“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent me." (John 17:20-21)

This is a heavy statement by Jesus - one that crosses several issues that relate to misunderstandings created by ecclesiastic sectarian institutions and their professional teachers and translators over the centuries.

In fact, this very statement by Jesus has been significantly mistranslated, as has the King James Version - which is:
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
In both translations, ecclesiastical translators have made the leap that the subject of believe is Jesus himself - "who will believe in me through their message" (NIV) and "which shall believe on me through their word (KJV)."

Both of these translations make it seem the subject of belief is Jesus - as though Jesus wasn't standing in front of them and they and others would have to stretch to believe "in" or "on" Jesus.

Rather, when the original Greek is followed closely, it is clear that Jesus is speaking of belief - actually trust - in his teachings. Here is the entire first section (John 17:20) in Greek:

οὐ περὶ τούτων δὲ ἐρωτῶ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τῶν πιστευόντων διὰ τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ

The key part of this phrase is ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τῶν πιστευόντων διὰ τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ, which is being translated to "who will believe in me through their message" and "which shall believe on me through their word" in the NIV and KJV respectively.

Let's break it down:
ἀλλὰ means however or but
καὶ means also
περὶ means regarding or concerning
τῶν means those
πιστευόντων means to trust or to have confidence in
διὰ means in
τοῦ means of
λόγου means teachings
αὐτῶν means of them
εἰς means into, unto, for, among, towards, to or within
ἐμέ means I, mine, me or myself

If we state this literally without respect to English grammar, we would get something like:

"However, also regarding those who trust in of teachings of them within me."

So the primary subjects of this sentence are teachings, and those who trust in those teachings. Jesus is clearly not speaking of believing in "me" - Jesus. Jesus is talking about those who will trust in his teachings.

What, then, does the last part mean - "into myself," or "within me"?

Remember that the primary subject of this first statement is the teachings. The secondary subject is those who would be trusting in those teachings: "those who." And just who would be trusting in Jesus' teachings? Naturally, Jesus' students and disciples. The fact that they are trusting in Jesus' teachings makes them Jesus' students and disciples.

And the third subject of the sentence is Jesus - from whom those teachings came.

So we can see here a slight colloquialism as Jesus refers to the teachings. The teachings "within me" - they are coming from the depth of Jesus' being.

Those teachings are part of Jesus. Jesus is committed to those teachings and thus those teachings are part of Jesus. Jesus is inseparable from those teachings.

Those teachings, in fact, are coming from the Supreme Being, who is also within Jesus - in the form of God's expansion as the Holy Spirit. But also within Jesus in the manner that Jesus is loving God.

People also will use this type of figurative colloquialism: When they speak of someone they love, they will say:

"They are in my heart."

We know that the person is not physically inside the other person's heart. But this is said because their connection is so deep that there is a heartfelt connection: a loving connection.

This is why it is so important to Jesus that they trust in Jesus' teachings: Because those teachings are coming not just from God, but from the loving relationship that exists between Jesus and the Supreme Being.

Those teachings are also about the Supreme Being. They are about introducing people to our Best Friend and Constant Companion - the Supreme Being. They are about loving and serving this Supreme Friend of ours.

Now for the second mistranslation - at the very core of the sectarian misidentification of Jesus:
"that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent me."
Ecclesiastical sectarianism has incorrectly focused on this element of "being one" - as they will often quote another misunderstood statement by Jesus:
 "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)
This misunderstood verse - taken out of context - has been interpreted to mean that Jesus is God. But this is not what Jesus really said at all (click to the link to understand what Jesus was really saying).

The very fact that Jesus is praying to the Supreme Being in the fashion of John 17 tells us clearly that there are two individuals - the Supreme Being and Jesus. So Jesus is not saying that he is God.

And if he is saying this, then this verse - "that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You" - would mean that they would also be God - and we are all God.

This is simply ridiculous - even though there are many speculative philosophies that teach this notion - that we are all God.

If we are all God why would anyone have to teach us that? If we were all God then we would not have forgotten that we are God and require someone to teach us that we are God.

If we are all God then we wouldn't need Jesus to come teach us anything.

