Jesus Concludes His Prayer with a Summary and a Pledge (17:25-26)
Having looked ahead to the glory of heaven, Jesus returns to the present situation, though he sees it from his eternal perspective. Jesus summarizes the results of his ministry thus far: both his rejection by the world and his acceptance by the disciples. All the verbs in verse 25 are in the aorist tense, which, in the form used here, usually refers to the past. The NIV adopts a rarer use of the aorist and translates them in the present tense, a translation that is possible but that misses Jesus' eternal perspective.
Jesus begins with the bad news: the world did not know, or recognize, the Father. In contrast (though, kai), the good news is Jesus knew the Father and his disciples knew that the Father sent the Son. In contrast with the world's ignorance of the Father is not the disciples' knowledge of the Father, but their knowledge of the Son as sent by the Father. Again we see the primacy of Jesus' role. It is precisely in and through the Son that they know the Father, for the Son has made known (egnorisa, aorist) to them the Father's name (v. 26). Earlier in the prayer (vv. 6, 11-12) the name was an expression for the revelation brought by the Son that actually brings contact with God and not just information about him.
Jesus then pledges to continue to make the Father's name known to his disciples in the future. On one important level he refers here to his imminent Passion and resurrection, for these events are the climax of his revelation of the Father, which shows most clearly the love of God. On another level he is speaking of his continued presence among the believers and his continued revelation of the Father to them after his ascension. He is repeating his promise to be with them in his resurrection appearances (14:18-20) and beyond (14:21). His continued revelation parallels the activity of the Paraclete (16:12-15, 25).
The purpose of Jesus' making God's name known to them is not that they would have information about God, but that they would have intimacy in order that the love you have (egapesas, another aorist) for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them (v. 26). In his ministry he revealed the Father's love for them (v. 23), and in the future he will continue to help his disciples actually receive this love within each of them and amongst them as a community. But again, he himself is the point of contact. It is precisely by his being in them that they will receive the love of the Father, for it is the Father's love for the Son that they are enabled to share. The Son's coming to earth brought the presence of God's love, and his coming into the lives of believers also brings that love, for God is love. Our relationship with the Father will always be mediated through the Son, even in eternity. Meditation on such truths begins to give us a faint glimpse of the Father's glorifying the Son and the Son's glorifying the Father (v. 1). It also helps us understand why, in this final section of the prayer, Jesus addresses his Father as righteous (v. 25). All that Jesus has done and all that he will continue to do are in response to God's righteous will. He is righteous because he is truth itself and does only what is right. His purposes are perfect, reflecting his own characteristic life and light and love.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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