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Tuesday
Mar112014

Theological Term of the Week 

high priestly prayer of Jesus
Jesus’ final prayer, found in John 17, in which he “prays, first for himself (vv. 1–5), then for his disciples (vv. 6–19), and finally for later believers (vv. 20–26)”;1 also called the Farewell Prayer.

  • From scripture, an excerpt from the high priestly prayer:

    I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, butthey are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:9-19 ESV)

    The seventeenth of John contains the longest recorded prayer which our Lord offered during His public ministry on earth, and has been justly designated His High Priestly Prayer. It was offered in the presence of His apostles, after the institution and celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and immediately following the Paschal discourse recorded in 14 to 16. It has been appropriately said, “The most remarkable prayer followed the most full and consoling discourse ever uttered on earth” (Matthew Henry). It differs from the prayer which Christ “taught his disciples,” for in that there are petitions which the Savior could not offer for Himself, while in this there are petitions which none else but Christ could present. In this wonderful prayer there is a solemnity and elevation of thought, a condensed power of expression, and a comprehensiveness of meaning, which have affected the minds and drawn out the hearts of the most devoted of God’s children to a degree that few portions of Scripture have done.
    In John 17 the veil is drawn aside, and we are admitted with our great High Priest into “the holiest of all.” Here we approach the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High, therefore it behoves us to put off our shoes from off our feet, listening with humble, reverent and prepared hearts, for the place whereon we now stand is indeed holy ground. 

Learn more:

  1. In Scripture: John 17
  2. ESV Study Bible: A chart of the high priestly prayer
  3. IVP New Testament Commentaries: John 17:1-26
  4. Bob Deffinbaugh: The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus
  5. John MacArthur: The Most Thrilling Prayer Ever Prayed, Part 1, Part 2 (audio and transcripts)
  6. S. Lewis Johnson: Christ Praying for the Son; Christ Praying for the Apostles, part 1, part 2; Christ Praying for the Family (audio and transcripts)

Related terms:

Filed under Person, Work, and Teaching of Christ

1From the ESV Study Bible’s notes on John 17:1-26.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

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