John 6:43-45 (see also John 7:17; John 12:39-40)
Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
Jesus wasn’t making fun of them, but helping them to see the problem, which is especially evident at John 10:37-38. Jesus was pointing out that these who were rejecting Him, were doing so because they were not right with the Father (i.e. not saved), because those who are right with God (i.e. those who have “heard and learned from the Father”), were coming to Him, as a factor of being given and drawn by the Father. So this passage does not mean what Calvinists think that it means. The problem is that Calvinists have proof-texted it, without consideration of the context.
Calvinist, James White: “If the overall discourse is ignored, an improper interpretation of individual texts can be offered. This is one of the most oft-missed elements of correct exegesis, normally due to the presence of traditions in the reader’s thinking.” (Scripture Alone, p.87, emphasis mine)
That’s what hurts the Calvinist interpretation, since it is proof-texted without any regard to the dialogue. This is the drawing of believing Jews who had “heard and learned from the Father” (v.45), as the faithful remnant of Israel whom God was drawing to His Son, starting from the ministry of John the Baptist. Jesus states: “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” (John 8:47) Jesus adds, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” (John 8:42) They were not of God. If they were, He would have gladly given and drawn them to His Son, since that was His desire for Israel, having spread out His hands all day long for them. (Isaiah 65:2) Nevertheless, God warned what He would do if they refused to repent (Jeremiah 18:1-13), which was prophesied at Isaiah 6:9-10, and fulfilled at John 12:37-43, being a temporary and partial hardening of the Jews until the times of the Gentiles are complete. (Romans 11:25) So the Father’s drawing of John 6:44 is not speaking of humanity in general, or of a special class of the Calvinistically elect, but of the Father’s drawing of the already covenant believers and sheep, to His Son, which is not to be confused with the Son’s later post-Calvary drawing of all men in general. (John 12:32)
John Calvin comments: “What this statement amounts to is this: we should not be surprised if many people refuse to embrace the Gospel, since no one is ever able of himself to come to Christ unless God first comes to him by his Spirit. So it follows from this that not everyone is drawn, but that God gives this grace to those whom he has elected.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.164, emphasis mine)
Rather, God gave this grace to those who were of Him. This passage has nothing to do with Calvinism. It’s a dialogue between Jesus and the unbelieving Jews. The Jews insisted that they were right with God, and Jesus declared the opposite: “I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.” (John 5:42) “He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.” (John 7:28) “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” (John 8:19) “You are from below.” “You are of this world.” (John 8:23) “You will die in your sins.” (John 8:24) “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.” (John 8:39) “You are of your father the devil.” (John 8:44) “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” (John 8:47) “You have not come to know Him.” (John 8:55) Jesus diagnosed their problem: They rejected Him because they rejected the Father. “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me.” (John 5:43) That’s the “reason” why they rejected the Son. If they had received the Father, they would have received His Son, and would not have rejected He and all of the prophets before Him: “It cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:33) That’s why Jesus repeatedly invoked the Father in His dialogue with them. At John 5:19, He pointed out that His message was exclusively the Father’s, and that if indeed they had heard and learned from the Father, then they would have come to Him. (John 6:45) At John 7:17, Jesus pointed out that if indeed they did really wish to do the Father’s will, then they would know whether His message was from God. At John 8:42, Jesus pointed out that if indeed God was their Father, as they had proclaimed (John 8:41), then they would have loved the Son, whom they instead tried to kill. (John 8:59) At John 10:26, Jesus pointed out that the only reason why they rejected Him, was because they were not of His sheep, and He and the Father were One. (John 10:30) They were not of His sheep, because they were not of the Father’s sheep, either. If they were of the Father’s sheep, then the Father would have gladly given (John 6:37) and drawn them to His Son. (John 6:44) This passage has nothing to do with Calvinism.
Chad from oldtruth.com points out: “Christ has told us how it goes at all times in John 6:44. The only way anyone can come to Christ, pre or post Calvary is that if the Father Draws him. I do not accept the ‘sheep transfer’ idea.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine) Jim from oldtruth.com adds: “When we read things like ‘no one can come unless’ - it would seem to apply to mankind in general, but you insist on restricting the scope of this entire John 6 passage to a certain set of Jews.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine) Calvinists are not looking at the dialogue, as if the context was completely irrelevant. What’s ironic is that when you bring 1st Timothy 2:4 or 2nd Peter 3:9 to the attention of a Calvinist, suddenly the context is important to consider. Go figure.
