In His great High
Priestly prayer Jesus said, "And this is eternal
life, that they may know You, the only true God, and
Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). Then
as He began praying for His disciples in verse six
Jesus gave a sequence of events that takes place in
the experience of everyone who comes to Him for
Eternal life is to enter
into the intimacy of heart, mind and soul in true
love with God. To know Him is to have an intimate
personal relationship with Him. It is impossible to
have such a fellowship with God without Jesus
Christ. To know God in Jesus Christ is to be in the
most intimate personal friendship with Him.
The foundation and basis
of such knowledge of God is the atoning death of
Eternal life is God's
"quality" of life. William Barclay said, "to possess
it, to enter into it, is to experience here and now
something of the splendor, and the majesty, the joy,
the peace and the holiness which are characteristic
of the life of God."
Eternal life is God's
kind of life and it begins for us when we are born
again, or born spiritually through regeneration by
the Holy Spirit of God. We who "were dead in
trespasses and sins" have been "made alive together
with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and
raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the
heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:5-6).
"Eternal life, then,
consists in the knowledge of God" mediated and
revealed through the "revealer whom God has sent,"
Jesus Christ. The "knowledge of the revealer is one
with the knowledge of the God who is revealed," and
therefore impossible to know one without the other.
To know the Son is to know the Father through the
mystery of a personal relationship of divine love
Faith in Jesus Christ is
the condition of receiving eternal life. Jesus said,
"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone
who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have
eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the
last day" (John 6:40).
THE DISCIPLES BELONG
TO THE FATHER
Jesus prayed to the
Father, "I have manifested Your name to the men whom
You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and
You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word."
Jesus acknowledged to the
Father that the disciples "were Yours." They were
the Father's unique possession. His prayer is echoed
in the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:4,
"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of
the world, that we would be holy and blameless
All believers are
We belong to God the
Father and He can do with us whatever He likes
regardless of what we think. He is sovereign over
His universe. He made it and He can do with it as He
pleases. Man is not sovereign over creation; the
Creator is. It is His possession; we are only
stewards of it. It was His plan to give His elect to
the Son, and through the preaching of the Gospel the
Holy Spirit opens our hearts to receive Him.
Modern man is not the
center of the universe; the LORD God is. Everything
centers in Him.
Jesus reveals to us that
the disciples originally belonged to the Father.
"They were Yours," Jesus says. They belonged to the
Father. "They were Yours and You gave them to Me."
That was His sovereign choice.
Newman and Nida explain,
"They belonged to you and you gave them to me simply
expands the thought of the previous statement, those
you gave me out of the world." Then they add, "The
disciples who remained in the world were not in a
sense 'of the world'" (Translation Handbook
on John). Their disposition has changed. They no
longer bought into the world system which is opposed
to God's will.
God made a choice in His
election of a holy people whom He set apart for
Himself. They were of His own choosing. Jesus
acknowledges this in His prayer. They belonged to
the Father, the Father gave them to the Son, and
they have kept His word. His prayer reminds us of
Romans 8:29-30. These chosen ones are "those You
gave Me out of the world." God chose us for
His great purpose and possession. C. K. Barrett
observes, "The disciples belonged to God from the
beginning, because from the beginning He had
predestined them as His children."
for the believer
This truth from God's
Word should give every true believer great assurance
of eternal life. Chosen of God, not by the will of
man, or heredity, or our choosing (John 1:12-13).
God did it. God chose me. How do I know that to be
true? The next three events prove it. The Holy
Spirit applied the truth of Jesus Christ to my heart
and I believed. Our salvation is no haphazard, whim
of the moment. It is a miracle of God, just like the
resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Puritan reformer
Thomas Manton said, "Your election will be known by
your interests in Christ, and your interest in
Christ by the regeneration in the Spirit. All God's
flock are put in Christ's hands, and He leaves them
in the care of the Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2)."
Have you ever stopped and
poured your heart and soul out to God in
thanksgiving for His saving grace and the wonderful
fact that He chose you for eternal life? There is
nothing so exciting than a grateful heart in utter
praise to a great Savior.
THE FATHER GAVE THE
DISCIPLES TO THE SON
"I have manifested Your
name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world;
they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they
have kept Your word." Jesus said, "They were Yours
and You gave them to Me." These are the "men whom
You gave Me out of the world."
