John 17

These small group studies of John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

John 17 Inductive Bible Study

  1. Jesus prays for Himself (1-5)

  2. Jesus prays for His disciples (6-19)

    1. Jesus reviews His work already accomplished with the apostles (6-10)

    2. Jesus makes requests on behalf of His apostles (11-19)

      1. He asks the Father to keep them (11-16)

        1. He asks the Father for their unity (11)

      2. He asks the Father to sanctify them (17-19)

  3. Jesus prays for the believers in the future (20-26)

    1. He prays for unity for believers (20-23)

      1. He asks for unity so that the world may believe in Christ

    2. He prays that He can be together with believers (24)

    3. He reviews the work He had done in the disciples’ lives (25-26)

Here are cross-references which can be used in each of the three sections in this passage.

I.

Matthew 28:18 – Jesus has authority over everything.

Colossians 1:15-20 – Verses on Jesus’ supremacy and authority.

1 John 2:3, 4:7 – Verses showing that knowing God is a little deeper than just head knowledge.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 – A natural man cannot know spiritual things, for they are foolishness to him.

Philippians 2:4-11 – Jesus gave up His glory, but would be glorified again.

II.

Matthew 16:16 – Peter recognized that Jesus came from God.

Philippians 1:6 – He who began a good work in us will complete it.

John 10:28-30 – Eternal security.

1 Peter 1:3-5 – We are protected by the power of God and our inheritance will not fade away.

Psalms 41:9 – A prophecy about Judas.

1 John 5:18-19 – God keeps us from the evil one who controls the world.

1 Peter 5:8 – The evil one seeks to destroy believers.

1 John 4:4 – Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Titus 2:12 – We should deny worldly desires.

James 1:27 – We must keep ourselves unstained by the world.

1 Thessalonians 4:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 12:14, James 1:21 – Verses on sanctification.

III.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 – We are all baptized by one Spirit into one body.

Ephesians 4:1-6 – Great verses on the unity we have and how to treat others in the body.

Ephesians 2:14-22 – Jesus unified us, breaking down the barriers and we are built on His foundation and the apostles.

John 13:35 – The world would know the disciples were of Christ because of their love.

Teaching Points

This chapter could be called the Lord’s Prayer. What we normally call the Lord’s Prayer was actually His model prayer to disciples, but here is the only place a lengthy prayer of Jesus is recorded. As such, it gives us a lot of valuable insight into the close relationship Jesus had with the Father and His submission to the Father. It also shows us the kind of things Jesus often likely prayed about. Part of the prayer is Jesus’ talking with the Father about His mission and what He was doing, etc. The rest is Jesus actually praying for the disciples and all believers from later generations. The things Jesus prayed about to the Father were very close to the heart, especially since this would be one of the last times on earth Jesus would pray. So the requests He asks of the Father on our behalf are also very important. The chapter can be divided into three parts, Jesus’ prayer for Himself, His prayer for the disciples, and His prayer for all believers.

  1. 1-5

What did Jesus mean asking the Father to glorify Him (Jesus)?

Why did He want the Father to glorify Him?

What does the last part of verse 2 mean “that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life”?

Does verse 3 mean simply knowing God exists is enough to have eternal life? How would you define the “know” in verse 3?

Explain verse 5.

1 Jesus asked God to glorify Him, but notice that the purpose is still to bring ultimate glory to the Father. In what way would Jesus be glorified? Jesus’ death and especially His resurrection brought great glory to Himself and to the Father as millions of believers have worshiped Him and praised Him for the two millennia since then. It will also bring even more glory in the end when every knee has to bow to Jesus.

2 Jesus does have authority over everything, Matthew 28:18, Colossians 1:15-20. There is an idiom that “power corrupts”. This is generally true for human authorities. Once they get a lot of power their sin nature takes over and they abuse it. But Jesus always used His authority for our good and the Father’s glory.

Also from verse two we see election/predestination taught once again. Those whom the Father gave to the Son would be given eternal life. The elect whom were chosen before the foundation of the world would receive eternal life. It is God’s choosing and calling.

