True intimacy with the one true God

John 17:1:

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,

ESV Study Bible notes on v. 1:

17:1 Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven, striking a customary posture in prayer (cf. Ps.123:1; Mark 7:34; Luke 18:13). the hour has come. … The opening petition glorify your Son implies a claim to deity, since the OT affirms that God will not give his glory to another (e.g., Isa. 42:8; 48:11; on Jesus as the sent Son see also John 3:16-18). As usual in John, God is glorified particularly through the cross of Christ.

vv. 2-3:

Since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

7:2-3 Eternal life comes from knowing God and Jesus the sent Son (cf. 1:4; 5:26; 20:31). Knowing God is not confined to intellectual knowledge but entails living in fellowship with him. That they know you implies an intimate relationship that involves actually knowing God as a person. That God is the only true God is affirmed supremely in Deut. 6:4 (cf. John 5:44, 1 John 5:20). Jesus, in turn, is the “one-of-a-kind” Son sent by the Father (cf. John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18) and the only way to him (14:6).

v. 5:

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

17:5 Jesus again claims that he existed before the world existed (or “before the world was” (cf. 1:1, 14; 3:13; 6:62; 8:58; 16:28; 17:24). This implies that the material universe is not eternal but was brought into being by God. Before that, nothing material existed. But God existed eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and here Jesus speaks of a sharing of glory between the Father and the Son prior to creation, implying that there was mutual giving of honor in the interpersonal relationships of the Trinity from all eternity.

v. 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.

17:11that they may be one, even as we are one. Jesus shows the kind of profound unity that should be the norm among genuine believers. As the following verses indicate (through John 17:26), this is to be a reflection of the unity that has existed eternally between the father and the Son (v. 11), namely, the unity of a common mind and purpose, an unqualified mutual love, and a sustained comprehensive togetherness in mission, as revealed in the Father-Son relationship characterized by Jesus’ own ministry. Such unity is the result of Jesus’ active work of “keeping” (vv. 12, 15) and “guarding” (v. 12); it results in believers being filled with joy (v. 13; see also 3:29; 15:11; 16:24; 1 John 1:4), it is rooted in the truth of God’s word (John 17:14, 17, 20); it involves “sanctification,” that is, in the sense of consecration to serve (vv. 17, 19); it becomes a witness to the world so that “the world may believe” (v. 21); it is for the revelation of God’s glory (v. 24); and it results in the experience of the indwelling love of God and the presence of Christ (v. 26). The kind of unity that is central to Jesus’ high priestly prayer is not organizational but is an all-encompassing relational reality that binds believers together with each other and with their Lord — a unity that can be achieved only through the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although individual Christians, and the church in general, tend to fall short of the fullness of unity that the Lord intends, whenever such unity is even partially realized (never at the expense of truth or holiness; v. 17) the result will always be deep joy (v. 13), a persuasive witness to the world (vv. 21, 23), and a display of God’s glory (v. 22).

vv. 20-26:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that 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. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I 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. 24Father, 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. 25O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26I 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.”

17:20-26 Jesus does not stop at praying for himself (vv. 1-5) and his disciples (vv. 6-19) but now prays for those who will believe in me in the future. Jesus’ concern is for his followers’ unity (vv. 21-23) and love (v. 26). The vision of a unified people of God has previously been expressed in 10:16 and 11:52. Believers’ unity results from being united in God (cf. 10:38; 14:10-11, 20, 23; 15:4-5). Once unified, they will be able to bear witness to the true identity of Jesus as the Sent One of God.

17:21 that they may all be one. concerning the unity that Jesus prays for and that he intends for his own, see notes on v. 11 [above] (cf. v. 22). In us refers to spiritual union with God and also the personal fellowship resulting from that union.

17:23 The Father’s love for believers is comparable to his love for Jesus Christ.

17:24 the whole purpose of salvation is communicated in this verse. The foretaste of this is now, but the fullness of it lies beyond this present age. See represents the Greek word theõreõ, “to observe with sustained attention,” and includes the idea of entering into and experiencing something. You loved me before the foundation of the world implies that love and interpersonal interaction among the members of the Trinity did not begin at any point in time but has existed eternally (cf. v. 5).

17:26 your name.… The phrase I in them is filled with covenantal overtones (cf. 14:20; 17:23). After giving of the law at Sinai, God came to dwell in the midst of Israel in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34). As they moved toward the Promised Land, God frequently assured his people that he was in their midst. (Ex. 29:45-46; Deut. 7:21; 23:14).

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