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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
John 17



Other Authors
Verse 1

Lifting up (επαραςeparas). First aorist active participle of επαιρωepairō old and common verb with οπταλμουςophthalmous (eyes) as in John 4:35; John 6:5; John 11:41.

Father (ΠατερPater). Vocative form as in John 16:5, John 16:11; John 11:41, Christ‘s usual way of beginning his prayers. It is inconceivable that this real Lord‘s Prayer is the free composition of a disciple put into the mouth of Jesus. It is rather “the tenacious memory of an old man recalling the greatest days of his life” (Bernard), aided by the Holy Spirit promised for this very purpose (John 14:26; John 16:13.). Jesus had the habit of prayer (Mark 1:35; Mark 6:46; Matthew 11:25.; Luke 3:21; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18, Luke 9:28; Luke 11:22, Luke 11:42; Luke 23:34, Luke 23:46; John 11:41; John 12:27). He prayed here for himself (John 17:1-5), for the disciples (John 17:6-19), for all believers (John 17:20-26). The prayer is similar in spirit to the Model Prayer for us in Matthew 6:9-13. The hour for his glorification has come as he had already told the disciples (John 13:31.; John 12:23).

Glorify thy Son
(δοχασον σου τον υιονdoxason sou ton huion). First aorist active imperative of δοχαζωdoxazō the only personal petition in this prayer. Jesus had already used this word δοχαζωdoxazō for his death (John 13:31.). Here it carries us into the very depths of Christ‘s own consciousness. It is not merely for strength to meet the Cross, but for the power to glorify the Father by his death and resurrection and ascension, “that the Son may glorify thee” (ινα ο υιος δοχασηι σεhina ho huios doxasēi se). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive.

Verse 2

Authority over all flesh (εχουσιαν πασης σαρκοςexousian pasēs sarkos). ΣαρκοςSarkos is objective genitive. Stupendous claim impossible for a mere man to make. Made already in Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22 (Q, the Logia of Jesus, our earliest known document about Jesus) and repeated in Matthew 28:18 after his resurrection.

That (ιναhina). Secondary purpose with ινα δωσειhina dōsei (future active indicative) carrying on the idea of ινα δοχασηιhina doxasēi See John 13:34; John 17:21 for ινα κατωσ ιναhina class="normal greek">παν ο — kathōs class="normal greek">παν ο hina

(οpān ho). A peculiar classical Greek idiom, the collective use of the singular αυτοιςpān ho as in John 6:37, John 6:39 and ho in John 17:24 and the nominative absolute (nom. pendens) with autois (to them), the dative plural explaining the construction. See Robertson, Grammar, p. 653.

Verse 3

Should know (γινωσκωσινginōskōsin). Present active subjunctive with ιναhina (subject clause), “should keep on knowing.”

Even Jesus Christ (Ιησουν ΧριστονIēsoun Christon). See John 1:17 for the only other place in John‘s Gospel where the words occur together. Coming here in the Lord‘s own prayer about himself they create difficulty, unless, as Westcott suggests, ΧριστονChriston be regarded as a predicate accusative, “Jesus as the Christ” (Messiah). Otherwise the words would seem to be John‘s parenthetical interpretation of the idea of Jesus. Lucke thinks that the solemnity of this occasion explains Jesus referring to himself in the third person. The knowledge of “the only true God” is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6-9).

Verse 4

I glorified thee on the earth (εγω σε εδοχασα επι της γηςegō se edoxasa epi tēs gēs). John 17:3 is parenthetical and so John 17:4 goes on after John 17:2. He had prayed for further glorification.

Having accomplished (τελειωσαςteleiōsas). First aorist active participle of τελειοωteleioō old verb from τελειοςteleios (perfect). Used in John 4:34 by Jesus with το εργονto ergon as here. That was Christ‘s “food” (βρωμαbrōma) and joy. Now as he faces death he has no sense of failure as some modern critics say, but rather fulness of attainment as in John 19:30 (τετελεσταιtetelestai). Christ does not die as a disappointed man, but as the successful messenger, apostle (απεστειλαςapesteilās John 17:3) of the Father to men.

Thou hast given
(δεδωκαςdedōkas). Perfect active indicative of διδωμιdidōmi regarded as a permanent task.