Calvinist, James White, explains: “...there is no meaningful non-Reformed exegesis of the passage available.” (The Potter’s Freedom, p.153, emphasis mine)
White adds: “It becomes an obvious exercise in eisegesis to say, ‘Well, what the Lord really means is that all that the Father has seen will believe in Christ will come to Christ.’ That is a meaningless statement.” (The Potter’s Freedom, p.156, emphasis mine)
Walls and Dongell writes: “But the Calvinist reading likewise fails to account fully for the context. Jesus is locked in strenuous debate with religious leaders who claim special knowledge of and standing with God. From this privileged position, they seek to discredit Jesus completely. Their implied charge essentially involves an attempt to sever Jesus from God, affirming the latter while rejecting the former. In doing this, they wish to establish the right to claim, ‘We know God intimately, but you are utterly alien to us! We stand in right relationship to God, but we completely reject you.’ Jesus’ countercharge strikes directly at the root of their authority: the presumption that they knew God in the first place! ‘You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwelling in you’ (Jn 5:37-38). Far from knowing God, then, Jesus’ opponents had already rejected not only the testimony of John the Baptist but also of Moses: ‘If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?’ (Jn 5:46). In this question posed by Jesus we discover the key principle: rejecting God’s first offerings of truth will utterly block further illumination. God will not offer more truth or manifest his full glory (the eternal Son) while light at hand is being spurned. In other words, we can’t actively reject the Father and at the same time have any chance of accepting the Son.” (Why I am Not a Calvinist, pp.74-75, emphasis mine)
Walls and Dongell add: “Had they received Moses fully, thereby coming to know the Father to the degree possible at that time, they would have belonged to the Father’s flock, and the Father would have drawn them to the Son. But in rejecting Jesus, they demonstrated that they never surrendered to God in the first place, that they had set their faces like flint against all of his continued overtures. Since they did not belong to the Father’s own flock, they wouldn’t be part of the transfer of sheep already trusting the Father into the fold of the Son (Jn 6:37, 39).” (Why I am Not a Calvinist, p.75, emphasis mine)
Laurence Vance explains: “…we have here the separation of the Jewish sheep from the goats and the drawing of them to the Messiah. The ones given are Jewish disciples. They are said to be his sheep. (John 10:27). John baptized that Christ should be manifest to Israel (John 1:31). Although Israel as a whole received him not (John 1:11), he was known of his sheep (John 10:14), the epitome of which can be seen in Simeon, who was ‘just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him’ (Luke 2:25). … The error of the Calvinists on John 6:44 is two-fold. First and foremost is the misapplication of a verse with a decidedly Jewish context as a doctrinal statement on salvation in this age. And secondly, in a spiritual sense, there is the fallacy of making the drawing of God irresistible and equating it with salvation.” (The Other Side of Calvinism, pp.510, 511, emphasis mine)
Robert Shank comments: “Jesus’ words ‘no man can come to me except the Father who sent me draws him’ are especially significant in the context in which they appear. He had spoken repeatedly of God as His Father, claiming that the Father had sent Him into the world--a claim which most of His hearers rejected (vs. 41f). Affirming that ‘no man can come to me except the Father who sent me draw him’ and that ‘every man who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me,’ Jesus implied that the coming of every man who comes to Him constitutes a certification of His divine Sonship, a Sonship of which men must be persuaded before they can come to Him in the true sense of the term.” (Elect in the Son, p.177, emphasis mine)
Arminian, John Goodwin (1594-1665), writes: “They are said to have been the Father’s i.e. as it were, the Father’s disciples, or persons ‘taught by the Father,’ John vi. 45, and so, after a sort, appropriable unto the Father, (as those that believe and are taught of Christ are said to be Christ’s, or to belong to Christ) before they became Christ’s apostles, or were chosen by him upon this account; and are said to have been given unto him out of the world by the Father, because they were peculiarly qualified, and as it were, characterized and marked out by the Father to be formed into apostles by his Son.” (Redemption Redeemed, p.80, emphasis mine)
Richard Watson (1781-1833) writes: “Those who truly ‘believed’ Moses’s words, then, were under the Father’s illuminating influence, ‘heard and learned of the Father;’ were ‘drawn’ of the Father; and so, by the Father, were ‘given to Christ,’ as his disciples, to be more fully taught the mysteries of his religion, and to be made the saving partakers of its benefits for ‘this is the Father’s will which sent me, that of all which he hath given me (thus to perfect in knowledge, and to exalt in holiness,) I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again at the last day.’ Thus we have exhibited that beautiful process in the work of God in the hearts of sincere Jews, which took place in their transit from one dispensation to another, from Moses to Christ. Taught of the Father; led into the sincere belief, and general spiritual understanding of the Scriptures as to the Messiah; when Christ appeared, they were ‘drawn’ and ‘given’ to him, as the now visible and accredited Head, Teacher, Lord, and Saviour of the Church. All in this view is natural, explicit, and supported by the context; all in the Calvinistic interpretation appears forced, obscure, and inapplicable to the whole tenor of the discourse.” (An examination of certain passages of Scripture, supposed to limit the extent of Christ’s redemption, emphasis mine)
Daniel Whedon (1808-1885) writes: “So in verse 45 it is more fully explained; it is only every one that hath learned of the Father that cometh unto me. The Father, finding the willing soul, teaches by his law; attracts, convinces, and convicts by his Spirit; but when the soul has perfectly obeyed all their influences with a living faith, the Father does not himself save, but He draws and hands him over to Christ. Thither coming, and embracing Christ with a full faith, the man is not cast out but accepted and redeemed. But the Father giveth none to Christ who reject his teachings and drawings; none who do not freely consent to be given and go to his Son. Such is the great scheme of salvation.” (Wesleyan Heritage Collection CD, p.324, emphasis mine)
Robert Hamilton comments: “The crux of my argument will be that the set of individuals who are said by Jesus to ‘belong’ to God as Christ’s ‘sheep,’ to ‘listen to the Father and learn from him,’ and to be ‘given’ by the Father to the Son, refers not to a pretemporally determined set of elect persons as conceived of in the Calvinist Reformed view, but instead primarily to the faithful sons of Abraham who were God’s children under the covenant as it was revealed in the Old Testament, and who were already prepared by their voluntary faith and repentance to embrace the promised Messiah at the time of his long-awaited appearance to the nation of Israel. These included the ones whom God had nurtured to repentance under the ministry of John the Baptist, who was appointed to ‘prepare the way for the Lord’ (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3).” (The Order of Faith and Election in John's Gospel: You Do Not Believe Because You Are Not My Sheep, emphasis mine)
