Drawn by the Father – John 6 (Part 4 – Shepherd’s Voice)

(This post is part of a 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.”

We concluded the last post by noting:

“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.”

In this post we will look at some of those passages as well as their Old Testament counterparts. We will also give a clear interpretation of John 6:37.

Micah 2:12

I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the Lord at their head.

John 10:1-5

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.


Israel was expecting God their king to come and gather the remnant of Israel into his fold. At the time of Jesus arrival many different groups claimed to be the “remnant” that God said he would save (Rom. 9:29). But Jesus came on the scene saying that he was the Shepherd of the sheep. He was confident that the faithful remnant, his sheep, would hear his voice. The religious leaders of the day had a large following, but he called them “thieves and robbers.” The true sheep would not follow them because they didn’t hear the voice of God speaking through them. They recognized that the leaders of Israel were no longer faithful representatives of the God of Jacob. Jesus said that when the true Shepherd came on the scene the sheep of God would follow him because they would recognize the voice of their God. And he knew that his Father was the “gatekeeper,” he had access to the hearts of the sheep. Since Jesus came in the name of the Father he knew that God would open the door to the sheep pen so the flock could follow him. That is, he knew that the father would give to him all those that belonged to him.

John 10:12-16

He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay my life down for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Jeremiah 23:1-6

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is my righteousness.’

Jesus makes a clear distinction between the “hired hands” and the “Good Shepherd.” These false shepherds of Israel didn’t care for the flock and had caused them to be scattered. Due to the sins of the false shepherds in Jeremiah’s day the sheep were scattered all around the world. In Jesus’ day many had returned to the land of Israel but many others remained dispersed throughout the world. And those that were living in Palestine were led by leaders that didn’t care about them. These hirelings caused the people of Israel to become like sheep without a shepherd. But now the Good Shepherd had come. Unlike the hirelings that cared nothing for the flock, Jesus was willing to give his life for them.

Jesus did not only come for the Jews that were living in Palestine, he also cared for those who remained scattered throughout the world. He was also committed to gather these “other sheep.” And like those in Israel, he knew that they would follow his voice because it was the voice of the God of Israel whom they faithfully followed.

Before moving on we should take a moment to remember what this all means for the original readers of John’s Gospel. The religious Jews of their day were rejecting them as God’s people. Both Jewish and Gentile Christians were being rejected and persecuted by the unbelieving Jews of John’s day. For this reason he writes down the opposition Jesus faced and how he responded to that rejection. He is using Jesus’ rebukes to the Jewish authorities of his day to encourage them that that believers in Messiah are the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).

John 11:49-52

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not only for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Isaiah 43:5-7

Fear no, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Acts 18:9-11

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

In John chapter 11 we read of an interesting prophecy ignorantly given by the Jewish high priest. He prophesies that Jesus would die for the “whole nation” of Israel. Jesus was not only going to die for those that were already his sheep, but also for the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He was the sacrificial atonement for the people of Israel; he was the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. But he wasn’t going to stop with dying for the nation, he was also going to “gather into one the children of God” who were “scattered abroad.” We see this played out in the ministry of Paul in Acts chapter 18. God told him not to be afraid of harm during his ministry there because there were many faithful Israelites in that city who would naturally accept the testimony about God’s Son.

In Acts chapter 10 we read about a man who though he wasn’t a total convert to Judaism, was nonetheless “a devout man who feared God with all his household.” God sent an angel to him who told him that his faithful service to God had “ascended as a memorial before God.” Because of his faithfulness to the God of Israel Peter was sent to him and his household to lead them further in the truth. Cornelius belonged to God. And so when Peter shared the Gospel with him and his family, they became believers in the Son before Peter even finished his message! The Father gives all those that belong to him to Jesus; and all those that the Father gives to him will come to him! (John 17:6, 6:37)

We must not think it strange that God had followers before the arrival of Jesus. We shouldn’t forget that God has always had followers since the beginning of the world: from Seth, to Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to Samuel, to David, and right up to Simeon, Anna and Nathanael. There have always been those who walked in faith and submission to the living God. And in Jesus day, everything that they had been hoping for began to come to pass (Heb. 1:1-2).

