Drawn by the Father – John 6 (Part 3 – Who?)

(This is the 3rd post in this series. To read the first post click here.)

John 6:37, 44 and 65

All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”


Who Were Those Given to Christ?

In the last couple of posts we gained a better understanding of the overall context of the Gospel of John and those chapters surrounding chapter 6 in particular. Now we need to ask a more specific question about John 6:37, namely, “Who are those whom the Father gives to Christ?”

In John 6:37 Jesus said, “All those the Father gives me will come to me.” Calvinists interpret this to mean that during the time between Christ’s first and second coming God gives eternally predestined individuals faith to believe in Jesus. They reason that since God from eternity chose certain individuals who would belong to him, these must be the ones that he gives to Christ. God did not grant them an inheritance among his people because they believed, but he chose them as unbelievers and in due time made them into believers. They imagine that God is taking rebellious sinners who have no faith and bringing them to faith in Christ. For them this verse teaches that God, by the means of irresistible grace, gives rebellious sinners to Jesus Christ. In order to understand the error of this interpretation we have to focus on exactly who it was that God “gives” to Christ.

Who are those that the Father gives to Christ? Jesus gives us a clear answer to this question when he talks with his Father in John 17:6, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were and you gave them to me…” God gave Jesus those who already belonged to him; this is clear. But what is not clear to everyone is in what sense Jesus says these individuals belonged to God. In order to understand who Jesus referred to as belonging to God, we must first look at those who did not belong to God.

Sinners do not “belong” to God. Those who live according to sinful desires are “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). They have no hope and are “without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). Sinners are children of the devil, and they desire to do the will of their father (John 8:44). They are slaves to sin and are not part of God’s house (John 8:34-35). Luckily we don’t have to guess about who belongs to God and who doesn’t. Jesus tells us plainly in John 8:47, “The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God” (HCSB). Let me say it again, unbelieving and rebellious sinners do not belong to God. These are not the ones that the Father gave to the Son, because he only gave those that belonged to him, and he does not claim the children of the devil as his own. I have not yet given a detailed interpretation of John 6:37, but from what we have looked at so far we can see that the Reformed interpretation (i.e. God gave preselected unbelievers to Christ) is foreign to the context.

Jesus said that all those that the Father gives him “will come to him.” I think all would agree that this means that those whom the Father gives to the Son will come to place their faith in the in the Son. But, “believing in Jesus,” means more than just accepting some facts about him; it means to devote oneself to Christ, to identify with him and share in the life that is in him. This means that God is going to lead certain people to entrust their lives into the hands of Jesus Christ. But this seems to contradict what we just said, namely, that unbelievers don’t belong to God. So, (1) those that belong to God are not unbelievers, and (2) those whom God gives to Christ become believers in Christ.How are we to understand this seeming contradiction? How do believers become believers?! John chapter 5 helps in clearing this up for those with ears to hear.

John 5:23

That all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.

John 5:37

And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.

Those that belonged to the Father were already believers in the Father, but they had not yet been brought to trust in the Son. They had been walking in covenant with the Father through the Law of Moses, but Jesus was only recently revealed to Israel (John 1:31). This was a new era in the history of God’s relationship with Man. This was the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in God’s Son. They already honored the Father, but came to honor the Son through the testimony of the Father. The Father was giving “all things” to the Son (John 3:35, 1 Cor. 15:24-28). All those that already trusted in the Father were being led by God into the hands of his Son. And of course, only those that valued God’s testimony would be influenced by him to embrace his Son (John 6:45).

It is here that we can start to understand who those individuals are that “belong to God.” They are those who have been faithful covenant-keeping Jews. Men like Nathanael of whom Jesus declared, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47) People like Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth who “were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:5-6). Or men like Simeon who was “righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). And women like Anna the prophetess who “did not depart from the temple” but spoke to “all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” about Jesus (Luke2:36-38).