James McCarthy explains: “Jesus was speaking to unrepentant Jews....Had they repented, the Father would have given them as sheep to his Son. ... 1. The Spirit convicts. 2. A Sinner repents. 3. The Father enlightens. 4. The person believes and is born again. ...This explains...why Jesus taught that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him. It also clarifies what he meant when he said, ‘All that the Father gives me will come to me.’ When the Father opens a person’s heart to understand the gospel, he readily believes and is saved....” (John Calvin Goes to Berkeley, p.279, emphasis mine)
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “The faithful, repentant, Old Testament remnant was the flock that belonged to the Father. They were obedient to the Father, and already in a covenantal relationship with him as Jesus arrived on the scene. Many were probably influenced, for example, by John the Baptist’s ministry. These people were the ones who had already been listening to the Father’s voice and were obedient to him in accord with Old Testament stipulations. When he arrives on the scene, Jesus explains that all of these sheep who were already in the covenant would believe in him since they listen to the Father, and because the Father was the one who sent Jesus. Thus, everyone who belonged to the Father were given to Jesus, as the Davidic shepherd sent to shepherd those who belong to the Father. We’re talking about a period in time, in human history, in the transitional period when the Old Testament remnant was becoming the Christian Church. But Jesus’ opponents were those who were not a part of the faithful remnant. They thought they were unconditionally elect and belonged to the Father on the basis of their physical descent from Abraham. They thought they could belong to the Father apart from Jesus. Jesus repudiates this, telling them that they were of their father the devil. For if they had been part of the faithful remnant, they would be part of the Father’s flock and would have believed in him. This is good Johannine theology, and good Arminian theology, and good exegesis. But it is so far removed from that Calvinism which so many people attempt to impose on the text. These texts are not talking about eternal, predestinarian decrees, but to a specific time and place in Israel in 30 A.D.” (SEA) Michael Brown explains: “I see it as the fulfillment of the promise. In other words, up until now, the distinction was that there were people that were right with the God of Israel, and those who were not, and now Jesus becomes the full reflection of the God of Israel among the people, so those who were truly His, will be identified as the ones that will follow Jesus. It’s not that He now creates a whole new people, because there were those longing for His coming, like Simeon and Anna that were ready to receive Him when He came.” (James White vs. Michael Brown) In terms of the unbelieving, Michael Brown explains: “They looked to be just like everybody else, ‘We’re devoted followers of God.’ ‘No,’ He says, ‘You’re really not, because if you believe Moses, you’d believe Me. If you were listening to the Father, then by all means you would come to Me. The proof that you’re not listening to the Father is that you won’t come to Me.’” (James White vs. Michael Brown)
Steven Hitchcock writes: “It strikes me as ironic that Calvinists of such high caliber, possessing extensive abilities of intellect, and who are widely esteemed for their skill in the exegesis of the Scriptures, can be so reckless and unwilling to examine these texts carefully. Has it occurred to anyone that we should seek to understand the context in which these texts are found as they are only in the Gospel of John and fairly close to one another in proximity?” (Recanting Calvinism, p.187)
Steven Hitchcock writes: “Certainly no one can come to Jesus unless God is granting, leading, and drawing, but these statements by Jesus say more than that. They assert a particular election of Jews at a time when there was a unique hardening of the Jews. In regard to the Jews, Jesus would have them to know that they needed a special election to believe in Him. Foreign to Jesus’ intention for these passages, the Calvinist mistakenly thinks that these particular verses are to be universally related to the world. Quite the contrary, Jesus is making an emphatic point that had a particular audience in mind that is specifically explained by John in chapter 12. During the time of Jesus’ ministry there was a special hardening upon Israel and this was why Jesus did not have the expected unity that would have automatically provided a certain legitimacy to His claim of being the Messiah.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.191, emphasis mine)
Hitchcock continues: “To solidify this corrective in our interpretation, here is a text of great significance that Calvinists do not seem to want to know about, that expressly relates to these important verses. In John 18:8,9, when Jesus is being seized, Jesus says, ‘I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,’ to fulfill the word which He spoke, ‘Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.’” Those whom the Father had given to Jesus had their fulfillment at that time and therefore the ‘given Me’ passages of John 6, 8, and 10, do not relate to the universal church. They specifically relate to those believers at that time in contrast to the majority of Israel that did not believe in her Messiah. These verses in John 18 show that the context relates to the disciples that God gave to Jesus during the time of His ministry for the express purpose that they might validate His claim to being the Messiah and that they might continue on as witnesses of everything that would happen to Jesus. It was imperative that they not be killed, so that they might witness His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and then as those who must give personal testimony of being the recipients bodily of the promise of the Spirit that occurred upon Jesus’ Glorification at Pentecost.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.192, emphasis mine)
Hitchcock writes: “If we fail to appreciate the significance of being ‘given’ followers from God, as indicating Jesus’ validity of claiming to be the bridegroom, we can very easily attach a Calvinistic understanding to these texts. Imagine Jesus starting His ministry and He had no followers at all. Followers were rather important to being a Rabbi and especially important to being the Messiah of Israel. … When we come to John 6, Jesus is already facing a question of no small significance as to the validity of His claim to being the Messiah. There was an undercurrent of doubt because Jesus was already experiencing a lack of support from the religious leaders, created by His cleansing of the temple, and as He was about to introduce teaching that would further divide His followers, about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.188)
What I think that this advances to the discussion, is the nature of the question why the drawing, and it all seems to make perfect sense, in building an even stronger case against what is otherwise, predominant Calvinist eisegesis, and their often made acontextual references to John 6 and 17, which simply show up in a list of supposed “proof-texts.”