John 6:37

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

What has been said up to this point should make John 6:37 abundantly clear. Those that were faithfully walking with God under the Old Covenant at the time of Christ’s first coming belonged to God. God gave them to Jesus. And since Jesus came in the name of the Father and spoke the words of the Father, those faithful followers naturally placed their trust in Christ, the Son of God. And those who didn’t serve God, but instead followed the desires of their father the devil naturally rejected Christ. Many of them were blatantly wicked, but others like the religious leaders seemed to have a form of godliness, but their response to Jesus revealed their true ancestry. They were not descendants of faithful Abraham, but of the rebel Satan. To read the Calvinistic doctrines of irresistible grace and unconditional election into John 6:37 is a blatant disregard of the historical and Scriptural context of the verse.

To Be Continued…

10 thoughts on “Drawn by the Father – John 6 (Part 4 – Shepherd’s Voice)

  1. Chris:

    If I read your reply correctly you seem to assume I am Reformed/Calvinist, but not sure what gave you that idea. 🙂

    if we read Jesus reasons for people not believing (without assuming the doctrine of total depravity) we will see that people COULD NOT BELIEVE because they WOULD NOT REPENT

    If by repent you mean people don’t believe because they would not exercise a LFW choice and choose to trust in Jesus than I think we agree. I do not agree with the doctrine of irresistible grace.

    I have some practical questions about the Calvinist interpretation that so far no one has given me a clear answer for.
    I am probably not the best person to try to answer these as I don’t hold to U or I.

    Happy New Year and God bless

    1. So sorry bro! Haha! I have another buddy on twitter that said he was going to comment, i totally thought it was him;) so im sure i TOTALLY misread ur comment. ill check it out again soon. Getting ready to travel back to Indo tomorrow so might be a little while. Sorry again:)

  2. Chris

    Glad I am following along correctly so far and will wait for the posts on drawing/giving. I agree that the crowd Jesus is addressing is John 6 is comprised of those who followed/came to Jesus seeking not a Savior but another free meal.

    I am not Greek scholar. More like a struggling seminary student. Just found it interesting that Jesus (and John’s recording of the event) used a different word for “come” in 6:37 than the rest of the passages in this section that refer to “coming” to Jesus. These other passages all used the same word. This is missed in the English translation. It could be the author’s way of demonstrating he means something different.

    Keep up the good work

    In Christ,

    1. Mike,
      What would you say is the difference in the two words translated “come” in John 6:37? It seems John prefers the word he uses in the second part of the verse. In John 5:40 he uses the greek word he seems to prefer. Both there & in john6:37 seems to be the same context of coming to jesus. Is it possible that he just uses 2 different words that are referring to the same thing (in john 6:37) just so he doesnt repeat the same word?
      What is different about the definitions that make you believe it refers to something different?
      Sorry, ive been travelling & havent had a chance to check the link you provided. So if my question is answered in that link, just tell me to quit being lazy and read it already! 😉

    2. Mike,
      I read your post. It is thought provoking & i will keep it in mind. But i think the overall context of John & particularly John 6 itself makes the “draw” of 44 & both “come” of 37 (especially in light of the reference of john 6:65) are referring to the same thing. The “drawing” is the how of the “giving”. If yours is the correct interpretation, i dont know how that could be proven since it seems to rest on the shades of meaning in the definition of one greek word. At least as far as i understand.

      I think that your view on 6:37 would be a way to reject the calvinist interpretation of that verse in particular, but i dont think it would help us understand john 5-10 (with all its exclusive sounding verses) any better. I think referring to the historical context doesnt just refute one theological interpretation but actually gives the proper understanding of John/Jesus’ point. It tells us why some are his sheep & others not; why some are given by the father & others not, & why the children of the devil cannot understand his word, etc.

      What in the context of John 6 would you say points to your interpretation?

      1. Chris

        I have always taken the overall purpose of John’s Gospel as being so that the reader might believe and have eternal life (20:31). So, IMO, John 6 fits this overall context of the book. In context of John 6 – Jesus is explaining what it means to believe in Him to those whose main interest is in the physical not spiritual – ie) they want another free meal.

