Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE LORD JESUS CHRIST PRAYING FOR HIMSELF” Part 2

John 17.1-5 

One of the things that I enjoyed doing as a little boy was listening to grown-ups’ conversations. Most kids like to spend their time with other kids, playing games and horsing around. And that is all well and good. I certainly enjoyed hanging out with my friends when I was a kid. But whenever there was an opportunity to hear grown-ups talk, I opted for listening to grown-ups rather than playing with kids.

As a teenager, I worked for several summers as a summer hire, my boss being among the most interesting of men. He had joined the Army just out of high school and was stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines at the outbreak of World War II. Captured by the Japanese, he spent the rest of the war in a prison camp. After the war ended, he remained in the military, rising to Chief Master Sgt. in the United States Air Force, and was the senior noncommissioned officer of the Strategic Air Command, with an office near the famous SAC commander, Gen. Curtis LeMay. He had the most amazing stories to tell about the inspection tours he went on accompanying General LeMay.

Every summer on vacation, my dad would take the family to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to visit his parents and his older brother Leon. Uncle Leon had been captured at Corregidor at the outbreak of World War II, was in the same prison camp that my boss had been in, and joined the United States Marines Corps at the outbreak of the Korean War, serving in the First Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir. He, too, had incredible stories to tell to those who were interested enough to listen.

But intriguing stories can be told by those who did not serve in the military. My grandfather, John Conner, who I was named after, was an old Texas cowboy, horse trader, pork sausage maker, small-time farmer and had more impact on my life and upbringing than any man I have ever known. On hot summer days in Texas, he would take a short nap after the midday meal of chicken, steak, or pork chops, with sweet tea from quart Mason jars, and then drive into Wheeler, Texas, to sit at a card table and play dominoes with his lifelong friends in the pool hall. I would tag along with my grandfather, shoot pool on one of the pool tables, and listen to those grizzled cowboy farmers as they told the most colorful stories. A kid can hear a lot and learn a great deal if he is not so stupid as to always play with his friends.

Old cowboy farmers and old soldiers are not the only great conversationalists. Among the most intriguing conversations, I have ever overheard was while I was sitting in the back seat of my mother’s car as a little boy going someplace with her and one of her friends. Perhaps you cannot imagine me keeping my mouth shut long enough for my mother to forget I was in the back seat. Still, it was a price I was willing to pay to eavesdrop on fascinating conversations between women who were married, had children, and operated small businesses.

The famous radio preacher, J. Vernon McGee, longtime pastor of the Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles, used to remark that there was a reason why God gave people one mouth and two ears. It was because He wanted people to spend twice as much time listening as they spent talking. There is wisdom in what he used to say.

I mention these things because I believe our culture has already lost the valuable art of listening to others’ conversations. When I was a little boy, before we ever had a television set in our home, our family would gather around the radio in the living room after supper to listen to our favorite programs. I remember absorbing Jack Benny, Gunsmoke, Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, and Texas Rangers. The advent of the radio might have expedited our culture’s loss of the skill of conversing with others, but it did not interfere with the development of our mastery of listening. Television, movies, and the computer screen have so inclined our culture to the visual that we have lost, for the most part, widespread conversational skills and especially the skill of listening to others speak even when not participating in the conversation yourself.

There is a reason why I do not make use of an overhead projector while I’m preaching the Word of God. I do not doubt that teaching and preaching are both visual and audible mediums of communication. But I believe the reason the Bible was written, and the reason the Bible was given by God to be taught and declared, is so that we can receive the truth audibly, with some small supplement of the visual through the preacher or the teacher who speaks with some animation. Perhaps the next pastor of this Church will employ an overhead screen, mistakenly emphasizing the visual and correspondingly diminishing the audible. But I can assure you that will never happen on my watch.

I am convinced of the value of listening. I am persuaded of the importance of conversations. My treatment of John chapters 13–17 strongly asserts that extended passage is the most important conversation ever recorded. And I think people who value conversation, which are not content to sit across from each other at a restaurant while they silently and feverishly work their smartphones, gain more from understanding that these chapters are an important conversation than those individuals who are unaware of that fact.

There are conversations, and conversations, and conversations. It is one thing to hear old men talk. It is one thing to hear women speaking to each other in a car. It is quite another thing to observe the record of a conversation between the Lamb of God (about to offer Himself a sacrifice for my sins) and His remaining faithful men. Then there is the most complete record of the Son of the living God speaking to His heavenly Father found in the Holy Scriptures.