3 Only a person who is a true believer, adopted by God, and possesses eternal life can possibly “know” God. This knowing isn’t just being able to list some facts. From James we know that even the demons believe and tremble. They not only know God, but they believe Him. Yet their belief is not enough. Neither is just a surface knowing. Read cross-references on knowing. This knowledge of God goes deeper. It comes as we obey His commands, therefore seeing His promises come true in our life. It comes as we have faith in Him and see Him answer our prayers and take care of us throughout our lives. It comes as we experience His working in our lives. Remember that the word “know” in the Bible has different depths of meaning. It also has different depths of meaning even in normal language. The way I “know” Michael Jordan and “know” my wife are not the same. The way believers “know” God is deep, intimate, personal, and also experiential. It’s the kind of knowledge that a wife and husband have after living together for a long time. It is often said that you don’t truly “know” somebody unless you live with them for a while even in some difficult situation.

4 Jesus’ earthly life was driven by the desire to obey God’s will and glorify Him in all that He did. Here near the end of His life Jesus can report that it was a job well done.

5 From Philippians 2 we know that Jesus gave up His glory as God when He came to the world. Here He asks to have it again once He finished the task of dying and resurrection.

Matthew 28:18 – Jesus has authority over everything.

Colossians 1:15-20 – Verses on Jesus’ supremacy and authority.

1 John 2:3, 4:7 – Verses showing that knowing God is a little deeper than just head knowledge.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 – A natural man cannot know spiritual things, for they are foolishness to him.

Philippians 2:4-11 – Jesus gave up His glory, but would be glorified again.

  1. 6-19

Who did the Father give Jesus out of the world (6)?

In verse 9 Jesus says, He asks for something for the disciples. What does He ask for?

What did Jesus mean in verse 11 “I am no longer in the world.”

What danger did the disciples face now that Jesus would no longer be with them?

Who is the son of perdition and how was Scripture fulfilled in him?

In verse 15 Jesus says He doesn’t ask to take them out of the world, but in verse 16 says they are not of the world. What does this mean?

6-10 In these verses Jesus reviews the work that He has accomplished the Father. He reviews His mission’s success up to this point. We see that Jesus showed the Father’s name to the disciples and taught them the Father’s words. On the disciples part they had kept His word, come to believe that Jesus was from the Father, received the Father’s words, and understood the Father’s words.

We also see in these verses Jesus’ unity with the Father. Everything that Jesus possessed is the Father’s and vice-versa, like a husband and wife in marriage.

We also see again the truth of election. The disciples belonged to God even before they believed.

11-16 In these verses Jesus begins the first of His requests for the disciples and for us. In verse 20 He mentions that these requests weren’t only for the disciples, but for us too so He also wants these same things for all of us. What did He ask for?

On a side note, when Jesus said He was no longer in the world it shows the certainty of the final plan He was about to carry out. Sometimes God pronounces something done as if it were already accomplished because it is certain to happen.

Firstly, He asked that the Father keep the disciples. Before Jesus was with them all the time and could guard them and protect them. But soon Jesus would be leaving and asked the Father to keep them from the evil one. There would certainly be many temptations, persecutions, tribulations, etc. In the Lord’s model prayer Jesus also taught the disciples to pray to be delivered from the evil one. Here He prays it for them. Jesus does indeed intercede on our behalf. Although He left the earth He didn’t abandon His disciples or us. He didn’t leave them on their own, but with God’s power. This is basically an issue of eternal security. We know that those who believe are eternally secure. Read Php 1:6 and 1 Peter 1:3-5, 1 John 5:18-19, 1 Peter 5:8 and discuss. God is not in the habit of losing things so we can be confident He will keep us, yet this doesn’t mean we should be any less alert or active.

Combined with the request to keep them is the comment that the disciples (and us) are not of the world. We are in the world, but not of the world. What does that mean?

What are the two extremes Christians face in regards to their relationships to the world (isolation and compromise)?

Which one is more tempting to you?

In what way were the disciples sent into the world?

Christians have historically faced two problems in relating to the world. One is that some believers do not separate from the world enough. They compromise on many issues. Sometimes this is simply because they have little desire to follow God. Other times it comes out of good intentions. Some have thought that in order to win the world for Christ they need to be closer to it. Any examples? Some have compromised on evolution teaching a theistic evolution. Others have moralized or spiritualized certain stories or miracles. But in Matthew Jesus asks how we can become salty again if we lose our saltiness. Those who attempt to compromise with the world in order to “win” them in the end will find there is nothing of substance left to “win” them to. Others simply don’t have a strong desire to be holy for God. Therefore they make unholy alliances with the world. This includes dating unbelievers, marrying unbelievers, watching the movies the world watches, listening to the music of the world, reading the worthless magazines of the world, etc.