John 3:19-21

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

This can be a perplexing passage if we take it out of its historical context. We can understand verses 19-20 which state that bad people don’t want to come to Christ (i.e. the light) because they prefer to sin in darkness. But verse 21 states that there were already people walking in covenant with God and serving him in truth at the time of Christ’s first coming. If we apply this to every place in the world throughout all of history we will be left with the strange idea that people all over the world, who don’t know Christ, are already serving God in righteousness. But when we put this passage in its proper historical setting then things begin to become clear. Many were already true followers of God through the covenant God had made with Israel. These true followers already belonged to God the Father, and were given to the Son during Jesus’ earthly ministry.

This passage is specifically describing the time of Jesus earthly ministry. It is true that there are many truths in these verses that we can apply to our current historical setting, but not until we interpret it in its original context. Jesus is the “cornerstone” of God’s kingdom. But for those who reject him he is the “stumbling block.” He came not to bring peace, but “division” (Luke 12:51-53). Christ divided Israel; he “gathered the wheat” and prepared the “chaff” for “unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:17). People could not ignore his claims; they could believe in him or reject him, but they could not ignore him. And their response to him was a reflection of the attitude they already had towards the Father.

What we must realize is that John 3:21 is not an isolated verse in John’s Gospel. This idea of transition from the Father to the Son is clearly referenced in nearly every chapter. For us living today this transitional period seems to have little to do with us or our situation. But if our theology is to be accurate and Biblical, we must start with the historical context when we interpret these passages. We live after the resurrection of Christ at a time when the Son, through the ministry of the Church and the Holy Spirit, is drawing people to himself and to his Father (John 12:32, 14:6, 15:26-27). When we come to verses like John 6:37 and 44 imagining that they are talking about something that is still happening in the exact same way today, and has been happening for 2,000 years, we will certainly butcher the text and make erroneous interpretations. The desire to apply these verses to our present day is admirable; but until we interpret the Bible in its native context we cannot possibly apply it with any accuracy. This is the error that has led many to accept the completely unfounded interpretation of Reformed Theology on the verses we are discussing from John chapter 6.

Those that belonged to the Father in the Gospel of John were those who were faithful to God at the time of Jesus’ first coming. There is not the slightest reference to an eternal unconditional election. In fact it is quite the opposite. They belonged to God at that time, not in eternity past. And they belonged to God precisely because of their character and faith, not because of some mysterious arbitrary choice by God (John 7:17, 8:34-47). The context of the transition from the Old Covenant to the New must inform our understanding of John’s Gospel and Jesus’ words. We must not let our commitment to certain theological traditions trump what the Bible reveals. To ignore that those who belonged to God were those who were walking righteously with God under the Old Covenant, and that these were given to the Son during his earthly ministry by the witness of the Father, would be to completely ignore the historical context of John’s Gospel.

Before moving on let me give the proper perspective on John 3:19-20 since they have been greatly abused by Reformed Theology. The Bible in general and the Gospel of John in particular make it clear that people can repent of their sins. When confronted with their sinfulness and the impending wrath of God people can turn from self-centeredness and commit themselves to being God-centered. Examples of God commanding this of men, and of men actually doing it, could be produced in abundance from both testaments. We could cite the Ninevites in the book of Jonah who repented in mass or the Israelites who did the same when Elijah called down fire from heaven. We could also mention individuals like King Manasseh who though he had been one of the most wicked kings in Israel’s history, became one of the most righteous. In the New Testament men like Matthew, Zacchaeus and the thief on the cross next to Jesus come to mind. The most obvious example from the Gospel of John itself is the multitudes that went to John at the Jordan River to receive his baptism of repentance. John 3:19-20 are not contradicting this clearly biblical truth. Instead Jesus is pointing out why those who claim to be God fearing Jews refuse to come to him. He is not saying that sinners can’t possibly repent, but that those self-righteous Jews cannot believe in him unless they first leave the sinfulness they are secretly devoted to. When taken out of their historical context these two verses can become a proof-text for Calvinism’s version of total depravity, but if we use the same method of exegesis with verse 21 we can say that only righteous people who are already living for God can ever come to Jesus. Without allowing the historical and Scriptural context of these three verses to inform out interpretation we must conclude that only those who are living righteous lives can come to the light and be saved.

