John 17:6-26 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).

Note: For more information relevant to this passage of John seventeen, see the accompanying Appendix (PDF download) that deals with the following topic: An Exposition of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, Focusing Especially on the Meaning and Fulfillment of His Words Recorded in John 17:20-26.

1. Why do you think Jesus made His prayer to the Father in the hearing of His disciples?

Our Lord knew that His disciples—both those original disciples as well as all of His disciples throughout the ages—would face especially hard times and frustrating times. That is why He uttered this prayer to His Father in an audible manner—He did so for our sake, so that we might be aware of His concern for the well being of His church, and of each individual believer who is a part of His church. Jesus knew that in a little while (less than a day) He would be back in His Father’s presence (note verse 13, “Now I am coming to you.”) But despite the fact that in so short a time He will be in the Father’s immediate presence, Jesus feels compelled to speak these words of intercession now, while He is still in the world, and to speak these words of intercession audibly in the hearing of His disciples. One reason He did so is in order that we, His disciples, may know of His concern for us and the content of the intercession He makes on our behalf.

2. What is the first request Jesus makes on behalf of His disciples? See John 17:11-12 (printed below)

I will no longer remain in the world; they are in the world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one just as we are one. (12) While I was with them, I kept them in your name that you gave me. I guarded them, and not one of them perished, except the son of perdition, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:11-12)

God the Father sent Christ into the world to present the complete revelation of Himself—i.e.; to reveal His Name. By the grace of God, the disciples have received this revelation: they have come to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ (note John 17:6-8). Now it is our Lord’s prayer that the Father will keep His disciples in this saving relationship. In verse 12 Jesus testifies that during the days of His earthly ministry He kept His disciples in that relationship with God and with one another. Consequently, not one of them perished (except Judas, the one who was appointed to perdition). Now it is our Lord’s prayer that the Father would continue to carry on the work that Christ Himself performed during the time of His earthly ministry. Note: as verses 20-21 indicate, Jesus’ prayer extends to us as well: His prayer is that the Father shall preserve all of His disciples during this present New Testament period of trial so that we may participate in the joy of Christ our Savior on the last great resurrection day.

3. Why does our Lord make this request on behalf of His disciples? See John 17:14-15 (printed below)

I have given them your word and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. (15) I am not asking that you would take them out of the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one. (John 17:14-15)

According to verse 14, the urgency of Christ’s prayer is intensified by the fact that His disciples must live in a world that is hostile to them, a world to which they no longer belong (note Galatians 6:14). Note that although Christ our Savior is fully aware of the world’s enmity against His disciples and our own alienation from the world, He does not request the Father to remove us from the world (verse 15a)—we are to serve as salt and light to the world. Our Lord’s request is that His Father would keep His disciples “from the evil one.” This does not mean that we will be exempt from all the devil’s attacks; but it does mean that our soul will be preserved in the midst of those attacks and we will be restored at the conclusion of those attacks (consider the case of Peter).

4. What further request does our Lord make on behalf of His disciples? See John 17:17 (printed below)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

In verse 17a our Lord prays that the Father would “sanctify” His disciples. He is requesting that His disciples would be separated from what is profane and unholy; that they would be set apart for God and that they would be made to be like God in His moral purity and holiness. Note: with regard to those original disciples, our Lord’s immediate purpose in making this request was that they might fulfill their calling to be His apostles (note verse 18). But, as this request encompasses all His disciples (note verses 20-21), our Lord has in mind the broader purpose, namely, that we might be holy unto God. According to verse 17b, the instrument by which Christ’s disciples are sanctified is “the truth.” As the child of God comes into contact with the truth, the truth has a sanctifying influence on him: convicting him and purging him of sin; transforming him into the likeness of Christ his Savior. The embodiment of the truth is the Word of God (verse 17b).

5. What is the Lord’s final request on behalf of His disciples? See John 17:24 (printed below)

Father, I desire that those whom you have given me may also be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory—the glory that you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:24)

Our Lord’s final request is that all those whom the Father has given Him—all those who come to Him and trust in Him—should be with Him in His Father’s kingdom to behold His glory (verse 24). Note: To be present with Christ in His Father’s kingdom beholding His glory requires that we, too, be glorified—a process that is even now being carried on (note 2 Corinthians 3:18). As a Christian, be assured that Christ prays for your glorification (that you may be with Him in glory, beholding His glory and sharing in that divine glory); and be assured that the Father will honor His prayer.