July 15, 2007
These are the words of Jesus at the end of the Last Supper. Chapter 16 is to the disciples and Chapter 17 is to God, the Father, and is also known as the Great Intercessory Prayer. The whole thing, chapters 13-17 are sometimes called The Farewell Discourse.
I ask myself: “Who was keeping notes?” The prayer is beautiful and written by John as if recorded at the time it was spoken, similar to a temple dedicatory prayer being recorded, or a baby or patriarcle blessing. However it was preserved, I am grateful to have access to it. See John 17:20 on this note.
As you read this chapter, as Julie Smith suggests in her book “Search, Ponder, & Pray,” you may want to mark the promises that Jesus makes to the disciples and ponder how these promises apply to you.
v. 1: The Greek for “offended” literally means: “so that you will not be caused to stumble.” What is Jesus trying to help his disciples avoid? What is the specific prevention for the problem as described in the previous chapter?
v. 2: Who is “they?” Why would they think that by killing the disciples they were doing God a service? Because of the reference to service offered to God, it is almost certain that Jewish opposition is intended here in both cases rather than Jewish opposition in the first instance (putting the disciples out of synagogues) and Roman opposition in the second (putting the disciples to death). Such opposition materializes later and is recorded in Acts: The stoning of Stephen in 7:58-60 and the slaying of James the brother of John by Herod Agrippa I in Acts 12:2-3 are notable examples. How would you respond to such news? How should this verse shape your attitude toward trials?
v. 3: Is this an excuse for their behavior?
v. 4: How would this prediction impact the moment of persecution? Why does it matter that Jesus was with them & won’t be with them now? How does this weigh in on their persecution?
v. 5: Why aren’t the disciples asking where Jesus is going? See v. 6. Is there a contradiction between this verse and 13:36?
v.6: Why did Jesus make his comment? What effect did his words have on the disciples? What effect do they have on the reader?
v. 7: Why is it important for Jesus to go away? Notes on the word “Comforter:” Or “Helper” or “Counselor”; Grk “Paraclete,” from the Greek word παράκλητος (paraklhto”). Finding an appropriate English translation for παράκλητος is a very difficult task. No single English word has exactly the same range of meaning as the Greek word. “Comforter,” used by some of the older English versions, appears to be as old as Wycliffe. But today it suggests a quilt or a sympathetic mourner at a funeral. “Counselor” is adequate, but too broad, in contexts like “marriage counselor” or “camp counselor.” “Helper” or “Assistant” could also be used, but could suggest a subordinate rank. “Advocate,” the word chosen for the NET translation, has more forensic overtones than the Greek word does, although in John 16:5-11 a forensic context is certainly present. Because an “advocate” is someone who “advocates” or supports a position or viewpoint and since this is what the Paraclete will do for the preaching of the disciples, it was selected in spite of the drawbacks.
Why is it necessary for Jesus to leave before the Comforter can come? Can’t they both be there simultaneously?
v. 8-11: Joseph Smith said that the correct translation in verse 8 is “remind” instead of “reprove.” (How) does makig this substitution change your understanding of the role of the Comforter? What is the Comforter’s role? The NET translates these verses this way: And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment – 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 16:11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. Is it enough to “believe” in Jesus? What does it mean to “believe” in Jesus?
How would you explain what is taught in verse 10 to a child?
v. 12-14: What else did Jesus want to say? Why couldn’t the disciples bear them? When could/can they? How did/does Jesus continue to speak to them? Does Jesus desire to speak to us? Are we able to bear what he has to say? How did/do we qualify for this further information? Some critics of the Church claim that, since the Spirit teaches us the truth (verse 13,) there is no need for a prophet. How would you respond to this claim?
v. 15: What is Jesus saying here? What is the order of things?
Does D&C 88:3-4 add instight to your understanding of the Comforter?
v. 16-19: Why the confusion? Note the repetition in verses 16-19. What effect does it have on the reader?
v. 20-21: How are sorrows and pains turned into joys? How did the disciples experience this? How do we experience this? Do we really forget our past pains? What does this phrase “remembereth no more” mean? See this blog post for discussion: post. Is the meaning of “hour” in verse 21 the same as or different from its use in the rest of the Gospel? (Note that “man” in verse 21 is better translated as ‘person.’) In verse 21 is Jesus making an allusion to Isaiah 26:17-21? Can you make a useful comparison between these passages? Do you think the disciples were startled when Jesus compared them to a woman in labor? Why do you think he chose this image?
Should verses 21-22 be read with 3:3-7 in mind?
