Calvary Road Baptist Church

“The Lord Jesus Christ Praying For Future Believers” Part 6

John 17.20-26 

We begin by reading John 17.24-26: 

24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. 

I would guess that our expositional and sermonic journey from the Upper Room and John chapter 13, ending with the final verse of John chapter 17, might be remembered by some of you for no other reason than my repeated insistence that these five chapters record the greatest conversation found in God’s Word. I hope you remember more about my messages from these five chapters than my repeated insistence. Still, I would delight in you remembering what I said repeatedly if it prompts you to read those five chapters on future occasions when you become particularly interested in what the Savior said to His eleven remaining apostles and then what the Savior said to His heavenly Father in prayer.

These five chapters are a great place to discover and plumb the depths of Christ’s relationship with His disciples and His heavenly Father. He prayed for Himself in John 17.1-5. He prayed for His eleven faithful men standing nearby in John 17.6-19. And from verse 20, He prayed for all future believers. Last time, in John 17.24, we examined His final request expressed to the Father in this prayer.

Let us now turn our attention to John 17.25, where the Lord Jesus Christ prayed to the Father, and we have an opportunity to learn some things some of us did not previously know about God the Father, about the world, about the Savior, and ourselves: 

“O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.” 

Reminding you that our Lord Jesus Christ spoke the final of His prayer requests in verse 24, where He addressed the “Father” and expressed His wish that those given to Him would be with Him, He also expressed His desire that we in the future would see the glory He had received from His Father in eternity past. With our text for this message, along with the final verse of the chapter that I will deal with on another occasion, the Lord Jesus Christ brings His high priestly intercessory prayer to a close. The greatest conversion found in God’s Word is about to end.

However, before our Lord concluded with verse 26, He chose to set truths before us that bear forcefully on four items of interest: 


In His prayers, in the fourth Gospel, the Lord Jesus regularly spoke to God so intimately as to address Him “Father.” We find such addresses in John 11.41, John 12.27 and 28, John 17.1, 5, 11, 21, 24, and here in verse 25. Only here does the Lord Jesus Christ use the expression “righteous Father.”

Recognizing that there are no accidents or coincidences in Scripture, it is left to us to search for meaning when God the Father is addressed in particular ways by His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Addressing Him as Father shows intimacy and suggests communion.

When we look back to verse 11, we observe that the Lord Jesus Christ addressed His Father with “Holy Father.” This makes perfect sense in light of that portion of the Lord’s prayer to His Father devoted to pleading to the Father for His faithful followers’ sanctification.

If “Holy Father” is the appellation used by the Savior to plead with His Father for the disciples’ sanctification, what is the appellation “righteous Father” related to? Holy is related to that aspect of God the Father’s nature most directly associated with the believer’s sanctification in this life. On what basis do I make that claim? In this life, we who are believers in Jesus Christ are forgiven all our trespasses and sins. Yet, we continue to sin and require sanctification, growth in grace and maturity, and progress toward experiential holiness. That is unarguable from such Scripture passages as First John 1.8, where we read, 

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” 

and James 3.2: 

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” 

On the other hand, Righteous Father speaks to that aspect of God the Father’s nature most directly associated with the glorification of the believer in the next life. Matthew Henry insightfully writes, “ God’s righteousness was engaged for the giving out of all that good which the Father had promised, and the Son had purchased.”[1] The Father righteously demands that crimes committed against Him be punished. The Son of God fulfilled the Father’s righteous demands by dying for His own on the cross of Calvary, the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, First Peter 3.15.

Of course, this leaves Christ-rejecters (who have decided to go it alone in time and eternity) to face the righteous demands of God the Father with their own merits, which are none, resulting in their punishment in the lake of fire for all eternity. You don’t need Christ? Fine. See what it is like dealing with God about your sins yourself.

That God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is declared to be and shown to be righteous stands in stark contrast to the Allah of Islam, who is not righteous. Islam has no plan for the righteous demands that sins be punished for being satisfied by the substitutional death of a sinless sacrifice. In fact, Islam has no savior. Islam does not claim that Mohammed is any savior. And Islam denies that Jesus died for our sins. With Islam, Allah capriciously grants access to paradise to whom he will and denies access to paradise to whom he will without regard for the just punishment of repentant sinners. In this way, we see demonstrated that Allah is not at all like the God of Abraham. Allah is neither holy nor righteous. We should lift up our praise that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is both holy and righteous. 


“O righteous Father.” The Lord Jesus then states, “the world hath not known thee.” 

Are you ready for it? I try to be as predictable as the sun’s rising, so those of you who know me are correct to anticipate what I am going to remind everyone about now. The word world translates to the Greek word kόsmos, which has a range of seven identifiable meanings in the New Testament determined by the context in which the word is used. 

kόsmos = universe as a whole, Acts 17.24

kόsmos = earth, John 13.1; Ephesians 1.4

kόsmos = evil world system, Matthew 4.8; John 12.31; First John 5.19

kόsmos = human race, Romans 3.19

kόsmos = humanity minus believers, John 15.18; Romans 3.6

kόsmos = Gentiles in contrast to Jews, Romans 11.12

kόsmos = believers only, John 1.29; 3.16-17; 6.33; 12.47; First Corinthians 4.9; Second Corinthians 5.19 

As the Greek word is used in our text, kόsmos refers to the evil world system comprised of unsaved individuals who are dominated, influenced, and controlled by Satan and his demonic minions.

