John

17:20-26

The glory of the Messiah, 13:1-20:31

1. The farewell discourses, 13:1-17:26

xiv] Jesus prays for all who will believe

Synopsis

John concludes his record of the farewell discourse which covers chapters 13:1-17:26. Jesus' prayer that "they may be one as we are one", v11b, is now extended to those who will believe through the preaching of the apostles.

 
Teaching

All who embrace the apostolic gospel will be embraced in the love of God the Father, becoming one in him.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 17:1-11a

 

ii] Structure: This passage, Jesus prays for all who will believe, presents as follows:

Jesus prays for all believers:

Unity, v20-23;

"That they may be one as we are one."

Eternity, v24;

"That where I am they may also be with me."

Conclusion, v25-26.

The purpose of Jesus' mission

 

iii] Interpretation:

Jesus began his prayer by addressing the unity expressed in the Godhead and then extended that unity to cover his disciples, a unity that enables a participation in God's glory. Jesus now extends this prayer to all who believe, that they too may experience the unity and glory experienced by the Father and the Son. "Such a participation in the perfect unity of the Godhead will be both an historical and an eschatological privilege of the Church.... As believers come to share that unity, and the glory inseparable from it, during their earthly life, they will be able themselves to recognize the divine origin and quality of life of the Church; and by the same token, other people will be able to share their recognition", Marsh.

 

iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes

 
Text - 17:20

The conclusion to Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, v20-26: i] Jesus prays for all believers, v20-24. a) Unity, v20-23. Jesus has prayed that his disciples may experience oneness, that they might experience an abiding personal relationship of mutual love with the Godhead, and now he prays that this oneness may be the gift of all who believe through the preaching of the disciples, and that by this oneness the world might be convinced of Jesus' divine credentials.

toutwn (ouJtoV) pron. "them" - [not about] these [however do i ask only]. Referring to the disciples presently gathered with Jesus.

alla kai "also" - but and = also. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

peri + gen. "for" - about, concerning. Possibly expressing reference / respect, but more likely representation, or better, advantage, as NIV; "I pray also for the benefit of those who believe ...."

twn pisteuontwn (pisteuw) gen. pres. part. "those who believe" - the ones believing. The participle serves as a substantive. Jesus is not just praying for the unity of the present band of disciples, but also for a wider band of believers (the church) who will come to believe in him through the preaching of the apostles.

eiV + acc. "in [me]" - to/into [me]. Expressing direction toward, arrival at. The prepositional phrase "into me" may be linked to "believe", as in the NIV, NRSV.., "believe into me", or may be linked with "word", "believe because of their testimony (word) into me." Given the word order, the natural reading is the second option, but the first is more in character with John. Grammarians argue that in the New Testament the preposition eiV, normally translated "into", is often synonymous with the preposition en, "in", as here. The meanings are close, one meaning a movement toward and into something, and the other meaning a static in. So, a believing into Jesus carries the sense of movement toward him, with a consequent resting in his sphere of personal authority. John often uses the phrase "believe in/on (eiV) his name", which means much the same, also much the same as "receive Christ / come to Christ / know Christ."

dia + gen. "through [their message]" - through, by means of [the word of them]. Instrumental, expressing means; "by means of the preached word / the gospel."

 
v21

The substance of Jesus' prayer is that his disciples be one. This request is first mentioned in verse 11 where Jesus prays that his disciples be kept safe, probably in the sense of eternally safe by firmly holding onto the gospel of God's grace during their life's journey. The consequence of their security in the gospel is their being "one as we are one." Actually, since the verb is a present subjunctive the sense is "may continue to be one as we are one." The disciples are already one, just as the Father and Jesus are one, and Jesus acts for their security so that they may continue to be one. This then is the substance of Jesus' prayer for all believers. Yet, what type of unity/oneness is Jesus praying for? Verses 21-23 serve to explain something of the nature of this oneness:

It is a character of the godhead;

It links the godhead with believers;

It is observable to unbelievers;

It prompts faith; v] it exhibits divine glory;

It will one day be perfected.

