In John 17 the Lord Jesus prays a profound prayer that is the completion of His message in John 14-16. The subject of this prayer is glorification, as seen in verse 1, where the Lord says, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You.” The Lord continues by praying for the oneness of the believers (vv. 6-24). This indicates that the purpose of the believers’ oneness is the glorification of the Son that the Son may glorify the Father.
John 17:6-24 reveals that the believers’ oneness is in three stages. This post will briefly touch on the first stage of oneness: the oneness in the Father’s name by the eternal life. Subsequent posts will address the second and third stages of oneness: oneness in the Triune God through sanctification by the holy word and oneness in the divine glory for the expression of the Triune God.
Before proceeding, we should consider the definition of oneness. Oneness is not “shaking hands over the fence,” nor is it an outward assembling of believers or an organizational unity. Oneness is the building up of the believers (Eph. 4:4, 16). Such oneness is genuine and intrinsic.
We may wonder: how can millions of believers in Christ from different backgrounds and nationalities be truly built up as one? John 17 reveals the answer: the believers can be built up as one in the Father’s name by the eternal life. The Lord Jesus has manifested the Father’s name to His believers (v. 6) and has given them eternal life (vv. 2-3). The Father’s name and His life are closely connected. The Father’s name reveals Him as the source of life for the spread and multiplication of life (5:26). Only those who have the Father’s life can participate in His name. Through regeneration we believers have been born of God to become children of God (1:12-13). As such, we can call Him our Father. Moreover, because we all have the same Father and the same life—the eternal life of God—our oneness is in this life. The Father’s life unites us and keeps us in oneness.
By being kept in the Father’s name by the Father’s life, we may be one even as the Triune God is one (17:11). As those born of the Father’s life, we can enjoy Him as the very factor of our oneness. We need to be impressed that this enjoyment keeps us in the oneness. Furthermore, this oneness is altogether related to and for the glorification of the Son. Through our oneness the Son is glorified, and the Father is glorified through the Son’s glorification.
Witness Lee, Living In and With the Divine Trinity, Chapter 13 (Print).
(Most references in the Further Reading can also be viewed on www.ministrybooks.org.)