Jim from oldtruth.com writes: “I do believe that the John 6:44 drawing goes all the way back to Genesis, as does Christ’s role as savior span backwards to Genesis as well.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
That interpretation is consistent with what other prominent Calvinists have stated:
Calvinist, James White, writes: “...I come to Christ daily because the Father, on the sole basis of His mercy and grace, gave me to the Son in eternity past.” (Debating Calvinism, p.306, emphasis mine)
Calvinists have inferred an eternal giving and an eternal drawing into John 6:37 and John 6:44, even though the passage mentions nothing of it.
Calvin writes: “‘...he says that people are ‘drawn’ when their minds are enlightened by God and when their hearts bend in obedience to Christ.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.164, emphasis mine)
Obviously, that contradicts what other Calvinists have inferred about the time-line of the drawing.
Calvinist, James White, asks: “Why must the Father draw men to Christ if they are able in and of themselves to come to Christ?” (Debating Calvinism, p.296, emphasis mine)
It should also be mentioned that there are those whom the Father did not give and draw to the Son, and who had not come to believe in the Son, but whom Jesus told, in spite of this, to consider the sign of the miracles anyway: “Though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:38) Note that the Pharisee, Nicodemus, found this evidence to be compelling: “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2)
Calvinist, William MacDonald, comments: “We have the choice of accepting the Lord Jesus or refusing Him. But we never would have had the desire in the first place if God had not spoken to our hearts.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.1504, emphasis mine)
Agreed. God is the Initiator. Jesus knocks. (Revelation 3:20) The Holy Spirit convicts. (John 16:8)
Calvin writes: “Christ certainly counts none among His own, unless he be given by the Father; and He declares those to be given who before were the Father’s….” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.147, emphasis mine)
Yes, insomuch as they had “heard and learned from the Father.” (John 6:45) But Calvin meant his elect.
John Calvin writes: “Every one who has heard and learned of My Father comes to Me. In this He teaches the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, that God inwardly addresses His disciples by His Spirit, so that He may deliver them into the possession of Christ.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.73, emphasis mine)
“Inwardly addresses”? Why not an outward address, such as recently with John the Baptist?
Calvin adds: “When therefore the Father is inwardly heard, He takes away the stony heart and gives the heart of flesh. Thus He makes sons of promise and vessels of mercy prepared for glory.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.74, emphasis mine)
Jim from oldtruth.com writes: “John 6:44a says: ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws HIM.’ So we see that there is a group of people within humanity that is drawn by the Father. John 6:44b (the second half of that verse) says: ‘And I will raise HIM up on the last day.’ And we see in this second part of the verse that there is a group of people that are raised on the last day. Do you agree that all those HIM’s in verse 44a end up being 44b raised HIM’s on the last day?” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine) Jim from oldtruth.com writes: “Allow me to ask you this question, when you read the Sermon on The Mount, do you use this same restriction there as well? In other words, do you tell yourself that Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on The Mount was just for certain Jews of that time period of whom He was addressing, or do you believe that Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on The Mount is also for you today? If you believe that it’s also applicable for you today, why do you not restrict the scope to ‘audience only’ (or the people of that time) there, but over here in John 6 you insist that Jesus is only talking about people in that time period?” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine) Jim from oldtruth.com writes: “When Jesus says ‘All that the Father gives me will come to me’, which action is first in the temporal order? The ‘giving’ or the ‘coming’ (believing)?” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
The giving. The ‘giving of the Father’ precedes their ‘believing in His Son’. However, the question remains, whether the Father was giving believers to His Son, or giving elect, unbelievers to the Son? John 6:45 makes it clear that the Father was giving believers to His Son, that is, those who had “heard and learned” from the Father.
Yes, because the former is the drawing of believers, whereas the latter is the drawing of unbelievers. The former is the Father’s pre-Calvary drawing of those who had heard and learned from Him (John 6:45), and on that account, will receive the Son (John 8:42), and thus be raised by Him, whereas the latter is the Son’s post-Calvary drawing of unbelievers, both Jews and Gentiles, that is, all men.
Jim from oldtruth.com writes: “How are people which match the description given in John 8:40-47 supposed to MAKE God their Father, when in fact - it says they can’t hear and they can’t understand? So let me get this straight Richard: In passages like that, you believe that some people were able to ‘snap out of it’ (break out of a hardened state that God put on them), and make God their Father? Then if they do, afterwards God draws them in John 6:44? Am I getting that right?” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
That’s called obfuscation, which is intentionally confusing the facts. Those who made God their Father, or who were “of God” (John 8:47), were those who had heard and learned from the Father (John 6:45), and thus being the Father’s to give, He gave and drew to His Son.