Verse 5

With thine own self (παρα σεαυτωιpara seautōi). “By the side of thyself.” Jesus prays for full restoration to the pre-incarnate glory and fellowship (cf. John 1:1) enjoyed before the Incarnation (John 1:14). This is not just ideal pre-existence, but actual and conscious existence at the Father‘s side (παρα σοιpara soi with thee) “which I had” (ηι ειχονhēi eichon imperfect active of εχωechō I used to have, with attraction of case of ηνhēn to ηιhēi because of δοχηιdoxēi), “before the world was” (προ του τον κοσμον ειναιpro tou ton kosmon einai), “before the being as to the world” (cf. John 17:24). It is small wonder that those who deny or reject the deity of Jesus Christ have trouble with the Johannine authorship of this book and with the genuineness of these words. But even Harnack admits that the words here and in John 17:24 are “undoubtedly the reflection of the certainty with which Jesus himself spoke” (What Is Christianity, Engl. Tr., p. 132). But Paul, as clearly as John, believes in the actual pre-existence and deity of Jesus Christ (Philemon 2:5-11).

Verse 6

I manifested (επανερωσαephanerōsa). First aorist active indicative of πανεροωphaneroō (from πανεροςphaneros manifest). Another word for claiming successful accomplishment of his task as in John 17:4 with εδοχασαedoxasa and in John 17:26 with εγνωρισαegnōrisa

Whom (ουςhous). Accusative case after εδωκαςedōkas not attracted to case of antecedent (αντρωποιςanthrōpois). Jesus regards the apostles as the Father‘s gift to him. Recall the night of prayer before he chose them.

They have kept
(τετηρηκανtetērēkan). Perfect active indicative, late Koiné form for the third plural instead of the usual τετηρηκασινtetērēkasin Jesus claims loyalty and fidelity in these men with the one exception of Judas (John 17:12). He does not claim perfection for them, but they have at least held on to the message of the Father in spite of doubt and wavering (John 6:67-71; Matthew 16:15-20).

Verse 7

Now they know (νυν εγνωκανnun egnōkan). Perfect active indicative third plural like τετηρηκανtetērēkan above. They have come to know, not as fully as they felt (John 16:30), and yet in a real sense.

Verse 8

The words (τα ρηματαta rēmata). Plural, each word of God, as in John 3:34, and of Christ (John 5:47; John 6:63, John 6:68), while the singular (τον λογον σουton logon sou) in John 17:6, John 17:14 views God‘s message as a whole.

Knew (εγνωσανegnōsan). Second aorist active indicative of γινωσκωginōskō like ελαβονelabon in contrast with εγνωκανegnōkan (perfect) in John 17:7. They definitely “received and recognized truly” (αλητωςalēthōs). There was comfort to Christ in this fact.

They believed
(επιστευσανepisteusan). Another aorist parallel with ελαβονelabon and εγνωσανegnōsan The disciples believed in Christ‘s mission from the Father (John 6:69; Matthew 16:16). Note απεστειλαςapesteilas here as in John 17:3. Christ is God‘s

to man (Hebrews 3:1). This statement, like a solemn refrain (Του διδστ σενδ μεThou didst send me), occurs five times in this prayer (John 17:8, John 17:18, John 17:21, John 17:23, John 17:25).

Verse 9

I pray (εγω ερωτωegō erōtō). Request, not question, as in John 16:23.

Not for the world (ου περι του κοσμουou peri tou kosmou). Now at this point in the prayer Christ means. In John 17:19 Jesus does pray for the world (for future believers) that it may believe (John 17:21). God loves the whole world (John 3:16). Christ died for sinners (Romans 5:8) and prayed for sinners (Luke 23:34) and intercedes for sinners (1 John 2:1.; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).

For those whom
(περι ωνperi hōn). A condensed and common Greek idiom for περι τουτων ουςperi toutōn hous with τουτωνtoutōn (the demonstrative antecedent) omitted and the relative ουςhous attracted from the accusative ουςhous (object of δεδωκαςdedōkas) to the case (genitive) of the omitted antecedent.

Verse 10

Are (εστινestin). Singular number in the Greek (is), not the plural εισινeisin (are), emphasizing the unity of the whole as in John 16:15. “This no creature can say in reference to God” (Luther).

I am glorified in them (δεδοχασμαι εν αυτοιςdedoxasmai en autois). “I stand glorified (perfect passive indicative of δοχαζωdoxazō) in the disciples” (εν αυτοιςen autois), in spite of all their shortcomings and failings. There is comfort for us in this.

Verse 11

And these (και ουτοιkai houtoi or αυτοιautoi they). Note adversative use of καιkai (= but these).

I come (ερεομαιerehomai). Futuristic present, “I am coming.” Cf. John 13:3; John 14:12; John 17:13. Christ will no longer be visibly present to the world, but he will be with the believers through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20).