John 12:44-50

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do no judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment -what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Jesus came to Israel as a representative of the Father; he did not come in his own name. He came speaking the words of the God of Israel. Those that were following the God of Israel would recognize the voice of their God, but those who only pretended devotion to God would reject the Son just as they had always rejected the Father. Those who were faithful members of the Old Covenant would naturally transition to the New Covenant. Those who were submitted to the Father would gladly submit to the Son. The coming of Jesus Christ to Israel distinguished “the remnant” of true Israelites from the false (Jn. 1:47, Rom. 11:2-6, Rev. 2:9, 3:9).

Understanding this basic paradigm in John’s Gospel helps us to understand other passages that are often misinterpreted by Calvinism. We will take a look at some of those passages in the next post.

To Be Continued…

16 thoughts on “Drawn by the Father – John 6 (Part 3 – Who?)

  1. Wow, so relevant . You said, “When we come to verses like John 6:37 and 44 imagining that they are talking about something that is still happening in the exact same way today, and has been happening for 2,000 years, we will certainly butcher the text and make erroneous interpretations. The desire to apply these verses to our present day is admirable; but until we interpret the Bible in its native context we cannot possibly apply it with any accuracy. This is the error that has led many to accept the completely unfounded interpretation of Reformed Theology on the verses we are discussing from John chapter 6.” And may I say yes, yes, yes!This is the very reason so many are miss guided. Must know who the chosen were and who Jesus was speaking to. Thanks for being there!!!

  2. Chris,

    Just one more question for you. When you said: “The Bible in general and the Gospel of John in particular make it clear that people can repent of their sins. When confronted with their sinfulness and the impending wrath of God people can turn from self-centeredness and commit themselves to being God-centered.”

    Of course, I completely disagree with this if what you mean is that they can do this one their own. So I’d ask you if you think fallen human beings are able to repent and believe apart from an enabling grace of some kind.

    I hold the view that men must do this if they are to be saved. But I also hold the view that God must enable man to do this. So I wonder if our ultimate disagreement is right here at this point.

    I think of many of my co-workers and family who are unbelievers and know in my heart that they are not saved because they don’t want to be. They strongly prefer their own self-indulgent lives and do not want to follow Jesus. They are aptly described by Jesus when he says, “he who sins is a slave to sin.”

    I cannot, however, rule out the possibility that they may one day prove to be among those whom God has given to the Son. My hope and belief is that if God grants them repentance, they will repent.

    I don’t know how this works vis-a-vis their power of choice. I suppose that God will use their will in concert with his own. But ultimately I have to agree with John. If they are to be born again, then ultimately it is because God wills this (John 1:13).

    In all my comments to you (both on your blog and mine), you’ve never once commented on how John 1:13 accords with your reading of John. This is surprising given your emphasis on “context.” Well, isn’t John 1:13 part of that context? If so, then what do you make of it. (Yes, that’s yet one more question).

    Time to read to the kids….

    Mike Taylor

    1. Michael,
      John 1:13 comes after 1:12. i never responded to it cause it has absolutely nothing to do with monergism. becoming children of God comes after believing – jn1:12.
      I never said repentance comes “without any enabling grace”. i said they are able to relent when they are confronted with their sins by the testimony of the church & the witness of the spirit. the enlightening conviction of their dins is just what those in darkness need to see their prediciment.
      As for the subjects that can be discussed here. i prefer to stick to the main theme of john 6 because that is what has been ignored by calvinism. if i run down ever issue about monergism under this post it will just go in circles. id rather encourage those who are committed to calvism to face the issues this present series is raising. so though it might sound like im trying to avoid ur arguments, i cant avoid that impression. i can only ask u to comment under more relative posts in which i address those issues in a more thorough way. im a bit busy in this season and dont wish to answer in comments what i have answered in.posts. so if u are seriously interested in my opinion on various topic please browse my posts on calvinism. i think there is about 30-40 posts up on various issues.