By a sovereign act God
the Father gave the believers to Jesus. God the
Father gave His elect to the Son, and they also
became His possession. Not only do we belong to the
Father, but we also belong to the Son. That is
double security. Speaking of the believers Jesus
said, "I give eternal life to them, and they shall
never (double negative meaning, "not perish,
never"); and no one shall snatch them out of My
hand. . . and no one is able to snatch them out of
the Father's hand. I and the Father are one" (John
10:28-30, author's emphasis).
In John 17:2 Jesus has
already said, "to all whom You have given Him (the
Son), He may give eternal life." Jesus used the
third person in this verse referring to Himself. He
is saying, You gave them to Me, and I will give them
Believers are the
Father's love-gift to the Son (vv. 2, 6, 9, 11, 12,
24). The idea dominates the entire prayer. The sum
total of all believers are those the Father has
given to Jesus (John 6:37-39).
Plummer notes, "Sometimes
the Father is said to 'give' or 'draw' men to Christ
(v. 24; 6:37, 44, 65; 10:29; 18:9); sometimes Christ
is said to 'choose' them." There is the wooing of
the Holy Spirit bringing the elect to repentance and
faith. I am convinced there is not going to be any
of the elect missing in heaven.
Those who believed on
Jesus were given to Him by the Father and would
remain with Him forever in glory. This is the main
thrust of His high priestly prayer before He goes to
the cross to die for them. Jesus knew from the
beginning that they had been given to Him and this
was steadily before Him as He neared the cross.
Jesus said earlier in His ministry, "No one can come
to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I
will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44).
Jesus conducted His ministry looking for those whom
the Father had given Him and expecting them to come
to Him. He was always looking about Him watching to
see where God the Father was at work. He was working
with the Father in what He was doing.
God is at work all about
us. We know He is at work when we see people coming
to Him for salvation. Our responsibility is to
faithfully preach the Gospel, and invite all to put
their trust in His saving grace. The Holy Spirit
works in the heart to cause them to believe on
Christ. Just like Christ did not give up on the
eternal purpose of God, neither should we. It is our
responsibility to be faithful and share His Word to
a lost world. Those who come are God's gift to the
Son. They are trophies of His grace.
God the Father has chosen
us in Him before the foundation of the world, that
we should be holy and blameless before Him. It was
the kind intention of His will, and to the praise of
the glory of His grace which He bestowed on us. God
the Father chose us, and gave us to the Son so that
He could reveal the Father to us.
JESUS REVEALED THE
FATHER TO THE DISCIPLES
"I have manifested Your
name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world;
they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they
have kept Your word."
The Father chose them,
and gave them to the Son, and the Son "manifested"
the Father's name to them. The responsibility of
Jesus was to reveal the character of the heavenly
The Father's name
What was Jesus busy doing
while He ministered on the earth? He was revealing
the Father. He was busy doing the Father's will
(John 5:17-29). All that we see in Jesus is of God.
Our attention is focused on the eternal God.
The word "manifest" in
the original language means to "reveal, make known,
show, to make visible and clear." Jesus was
teaching, revealing and making clear the character
of His Father.
Literally, Jesus was
making known the Father's name to them. "I
manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out
of the world" (v. 6). The "name" stands for the
whole revealed character of the LORD God. To refer
to the "name" of God is another way to refer to God
Himself. The "name" is representative of the Godhead
and says this is what God is really like. It reveals
the whole nature, character of the person in as much
as it can be known. Jesus had been entrusted with
the revelation of God as He is (Hebrews 1:1-3). "God
. . . spoke to us in His Son . . . And He is the
radiance of His glory and the exact representation
of His nature . . ." Jesus Christ reveals the
essential nature of God to men, not in an
indiscriminate manner, but to those whom God gave to
Jesus (Jn. 6:37). These disciples were the elect of
the Father who gave them to the Son to reveal to
them the essential character of the Father.
The Son came to reveal to
us what the Father is like. We know what God the
Father is like when we look at the Son. The Son
resembles the Father. Do you want to know what the
Father is like? Examine closely the detailed
character and attributes of Jesus Christ. Jesus told
Thomas, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (14:6).
Then He immediately responded to a question by
Thomas saying, "He who has seen Me has seen the
Father; how do you say, show us the Father'? Do You
not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father
is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak
on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me
does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father,
and the Father in Me" (vv. 9-11a).
Jesus prayed, "Father."