In verse 16 Jesus said that the disciples are not of the world as He is not. So before we do something we should consider if Jesus would do it. You may ask, “would Jesus have some friendship or discussion with terrible sinners?” Well, we know Jesus would because He spent time with prostitutes and tax-collectors. This was for the purpose of the gospel, but Jesus wasn’t being like them. So we must not compromise to the world. We must not be conformed to the world. Titus 2:12, James 1:27.

On the other side of the spectrum are the believers who in a desire to not be stained by the world enter basically into isolation. I’ve known a couple of families in the US who were pretty much isolationists. They rarely attended church or fellowship because of some things they disagreed with or some things they considered worldly. There are a couple of problems with this. The most obvious is that if we isolate ourselves we will be unable to reach anybody for Christ. We will be unable to have any positive impact on the world around us. So on one side we are complaining about the evil in the world, but on the other we are doing nothing about it! Another problem is lack of fellowship. When we isolate ourselves it is easy to go astray into wrong doctrine. And another problem is that it simply doesn’t work. Being isolated cannot guarantee that we stay pure or holy. Both of those families that I mentioned had kids who as soon as they had much exposure to the world were engulfed in it and become prodigals. This was likely largely because their kids had no experience or teaching on how to deal with the world.

In verse 15 Jesus says that we won’t be taken out of the world, but asks God to keep us from the evil one. We need to follow the principles from Scripture on being holy and not compromising or forming unholy alliances/relationships while at the same time being a witness and a light to those around us.

Discuss the son of perdition. It means that Judas would be condemned to hell and suffer damnation. This wasn’t because Jesus couldn’t keep Him or guard Him, but because this was prophesied long before in Scripture and part of God’s eternal plan. Psalms 41:9.

17-19 In these verses Jesus discusses this further talking about sanctification. Sanctification actually means to be set apart. We are to be set apart from the world in our conduct while not in geography. How to be sanctified? We are sanctified through God’s truthful word. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 12:14, James 1:21. Discuss. Salvation is only the beginning, the first step. After that we must be growing in sanctification all the time.

What does it mean to be sanctified?

Whose work is this? Do we have any responsibility in it? How can they/we be sanctified?

What did it mean that Jesus sanctified Himself?

Jesus set Himself apart for His work for God. Sanctification is God’s work in our lives, but we also must be committed to it and be willing vessels in His hands. Jesus lived as an example of this in front of the disciples and His example is recorded for us so that we too can follow it.

So we see Jesus asks the Father to keep them from the evil one, to unify them, to not take them out of the world, but to sanctify them. Let’s go on and see what specific things Jesus thought of to pray for us.

Matthew 16:16 – Peter recognized that Jesus came from God.

Philippians 1:6 – He who began a good work in us will complete it.

John 10:28-30 – Eternal security.

1 Peter 1:3-5 – We are protected by the power of God and our inheritance will not fade away.

Psalms 41:9 – A prophecy about Judas.

1 John 5:18-19 – God keeps us from the evil one who controls the world.

1 Peter 5:8 – The evil one seeks to destroy believers.

1 John 4:4 – Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Titus 2:12 – We should deny worldly desires.

James 1:27 – We must keep ourselves unstained by the world.

1 Thessalonians 4:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 12:14, James 1:21 – Verses on sanctification.

20-26

Who else does Jesus pray for starting in verse 20? Which part of Jesus’ prayer is applicable to us?

What is His first request specifically for us?

Is unity a problem for believers now? Why? What are some of the splitting points?

How do we balance keeping strong doctrine and being unified with other believers?

In what cases should we not be unified with others?

How should we treat those with whom we disagree?

Do you think believers who are practicing unity will look down on other believers with whom they disagree?

What core character quality do we need to have in order to be unified with others?

Jesus mentioned He wasn’t only praying for the disciples, but for all believers in the future! This is really a comfort! Not only can we see that Jesus cares personally for us, but we also see that Jesus’ will, though some specifics are not the same, is generally the same for believers now as it was for the disciples. This hurts peoples arguments who may make excuses for not obeying some of the commands Jesus gave originally to the disciples.