That is what we take up again, the most important part of the most important conversation recorded in God’s Word. As we look to the chapter containing the Lord Jesus Christ’s high priestly intercessory prayer, John 17, focusing specifically on the Savior’s prayer for Himself, verses 1-5, we come to the second verse.

To refresh our memories, I invite you to turn with me to John 17.1. When you arrive at that verse, please stand for the reading of God’s Word: 

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 

There are several things to note at this point. The Lord Jesus Christ mentions “glory” and “glorify” five times in these five verses. The issue and topic of “glory” and “glorification” is very significant. And I have already dealt with the issue at some length in previous messages from God’s Word. I will provide a link to one of those sermons when this message is uploaded to our Church website, www.CalvaryRoadBaptist.Church.[1]

However, there are two things I want to mention that I have not discussed before. First, notice that the Lord Jesus Christ refers to Himself in the third person in these five verses. He refers to Himself while addressing the Father as “thy Son” twice in verse one, and “him,” “he,” and “him” in verse 2. In verses 4 and 5, He returns to the first person, using “I” and “me” several times. But He does this only after verse 3, where He refers to Himself as “Jesus Christ,” once more in the third person. I am not sure why He chose to do that.

Finally, before turning to verse two for the message from God’s Word, note that verse two contains variations of the Greek word translated “given,” “give,” and “given” in verse two, the word didwmi. Didwmi is also used in John 3.16: 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

One commentator referring to dίdwmi writes, “Particular attention should be paid to its use in John’s Gospel. Jesus is what He is by God’s gift.”[2] So, our suspicion that the word dίdwmi has special significance is verified, and we will take note of it as we proceed.

Before we examine our text, let us review our context. The Lord Jesus Christ offered this prayer to the Father on the Thursday evening before His Friday morning crucifixion. Minutes earlier He had concluded the Passover celebration with His twelve apostles in the Upper Room, instituted the communion of the Lord’s Supper, dispatched Judas Iscariot so that he could finalize his conspiracy of betrayal for 30 pieces of silver, and began the walk with His eleven remaining men from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane.

John chapters 14–16 record the Lord’s discourse to His remaining men as they passed by the south side of Herod’s Temple, with the prayer we are now examining offered up before their arrival to the Garden of Gethsemane. Verse 2 once more: 

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” 

Five truths are touched on in this portion of our Lord’s prayer to the Father for Himself that I would like to discuss for your consideration: 

First, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ACKNOWLEDGES THE FATHER’S BESTOWAL OF AUTHORITY: 

“As thou hast given him power.” 

It is important to note that the English word “power” here translates the Greek word ἐxousίa, the typical Greek word for “authority.” Most of the 93 verses in which the word ἐxousίa is found in the Bible translate the word “power,” while meaning “authority” to the modern reader as opposed to “might.”

The most famous of the verses in the Bible that contain this word ἐxousίa is Matthew 28.18, 

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” 

The mistaken assumption made by most who read the Bible is to assume the authority the Savior speaks of in Matthew 28.18 refers to authority that was recently granted to Him by God the Father. Not so. It is pretty clear from John 5.26-27 and John 10.18 that the authority Christ refers to in John 17.2 and Matthew 28.18 was not authority recently given but was authority bestowed to Him in eternity past before time began.

After all, this is authority by which the Lord Jesus Christ secures the salvation of His own, and He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Revelation 13.8. Thus, the One with all authority (God, the Father), in eternity past gave all authority to His eternally begotten Son (Jesus Christ, the Lord).

Before advancing to the following truth for consideration, let us focus on this first time the Greek word dίdwmi is used in this verse. You who are fearful of a grammar overdose need to bear with me. This will be good for you, I promise. We already recognize dίdwmi to be an important word, an important verb, verbs being words that assert action, state, or being.[3] In this instance, the form of the verb shows it to be an aorist indicative,[4] meaning it refers to something that took place in past time.[5] Therefore, the form of the Greek word dίdwmi, which as an aorist is ἔdwkas, confirms what I said a moment ago, that the authority to which Christ refers in His prayer to the Father was authority given to Him in eternity past. He has always possessed this authority. In this verse, He acknowledges that the Father gave Him this authority, the authority He will refer to in Matthew 28.18: 

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” 

Next, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ACKNOWLEDGES THE EXTENT OF THE FATHER’S AUTHORITY GIVEN TO HIM: 

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh.” 

