"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;John 17:20(NASB)
Christ's prayer and intercession in John 17 is our only opportunity to take a peep behind the scenes of Christ's intercourse with His Heavenly Father. After praying that He will glorify the Father through His finished work on Calvary, Jesus intercedes for His disciples, whom the Father gave Him out of this world, for these men were to be God's chosen instruments. These were the ones who were to take the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world.
These men were to be left in a world from which they had been saved, in order to carry on the good work that Christ had started in His own, earthly ministry - and to shed abroad the Word of Truth. Jesus not only gave them His Word, but He left His Word with them. Christ's prayer for them was that the Father would keep them in the world as they proclaimed the good news of the glorious gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world.
And so Christ prays for their protection and sanctification so that their future ministry would be effective, for having given them the Word of Truth through His earthly ministry, they were to be the ones that would spread abroad the gospel of God to a world that remained dead in their trespasses and sins - for God loved the world so much that He gave Jesus to be the propitiation for the sin of the whole world.
Christ prayed for those that would lay the foundation of the Church. He prayed that God would sanctify them through the Word of truth. He prayed that they would be set apart from the world as He sent them into the uttermost parts of the earth to proclaim redemption to all - a salvation which they themselves had received through Jesus.
And Christ not only prayed for these disciples, but also "for all who believe in Him through their word." That Word of truth, which was soon to go forth throughout the whole world was to have its beginning in Christ's chosen apostles. These were the men who would go to be the foundation upon which all Church age doctrine would be founded.
Thousands came to faith in Christ in the early years of the Church, through the ministry of their spoken word in the book of Acts, and multiple millions have come to faith through the witness of their written word - down through many centuries of time.
On that holy night preceding His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus not only prayed for His chosen apostles who would lay the foundation of all Church doctrine, but for all who would believe on Christ's sacrificial work - through their word. These were the men, along with the apostle Paul (Christ's chosen vessel to the Gentiles), who received direct revelation of the inspired Word of truth, from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
And Christ's prayer for you and for me, and for all who have believed through the word of those early apostles, was for a unity in the spirit. He prayed that we would be united together in Him. Christ's high priestly prayer for us is that we may all be one - that we may be united together in the bond of peace through the Word of truth: "That they may be ONE... even 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 sent Me."
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Christ into the world to be the propitiation for my sins and for the sin of the whole world. Thank You for giving us the God-breathed Word of Truth through those men whom You sanctified and called to lay the foundation of the Christian faith. Help us to be united in the truth of Your Word, and eschew all that deviates from the foundational doctrine that was laid by Your holy apostles and prophets. This we ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.