We are looking at the Lord's Prayer, and that is not the prayer that our Lord taught His disciples in Matthew 6, John 17 is the true Lord's Prayer, because He prayed it; and this is a prayer that no human could ever pray. This prayer of Yeshua to the Father pulls together many important themes from Yeshua's teaching found throughout this Fourth Gospel.
Let me mention something here that I think is important, when Yeshua was praying, He was doing so as Man—man in dependence upon God. God has no need to pray to God. But Christ had laid aside His prerogatives as deity (Philippians 2:5-11) and as a Man, He offered His prayers to the Father.
The disciples heard and watched Him pray these words. They must have been encouraged by them. But it wasn't just them who heard this prayer, it was written down so all believers through all time could also hear and be encouraged by it. This is a firsthand opportunity to hear what's on the Lord's heart for His people. To hear what is important to our Lord as He prays to His Father.
Last week we looked at the first five verses of this prayer. We saw in verse 1 that our Lord said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son." This means that the hour had come for Him to glorify the Father by fulfilling everything He came to do, and that is to die and rise from the dead, and then ascend into heaven. So Yeshua is praying for His own death that is just hours away.
We said last week that this prayer divides itself into three simple sections. In the first five verses Yeshua prays for Himself, that He would be glorified through the cross so that in turn He would glorify the Father. The theme of glory dominates verses 1-5. Then in verses 6-19, He prays for the disciples, that they would be kept and set apart from the world. The theme there is "kept." Then in verses 20-26, He prays for future believers, which includes us, that they would be unified so that the world may believe that the Father sent Yeshua. The theme there is unity.
One thing that stands out to me in this prayer is the absolute sovereignty of Yahweh. Over and over He tells us that the disciples had been "given to Him by the Father." He prays for the security of the disciples, that they would be kept in His name. We see His sovereignty in the reference to Judas fulfilling Scripture by being the "son of perdition." As the disciples listened to Him pray they must have been comforted by the sovereignty of God over all of life. Shortly their Lord would be crucified and they would scatter. They needed to know that in every event in life God was in control, working all things together for good. Whenever you face difficult times, it is important to remind yourself of the fact that the Father is in control of all things.
This morning we begin to look at the second section of this prayer, Yeshua's requests for the disciples in 17:6-19. As we read the Gospels we see that Yeshua was always praying for His disciples, He prayed for His disciples before He chose them (Luke 6:12), He prayed for them during His ministry (John 6:15), He prayed for them at the end of His ministry (Luke 22:32), He prays for them here just before His death (John 17:6-19), and He continues to pray for them after He ascends into heaven (Heb. 7:25). So to our Lord, who we are supposed to follow, prayer was important:
whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6 ESV
I think that this means that prayer should be important to us. The emphasis of verses 6-10 is that Yeshua has accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do, in terms of equipping the disciples for their "mission."
"I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. John 17:6 ESV
"I have manifested your name"—the word, "manifested," implies that He made clear the character of God to His followers. The term name is a Hebraic expression which refers to all that the person is. And with reference to the name of God it refers to all that He is both in His being, in His attributes, and also in His actions. So to manifest the name is to declare the nature and being of God, and also the actions of God, His works.
Yeshua basically said this same thing in verse 4 when He said:
I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. John 17:4 ESV
The work that He was to do was to reveal Yahweh. We see this in the prologue:
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. John 1:18 ESV
Do you remember what Yeshua said to Philip?
Yeshua said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? John 14:9 ESV
"Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father"—anyone who has seen Yeshua, has seen the Father. Paul put it this way in Colossians:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Colossians 1:15 ESV
What this text in Colossians is teaching is that Yeshua manifests the invisible Yahweh to us. As we look at other texts in the New Testament, we see that this is a perfect manifestation. For example:
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:3 ESV
The writer of Hebrews says that Yeshua is, "The exact imprint of His [Yahweh's] nature"—the words "exact imprint" means that Yeshua is the exact reproduction of Yahweh, in human form. So if you want to know the glory, the moral beauty of the father, read the Gospel and behold the person of Yeshua, because He's the radiance of the glory of God. Those who know Yeshua should have no more questions about Yahweh. All we need to do is to look at Yeshua. Here all the questions about Yahweh that have ever been asked and ever will be asked are answered. Whoever has seen Yeshua has seen the Father. Is this a clear enough statement on the Deity of Christ?
