Updated: Apr 21
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Jesus prayed for his disciples, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
This is the Gospel selection for the seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. This reading will accompany the mandatory reading from the Acts of the Apostles (this Sunday from chapter 1), where it is written, “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons).” That will be followed by a Psalm 1 reading, which sings: “Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and they meditate on his law day and night.” Last, the Epistle reading will come from First John, where he wrote, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life.”
In all of John’s seventeenth chapter there are zero times the word “disciples” was written. John recorded Jesus saying, "I concerning them pray,” adding, "not concerning this world pray." So, Jesus talked to Yahweh, such that "prayer" implies asking for special considerations. However, John began chapter seventeen by saying, "These spoke Jesus," saying his vision had become elevated to the heavenly realm of the Father; and, talking with Yahweh is prayer.
While translators of Scripture place headings over sections of verses to help guide the readers as to what will be presented next, those headings are human testimony and are not part of the text. Such a heading appears over this section of verses, which announces: “Prayer for the disciples” [BibleHub Interlinear]. The NRSV lists the whole chapter as "Jesus prays for his disciples," when verses 1-5 are called "Prayer for the Son" and verses 20-26 are called "Prayer for all believers" by BibleHub Interlinear. One can assume that young John followed his father to his place of prayer and listened to his father pray aloud to Yahweh; but the essence of what Jesus said is not a plea, as much as it is a statement that summarizes Jesus' ministry.
While the assumption is that Jesus privately prayed for his disciples, that word ["disciples"] not being used allows for Jesus to also be praying for his followers, both male and female adults, which the accompanying reading from Acts says numbered one hundred twenty. That would have included family members and those outside the family, all of whom were also included in this summary by Jesus. Most importantly, these prayers can include others from distant times, including today. When one reads these words John recorded, one needs to hear Jesus praying to his Father for us too; as Scripture is a living text that never dies or gets old.
It is again important to understand the context of the chapter John presents. These prayers are offered late into the night [Sunday], after Jesus has led his disciples out of the upper room, into the streets of the Essene Quarter of Jerusalem. From there they then outside the Essene Gate, to the hillside that overlooked the Hinnom Valley. It was in that area that Jesus did a ‘walk and talk,’ while his disciples continued to get drunk on Seder wine. As such, Jesus and John were the only two who were sober then.
Most likely, Jesus led John to a secluded place amid some olive trees, while the disciples were boisterously acting like drunken Jews on a feast night, one that sought that state of being as a sign of faith. As Jerusalem was teeming with Passover pilgrims at that time, all of whom were also doing the Seder ritual, it is likely Jesus’ disciples had plenty of company that kept them distracted, while Jesus went to pray privately. We know this most likely happened not far from the Essene Gate, because John’s eighteenth chapter begins by stating: “After Jesus had spoken these words [the prayers of chapter 17], he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.”
In the Ascension of Jesus, which took place on a Sabbath, the Jews were limited to walking barely further than half a mile beyond the synagogue. Because Gethsemane is beyond that distance and because the Mount of Olives [Mount Olivet] was further, it is important to realize this area outside the Essene Gate, on the ridge overlooking the valley of Hinnom, it too was called a mount of olive trees. This means the place where John recorded Jesus praying would later be the place where he would ascend, not the actual Mount of Olives.
In these selected fourteen verses, there are only five capitalized words. They are:
1. “Ephanerōsa” – I have revealed, made visible, made clear, manifest, made known.
2. “Egō” – I
3. “Pater” – Father
4. “Nyn” - Now, the Present
5. “Ouk” – Not, No
Simply by realizing a capitalized word takes on divine meaning and even though these five words are spread out in fourteen verses [6, 9, 11, 13, and 15], they connect divinely to make the statement, “I have made known I Father Now Not.” That says these prayers are based on Jesus having been made aware that he was about to be arrested, never again to have physical contact with his family, followers, and disciples. Even while he was still free and alive, Jesus knew his time on earth, in a physical body that was his alone, was finished. For readers today, and through all times since John’s Gospel was first published and made commonly available to be read, the same statement [in essence] stands true still. There will be no other physical manifestation of Jesus that will again teach followers how to serve Yahweh, because Jesus would become the Spiritual seed that falls and dies, so that it can grow and spread spiritually through others produced.
