"I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and You in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me." (John 17:22-23)

As Jesus continues his open prayer to the Supreme Being, he delves into the depths of his intimate relationship with the Supreme Being.

Ecclesiastic sectarian institutions and their professional teachers cannot enter into this relationship, and for this reason they and their followers not only have mistranslated and misinterpreted this and other statements by Jesus, but they confuse Jesus with God - saying that Jesus is "God became man" and so forth.

This has led to the invalid notion that the Supreme Being is some sort of unknowable vague force...

Yet Jesus contradicts such a notion in front of his disciples (he is praying openly before his disciples here) not only with his prayer in general, but this specific part of his prayer.

Let's examine each part of this statement carefully.
"I have given them the glory that You gave me"
"Them" here refers to Jesus' students and disciples - as confirmed throughout this prayer with statements such as "I have given them Your word (teachings)." Certainly Jesus is referring to whom he has been teaching.

So what has Jesus given them? Glory? What is that? How has Jesus given them glory? Is Jesus talking about fame here? Did he make them famous? - as glory typically refers to fame.

No. The Greek word translated to "glory" here is δόξα (doxa). This is actually a complex word - and in this case it is more complex because Jesus is using it to describe a spiritual concept.

As we examine the lexicon, we find several uses, but the most applicable would be "a most glorious condition, most exalted state."

So is Jesus talking about God exalting Jesus and Jesus exalting his students? Why, then was Jesus' physical body beaten and tortured, and why, after Jesus left the physical world, were most of his disciples' physical bodies also beaten and put to death? They were exalted right?

This is not what Jesus is talking about here. The "glorious condition, most exalted state" that Jesus is speaking of is a spiritual concept. It is a spiritual condition - a spiritual state.

And what is that state? It is love for the Supreme Being. This is the perfection of spiritual life - as Jesus instructed:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
To achieve this instruction - to fall in love with the Supreme Being - with all our heart and soul and mind - is a glorious spiritual accomplishment. It is the achievement of spiritual perfection.

And this - love for God - can only be granted by the mercy of the Supreme Being and one of God's representatives.

This is why Jesus is saying that "I have given them the glory that You gave me."

Because love for God - real love for God, not the "oh I love God and I love my cat and my dog and my house" that we often hear people say - requires coming to know God.

After all, we cannot love someone we do not know.

And to come to know the Supreme Being, we have to be introduced. Either by God personally or by someone who already knows and loves Him.

This is what Jesus is talking about: He has introduced his students to the Supreme Being and they have come to know God and have achieved love for the Supreme Being through their relationship with Jesus. How is this?

Let's say we want to meet a famous rock star, and come to know him. Do we just write him a letter? Millions of people write him letters. Do we try to call him? His phone number is private. Do we try to rush the stage at a concert? The rock star has armed bodyguards that protect him. How do we meet and come to know the rock star?

The only feasible way is to be introduced by a friend of the rock star. If we come to know the rock star's friend and the rock star's friend begins to trust us - they know we aren't a nut case or something - then they might introduce us. But this is only if they - the rock star's friend - trust us and if we are sincere. If it seems we are just using the rock star's friend then there will be no trust. But if we are sincere then there will be trust and the friend of the rock star will introduce us.

Of course, such an introduction requires first that the friend of the star is on good terms with the rock star. The rock star must trust the friend - and only then will the rock star trust someone who is introduced by the friend. The whole thing is built upon relationships.

This is not so different with the Supreme Being. Why? Because the spiritual realm is built upon relationships. One must have a relationship with God to be in the spiritual realm. It is not as though we can just go hang out in the spiritual realm and have a good time. The spiritual realm is based upon loving service relationships with God: Loving God and serving God.

You see, God has created us for the purpose of loving and serving Him. He also gave us the freedom of choice to love Him or not. Those who chose not to love Him got sent away to the physical world - and given temporary physical bodies. Why? Because we wanted to get away from Him. So here we are in the physical world - away from Him.

That is why our physical bodies - our temporary vehicles - have no access to God. We cannot see Him, hear him nor touch Him with these physical bodies. This was our choice - God is simply granting our wish to be away from Him.

But should we become serious (and sincere) about returning to our relationship with the Supreme Being, He will see this seriousness as He knows our heart. And He can direct us to His representative who will introduce us to Him.

This is what Jesus is speaking of here. He is introducing his students not just to God, but to his relationship with God. He has revealed God to his students while revealing his intimate relationship with God.

This intimate relationship with God is what Jesus is referring to with:

"that they may be one as we are one — I in them and You in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity."

These references to "unity" and being "one" are being taken from a repeating of the Greek word εἷς (heis), which refers to the opposite of many or divided according to Thayer's lexicon. Jesus' use of this word refers to a unity that comes from having a personal relationship.