Review verses 4, 12, and 25. What principles can you learn from these verses that can be useful in teaching and/or parenting?
v. 22-23: Note the JST here. Does this promise extend only to those hearing Jesus’ word or to us, as well? What changes from present tense to after Jesus is resurrected? An allusion to Isa 66:14 LXX, which reads: “Then you will see, and your heart will be glad, and your bones will flourish like the new grass; and the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants, but he will be indignant toward his enemies.” The change from “you will see [me]” to I will see you places more emphasis on Jesus as the one who reinitiates the relationship with the disciples after his resurrection, but v. 16 (you will see me) is more like Isa 66:14. Further support for seeing this allusion as intentional is found in Isa 66:7, which uses the same imagery of the woman giving birth found in John 16:21. In the context of Isa 66 the passages refer to the institution of the messianic kingdom, and in fact the last clause of 66:14 along with the following verses (15-17) have yet to be fulfilled. This is part of the tension of present and future eschatological fulfillment that runs throughout the NT, by virtue of the fact that there are two advents. Some prophecies are fulfilled or partially fulfilled at the first advent, while other prophecies or parts of prophecies await fulfillment at the second.
v. 24: Here are some related quotes from McConkie on re: praying in Jesus’ name:
“Their prayers in Jesus’ name are to begin after his resurrection. Then they will no longer need to rely upon him to pray to the Father for them. The Father loves them and they have direct access to him. Having the Holy Ghost they then will be able to formulate their own Spirit-guided petitions; then
they will feel secure in coming boldly unto the throne of grace, that they may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” The Mortal Messiah, 4:103.
“Since the divine law in all ages called for men to pray to the Father in the came of Christ, why had Jesus awaited this hour to institute the age-old system among his disciples? Perhaps it is a situation similar to that which is involved in receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost; as long as Jesus was with the disciples they did not enjoy the full manifestations of the Holy Ghost. Perhaps as long as Jesus was personally with them many of their petitions were addressed directly to him rather than to the Father. Such was the course followed by the Nephites when the resurrected and glorified Lord ministered among them. They prayed directly to him and not to the Father.” DNTC, 1:758 – 3 Ne 19:17-25
From Jim F.’s notes: Verses 23-27: When the disciples see Christ again, why will they have no questions? Of what are their questions a sign? Asking in Jesus’ name and receiving what we ask for has been an important theme of this sermon. (See John 14:13 and 15:7, and the repetition of the teaching in 3 Nephi 18:20.) Why is that such an important teaching? Why is it important to the disciples at this point in their spiritual development? What does it mean to us? What is the promise of verse 25?
v. 29: Are the disciples correct?
v. 31: What is Jesus’ tone of voice?
v. 33: How does this synopsis relate to v. 1? According to this verse, how do joy and overcoming relate?
From Julie Smith’s Book: As you read this chapter, look for elements of Jesus’ prayer that you can model in your own prayers.
Consider Exodus 16:10, 24:16; Genesis 45:13; and Psalms 49:16, 57:5. What are some good synonyms for “glorify” in verse 1?
What do you learn about the proper use of power from verse 2?
Does the definition of eternal life in verse 3 surpose you?
Consider verse 4. Does it surprise you that Jesus says at this point that his work is finished?
Are Exodus 3:15 and Isaiah 52:6 fulfilled in verse 6?
How is verse 15 relevant to your life?
What does “sanctify” mean in verses 17 & 19? (See Exodus 13:2, 28:41, and Jeremiah 1:5.)
Do you think John is deliberately avoiding mention of Jesus’ suffering in Gethsemane? If so, why?
What is the main theme of chapter 17?
This is where I’m going to start our discussion on Sunday because I think it’s so important & don’t want to run out of time! Some great thoughts & questions from Jim F.’s notes that I’m going to copy with his permission here, hoping you’ll give them ample consideration & come to class ready to discuss them: “Many Christians refer to this chapter as “The Great High Priestly Prayer.” Why do you think they do so? Latter-day Saints usually call this prayer “The Great Intercessory Prayer.” Why? Are the two names for this prayer related? Though we know that Jesus prayed often, we know the content of only a few of his prayers. Why did John believe it was important to tell us what Jesus said in this prayer? How does the form of this prayer fit the form of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4; and 3 Nephi 13:9-13)? If it doesn’t, how do you explain the difference?
