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A Study of John 17:6-26


It’s good to know that God is there for us. A boy once prayed, "Dear God, I hope you’ll take good care of yourself. If anything should happen to you, we’d be in an awful fix."

I’m sure there were times the disciples felt the same way about Jesus. But did you know that there’s a prayer of Jesus recorded where he prays for the disciples and for you and for me? It’s always good to have someone pray for us. When we are facing sickness or trouble, we like to ask the church or the elders or the minister to pray for us. But we have this prayer in John 17 where Jesus actually prayed for us.

Verses 6-8

I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me, and they have kept thy word.

Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee;

for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me.

As we will see a few verses later, this prayer is for all those who are reached with the gospel of Christ. Here in verse 8 Jesus tells us what it means to be a follower of his:

    His disciples hear his words His disciples receive his words His disciples know that Jesus came from God His disciples believe that Jesus was sent by God

We cannot be followers of Christ until we listen to his words. Many people know about Jesus and some even read the Bible, but they never receive Christ’s words. If we are to be a follower of Christ, we must not only hear his words but also receive them. When we receive Christ’s teachings, then we realize that, as verse 8 tells us, not only did Jesus come from God but he was sent by God to deliver us from our sins.

Verse 9

I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom thou hast given me, for they are thine;

Jesus said that he is praying for his followers. Do you realize that you have been prayed for? In fact Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. Notice that not only is Jesus praying for us, but he tells us that we are God’s. We belong to God. You know the love and concern you have for your own children. No matter how old they get, you will always want to help and protect them. How much more does God love and care for us? How much more does God want to help and protect us?

Verses 10-11

All mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.

And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

These are two remarkable verses. Jesus said that he is glorified in us. You may ask how Christ can be glorified in us when we are so sinful and act so ungodly at times. Yet he says that he is glorified in us. The answer, I think, lies in the next verse where he says we are to be one. As we unite together in worship, we are the church of Christ. We are the ones to whom God has committed the ministry of his kingdom. We are to share Christ’s message with the world, to join together in worshipping God, and to pass down the teachings of our Savior. Though we may not do this as well as we could or as effectively as we could, we are Christ’s messengers to the world. And God uses these frail and weak messengers and honors Christ through our lives. There will be times when people will catch a glimpse of faith or power or compassion that they know is beyond our human capability. When they see that, then they will know that it is a glimpse of what Christ has supernaturally done in our life.

Verses 12-13

While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled.

But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Do you realize that Christ wants you to have his joy fulfilled in your life? We do not have to feel downtrodden, discouraged, or sorrowful. Jesus has given us his joy. This is what he prays for – that we might have joy. So why don’t we? Perhaps we need to remember all the things Christ has done for us. Perhaps we need to recount all the times when Jesus was there for us. Perhaps we need to allow God’s Spirit to minister to us joy and peace.

Verses 14-15

I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.

There is a disturbing trend among Christians today. Many feel compelled to retreat from this secular world and associate only with other Christians. They only want to listen to Christian radio, read Christian books, and only want their children in Christian schools or home schooling. They feel like retreating from all the immorality and the violence and the evil surrounding them. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, and this is certainly understandable given today’s moral climate. But let us realize that Jesus prayed not for us to be taken out of this world, but that we would be protected from the evil one while ministering in this world. We need to allow our light to shine before people. We need to let our salt flavor our community.

Verses 16-17

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth.

Here is how we can be in the world without being part of the world – we need to be sanctified, we need to be sanctified daily, we need to be sanctified in the truth. Here Jesus identifies how we are to receive that truth – through God’s word. Time spent in Bible reading, in listening to God’s voice, and in obeying scripture will strengthen us against the temptations and evil in the world. This is emphasized over and over again throughout the Bible. We must learn God’s words. We must hide them in our heart. We must listen to the Spirit’s prompting.

Verses 18-20

As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.

I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,

Verse 20 reveals to us that this prayer was not only for the disciples but for all those who would believe because of the disciples’ ministry. The words from those first twelve disciples has now spread down through the centuries until millions upon millions have been included in this group. Everything we know about Christ has come down to us from the words of those early disciples.

