
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