What are the implications of the world’s ignorance of God mentioned by the Savior here? Since the human race does not know God and is therefore ignorant about the things of God, what qualifications do unsaved people have to render judgments of any kind concerning God, or about being reconciled to God, or about being judged by God? Because unsaved people are ignorant, they are therefore unqualified and utterly without the insight, information, discernment, and wisdom needed for making decisions about their own spiritual welfare and interests. They make decisions in the realm of spiritual darkness. Thus, the lost have no basis for the conclusions they arrive at related to God and the things of God because they know nothing. They do not know God and have no meaningful comprehension of the things of God. Yet they are determined to make their own decisions, the wrong ones, are they not? That means the work ahead for the apostles, and us is most challenging, and we who serve God and wish to bear fruit need great grace to deal with the ignorance and the sinful inclinations of those who comprise the world and do not know Christ.

Were those who comprise the world not profoundly corrupted by their spiritual deadness to the things of God, they would not be spiritually blind, they would not be spiritually deaf, their hearts would not be hardened, and their consciences would not be seared. As to spiritual blindness, Paul writes in Second Corinthians 4.3-4, 

3  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 

In a psalm to bring remembrance, David wrote these words in the 38th Psalm: 

13 But I, as a deaf man, heard not ...

14 Thus I was as a man that heareth not .... 

Referring to the effect of listening to seducing spirits who bombard people with the doctrines of demons, consider just one of the symptoms of those so affected, listed by Paul in First Timothy 4.2: 

“having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” 

So damaged are their thinking, reasoning, rationality, and conscience of those so affected by their sins and the influences on them of foul spirits, that they are not bothered by not being bothered. They have no concern about not being concerned. It does not bother the damned that they do not know God. How messed up is that? 


“O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee.” 

Notice the dramatic contrasts with these three phrases, contrasting life versus death, heaven versus Hell, and eternal bliss versus everlasting damnation. The always true Son of God designates the Father (remember that He recently said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John 14.6.) as righteous. But the evil world system populated by vast numbers of people born dead in trespasses and sins, who are still in that terrible spiritual condition, do not know God. The implication? The Father is righteous, but those who do not know Him are not righteous. The contrast could not be starker. Then there is the contrast to the contrast: “but I have known thee.” The tense of the verb shows the Lord Jesus Christ not only knows the righteous Father that the unsaved of this world do not know, but He has always known Him.

Here take note of the desperate predicament the unsaved person is in without truly recognizing their situation. God is the invisible God. Therefore, no unsaved person can ever see God; ever. John 1.18 speaks to this dilemma: 

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” 

We have already seen that the Savior said, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John 14.6. But lost people have no interest, do they? They are not concerned. They cannot see. They do not hear. Their conscience is seared, meaning they are not troubled by their trouble.

It is a wonderful thing that the Lord Jesus Christ not only knows the righteous Father but that He has always known the righteous Father. Why so? Because there is no way to reach God apart from His Son, Jesus Christ. Because there is no way to be reached by God apart from His Son, Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in First Timothy 2.5: 

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 

He is the One promised by God in Genesis 3.15. He is the seed promised to Abraham in Genesis 12 and 17.[2] And He is the one longed for by Job in Job 9.33. The reality is that salvation is by grace through faith, not by works of righteousness. Therefore, salvation is provided, not to those who deserve anything from God, but to those who come to God through Christ with empty hands. 


“O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.” 

It is straightforward logic that shows Christ and those who know Christ to be the only sources of the spiritual knowledge unsaved people need and must have regarding any relationship established with God.

Does it not follow that if you do not know anything and have no way of learning what you must know, your only hope is to know Him who does know God and those who know the One that God has sent?

Thus, an unsaved person’s only hope is Jesus Christ and those who know Jesus Christ was sent by God who represent Him. That would be you, and me, and people like us. 

Four things good to know. Four things form the basis for getting the Gospel out.

God is the righteous Father. He is not only good to know; He is necessary to know.

The world comprised of unsaved people who are influenced and dominated by the Devil and his demons who do not know God.

The Lord Jesus Christ, who not only knows God but has always known God, is the only One who can being sinners to God.

And believers in Christ, the followers of Christ, who know the righteous Father sent our Lord Jesus.

This is the substrate on which the Savior’s high priestly intercessory prayer was offered up to the Father. This comprises a portion of the final things the Lord Jesus Christ wanted His trusted men to hear, to remember, and to relate to others about the Father; the nature of and His relationship with the Father, His non-relationship with the world and those in the world, and His relationship with His followers.

The question for you to address is, where are you in this verse? Are you in that group of individuals identified as the world, or are you in that small group identified as those who know the righteous Father sent Jesus Christ?

Of course, the implications are profound. The former group is comprised of individuals who are damned. Therefore they are doomed. The latter group is comprised of individuals who both know and follow the Savior, who have a mission, a commission, because as the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends His followers.


[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002),

[2] Genesis 12.3, 7; 17.7; Galatians 3.16

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