It is possible, of course, that the second hina clause is a separate prayer point, namely: Jesus prays that believers continue to abide in the divine. Yet, it is more likely that being one and abiding "in" the divine, refer to the same reality. The Father abides in the Son and the Son in the Father, they are one, and within which Godhead believers abide. We abide in the divine and in that abiding we are one with the divine and one with each other. Jesus prays that this relational reality will continue for his followers and be ultimately perfected in the last day. So again, what is this unity? Obviously, something more than organizational unity is intended. It is likely that the nature of this oneness is revealed in the message which Jesus and his followers proclaim. Jesus prays that those who have heard the "message" (the gospel) and believed, may continue as one. Verse 23 seems to imply that oneness is evident in love (divine compassion): the Father's love for Jesus and for those who believe in Jesus, cf. also v26. "It is the Divine unity of love that is referred to, where all wills bow in the same direction, all affections burn with the same flame, all aims are directed to the same end - one blessed harmony of love", Moulton and Miligan. Nicely put! So, we can probably define this oneness/unity as a unity of love - a relational united in a common understanding and experience of God's gracious mercy displayed in the person and works of Jesus Christ. In short: an abiding personal relationship of mutual love.

iJna + subj. "that" - that. In this verse we have three hina clauses, another in v22 and another two in v23. In this verse, the first two serve as object clauses / dependent statements of indirect speech expressing what Jesus prays for.

panteV adj"all of them" - all [may be one]. Nominative subject of the verb to-be.

kaqwV "just as" - as [you father in me and i in you]. This conjunction introduces a comparative clause which serves to provide an example, or model, of the unity Jesus is praying for. It is repeated in v22 and v23. Brown suggests that the clause is also causative, but this is unlikely. The model of the unity prayed for by Jesus is found in the very existence of God, of his being. God's being is revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ, the radiant center of whom is divine love: grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness.... The unity of the godhead is expressed in the loving relationship that exists between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and by extension, to us. So, the unity Jesus desires of us is a common understanding and experience of love between believers. This understanding and experience of love prompts graciousness, mercy, forgiveness, acceptance, ....

iJna + subj. "[may they also be in us]" - that [also they in us may be]. The clause further explains the substance of the prayer that "we may continue to be one". Being in the Father and the Son further explains what it means to be one. "That they may continue in the love of Christ in both experience and understanding."

iJna + subj. "so that" - that = in order that / with the result that. This third hina clause is probably adverbial and is not functioning as the object of the verb "to pray." If Jesus did so pray, the world would believe. Again we find it difficult in this gospel to distinguish between purpose, "in order that" (the goal of the oneness), and potential / hypothetical result, "so that" (the potential result of the oneness). Bultman says the clause represents the goal of the oneness prayed for in the first and second hina clauses. None-the-less, potential result seem more likely, such that the world's belief in Jesus as God's great I AM / Messiah / the anointed one / God's agent for divine reconciliation with humanity / ......., is a product of / results from the oneness of the community of believers, a oneness which reflect the oneness / loving relationship that exists in the Godhead.

pisteuh/ (pisteuw) pres. subj. "[the world] may believe" - Note, in John "believing" is "knowing", cf. v23. A textual variant has "believe" as an aorist. The aorist would imply a belief and knowing at its inception, "that the world may come to believe/know", rather than an ongoing belief/knowing. The consequence of a church infused with love (the grace of acceptance, forgiveness ....) is that the gospel of grace is set before the world in sign, as well as word, and where the gospel is manifested, people believe.

oJti "that [you have sent me]" - that [you me sent]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the world may know / believe. The statement is repeated in v23. By itself it seems rather light-weight, but takes on weight in the context of Jesus' prayer in 11:41-42, where the exact same words are used. Here, at the raising of Lazarus, Jesus says, "did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?", 11:40. Jesus serves to reveal the very person of the living God so that the lost may come to know him, to come to know God through the one who was sent, and now through the words of those who proclaim him, cf. v22.

 
v22

Verses 22 and 23 restate 21, but unpack the prayer a little more by further explaining the nature of oneness. This oneness is a product of the glory which Jesus shares with believers. The word "glory" entails the manifestation of the being of God, the content of which has prompted much debate (see Beasley-Murray). For John, Christ's glory is displayed in his crucifixion, in his lifting up, and this as the ultimate act of love, therefore, the glory is the manifestation of a redemption bought with a price, but freely given by grace and appropriated through faith. The glory is the manifestation of God's gracious love toward broken humanity. This glory is "given" in that it is "offered" and so can be received and experienced. God's revelation in Christ encapsulates this glory, initially in the person and work of Christ, but now in the inspired record of God's revelation to the world, namely, the scriptures. So, for us, God's Word is the radiant source of that glory, and serves to promote and maintain unity/oneness, ie. to keep us in a loving relationship with God.

dedwkaV (didwmi) perf. "I have given" - [and i] have given. The "given" is in the perfect tense which implies a timeless given.

autoiV dat. pro. "them" - to them. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.

thn doxan (a) "the glory" - the glory [which you have given to me]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to give."

