John 17:20-26 and Waldenström's Commentary

by Paul Peter Waldenström and translated by Tommy Carlson

Verse 20 — But not only do I pray for these but also for them, that through their word1 believe in me;

  1. The apostles' word is the INSTRUMENT by which other people become believers.
  2. That is to say for all believers in all times.

Verse 21 — that they all may be one,1 as you, father, in me and I in you, that they may also be in us,2 that the world may believe3 that you4 have sent me.5

  1. What the Lord previously had prayed for his disciples, he now prays for all believers, namely that they may be one after the pattern of the father and the son's unity (see verse 11). The Savior's words could also be translated thus: I pray for all who through their words believe in me, and that all may be one. The Lord wants to say: in my prayer I include, in addition to the disciples, ALL believers, that they all may be one.
  2. The connection is: that they all may be one, that they may be one in us. The latter is a clearer explanation of the former. Whereby they all are in the father and the son, they shall mutually be one, as for example the limbs in a body are one because they are all members of the same body. The believers' lives, in fellowship with the father and the son, shall produce a mutual fellowship among themselves, like the one that exists between the father and the son. That inner mystical union is the foundation of unity in disposition and external appearance.
  3. The purpose of the believers' unity is also that the whole world may come to believe. But if this unity could cause such, then it must be in external appearance a unity that can be seen by the world. All division among the believers works against that big purpose for which Christ offered himself. Note also how God's plan of salvation concerns the whole world, and not only a few individual members of the world community.
  4. There is in the original text a strong emphasis on the word "YOU."
  5. The substance of the Christian faith is that Jesus is the one sent from God as Lord and Savior. This faith is the indispensable foundation for all personal trust in him. Compare Romans 10:9.

Verse 22 — And I1 have given them the glory2 that you have given me,3 so that they may be one, as we are one;4 (See John 17:11)

  1. In the original text there is a strong emphasis on the word "I."
  2. The heavenly glory. Compare verse 24. Some Bible scholars believe that the Lord, with the word "glory" here, means the miraculous power that he has given them in the same way the father gave it to him.
  3. The Lord expresses it, as near and certainly imminent, as though it were already accomplished. He regards it as though he were no longer in the world, but had already entered the heavenly glory. That glory, which the father should now give him, was the glory that he had before with the father, before the world was created (verse 5). See Philippians 2:9. That glory he gave to the believers. This is their property in hope (Romans 8:24). They are now co-inheritors with Christ (Romans 8:17). They also received the Holy Spirit as a pledge of that inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). But upon the return of the Lord, they shall enter into a genuine possession of it (chapter 14:3, Romans 8:17, Philippians 3:20 f., Colossians 3:4). Note how the Lord teaches his disciples to think about the future glory with such certainty, as if it were already here.
  4. Look at Ephesians 4:4. For the believers' common eternal glory, there is a powerful bond of unity between them.

Verse 23 — I in them and you in me,1 that they may become perfect in one,2 so that the world may understand3 that you4 have sent me5 and have loved them6 as you have loved me.7 (See I John 1:3, 3:24).

  1. These words are an explanation of the character of the believers' unity: As you, father, and I are one in that way, that is, that you are in me, so shall they be one, in that I am in them.
  2. That they may be perfect, so that they can constitute oneness. Their perfection has as its purpose and result their unity. Some Bible scholars start a new sentence with verse 23 and translate it thus: I am in them and you in me, in that they may be perfect to one. This understanding seems to break off the context (connection, continuity).
  3. If the world is to, through the believers' unity, understand that it is God who has sent Christ, this unity must show itself in external appearance, so that the world can see it. All the believers' dissensions in different parties and denominations is also an obvious fight against God's whole salvation plan, as well as a hindrance for the salvation of the world.
  4. It is in the original text a strong emphasis on the word "YOU."
  5. Dissension is of the devil; unity is of God. Thereby shall the believers' unity show the world that the Christ, who created this unity, was really sent by God.
  6. Dissension is the fruit of absence of love; unity is the fruit of love. Therefore, the believers' unity shall show the world that they are God's loved ones (Romans 1:7), in whose hearts God's love is poured out (Romans 5:5).
  7. This love of God, which is poured out in the believers' hearts, is the same fatherly love that Christ has experienced from God (see Ephesians I:6). Here, as in many other places, the word LOVE is used to express in one action manifest love.

Verse 24 — Father, what you have given me, I will that, wherever I am, there even shall these be with me,1 that they may see2 my3 glory, which you have given me4 because you have loved me before the world was created.5 (See John 12:26, 14:3)

  1. This shall happen when the Lord returns again; see chapter 14:3.
  2. This expression implies (as verse 22 shows) not only witnessing, but also participating in that which one sees. The blessed shall, as "with glorification" (Romans 8:17, 29) and with "reign" (II Timothy 2:12), be with Christ.
  3. There is in the original text a strong emphasis on the word "MY.
  4. See comments on verse 22.
  5. In the father's love for the son is the foundation of the son's exaltation; and this father's love is eternal.

Verse 25 — Righteous1 father — and2 the world has not known you,3 but I have known you,4 and these5 have understood that you have sent me.6 (See John 16;3, 17:8)

  1. Contrary to the world's injustice and hatred, the Lord rests his cause and his prayer on God's righteousness. It belongs to the righteous to help the disciples, against the world's unrighteousness, to eternal life and glory.
  2. After the words "RIGHTEOUS FATHER," there have been some who have thought that there should be a short pause, as if the Lord wanted to say: Righteous father yes, righteous you are, and the world has not known you, etc. ...
  3. The world has not learned to know you from my words and deeds, in which you so clearly have revealed yourself, and through which they could not learn to know you.
  4. Thereby, he refers to the immediate knowledge that he had of God. Sec chapter 8:55.
  5. These disciples standing here around me.
  6. The disciples had known Jesus as the one sent from the father (see comments to verse 21). Thereby they had also known the father as manifested in the son. This knowledge had united them with him, so that they became one.

Verse 26 — And I have made known to them your name,1 and I shall make it known,2 so that the love with which you have loved me3 may be in them,4 and I in them.5 (See John 15:9)

  1. See comments to verse 6... who and however you are. God's name already had been revealed, through the Old Testament, to the Jews, but not with such clarity as Christ, through his preaching and works, has revealed God to the disciples. First through Christ is the full truth about God given.
  2. Through the Holy Spirit.
  3. And for which even they are the object (verse 23).
  4. May be poured out in their hearts, so that their hearts are completely occupied and dominated by it (Romans 5:5).
  5. The highest expression of God's love to his own is that Christ lives in them, which is what constitutes their blessedness, This intrinsically happens through faith (belief), (See Ephesians 3:17, II Corinthians 13:5, Galatians 2:20) brought about by the Holy Spirit; and this was, consequently, not possible before his glorification.