When Jesus said in John 17 that “they may be one as we are,” he was talking about the Apostles who would speak the message with one voice so that no divisions nor misunderstandings would arise. (v11) He desired that they have the same unity as that of the Godhead. (Jo 17: 24) ( Acts 5: 29-32) ( Acts 7: 55) ( Rom 15:30) ( I Cor 2:10-12) He knew that the apostles would not be of this world ( Jo 17:14) and would need protection ( v 11) the Word ( v14) truth ( v17) and sanctification ( v 19) to achieve this unity.
He further states that this oneness was to be for those who would believe the Apostle’s message. That meant believers down through the centuries and extending to us today. (v20) Jesus desires that we also have the unity that the Godhead has. (v21) Those who trust and obey his commands ( Acts 2:38) become part of His body the church which He established. ( Mt 16:16-18) ( Eph 1:22) ( Col 1:18) ( Acts 2: 42)
So, what happened? Does this unity still exist today? It can and it should, but it does seem that there is more division than unity. Some claim that Jesus empowered a one man rule of His church starting with Peter and then passed it on to another man by vote. However, Peter himself denied this idea to Cornelius. ( Acts 10: 25-26) Paul opposed Peter to his face. ( Gal 2:11) Peter had a wife. ( Mk 1:30) ( Lk 4:38) So then, perhaps Paul was chosen to be Christ’s Vicar on earth since Peter held him in such high esteem? ( Pe 3:15) Paul himself also rejects this idea. ( I Cor 1:10-13) ( I Cor 3: 4-9)
Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, commanded each congregation to appoint elders ( pastors, overseers, shepherds) to direct the affairs of His church. ( I Tim 5: 19) ( Titus 1:5) ( Heb 13: 17) The Shepherds are to “feed the flock” by loving example, not by lording it over them. ( I Pe 5:2) What builds unity? Appreciation, fellowship, worship, prayers, study and following the “one another verses in the New Testament. ( Rom 12:10) ( Rom 13:8) ( Eph 4: 32) ( I Cor 12: 25) ( Gal 5: 13) ( I Thes 4:18) These and many others will unite us whereas immaturity ( Heb 5:11-14) lukewarmness ( Rev 3: 14-17) pride ( 3 Jo 9-10) selfishness and rebellion ( I Cor 11: 17-22) and others will tear down unity. We are one only in Christ Jesus. ( Rom 8:1) ( Rom 6: 3-5)