Home

Jesus had finished telling the Disciples all he needed to (and perhaps all they could assimilate); so he now turned to his Father in prayer; praying firstly for himself, then for his disciples, then for all believers. As he prays we also see that in his mind he is looking beyond the crucifixion and resurrection, experiencing again the state of glory that he had left in order to fulfil his commission on earth.


Is it right that Jesus should pray for himself first?

We’ll see:

Let’s read verses 1-5


1 After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed:

‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.


After Jesus said this’ – said what? ‘I have overcome the world(16:33). Jesus was now reporting back to his Father that he had finished the work he had been given, and that his great commission was about to be accomplished.


‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.’

Even now, Jesus’ thoughts were not so much for himself but for the Father’s glory, knowing that only through his crucifixion would he, and through him God, be glorified


2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 

This is the mystery of predestination (Covered in study John 15d) – that we were chosen ‘in him before the creation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4-11).

In what way was the authority of the Son, God the creator of the universe, limited?

He could offer salvation to all – but only those who believed could receive it.
He could not force it on the majority, even though he does not want any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 8-9).


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


How can you sum up eternal life for believers in just two words?

Knowing God.


I won’t ask you to explain what knowing God means – in 1973 J L Packer published his book ‘Knowing God’. I bought a paperback version and it was thick. Not only in the number of pages but I found it hard to understand. Before long, he brought out a similar sized book: ‘Study guide to Knowing God’ to help people like me. His book is still in print today and has sold over a million copies, and is considered to be one of the most influential books for Christians.


In it he begins to show just what might be involved in knowing God, and why it might take an eternity! And yet we can begin the process here and now as we get to know Jesus.


4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.


The response of those who recognised Jesus for who he was, was to glorify God (Matthew 15:31).

When his task on Earth was completed, Jesus wanted to return to the state of glory he knew with God in eternity, before the world was created.


The next section is traditionally headed: ‘Jesus Prays for His Disciples’ but when we read that, we probably limit our thinking to just those who would become his Apostles. We will see he was actually praying for everyone who had accepted him during his ministry on earth – possibly thousands.

Read verses 6-19:


6 ‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.


Let’s start then at verse 6. Actually this verse refers back to verse 2 where we read the words: ‘All those you had given him’

6 ‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 

Those who had believed in Jesus had already been marked out as God’s possessions.

Would it be right to say that actually they were already God’s children: ‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’ (Romans 8:16)? And had been so since ‘before the creation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4)? (People may need time to discuss these thoughts)


Something else to ponder: ‘Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ’ Romans 8:17

What does ‘co-heirs with Christ’ mean?


Back to our verse: ‘They were yours; you gave them to me

God gave his children to Jesus so they could hear the ‘Word of Truth’ and believe, and Jesus had fulfilled his task ‘they have obeyed your word’.

Look at verse 12: While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.


Now verses 7 and 8:

7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 


This was confirmed by the words of Peter in John 6:69 ‘We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.


Now verse 9:

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

We will see what Jesus was actually praying for in verses 11 and 12.


10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 

All I have – all you have   .   .   .   what was Jesus thinking about?

Jesus is not thinking of things – they will ultimately perish, but people – they were the reason for his coming, and they are the cause of his glory.


What was Jesus praying for?

11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.


Jesus was well aware of the opposition that his disciples would face ‘in the world’, he himself was about to be killed. While he was with them, he had been able to actively protect them but from now on they would have to learn to trust God for their continued protection.


But the attacks were not only going to be physical:  the enemy (v15) would be eager to destroy their fledgling faith, undoing the work that Jesus had done in their hearts, and he would also try to prevent them carrying out the commission Jesus had given them.  


13 ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 

The words of Jesus not only brought joy to his disciples while he was on earth, but to all those who have trusted him ever since.


14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

But the words of Jesus that bring eternal life (and the resulting joy) have the opposite effect on those who refuse to believe (‘the world’). It is true that many in the world today are careless about their eternal destiny – and they couldn’t care less about Jesus and his followers. But there are many others who have an actual hatred for Christ and Christians.


Why should that be? The answer is in verse 15. Jesus says that the ‘evil one

Is the ‘prince of this world’ (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) and he shows no hesitation in using his powerful influence over those who live in it. ‘The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4)


Many have been led astray through his lies and deceptions, and many false religions and philosophies have been spawned by him. But Jesus is not asking that believers are taken out of the world, he needs them to remain as his witnesses, but he does pray for their protection.


Sometimes believers feel strangely disoriented living among those who are happy to indulge in the world’s excesses. ‘not of the world, even as I am not of it’.

This world is not my home, I'm just a passing thru, 
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; 
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door, 
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore. (Albert E Brumley)


One of the biggest problems believers face while living in ‘the world’ is the continual pressure to conform to the ways of the world. But we are called to ‘be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy’ (Leviticus 20:26) so Jesus prays:


17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified

What does sanctify mean?

To make holy, to set apart for God’s use; and it’s something we can’t do for ourselves.

Why not?

Because our sin must first be dealt with, and only the shed blood of Jesus can do that. For many of us, sanctification feels like a slow process (Hebrews 10:14) and will only be complete when we are with Jesus in Glory.


Having prayed for those who believed Jesus while he was on the earth, he now prays for us who will follow:


20 ‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 


It is quite humbling to recognise that the very existence of the Christian church relies on the faithful witness of the few original believers who were prepared to spread the gospel in a hostile world, many of whom then faced martyrdom as a result.


Another strategy of the devil is ‘Divide and Conquer’ so Jesus first prays:


21 that all of them may be one, Father,

I picture God the Father, looking down at the earth and seeing many clusters of Christians meeting in churches, chapels, meeting rooms, halls, schools, minsters, cathedrals, basilicas, abbeys, tabernacles, kirks, oratories etc. All believing that their form of worship is right, and many believing that the others have in some way got it wrong; and God himself despairing that we should be so petty, but loving us and accepting our worship just the same –  because he loves us all.


He even knows the deep doctrinal differences that keep us apart while recognising us all as one in his sight. But again, like sanctification, we may have to wait for heaven before we are truly happy to be together!


21b just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 


This is the simple mark of a true child of God – the Spirit of Jesus living in the heart of the believer, and witnessing to the world of the fact that Jesus is the son of God and that he is still able to come in power to all who will receive him.


22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – 23 I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.


Jesus had just prayed for our unity, but now he extends his prayer –

What is the complete unity Jesus now asks for?

‘that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me’.


When we are united with Christ we automatically share his glory too.

Romans 8:30 ‘And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.’


Will this just be when we are taken to heaven? No – being in union with Christ and sharing this glory is to be a distinguishing mark to ‘the world’: ‘Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.


24 ‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.


As we saw earlier, Jesus is anticipating his return to his position at his father’s side and he longs that we should not only catch a glimpse of the glory of heaven, but would eventually join him, sharing in his glory and in the father’s love. (Revelation 19:7)


25 ‘Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.’


Jesus’ physical presence on earth is about to come to an end, and his work of redemption will be completed. But he has work that is still unfinished ‘ I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also’ (John 10:16). While the earth remains Jesus will continue to seek to draw people to himself, often working through his witnessing believers as they demonstrate his presence in their lives.





John 16bJohn 18a








John 17:1-27    Jesus Prays

If you would like to PRINT or copy this study, click  HERE  for the PDF version, then Rt Click, and select ‘Print’, or ‘Save as’