John 17:20-26 Unity

 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”


Jesus prays for unity among his followers.  Unfortunately unity is a choice and Christians have historically made poor choices.  Some have made poor choices in doctrine and some have made poor choices out of fear.  Some have even made poor choices out of selfish ambition.  However, although there are many denominations there is one catholic church.  Obviously, this is not the same as the Roman Catholic Church.  Catholic with a small ‘c’ means embracing a wide variety of things, it means all-encompassing.  Those encompassed by the one church are those who truly follow Jesus.  It is hard to discern who are really brothers and sisters in the Lord.  There are conservative evangelicals whose lives reflect fear and hatred more than they reflect love, joy, and peace.  There are liberals who seem to care for the disenfranchised as Jesus did, but who deny the authority of scripture.  None of us have everything right in our theology.  None of us has arrived in our spiritual growth.  However, how can we tell if someone has started?

Jesus prays that his disciples would be one in him and in the Father.  The life we live should be geared toward knowing Jesus and there should be a resonance with others who know him too.  I have often started a conversation with someone and then known that they are my brother or sister in Christ without the subject being addressed.


we find so many ways to fall out with each other and move on.  We have made many denominations and founded many churches because we can’t get along.  Preserve unity in the church.  Preserve unity in our families.  Preserve unity in our Bible schools.  Let us examine ourselves before we cause disunity.


  1. What is about to happen to Jesus?
  2. Why would unity be a concern?
  3. What does Jesus wish for his disciples to see?
  4. How is unity broken among Christians today?
  5. How is it restored?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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22 Responses to John 17:20-26 Unity

  1. Amy McCashen says:

    Jesus is about to die, rise, and then ascend to Heaven. The unity of the disciples is necessary because Jesus will not be among them in the flesh any longer. They need to stay united despite their Leader’s physical absence. Jesus wishes for his disciples to see the love that the Father and the Son have for one another. This unity among Christians is broken today in all of denominations. My husband, Grayden, is currently researching/applying to graduate schools. I was shocked to discover that several seminaries offer a major cut in tuition (average of 50%) if you can prove that you are a member in a church of their denomination. It sickens me that Christians are so partial and divided today, especially in their studying and preaching of God’s Word. This is where we should be the most united! God’s Word should unite us, not separate us.

  2. sjcavitt says:

    1) Jesus is about to be crucified on the cross, resurrected, and then return to heaven.
    2) Jesus would have been concerned about the unity of the believers, because if they did not realize the need or the importance of unity about themselves, disunity might occur.
    3) Jesus wanted His disciples to realize the need for unity, because through unity, the world would see their belief and love.
    4) Unity is broken in numerous ways today among believers. Doctrines are typically what separate churches into denominations, along with other many other areas.
    5) Unity can begin to be restored if we simply step back to look at the big picture and realize that we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. I believe this perspective is so easily lost!

  3. Jenna says:

    1. Jesus is about to die.
    2. The disciples will be scattered, but Jesus is praying that they will stick together in the rough times that will be coming as they spread the news of His resurrection.
    3. Jesus also prays that the disciples may see His glory that He had before the foundation of the world.
    4. Aside from the many denominations that we have today, unity among believers is broken through some big things, like theological differences, and some little things, even as small as the new carpet color!
    5. I think that unity is restored one believe at a time – one person choosing to forgive and to agree to disagree on the minor issues. What helps to restore unity is realizing that we don’t all have to be exactly the same, think exactly the same, or even believe all the same things to be in the Body of Christ. We need to agree on the indisputable issues, of course, like the nature of God and the Trinity and the fact that Salvation is by grace only through faith in Jesus Christ, but questions about Calvinism vs. Arminianism, Old-Earth vs. Young-Earth, and the like are not something to break unity over!

  4. Nick says:

    Jesus is about to be betrayed and crucified on the cross. Jesus was about to leave and his believers would be left alone, and they needed to stay unified despite his absence. He wishes that they would be with him to see the glory that God had given him. Unity is broken in the church today over differences in doctrines and beliefs, as well as the pride. Pride in one’s own knowledge and beliefs and the inability to see past that pride. I’ve seen it come between believers at my home church and other churches in the area. Entire churches have been torn apart over arguments of doctrine and beliefs. It’s only restored when this pride is broken down and we look back to God and lean not on our own “understandings”.

  5. Beth Coale says:

    1-2 Jesus’ death will test the disciples’ faith and then His ascention might be a test of their unity. Jesus was what was holding them together – when He left, would their prideful human natures be allowed to take the lead & cause division?
    3 The previous chapter talked about what they had in common and the common goals they had – it’s better to accomplish goals together.

