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. Verse one, where the Lord says, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You.” As God in the flesh, the Lord’s outward human shell needed to be broken through death so that the Father’s divine element could be released and expressed in resurrection as the Spirit. This process was the initial stage of the Son’s glorification of the Father (John 12:23-24; 1 Cor. 15:43a; Luke 24:26; John 7:39).
After praying for His glorification, the Lord then prayed for the oneness of the believers (vv. 6-24). This indicates that the purpose of the believers’ oneness is the glorification of the Son so that the Son may glorify the Father. Our oneness is a condition for the Son’s glorification of the Father in the church today and in the New Jerusalem for eternity (Eph. 3:21; 1 Tim. 3:15-16; Rev. 21:11, 23-24).
The Lord’s prayer in John 17:6-24 reveals that our oneness is in three stages. Although we have experienced the first stage of oneness—the oneness in the Father’s name by His divine life—through regeneration (see previous post here), we need to be be brought on to the second stage of oneness: the oneness in the Triune God by the holy word.
The obstacle to this second stage of oneness is the world, which is Satan’s evil system (12:31; 1 John 5:19). Although John 17:16 tells us that as believers we are not of the world, we are still in the world (v. 18) and it is still possible to be usurped by worldly pleasures and amusements. If we are occupied by the world, we are experientially not in the Triune God (cf. James 4:4). This causes us to lose the Triune God as the very factor of our oneness, for as John 17:21 indicates that it is through our being in the Triune God (“in Us”) that we all may be one.
Our need is to be separated from the world unto the Triune God. This sanctification is possible through the holy word, the truth (vv. 17, 19). As the truth, the holy word is living and able to separate us from the world not only outwardly but also inwardly. By taking time to be sanctified in the truth (v. 17), we can be separated from the world back to the Triune God. This is to be brought back to the factor of our oneness, which oneness is for the Son’s glorification.
Witness Lee, The Oneness and the One Accord According to the Lord’s Aspiration and the Body Life and Service According to His Pleasure, Chapter 1 (Print).
(Most references in the Further Reading can also be viewed on www.ministrybooks.org.)