Verses 1-8: Jesus has often talked about glorifying the Father. (See, for example, John 1:18; 2:11; 9:3; and 15:15.) What do you think he means by the word “glorify”? How will the Father glorify the Son? Why does Jesus say that he will give eternal life to those whom the Father has given him (verse 2)? Whom has the Father given him? How has he given them to Jesus? What does it mean to belong to him, to be his possession? Jesus defines what he means by “eternal life” in verse 3. Does that help answer the last question? What kind of knowledge is Jesus talking about in verse 3? Compare Genesis 3:22 and Mosiah 4:12. Do they suggest how we should understand the word “know”? Does Mosiah 4:12 help us understand the glorification of the Father and the Son that Jesus speaks of in verses 1 and 4-5? Does verse 6 explain how Jesus has glorified the Father? What does he mean when he says “I have manifested [or “revealed”] thy name unto the men [literally “persons”]”? How has he revealed the name of the Father? Why is the Father’s name so important? What might it stand for? What does it mean that those whom the Father gave to the Son were given “out of this world” (verse 6)? How have they kept the Father’s word? What is the Father’s word? Does the first clause of verse 7 tell us explain what it means to know the Father (verse 3)? what it means that Jesus has manifested the Father’s name (verse 6)?
Verses 11-13: Here we find the request of Jesus’ prayer. He prays “Now that I am leaving them in the world and coming to thee, keep those you’ve given me in your name so that they can be one in the same way that we are one.” Can you think of synonyms for “keep” that help you understand this better? Why is the unity of the disciples so important now that the Savior is leaving them? How were they kept up to this point (verse 12)? (The word translated “lost” could also be translated “died.”)
Verses 17-19: To sanctify something is to make it holy. How does the Father make the Lord’s disciples holy? What does it mean to say that he does so “through thy truth”? Jesus sent the disciples into the world, just as the Father sent Jesus into the world. Does that suggest that each has a similar mission? If so, what might it be? How does Jesus sanctify himself? What does it mean that he does it “for their sakes”? How does his sanctification make their sanctification possible?
Verses 20-23: For whom has Jesus been praying up to this point (verse 20)? Why has he focused on praying for them? Now whom does he pray for? Does he prayer for something different now? What does the unity of believers show the world (verse 21)? Why is that important? Jesus gives a standard for the unity of the saints: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (verse 22). How are the Father and the Son one? How can we imitate that unity in the Church? Are there destructive ways in which we might merely pretend to imitate that unity? How do we know the difference between real unity and false unity? The word translated “perfect” (verse 23) can also be translated “complete.” But it means literally “to fulfill the purpose”; that which fulfills its purpose is perfect. Why is unity needed for perfection, for fulfilling our purpose?
Verses 24-26: When Jesus prays “that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am” what is he asking for? Is he asking for something that only occurs at a future time or for something that can occur now? What does verse 25 tell us about our relation to the Father? Why might Jesus use the title “Just Father” here rather than another title? Does this help explain Doctrine and Covenants 46:13-14? What promise does the Lord make when he says “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it“? What does it mean to declare the name of the Father? How does doing so put the Father’s love for the Savior in us? Why does Jesus say that his declaration of the Father’s name will cause “that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them” rather than “that thy love may be in them”? What is Jesus talking about when he speaks of being in those whom the Father has given him (verse 26)?”
In light of last week’s lesson, “Love One Another, As I Have Loved You,” how does the last verse of Jesus’ prayer (v. 26) strike you? Look back at the beginning of Chapter 13 as John introduced this sermon. What is the “take home message” of John’s writing? See verse 2 of Chapter 13 and compare that with the beginning of Chapter 18. I saw chiastic structure in this chapter and with further investigation found Fernando Segovia’s analysis showing a chiasmus thus:
A Love, glory (13:1-38)
B Jesus’ departure (14:1-31)
C joy/hate, abiding/persecution (15:1-11)
D focal point: 15:12-17
C’joy/hate, abiding/persecution (15:18-16:3)
B’Jesus’ departure (16:4-33)
A’Love, glory (17:1-26)
Another analysis by Wayne Brouwer shows this chiasmus:
A gathering scene (13:1-35)
B prediction: disciple’s denial (13:36-38)
C Jesus’ departure and the Father’s power (14:1-14)
D promise of the Comforter (14:15-26)
E trouble with the world (14:27-31)
F focal point: vine and branches: mutual love (15:1-17)
E’ trouble with the world (15:18-16:4)
D’ promise of the Comforter (16:4-15)
C’ Jesus’ departure and the Father’s power (16:16-28)
B’ prediction: the disciples’ denial (16:29-33)
A’ departing prayer (17:1-26)
How is your reading affected by seeing these chiastic structures?