This research begins by defining two words important to the Lord’s prayer in John 17. It will proceed to explain the significance of acting in the name of the Father. Then, the exposition of John 17 will seek to show what Jesus is praying for the Father to do on the behalf of the disciples.


The first word that needs to be defined in chapter 17 is δόξα, “glory.” This word is used throughout the Bible in both literal and figurative ways. While it can describe the brightness of light, such as the radiance of glory, it is in most cases used to describe the positive qualities of something or someone. The Septuagint uses δόξα to translate the Hebrew word כָּבוֹד, (honor, splendor). God’s glory was visible when manifested in conjunction with His provision or power, Exodus. 16:7, 10. God’s glory has a cleansing characteristic, Exodus 29:43. While God’s glory is visible to the naked eye, God maintains His sovereignty over to whom it is revealed, Exodus 33:18–23. This last point is critical to understanding what Jesus is saying in John 17:22–24.

One day, the world will be filled with God’s glory, Numbers 14:21. God’s glory is both unchanging and unaffected by man’s sin, 1 Samuel 15:28–29. Glory should be ascribed to God, 1 Chronicles 16:28–29. All glory belongs to God, 1 Chronicles 29:11. The vastness of the universe speaks of God’s glory, Psalm 19:1. God gives glory to those who walk upright, Ps. 84:13. Man can use the glory that God has given him contrary to its purpose. Man is intended to represent God, but sometimes men act like animals, Ps. 106:20.

The second coming of Christ will be the greatest display of God’s glory the world has ever or will ever see, Matthew 16:27, 24:30, 25:31. Jesus is the light and radiance of God’s glory to the world, Luke 2:32, John 1:14, 2:11, Hebrews 1:3. Jesus is eternal, and His glory is being present with the Father, John 17:5. Jesus has shared His glory of being with the Father with those who believe in Him, John 17:22, 24.

The only apostle that spoke of God’s glory more than John was Paul, who mentions God’s glory over 40 times. Paul said that this present life of suffering is incomparable to the glory that is yet to be revealed, Romans 8:18. Believers are transformed into Christ’s glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 3:20–21. When Christ is revealed in glory, so will believers in Him be revealed, Colossians 3:4.

The second word that needs to be defined is δοξάζω, “to influence one’s opinion about another … to enhance the latter’s reputation, praise, honor, extol. To cause to have splendid greatness, clothe in splendor, glorify.”[1] δοξάζω is the verb form of δόξα. The action might be understood in modern culture by the comic book superhero Batman. When the city of Gotham recognized that only Batman could solve the problem, they activated the “Bat signal,” which was a light in the sky with a shadow of a bat in the middle. In doing that, Gotham glorified Batman.

Every time Jesus did a miracle or gave the word from the Father, Jesus shined the spotlight on the Father. Jesus glorified the Father by doing what the Father had sent His Son to do, John 17:4. In return for the faithful actions of the Son, the Father glorified the Son in returning Jesus to His former glory at the right hand of the Father, John 17:5. Jesus has given His glory, that of being at the right hand of the Father for all eternity, to them that believe that the Father sent the Son who perfectly completed the Father’s will, John 17:22. Those who believe the Father sent the Son will be the first witnesses of the glorified Son of God, John 17:24.

Explanation of acting in the Father’s Name

In John 17:6a, Jesus says, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given to me….” The question, then, is what does Jesus mean by “name?” Name, in Scripture, carries two essential qualities. The first quality of “name” in this context is character. In the modern era, a person might make a name for themselves by doing something great. It means that the name is bound up in the character of the person who made it. It is pretty well known that names in the Old Testament have essential character qualities of the name. In the same way that the Old Testament names describe the person’s characteristics, God’s names describe His character qualities. While this is not a treatise on the names of God, understanding the character qualities of God’s names will help in understanding what Jesus means in John 17:6.

Authority is the second quality “name” carries. In John 17:6b, Jesus indicates that He was given the authority to act in the same characteristic as the Father to manifest the Father’s character to the disciples. Genesis 1-3 shows this authoritative quality of names through the act of naming. In Genesis 1:5, “God called the light day, and the darkness He called night.” God is sovereign over the cycles of day and night. No human being can alter that cycle. Even in the modern era, these are still the standard terms used. There is a bit of irony in that a God-rejecting world uses God’s terms to describe day and night.

In verse 8, “God called the expanse heaven.” God alone is sovereign over the heavens. In verse 10, “God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas.” God is sovereign over the earth and the seas. Finally, verse 26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man…” God is fully sovereign over humanity. However, God decided to permit man (Adam) to act in God’s name, His character, and authority over certain aspects of God’s creation. One step further, Adam named women generally, Genesis 2:23, and Eve specifically, Genesis 3:20. The act of God renaming Abram to Abraham and Jacob to Israel is fundamental.

Exposition of John 17

In John 17:1-3, Jesus is talking about bringing glory to the Father by going to the cross and shows the Father and the Son were in complete control of every moment. The crucifixion of Jesus was not an unforeseen conclusion. It was the plan and purpose from the beginning. The Father sent the Son to die on a cross. In performing the Father’s will, Jesus is glorifying the Father. There is an exchange of glory as the Father shines a light on the Son. The Son, in turn, shines a light on the Father. For Jesus to be able to give eternal life, He had to die on a cross. Those who are given to Christ believe that the Father sent the Son and that the Son paid the penalty of death for sin. Jesus defines eternal life as knowing the Father and the Son, John. 6:47. There is also the concept of fruit-bearing Jesus spoke of in John 15.

John 17:4-5 shows how the exchange of glory between the Father and the Son operates. Verse 4 is a complex statement to unpack. Two potential translations revolve around the questions “When?” or “How?” If Jesus is saying when He glorified the Father with the works that He did, then the Father was glorified while Jesus was doing them. The question here is, was the work that the Father sent the Son to do complete? One would need to answer this question “What is everything the Father sent the Son to do?” The author of John’s Gospel gives a clue in chapter 19:28, 30. Based on those verses, the work that Jesus was sent to do was not yet completed when the Lord’s prayer is made in chapter 17. The force of this view is on the main verb δέδωκάς “You have given.” This perfect tense verb means that something happened in the past that is still true at the moment Jesus prayed without reference to the completed or continuous nature of the event. Jesus pulled out an infographic of a timeline and pinpointed a spot on the timeline showing where this prayer was prayed. While everything in the past on the timeline was complete, there was more yet to be completed by Jesus up to and including the crucifixion.

If Jesus is saying how He glorified the Father with the works that He did, then the Father was glorified by Jesus doing them. This view considers that the last sign miracle that Jesus did was raising Lazarus from the dead back in chapter 11. It would also necessarily exclude Jesus’ resurrection of Himself as outside the scope of the sign miracles presented as the purpose of John’s Gospel, 20:30–31. For this view to be tenable, the Father would be doing His work of glorifying the Son from this point forward in the narrative. Not to the crucifixion but the ascension of Jesus in Acts 1:9 based on John 17:5. The force of this view is the aorist tense of the main verb “glorified,” and the participle “completing,” which is a snapshot of a past event with no reference to the continuous or completed nature of the event.

Verse 5 builds on what is said in verse 4 based on the imperative form of “glorify.” While the imperative mood is understood by many as that of command, Wallace says that “it is not best to call this the mood of command because it may be used for other than a command.”[2] The word “glorify” in this verse is an imperative of request. Generally, this form of the imperative mood is a polite request of a subject to a superior. It does not mean that Jesus is inferior to the Father. It means that Jesus, who is coequal with the Father, subjects Himself to the will of the Father.

The interpretation is complex because it is based on conditions and volitional clauses in 17:4–5. In verse 4, Jesus is claiming to be completing the condition required of being restored to His former glory before the world was created in verse 5. A glaring problem with this view is that the construction does not fit the known patterns of Greek conditional statements, i.e., “if/then.” This volitional clause is an aorist conditional imperative that is ingressive. When Jesus prayed this prayer, He was requesting that the Father begin the process at that moment of restoring Jesus to His former glory with the Father because Jesus’ death on the cross would fulfill all of the conditions for restoration to take place.

John 19:6–16 illustrates the same idea perfectly. In verse 6, the subjected Jews “cried out saying, Crucify, crucify!” Both times “crucify” is an aorist-imperative. However, the superior Pilate refused the request. In verse 7, the Jews claim that Jesus met a condition that demanded the death penalty, because “He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” In verse 8, Pilate became “more afraid” when he found out that Jesus may have been the son of one of the many Greco-Roman gods, perhaps even a son of Caesar, who was worshiped as a god by Romans. The aorist imperative form of “crucify” is used again in verse 15, then in verse 16, the process of crucifixion began. In the same way, then, in 17:4–5, Jesus is asking the Father to hand Jesus over to be crucified so that He can be glorified and restored to His former glory of being present with the Father. Again, the complete control of the godhead over the events taking place is exhibited.

In John 17:6–10, Jesus sets up what it is He is asking of the Father. Jesus revealed the character of the Father to the disciples. What was the word that the disciples kept? They believed that Jesus was from the Father, v8. John. 6:28–29. The Greek for “words” in verse 8 is ῥήμα, which “denotes that which is spoken.”[3] In this context would be the words that Jesus spoke in the farewell discourse beginning in chapter 13 and leading up to the Lord’s prayer in chapter 17, John 12:44-50. The key to 17:10 would be the antecedent to the pronoun αὐτοῖς, “them.” It has to be the “them” who belong to the Father, who gave them to the Son. The antecedent to the pronoun is the ἀνθρώποις of verse 6 minus Judas. Jesus was glorified in His disciples because they believed the word that Jesus brought from the Father and that the Father sent Jesus. In the same manner that the disciples glorified Jesus, the Father was glorified by Jesus. The believing disciples fulfilled the Father’s will by believing that the Father sent Jesus, John 6:29.