iJna "that [they may be one]" - that [they may be one just as we are one]. This clause seems to maintain the syntactical structure commenced in v21, namely, that iJna introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of Jesus' prayer. If this is the case, the sentence would more properly be translated "I have given them the same glory you gave me; may they be one as we are one." Yet, it seems more likely that iJna here introduces an adverbial clause. Again purpose seems the obvious choice where the purpose of the giving of glory is the maintenance of unity/oneness, so Novakovic. Yet as in v21, it seems more likely that it is consecutive, expressing result, or more correctly potential / hypothetical result, "so that." Jesus bestows glory on his disciple, which glory results in their oneness.

 
v23

The very character of God is reflected in the Christian community, an infinite loving relationship - compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, .... love, a relationship that will prompt in the world a recognition of Jesus' divine origin and of God's love for humanity.

en + dat. "[I] in [them and you] in [me]" - Local, expressing space, incorporative union. In v21, oneness is explained as: Christ "in" the Father, the Father "in" Christ and disciples "in" the Father and Son. Here it is the Father "in" disciples, with Christ "in" the Father again. All depict the unity of love that is the subject of Christ's prayer.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Both uses of iJna in this verse are adverbial, but again it is unclear whether purpose or potential result is intended. Many translation, eg., ESV, take both as a final clauses expressing purpose, yet it seems likely that both express potential result; note NIV "then (as a result) the world will know ....) The oneness / loving relationship of the Godhead results in the oneness / loving relationship of the Christian community, which in turn results in the world's knowledge / recognition oJti, "of the fact that", Jesus is God's great I AM (cf., v21), kai, "and that", God the Father loves humanity kaqwV, "like / to the degree to which", he loves the Son.

w\sin teteleiwmenoi (teleiow) perf. pas. part. "they may be [brought to] complete [unity]" - [they may be] perfected [into one]. Forming a periphrastic perfect construction. The perfect tense can imply an attaining of oneness (perfect love) in this life - an example of John's realized eschatology? On the other hand, Paul's perspective of pressing on toward an eternal goal, of striving to be what we are, should probably control our understanding of this completeness, cf. Phil.3:12. "That they may attain perfect oneness / be brought to completion as one."

iJna + subj. "then" - that [the world may know]. Adverbial, consecutive; see above.

oJti "that" - that [you sent me and loved them]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what the world "may know."

kaqwV "even as" - as, just as, like [you loved me]. Comparative.

 
v24

b) Eternity, v24. Jesus prayers that all believers will ultimately find themselves gathered beside him in eternity sharing the radiance of his divine glory.

Pater (Pathr) voc. "Father" - Vocative of address. Barrett suggests that the better reading is nominative.

o} pro. "those" - those [you have given me, i desire that those also may be with me where i am]. Being neuter, the article may be nominative or accusative. If nominative, it introduces a pendent nominative, if accusative it is probably adverbial, reference / respect, "Father, with respect to those you have given me." The relative clause so formed is forward referencing to kakeinoi, "those also." The gift (neuter) being believers. "Father, as for those you have given me, it's my wish that where I am they may be also."

qelw pres. "I want" - i wish, will, desire. Christ wills what the Father wills, but none-the-less, Jesus asks that those whom the Father has given him share eternity with him.

iJna "to [be with me where I am]" - that [where i am those also may be with me] and that. In this verse we again have two iJna clauses and a oJti clause, similar to v23. Yet, this time the two iJna clauses introduce dependent statements of perception expressing what Jesus desires of the Father (Novakovic and Harris suggest that the second iJna introduces a purpose clause, "in order that they may see my glory"); "I want those you have given me to be where I am and to see my glory", Carson. As for the oJti clause, it is causal, "because you loved me ...." Jesus has made the point that his disciples do not necessarily go to the Father as Jesus goes (ie. via crucifixion), nor can they come with him at this moment, but they will be with him in eternity and there they will see his preexistent glory, probably in the sense of share in it.

qewrwsin (qewrew) subj. "see" - they may see, observe [the glory of me which you have give me]. That they may behold the preexistent glory of the divine evident in Jesus, although his disciples could only glimpse this glory through human eyes; "the glory of Christ within the Godhead", Barrett. We are inclined to see glory in the terms of "divine radiance / transfigured radiance", although again God's glory is most evident in his love for us; his kindness, mercy, his redemptive nature. "That they may behold the glory of the divine."

oJti "because" - because [you loved me]. Introducing a causal clause.

pro + acc. "before [the creation of the world]" - before [foundation of world]. Spacial; taking the sense "the beginning of the world."

