Jesus, the Father, and the disciples in John 17 video discussion

The lectionary reading for Easter 7, the last Sunday of the Easter Season before Pentecost, is the first part ‘great prayer’ of Jesus in John 17.1–11. The lectionary divides the chapter into three parts over Years A, B and C, which either assumes that preachers and people have a good memory from year to year, or perhaps suggests that we think about the whole passage, but only read one section each year.

Though the start of the passage follows both the chapter division and a natural division of the discourse, we finish half way through a section. The first five verses focus on Jesus’ relationship with the Father, the in verse 6 the focus shifts to the consequent implications for the disciples—though our reading ends half way through this.

As previously in the Farewell Discourse, there is a density of terms, full of allusions to earlier parts of this gospel, abrupt changes of subject, and memorable apophthegms.

Come and join James and Ian as they discuss this passage, its implications, and how we might preach on it.

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20 thoughts on “Jesus, the Father, and the disciples in John 17 video discussion”

  1. The Commonly Ignored Words of Jesus in John 17 :

    ” Father …This is eternal life : to know you the ONLY true God, and Jesus Messiah whom You have sent. ” (John 17:1-3)

    The word ‘ONLY’ is the Greek word ‘Monos’, which means : Alone (without a companion); By Himself; Only.

    Hence, Paul writes :

    ” However, for us [First century Christians] the is but One God, and He is the Father ….and one lord ( ‘Adoni’ ; cf. Ps. 110:1, Heb. M.T.) Jesus the Messiah.”

    Somehow, Jesus’ word ‘ONLY’ in John 17:3 has become lost; Which reminds one of the famous statement :

    “When I use a word it means just what I chose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

    • In your theology, what is the relationship between the Father and the Son (John 17:1)?

      Also, what is the relationship between the eternal Word, through whom all things were made and who took on flesh and dwelt among us, and God (John 1:1-3,14)?

      • Dear David;

        Firstly, It is not a question of my theology that I have presented so far, it’s a question of Christ’s theology, and Paul’s theology, proclaimed within a First century Christian context. NOBODY’S (no matter who they are) later theologies can be justified if they nullify, negate or contradict the clear words of Jesus in 17:1-3, that the Father is “the ONLY true God”, and Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 8:5-6) that for Christians [in the First century] the Father was the one God of the Christians, and Jesus was the lord Messiah (cf. Acts 2:36b; Ps. 110:1 Heb. M.T.). In John 8:54 (cf. Mark 12:29), Jesus admits that the one God of the Jews was ‘the Father’ – Who, incidentally, had the personal name of ‘YHVH’ (cf. Deut. 6:4 with Isa. 63:16; 64:7; also see Mal. 2:10), which was probably pronounced as ‘Yahweh’. Even in the book of Revelation, there is always a distinction between ‘God’ and ‘the Lamb’, and Jesus always refers to to “God” (the Father) as “My God”.

        You ask about John 1:1-14. This is thought to be based upon a pre-existing hymn or poem.

        The word ‘Logos’ refers to God’s creative utterance (cf. Gen. 1:3, 6; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 50:10-11) and thus ‘Logos’ refers as well to God’s ‘Self-Expression’, OR, God’s ‘Self-Manifestation’. God’s ‘Logos’ ( = ‘Reason’ or ‘ Word’ ) is analogous to God’s ‘Wisdom’, which is personified in Proverbs 8. It is through God’s creative utterance (Logos) and through His Wisdom (Sophia), that the Universe came into being.

        In Jesus, we see God’s ‘Self-Expressive activity” and God’s essential final word to Mankind, become incarnated. This is why Jesus could say that the Father (the only true God) spiritually indwelt Him (Jesus) to such an extent, that to ‘see’ Jesus, was to see the Father ( John 14:10-11; cf. John 20:28); and why Paul could say, “God [i.e. the Father] was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19, cf. 1 Cor. 8:6).

        Thank and praise Father God for Jesus !

        • I prefer to use, in my own thought, the word ‘throne’ as a Biblical metaphor that is otherwise expressed as ‘trinity’.
          In this way I can imagine Jesus stepping down from the Throne. I can see the One, of Rev.4, as the Father on the throne and at the same time see Jesus as the Lamb at the centre of the Throne. The Holy Spirit is the Lamps before the Throne, The Stars in Jesus hand, the Angels blowing trumpets and pouring bowls.
          The only need for an impersonal metaphor, to carry the weight of the glorious is the Throne.
          Forsooth! It does seem a shame to spoil Ian and James exposition by hijacking it again.

          • I love everybody, STEVE, but I naturally like you, because you’re a person who thinks, and attempts to use Scripture, in some sort of deep and reflective way. Being of an artistic temperament, you’re also not afraid to think outside of ‘the box’. I may not agree with everything you say, Steve, but at least you’re thinking.

            I’ll get back to you, after I’ve read and reflected upon Revelation chapter Four.