Jim from oldtruth.com concludes: “I would appeal to the readers on the basis of the simplicity of the text in John 6, and ask, which side is allowing John 6 to speak for itself, and which side is presenting a highly complicated explanation that has literally taken us on a tour of the bible, in order to explain. Let’s face it, anyone can import scriptures into the context of just about any passage in the bible in order to change the meaning of the passage. I have a friend who claims that there will be nobody in Hell (including the devil) one day. How does he get away with this belief? By starting off with a problem (ie: “I don’t like Hell”) and then forcing other texts about God’s love into the hell passages of the bible, and thereby changing the meaning of them. I submit to the reader that this is what Richard is doing with John 6. He doesn’t like the idea of God electing humans to salvation, so he contaminates that doctrine (and John 6) in order to eliminate it. The position that I espouse lets John 6 speak for itself, and if Richard had not taken us around to all of these other verses in the bible, I would have stayed within John 6 in order to present my case. My position does not need to journey outside the context.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
If John 6:44 is part of an overall, on-going dialogue between Jesus and the unbelieving Jews, spanning John chapter’s 5 through 12, then citing portions of that dialogue cannot rightly be deemed “importing.” Rather, it is citing relevant material. The problem with the Calvinist view of John 6:44 is that it takes it in isolation from the context, and then offer a very arcane view of the very next verse, John 6:45, in order to infer an inward, secret hearing and learning, in order to arrive at the Calvinist meaning. In terms of the charge that I don’t like the Calvinist view, and am therefore contaminating it, what if I said that, on the basis of John 3:16, Jim “doesn’t like” the fact that God so loves the world, so he “contaminates” the verse in order to “eliminate it,” by importing a foreign meaning of “the world” at John 3:16, rather than to accept the “simple meaning” that the world simply means everyone? Do you suppose, that if there was a reference, from within the general context, which very strongly supported Jim’s interpretation of “the world,” that he would not instantly and immediately cite it? Of course he would, so why should I be condemned for doing the same, that is, by citing strong evidence from the context?
Jim from oldtruth.com writes: “Richard limits John 6 to a select few Jews and says that the drawing and enabling and giving in this passage are ‘not for today’. His reason for this is that the drawing of all men in John 12:32 cancels-out the John 6 drawing. But I ask the readers, does John 12 really do this? Is there something in John 12 that stands up and shouts ‘John 6 does not relate to you now’.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
I’m interpreting John 6:44, not just as “a select few Jews,” but for the kind of Jews described at John 6:45, that is, those who had heard and learned from the Father. Furthermore, I’m not canceling out any drawings. I’m simply citing from the context, what the drawings were for.
Jim from oldtruth.com writes: “Richard believes that John 12 conveys a drawing to every last human on earth following the cross. This includes (for example) the people in China in 40AD. He admits that this drawing isn’t effectual like the John 6 drawing is. He also admits that the word ‘ALL’ in the New Testament does not always mean ‘humanity in it’s entirety’ but can relate to a more limited scope than that. I ask the reader to read the first 31 verses of John 12 (the context) and ask yourself - what does Jesus mean? I think if you will do this, you will see that Jesus simply means that ‘salvation is not for the Jews only’. Does that mean that every last human receives some kind of drawing to salvation then? No. The end effect is what we see in Revelation 5:7-10 where it says: ‘by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’ In other words, the ALL in John 12:32 means ‘all without distinction’ and not (as Richard wants) ‘all without exception’.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
Actually, I would agree that John 12:32 means all men, indiscriminately and without distinction. Furthermore, if Jesus draws all men “without distinction,” then He must have died for all men, without distinction. Otherwise, exactly what would He be drawing them to?
Jim from oldtruth.com writes: “Richard has been challenged to produce some commentaries that prove that others in church history have believed as he does on this passage. The best he seems to be able or willing to do is give us the name a modern paperback book on Arminianism, and some citations from Vance’s contemporary ‘shoot Calvinism down at any cost’ smear book. Nothing from church history on John 6. Calvinists can produce example after example of both classic and modern commentary works, going back centuries, giving the same basic explanations of John 6 that you’ve seen from me.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
Suggesting that Vance’s book was an attempt to “smear,” suggests a significant lack of objectivity. Nevertheless, I have offered a commentary that dates back to a contemporary of Arminius, the Puritan John Goodwin, cited above, in addition to modern works. However, would citing the works of “church history” be an authoritative argument, if such works also taught Infant Baptism? The point is that proof is found in the text, and not in the numbers of those who agree.
Jim from oldtruth.com concludes: “Richard has taken the ‘teaching’ in John 6:45 and made it a cause for the ‘drawing’ in the previous verse. I’ve explained above how this disrupts the temporal order of the passage, and I demonstrated how the teaching flows out from the drawing (which is opposite of what Richard says). Did Richard give an adequate response to my pointing that out (teaching, drawing)?”
No, it does not disrupt to the temporal order. As previously stated, I completely agree that the Father’s giving precedes their believing in the Son. The disagreement is that based upon John 6:45, those who the Father was giving was those who believed in Him, that is, the faithful remnant of Israel, who specifically said to have heard and learned from Him. Jim is using obfuscation in order to make it appear that I am disturbing the temporal order of John 6:44.