    4 Unity is broken so much not only by disagreement but especially by our inability to still function and work together despite disagreement. Disagreement is inevitable, but how we respond (fighting or living at peace) to it is a choice. It’s so frustrating because it often feels like the “battles” being fought in some churches are not even our battles – we are not starting arguments and negativity – yet we have to still live with it and deal with it. I’ve moved a lot and been to many churches and seen all kinds of splits and arguing (so it’s very personal to me) and it really effects everyone for the worse. I have friends that have stopped going with that being a big part of it. But we have to continue serving in the church in the midst of it, and also resist being critical of their criticalness (something I’ve been guilty of).
    “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -Gandalf, J.R.R. Tolkien

    5 Unity can be restored only by staying connected to the Vine and living out of the new life Christ gives us that enables us to love in the midst of conflict (even the conflict that we had nothing to do with starting). We think it is such a complicated thing to straighten things out but maybe all it takes is for people to just STOP arguing about everything so much, STOP criticizing pastors and teachers and music leaders, and do what they can with where they are. I’m so thankful for the church I’ve attended while at Moody; it is an international church so even with little things, everybody is so different in the way they think and do things, but I love that we can still worship together and serve together in a globally-minded way.

  6. Lacy says:

    1. Jesus is about to be crucified.
    2. Because the disciples have been notoriously discordant already, and fear– which they are about to experience– often brings disunity.

  7. Rachel says:

    Jesus is praying right before he is going to be crucified. He knows what will happen and prays for unity when he is gone. He wishes that his disciples would see the unity of the body as the unity of the Father and the Son. Unity is broken among Christians when we choose to dispute and divide over particularities instead of pursuing unity in Christ. Unity is restored when believers lay down their prejudices and choose to sacrificially love each other.

  8. Mary says:

    More of the Advent readings 🙂

    How to prepare for Christmas:
    1) Meditate on the fact that we need a Savior.
    2) Engage in sober self-examination.
    3) Build God-centered anticipation and expectancy and excitement into your home
    4) Be much in the Scriptures, and memorize the great passages!

    Don’t have time to write down my reflections today, but again, just realizing how much I need to continuously go back to the basics. How messed up we are in our thinking and how much we need Him, and we have Him, and if we are messed up in our thinking, how bad off are those who don’t have Him. Goodness…

    God save us all from our self-destructing selves. Only when we continuously turn toward you and behold your glory do we find peace and rest, love, hope, and joy. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” (Psa. 73:25-26)

  9. zacbodine says:

    I love how this passage at the end exemplifies unity. What does it feel like to be one? It is to be known and loved. Who are we being loved and known by? This passage answers that two fold. You are known and loved by the Father and you are to be known and loved by the body of believers. Why do we need to do this? We need to be one to show God’s glory. Jesus’ explanation would imply that we are modeling the trinitarian relationship that way.

  10. What does Jesus wish for his disciples to see?
    How is unity broken among Christians today?
    How is it restored?
    “He probably wishes His disciples to see how He and the Father are ONE. One in mind, mission, heart. They keep their distinctness and uniqueness in their unity. The disciples were to be unified by their love for Christ and each other because of their new identity in Christ. This unity among Christians is sometimes broken today because there is insecurity in dogma, doctrine, opinion; ignorance of a triune understanding of God, presumptuousness with outlooks on Scripture, and unawareness of the phenomenon of the incarnation (i.e. devaluation of it). When perspectives on these are corrected through heart and mind transformation, then unity will ensue.

  11. Chelsea P. says:

    They will know we are Christians by our love. If unity tears us apart and there are dissentions amoung us, how will unbelievers see Christ in us? We need to let go of our own thoughts, ideas, and opinions and welcome others.

  12. jelee15 says:

    1. Jesus is about to be arrested, beaten, crucified, and resurrected.
    2. Unity is needed because the disciples will flee in the coming chaos.
    3. Jesus wishes for His disciples to see His glory that the Father has given Him before the beginning of the world.
    4. Unity is broken among Christians today from miscommunication, disagreements on doctrine, and unforgiveness.
    5. It is restored through seeing God’s glory through Christ’s work on the cross. After experiencing His grace, how can we withhold grace from others?

  13. Dylan says:

    1. Jesus is about to be arrested and questioned. Following this he will be tortured and crucified.
    2. Jesus is about to return to the father. He knows that even though he warned the disciples what would happen to him, they will quickly lose faith when they see him on the cross. He prays for unity that they will not forget their brothers in a time when they need them most. This message also applies to all believers today!
    3. Jesus wants his disciples to see that God the father sent Jesus into this world. Also, that God loves his disciples just as he loves his son Jesus. This perfect display of love is all for the glory of God.
    4. Today, unity is broken in the church when it’s leaders begin to love the world more than they love God. Often times, the critics of a church with unsound doctrine or unbiblical practices also go about things the wrong way, acting with only judgement and know love or mercy. However, I cannot deny that the problem starts with the church who looks at the world before God.
    5. There is much more to the problem of unity than what I mentioned above. There are issues of unity on so many different levels in the church today. If it is to be restored though, I think Christians have to begin to look at God more than themselves. If every church was caught up in helping the poor in their community and caring for the sick, all while spreading the good news, I don’t think we would have so much disunity. If we looked at God’d word in this spirit I feel we would also come to more agreement about what the scripture tells us.