In John 17:11-17, Jesus reveals what He is asking of the Father. Jesus is saying that He will soon be arrested, then crucified, and asks the Father to guard the disciples during that time of separation. In addition, Jesus will be coming to the Father, and the disciples will need to be guarded until Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, John 14:15–18; 16:13–15; Acts 2:1–4. Jesus also asks that the disciples be unified in Christ just as Jesus was unified in the Father. The unity Jesus is speaking of has nothing to do with unity between the disciples.

The Greek word γραφὴ is used in verse 12 to denote something that is written as opposed to something that is spoken. The word is both singular and articular, so the reference is to one specific written thing. Jesus is not referring to the whole corpus of the Old Testament Scripture. The specific verse that Jesus is referring to is Psalm 41:9, which is both prophetic and written. Jesus had already spoken of this event in John 13:18–30. In that pericope, Jesus tells the disciples that Jesus would be betrayed by one of the twelve and identifies who it is that would betray Him so that when the event took place, the other disciples would believe that Jesus is the Messiah. This short-term prophecy was to confirm the messenger and the message to the remaining disciples. It would shortly occur in chapter 18 of John’s Gospel.

What was it that gave Jesus joy in verse 13? Hebrews 12:2 indicates that being at the right hand of the Father gave Jesus joy. However, Jesus had to endure the cross to do so. While the cross is a shameful thing to occur, it was the Father’s will for the Son to be crucified. What then would bring the disciples the same joy that Jesus received? It is that they do the Father’s will. By doing the Father’s will, the disciples would also come to the Father just as Jesus was.

John the Baptist provides an example of the idea in John 3:29. John the Baptist had been given a special commission from the Father to reveal the Son of God to Israel. The method of that revelation was water baptism. John was given a sign that would pinpoint exactly who the Messiah was. John testified that he saw that sign. By doing the will of the Father, John the Baptist’s joy was “made full” when the Messiah was revealed.

This verse also has a hint of a conditional element in the subjunctive mood of the verb “have.” The subjunctive mood enters the realm of possibility, potential, and probability. It may include some sense of cognition, which is the ability to think, reason, and know; and volition as an act of the will. Jesus is saying that in all probability, these disciples would know and do the will of the Father, which would bring them joy just like it brought Jesus joy.

Jesus gave the disciples the λόγος, the eternal Word, in verse 14. Also, in verse 14, Jesus may be using κόσμος, “world,” in a spiritual sense, meaning that the disciples were concerned about spiritual and not worldly matters. Jesus asks the Father to “guard them from the evil one,” John 17:15. It is not clear if Jesus is talking about Satan or an evil person. It is also likely that Jesus is talking about the duration of His absence after the crucifixion to the coming of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were to be set apart for the eternal word of God, which is truth.

John 17:18-21. In the same way that the Father gave the Son a message and a mission, Jesus gave the disciples a message and a mission. Edwin A. Blum, who wrote the commentary on the Gospel of John in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, wrote that “Every Christian should view himself as a missionary whose task is to communicate God’s truth to others.[4] Verse 20 and following is clearly for all believers in the church age. Jesus asks that all believers have the same relationship with the Father as does the Son. To be one with the Father and the Son, which is the concept of a holy unity between God and the believer. He is not talking about unity between believers. He is talking about each believer having their own personal relationship with the Father and the Son. If each believer is one with the Father and the Son, unity between believers is an effortless natural result.

John 17:22–26. It has been previously shown that the glory that Jesus had was being present with the Father. Jesus gives that same glory to those that believe that the Father sent the Son. Jesus asks the Father to bring them that believe that the Father sent Jesus into the world to where the Son is after the ascension to see Jesus as the light of the Father’s glory, John 14:3.


The vocabulary words glory and glorified show that Jesus desired that He be returned to the Father’s presence. Jesus glorified the Father by doing the works the Father sent the Son to do. Since Jesus glorified the Father, the Father glorified the Son by returning Jesus to Himself. The Son revealed the full character of the Father, His Name, to the disciples. In the same way, Jesus sends the disciples into the world to act and do in the same name, the full character of God, as Jesus did. The Father glorified the Son by returning Jesus to His former glory because Jesus completed all that the Father asked the Son to do. In the same way, Jesus shares His glory, presence with the Father, with all who believe in His name, His full character.


Danker, Frederick, ed. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Third, BDAG. The University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Vine, W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson Publishers, 2003.

Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament ; with Scripture, Subject and Greek Word Indexes. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2008.

Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary, eds. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures: New Testament. Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books, 1983.

  1. Frederick Danker, ed., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third, BDAG. (The University of Chicago Press, 2000). No page number.

  2. Daniel B Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament ; with Scripture, Subject and Greek Word Indexes (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2008). Pg. 485.

  3. W. E Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson Publishers, 2003). Pg. 1242.

  4. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures: New Testament (Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books, 1983). Pg 333

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