If we were God we would be in control. God means Omniscient Being. We would control the universe and everything in it if we were God. Nothing would control us. Thus we could never forget we were God because we would also control forgetfulness. Forgetfulness would never control us, and thus we would never forget anything. And therefore we would be executing our God-ship at every moment.

Some of these "we are all God" pundits will say that we just purposely forgot we were God and are now simply playing our pastimes in the physical world for awhile.

Oh really now? So we are dominated by the physical world by our own choice? Consider earthquakes, tornadoes, hunger, pain, birth, death, disease and so many other conditions we have no control over. We decided to suffer from these ourselves?

If that is true, then why can't we get out when we want to? Why can't any one of us say, "okay, enough suffering, I'm going back to heaven to relax"?

We can't get out of this physical world because we are not God. We are not in control - we are controlled. We are dominated by the forces of the physical world. We are dominated by these physical bodies - though we simply occupy them temporarily.

We are also dominated by forgetfulness, which is why we have forgotten our real identities, and why teachers like Jesus must be sent by the Supreme Being to teach us about Him.

Yes, Jesus was sent by the Supreme Being. He states this very clearly here:
"so that the world may believe that You have sent me."
Thus we can know that Jesus' is God's messenger. He is God's representative. One who sends another is the sender and the person who is sent is the messenger. Jesus is admitting his position with relation to God is messenger.

But Jesus is also discussing being "in" the Supreme Being, and the Supreme Being being "in" Jesus. What is this, and how could they both be inside each other at the same time?

It is not as if one person is inside the other. It is not as if Jesus is saying that he is inside of God and God is inside of him literally. Jesus is speaking figuratively. 

Look again at the point of Jesus' being God's messenger - His representative. What is taking place here? Jesus is passing on God's message without changing it.

He is also asking his students to pass on that same message without changing it.

Now let's consider a messenger that we might hire to pass on a message. We give the messenger the message and they bike off to deliver it.

But say the person they deliver the message to doesn't completely understand the message when they read it. They then ask the messenger to explain the message. Can the messenger explain it?

If the messenger is a paid messenger, he will likely not be able to explain it. He is just "doing his job" and doesn't really care about the sender much. He is just doing the minimum to get the job done - it is just business to him.

So the paid messenger will likely say - "dunno."

But now what if we sent our message through a close friend of ours. The friend knows us very well and they know our intentions. They also care about us and want to make sure that our message gets passed on to the intended receiver.

So this messenger will deliver the message, and guess what? Should the receiver say he doesn't quite understand the message, and asks the messenger to explain it to him. What will happen?

Most certainly this messenger - a caring friend of ours - will be able to explain the message well. Why?

Because there is a oneness that exists between our trusted friend the messenger and ourselves. What is this oneness? A common purpose. The messenger-friend cares about us so he wants to see our message get across. He doesn't care about the money - he doesn't want anything from us. He just cares about us and wants to get our message across.

This is the type of oneness is what Jesus is talking about - although thousands of times deeper. Jesus is discussing a oneness of purpose. A oneness of will.

He is talking about the fact that Jesus is doing God's will, and Jesus is enlisting his disciples and students to also do God's will.

This is because since they will be doing what Jesus wants them to do - Jesus' will - they will also be doing what God wants them to do - because Jesus is doing God's will. There is a oneness there between Jesus' will and God's will, and there can be this same oneness between Jesus' disciples and God if they trust in Jesus' teachings - which means they act upon them.

This oneness, then, is about doing God's will.

Just consider how important doing God's will is to Jesus:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:50)
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
"Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." (John 7:17)
He [Jesus] went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Hame, Your kingdom come, Your will be done..." (Matt. 6:10-11)
So we see that doing God's will was a critical part of Jesus' teachings. And what does doing God's will mean? It means serving God. It means doing what God wants. It means pleasing the Supreme Being.

And when a person is doing what pleases someone else out of their own volition - with love - what is taking place? There is a oneness of purpose. The person has become one with that person in the sense that they are doing what pleases them.

This is the oneness that Jesus had with the Supreme Being, and Jesus wanted his students and disciples to have that same oneness.


(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of John without sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus  - translated from the original Greek texts.)