  14. Nicole says:

    What is about to happen to Jesus?
    Jesus Is about to be betrayed by one of his disciples, arrested, tortured, and killed.
    Why would unity be a concern?
    He will be leaving a group of people that are supposed to go into the world and spread the good news, and they might be divided over one of their own betraying Jesus. The disciples will have a lot of questions and fears after Jesus leaves them, they will need to be united to get through.
    What does Jesus wish for his disciples to see?
    Jesus wishes them to know God’s love for them.
    How is unity broken among Christians today?
    To start, it is broken over doctrine, theology and morals.
    How is it restored?
    It can only be restored in Christ. Realizing his all encompassing love for each of us.

  15. karas says:

    Unity is a topic that I have come to care very much about after seeing the lack of it in my home church 😦
    I love that Jesus prays for unity because it encourages me in my own prayers for unity. I feel this is such a key tenet that we should not have as many issues with it as we do, but somehow that doesn’t work out. I’ve talked to some people about what it would take for reconciliation and basically concluded that reconciliation takes humility, grace, forgiveness, and willingness from both sides. And, in my opinion, lots of prayer/Holy Spirit-filling.

  16. Kathleen says:

    One of my favorite parts about studying abroad or visiting another country is meeting the Christians who live there. It is an amazing experience to be a part of a worship service in another language. Even though I might not be able to communicate very well with someone, I can still be united with them through Christ. It is encouraging to see the body of Christ at work in other countries.

    I think unity is broken in the church when our focus becomes selfish. To restore unity, we must take our eyes off ourselves and direct our gaze back on Christ.

  17. Austin Knight says:

    What is about to happen to Jesus? Jesus is about to be arrested and questioned before Pilot and the crowd.
    Why would unity be a concern? He wants unity because we are depraved. It is woven into our minds to defy Jesus and to sin against God, and He is concerned so that we might be strong in our faith even when He is gone.
    What does Jesus wish for his disciples to see? He wants His disciples to be able to see the glory that was given to Him by the Father.
    How is unity broken among Christians today? Unity is broken among Christians when we fail to follow the greatest commandment: To love one another. The reason this is stated at the great commandment in the Bible is because it is the thing we are most likely to fail at.
    How is it restored? Our love for brothers and sisters in Christ can only be mended in Christ, and the extreme compassion and love that He shows us. We need to realize that Christ loved us before we changed, we didn’t first change in order to receive the love that He has given.

  18. Bethany says:

    1) Jesus is going to be crucified
    2) Unity would be a concern because Jesus wanted all the believers to understand that they are unified through him.
    3) Jesus wanted the disciples to understand the importance of unity because without it the church would not be very strong and with unity their love for one another would stand out.
    4) 4) Christians today fight about the most insignificant things. We also are starting to bend the rules in order to attract non believers, which also divides us.

  19. ashleypdye says:

    1. Jesus is about to die, be resurrected, and ascend to heaven.
    2. He wants his followers to be unified because they will no longer physically see him.
    3. Jesus wishes for his disciples to see that they must be unified.
    4. Unity is broken when we selfishly think of ourselves and our preferences above Christ.
    5. It is restored by asking Jesus, once again, to be our foundation. Unity is restored through forgiveness, grace, and repentance.

  20. Jessica says:

    True unity can only come when Christ enters the scenario. We are all sinful and selfish at heart and do not desire unity. When we invite Christ into the picture, we aren’t threatened by others can enter into what unity looks like.

  21. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. What is about to happen to Jesus?
    He is about to die, rise again and ascend to the Father.
    2. Why would unity be a concern?
    Because as Jesus leaves, factions could easily arise. Unity must remain as we are Christ’s body.
    3. What does Jesus wish for his disciples to see?
    His glory, by being with him.
    4. How is unity broken among Christians today?
    There are different theological ideas, different ideas of what God truly has said.
    5. How is it restored?
    In the Church, the true body of Christ, unity is restored.

  22. nataliaria says:

    In the days and hours that follow this particular discourse, Jesus will be betrayed, tried, and crucified. No doubt the unity of His followers would be especially burdensome to Him at this time, because He recognizes that the turmoil and upheaval they are about to experience will test them in ways they have no previously experienced, and He desires that the pressure push them together, not pull them apart.

    Jesus desires, and here prays, that His disciples see the glory that God has given Jesus displayed in Him in the things that He is about to experience in the coming hours, days, and weeks.

    Sadly, there are a variety of ways that unity is broken among Christians today. I suppose the disunity can be classified into two different categories: grand-scheme divisions such as the Calvinism/Arminianism debate, and interpersonal divisions such as grudges held between ex-friends, or nastiness in speech or treatment from one believer to another. In the case of the latter, unity is restored through forgiveness and reconciliation. In the case of larger-scheme divisions, unity may not be defined as coming to share the exact same view as another, but rather as living in harmony and mutual respect of one another as children of God, despite differences in theological framework.

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