Jesus prayed that we believers would be one. Jesus prayed this three times, once each in three consecutive verses (John 17:21-23). Prior installments addressed verses 21 and 23 here and here. This time we’ll come back to the verse in between, verse 22. Here is the full three-verse passage:
that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:21-23)
Jesus’ redundancy that we be one was not an accident. It was not coincidental. It was not merely a passing thought. He didn’t have short-term memory loss and forgot that He had just prayed that same thing seconds prior.
Jesus was intentionally redundant. Jesus was purposeful to pray for our oneness repeatedly. There is great testimony of Christ to be had as a result of our oneness in the kingdom. “…so that the world may know.” “…so that the world may believe.”
In between mentioning the testimony of our oneness to the world in verses 21 & 23, Jesus addressed glory:
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one (John 17:22)
This is not the only instance in Jesus’ prayer that He mentions glory. In fact, glory is the first and foundational concept that the rest of His prayer is built upon:
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, (John 17:1)
There is an exchange of glory. The Father will glorify the Son so that the Son will glorify the Father. Just a few verses later:
I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:4-5)
Glory is a recurring theme in Jesus’ prayer (see also verses 10 & 24). Glory is something to behold. Glory is something that must be seen by others for it to have its full effect.
Throughout the Old Testament, the glory of the Lord would fill something (the earth, the tabernacle, the temple) or appear somewhere (in a cloud, on top of a mountain, at the tent of meeting). The glory of the Lord is something that would be put on display. Glory is something that is to provide a testimony to others. God showed His glory in a variety of ways.
The word picture of glory is one of bright, shining radiance; something that is so bright that we need to cover our eyes. The Lord created the sun to provide a physical representation of the reality of His glory. The sun displays such intense radiance that we need to shield our eyes from its rays. Despite its great distance, we can’t look directly at the sun; it is so glorious it would blind us. The sun shines with a bright, radiant glory, as a symbol of the radiant glory of Jesus. The next time you put on sunglasses, think of the radiant glory of Jesus.
Glory is spoken of by Jesus throughout his teaching earlier the same night of His prayer (see John 13:31-32; 14:13; 15:8, 16:14). John writes of glory several times throughout his gospel writing, this being the first mention:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Of all the ways God displayed His glory in, through, and to creation, the way God most displayed His glory was in the Person of Jesus. John and others saw the glory of Jesus. The glory Jesus displayed was the glory of the Father. This is the glory the Father gave to the Son.
Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). God wants to put His glory on display; He does so above all other ways by sending His Son. Jesus’ life and teachings put the Father on display; thus the Father was glorified.
“I HAVE GIVEN TO THEM”
This same glory that the Father gave to the Son, Jesus said He also gave to us: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them.”
Wait…what? The same glory that the Father gave to the Son, the Son also gave to us?! Yes, disciples of Jesus share in the glory that is Jesus’!
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
Check out this beautiful passage that Paul wrote to the Romans:
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)
We are joint-heirs with Christ! Everything that Christ has coming to Him (and rightfully so) we also have coming to us! We have it coming to us by no merit of our own, but only by virtue of being “in” Christ.
We are heirs of God. Jesus is the true heir. Jesus is the true Son. We are sons and daughters by adoption (see the preceding verses; Romans 8:14-15).
Jesus is the only “begotten” of the Father and is the true heir of God’s inheritance. But by being adopted into God’s family as sons and daughters, we share in the same inheritance that is due to Jesus. Christ will be glorified and believers will be glorified with Him.
Peter also remarked that he is “a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed” (1 Pet. 5:1). It is only by being “in” Jesus that this can be a reality. It is only by the redeeming work of Jesus that took place at the cross, and our being united with Him in His death and resurrection, that this can be a reality.
Jesus is in the business of bringing “many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10); and He is not ashamed to call us brothers (Heb. 2:11).
Paul wrote of the return of Jesus and the consequence of those who do not submit to His good news. Also note what else Paul wrote that follows:
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
When Jesus returns He will be “glorified in his saints.” Somehow, some way, Jesus will be glorified in us when He returns. And Jesus will be marveled at among us all.
Observe the next two verses:
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
Jesus will be glorified in us! And we glorified in Him! A mutual glory! (It may be a mutually experienced glory, but the source of this glory is all Jesus.)
And just a bit later in the same letter:
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
This is the glory that Jesus spoke of in John 17:22 that He gives to believers. We know that Jesus will be glorified, but we will also be glorified (in Him). And how will Jesus be glorified? In us! Not only will we partake in Christ’s glory by being in Him, but we will magnify and display the beauty of Christ in such a way that those who look upon us will see the glory of Christ.
People will look upon us and see Christ on display!
A REALITY NOW
Most of the above passages relate to our future glory with Christ. However, the context of John 17:22 is our present state, not our future, eternal state.
Jesus prayed that we would be one (in our present state) so that we would provide a testimony of oneness to the world (in our present state). This was in both verse 21 and verse 23.
It’s not that Jesus prayed for our oneness in our future state of glory in verse 22 only to pray for our oneness in our present state in the statements immediately preceding and following. It’s all the same context and it all pertains to our present state. Jesus stated that he gave His glory to us in our present state so that we would be one in our present state so that Christ would be put on display in our present state.
Certainly, there is a glory awaiting us that is reserved for our future state. But Jesus’ prayer for our oneness is to provide a testimony to the world. It takes others/outsiders to observe someone else’s glory being put on display.
OUR ONENESS = GLORY TO CHRIST
For Christ’s glory to be on display in our present state, it happens through our oneness. Our oneness would put Christ on display. Jesus gave us His glory so that we would be one which would put His glory on display to the world.
Jesus said that He gave His glory to us so that we may be one just as He and the Father are one. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus. That’s the extent to which we should be one!
Earlier, I referenced Hebrews 2:10-11. Speaking of Jesus:
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. (Hebrews 2:10-11a)
He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are sanctified (believers) “all have one source.” The ESV translators did their best to try to translate it, but the Greek literally says “are all from one” (as the ESV footnote mentions that the Greek states “all are of one”). The KJV and NKJV both say “are all of one.” Other translations attempt to define one what? CSB says “all have one Father” (footnote says “or origin; literally all are of one”); NASB says “are all from one Father”; NET: “all have the same origin”; NIV: “are of the same family”; NLT: “have the same Father.”
Some translations insert some concept of sharing the same Father/origin/family. What this suggests is that Jesus and we share the same Father/origin/family. Jesus is our brother and we share the same Father! Literally, we and Jesus “are all of one.” Of one divine source, of one divine family, of one divine origin. (Not all humans, mind you. We’re not born into this; we need to be reborn into this divine source as the new creation in Christ [John 3:3 & 2 Cor. 5:17].)
Just as God is one, so too are all those whom He has sanctified one. Our oneness is rooted in God and only possible because of God. It is because of God that we are indeed one, even as God is one.
We are one with each other because we are one in Christ because we and Jesus share the same divine family. Jesus is the only begotten of God; we believers adopted into the same family. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers (Heb. 2:11b).
We’ll close with a passage from Romans 15:
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
That’s what Jesus prayed! He gave us His glory so that we would be one, living in harmony with one another, in Christ, together with one voice glorifying God (i.e., collectively putting the vast richness, value, and worth of God on display).
Dear believer, oneness is not an option. It’s God’s purpose for bringing glory to Himself. We can’t welcome some believers and disassociate from others. We can’t refrain from welcoming other believers into our mutual fellowship with God because they believe something different, or go to a different congregation, or are part of a different denomination, or they just rub us the wrong way.
If Jesus has welcomed them into the fellowship of God, so too must we. For His glory.
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)