Why do we assume John 17:21 refers to all Christians and not just the internal unity of the Catholic Church?


Please discuss.

Thank you very much for reading.
God bless you.


20 “I do not pray for these [men] only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:20-21)
In verse 20, Jesus identifes those for whom he prays simply as “those who believe in me.”


Christ left us one Church, one Communion. The fact that we are divided is due to human weakness.


We are all God’s children.


Scripture can have more than one meaning. So why not both? On one level, it prays for the Church’s internal unity, and on another level, it prays for other people to be united to the Church too.


“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.m
And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

It seems like the the word “one” in verse 21 refers to a union not unlike the Trinity. I don’t see how it would apply to internal unity in the Church, mainly because its not always unified. There have disagreements and the like since the begining. There will never be “perfection” in the Church.

I think “one” refers to a common love for God. A true love; agape, perfection.


Thank you all for your responses. Now, I must ask another question, if I may; is it imperative that the Church strive for unity among all those who believe in Christ, as one commentator said above, or is the way the Church appears as of now sufficient, where it lacks unity with all other Christian churches?


The unity that the Church has now, its internal unity, fulfills the promises of Jesus and is already a miraculous sign of the Church’s divine origin and divine protection. In that sense, what the Church has now is sufficient.

But in the sense of satisfying our desire for perfect unity, the Church will never be satisfied until Jesus returns and the Body of Christ reaches perfect union with Him. As long as people remain separated from perfect unity and perfect charity, the Church will regard its present unity, not as grounds for ceasing our evangelical and ecumenical efforts because of its present sufficiency, but as grounds for pursuing them with ever greater fervor, because our unity will not be complete as long as one soul remains who can still be converted to Christ.


…it cannot be an assumption if Christ is making a Call.

…if I were to make the statement that ‘I love all men.’

Jesus’s statement is not vague but very precise. Jesus prays for the Unity of the Believers (much in comparison with the Communion of the Saints).

Jesus also expands on what He expects and wants of Believers: Oneness in God!

…Jesus projects that through that Unity… through that Oneness, the world would recognize that He was sent by the Father to the world… hence, the Oneness of His Believers is to be a testament of Faith for the world.

Now, what is the major issue that the world throws in the face of Christianity, is it not the strife and schism?

As Satan, who used the Word of God against Christ, the world is knowledgeable and wise enough to recognize the proper Christian status, One in Christ–though she often uses the world of God to reject God… our behavior matters just as much as our preaching of the Word!

Maran atha!



…the problem is that there are too many levels to what Jesus mean by One.

Jesus is not seeking agreement of mind or heart or of coming together for certain pet causes… Jesus is praying for the Unity of His Disciples (those for which He made the exemption 'I do not pray for the world"] and those who, through their Teaching, would come to Believe in Christ)–all His Disciples.

Then Jesus stipulates that that unity should be as His with the Father (no, no JW’s theology of ‘like-mind’)–so that all Believers would be One (as in the Mystical Body of Christ) in Him and through Him with one another so that His Followers would witness to the world that Christ was in deed sent to the world by the Father.

Sharing base values is not enough; coming together for prayer is not enough; facing similar issues is not enough; coming together to battle evil is not enough…

Does Jesus expect perfection?

He prays that we Be One–He also warns, 'when the Son of man returns, will He find Faith on earth?"

Maran atha!



…either the Church accepts Christ at His Word or the Church’s interest does not expand beyond la-la land–why would Jesus speak against a divided kingdom if He is OK with a divided Body?

Maran atha!



The Church, for the most part, always has strived for unity in Christ. It’s not the Church’s fault that people have free will to go their own way.

The Body of Christ is veiled. So I don’t think it’s clear to everyone how to be a part of it. This is where apostolic succession is important, and perhaps necessary. In general, I think that the further away one gets from apostolic succession, the further they get from Christ.


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