“Before the world was” (v.5) the Father vowed that if the Son would become a man and die for us that the Father would glorify Him by raising Him from the dead, so in praying this prayer right before He died the Lord was holding Him to it. We should never ask God for things that He hasn’t promised us, like health and wealth!
If the president sends someone to speak at your graduation, you are honored “by” him, but if he himself comes you are honored “with” him, which is far more glorious. The Lord wasn’t asking to be glorified “by” God’s glory but “with” it (John 17:5). That much glory was something that God said He’d never give to another (Isa.42:8). So how could the Father give it to the Son? He was not another, they were “one” (John 10:30).
What glory did the Lord have with the Father before the world was? Equality with God (Phil.2:5,6). He didn’t think it robbed God of any glory to be equal with God because He was equal with God, He was His “fellow” (Zech.13:7). While here on earth, the Lord was still His “equal” (John 5:18), but He wasn’t glorified as His equal. So the Lord was praying and asking for that glory back. We know that the Father granted this request because later in a vision of heaven John saw the Father in the midst of the four beasts and the 24 elders (Rev.4:1-11) and then saw the Lord in the middle of the fours beasts and the 24 elders (Rev.5:5,6), sharing God’s glory in heaven (Rev.3:21).
Up till now the Lord’s been praying for Himself (John 17: 1-5). There’s nothing wrong with that! Paul did, and asked others to pray for him. It’s wrong to pray only for yourself!
The men that God gave the Lord out of the world were the 11 apostles. He manifested the Father’s name to them by ascribing His miracles to Him (John 14:10). Most men would do miracles to make a name for themselves. But what did the Lord mean in saying to God of the 11, “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me”? Calvinists say He meant they were God’s elect and He gave them to the Lord when they believed. Actually, they were God’s because they were Jews (Isa.63:18,19). When the Lord came, the Father gave them to Him (John 6:37), but only the ones that learned the Scriptures (John 6:45). Once they came to the Lord, it was God’s will that they believe and be saved (Jo. 6:39). That didn’t mean they all would believe, of course, but it was God’s will (cf. ITim.2:4). But all had to believe to be saved, even under Israel’s program (John 3:35,36).
Remember when the Father gave the Levites “out of the children of Israel” to Aaron to be priests in Israel (Num.3: 5-9)? That’s a picture of when God gave the 11 to the Lord “out of the world” to be a kingdom of priests (Ex.19:6).
The 11 kept God’s word (John 17:5), essential under the kingdom program (8:31; Rev.3:8), so they knew that the things given to Christ were of the Father (v.7), “for” His words were the Father’s words (v.8). In speaking to the 11, the Lord was always rebuking them (Mt.14:31; 16:8,23; Mark 4:40; 8:17,18). How’d you like to be on the receiv-ing end of those words? You are when you read the Word that reproves and corrects you (IITim.3:16). But in speak-ing to God about the 11, He spoke well of their faith (John 17:8), and when the Lord speaks to the Father about you, He does the same (Ro.8:34) for you too believe (cf.Jo.17:8)
The Lord didn’t pray for the world (v.9)—not because they weren’t elect, as our Calvinist friends say. He prayed for the unsaved elsewhere (Lu.23:34). This looks like He didn’t care for the unsaved, but compare this to Matthew 10:5, where it looks like He didn’t care for the Gentiles. But as dispensationalists we know He had a plan to reach the Gentiles through Israel (Isa.49:3-6), and that’s why He didn’t pray for the unsaved here. He had a plan to reach them through the 11 (Lu.24:47). Paul prayed for the unsaved (Ro.10:1), and so should you.
Christ is no longer praying for the world. He prays for believers (Heb.7:25), but in saying He didn’t pray for the world here, He was stating things that would be true after He died, just as He did in John 17:4 (cf. 19:30). This means that if you don’t pray for the unsaved, no one will.