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©Clay Eldridge

Chapter 17:20-26 (ESV)

Posted on September 14, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 17:20-26 (ESV) - “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 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. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Question to consider: What are some things that we can unite around as a church?

In this final portion of Christ’s high priestly prayer, He prayed not only for the disciples but for all who would receive their message when they began their apostolic mission. In Luke’s second book to Theophilus, he described the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer in the early church who were united in Christ. After the stoning of Stephen, this church was scattered throughout the regions of Asia Minor as each one who had come to Jerusalem for Pentecost went back to their hometowns to preach the gospel.

By the time Saul of Tarsus became Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles, the persecution of the church was in full swing, and there was an increasing amount of division. The Jewish Christians struggled with the fact that Gentiles didn’t get circumcised, and they faced constant pressure from their friends and relatives to go back to the practices of the Old Testament Law. The Gentiles persecuted the church for interrupting their sale of idols and preaching against immoral worship practices. As citizens began to respond to the gospel and turn away from sin, there was a constant temptation to fit in with popular culture, especially in light of the grace that was so freely given by the church.

At the time of this prayer, Jesus understood that the world did not know God, and that there would be this constant pull by the world on the church, the enemy would continually seek to divide and conquer the church. Thus, Jesus pledged to continue to make the Father known so that believers would continue to be renewed with the love of Christ. This is why we gather as the church— so that Christ can make Himself known to us through His word and build up our love for the Father and one another.

We have a tendency to focus on the things that divided us, but it is encouraging when we can find common ground. Some argue against the use of rote prayers, liturgies and creeds, but these things help unite us in the basic truths of the faith. When it comes to secondary issues, we can sharpen each other’s knowledge of the faith by discussing them in a healthy manner, but we should be able to unite around God’s word and the doctrines in it which are essential to the faith and plainly stated.


Dear heavenly Father, help us to remember this prayer of Christ for His church when we deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us to look past the accusations made against Your church and seek what is true and edifying. Help us to build one another up as brothers and sisters rather than tear each other down as enemies. Amen.