In these fourteen verses are found fifteen uses of the word “kai,” which is a marker word that denotes important statements to follow that marker [usually a segment of words]. I will now present each of those segments that are introduced by the word “kai.”
1. [6c] “kai ton logon sou tetērēkan ,”
2. [8c] “kai autoi elabon
3. “ kai egnōsan alēthōs hoti para sou exēlthon ;”
4. [8d] “kai episteusan hoti sy me apesteilas .”
5. [10a] “kai ta ema panta ,”
6. [10c] “kai ta sa ,”
7. [10e] “kai dedoxasmai en autois .”
8. [11a] “kai ouketi eimi en tō kosmō ,”
9. [11b] “kai autoi en tō kosmō estin ,”
10.[12d] “kai ephylaxa ,”
11.[12e] “kai oudeis ex autōn apōleto ,”
12.[13b] “kai tauta lalō en tōkosmō ,”
13.[14b] “kai ho kosmos emisēsen autous ,”
14.[19a] “kai hyper autōn egō hagiazō emauton ,”
15.[19c] “kai autoi hēgiasmenoi en alētheia .”
Those important statements literally translate as:
1. [6c] “kai that word yours they have watched over ,”
2. [8c] “kai they have taken
3. “ kai have understood truly because alongside of yours I have come ;”
4. [8d] “kai they had faith because you me sent .”
5. [10a] “kai who mine always ,”
6. [10c] “kai who yours ,”
7. [10e] “kai I have been valued in them .”
8. [11a] “kai no further exist in this world ,”
9. [11b] “kai they in this world exist ,”
10.[12d] “kai I have kept ,”
11.[12e] “kai no one from out of them is lost ,”
12.[13b] “kai these speak in this world ,”
13.[14b] “kai this world has esteemed less them ,”
14.[19a] “kai on behalf of them self-identity sanctify myself ,”
15.[19c] “kai they sanctified in truth .”
Before going over these important statement, I want to point out a couple of ‘contractions’ that incorporate “kai.” One is “kamoi” and the other is “kagō.” The word “kagō” is a contraction of “kai egō,” and “kamoi” is rooted in the word “kagō,” where "moi" is the enclitic dative form of "egō." There are three of these in these fourteen verses, one presentation of “kamoi” and two of “kagō.” All should be read as equally important verses being marked along with the “I” of Jesus. Those three are as follows:
1. [6b] “kamoi autous edōkas ,”
2. [11c] “kagō pros se erchomai ,”
3. [18b] “kagō apesteila autous eis ton kosmon ;”
Those important statements literally translate as:
1. [6b] “kai myself themselves you gave ,”
2. [11c] “kai I with you come ,”
3. [18b] “kai I sent them into this world ;”
When one looks closely at these important statement, one should be able to see Jesus was not specific to just twelve [eleven without Judas] "disciples. His words are certainly references to them, but globally applicable to all who could forever be deemed as his “disciples.” When the two sets I pointed out above are dovetailed in their order of presentation, the first one [6b] importantly states, “myself themselves.” That has to be seen as statements about “souls,” where a “self” is the life animating a body of flesh. Thus, everything falls from the union that merges the soul of Jesus with each of the souls of the faithful. When Jesus added to that segment, “you [Yahweh] gave,” this means God made it possible for that presence of Jesus' soul to be within another human being. For that to happen [then, now, forevermore] Yahweh must grant that presence; and, that comes after one's soul marries Him.
To see all of this [and that not delineated] as being the power of Yahweh, where the Son is sent for this purpose, it should become evident that there would be absolutely no reason or cause for Jesus to “pray for his disciples.” This whole chapter of John tells of a conversation held between the Father and the Son. In that conversation others were mentioned and had focus placed on “them,” but to think that Jesus did not have the complete trust, confidence and faith that God’s plan was playing out … as planned … Jesus was not begging Yahweh for help. He was simply acknowledging the time had come for him to cease being alongside others in the flesh, because his soul was soon to be released, so many others could be filled. The conversation Jesus had with his Father says what Jesus knew what was about to take place.
There is so much that could be written about what John wrote here, about what Jesus said to God. It is written for your benefit, by John, directed by Yahweh. If you would like to see yourself as one with God and Christ, then it is time to put down your handheld play toys and try to see what you need to do to fulfill these traits and characteristics outlined by Jesus. See how Jesus is praying for you.