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Chapter 17: Covenantal significance
Chennattu (p. 69, see below) suggests that John 13-17 follows a the structural outline of Josh 24:1-24. The outline is as follows:
- 1. Josh and the people gathered in the presence of God at Shechem (Josh 24:1)
- 1'. Jesus and the disciples gathered together for the farewell meal (John 13:1-38)
- 2. The proclamation of God's election and guidance of the people (Josh 24:2-13):
- 2'. The promise of God's indwelling presence and guidance (John 14:1-31)
- 3. A call to obedience and a call to decision (Josh 24:14-15)
- 3'. A call to abide and keep the commandments (John 15:1-17)
- 4. Josh's warning of the consequences of the decision (Josh 24:16-20)
- 4'. Jesus' warning of the consequences of discipleship (John 15:18-16:24)
- 5. The people's response of total allegiance to Yahweh (Josh 24:21-24)
- 5'. The disciples' profession of faith (John 16:25-33)
- 6. A ceremony sealing the covenant (Josh 24:25-28)
- 6'. A prayer consecrating the covenant community of the disciples (John 17:1-26)
If John 17 is read as a prayer that consecrates or seals the new covenant Jesus is offering the discipleship community (there also seem to be parallels with Ex 24:8), then several motifs in the chapter take on covenantal significance. In particular, this reading would suggest:
- Verses 1-5 are a description of the Father-Son community which the disciples are being invited to become a part of.
- Verses 6-16 describes the manifestation of God's name to the disciples (cf. Ex 3:13-15; Ex 16:10; Ps 22:22; Isa 42:8; Isa 52:6; Jer 16:21).
- Verses 17-19 consecrates or sets apart the disciples for a sacred duty or service. This parallels Old Testament consecration of priests (Ex 28:41, prophets (Jer 1:5, Sirach 45:4; 49:7; 2 Macc 1:25), and sacrifices (Ex 13:2; Deut 15:19; Heb 10:10).
- Verses 20-26 describes the glory that is made manifest in Jesus and is promised to the community, thus establishing God's presence in the midst of the community (cf. Ex 29:45; Ex 40:34-35; Num 11:20; Deut 7:21; Deut 23:14; Isa 35:2; Isa 40:5; Isa 42:8; Isa 66:18).
Chapter 17: Divine Relationships
Letting the text speak for itself, we see that at least 7 elements of the relationship between the Father and the Son are repeated in the relationship between the Son and the Apostles. Two of the seven are also specifically applied to converts.
7 Elements of the Divine Relationship:
- The Son glorifies the Father (by doing his work) - John 17:1, John 17:4.
- The Father gave his "words" (ie.truth) to the Son. John 17:8
- The Son is not "of the world". John 17:16
- The Father sent the Son into the world. John 17:3, John 17:18.
- The Son sanctified himself thru the truth (Father's word). John 17:19
- The Father and the Son are one. John 17:21
- The Son receives glory of the Father. John 17:1, John 17:5, John 17:22, John 17:24
Same 7 Elements Repeated Between the Son and the Apostles:
- The Apostles bring glory to the Son. John 17:10
- The Son gives the Father's words (truth) to the Apostles. John 17:6, John 17:8, John 17:14
- The Apostles are not "of the world". John 17:16
- The Son sends the Apostles into the world. John 17:18
- The Apostles can be sanctified through truth (Father's word). John 17:17, John 17:19
- The Apostles can be one as the Father and Son are one. John 17:11, John 17:21
- The Apostles receive glory of the Son. John 17:22
The Son Applies Two of the 7 Elements to Converts:
- Converts can be one as the Father and Son. John 17:21-23
- Converts receive glory of the Son. John 17:22
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- John 17:3: Life eternal. Is this synonymous with eternal life, especially if the phrase is taken to mean "God's life"?
- John 17:3: Know. To what extent are we relearning in our mortal probation what we already came to know about God in the premortal existence?
- John 17:3: Only true God. Is this an acknowledgment that other Gods exist, but that only ours is true? Is it significant that the wording here differs from what is found in Ether 2:8?
- John 17:11-12: When and how did Christ go from being in the world (v. 12) to "no more in the world" (v. 11)?
This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
- John 17. Chennattu, Rekha M. Johannine Discipleship as a Covenant Relationship, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2006 (ISBN 1565636686).
- John 17:3. Keith R. Edwards, "That They Might Know Thee," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 99–101. Elder Edwards states: "Although suffering may provide insight [into the Atonement], we must be careful not to compare but rather to appreciate... We can never endure the depth, the exquisite nature, or the magnitude of His suffering... [but] like Nephi, we can have a greater appreciation for that which He did, and we can feel His spirit succoring us, and we can know the Savior in a very real sense."
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.