His first specific request for us is that we be one, perfected in unity, just as Jesus is with the Father. Discuss the questions on unity.

Unity is something that is a big problem for the church as a whole. There are all kinds of denominations, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, etc. Even within the denominations there are lots of disagreements. In China you have the three-self church and the house churches. The two sides largely dislike each other. Then even among the house churches there is a lot of disagreement. So what you have is a lot of separated fellowships and separated churches each doing their own thing with little cooperation. This is also true with many individual believers.

Read and discuss the following Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 – We are all baptized by one Spirit into one body.

Ephesians 4:1-6 – Great verses on the unity we have and how to treat others in the body.

Ephesians 2:14-22 – Jesus unified us, breaking down the barriers and we are built on His foundation and the apostles.

It is clear that Jesus wants His people to be unified. We are unified in the Spirit. We are unified in salvation. But many times we are not unified in practice. I hear people speak negatively of other groups, other believers for various reasons. And I confess I am also sometimes guilty of this. But this is not what God wants. Just this week I was reading a book on humility and it said that humble people will not talk negatively about someone else unless it benefits that person (for example rebuking). It also said that prideful people have little tolerance for differences and care too much about their own opinion. I believe that humility is the key to being unified with other believers. Unity is not a bad thing. Jesus wants us to be unified!

We should be able to love other believers even if we disagree with them on some points. We should not consider we are better just because we think our interpretation, application, or understanding o the Bible is the right one. We should not listen to other Bible teachers trying to find things we are disagree with and trying to pick apart what they say. We shouldn’t read Christian books trying to find things to disagree with or put down the writer about. We cannot be unified and at the same time looking down on others. These are all things that sometimes I am guilty of. We should each examine ourselves to see if we truly love others have a strong desire to be unified with them in fellowship and our work for Christ.

Does this mean we cast aside doctrine? Of course not. We must have strong convictions on God’s Word. And though we should be open to listening to others ideas we don’t have to change our convictions just for the sake of someone. But fellowshiping and working together with others doesn’t mean we agree on everything. Does this mean we shouldn’t find the best possible fellowship and church to go to? No. We should go to a place where we are well fed.

Although I personally don’t agree with tongues and a lot from the charismatic movement, I can work with this kind of person for the sake of the gospel and I can love this person and fellowship with them. I am not better than them because I have a different view. But neither does that mean I will start teaching people to talk in tongues or try it myself. I hope you guys can also respectfully disagree with some believers while still loving them and fellowshiping with them. Remember, unity isn’t my idea, it is Christ’s! Also, know that Jesus knew there would be all kinds of disagreements and different doctrines, yet He still asked the Father to make us unified!! Let us practice humility in this area.

Next, we come to the purpose of unity. Unity isn’t so much for our sakes, but it is for God’s sake. John 13:35.

What is the purpose that Jesus mentions for unity?

What does disunity tell the world about our faith and relationship to God?

Disunity turns people away from the gospel. It is a big reason people don’t want to go to church or believe. They say, “Come on. There so many different churches and even Christians disagree a lot. If they can’t know what is right, how can I? I am not going to waste the time.”

In a war an army must present a unified front. If an army is fighting with itself, how can it conquer the enemy? We are in a battle and we must be unified. In a world that has so much disunity, hate, ethnic barriers, economic barriers etc, a strongly unified church of males and females, poor and rich, black and yellow and white, young and old can be a strong testimony for God.

Then Jesus says His desire for us to be with Him. Jesus wants to be with us. John 14. We will have the chance and then we will see Him in all of His glory. Exciting!

How can we see Jesus’ glory?

Verses 25-26 review again Jesus’ mission. Mission accomplished.

Main Points to Discuss

  1. Jesus’ love and care for all believers. You can see Jesus’ merciful and compassionate heart towards us as He prays.

  2. Being kept by the Father.

  3. To be in the world, but not of the world.

  4. To be sanctified.

  5. To be unified.

Study John 18

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One Comment

  1. RICHARD EBUKA October 1, 2018 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Where was it refers in John 17:1-26,worship,followship,evangelism,discipleship

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