Who did Yeshua manifest the name of Yahweh to? "To the people whom you gave me out of the world"—so Yeshua didn't manifest the name of God to everyone, but to the people that the Father had "given" Him. We talked about these people "the given" last week. Christ refers to His disciples as those that the Father gave to Him five times in this prayer, verse 2, verses 6 (twice), verse 9; and verse 24. These people that the father has given to the Son are the elect of God, they are those who Yahweh has chosen and given to His son as a love gift for His work on the cross. The Scriptures represent the Father as promising the Son a certain reward for His sufferings on behalf of sinners.
"Yours they were and you gave them to me"—how were the disciples God's? In what sense were they the Father's? Is this talking about them being the Father's by virtue of creation? If that were the case, then that would mean that the Father gave everyone to the Son. Which would mean that all are saved. But we know that all are not saved because Yeshua said:
but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. John 10:26 ESV
Those who are not His sheep don't believe. So this is not talking about them being the Father's by virtue of creation, that is not what this is referring to here. So how were they the Father's? They were the Father's by virtue of predestination. Before they ever believed, "they were Yours" —past tense. Let me show you how this works, look with me at:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 ESV
This is what theologians call the "Ordo Salutis." Ordo Salutis is Latin for "the order of salvation," which deals with the logical sequence of steps or stages involved in the salvation of a believer, and, more importantly, it has to do with who made the first move in our salvation. These verses contain a broad outline of the order of salvation. The sequential order that is given is: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The acts of salvation presented in this passage, however, are not exhaustive. Scripture speaks of other acts in the order of salvation. Romans 8:29-30 gives us a basic framework into which the other acts of salvation may be placed .
Some understand "foreknowledge" as God looking into the future and choosing those whom He foresaw would believe. Are they saying that God gained knowledge by observation? If so, then there was a time when He didn't have all knowledge, and thus He's not an omniscient God after all.
Notice that it is not WHAT He foreknew, but WHOM He foreknew. The word "foreknew" is from the Greek word proginosko. The background of the term must be located in the Hebrew Scriptures, where for God "to know" refers not to simple knowledge, but to covenantal love:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5 ESV
This text is not saying that God foresaw that Jeremiah would be a prophet, but that God chose him to be a prophet before he was born.
In Amos 3 :2 God says to Israel:
Only you I have known of all families of the land, Therefore I charge on you all your iniquities. Amos 3:2 YLT
"Only you have I known of all families of the land"—does that mean that God had no knowledge of Canaanites or Egyptians or Assyrians? NO! It meant that He had a special love relationship with Israel. Israel was His chosen nation. The term "foreknew" must have a limited meaning, for if it simply means: "to know ahead of time," then in the context of Romans 8, everyone will be glorified, because all whom God foreknew He glorified; the chain is unbroken.
To foreknow a person is to enter into intimate relationship with them, and choose them. Foreknowledge or knowledge is a Hebraic term, which has to do with intimacy:
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalms 1:6 ESV
Didn't God know the way of the wicked also? Yes, He did, but here "knows" has the idea of loves. This is a Hebrew parallelism, God loves the righteous, but the wicked will perish:
And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' Matthew 7:23 ESV
God knows everything, He is omniscient! Here it is saying, I never loved you.
In this unbroken chain of salvation, all whom God "loved before hand" (foreknew) He justified and glorified. Now, we know that everybody is not going to be justified, so this must mean that God does not love everybody, which is a truth taught in the Scriptures.
So the "Ordo Salutis" begins in eternity past with God choosing to love certain individuals. Then we see that all whom God loved He:
The Greek word translated predestine is proorizo; it is the word from which we get our English word horizon. This Greek word could be literally translated: "pre-horizon." The horizon is the great boundary between the earth and the sky, and the Greek word, horizo, means "to establish boundaries." And to set the boundaries, to draw the lines, to establish the limits, is to determine what will be. And to do that ahead of time, in eternity past, is predestination.