We can compare such a unity with what happens between a mother and her infant. When the infant is hungry, the mother breastfeeds the infant. When the infant is crying, the mother will try to relieve the infant's distress. The mother cannot ignore the child's crying. She becomes distressed when the infant is distressed. This is because of the love and care that exists between the mother and her infant. The mother cares about the child so much that her life revolves around the infant.

The infant and the mother are certainly two different individuals - the infant is not the mother and the mother is not the infant. But there is a unity between them because of the love the mother has for the infant. Her will is connected to the needs of the infant. There is a oneness of will.

This is seen when the infant is happy: suddenly the mother will be happy too. There is a unity there. When the infant is pleased, the mother is pleased.

In the same way, when a person is in love with the Supreme Being, their will becomes connected with God's will. Whatever God wants, the lover of God wants to do. This is also called loving service. Just as the mother tends to her baby out of love and care, the lover of God will tend to God and serve God with the desire of pleasing Him. This creates a oneness between God and the lover of God.

This type of oneness with God - this loving service to God - can be facilitated by God's representative.

In the example above about the rock star - the friendship between the rock star and his friend will reflect upon our relationship with the rock star too. If they have a particularly close relationship - and we end up having a close relationship with the rock star's friend - certainly our relationship with the rock star will also be close. The relationships become intertwined. This is how relationships work.

Of course there are serious limitations in these examples. The relationships of the rock star or the mother and infant are not as deep as the relationships between God and His loving servants.

This depth of love is expressed by Jesus with this phrase:
— I in them and You in me —
Is Jesus talking about being inside of his disciples' physical bodies? Of course not.

This is a metaphorical expression, or idiom. Today we use a similar metaphorical expression/idiom when we refer to someone with whom we have a special loving relationship:

"you are in my heart"

Certainly this doesn't mean the other person is physically sitting inside my heart. It means that we have a closeness of love. A special loving relationship. This is what Jesus is speaking of as he refers to his relationship with God and his relationship with his closest disciples.

And this closeness also relates directly to Jesus' last point:
"Then the world will know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me."
"Then" is connecting the "so that they may be brought to complete unity" to "the world will know that You sent me". This clarifies the relationship between God and Jesus. Jesus is God's loving servant, and God has sent Jesus.

This also relates directly to the purpose of God sending Jesus. It is not as if God could not come down to the earth and appear at any point in time, and with a thunderous voice say "I am God and you better love Me and serve Me or else." God could do that at any time.

But He doesn't.

Why? Let's use an example.

Let's say that a teenage boy has gone off to college - which his parents are paying for. But before the boy leaves he gets into a fight with his dad. The boy curses to his dad and says "I hate you" as he storms off and takes off to college.

What does the thoughtful dad do? Does he just show up at the college? Does he barge into his sons dormitory and demand his son take that back and hug him now? No.

The dad will stay away and give his son some space. He hopes this is a temporary phase, but also respects his son's seeming independence. Even though the dad is still paying for college.

The Supreme Being is sort of like this. He is kind and thoughtful. He is gracious and forebearing. He does not force Himself upon us because He knows that only we can decide to love Him. He cannot force us to love Him.

And this is why God sends His loving servant and representative. To guide those who sincerely want to return to Him. To re-introduce God to those who want to come to know and love God.

God's loving servant and representative already has this unity with God, because he wants what pleases God. Whatever pleases his master is what pleases him. This creates a oneness of purpose and will.

Such a oneness is extended - passed on - when a student of God's representative wants what their teacher wants. Because they know that what their teacher wants is what God wants, they can also join that unity by working to please God under the guidance of the teacher. This is what is taking place between God, Jesus and Jesus' students here.

The precious thing about what Jesus says here is how he praises God's love for him and his students:
"You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me."
Jesus is not thinking that he has some sort of exclusive thing going with the Supreme Being. He is loving the Supreme Being, and wants his students to also love God as he does. Jesus confirmed this when Jesus said elsewhere:
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:50)
Doing God's will means following Jesus' instructions. His most important instruction was to love God as indicated above. Another instruction was that we pray to the Supreme Being, and we glorify God's Holy Names. This is clearly indicated here:
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." (Matt. 6:9-10)
This indicates that Jesus instructed doing God's will along with praising God's Holy Names ("hallowed be Your Name" or in KJV, "hallowed be Thy Name.")

Praising God by glorifying His Holy Names embraces a long tradition in the teachings of Jesus and his lineage - going back to Abraham, David, and others. (See the scriptural evidence here.)

And Jesus' disciples also followed this instruction. This is confirmed in the last verse of Luke, after Jesus had left his disciples and returned to the spiritual realm:
And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24:53)



(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.)