John 17:2(ESV Strong’s Bible)
2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
Verse 2 above continues from 1 and the word “him” here refers to “the Son” referred to in verse 1, who is Jesus. Jesus is referring to Himself here in the third person in this High Priestly Prayer He is giving. Jesus said in verse 1 that God must glorify Him so that He can Glorify God.
So in this verse 2, Jesus gives an explanation or a reason why the Son must be glorified. Now, there is more to this verse than meets the eye and I want us to go a little bit deeper in it.
First let’s do some words studies.
Since, translated from the Greek word “kathos” which means, “according as”, “according to” or “by”. Used 182 times in the AV(Authorised version or King James Version) and not once translated as “by”. Translated only once in the ESV as “by” in 2 Cor 4:1. This word “kathos” has been translated in the AV 138 times as “as”, 4 times as “according as” and 1 time as “according to” in Acts 11:19. This Greek word “kathos” comes from two words “kata”, translated 480 times in AV, 107 times as “according” and 27 times as “by” and another word “hos” translated 492 times in AV, 342 times as “as”. Therefore the word “kathos” in this context can either mean “according to” or “by”. This is in my view.
Authority, translated from the Greek word “exousia” which means, “power”. Eternal, translated from the Greek word “aionios” which means, “everlasting” or “forever”. To, translated from the Greek word “hina” which means, “in order that” or “to the intent that”. It has a sense of providing a purpose or intention. Flesh, in this context refers to all people, the whole world of people.
Now reading this verse in the ESV translation as above, makes it difficult to understand. In the ESV translation, it appears as if Jesus is saying that “the Son must be glorified since he has been given authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all that God has given Him.”. In short God must glorify Jesus because God has given him authority to give eternal life.
This is one understanding. Another understanding comes from The Amplified translation. This is how verse 2 reads:
John 17:2 (Amplified Bible – AMP)
2 [Just as] You have granted Him power and authority over all flesh (all humankind), [now glorify Him] so that He may give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.
The Amplified gives an indication that God must glorify Jesus so that He may be able to give eternal life.
So, in ESV, the ability to give eternal life that God has given Jesus, is the reason why God must glorify him and in Amplified version, the ability to give eternal life is what Jesus will,get once glorified. Which one is it?
Using the words of verse 2 which we have studied and replacing the original words, our verse will look like this:
2 since [according to] you have given him authority [power] over all flesh [people], to [in order that He may] give eternal [everlasting] life to all whom you have given him.
2 since [by the] you have given him authority [power] over all flesh [people], to [in order that He may] give eternal [everlasting] life to all whom you have given him.
Now since verse 2 is read in the context of verse 1, which deals with the Son being glorified. The following can be added just before the word “to”, to enhance the meaning of the verse:
2 since [just as] you have given him authority [power] over all flesh [people], (now glorify Him) to [in order that He may] give eternal [everlasting] life to all whom you have given him.
Now also bear in mind that the words “you have”, written just before the word “given”, are not in the Greek and are included for clarity.
Our verse will then look like this after rewriting it:
2 according to the power given to Him over all people, to give everlasting life to all whom you have given him.
2 by the power given to Him over all people, to give everlasting life to all whom you have given him.
Jesus in my view uses here the word “given” which refers to an activity in the past and not a future tense, since He is looking at past His death, resurrection and ascension. Jesus is already considering His work accomplished. This is supported by verse 4 where Jesus is saying that He has glorified God by accomplishing what God wanted Him to do. God wanted him to die for our sins and since at the time of this prayer, He was still alive, it shows that He was already looking past his death. Also, when one reads Matt 28:18, where Jesus said that all authority has been given to Him, this was after his resurrection from the dead and just before His ascension. Only then was all authority given to Him, not before His death and resurrection. So clearly Jesus is looking in to the future past His death.
Given this reasoning, one can then conclude that verse 2 should read as such:
2 by giving Him the power over all people, in order that He may be able to give everlasting life to all whom you have given him.
Therefore when reading verse 2 and verse 1 together, they would reads as
John 17:1-2 (After in depth bible study)
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 by giving Him the power over all people, in order that He may be able to give everlasting life to all whom you have given him.
The connects nicely with Matt 28:18 which shows that God indeed answered this prayer by giving Jesus all authority.
Matthew 28:18-19 (ESV Strong’s Bible)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
We will continue with verse 3-5 next time. Amen.