He taught the disciples to pray, "Our Father." We
come to Him praying, "Father," "Abba Father," "Our
Not until Jesus came did
believers call God directly "my Father." Jesus
always called God "Father," "My Father" in all of
His prayers (Jn. 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24-25; 11:41;
12:27-28; cf. Matt. 11:25; 26:39, 42; Mk. 14:36; Lk.
23:34). The one exception is when Jesus was being
made sin and dying as our substitute on the cross
(Matt. 27:46). There He cried out, "My God, My God,
why have You forsaken Me."
Spiritual knowledge is
the fruit of "receiving, and truly understanding"
that Jesus Christ came from the Father. It is by
"believing" on Him we have eternal life (cf. Jn.
In John 17:8 Jesus says,
"the words which You gave Me I have given to them."
Jesus Christ is the final and complete revelation of
God to men. The Holy Spirit takes the words of Jesus
and cuts through the hardness of our hearts to bring
conviction of sin and spiritual life (Heb. 4:12; 1
Pet. 1:23). In John 5:24 Jesus said, "Truly, truly,
I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him
who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come
into judgment, but has passed out of death into
life." Jesus was simply doing what the Father was
doing (v. 19). He was revealing the Giver of eternal
life. This new life He gives is a miracle. The
apostle Paul described it as raising the dead (2
Cor. 5:17). All things become new. Lost sinners are
saved by the application of God's Word to the
individual by the Holy Spirit. It is the power of
God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:8-10, 17).
The Holy Spirit uses the
words of Jesus to convict us of sin, righteousness
and judgment (Jn. 16:12-15).
The "words" Jesus is
referring to in 17:8 is the God-given message He
proclaimed. He was the embodiment of the message
itself. He is the word He proclaimed. The stress is
on the divine revelation. The essential is "the
words which You gave Me" and the response to it.
The disciples "received,"
"truly understood," "believed" and in verse six,
"kept the word." The religious leaders rejected the
revelation of God in Christ. On the other hand, the
disciples, "come to know, and to know of a
certainty, that Jesus was the divine origin, that He
came forth from God" (Morris, NIC, John, p. 724).
The disciples accepted the fact that Jesus came from
the Father and believed that "You did send Me." That
is the essential message He proclaimed. This is what
the Father is like. "They have come to believe that
the Father sent Christ."
John brings His gospel to
a grand climax with these words in John 20:27-31.
"Then He said to Thomas, 'Reach here with your
finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand,
and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving,
but believing.' Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My
Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Because you
have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they
who did not see, and yet believed.' Therefore many
other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of
the disciples, which are not written in this book;
but these have been written so that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that
believing you may have life in His name."
THE ELECT HAVE
BELIEVED THE SON
"The have kept Your
word," is the declaration of Jesus. The disciples
proved to truly belong to the Father by believing on
They kept Jesus'
In John 17:8 Jesus says
not only did He give the words to the disciples, but
they have "received them, and truly understood that
I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou
didst send Me." They accepted God's Word believing
that Jesus Christ is God's only beloved Son.
When we obey God's Word
we listen to it preached, receive it into our
hearts, know it to be from God, and we believe on
In the parable of the
sower Jesus makes it clear that some will hear only
words, and it will pass over the heads and fall to
the ground. The message must be received into our
mind, and become a part of our thinking, and settle
down into our personal being. God communicates to us
through His preached word that Jesus Christ is the
Son of God, and He has come from the Father to give
eternal life to all who will believe on Him.
Specifically Jesus said,
"Now they have come to know that everything You have
given Me is from You for the words You gave to Me I
have given to them; and they have received them, and
truly understood that I came forth from You, and
they believed that You did send Me" (v. 8).
Emphatically Jesus says
they recognized the source of His message as being
Jesus Christ is the Son
of God, the Lamb of God and the Suffering Servant of
God who came to die as our substitute. "They
believed You have sent Me." Based upon what they
have learned they have made a personal commitment of
themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do you know you are
of the elect of God? You are if you "have kept Thy
word" (v. 6).
The word for "obey" or
"kept" means to literally "pay attention to" or
"observe." They kept the word in their hearts and
obeyed it. We do this when we observe the traffic
light at the intersection or the "stop" sign. We
hear the Word of God, understand it and believe it
to the point it changes our behavior. The Holy
Spirit takes the spoken word and applies it to our
hearts. This is the miracle of the new birth when we
are born spiritually. We "keep" His Word because of
this change in our hearts. Jesus said of those who
were elected of the Father, given to the Son, heard
His Word and "believed" that "they kept Your word."