In this section of scripture we are reading from the Gospel of John who was one of the twelve disciples. Matthew also was an eyewitness account. Mark learned from Peter and was probably a young eyewitness. Paul received visions from Christ but was also instructed by Peter and James. Luke not only learned from the original eyewitnesses, but he apparently did some research of his own. Peter was of course a disciple, and James and Jude were brothers of Christ. The millions who have confessed faith in Christ have all been dependent on only a few men who spread Christ’s word throughout the whole world – first by speaking the gospel message, and then by writing it down for future generations.

MacDonald comments, "Now the High Priest extended His prayer beyond the disciples. He prayed for generations yet unborn. In fact, every believer reading this verse can say, ‘Jesus prayed for me over 1900 years ago.’ "

Verses 21-22

that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

Jesus prays that we are all one. I don’t believe this means that we are all going to be alike or even think the same. God is a God of diversity. But I do believe that this means we are united in love, united in purpose, and united in faith.

Hepworth tells about when he was in the army, the soldiers would sometimes sit around discussing different topics. Occasionally these topics would become heated and angry words would be exchanged. But as soon as the call to go out to battle came, all these differences disappeared. He wrote, "When we were idle we could afford to discuss; but now there is work to do, it finds us brothers."

We Christians may have disagreements, but we need to realize that we are all in the battle together. We will have more success if all Christians would work together to advance the cause of Christ instead of dividing over minor differences.

Verse 23

I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.

Jesus prays that our unity will show the world God’s divine plan. Notice he mentions in this verse that the world will see that God has sent Jesus and the world will see that God has loved us. How will the world see this message? – from our being one with another.

Martin Luther wrote so many years ago, "We may justly write this comfortable text in letters of gold, as it relates to us all. For it is our glory and consolation, our treasure and pearl...."

Verse 24

Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus prays that we will someday be with him. Do you realize that some day these words will be fulfilled in your life? That’s how much Jesus loves you. He wants you to spend eternity with him. The Believer’s Bible Commentary points out, "The Son desires to have His people with Himself in glory. Every time a believer dies, it is, in a sense, an answer to this prayer. If we realized this, it would be a comfort to us in our sorrow. To die is to go to be with Christ...."

Verses 25-26

O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me.

I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Jesus came here for a purpose. That purpose, as Jesus points out in verse 26, was to make known to us God’s name and God’s love. By dying for our sins, Christ has taken away the sin barrier which separated us from God. By realizing that Jesus came in human form, suffered in the flesh, and experienced what we have to face, it is easier for us to understand God’s care and compassion for us. God wanted us to know that we are loved, and God wanted us to be filled with his love. Jesus loved us so much that he prayed for us – almost 2000 years ago!

MacDonald remarks, "Ever since the day of Pentecost, the Spirit has been teaching believers about God the Father. Especially through the Word of God, we can know what God is like. When men accept the Father as He is revealed by the Lord Jesus, they become special objects of the Father’s love. Since the Lord Jesus indwells all believers, the Father can look upon them and treat them as He does His only Son."


This study on John 17:6-26 1999 by David Humpal. All rights reserved.

All scriptures unless otherwise noted are from the Revised Standard Version 1971, A. J. Holman Company

Boy’s prayer from The Complete Speaker’s Sourcebook pg. 194 1996, Zondervan Publishing House, slightly edited.

It seems Mark 14:51-52 may be an autobiographical note of the young John Mark

Paul writes about his training about Christ in Galatians 1:11-19

Luke mentions his basis of facts in Luke 1:2-3, “Just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning....” (New International      Version 1971, Zondervan Bible Publishers)

MacDonald: Believer’s Bible Commentary, New Testament volume, pg. 374 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers

Hepworth: Gray and Adams’ Bible Commentary, vol. 4, pg. 536, Zondervan Publishing House

Luther: Gray and Adams’ Bible Commentary, vol. 4, pg. 537, Zondervan Publishing House

Believer’s Bible Commentary, New Testament volume, pg. 374 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers

MacDonald: Believer’s Bible Commentary, New Testament volume, pg. 375 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers

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