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John 6:37, 44

Dr Grant C Richison


John 6:37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

It is assumed that the drawing in John 6:44 is an efficacious drawing in the sense that people are forced to decide for Christ based on irresistible grace (see my comments above). This passage says no more than God draws (it appears that this is simply conviction or the process of God’s concursus). The onus is on those who believe in irresistible grace to establish that the drawing is more than that. In logic, the onus of proof is upon the person who makes the assertion, not the person who makes the denial.

It is also assumed in 6:37 that those that the Father gave the Son was only the elect. Again, they use their theological system to impose an idea on this passage (the exegetical fallacy of interpolation). The first two words in 6:37 “all that” (πᾶν ὃ) are neuter singular (that which), not masculine plural. The neuter does not exclusively include men; it may also involve power and dominion among other things. What God “gives” is treated as impersonal, en masse; what comes in the last clause, with free will, is masculine singular, not the whole class of the elect. Christ even said that Judas was “given” Him–“Those that you gave Me I have kept; but the son of perdition.”

The “all” of “all that” then is the strongest expression of totality. The neuter is used as being more universal than the masculine and including everything which the Father determines to save from the world’s failure, viewed as a totality. All attraction toward Christ presupposes an affinity given from the Father. The masculine gender is later used of a believer in this verse.

The singular also implies totality—nothing that the Son should receive would ever be left out. Thus, the words “all that” is a general and abstract statement (πᾶν ὅ). We can translate this verse this way: “All which the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and he that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

Nothing is said in the first phrase whether God will force people by irresistible grace or whether they come of their own choice by God’s persuasion and effectual grace.  Nothing is said about Christ dying only for those the Father gave Him. If it did then it could contradict other passages in this gospel that affirms that Christ died for the sins of the world (Jn 1:29, the Holy Spirit convicts the whole world of sin, Jn 16:7-8). It would contradict God’s desire for everyone in the world to become a believer (1 Ti 2:4).

Also, the context indicates that those who come to Christ will believe. It was the Father’s will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes on Him will have eternal life (Jn 6:40). God calls all (not just the elect) to believe (Jn 3:16, 36; Ac 16:31; 17:30, etc.). God gives the Son through a combination of divine drawing and human belief or free choice.

The word “gives” is in the present tense. The idea is not that the Father “has given.” The Father is in the process of giving to the Son. It is the Father’s habit to operate in grace. Therefore, this verse does not speak of an eternally past decision but of something going on during the life of Christ.

The second statement gives the concrete and individual realization of God’s giving—“the one coming” (τὸν ἐρχόμενον, singular, present participle). It is not the “ones” coming to Christ, but each separate believer regarded in his personal relation to the Son.

Even if we were to accept the premise that the first clause refers only to the elect, the affirmation would simply mean that all the elect will come to Christ. Nothing is said about how the elect will come or whether Christ died for more than the elect. Nothing is said about irresistible grace or coming by personal volition. To say more than that is interpolation. The context from verse 40 indicates that those who come will come by believing.

Both the divine and human sides are presented in this verse. From the human side those whom the Father gave the Son are those who believe in Him (Jn 1:12-13).

John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Is the drawing of John 6:44 resistible? Jesus said nothing about the resistibility to the drawing by the Father in this verse. His only point was that the Father’s drawing was necessary for belief to occur. Another verse shows that God’s “draw” can be resisted (Jn 5:40).

It is clear that some people did not believe in the gospel (Jn 5:40). The reason they did not believe was that they were not receptive to God’s Word. It was not because they were non-elect, but because they did not believe in God’s Son. John 6:44 does not speak of individual election to eternal life but that God personally draws people to the possibility of faith. Whether they accept the drawing is up to their volition.

The gospel of John never speaks of individuals chosen from eternity. The idea in John 6:44 is that before anyone came to Christ God previously drew them to Himself. This does not annul human choice but refers to the enlightening or impelling influence by the Father. It is the Father role in influencing those who come to Christ. Those who yield to this influence will become Christians.

It is not valid to illegitimately transfer the meaning of “draw” from other passages such as Acts and James to John 6. That is an exegetical fallacy. The usage of a word must be within the greater context of the argument of a book of the Bible and the immediate context. John uses elkuo four times: John 12:32; 18:10; 21:6-7. Use of elkuo with inanimate objects is not conclusive. The meaning in John 6:44 is clearly metaphorical.

John 12:32 says that the Lord will “draw all peoples to Myself.” This is a drawing on the volition of “all peoples” to Jesus. His drawing was universal without exceptions. There is nothing compulsive about this. John 12:32 is the only other figurative or metaphorical use of elkuo in the gospel of John.

The word “draw” is in the subjunctive mood indicating a contingency or possibility at some point (aorist tense). The word “raise” is future tense. The Greek future does not deal in time so much as logical progression. In other words, should a person hypothetically respond (subjunctive mood) to the Father’s drawing then a logical necessity follows from that—he will be raised up. There is no universalism taught here.

It is important to note that those drawn are “taught” by God (Jn 6:45-46). They also “learned” from the Father. Those who are positive volition toward the teaching and learning “come to” Jesus. The issue is divine persuasion from the Bible itself. Only inner illumination that God gives can enable a person to respond to Christ. They need to be “taught” by God (Jn 6:45; a paraphrase of Isa 54:13). Man cannot come to God by his own judgment but must hear and learn from the Father. God always functions in the realm of His concursus. He never concurs with anything outside His plan. He also takes the initiative or, if you please, He always functions within His concursus. As long as man is confident of his own ability, he cannot believe. See this page that deals with the tension between God’s will and man’s will:

The reason Jesus quoted the Old Testament in the next verses was to establish universal drawing— “all” will be taught by God Himself. John 6:46-47 indicates that he who rejects the Son also rejects the Father who draws people to Him. Jesus is explaining the way the Father draws people to Himself. He does this by teaching. Both listening and learning require positive volition (John 6:46-47). Those who listen and learn will be taught by God and drawn to Jesus. There is both divine and human roles in coming to faith. Both the drawing of God and reception by faith are interwoven.

Jesus alone had “seen” the Father and so He alone can give this inner illumination (Jn 6:46). He is the true bread that gives eternal life (Jn 6:51). That “bread” had to be eaten to receive eternal life.

It is clear that no one can come to God by operation bootstraps; salvation requires divine initiative. There is no salvation without God’s initiative and an individual’s response to that initiative.