    2. Michael,
      Maybe john 1:11-13 is a great summary of John’s goal in his Gospel.
      In verse 11 we see that the Jews, those who are supposed to be God’s people reject him.
      Verse 12 we see that anyone, whether jew or gentile can become God’s children.
      Verse 13 recaps the point that one isnt a child of God by birth, bit must be born again. the condition of this rebirth is faith (vs12) not natural birth (vs11).
      By saying “not of man’s will” in vs 13, but by God’s will, John is telling us that people dont become part of God’s people just because a man has a child. Salvation is not a matter of ancestry, but of faith & relationship with God.

      To ignore this context and try to pounce on the phrase “not of the will of man” because it fits with our philosophy about man’s inability to believe is not good exegesis. this ignores vs 11-12. & to try to read monergism into this rebirth because of the phrase “but of God” is to ignore the condition of faith plainly established in verse 12.

      This is in line with the entire book of John. He is showing that being a Jew doesnt make one part of the Israel of God. A person must trust in the Son of God.

      1. HI Chris,

        First, while I disagree with your interpretation of John 1:13 and would say it is you who are reading your Arminianism into the text, I do appreciate the fact that you’ve taken time out of your busy schedule to give a meaningful reply this time.

        I think the only way to do justice to your “hit pieces” (yes, they seem that way to me) on Calvinism is to confine my comments to my own blog.

        With your permission, I’d like to occasionally post links to my blog in your com-boxes to let you (and your readers) know of how the “loyal opposition” is receiving your articles. And of course know hat you and they are welcome to respond in kind.

        If you’re not comfortable with that arrangement (and I understand if you’re not), then this is good-bye!

        Blessings to you!

        Mike Taylor

      2. Michael,
        I welcome your comments, & will do my best to respond to them. But this blog is actually meant to be wider in range than just the Calv/Armin debate. It just happens that i am writing a book on Calvinism so the last several months ive been stuck on that topic. My goal is to provide disciples who have been confused by the bold claims of Calvinism a biblical understanding of the passages & concepts Reformed Theology has in my view distorted. I have been surprised that Calvinists have taken an interest in my posts at all.
        Anyway, as for your request, i do not feel comfortable with you sharing links to your blog for a couple reasons.
        1. I dont have time to respond to your posts and defend my views. Most of your comment posts have been written in a good Christian spirit, but many have shown a misunderstanding of my posts. So im afraid your blog posts would carry the same misunderstandings. Since i dont have time to respond to those misunderstandings i feel that would be counter productive to my purposes. I mean, i would be writing my views, then allowing them to be unintentionally misrepresented without taking the time to correct those misunderstandings, & all the while i would seem to be sanctioning those misunderstandings by allowing your links.
        2. With all due respect to my Calvinist brethren, i believe Calvinism is a serious & influential error in the Body of Christ. I have no interest in converting Calvinists to my view, though of course that is welcome;). I dont feel the need to convert them because they are my brethren. But due to my views on Calvinism, & the goals of this blog (to help disciples face the confusing claims of calvinism) i feel it would be counter productive to lead confused disciples to a place where the clarity that they have gained by objective study of God’s word would be confronted once again by the bold claims of a robust, systematic & erroneous system of theology. This of course is not the politically correct approach, but it is the pastoral approach;)
        If i am accused of being a censor of some kind because of this, i can live with that:) My goal is to help feed the sheep whose conscience has warned them about the errors of calvinism, but who dont have the answers to navigate through its forceful claims. As for God’s sheep who have accepted calvinism as biblical Christianity, I trust God can keep them from too much harm in spite of it. But, as i said, i dont feel called to debate with them. You might feel that my posts are meant for debate, but they are not. They are not written for Calvinists. The only reason they sometimes address Calvinists is because i quickly became aware that for some reason calvinists are reading my posts. Out of politeness i tried not to ignore those readers. But my goalis not to debate, but to help end the debate that rages between the Spirit renewed conscience of many disciples & their mind when faced with the persuasive philosophic & proof-texting arguments of calvinism. Im attempting to bring clarity to the scriptures so that these struggling disciples have genuinely biblical answers to there calvinism inspired confusion.
        – I dont know how you, or others will receive my frank reply, but it is done with integrity, not a need to win a debate or seem to win it. I hope you will continue to interact on this site so that we can grow together, but since you said that this is good-bye, i understand that might not be the case. If you do hang around i hope you see that i am not that interested in debating the same issues again & again. I already did that with many brothers & in my own mind via lots of reading. These posts are my conclusions on the issues related to the theology of calvinism, not the continuation of a debate. Im really only interested in responding to questions by people who have them, not by those who have already made their conclusions (as i have). Im also willing to discuss anything in my posts that are unclear. In the last post, you and a couple of brothers were helpful in showing me how my examples were being misunderstood by educated calvinists. Because of that i was able to tweak my post to be more clear. So for those that are looking for answers, or for those who want me to clarify what a particular post is saying im ready to interact. For those who wish to debate the 5 points, absolute sovereignty, monergism, etc., i just dont feel it is necessary because i know i will not change (i have made my conclusions on these issues), nor do i feel the need or responsibility to change my calvinist brothers & sisters’ opinions on these matters. I believe calvinists (like non-calvinists) that are walking in genuine fsith & progressing in holiness are christian. Therefore, i dont find any value for me or for them in debating. If people are interested in the calv/armin debate they can find it all over the internet. I dont feel my blog needs to be added to that mass of information & exchange. My blog might seem like a debate, but for me & my target readers, it is the conclusion of that debate.
        God bless,