        The purpose of the book answers the question why some are sheep and others are not = some believe in His name and some do not.

        Maybe I am missing something but in what way would the view offered not fit John 5-10. Maybe 1 or 2 specifics might help me understand why you don’t see it fitting.

        BTW: I certainly don’t offer this interpretation as the only one possible. Just as a plausible view. Keep in mind John 12:32 says that all are drawn so short of universalism that has to be kept in view since not all come to Jesus or the drawing inthat passage must refer to something different than in John 6.

        In Christ,

      2. Mike,
        As for John 12:32, i dont think it is using draw in the exact same way as in John 6. Im still unsure what it means exactly.
        I believe if one reads John5-10 they can easily, without much argument, come away with a calvinist interpretation. If i did not think there was any support for the Reformed interpretation i wouldnt spend so much time showing the proper interpretation & debunking the Calvinist view;)
        John 5-10 does indeed talk about why some believe & some dont. It also is written so that people will believe. But i think, as i have argued, if we read Jesus reasons for people not believing (without assuming the doctrine of total depravity) we will see that people COULD NOT BELIEVE because they WOULD NOT REPENT (John 7-8 especially). We should also keep in mind that Jesus was reasoning with them, the pharisees, so that they might repent (which would lead to faith, one purpose of the Gospel as you point out).
        John 5:34
        “Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I SAY THESE THINGS SO THAT YOU MAY BE SAVED.”

        So if the Gospel was written so people would believe, & to show why some believe & some dont, then we must assume the second one will not cancel out the first. I mean, if John shows that some cannot possibly (in the moral sense, not possible due to an entirely depraved will. im not talking about the philisophic concept of “natural ability”.) believe because they are not irresistibly drawn because they were not unconditionally chosen, then that cancels out “were written so you might believe.” If he wrote to lead people to faith he would then show that those who believe couldnt resist believing, & those who dont believe cant possibly believe.
        (I understand there is a philisophical answer to this argument by referring to secondary causes & the compatibilist version of free will, but all of that is above my pay grade;) That is, in my opinion an pver reliance on human philosophy & ignoring the plain meaning of the scripture. Such appeals to Reformed philosophy move me away from accepting Calvinism, they dont help me see Calvinism as a scriptural option.)

        I have some practical questions about the Calvinist interpretation that so far no one has given me a clear answer for. You moght have not considered it so if you dont have a response right now it is fine. & whatever you answer ill let it stand, i wont try to give a counter argument. Im just wondering the calvinist answer to it. If your willing could you address the issues the following question raise?
        —If Jesus preached unconditional election & irresistible grace publicly as part of his Gospel presentation, should we do the same thing? Is it part of the Gospel? I think of Spurgeon’s comment, “Calvinism is the Gospel” (or something like that). How does preaching it lead people to faith? If jesus was preaching to lead his opponents to salvation (John 5:34), in what way does it help bring people to salvation?
        I could understand Jesus teaching such secret doctrines to his disciples, but i cant figure out why he would preach them publically to people he was trying to convert. & i cant understand why calvinists insist we just preach repentance & faith in our public presentation of the gospel & do not preach irresistible grace & unconditional election. I can understand that those doctrines confuse people & so arent practical, but Jesus seems to preach them when his express purpose is to lead opponents to Christ.
        Anyway, this is not an argument against the doctrines themselves. If they are scriptural they are true no matter how impractical they are. My issue is with what seems to be the inconsistency of calvinists. Except for hyper calvinists who do not fear to preach the “whole calvinist gospel” when they share their message with the lost.
        So if u have some insight on this issue please throw it my way. But if you feel it is off topic (which it kind of is) it is ok that you dont want to address it.
        Thx & Gbu

