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Verse

John 17:3

ESV And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
NIV Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
NASB And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
CSB This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent--Jesus Christ.
NLT And this is the way to have eternal life — to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.
KJV And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

What does John 17:3 mean?

Elsewhere, the gospel of John points out that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ (John 3:16–18, 36; 14:6). Salvation brings "eternal life," in contrast to the eternal death of being separated forever from God (Matthew 25:30, 41, 46). Only by faith can a person be saved (Titus 3:5), and only by faith in Christ (Acts 4:12). John refers to the idea of eternal life numerous times in his writing (John 6:47; 10:28; 12:25; 1 John 2:25; 5:11).

The Greek term for "know" used here implies a deep level of intimacy. Though we are saved only by grace through faith, not by actions (Ephesians 2:8), saving faith is more than intellectual agreement (James 2:19). The gospel of John routinely uses the verb form of the Greek pisteuō, translated as "believe," in connection with this thought. Saving faith is not passive, temporary, or mechanical. It is trusting, active, and engaged (Hebrews 11:6; John 14:15). The connection between God and a true believer is profound, rooted in an ever-closer connection. Those who refuse to know God will not be saved by Him (John 8:55–59).

"Christ" is a title which comes through Hebrew, into Greek, and then into English. The word means "anointed one," or "messiah." Some writers, such as Paul, place the title first, referring to Him as "Christ Jesus" (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1).

Interestingly, there are only two places in the gospel of John where the exact phrase "Jesus Christ" is used. The first is in the introduction (John 1:17), the other is here. This is also the first time in John's gospel where Jesus is recorded explicitly applying the title "Christ" to Himself. Others labelled Him that way, and Christ accepted their words (John 4:25–26; 11:25–27). Other Gospels record Him using the title (Matthew 24:5; Mark 9:41) as well. John's restrained use of the term "Jesus Christ" forms a set of brackets around everything leading up to Jesus fulfilling His purpose here on earth (John 12:27–32). This is echoed in Jesus' upcoming reference to being with God at the beginning of creation, also mentioned in the introduction (John 1:1; 17:5).
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