Let’s read John 17:20-21, “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 this portion, the Lord’s death was imminent. In John, chapters 14-16, the Lord is speaking to His disciples, telling them of His impending death, of the coming of the Holy Spirit. He gave them words to prepare them for the trials and persecutions they would go through after His death. In chapter 17, the Lord is speaking to His Father. This entire chapter is a prayer of the Lord to His Father. In verses 1-5, He prays for Himself. In verses 6-19, He prays for His disciples. In verses 20-26, He prays for the unity of all believers, then, now, and in the future.

In verse 20, when the Lord prays, “Neither pray I for these alone”, He is speaking of His disciples. In verse 9 the Lord says, “I PRAY FOR THEM: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” Now in verse 20, the Lord is praying not only for them (His disciples), but for “them also which shall believe on me through their word.” Just before His ascension into Heaven, after His death and resurrection, the Lord said to His disciples in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” So, here in John 17, the Lord was praying in advance for those who would be saved through the disciples preaching the Gospel to the world. That includes us who are saved today. The disciples shared the Gospel to many people in many places. Those who were saved through their words shared the Gospel with others, who shared the Gospel with others, etc. So, in effect, the Lord was praying for us in His prayer!

The Lord prayed for the oneness of believers. We find that oneness in the Church, which is the body of Christ. Romans 12:5 tells us, “So we, being many, are ONE BODY in Christ, and every one members one of another.” That is an unchangeable fact. However, there is very little ‘practical’ oneness in the church today. We read in Ephesians 4:1-3, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT in the bond of peace.” Notice that we are not called upon to create unity. That’s the work of the Spirit. We are told to KEEP the unity in a practical sense, by waiting on the Lord and following the leading of the Spirit. If all of the Lord’s people would do that, then we would realize the true oneness that the Lord prayed for and the Spirit accomplished by bringing all believers into the body of Christ. (266.10)