      3. Chris,

        Thanks for the opportunity to voice my opinion and the polite explanation for the purpose of your blog. I completely understand the decision not to link given your stated purpose. That said, it strikes me that once you “put it out there” (i.e., on the web), it’s out there and can become the subject of debate, whether its your final conclusion or not. I stumbled upon your blog, and was drawn in by your take on Calvinism, which needless to say, hardly matches my own. (If I thought Calvinism was what you represent it to be, I wouldn’t be a Calvinist either!)

        I am disappointed that you are unwilling to debate Calvinism on the grounds that you have already come to a settled conclusion on the matter, but I suppose I have to respect your wishes not to. Believe me, I’m not interested in debating for the sake of debating. Been there, done that. Rather it is because I sincerely believe that “Calvinism” is what scripture teaches that I hold to it. I realize that it is precisely for this reason that you reject it, and so that is why I think the door should never be closed on debate.

        For this reason I will most like continue to blog responses to your posts on Calvinism (as time permits), especially if this is all a prelude to a book. I’ll do my best to represent your views in the process, but if ever I get them wrong, feel free to comment on my blog as needed.

        Blessings to you,

        Mike Taylor

      4. Michael,
        Thanks for the interest, input & understanding. Keep in touch & keep standing on the Word.
        Could you please respond to this comment with a link to your blog. You shared it before, but dont know where to find it now.
        Thanks & Gbu

      5. Chris,

        Here’s the link: http://fallibility.blogspot.com/

        I started my blog mainly to process my own thoughts about Roman Catholicism (where I spent 11 years in a religious order), but have probably spent as much time working out the Calvinist versus Arminianism/Roman Catholic Molinism issue.

        I’m actually hoping to start posting on the continuationism/cessationism issue some time this year. I’m on the Charismatic side that debate (which makes me somewhat of an oddball in the Reformed camp.)

        Blessing to you,

        Mike Taylor

  3. ” Im talking about the topics & themes being discussed throughout the gospel of John. when we see those themes & the teaching of Jesus in John we realize that unconditional electiin & irresistible grace was not imagined by him.”