        • Standard Nicene Christianity has only one God. The understanding of the Trunity is not tri-theism. It is perhaps understandable that we mere humans find it difficult to understand the ontology of the Ground of Being, etc. etc. Theology means attempting to speak about that which we are unable to speak.

          My systematic theology tutor stated that you cannot prove the Trinity by using proof-texts, but there are many things in the New Testament which cannot be true unless the doctrine of the Trinity is true. There is much material in the Fourth Gospel to illustrate this point. Some cite this as a reason for a late date for the Gospel. However, Bernier gives a reasoned argument to date it to between 60 and 70AD. So, if the prologue is a pre-existing hymn or poem, these ideas arose very early.

          I really cannot follow your argument about God’s self-expressive activity becoming flesh, but it seems to be basically adoptionism. It doesn’t really fit Jesus saying, “before Abraham was, I am”, which is a pretty clear reference to the divine name. The reaction of those that heard this showed that they understood the magnitude of this claim.

          Oh, by the way, my Hebrew tutor – a Jew – says that no-one knows how the divine name YHWH was pronounced. It was only spoken in the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement. That the LXX used ‘the lord’ in its place shows the attitude to the Name in the 3rd Century BC.

          • David, whether ‘Pellegrino’ is right or wrong, at least he argues from specific scriptural verses. It is noteworthy that in the course of the debate which he has resurrected (I have raised the question many times, the first time I think in May 2021 his antagonists never do. Instead, they argue nebulously from the Nicene Creed (i.e. without actually quoting from it), as if this 4th century statement was Scripture. It should be common ground that the NC stands or falls according to whether it is true to Scripture.

            There are different forms of Trinitarianism. The one that contributors to the discussion on this blog adhere to (the nameless ‘Pellegrino’ excepted) is belief in three co-eternal persons. This is tri-theism. Retreating to ‘Theology means attempting to speak about that which we are unable to speak’ is surely anti-theology (a la Wittgenstein it seems, not known for his theological orthodoxy). If you are unable to articulate a defence of Trinitarianism, specifically in relation to the cited scriptures (calling them ‘proof-texts’ is another rhetorical evasion), how do you know that the doctrine is right? If you think there are many things in the New Testament which cannot be true unless the doctrine is true, you could at least say what the doctrine is and what these are.

            Regarding ‘I am’ = the Divine Name, I dealt with this untenable presumption in the blog dated 2 May on “I go to prepare a place” (comment 423908). You could at least engage with what I said if you disagree.

            I don’t know where in Scripture you get the idea that the divine name was only spoken in the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement. The OT is replete with God speaking in the first person, “I am Yahweh your God”. Solomon addresses God, “O Yahweh, my God” (I Ki 3:7). Refusal to speak the Name was a late post-Exilic development, later than Malachi (where God refers to himself by his proper name).

            If no one knows how the divine name YHWH was pronounced, then the divine name was ‘pretty clearly’ not ‘I am’, which is not rendered YHWH and is just a form of the verb ‘to be’. How it was pronounced does not in any case seem relevant to the discussion.

            I don’t entirely agree with what ‘Pellegrino’ says. In my view the Wisdom of Proverbs 8 is a personification of the real Son of God, who was with God from the beginning and through whom all things were made (hence the plural in Gen 1:26).

          • Thanks, Dr. STEVEN ROBINSON;

            I’ve read your 2021 comments, Steven, and found them excellent.

            God bless you.

  2. In Response to DAVID B WILSON :

    (1). Can you see what you’ve done, DAVID ?

    You have completely IGNORED JESUS’ WORDS in John 17:3.

    Are you saying David, that Jesus was wrong to say that the Father is THE ONLY TRUE GOD ?

    Who is the higher authority – JESUS, the inspired Son of God, or your post-New Testament theology tutor, et al ?

    (2). Furthermore, Our Almighty, Father God is never directly called ‘ego eimi’ in the New Testament, but instead, ” HO ON”. Exodus 3:14, in the Septuagint reads :

    ” And God said to Moses ” I am THE ONE WHO IS. ” And He [God] said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘THE ONE ONE WHO IS’ [‘HO ON’] has sent me to you.”

    Thus, OUR Almighty, Father God is called “HO ON” in Rev. 1:4; 4:8;11:17 and 16:5, and NOT ‘ego eimi’.

    The first occurrence of ‘EGO EIMI’ in John’s Gospel, in relation to Jesus, occurs in John 4:26, and it is an acknowledgement of MESSIAHSHIP (cf. John 4:25-26). Furthermore, the ‘NET Bible’ admits in its notes that ‘ego eimi’ in John 8:24, means ” I AM THE MESSIAH ” – and this is most probably the meaning also, in John 8:58. Thus :

    ” Before Abraham was born, I am the Messiah ” (compare : ‘The Lamb slaughtered BEFORE the world was founded’; Rev. 13:8; ‘The Complete Jewish Bible’).