Have you believed God as
revealed in the person of Jesus Christ? Have you
committed your life to Him?
Have you seen the Father?
Has the living Word of God come alive in your heart?
Is it giving evidence in your life that you are a
child of God?
You can know that you are
a Christian. The evidence is in the fact that you
have believed the truth about Jesus Christ and are
continually acting upon it. His Word will bear fruit
in your life if you trust Him. If you are of the
elect you will believe and continue to believe in
obedience to His Word.
Is God your Father?
In a lesser sense than
that uniqueness of Jesus to the Father, we can call
God "our Father." He was the Son of God in a unique
one of a kind sense. He is our Father because of our
adoption into His family when we believed on Christ
(Rom. 8:15-17). He is the father of all who believe
on Christ. The disciples have persevered in keeping
the "word" of God.
I like the application
James Boice makes, "You need not fear that the great
God of the universe, the One who owns and controls
all things, will let you down, that He will
disappoint you or turn His back on you. This God
clothes the lily of the field and the grass. 'Will
He not much more clothe you, O you of little
faith?'" (Matt. 6:30).
"Is God your Father? If
He is, He will preserve you to the end and will
permit nothing to change your relationship to Him.
You may disgrace Him. You may be unworthy of your
high calling. You may run away from Him, as Jonah
did. But He will still be your Father" (Boice,
John, vol. iv, p. 1274).
In John 17:8 Jesus
presents the salvation experience from the
believer's perspective. He focuses on His ministry
of teaching the disciples, and their believing on
Him as sent from the Father. He has revealed to the
disciples the words the Father gave Him, and they
have received them as coming from God. On the basis
of His teaching the disciples know He has come from
the Father, and they have believed on Him as the One
God sent. That is the same challenge He gives to us.
Jesus said, "If anyone is
willing to do His will, he will know of the
teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak
from Myself" (John 7:17). When we recognize that
Jesus' teachings come from God, we also recognize
that He came from God. Jesus' response will still be
the same to us as it was to those believers, "Now
they have come to know that everything You have
given Me is from You" (17:7). They have arrived at a
settled conclusion that Jesus is an accurate
revelation of God. Everything He taught came from
the Father and revealed Him.
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
Our salvation is as
secure as the integrity of our Savior.
Our salvation is a gift
of the Trinity: those whom the Father chose, the Son
redeemed, and the Holy Spirit quickens and gives
"If a single one of God's
elect were to perish, the glory of the perfect
Servant would be tarnished for all eternity. How
absolute, then, is our security!" said A. W. Pink.
Our salvation is
not in what you know, but in Whom you trust.
Yes, it is true that
there are some essential things we must know
accurately. But there is great comfort and
encouragement in this passage for us weary pilgrims.
It is evident that the Lord sees far more in His
believing people than they see in themselves, or
than others see in them. The least degree of faith
is very precious in His sight.
Our heavenly Father is
pleased: "that we should know Him in love, know Him
as the Father, know Him according to the words of
Him who has come out from His bosom. . . It is not
the graces that adorn us, or the services that we
render, but simply that we know the Father. It is
this which distinguishes the saint from the world
and gives him his standing, as here, in the presence
of the Father" (J. G. Bellett). Do you know the
So perfectly did Christ
complete the work the Father gave Him to do that He
could say, "He that has seen Me has seen the Father"
(John 14:9). Have you seen the Father?
When our great High
Priest entered the presence of the Father, He bore
our names on His heart before the Father like the
Aaron did for Israel (Ex. 28:29). He intercedes for
you and me right now before the Father's throne.
Our salvation is
appropriated by faith in Jesus Christ.
God's offer of eternal
life is for all who will call upon His name today.
Will you respond to His effectual call right now?
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not
perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "But as
many as received Him, to them He gave the right to
become children of God, even to those who believe in
His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the
will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of
God" (John 1:12-13).
Have you come to know for
certain and clearly understood that Jesus Christ
came from the Father and that believing in His name
you can have eternal life? Take a few moments right
now and confess to Him your sin and believe in your
heart that Jesus is Lord. The Bible says, "that if
you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and
believe in your heart that God raised Him from the
dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person
believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the
mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Romans
Title: John 17:6-8
How to Receive Eternal Life