"The Great Intercessory Prayer"
The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus
John 17:1-26 - Verse-by-Verse Bible Study

John 17:1-26:The Great Intercessory Prayer of Jesus

The seventeenth Chapter of John is commonly referred to as "The Great Intercessory Prayer," or "The High Priestly Prayer" of Jesus. It was not uncommon for farewell speeches to include closing prayers, but this prayer is seen by many as Jesus' farewell speech.

Jesus Prays for Himself

Verse 1-2: "When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him."

Lifting one's eyes to heaven was a common posture of prayer.

The cross is linked with glory numerous times in this Gospel. Jesus spoke of 'mutual glorification of the Father and Son upon completion of this mission, that would bestow the gift of eternal life, upon all flesh. 

The word "Glory," as Jesus used it in His intercessory prayer, goes beyond the way it is commonly used. In glorifying God, The Greek word "doxazo" means to make known; to make or leave a favorable impression or opinion, and Jesus life clearly did that.

Jesus glorified God by finishing the work the Father gave Him to do. 

Verse 3: "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

Only the true God, through Jesus Christ, can provide eternal life.

The title, "The only true God," is not found anywhere else in  the Gospel of John, and is used here to differentiate with false gods.

This is also the only scripture where Jesus refers to Himself as, "Jesus Christ." (Christ is the Greek word for, "the anointed one,  the "Messiah)."

Verse 4: "I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed."

Scripture tells us, that Moses, "Reflected God's glory," (Ex 33-34). However, Jesus is to be glorified as in, "His Preexistent Glory," when He was with the Father.

Jesus sharing the Father' glory, is a claim to deity.

Possibly all of Jesus' work, even what was  yet to be completed on the cross, was included in this intercessory prayer.

Jesus is identified with God throughout the New Testament. He has revealed both,  the identity of God, and His nature.

The plurality in His statement, "Before the world existed,"  also points to the pre-existence of the Son, before the earth and mankind were created.

Jesus Prays for the Disciples

Verse 5-6: "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word."

The disciples would have had a relationship, and belonged to God through His covenant with Israel. The Father gave them to help Jesus introduce the New Testament, (The Message of Jesus), to the world, and Jesus said, "They have kept your Word." (They had been faithful).

Verse 7-8: "Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me."

Jesus affirms, that the disciples are beginning to understand the uniqueness of the relationship between Him and the Father.

What did they understand?

The disciples understand that everything Jesus has received is from the Father:

  • He has come forth from and was sent by the Father
  • That Jesus, being the Word of God, contains within Himself the Words of God
  • That Jesus contains the divine revelation and communication to men

Verse 9: "I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours."

Jesus now specifically prays for the disciples, not for those in the world.

Verse 10: "All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them."

Everything that belongs to Jesus, belongs to the Father, and all the Father has, is His.

Verse 11: "And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one."

Jesus’ departure is so near that he speaks as if he has already left. He does this to contrast his own situation with that of the disciples, who are still in the world.

The term, "Holy Father;" is the only time it is used in the Bible. It refers to God's purity and tenderness, and the intimacy of Jesus toward the Father that is so Characteristic of Jesus.

To "Keep them in your name," the name is the contact betwen Christ and His disciples in the Faher.

Jesus prays that the Father would keep disciples after He has returned to Heaven, and that they will be as one, with the same unity as is shared by He and the Father.

Verse 12: "While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled."

Jesus guarded and protected the disciples while He was with them. This reflects the image of the, "Good Shepard" as He taught in Chapter 10: "He gives eternal life to His own."

None of the disciples have perished, except Judas Iscariot, "That the scripture might be fulfilled." This passage is not given, but it is believed to be Psalm 41:9, "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me."

Jesus offered Judas life, but he did not accept it.

Verse 13: "But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves."

Jesus, in His High Priestly prayer, is praying/speaking these things for the comfort of His disciples that they might have joy fulfilled in themselves.

Jesus expresses total confidence in the Father. Joy comes from having this confidence.

I believe we are supposed to have the joy of the Lord' in our lives. Jesus mentioned 'joy' many times in His ministry, as in John 15:11 (“These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be made full”), and in John 16:24 (“Ask, and you will receive, in order that your joy may be fulfilled”).

Verse 14: "I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world."

Again, Jesus refers to being in the world, but not of the world. The world hated Jesus, and He seems to be emphasizing that the world will hate His disciples.

 It is impossible to be "Worldly," and "Christ Like" at the same time. It is like trying to mix oil and water.

Wouldn't it be comforting to think the world will appreciate our Christianity, but, according to Jesus, this will not happen.

”If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you,” (John 15:19).

Verse 15-16: "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one." They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world."

Jesus disciples are already hated by the world because of their association with Him. Nevertheless, it is expedient for them to deliver His message, and Jesus asks the Father to protect them from the evil one, meaning Satan.

Verse 17: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." 

Sanctification is no the same as cleansing, but is related to pruning.

To be sanctified is to be dedicated, consecrated, or set apart. The disciples who were with Jesus in the upper room were the ones who continued with him, (except for Judas Iscariot). They knew the truth about who Jesus, and why He had come into the world.

For this reason Jesus could ask the Father to set them apart, as He himself is set apart, that they might carry on His mission after His departure.

Today's Christians have the same commission. They are consecrated, set apart and dedicated by the Holy Spirit, to serve God.

Verse: 18: "As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world."

Just as God sent Jesus into the world so Jesus is sending His disciples into the world to continue His mission after His departure. Here Jesus is setting them apart to do the work He has called them to do.

Like Jesus, His followers are to be in the world, but not of the world.

Verse 19: "And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth."

Jesus is consecrating Himself as had been the sacrificial animals.

In John In 10:36, He referred to himself as “the one whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world.”

Here Jesus is consecrating, or “setting Himself apart” to do the will of the Father, and that is, to go to the cross.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

Verse 20: "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,"

Jesus Prays the same prayer for the ones who will believe in him because of the testimony of the disciples, who would carry His Message  to the world.

Verse 21: "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

Here in His "Great Intercessory Prayer," Jesus prays for each child of God to abide in the same unity, which exists between He and the Father, a unity that allows for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, thereby forming a oneness with God.

The ultimate result will be that the world comes to believe that Jesus was sent by the Father.

Verse 22: "The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,"

Remember that Jesus is speaking, or praying for those who will believe because of the testimony of the disciples.

This is a prophetic, or proleptic statement. He is speaking in present tense concerning the glory His followers will one day receive.

Verse 23: "I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."

This special prayer was for all Believers to be perfected through Him. That they would be one body under one head, animated by one soul, through  their union with Christ and the Father in him, by the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.

Verse 24: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world."

In the closing moments of His great intercessory prayer, Jesus asks for the ones the Father has given him, to  be with Him, so that they might see His glory. (the glory Jesus had before the foundation of the world).

Here again, Jesus mentions His pre-existence with the Father,  in eternity past.

Verse 25: "O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me."

Although the world does not know the Father, Jesus does.  And The Believers for whom He prays, (the disciples and those who come later), will know that he was sent by the Father.

Verse 26: "I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them"

Jesus will  continue to make the Father's Name known, so that the love with which the Father loved Him will be in the Followers of Jesus, and in fact, Jesus himself, will be in them.

His concluding prayer reflects the presence of Jesus dwelling permanently in Believers. He will not leave them alone and forsaken, but will be in them forever.

This concludes our study of, "Jesus Intercessory Prayer".

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