When Jesus finished saying these things, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son can glorify you. You gave him authority over everyone so that he could give [aiōnion] life to everyone you gave him. This is [aiōnion] life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I shared with you before the world was created.
“I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. This is because I gave them the words that you gave me, and they received them. They truly understood that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.
“I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours. Everything that is mine is yours and everything that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them. I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one.
This passage used to such a big deal when I was a Calvinist. They’re really hung up on Jesus only dying for “the elect.” Therefore, as it seems from this passage, Jesus is only praying for the elect. He doesn’t seem to care about anyone else and certainly not “the world.”
But I think we need to keep this in context. His focus throughout this time has been on his closest friends and loved ones. That focus continues through to this prayer. He knows that when he leaves, it’s going to bring sorrow. There’s also going to be trouble from the same “world” (i.e., the world of first century Judaism) for them just as there was for him. So, that’s where his concern lies. He’s not praying for the “world” because his focus is on his friends. I think to read anything more into his words here means we have to leave that context.
Also, a lot of people question what “eternal life” means. In this passage, Jesus answered that question -
“This is aiōnion life: to know you, the only true G_d, and Jesus the Christ whom you sent.”
As I’ve been doing throughout this series, I’ve used the transliteration of the Greek word instead of the erroneous English translation. The word aiōnion does not mean “everlasting” or “eternal.” It means “age-long” or “taking on the character or quality of an age.” In other words, what Jesus brought to this world’s realm is the quality or character of G_d’s Realm. Life in that Realm is made up of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5.22-23). We can experience that right now. Today. At this moment. And that same Life extends into the next age. That’s the gist of what aiōnion means. Because of Jesus, all creation can experience that Life right now. The gate has been opened and the Life of the ages is slowly filling up the world like the “water covers the sea.”
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC