JESUS' PRAYER OF INTERCESSION, PART 2
John 17:6-10 I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.
In the first five verses of this chapter, Jesus prayed to God that He, Himself, would be glorified. His prayer continues for His apostles. Jesus prayerfully testifies that, during His three-plus years of earthly ministry, He had revealed, through His teaching, the spiritual, omniscient character of God, His law, and His plan of redemption and eternal salvation, unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world, which were His apostles. They were humanly chosen by Jesus but spiritually, they were selected by God. Considering that, God gave them to Jesus that they may be of service to Him. They were taught by Jesus, and later by the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to them. They were then commissioned, or authorized, to carry out the awesome responsibility of proclaiming the gospel of salvation throughout the world.
As Jesus' apostles, He not only taught them God's word, but He also saed that they have kept Thy word. Not only did the Savior teach them His gospel message of salvation given Him by His Heavenly Father, but by keeping it (obeying it), they believe it and know it to be the truth coming directly from God, Himself. The gospel message that Jesus taught His apostles originated with God. Believing the fact that Jesus was sent to earth to deliver God's message of salvation to the world, His apostles, even without fully understanding it, gladly received His teaching with open hearts and minds, and with unwavering faith.
There is some small controversy about the intent of verse 9. In this prayer of intercession, Jesus confessed to God saying, I pray for them; I pray not for the world. The first portion of this text is clear. Indeed, Jesus prayed for His apostles. It is the second half that has raised some debate. Certainly Jesus did not mean that He had no compassion for the world of sinners, because we know that His mission on earth was to bring salvation to lost sinners. We note in the latter part of His prayer, that He petitioned God on behalf of those that did not presently believe in Him, but through the preaching of His gospel of salvation, they were converted and joined themselves with other believing disciples (See Vss. 20-21). Because of this truth, we can dismiss the argument that Jesus did not pray for sinners. In this verse of the lesson text, Jesus was praying to God only for His apostles, that He would protect them and give them spiritual guidance. The reason for granting them special physical and spiritual favors was because they were specifically chosen by God's providence. In this sense, the apostles were given to Jesus, but they belonged to God.
We know from the Holy Spirit-inspired writings of the apostle Paul, that all things in heaven and on earth were created by God in the presence, and with the assistance, of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is presently the head of the body, the church (See Col. 1:15-19). This tells us that all things created, including earths human inhabitants, are owned jointly by God and His Son. In the last verse of the lesson text, Jesus, in His prayer of intercession, confesses that the apostles also belonged in common to Them. He makes this prayerful statement about the apostles, saying, And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine.
More importantly, about His apostles, Jesus confesses to God that I am glorified in them. The glorification of Jesus came through His sin-atoning death on the cross of Calvary, which culminated when He conquered death by His resurrection. This served as the foundation on which God's gospel plan of eternal salvation would be extended to the world. This gospel was first preached on the Day of Pentecost after the ascension of Christ back into heaven. It was destined to be preached by His apostles, and by that preaching Jesus would be glorified in them. The preaching of the apostles on the Day of Pentecost was the key given to each man and woman of the world, which opens the door to eternal salvation to all that chose to hear the gospel, believe in it, repent of their past sinful ways, confess Jesus to be the Son of God, and be baptized for the remission of all sins. Jesus' prayer for His apostles was heard by God, and was surely granted.