John 17:1-5 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What was the Samaritan woman’s view of eternal life? See John 4:13-15 (printed below)

Jesus answered her, Every one who drinks this water will be thirsty again; (14) but whoever drinks the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty again. On the contrary, the water that I shall give him shall become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (15) The woman said to him, Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water. (John 4:13-15)

We must contrast our Lord’s view of eternal life with the erroneous concept held by the woman of Samaria. In her view eternal life is to be found in some magical “fountain of youth” (John 4:13-15).

2. How does Jesus define eternal life? See John 17:3 (printed below)

And this is eternal life, namely, to know you, the only true God, and to know him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. (John 17:3)

Jesus defines eternal life as being in union and communion with the true and living God and with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 3 our Lord declares that it is essential for men to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ—that is to say, it is essential for men to enter into a personal relationship with God and with Christ if they are to be saved and experience eternal life in the blessed fellowship of God.

3. From His prayer recorded in John 17, what do we learn was Jesus’ chief ambition or purpose? See John 17:1,4 (printed below)

After Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes toward heaven and said, Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you…(4) I glorified you on the earth… (John 17:1,4)

From our Lord’s prayer we learn that His chief ambition was to glorify God His Father (John 17:1,4). Since Christ as “the light of men” shows us how life was meant to be lived, we should learn from His example and likewise make it our chief ambition to glorify God.

4. What is one way in which Jesus glorified God His Father? See John 17:4 (printed below)

I glorified you on the earth by accomplishing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4)

In verse 4 our Lord Jesus Christ emphasizes that He glorified God His Father by accomplishing the work His Father gave Him to do. The Lord Jesus concentrated on the work His Father assigned Him to do (note Mark 1:34-39). Jesus resisted the temptation to offer Himself to the people as a popular miracle worker; instead, as His number one priority He focused on the ministry His Father gave Him, namely, the preaching of the gospel and the demonstration of His victory over the devil that He would accomplish upon the cross of Calvary. Note: The wording of the Greek text makes clear that God the Father expected His Son to finish and fulfill the work assigned to Him. Jesus reports that He has “accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (literally, “the work…you gave me in order that I should do it.”)

5. Now that His work has been accomplished, what does Jesus request His Father to do for Him? See John 17:5 (printed below)

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was created. (John 17:5)

Now that His work has been accomplished, our Lord Jesus Christ requests God His Father to receive Him into the state of divine glory. Jesus is requesting God His Father to receive Him back into that eternal state of glory that He shared with the Father throughout eternity. Note: because the Lord Jesus had at this point fully relinquished Himself to the will of His Father, accepting the death on the cross that His Father had commissioned Him to undergo, He could speak of having accomplished this work in the past tense as a finished task (note Matthew 26:42)