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All Scripture references are to the New International Version-UK, unless noted otherwise.


Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God,

and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

- John 17: 3 -



THE VERSE ABOVE occurs in Jesus’ high-priestly prayer, the substance of John 17. The prayer is one of intercession for his disciples, wherein Jesus lovingly commends them to the Father’s care. (We have reproduced all of chapter 17 at the end.)


Soon the Saviour would experience his anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the early hours of that morning he would be waylaid by a platoon of soldiers, through the treachery of Judas, hauled off for brutal treatment, interrogation, and crucifixion in the afternoon of Nisan 14.


How blessed were those eleven disciples, forerunners of the nascent Gospel Age Church, to be privy to that touching prayer on their behalf  the Master addressing the Father in heaven! How little they would have understood what was to come, or the ramifications of the sacrifice Jesus would make on their behalf. His own heart near to breaking, Jesus confides in his Father with the intimacy and assurance of a son who knows he will be heard.


Knowing and Understanding

The Greek word ginōskō, rendered ‘know’ in v. 3, supports sundry intepretations, often determined by the context. In the sense used here it bespeaks the believer’s intimate acquaintance with God a profound mental and heart’s appreciation of His character and holiness. The disciples were yet to comprehend the height and depth of the quality of eternal life to which they had been called. Only after Pentecost, when they were anointed with the holy spirit, would they embark on their apostolic ministry in earnest and able to grasp the grand implications of life without end.


At its most complete, the promise of everlasting life is not merely the possession of perpetual (αιωνιος [aiōniŏs]) existence, but a richness of life beyond measure life that comes only from both an infilling of the Father’s grace and owning the Son as one’s Saviour (John 10: 10).



Note carefully that the expression ‘the only true God, and Jesus Christ’ reinforces yet again (1) the unitary nature of God and (2) the separateness of Jesus, the Son. No modalism or trinitarianism here – only a clear statement that the Son is not the Father.


* * *

John 17


1. After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3.  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6.  I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8.  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9.  I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10.  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11.  I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12.  While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13.  I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14.  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.16.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.  20.  My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21.  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. 23.  I in them and you in me so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24.  Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25.  Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.’



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