Jim from oldtruth.com concludes: “Richard reads into passages like John 8:32 by insisting that some people can ‘MAKE God’ their Father, when in fact - none of the texts that he brings up teach that at all. This is eisegesis on his part.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
If they couldn’t make God their father, then the rebuke is pointless. Jesus is pointing what they could and should have done. Consequently, since they instead desired the will of the devil, being murderers, that would reasonably be a choice within their power as well, or again, the rebuke is meaningless.
Chad from oldtruth.com asks: “You correctly stated that Christ was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel but let me test you then with this question. Who drew the Syrophoenician Woman in Mark 7:24-30? The Father or the Son? She is a Gentile and this event takes place somewhere between the end of John 6 and the beginning of John 7.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
By my interpretation of John 6:45, she could not be a apart from the John 6:44 drawing, because she was not part of the faithful remnant of Israel, who had heard and learned from the Father. Also, John 6:44 does not state that only they are raised. As for the drawing of John 12:32, that wasn’t to make a point about who Jesus had already drawn, but who He will draw, post-Calvary, as Jesus reaches out beyond the borders of Israel and Samaria.
Scott from oldtruth.com points out: “The attempt to show a transfer of sheep between the Father and Son based on John 3:30 is tenuous at best. The context of this verse is not to show that those that are being baptized by John the Baptist are being transferred but to address the jealousy that some of his followers felt of Jesus having greater crowds. ...there is no transfer of sheep between John the Baptist to Jesus because John the Baptist has no ownership (or what you now call custodianship) of the sheep. They belong to the Triune God. This in no way diminishes the Father’s role in drawing his sheep to himself and turning them over to the Son per John 6:37 & 44.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
If you had lived in the day of John the Baptist, would you have been baptized by him? Jesus did, and called it “fitting.” (Matthew 3:15) That means, through John the Baptist, you would have been baptized, purified, taught, trained, pointed to Christ and left him to follow Jesus. (John 1:35-37) But by your rules, I’m not allowed to consider that a custodial capacity. Think of it this way: Your pastor may have baptized you, taught you, trained you, and he may be called the guardian of your soul. (Hebrews 13:17) Similarly, Paul called himself the father of the Corinthians (1st Corinthians 4:15), but I am not allowed to consider John the Baptist as the guardian, shepherd, pastor or father of the Old Testament faithful, whom he baptized and turned over to Christ. In the most plain terms, John the Baptist was at least a Shepherd of the Father’s flock, though more appropriately called a Prophet. Nevertheless, he pastored the Father’s flock in every reasonable sense of the term, until the time came when he turned these over to the Son (John 1:35-37), and hence: “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Here is a link to James White, in his radio program, The Dividing Line, commenting on the Arminian interpretation of John 6:44 (contained in the second half of the radio program). James White explains: “What they will do, is they will make a statement and they will jump around the text, and follow their citations. Almost always they’ll go to 40, 45, and read it back into 37. They’ll be reversing the actual order because they’re not actually concerned about what the text says. They’re concerned about defending their position, and so they’ll jump down to 45 and ‘see these people learned from the Father, and therefore since they learned from the Father, they put themselves in the Father’s flock and that’s why the Father gives them to them,’ completely missing the fact that John 6:45 is a restatement of John 6:44, and that learning there is not ‘well they chose to learn, the Father was just teaching everybody, He taught everybody equally and these are the ones who chose to learn.’ That is such a gross misreading of John 6:45, that it’s sad to me to actually see those who claim to have some kind of exegetical capacity, making that kind of statement, but it’s the kind of statement that they make all the time. 6:45 is actually a repetition of the same concept in 6:44, and the teaching there is divine in nature. It is in fact, the very mechanism, the way that Jesus expresses, a restatement of that drawing, is that the Father teaches, He reveals, He is the source, this is a divine action. It’s not something where God is just throwing this out, and we chose whether we are going to accept it or reject it, or something along those lines. He quotes from the prophets, ‘It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God.’ Who is the ‘they’? The ‘they’ is those who’ve been given by the Father to the Son. We turn that around and say, ‘They are the ones who chose to be in the Father’s flock.’ It’s just amazing. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Well who is that? Those who are drawn by the Father to the Son in the preceding verse.” (The Dividing Line, emphasis mine)
How is that a fact?
Yes, you already said that, but why do you believe that it’s a restated, repetition of the same point?
Yes, we know that you believe that it is a restatement of the drawing, but why do you believe that?
Yes, we know that those who are drawn by the Father to the Son are the same people who have heard and learned from the Father, but what does that have to do with the allegation that ‘hearing and learning’ is the same “mechanism” as ‘drawing’? You know, you can make fun of people; you can ridicule people; you can tell people that they are “sad”, and that they have “failed”; you can mock their views in the most condescending manner as possible; you can even question people’s motives, but in the end, you actually have to make a coherent argument, and James White doesn’t seem to be able to do that. I’ve observed that when people behave in the manner of James White, it’s to cover up a deficiency in one’s argument.