    Hi Chris, as you said here, that is exactly the problem. This is where one of the big problems with Calvinistic interpretations occurs -the wholesale decontextualisation of large swathes of Scripture. Generally speaking, I would say that Calvinism misses the overall context of most of the biblical passages it claims for support, and is always trying to read into them its own peculiar slants. This is one of the cardinal exegetical sins that we are encouraged to avoid as far as possible. From my own perspective many of the so called “Calvinist slam-dunk” proof texts began to take on a different meaning as I began to examine them in the light of the overall message of the surrounding chapter and book. I began to see that many verse were being cruelly forced, made to bear a meaning seriously at odds with the rest of a book (in this case John), or with Scripture as a whole.

    The problem is once you become ensnared in the Calvinist system it can be very hard to escape it. The whole trend of your thinking becomes set in a certain rut. Because after all Calvinism is “biblical” and appears to have scriptural “support”.

    Without wanting to sound harsh and judgemental, what I would say about Calvinism is that it demonstrates exactly how clever Satan is at twisting the Word of God and misrepresenting His character. In the name of “sovereignty” and “doctrines of grace” we have accepted a portrayal of God that stated he deliberately created 99.999999% of the human race specifically to burn in Hell to glorify His justice, depriving them of any possibility of salvation.

    While not claiming to know all the answers, I find this caricature completely at odds with the Bible in my hand. By subtly redefining the concepts within the Bible, such as grace and sovereignty, replacing them with perverse and twisted counterfeits; and misleading the saints to misuse certain scriptures in order to ignore and negate the overwhelming testimony of God’s righteous character and merciful nature woven throughout the Bible, Satan has managed to get the Body of Christ to do the dirty work of smearing God’s character for him. He hardly has to lift a finger.

  4. Chris,

    Now we come to heart and soul of your argument: “Those that belonged to the Father were already believers in the Father, but they had not yet been brought to trust in the Son.”

    I have to disagree. Neither John nor Jesus are teaching that the Jews are already “half way there” –that they have the Father, but not yet the Son and only need to go that extra mile. The opposite is the case. John (see the entire Johannine corpus for this) consistently teaches that no one has the Father until he or she first has the Son. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

    I know, I know….but what about Elizabeth and Zechariah and Anna and others who are called “righteous” prior to Jesus? Even Jesus says that our “righteousness” must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees (cf, Matthew 5:20). You mention these righteous ones and they indeed need to be explained, especially in light of Paul’s insistence that “there are none righteous.” Unfortunately, as it stands, your argument directly contradicts Paul’s. You’re absolutizing the relative righteousness of people like Elizabeth and Zechariah in a way that makes the Paul and John meaningless. Let me explain.

    First, I hope we can agree that there is no contradiction in scripture. If so, then allow me to make a suggestion. When we are given clear, sustained didactic exposition on the issue of righteousness (as we are in Romans and Galatians), then it would be hermeneutically suspect to to take Luke’s statements about righteous people, which are clearly made in passing, and then use those in a way that runs counter to direct teaching on the matter. So here I am giving a relative weight to Paul since Paul is teaching about righteousness itself and not simply describing people who were righteous as Luke is doing.

    Then, I’d ask if Paul and Luke are using the word “righteous” in exactly the same way? My answer. Not always. Sometimes Luke uses the word in the sense of “vindicate” (e.g., Wisdom is justified by her children). Sometimes “righteous” seems to have the sense of a good and generally law-obedient person, as seems to be the case in Luke’s descriptions of the aforementioned. But take Paul’s own self-description. “With respect to the righteousness that comes by the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:6). Outwardly, Paul was a legally observant Jew. Many Jews could say the same thing, and did (including the rich young ruler, “I have kept all of these since my youth”). But when we peel the onion down a layer or two, sin begins to rear its ugly head. This is why Paul can say, “there are none who are righteous.” That describes all of humanity, including Elizabeth, Zechariah, Mary, Anna, Simeon, Joseph et alia. They were not sinless. They still had to struggle with the flesh. The law could not justify them, nor did it. “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21).

    So however we understand the righteousness of those living between the covenants, one thing is for certain. No one had the perfect righteousness that allows us to stand before the Father, and the relative righteousness they did have was not the cause of their own salvation. (Rather, I think it is far more biblical to say that it was their salvation that was the cause of their relative righteousness. As Paul says, quoting Habakkuk: “The righteous will live by faith.”–and that does describe, Simeon, Anna, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Zecharia et alia.)

