The Evangelical Universalist Forum

JRP's Exegetical Compilation: John 17

This is part of my Exegetical Commentary Project, which can be found here.

Sometimes Calvinists will appeal to 17:9 as evidence of a distinction between people whom God intends to save from sin and people He does not intend to save from sin: “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me”.

But Calvinists had better hope the scope is wider than that, because Jesus was talking from verses 6-8, and from verses 9-26, about the current disciples and apostles! Is it only the men (and maybe a few women) present at the Last Supper after Judas left, who are the chosen elect of God, and all the rest of us are among the non-elect, yourself included?!? The disciples and apostles are only supposed to go out into the world afterward to demonstrate that they are of the elect and no one else is?!? Preposterous!

At the very least the scope also includes “those who believe in Me through their word” (v.20), for whom Jesus also prays (“I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but also for those…”)

But the scope is explicitly wider even than that, at the start of this same climactic High Priestly prayer, 17:1-2: “Glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You; just as You gave Him authority over every flesh, so that He may give eonian life to everything You have given Him.”

By those explicit terms, the only way that the Son and the Father may glorify each other is if the Father gives all authority to the Son so that the Son may give eonian life to everything over which He has authority. That’s the context in which Jesus says He isn’t praying for the world but for His immediate disciples: He’s asking that they should be preserved as witnesses to the world, but it’s still the same principle because everything the Father gives the Son belongs to both Persons and must not be finally lost.

By the same token, this means that although the “son of perdition” given to the Son to be guarded will perish, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled, Judas still was also given to the Son and so shall not be finally lost; Judas Iscariot isn’t among those whom Christ is praying will stay true for evangelizing the world, but he is among all those over whom the Son has been given authority for the purpose of giving them eonian life.

See also commentary on the first half of the Final Discourse, especially in regard to Jesus’ intentions regarding Judas Iscariot.

Members are invited to contribute interpretations of these verses in the comments below, and to add links to other discussions of them, whether here on the forum or off-site.

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