    The Jews wrongly saw Jesus as demon possessed, and thus they believed Him to be a false prophet, and a false Messiah (cf. John 8:48, 52). Consequently, in accordance with Deut. 13:1-5, they picked up stones to punish Him. Moreover, ‘ego eimi’ can be translated in a past tense, to mean –
    “Before Abraham was born, I have been”. (cf. Moffatt, Goodspeed, Beck, C.B. Williams , et al).

    In addition, when the Jews pick up again with Jesus, after the John 8:58 incident, they ask Jesus ;
    ” How long will you hold us in suspense? IF YOU ARE THE MESSIAH, TELL US PLAINLY”
    Jesus replies, ” I HAVE TOLD YOU ALREADY, and you did not believe.”
    BUT when did Jesus tell them ? It presumably, must have been in John 8:58, thus confirming that ‘ego eimi’ in John 8:58 meant ” I am the Messiah”.

    Furthermore, when Jesus was openly accused by the Jews of claiming to be God in John 10:33, Jesus corrected them, and said He was only claiming to be the SON OF GOD. (John 10:33-36).

    It would thus, be very unusual for Jesus to deny that He was claiming to be God in John 10:33-36, IF He had, supposedly, already claimed to be God in John 8:58.

    (3). The first syllable to our Father God’s name in the Hebrew Scriptures is known, and it is ‘YAH’ (Originally the ‘J’ letter in Latin was pronounced as a ‘Y’ sound; thus ‘Jah’ in some English versions (via the Latin) is ‘Yah’, in English pronunciation). ‘Yah’, as the shortened name of our Father God, occurs 49 times in the Old Testament. ‘Yah’ also occurs four times in the New Testament, via the word “Halleluyah’ (see Rev. 19:1; 19:3; 19:4;, and 19: 6, in ‘The Complete Jewish Bible’).

    The ‘Encyclopaedia Judaica’ and the JPS ‘Jewish Study Bible’ both say that God’s complete name was most probably pronounced as ‘Yahweh’, but the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ goes even further, and says that the pronunciation of the Divine name as ‘Yahweh’, was never really lost.

    (4) Your Hebrew tutor’s scholarship is now probably out of date, as additional fragments of older Jewish copies of the Septuagint (LXX), have more recently become known. These show that the Tetragrammaton was used surprisingly frequently in earlier Septuagint copies (See ‘101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls’ by Joseph A. Fitzmyer). Most of the LXX copies we have are Christian LXX’s, not earlier Jewish ones.

    (5). Your apparent astonishment over the basic concept of ‘Logos’, in a First century Christian-Jewish milieu indicates that your scholarship may need an update.

        • They are different personal names, but they were used interchangeably. The initial consonant is the same at least, and I think linguists know how Yah was pronounced.

          • Strategies some may use to protect the Trinity doctrine from the Lord Jesus Christ’s words in John 17:3, that THE FATHER is, “THE ONLY TRUE GOD” :

            1. Just IGNORE the words of John 17:3, and act as if they were not in the New Testament. Refuse to seriously consider the words, or answer any questions upon them.

            2. CHANGE the text of John 17:3, so as read other than what Jesus actually said – in the interests of protecting the Trinity doctrine. This is what Augustine tried to do.

            3. ADMIT to the truth of the words in John 17:3, and agree that they clearly seem to contradict the Trinity, but then claim ” The Trinity is a Mystery”, so of course the Trinity doctrine completely baffles our puny minds.

      • Thanks for your first comment, Steven.

        I think the problem (judging from my own recent experience) is that the every day Anglicans doesn’t, in practice, put a pre-eminent emphasis on Scripture, but instead rely upon their own Anglican Tradition. If any important Scriptural facts (like John 17:3) don’t fit Anglican Tradition, then so much the worse for the Scriptural facts !

    • The Good News, as John writes in His Gospel, is that :

      ” JESUS is the Messiah , the Son of God; and through this belief you may have life in His name. ”

      (John 20:31; ‘New American Bible, Revised Edition’)

      Anyone who wants to progress in religion must go BACK TO THE BIBLE.

      Praise God for Jesus !

      • There is no Good News outside the Trinity. In a mere man. Jesus IS the I AM INCARNATE
        For P, there is be a need to delop the the HOW question, the question of the How of Salvation, the What, When, Where, Why, the Who?

        Otherwise it’s P&S’s BOGOF.

        • But, JESUS isn’t ‘a mere Man’, is He ?

          JESUS incarnates the presence of the ‘only true God’, Who is the Father.

          Please see John 14:10-11, John 17:1-3; John 20:17; and Rev. 3:12.

    • Just been rev iewing Rev3:21 Geoff.
      Here Jesus sat down at the Father’s right hand and invites us to do the same.
      We are not to suppose that the throne is a couch that accommodates three (Father son and Me). The sublime reality can not contain an intellectual definition. For me, to see the throne is only possible in the light from the torch bearers before it. I see first the Father of the Bride on the throne holding the scroll. The scroll is the Church. Then the Lamb opens the scroll with the eyes/horns of the Holy Spirit. There after the church is revealed but too the opposition.
      I have to stop. I’m off out for a while.


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