    My point being (if lost in this excursus on righteousness) is that John is most certainly not saying that we can “belong” to the Father if we can reach the ethical standards that an Anna or Simeon reached. But nor is he saying that there is this category of people out there who are already righteous, since they are already obeying the Father and now need to obey the Son as well. I think you’re reading that into John. Rather, John, just as much as Paul, makes it clear that unregenerate man is in a state of total depravity and that it is not the will of man that causes man to be born again, but rather the will of God. But since this implies Calvinism, I can see why you’re forced to do an end run on what the text actually says.

    Blessings to you!

    Mike Taylor

    1. Michael,
      I agree no one was or is perfectly righteous but Christ. I also agree that one who has the father has the son & vice versa. but in John’s Gospel he makes it clear that those who belong to the Father are “given” to tge son (jn6:37). So we have to understand the different ways we can use the terminology. i think i have made clear that i am referring to a transitional phase from ot to nt, which jesus refers to as from the father to the son. also i think i was clear that the “righteousness” of men like nathanael was a “covenant faithfulness” to the old covenant, not a perfect righteousness.

      1. Chris,

        You said: “As for the other issues u raised about the role we play in salvation and othrr issues related to election & foreknowledge, i encourage u to post those comment on posts related to those topics….”

        Respectfully, I thought I was doing that very thing. For in the very post I was responding to you said the following:

        “Calvinists interpret this to mean that during the time between Christ’s first and second coming God gives eternally predestined individuals faith to believe in Jesus.”


        “Whatever John 6:37 is saying, it is not saying that God gave preselected unbelievers to Christ.”

        Since you were first to put these issues on the table, I thought I was “in bounds” in responding the way I did.


        Mike Taylor

  5. Chris,

    I was following the logical flow of your argument up to this point, when I hit a wall: “Whatever John 6:37 is saying, it is not saying that God gave preselected unbelievers to Christ.”

    How does that last statement there follow from everything you had said prior to it (most of which I was in full agreement with)?

    Even the Arminian believes that God “preselected” the elect (the difference being that he did so on the basis of foreseen cooperation with grace). Is that not so?

    Clearly you come to this text with a bias against unconditional election. Why is that? Why is it so troublesome to you that God has the freedom to choose whom he wants to save and reject others, especially if those whom he rejects are the very sinners you described up to this point in your article–the ones who “did not belong to God?”

    Also, if I may say so, you’re reasoning so far raises the question of why someone belongs to God. If sinfulness and rebellion explain why someone does not belong to God, then cooperation and obedience must explain why someone does belong to God. Right? So now the questions are these: First: In light of all those passages that teach us that there are “none righteous,” that all of us prior to belief were “ungodly” and that we were all God’s “enemies,” who in all of God’s creation could be found as worthy enough to “belong to God?” I mean, even granting the Arminian definition of foreknowledge as the passive taking in of future events by looking down the corridors of time to see who will be naughty and who will be nice, just whom would God see out there obeying and cooperating, *apart* from a prior work of God to be gracious to them? Did God see *any* such soul? If so who? Only Jesus.

    Second: If God’s choosing us to “belong” to him depends upon our obedience and cooperation, then how is this not self-salvation? How is this not our behavior determining God’s action to include us among those who belong to him? How is this not “the will of man” causing man to be born of God in stark contradiction to John 1:13?

    1. Michael,
      I appreciate that u thought u were following the logic closely, but u missed it. Im talking about the topics & themes being discussed throughout the gospel of John. when we see those themes & the teaching of Jesus in John we realize that unconditional electiin & irresistible grace was not imagined by him.
      As for the other issues u raised about the role we play in salvation and othrr issues related to election & foreknowledge, i encourage u to post those comment on posts related to those topics. of course it all intersects, but here i would like to stay on subject, which is what Jesus taught in the book of John in general & in chapters5-8 in particular. As well as what John wanted to communicate to his original readers.

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