The predestination in Romans 8:29 means that in eternity past, God drew some lines. He established a horizon around each person He had foreknown—a set boundary marking him off—a circle of destiny. What predestined means in its most elementary form is that our final destination, heaven or perishing, is decided by God, not only before we get there, but before we are born.
The Scriptures also call this "Election." It is the idea of God choosing whom He loves. Choosing them to be part of His family. Choosing them to be in His presence. The Gospel is the Good News, not of man's act of choosing Christ, but of God's act of choosing man. Election is an idea seen throughout Scripture:
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV
They were "beloved by the Lord" and "chose...to be saved."
who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Yeshua before the ages began, 2 Timothy 1:9 ESV
Why did God choose certain people? Because of "His own purpose." We also see in this verse that God's foreknowing and election took place in eternity past, before the ages began.
According to Romans 8:29, what did God predestine us for?:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29 ESV
The word "conformed" is the Greek word summorphos, which comes from morphe, meaning: "the essential character of something, the essential form which never alters." The word Paul uses here is not morphe, but summorphos, which means: "jointly formed." The prefix "sun" (soon) denotes: "union; with or together." This "sun" prefix tells us that this is a positional association. God predestined those He loved to share Christ's righteousness. This is corporate transformation. And this is how "the given" belonged to the Father, He had loved and chosen them in eternity past.
So far in the "Ordo Salutis" we have seen foreknowledge and predestination. Please understand that both of these happened before time. It was in eternity past that God loved and chose. Then in time we were born into the world. And when we were born, we were born into a:
3. State of Death
This is not in the list in Romans 8, but Romans 8 is not an exhaustive list. I add this to the list, because I think it is important for us to understand that even though we were loved and chosen by God from eternity past, we were born into the world in a state of spiritual death; born under the wrath of God.
Adam was the federal head of the human race; when he sinned, we sinned. His sin is imputed to all men. In historical theology, man's condition in sin has been called "total depravity."
Scripture declares that we were dead in sin, and God acts first to bring about a spiritual resurrection—making us alive in Christ. This represents the next step in the "Ordo Salutis" which is:
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:30 ESV
This calling is an effectual calling, God calling dead men to life. This is regeneration, or a spiritual resurrection. In the "Ordo Salutis" we were physically born, spiritually dead. Born in a state of death. Then at some point in our life God called us. This is an effectual call, it is a call from death to life. This effectual call—regeneration, is by grace with out means. In a supernatural act, God gives a person a new heart, and he is spiritually alive.
Man is passive in the new birth; he does no more to produce his own birth than Lazarus did to produce his resurrection. When God calls, we come! The call of God is irresistible.
So far in the "Ordo Salutis" we have foreknowledge, predestination, state of death, effectual calling. What is next?
Faith is understanding and assent to the propositions of the Gospel. Let me just add here that a person must hear the Gospel before they can understand and assent to it. They cannot believe what they don't know. Faith is belief or trust in Christ and Christ alone for our salvation. Faith is the response of God's life giving call—regeneration, not the cause of it. Regeneration precedes faith. This is demonstrated in:
And they said, "Believe in the Lord Yeshua, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:31 ESV
When we believe in Christ, we are saved—justified.
6. Justification or Salvation
The Scriptures are clear that faith in Yeshua the Christ is the instrumental pre-condition of justification. Therefore, in the application of salvation, this gives us the logical sequence of: foreknowledge, election, state of death, calling, faith, justification, and finally:
Roman 8:30 teaches that glorification is the last act in the application of salvation. Paul uses the past tense of glorified. But the transition saints were not yet glorified. So why does he use the past tense? So certain and so effective was the redemptive action of Yeshua the Christ, God views glorification as final.