 
v25

ii] Conclusion, v25-26. Jesus now sums up his ministry among human kind. The world was lost in darkness, devoid of any useful knowledge about God. Into this darkness the Father sent the Son, the Word, the very revelation of God, to reveal God's name, his person / nature. A small segment of humanity decided that Jesus is God's great I AM, the messiah, sent from God the Father, and to them Jesus has revealed the knowledge about God and will continue to do so through the ministry of the Spirit. The whole purpose of this revelation is that divine love might indwell and unify a people into a heavenly fellowship with God himself.

pater dikaie "righteous Father" - o just father. The vocative produces a strong "O Father most just."

kai "though" - and = both [the world did not know you]. Possibly with a concessive slant, "even though", ESV, possibly emphatic, "indeed", although as Zerwick notes the intention "is not clear." Novakovic, so also Barrett, suggests a correlative construction that is juxtaposed using kai ...... kai, "both the world did not know you ..... and they (the disciples) know that you have sent me." Both statements are true, "both ..., and ...", although the sense is illusive. It is true that the world doesn't know God, but it is also true that there are some people who do, and this because they accept that Jesus is come from God with the knowledge of God, and so they have came to know God through him. See Beasley-Murray for the approach taken by the NIV.

de "[I know you]" - but/and [i i knew you]. Transitional, here to a parenthesis serving as a counterpoint to the opening clause of the correlative construction; "Both the world did not know you (but of course I know you), and ..." Note that the personal pronoun egw, "I", is emphatic by position and use.

egnwsan (ginwskw) aor. "[they] know" - [these ones] knew. "These ones" refers to the disciples, as distinct from the world that does not know.

oJti "that [you have sent me]" - that [you sent me]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "they know." The disciples have recognized the divine in Christ, and in recognizing it, have come to know / believe in God. The world of human affairs, on the other hand, has failed to recognize the divine in Christ, and so God remains unknown to the bulk of humanity, and this because God is only known in Christ.

 
v26

egnwrisa (gnwrizw) aor. "I have made [you] known" - [and] i made known. The lost "know" God the Father because Christ makes him known.

to onoma sou "you" - the name of you. The genitive sou is adjectival, possessive. Jesus has revealed God's name = the person, the very being of God.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - to them. Dative of indirect object.

gnwrisw (grnrizw) fut. "will continue to make you known" - [and] will make it known. Taking "them" to mean the disciples, Jesus will continue to make God known to them through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

iJna + subj. "in order that" - that. Here the NIV takes the hina clause as final expressing purpose, "in order that ..", but potential result is always possible, "so that / with the result that .."

h}n pro. "-" - [the love] which [you loved me]. Morris describes the construction of this cognate accusative as "most unusual", and with no parallel, so Abbott. The accusative pronoun agrees with a presupposed cognate accusative such as agaphn hgapaw, "I love a love", producing the hina clause "that the love, I love a love which you loved me, may be in them" = "that the love, the love which you have loved me, may be in them" = "that the love, (namely) the love you have for me, may be in them", so Harris, see also Novakovic. The love Jesus desires in his disciples is the same love that the Father has for Jesus. Note that the article with agaph, "the love", indicates that it is forward referencing to the pronoun h}n such that the relative clause specifies "the love" in mind, "namely, the love you have for me." This love is an essential relational element of the Godhead which eternally binds the members of the Godhead together. As is typical in this gospel, this divine love is outward acting (eg., the cross) and inward enlivening.

hJ/ (eimi) + pres. subj. "may be [in them]" - may continue to be [in them]. The present subjunctive of the verb "to be" again indicates that Jesus envisages an abiding (a continuing love) in believers and this achieved through his Word. The love that Jesus envisages in believers is the same love that is expressed between the Father and the Son. Again, the love is linked to the indwelling of the divine. Although not stated, the link obviously extends to the oneness of the Godhead, to believers with the Godhead, and to believers with each other. Being "in", being "one" and possessing "love", are all much the same. This "love", of course, is not an expression of moral rectitude, nor some wishy-washy feeling, but is divine compassion.

en + dat. "in [them]" - [and i] in / with [them]. Local, space, incorporative union / association. Jesus actively promotes his Word-ministry so that love/he may continue to permeate the life of all believers, cf. Rom.8:39. "In" can certainly mean "within them", referring to the indwelling Spirit of Christ, but also "among them", "intimately associated with them." The sense, "in the midst of", reflects the covenantal idea of God dwelling in the midst of his people, Ex.29:45-46, 24:16, Deut. 7:21, 23:14. Note the prologue where Jesus comes to dwell (lit. "pitch his tent") among his people. Kostenberger opts for "among them", Carson accepts both meanings.

 

John Introduction.

Exposition

 

[Pumpkin Cottage]
lectionarystudies.com