Holy Father
(πατερ αγιεpater hagie). Only here in the N.T., but see 1 John 2:20; Luke 1:49 for the holiness of God, a thoroughly Jewish conception. See John 6:69 where Peter calls Jesus ο αγιος του τεουho hagios tou theou For the word applied to saints see Acts 9:13. See John 17:25 for πατηρ δικαιεpatēr dikaie (Righteous Father).

Keep them
(τηρησον αυτουςtērēson autous). First aorist (constative) active imperative of τηρεωtēreō as now specially needing the Father‘s care with Jesus gone (urgency of the aorist tense in prayer).

(ωιhōi). Locative case of the neuter relative singular, attracted from the accusative οho to the case of the antecedent ονοματιonomati (name).

That they may be one
(ινα ωσιν ενhina ōsin hen). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the present active subjunctive of ειμιeimi (that they may keep on being). Oneness of will and spirit (ενhen neuter singular), not one person (ειςheis masculine singular) for which Christ does not pray. Each time Jesus uses ενhen (John 17:11, John 17:21, John 17:22) and once, εις ενeis hen “into one” (John 17:23). This is Christ‘s prayer for all believers, for unity, not for organic union of which we hear so much. The disciples had union, but lacked unity or oneness of spirit as was shown this very evening at the supper (Luke 22:24; John 13:4-15). Jesus offers the unity in the Trinity (three persons, but one God) as the model for believers. The witness of the disciples will fail without harmony (John 17:21).

Verse 12

I kept (ετηρουνetēroun). Imperfect active of τηρεωtēreō “I continued to keep.”

I guarded (επυλαχαephulaxa). First aorist (constative) active of πυλασσωphulassō Christ was the sentinel (πυλαχphulax Acts 5:23) for them. Is he our sentinel now?

But the son of perdition
(ει μη ο υιος της απωλειαςei mē ho huios tēs apōleias). The very phrase for antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Note play on απωλετοapōleto perished (second aorist middle indicative of απολλυμιapollumi). It means the son marked by final loss, not annihilation, but meeting one‘s destiny (Acts 2:25). A sad and terrible exception (Mark 14:21).

The scripture
(η γραπηhē graphē). It is not clear whether this is John‘s own comment or the word of Jesus. Not in John 18:9. The Scripture referred to is probably Psalm 41:9 quoted in John 13:18 with the same formula ινα πληρωτηιhina plērōthēi which see there.

Verse 13

That they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves (ινα εχωσιν την χαραν την εμην πεπληρωμενην εν εαυτοιςhina echōsin tēn charan tēn emēn peplērōmenēn en heautois). Purpose clause with present active subjunctive of εχωechō “that they may keep on having Christ‘s joy in their faithfulness realized in themselves.” ΠεπληρωμενηνPeplērōmenēn is the perfect passive participle of πληροωplēroō in the predicate position. For the use of πληροωplēroō with χαραchara (joy) see John 15:11; John 16:24; Philemon 2:2.

Verse 14

Not of the world (ουκ εκ του κοσμουouk ek tou kosmou). They are “in the world” (εν τωι κοσμωιen tōi kosmōi John 17:13) still and Christ sends them “into the world” (εις τον κοσμονeis ton kosmon John 17:18), but they must not be like the world nor get their spirit, standards, and message “out of the world,” else they can do the world no good. These John 17:14-19 picture the Master‘s ideal for believers and go far towards explaining the failure of Christians in winning the world to Christ. Too often the world fails to see the difference or the gain by the change.

Verse 15

Shouldest take (αρηιςarēis). First aorist active subjunctive of αιρωairō (liquid verb).

From the evil one (εκ του πονηρουek tou ponērou). Ablative case with εκek but can mean the evil man, Satan, or the evil deed. See same ambiguity in Matthew 6:13. But in 1 John 5:18 ο πονηροςho ponēros is masculine (the evil one). Cf. Revelation 3:10.

Verse 16

Repetition of John 17:14 for emphasis.

Verse 17

Sanctify (αγιασονhagiason). First aorist active imperative of αγιαζωhagiazō To consecrate or set apart persons or things to God. See Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:1, Exodus 29:36; Exodus 40:13. See Paul‘s prayer for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This is done in the sphere (ενen) of truth (God‘s truth), God‘s Word (not human speculation, but God‘s message to us).

Verse 18

Sent I them (απεστειλα αυτουςapesteila autous). The very verb (αποστελλωapostellō) used of the original commission of these men (Mark 3:14) and the special commission (Luke 9:2) and the renewal of the commission after the resurrection (John 20:21., both αποστελλωapostellō and πεμπωpempō here).

Verse 19

I sanctify myself (εγω αγιαζω εμαυτονegō hagiazō emauton). To his holy ministry to which the Father “sanctified” (ηγιασενhēgiasen) him (John 10:36).

