John 6:37-40; 44 – A great favourite of Calvinists to try to “prove” unconditional non-free-will election
John 6:37-40; 44 – 37All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
44No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:37 – All that the Father giveth me shall come (heko – to come, to arrive, be present) to me; and him that cometh (erchomai – to come into being; come forth; be established; to follow one) to me I will in no wise cast out.
“All” here is said to be neuter gender, that is, a nominative (subject) neuter singular adjective – a collective neuter (a singular term that represents a plural quantity, much like a collective noun). This generally indicates a wider range of objects included in “all” such that it could mean a singular neuter “everything”, an acceptable translation of all (Greek pas) here. Not long before this account in John 6, Jesus has made the claim (in John 3) that all things have been given into His hand.
John 3:35 – The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
But this use of “all” definitely specifies “all things”, that is, every thing. This would include all of creation being put into the hand of the Son; thus did Jesus rightly claim that all authority (in heaven and in earth) had been given to Him (Matthew 28:18).
However, “All” in John 6:37 can also mean all mankind en masse, a general statement of all mankind inclusive of all people. This appears to be the correct view: that it means all mankind without exception. Thus, all (= all mankind) that the Father has given to the Son, will come; that is, they will all arrive or be in His presence. They will all be under His authority. No-one may refuse His authority.
However, “him” (also from John 6:37) is an accusative masculine singular article. It literally means “the one” (masculine article), thus indicating more of the coming of individuals out of that mass of humanity. In other words, “him”, (an individual of that great mass of all mankind) who actively comes in order to follow Jesus, will not be in any way cast out.
Thus we have two distinct groups in John 6:37: (i) the “All” representing the whole of mankind who are come because of the authority of Christ, and (ii) “him” representing the individual persons who actively come to Christ. The former may or may not be cast out; the promise that ones will not be cast out is for those who come as individuals in the latter part of the verse. This also cannot exclude the free will of man in any way, either.
Note that “come” and “cometh” are 2 different Greek words and have 2 different meanings. Thus it is incorrect to assume that they both apply to the same situation.
“come” (heko) in the Greek means merely “to have arrived, to be present”, while “cometh” (erchomai) in the Greek means a more active establishing as a result of the coming. All mankind will come to the Son because “all” have been given into His hand (as per John 3:35), but individuals of that “all” will come to follow Christ, and will not be cast out (or refused entry, as the word can mean). Also note that all mankind has been given to the Son (Jesus) for judgment, both good and bad (see John 5:22; 25-29), while only some of these will be of those who will not be cast out. The context must be taken note of!
Thus “The all (everyone) that the Father gives to Me shall have come (be made to come; be present) and the specific individual who has actively come to Me I will in no wise cast out (put out of doors; put outside; refuse entry). There is certainly nothing in this verse that supports the calvinist view that all who are given to the Son will come and not be cast out! Some of those given to the Son will actively come and not be cast out! This does indeed strongly suggest the necessity for free will and not coercion!
John 6:38 – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
This is a simple statement of the fact that Jesus came to do the will of His Father. This fact is expanded in the next two verses, John 6:39-40.
John 6:39 – And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
“all” here is accusative neuter singular adjective, once again indicating the collective whole (should be read as “all mankind without exception”) that has been given by the Father to the Son and which will be raised up at the last day (in the judgment – John 5:22; 25-29).
This is actually following on from the context in the previous chapter of John (Ch 5:28-29) where all (nominative masculine plural adjective), thus, “all (men) or (mankind)”, will be resurrected, some to life, the rest to condemnation.
John 5:28-29 – 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his (Jesus’) voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Thus, from this context, it is abundantly clear that out of the “all” that the Father has given the Son, none will be lost (that is, mislaid in any way) because all will be raised again at the last day to life or condemnation. None will escape His authority. All have been put into His hands for the purposes of judgment. Not one person will escape the judgment. Not one (“nothing”) will be lost (or missed out on)!
Hebrews 9:27 – And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
Note that this “lose nothing” (in John 6:39) cannot apply to the disciples or individual believers (that is, the election), for as Jesus admitted, He had lost Judas out of those given Him by the Father (that the Scripture might be fulfilled):
John 17:11-12 – 11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we [are]. 12While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
The calvinists have identified this giving (in John 6:39) as the result of the calvinist unconditional election. But, if not one of the election can be lost, and if Judas was one of those given by the Father to the Son, then theoretically Judas shouldn’t have been lost, and yet he was, indeed, lost! Judas was chosen by Christ (John 6:70-71) so calvinists have to teach that Judas was one of those given by the Father to Christ. And yet Jesus lost Judas! Calvinism therefore has to teach that some of their election can still go to hell!
It does make much more sense, plus being more consistent with the rest of Scripture, to interpret this verse as not being to do with the election. It doesn’t deal specifically with believers, but with all of mankind (both elect and non-elect). All of mankind will be raised on the last day in order to face judgment, either for life or for condemnation. And no-one will be lost from that group, not even Judas!