      3. Mike,
        If im reading your blog post correctly it gives an interpretation for john6:37 that does fit the context. I just believe the interpretation is not drawn out of the context, but from the greek words used for “come”. So i dont mean to say ur interpretation doesnt fit, even the Calvinist interpretation can fit, but i dont think it comes from the overall context.
        Maybe i could say what (i think) im seeing this way. How does your interpretation help us understand who Jesus sheep are & what qualifies them to be his sheep? I think your interpretation of John 6:37, that relies on the conotations of one greek word, would not in any way add understanding to John 10. They would be unrelated passages though we could find a way to make each of them “non-Calvinist”.
        On the other hand, if we take my approach and focus more on the issues that are really being dealt with as far back as John chapters 1 & 3, but more intensely starting in John chapter 5, i think the “calvinist verses” in john 6, 8 & 10 are shown to be just the opposite.
        My problem with your interpretation is not that it contradicts the context, but with the seemingly over-reliance on one greek word & its disconnectedness (as far as i can see) from other “calvinist verses” in john.
        I think our methodology is different. I prefer to see the big picture & then watch all the details come together. Im not sure i understand your interpretation, so you might feel that is what you are doing as well. If so, just ignore me. I have been in traveling the last few weeks so my mind is spinning. But to the best of my recollection your interpretation started with the differing Greek words for “come” & went from there. Heck, that might be the way to go;) I just dont feel comfortable with it.
        Please be patient if this doesnt make any sense. We are busy packing for us & our 3 kids to fly over the ocean tomorrow, so im a bit scatter brained tonite;) & since i mistook you for a Calvinist before, i guess i cant say that is an unfamiliar state of mind for me;) lol
        Happy New Year Bro!

  3. Just found these posts via a tweet by Seeking Disciple.

    You certainly are taking a very in depth look at this passage in John. That is an interesting tie in between Micah 2 and John 10. I’ll have to look at that some more later.

    If I am following these posts you are interpreting those given to the Son as the people who were/are faithful to God (as Jews/Proselytes or disciples of John the Baptist) but did not yet accept Jesus as the Messiah. However because they were part of the remnant/faithful they were able to hear and accept what Jesus was teaching (that they must believe/accept that Jesus is the Messiah).

    How are you interpreting “God gave them to Jesus”? Does the act of “giving” enable them to believe in the Son (ie prevenient grace) or is the “giving” being done because they already believe?

    BTW: Thought you might be interested in this. It is a look at John 6 – specifically those who are drawn and those who are given. It looks at the different Greek words for “come” in this chapter as well as the tenses. Based on that I came to a different interpretation on who is being given to Jesus than you did, albeit still not from a Calvinist view point either.


    1. Mike,
      Yes you are reading me correctly. I will get to the “drawing” in the upcoming post. Basically john 6:45 answers what the drawing is for me, i.e. teaching, divine revelation.The main point is unless hearts are repentant and willing to do God’s will they cannot accept his guidence. Those who “already believe” in the Father, will be led to “beleive” in the Son. Until one has submitted to God, he is not open to God’s influence and so cant follow him to the Son.
      In following posts i will discuss how people “came” to Jesus in John 6, but they had not “come” in a saving sense. they came because of their desire for food and an earthly king, i.e. carnal influences. One can only “come” to Jesus in a saving sense through divine revelation. Peter in Matthew 16 is an example of one following such revelation and coming to spiritual understanding.
      i will check out the link you shared. I am pretty ignorant of Greek, so unless everyone agrees on the interpretations and senses of certain Greek words, i usually dont rely too heavily on such things. they are debatable, and i am not able to understand the debate;) But sometimes, for example in the case of Tasso in acts 13:48, i can understand the Greek word by how Luke uses it, since he uses it 5 times. Only in such cases can i feel confident understanding Greek nuances. Basically I am stuck with the most agreed upon Bible translations and Scriptural context for my interpretations. That is why I have taken my time going through the context of John.
      Anyway, i will check it out, and am sure it will be helpful. my conclusion on John 6:44 and 65 will make it into part 6 of this series. Basically they, as well as John 6:37, are not as much doctrinal points (though of course they are), as much as rebukes to those who throught they were followers of God, but were not. They imply, John 6:37 “You dont belong to God.” John 6:44 and 65 “You are not open to God’s influence, you are rebels.”
      God bless,

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