When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (John 17:1-2)
When Jesus prayed His High Priestly Prayer, He asked God the Father to glorify Him in order for Jesus to glorify the Father. How would our Lord glorify God the Father? Jesus gave the reason when He prayed, “Since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
The word “since” (καθώς; kathos) is a conjunction which means inasmuch or because. Jesus gave us believers the reason why He would be able to glorify God the Father. The reasons given are two-fold.
First, “you have given him authority over all flesh.” The Father gave the Son authority. The Father appointed the Son with a right to rule or possess a jurisdiction. The adjective “all” means that this authority is comprehensive. It is total and complete. It covers the category of “all flesh.” The word “flesh” (σάρξ; sarx) in this particular context refers to mankind, human beings and nations. The Father gave complete authority over all mankind. This truth parallels Psalm 2:1-12 which says:
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
The second reason Jesus gave concerning how He would glorify the Father was His authority, “to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” The authority that God the Father gave God the Son was for the purpose of giving eternal life. In other words, this refers to the salvation of sinners from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin. Jesus is the only one capable of accomplishing this supreme task due to the fact that He alone provided a substitutionary atonement for sinners on the cross (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
However, this salvation is not just a possibility for anybody but rather a certainty for the elect of God. Jesus acknowledged that those receiving eternal life would be those who the Father gave the Son. This parallels what Jesus said in John 6:35-66. Everyone who God the Father would give to the Son would receive eternal life. Salvation is truly a gift from God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
John Calvin writes, “The kingdom of Christ extends, no doubt, to all men; but it brings salvation to none but the elect, who with voluntary obedience follow the voice of the Shepherd.”
God’s grace unto salvation is for those who the Father gives to the Son. Thank God today that not only He has given you the gift of salvation, but also that you are a gift to the Savior.
May truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!