Gospel of John [17:19-21]. The Lord's priestly prayer; part 40. The unity of the Church.

Class Outline:

Title: Gospel of John [17:19-21]. The Lord's priestly prayer; part 40. The unity of the Church.



Now He prays for the Church to come.


JOH 17:20 "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;


JOH 17:21 that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.


The Christian is subject to none in respect of his liberty and subject to all in respect of his charity.


The unity for which He prays for His body is a unity of love. It is a participation in the unity of love which subsists eternally between the Father and the Son.


Last night we noted the transformation of Paul, who as Saul of Tarsus was a separatist Pharisee, and who became a unifier of Jew and Gentile in the Church.


EPH 2:11 Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands — 


EPH 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.


EPH 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.


EPH 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,


EPH 2:15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,


EPH 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.


EPH 2:17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;


EPH 2:18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.


EPH 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,


EPH 2:20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,


EPH 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;


EPH 2:22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.


EPH 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — 


EPH 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you;


EPH 3:3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.


EPH 3:4 And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,


EPH 3:5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;


EPH 3:6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,


EPH 3:7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.


EPH 3:8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,


EPH 3:9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things;


EPH 3:10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.


This unity can only be based on the truth and never a compromise of the truth with the ways of the world. Compromise of truth is not unity, rather it is a façade of unity with no underlying cohesion or adherence.


Oneness in agape love is non-existent in the world unless it is manifested amongst mature believers. The world is full of contention, competition, arrogant self-absorption, condemnation, and without total forgiveness and compassion.


Agape love’s uniqueness and rarity only enhances its manifestation.


In other words, it is so rare, that when it is manifested it stands out against the background of conditional human love and hypocrisy.


He doesn’t say here that this will cause others to believe in Him but that it will make them know that we are His disciples. However, in His prayer He states that this unity of love will reveal to some in the world that the Father sent Jesus into the world, which would indicate that they would come to believe in Him as the Christ. So then, the unity of those who are all in Christ Jesus is a manifestation of the gospel.


JOH 17:20 "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;


JOH 17:21 that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.


This oneness is with the Father and the Son. The Son did the will of the Father. They were one. The Father in Him and He in the Father. He sent us into the world just as the Father sent Him into the world. The Church finds unity in love as it participates and incorporates in the work accomplished by Christ while He was in unity with the Father.


The Church's participation is meant to take place in keeping with its nature as the one flock belonging to the one Shepherd, JOH 10:7.


JOH 10:7 Jesus therefore said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.


He knows His own as the Father knows Him and He knows the Father, JOH 10:14-16.


JOH 10:14 "I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me,


JOH 10:15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.


JOH 10:16 "And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd.


The branches are engrafted into the True Vine, of which the Father is the vinegrower who prunes the branches that they may bear more fruit, JOH 15:1 ff.


JOH 15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.


JOH 15:2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.


JOH 15:3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.


JOH 15:4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.


JOH 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.


JOH 15:6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.


JOH 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.


JOH 15:8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.


The commandment that matches this prayer for unity is love, JOH 15:9-10.


JOH 15:9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.


JOH 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.


So then this is not so much a unity of organization or even in being with one another in the same location, but a unity of heart in Christ's mind, love, spirit, and purpose. This does not completely discount organizations or groups of believers working together in one location, but none of that means anything if they are not united in love. Certainly, the world isn't going to come to know that the Father sent the Son into the world because we all gather into one building or that we live together in a commune, but that the love of our Lord is manifested from our hearts, part of that manifestation being unity in mind, love, spirit, and purpose.


This is a unity of love, submission, service, sacrifice, and humility to God first and then to one another, as between the Father and the Son.


Speaking of the church at Philippi, Paul stated to the Corinthians:


2CO 8:3-5

For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.


JOH 17:22 "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one;


JOH 17:23 I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.


Jesus here appeals to what He has done for them during His earthly ministry.


JOH 16:13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.


JOH 16:14 "He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.


JOH 16:15 "All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.


JOH 17:14 "I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.


The glory refers to all that the Father gave Him in order to accomplish His ministry on Earth. It is everything that filled His character as a man.


Everything He possessed, even His body, was a gift from the Father. This does not nullify His personality. We have received everything of value from the Father and we are still individuals. Christ is unique as the God Man and all that He had in His humanity was a gift from the Father. He prays that the glory that was given to Him would be given to us.