So what is glorification? It is the culmination of Christ's redemptive work whereby all for whom He died are fitted for eternity to live in the presence of Yahweh:
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:4 ESV
Believers, Christ has appeared, and we have been glorified! Being "glorified" is essentially being delivered from the damage inflicted by sin, and being given Christ's righteousness. So we see that ALL who are called are justified and glorified.
Let me ask a couple of questions to those Preterists who think that election was something that ended in A.D. 70. Here's my questions: Why did God in times past need to draw dead men to Himself, but now He doesn't? What changed in unregenerate man since A.D. 70? Are men no longer born spiritually dead after A.D. 70? And if they are not, what is man's condition? Are men no longer born in sin and separated from God? If they are not, then they don't need a Savior. Where in Scripture does it state or imply that man, apart from Christ, is no longer dead in sin after A.D. 70? According to Revelation there are unbelievers outside the city in the consummated New Covenant.
"Yours they were and you gave them to me"—so these elect people belonged to the Father and He gave them to the Son. Yeshua constantly refers to the disciples and all believers as those whom the Father has given Him.
"And they have kept your word"—the disciples had "kept" God's "word" by believing on and following Yeshua, even though they were not consistently obedient.
D.A. Carson writes, "In the Fourth Gospel Jesus refers to His words (plural) He is talking about the precepts He lays down, almost equivalent to His 'commands' (entolai, as in 14:21; 15:10), but when He refers to His word (singular) He is talking about His message as a whole, almost equivalent to 'Gospel'. The disciples had not displayed mature conformity to the details of Jesus' teaching, but they had committed themselves unreservedly to Jesus as the Messiah, the one who truly reveals the Father." (Carson, D. A. . The Gospel according to John [pp. 552-571]. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.)
So it seems best here to take "Your Word" as a reference to the entire Gospel.
Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. John 17:7 ESV
Commenting on this verse Hall Harris writes: "Only now (nun) have the disciples begun to understand. The finite verb ginosko is best understood as an ingressive aorist, which looks at entry into the state of knowledge or understanding. Previously it has been clear that the disciples did not understand the uniqueness of the relationship between Jesus and the Father (cf. 14:8-10). Now as a result of the coming of Jesus' "hour" (which includes His exaltation as well as His death and resurrection) Jesus affirms here in His prayer that the disciples are finally beginning to understand." (W. Hall Harris III, 20. Exegetical Commentary on John 17)
For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. John 17:8 ESV
There was much that the disciples did not yet understand, but they did believe that Yeshua worked by the power of God. They believed that Yeshua had come from God. They believed that everything He did was according to the will of God, everything He said was the Word of God. They believed that His miracles were done by the power of God. Yeshua is expressing a confidence in His disciples that they do now understand His mission as well as His true identity.
Some see here a comparison with Moses, who transmitted the words he received from God (the Torah) to Israel. Some think that Yeshua's statement, "For I have given them the words that you gave me" may be taken as a direct allusion to Deut 18:
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. Deuteronomy 18:18 ESV
This is possible, Yeshua is the prophet that Yahweh was referring to here:
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9 ESV
"I am praying for them"—who is the "them"? What is the antecedent of "them"? It is "the people whom You gave me." So Yeshua is praying for "the given." And He is not praying for the world.
"I am not praying for the world"—the Greek word order makes the contrast very sharp: "not for the world." Does that sound strange to you? Why doesn't Yeshua pray for the world? Doesn't He love the world? John 3:16 says that He loves the world, so why wouldn't He pray for the world?
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV
We see here that the object of Yahweh's love is the world. But we have to ask who is the world? It is the common view of our day that when the Bible says, "For God so loved the world" that it means that He loved every individual in the world equally without exception and without distinction. In other words, everyone is the equal object of the love of God. Every individual past, present, and future, and all are loved in the precisely same way. Now that is a common view in our day, but it's not taught in the Bible. Now before you Arminians get mad at me, please answer this question, Where does it say in the Bible that God loves everybody? Where does it say that He loves every single individual equally, without exception, without distinction? Can you give me a text? While you're thinking, let me give you a text:
As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Romans 9:13 ESV
What you should never say once you have read this verse is that God loves every individual equally without exception, without distinction.