Calvinist, James White, explains: “Once again, when we go back to John 6, I think that what we see here is, well, ‘I believe that there is a remnant.’ Well, I do too. But the remnant was a remnant according to grace. God is the One who reserved these people. I’m concerned, that it almost sounded like, ‘Well, there were some people who were better than some other people, and they can continue to follow Torah, and they can continue to follow God.’ I would say the remnant itself, at any point in time, and the 7,000 who did not bow the knee to Baal, did so solely on the basis of grace, and it was God who specifically chose those individuals. It wasn’t that God wanted to have 17,000 but He could only come up with 7,000 because they were the only ones that would synergistically cooperate with Him. But to insert this into the text here, without providing a foundation in the text, is what is concerning to me.” (James White vs. Michael Brown, emphasis mine)
James White refuses to acknowledge even the possibility that John 6:45 may involve God drawing a faithful remnant to His Son. However the remnant came to be, whether by resistible or irresistible grace, that a believing remnant was being drawn, that much, Calvinists and Arminians ought to agree.
Calvinist, James White, explains: “…People do not have the capacity in and of themselves to come to Christ for salvation until something divine happens; i.e., the drawing of the Father….” (Debating Calvinism, p.84, emphasis mine)
In other words, according to James White, people do not have the capacity to come to the Father or the Son, and therefore the drawing of John 6:44 is what turns un-believers into believers. But the evidence of the Old Testament is that Israel did have the capacity to come to God, because God intervened and made it possible, by holding out His arms wide to them (Isaiah 65:2), but they resisted Him, and in remaining disobedient, He warned them that He would harden them to calamity (Jeremiah 18:1-13), and now with Israel having largely rejected Him, they had no desire to embrace the Son who carried His message. The matter of the Father’s “giving” and “drawing” is a message to the Jews that they were not right with God, rather than an absurd teaching that God didn’t want them and hence didn’t draw them. Jesus said at John 6:45 that those who have “heard and learned from the Father,” which conveys the simply meaning that those who are right with God, come to the Son. That seems fairly clear, but what is also clear is the distinction laid out by James White, which is that according to Arminianism, John 6:44 is the drawing of believers whereas according to Calvinism, John 6:44 is the drawing of un-believers, which through such drawing, become believers. That’s the distinction.
Calvinist, James White, explains: “The words of the Lord Jesus in John 6 are clear and compelling. The plethora of failed explanations of the passage produced by those who oppose the message that offended so many in the synagogue in Capernaum (and evidently continues to offend today) is testimony to the force of the teaching and the clarity of the text.” (Debating Calvinism, p.141, emphasis mine)
How is that supposed to mitigate against grumbling? Wouldn’t you think that it would make them grumble even more? “Hey, good news: You know the person that you call God, yeah, He doesn’t want you; That’s why He didn’t give and draw you to Me. So cheer up. See, there’s no reason to grumble.” Obviously, something clearly is wrong with the Calvinistic interpretation of John 6. Furthermore, if God was antagonizing them, saying that God didn’t elect, give and draw them, wouldn’t that eliminate the Scripture which states, “They hated Me without a cause” (John 15:25)? And besides all of this, of course, is that God said that He does want the people who rejected Him. (Matthew 23:37) In summary, the Calvinistic understanding of John 6:37 and John 6:44 doesn’t add up with the context of the Old Testament (in terms that God had indeed wanted them), or with the dialogue of John chapter’s 5 through 11 (in terms that Jesus was showing them that the reason why they rejected Him was because they rejected the Father who sent Him), or with John 6:45 (in which Calvinists invent an odd view of ‘hearing and learning’), or with John 10:38 (in terms that even though they are not given and drawn by the Father, believe in the testimony of the miracles anyway, which prove the Son’s testimony is true, which Nicodemus even conceded at John 3:2), or with John 15:25 (in that the Calvinistic interpretation would be antagonistic, giving them a reason to be angry at God). The Calvinistic interpretation is simply at odds with Scripture and every aspect of the context of John chapter 6.
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “It would baffle me if Jesus took all this time in appealing to people to come to Him and then tell them, ‘but the reason you aren’t is because I’m not enabling it’ and then go on to keep appealing them to cease their disbelief and chastising them for it.”(SEA)
Unrelated to this discussion, one person observes: “God’s word says that NO ONE comes to the Father unless they are ‘enabled,’ and we can only come by faith.”
One Calvinist comments: “If that is so why did Jesus state clearly; NO MAN can come to me except the Father draw him? This is not a statement made to Israel alone. Why is that?”
Calvinist: “Because He continues to say that He will raise that person on the ‘Last Day’ and that, as we know, will include not just Jews but Gentiles only?”
This stems from the Calvinist’s problem of thinking in isolation. John 6:44-45 wasn’t talking about Gentiles, but about those who had heard and learned from the Father. That’s the root of the Calvinist’s misconception. Yes, believing Gentiles will be raised, but that’s not the subject of the present context.
Calvinist: “What ‘transitional period’? This cannot be confined to any ‘transitional period’ - if so that would draw a distinction between the method for salvation as differing between Jews and Gentiles!]”
First of all, there is indeed a transition from the followers of John the Baptist to the in-gathering to the Son (John 3:30), and then from the Son to the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13-15) The fact is that there is a post-Calvary drawing of the part of the Son, which later deals with the issue of the Gentiles. The drawing of John 6 was a different drawing. That was the Father’s drawing of the faithful remnant to His Son. The “method of salvation” is unchanged. It is always by faith. The Father’s drawing of the faithful remnant who had heard and learned from Him was not salvation per se, but a drawing of the OT saved, as a hen gathering its chicks, under the wings of the Son (borrowing from Matthew 23:37 language).