Isn’t this a specific declaration? It is a more narrowly focused declaration of bestowed authority than is referred to in Matthew 28.18, which is the claim to 

“all power ... in heaven and in earth.” 

Although the Lord Jesus Christ has been given blanket authority over everything related to redemption by God the Father, here the Lord voices the recognition that the Father has given Him authority over the entirety of the human race, “all flesh.”

Of course, that raises a question. Isn’t universal and comprehensive authority over all mankind tantamount to a declaration of deity? After all, isn’t authority over all mankind a divine prerogative? Yes, it is, actually. Thus, hereby the Lord Jesus Christ once again declares, in His prayer to the Father in the hearing of His men, His deity in an unambiguous way. 

Third, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ACKNOWLEDGES THE FATHER’S AUTHORITY WAS GIVEN FOR A PURPOSE: 

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that ....” 

If you have been here at Calvary Road Baptist Church for any length of time, there are certain things you cannot help but pick up along the way. One of those things is a grammatical device known as the first-class conditional sentence. It is used frequently by the writers of the New Testament. On many occasions, you have heard me refer to first-class conditional sentences, using the “if ... then” formula that is so common to that grammatical tool. If such and such is true (and it is), then such and such is also true.

Of late, I also recollect mentioning to you on several occasions the use in the New Testament of a little word pronounced hἵna. Hina is a word that was used by Greek speakers as a marker to denote purpose, aim, or goal.[6]

The reason hina is important for us to notice in the verses in which it is found is to inform us of the reason why something is done or said. In this verse, hina was used by the Lord Jesus Christ in His high priestly intercessory prayer to inform those who overheard Him the reason why God the Father gave Him authority over all flesh in eternity past.

Thus, our conviction that God is not arbitrary, but has reasons for what He does, even when we are not always shown those reasons, is reinforced. 

Fourth, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST DECLARES THE PURPOSE FOR THE FATHER’S AUTHORITY TO BE GIVEN TO HIM: 

“that he should give eternal life.” 

We must be precise at this point. Notice what is not declared here. The Lord Jesus Christ does not claim, here or anywhere else, that God the Father gave Him eternal life.

That would be utterly impossible because the Lord Jesus Christ is life and has life, and it has always been so. Remember John 1.4: 

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” 

As well, remember what the Lord said in John 11.25 and 14.6: 

“I am the resurrection, and the life.” 

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” 

Therefore, we can confidently state that God the Father did not give the Lord Jesus Christ life. He is life. He has life. And since He is God, His life is eternal.

This fourth of the truths we are taking note of is that the Lord Jesus Christ acknowledges in His prayer to the Father that He has authority from the Father to give eternal life to others! Herein we arrive at the second occasion in which the word dίdwmi is used.

Let’s dig into it a bit: As a reminder, dίdwmi is a Greek verb that refers to giving. This use of the word takes the form that shows it to be what is called aorist subjunctive,[7] showing that in eternity past, the Lord Jesus was given authority by the Father (the first time dίdwmi was used) for the purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ exercising that authority to, in turn, and also in eternity past, give eternal life (this use of the word dίdwmi)! Thus, the first time dίdwmi was used by the Lord it referred to authority being given to Him. This time the word dίdwmi was used by the Lord. It referred to His giving of eternal life to the elect. Thus, He was given authority to give life, with both times the verb referring to actions occurring in eternity past. 

Finally, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ACKNOWLEDGES THOSE WHO WILL BE SAVED WERE GIVEN TO CHRIST, WERE GIVEN TO HIM, BY GOD THE FATHER: 

“that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” 

There are two observations to make at this point: First, it appears the Lord Jesus Christ is acknowledging to His heavenly Father “that he should give eternal life” to people. Then, to whom should the Lord Jesus Christ give eternal life? The answer, of course, is 

“to as many as thou hast given him.” 

What do we see here? It appears, not that the Father gives the Lord Jesus Christ eternal life, but that the Father gives the Lord Jesus Christ the authority to give eternal life. But give eternal life to whom? 

“to as many as thou hast given him.” 