Some say that what Paul is talking about here is the election of a nation as over against nations, and not election of individuals. That's really a foolish argument. If it is unjust for God to select one man over another, why is it okay if He selects one nation over another? Aren't nations made up of individuals?
Some try to twist this text by saying that hate doesn't mean hate, but it means to "love less," or "to regard and treat with less favor." Hate is used in this way in several passages. But in the original context of Malachi 1:1-5 loving less hardly fits with the visitation of judgement.
but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert." Malachi 1:3 ESV
As we saw earlier in our study the love of God is the root of election, God chooses because He loves. God is sovereign in the exercise of His love. What I mean is that He loves whom He chooses, God does not love everybody. He didn't love Esau, that is very clear. Now how will you argue, will you say that He loves everyone but Esau?
One of the most popular beliefs of our day is that God loves everybody. But the idea that God loves everybody is a modern belief. The writings of the church fathers, the Reformers or the Puritans will be searched in vain for any such concept. The fact is that the love of God is a truth for the saints only. With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four Gospels do we read of the Lord Yeshua telling sinners that God loved them. In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the apostles, God's love is never referred to at all. Does that seem odd to you? But when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to the saints, we have a full presentation of the truth.
If it were true that God loved everybody equally, without distinction, without exception, how can Yeshua say, with reference to His disciples:
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9 ESV
If God loved the whole world, why didn't Yeshua pray for the world? How ridiculous would it have been if Noah had put one of churchanities bumper stickers on the outside of the ark which stated, "Smile, God loves you."
George Newton, a Puritan preacher of the 17th century, wrote this:
"Is it a likely thing that Christ should die for those for whom He will not pray? That He should offer up Himself a sacrifice for those for whom He will not intercede? That He should spend His blood for those for whom He will not spend His breath? That He should give His life for those for whom He will not give His word? Will He do that which is abundantly the greater for them, and then refuse to do the less?" (George Newton on John 17, 177).
The word "world" is from the Greek term "kosmos." If you look up all of Lazarus' uses of kosmos you will see that he uses the term in different senses. In John 3:16 it is simply a term for elect humanity, God loves His elect. In John 17:9 it is used of the spiritually corrupt world system dominated by Satan.
In John 3 Yeshua is speaking to Nicodemus, a Jew. The Jews believed that God loved only them. What John 3:16 is saying is that God's love is international in its scope, He loves Gentiles as well as Jews. When Lazarus says, "For God so loved the world," he is saying that His love is enough to embrace, not simply Israel, but also Gentiles.
We are so man centered today, even in our theology, that if it doesn't start with us, we can't grasp it. We think it's unfair for God to choose some individuals and not others. We need to allow the Scriptures to shape our thinking so we will have the mind of Christ. God is sovereign, even in His love.
"But for those whom you have given me, for they are yours"—again, Yeshua prayed specifically for His believing disciples, "the given." The basis for Yeshua's request was that these disciples belonged to God—"they are yours", so their welfare was His special interest. Yeshua prays for the ones that Yahweh had taken out of the world and given to Him, to them He manifested God's name.
All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. John 17:10 ESV
Yeshua affirms that everything that belongs to Him also belongs to the Father, and all that belongs to the Father belongs also to Him. This theme was mentioned earlier in 16:15.
"All mine are yours, and yours are mine"—all that belong to Yeshua belong to the Father by virtue of election. And all that belong to the Father belong to the Son by virtue of the Father giving them to Him as a gift. There is reciprocal ownership. A person cannot accept Yeshua unless they belong to God, and one cannot belong to God unless they have been chosen. "Yours are mine"—no created being is able to say that. Everything that belongs to Yahweh belongs to Yeshua, He's saying He's God.
"And I am glorified in them"—He can now say that He has been glorified in them in the light of what He has already said in verses 7-8, that the disciples have come to know that He has come from the Father and been sent by the Father. He will be glorified in them further after the resurrection, as they carry on His ministry after His departure.The faithfulness and success of the disciples in carrying forward the work of Christ will be a means of bringing glory both to the Father and to the Son.