Calvinist: “The context is clearly referring to a general ‘all’ and ‘no man’. Why is it necessary to twist the words here to fit a bias that it logically cannot be ‘all’ and ‘no man’?”
How can they talk about “context” when there is no mention made of John 6:45’s related information, which specifically clarifies the subjects of the drawing?
Calvinist: “There is no doubt that grace or this drawing may be ‘resisted’. All unsaved people in fact do naturally ‘resist’ the message of God and the bible teaches this very fact!: ‘There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God’ (Rom.3:11). The Bible unequivocally teaches that the ‘natural man’ will not, and ‘cannot’, receive the things of the spirit and ‘cannot’ be subject to God’s laws (Eph.2:3; Rom.8:7,8). The unsaved man is willingly and freely ‘fulfilling the desires of the flesh’ and is ‘by nature the children of wrath’ (Eph.2:3). Resistance is entrenched because ‘the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not...’ (2Cor.4:4). This is why Jesus Himself plainly said: ‘No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him...’ (Jn.6:44).”
I cited this to show the acontextual way in which Calvinists reference John 6:44. There is literally no attempt to deal with the dialogue taking place from John 5 to John 12. My question is this: How can Calvinists criticize the Jehovah’s Witnesses for proof-texting in isolation, when they do the same things themselves?
Calvinist: “Your teaching, if true, would require ignoring and treating as irrelevant the doctrines of Grace and Salvation so prominent in the Gospels.”
Whenever a Calvinist is placed on the defensive, they often invoke the “Doctrines of Grace.” The reality, though, is that they are not promoting grace, per se, but promoting limited grace, as in the Calvinist’s own doctrine of a “Limited Atonement.” Now if Calvinists wish to affirm a “Limited Atonement,” then why not also affirm the “Doctrines of Limited Grace,” except that it doesn’t market as well? The cults also like to hype titles. The Jehovah’s Witnesses most notable catch-phrase is “being in the truth.” The reality is that “my teaching, if true” has no bearing on the ultimate matter of Calvinism and Arminianism, and simply holds that this passage has nothing to do with Calvinism or Arminianism, once investigated contextually.
Calvinist: “John 6:44 also clearly joins being ‘drawn’ by the Father with being ‘raised up’ in the last day. Why is this passage so difficult?”
“So difficult”? In other words, “I’m so stupid to miss something so simple.” Calvinists often engage in mocking condescension in order to feel better about themselves. They can become quite nasty. The ironic reality, however, is that they are the one’s who are confused. If this is the Father’s drawing of those who have heard and learned from Him, as per John 6:45 (in contrast to the unbelieving Jews who hadn’t, as per John 5:37-38), then it is quite natural to say that the Father will also “raise up” the faithful remnant as well. The Calvinist is forgetting the whole point of what I was saying. The Calvinist had gotten confused. I have no problem in joining those “drawn” with those being “raised,” if we are talking about the faithful remnant.
Calvinist: “Why the need to say that God is not saving all that are drawn here? Why the convoluted gymnastics imposed upon a text so plainly expressed?”
Again, the Calvinist is confused. The faithful remnant being drawn by the Father to His Son (in contrast to the unbelieving Jews), are being both saved and raised. (I can tell you why he had gotten confused. He is taking the interpretation of others, and imposing it upon my interpretation, and just got mixed up.)
Calvinist, James White, comments: “The drawing of the Father is in fact limited to the elect, those who are given by the Father to the Son.” (Debating Calvinism, pp.294-295, emphasis mine)
Substitute “elect” for “the faithful remnant of Israel” and the statement would be correct, and in fact, the faithful remnant of Israel is an elect people in spiritual-Abraham, that is, the remnant of the ‘faith of Abraham,’ having “heard and learned of the Father.” (John 6:45) But when Calvinists mention the word “elect,” they mean it in an entirely different sense, and that being of an eternally secret society, chosen by God to be irresistibly saved, for a reason cloaked in mystery, in which every Calvinist who presumes to be a part of such an alleged Upper Caste, admits that they have no idea why God picked them, while eternally passing by others. In contrast, John 6:44 is simply about the ingathering of the people of God to His Son, and Jesus was pointing out that those unbelieving Jews who were rejecting Him, were evidencing that they were not of God’s faithful sheep, as they had otherwise presumed, but accordingly to John 10:37-38, they could be, if they would reconsider the testimony of the miracles, as it pertains to Jesus. So Jesus was diagnosing their problem, so that they could be saved. So Jesus was not mocking an alleged non-election, and Jesus was not saying that they were unwanted for salvation. Finally, the context of this drawing was the Father’s pre-Calvary drawing of the faithful remnant of Israel to His Son, whereas the post-Calvary drawing by the Son (according to John 12:32), is the Son’s drawing of all men to Himself. Calvinism struggles to make sense of what would otherwise be an overlapping drawing. After all, if the Father is already drawing the Calvinistically elect, then what need is there of the Son to do the drawing? Or instead, would the Son be taking over the drawing duties? I’ve not heard a Calvinist explain that, but I imagine that it would be an explanation along the lines of John 10:30, in the sense of unity.