We now come to the third time the Greek verb dίdwmi is used in this second verse. The first use of the verb referred to the authority given by God the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ in eternity past. The previous use of the verb referred to the giving of eternal life by the Lord Jesus Christ, with this giving also actually taking place in eternity past. Thus, in eternity past, God the Father gave to His Son authority, that His Son used to give eternal life, also in eternity past. How do we know? Both verbs are aorist verbs, with the aorist in the commonly spoken and written Greek language of that era dealing with action in past time![8] But what does the use of the Greek word dίdwmi here refer to? 

“to as many as thou hast given him.” 

“Thou hast given him” refers to those who were given to Christ by God the Father. But who are they who were given to Christ by God the Father? Those to whom Christ would give eternal life. Thus, the Father gave authority to Christ. But He also gave individuals to Christ. And Christ gave eternal life to those individuals given to Him by God the Father.

Interestingly, the two other uses of dίdwmi were forms of the aorist tense. This time didwmi is shown to be what is identified as the perfect tense, dέdwkaV. Let me read what a Greek grammarian said about the perfect tense: 

“The Greek perfect tense stands alone in its function; English has no corresponding tense adequate for expressing the significance involved ... This is the Greek tense of ‘completed action,’ i.e., it indicates a completed action with a resulting state of being. The primary emphasis is on the resulting state of being.”[9] 

This form of the word dίdwmi shows that the Father gave individuals to His Son also in eternity past, also showing those given to Christ to be remaining His. The perfect tense means they can never not be His. 

I sincerely apologize to those of you who are allergic to grammar, who hate grammar, and who will probably avoid all contact with grammar whenever you can. But this grammar-intensive sermon shows us things not visible to us when we read the Bible in English.

The Greek word for giving is used three times in John 17.2. All three times the word is used, its Greek form shows that it refers to events that took place in eternity past. Two of those times, reference is made to God the Father giving something to the Lord Jesus Christ, and once a reference is made to the Lord Jesus Christ giving something. When the Father gives, the verb is in the aorist tense. When the Savior gives, the verse is in the perfect tense.

First, there is the gift of authority. In eternity past, God the Father gave His Son all authority, precisely, authority over all flesh, every human being. Aorist tense. Action occurring in past time.

Second, there is the gift of specific individuals. Although God the Father gave His Son authority over “all flesh,” authority over every individual who has ever lived, the Bible does not suggest the Father gave every individual to His Son. Rather, the Savior referred to “as many as thou hast given him.” Again, aorist tense. Action occurring in past time.

Thus, God gave to His Son all authority and some individuals. What does the Son give? He is authorized to give eternal life to those given to Him. Perfect tense. Action occurring in the past time with the emphasis on the resultant state of being. Those the Lord Jesus Christ gave eternal life to have eternal life still

Okay. That provokes another question. What authority does the Lord Jesus Christ have concerning those the Father did not give Him? Our text does not speak to that.

Remembering that this verse is part of the Lord’s prayer to His Father about Himself and that this prayer was overheard by His remaining eleven men, what might be said about those men’s takeaway from what they heard the Savior pray? And what might be the takeaway of those later come to Christ who read this portion of our Lord’s prayer to the Father?

This is what the apostles of Jesus Christ who overheard Him knew from what He prayed. In eternity past, God the Father gave authority over all flesh to His Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior. In eternity past, God the Father also gave me to His Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior. With authority being His, and with me being His, the Lord Jesus Christ then gave eternal life to me.

That is a small portion of what the Lord Jesus Christ wanted those men to know before He died on the cross of Calvary. That is also what He wants you to know if you are a believer in Jesus Christ.

What about a person who is not a Christian? I don’t know. I know Christ commanded that I preach the Gospel to you to are unbelievers. I know God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, you who are unbelievers. I know the Savior directed the lost to come to Him.

But unless and until you trust Christ for the salvation of your eternal and undying soul, I do not know, and you do not know.

__________

[1] http://www.calvaryroadbaptist.church/sermon.php?sermonDate=20210516a

[2] Gerhard Kittel, Editor, Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol II, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), page 166.

[3] Albert H. Marckwardt & Frederic G. Cassidy, Scribner Handbook Of English, Fourth Edition, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1967), page 203.

[4] Lidija Novakovic, John 11-21: A Handbook On The Greek Text - BHGNT, (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2020), page 191.

[5] Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek, (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1950), page 66.

[6] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 475-477.

[7] Novakovic, page 192.

[8] Summers, page 66.

[9] Ibid., page 103.

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