That they themselves also may be sanctified in truth (ινα ωσιν και αυτοι ηγιασμενοι εν αλητειαιhina ōsin kai autoi hēgiasmenoi en alētheiāi). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the periphrastic perfect passive subjunctive of αγιαζωhagiazō (that they may remain sanctified). The act of Christ helps us, but by no means takes the place of personal consecration on the part of the believer. This high and holy prayer and act of Christ should shame any one who uses the livery of heaven to serve the devil in as does, alas, sometimes happen (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Verse 20

Through their word (δια του λογου αυτωνdia tou logou autōn). Through the agency of conversation and preaching, blessed privilege open to all believers thus to win men to Christ, but an agency sadly limited by the lives of those who speak in Christ‘s name.

Verse 21

That they also may be in us (ινα και αυτοι εν ημιν ωσινhina kai autoi en hēmin ōsin). Another purpose clause with ιναhina and the present active subjunctive of ειμιeimi The only possible way to have unity among believers is for all of them to find unity first with God in Christ.

That the world may believe (ινα ο κοσμος πιστευηιhina ho kosmos pisteuēi). Another purpose clause with ιναhina and the present active subjunctive of πιστευωpisteuō “may keep on believing.” Beyond a doubt, strife, wrangling, division are a stumbling block to the outside world.

Verse 22

And the glory (καγω την δοχανkagō tēn doxan). Literally, “And I the glory,” with emphasis on “I.” It is the glory of the Incarnate Word (Bernard), cf. John 1:14; John 2:11, not the glory of the Eternal Word mentioned in John 17:24. Bengel says: Quanta majestas Christianorum! Then John 17:22 repeats the unity prayed for in John 17:21.

Verse 23

That they may be perfected into one (ινα ωσιν τετελειωμενοι εις ενhina ōsin teteleiōmenoi eis hen). Purpose clause again with ιναhina (nineteen times in this prayer, this the fifteenth) with the periphrastic perfect passive subjunctive of τελειοωteleioō (John 17:4), permanent state, with εις ενeis hen (into one) as the goal and final result.

That the world may know (ινα γινωσκηιhina ginōskēi). Present active subjunctive of γινωσκωginōskō with ιναhina like the present tense of πιστευωpisteuō in John 17:21, “that the world may keep on knowing” with the same pregnant phrase “that thou me didst send” (οτι συ με απεστειλαςhoti su me apesteilas) as in John 17:8, John 17:25.

And lovedst them
(και ηγαπησας αυτουςkai ēgapēsas autous). Timeless aorist, but love shown by sending Christ (John 3:16) and illustrated and proven by the way Christians love one another.

Verse 24

I will (τελωthelō). Perfect identity of his will with that of the Father in “this moment of spiritual exaltation” (Bernard), though in Gethsemane Jesus distinguishes between his human will and that of the Father (Mark 14:36).

Where I am (οπου ειμι εγωhopou eimi egō). That is heaven, to be with Jesus (John 12:26; John 13:36; John 14:3; Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:11.).

That they may behold
(ινα τεωρωσινhina theōrōsin). Another purpose clause with ιναhina and the present active subjunctive of τεωρεωtheōreō “that they may keep on beholding,” the endless joy of seeing Jesus “as he is” (1 John 3:2) in heaven.

Before the foundation of the world
(προ καταβολης κοσμουpro katabolēs kosmou). This same phrase in Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20 and six other times we have καταβολη κοσμουkatabolē kosmou (Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). Here we find the same pre-incarnate consciousness of Christ seen in John 17:5.

Verse 25

O righteous Father (Πατηρ δικαιεPatēr dikaie). Nominative form with πατηρpatēr used as vocative (cf. John 20:28), but vocative form δικαιεdikaie Then the righteousness of God is appealed to like God‘s holiness in John 17:11.

The world (και ο κοσμοςkai ho kosmos). The translations usually slur over the καιkai as untranslatable in English. Westcott suggests “while” as a sort of correlative. It is quite possible that here καιkai is almost concessive like “though” and δεde = yet: “though the world did not know thee, yet I knew thee, and these knew thee.” See Robertson, Grammar, p. 1182 for καιδεκαιkai -καιde -kai and various other uses of kai in John‘s Gospel.

Verse 26

And will make it known (και γνωρισωkai gnōrisō). Future active of γνωριζωgnōrizō the perpetual mission of Christ through the Spirit (John 16:12, John 16:25; Matthew 28:20) as he himself has done heretofore (John 17:6).

Wherewith (ενhen). Cognate accusative relative with ηγαπησαςēgapēsas which has also the accusative of the person μεme (me).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 17:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Sunday, November 29th, 2020
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