John 6:40 – And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
While John 6:39 covers all mankind, both saved and lost, John 6:40 definitely covers only those who will believe in Christ. In Vs 39 Jesus says that he will “raise it up again at that last day”, “it” being a more impersonal word. “it” is neuter singular which allows it to be consistent with the “all” (neuter singular) in Vs 37 which related to all mankind without exception.
However, in Vs 40, Jesus says He will “raise him up again at that last day”, “him” being more personal, more individual. “him” in Vs 40 is a masculine singular pronoun, while “him” in Vs 37 is a masculine singular article; thus these two may be consistent with each other.
All this means is that Vs 39 deals with the whole of mankind having to face the resurrection and judgment, while Vs 40 deals with the individuals of mankind who actively come to Jesus; they see Him and believe on Him, and receive everlasting life. Both those in Vs 39 and those in Vs 40 will be raised up at the last day, yet Vs 39 covers all mankind, while Vs 40 is discussing only believers (= the election conditional upon God’s foreknowledge).
John 6:38-40 – 38For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Note the emphasis upon the will of the Father in these three verses. It is indeed the Father’s will that none should perish and that all should be saved.
1 Timothy 2:3-6 – 3For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1 Timothy 4:10b – we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God desires the salvation of all, yet the fact remains that not all are saved. Somehow the two ideas have to be compatible, or else there’s a lie somewhere. God desires all to be saved, yet not all are saved. Either God has two or more wills (as taught by calvinists such as Piper and MacArthur) or else God has permitted man to have free will concerning salvation. (As a point of interest, Calvin rejected the idea that God could have more than one will.)
God desires that all be saved but man may choose to reject God’s gracious offer of full and free salvation. The man who rejects such great salvation will not go to hell to pay for his sins; he will go to hell because he has refused the only option that could have set him free! (2 Corinthians 5:10)
God remains totally sovereign because every free will decision that man makes has to be accounted for when God judges all mankind. Freedom to make choices can never overrule God’s sovereignty because God will always have the last and final word on all things, no exceptions!
MacArthur attempts to demonstrate that Paul was converted quite against his will, yet tries to say that it wasn’t against Paul’s will. All quotes are from https://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/90-296 (John MacArthur)
“He’s a good one to look at for this kind of call because when the call of God came on the life of the apostle Paul, it was a sovereign, divine, gracious, and irresistible summons. He was slammed in to the dirt on the road to Damascus with nothing to do but respond. He is called as an apostle. ….
“Paul understood that he was just grabbed by the neck by God and awakened to the glory of Christ and saved and made an apostle.”
Yet even though Paul is slammed in to the dirt and grabbed by the neck by God, he does it willingly?
“No one is ever saved without being willing. It is an act of the will to believe.”
It certainly does look like Paul was willing, doesn’t it!?
But the Bible has a different account – no slamming into the dirt, no grabbing by the neck at all!
Acts 9:3-6 – 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
In John 6:39, it is clear that the raising up on the last day relates to the general resurrection for all mankind as per John 5:28-29. Calvinists say, though, that John 6:39 means that it is the Father’s will that Jesus not lose any of the ones He has given to the Son for salvation. Thus, they say, it proves that only those whom the Father has given to the Son will be saved; therefore the election is proven. Well, yes, the election is proven; it is a scriptural truth. However, as noted above, if the election is conditional upon God’s foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2a – Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father) then the only matter under dispute really is whether the election is conditional or not. Either way, if they claim that unconditional election supports Vs 39, then the correct doctrine of election conditional upon God’s foreknowledge will also support Vs 39!
Note that Vs 39 doesn’t appear to be talking about just the believers, though!
It was the Father’s will that none should perish, and that all men should be saved. But because of man’s free will, most will choose not to be saved. God will require an accounting for every free will decision and choice in the judgment! When Jesus was lifted up on the cross He would draw all to Himself (John 12:32), but many would resist His salvation nevertheless. Whatever choice man makes will be held accountable. This is true sovereignty: all will be judged!
It was also the Father’s will that led Jesus to the cross, yet he spent some time in the garden of Gethsemane struggling with “Not My will but Thine!”
The Father has given all into the hands of the Son, but many of those will still reject the Son, yet all will be judged by the Son in the judgment. (Because they have all been given into His hand.)
The Father’s will was also that His elect nation Israel should be a nation of priests to the other nations (Exodus 19:6), yet this will was not carried out either.
Note the following:
Romans 8:29-30 – 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
So those whom God knew (according to His foreknowledge) would call upon the name of the Lord, will be predestinated to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, also called, justified and glorified. All of this is dependent upon God’s foreknowledge.
When the calvinists cry “the election”, then whatever they demonstrate to be unconditional election can also be demonstrated to be election conditional upon foreknowledge. But much of this passage above also covers the whole of mankind, both saved and unsaved. Single verses may be taken out of context and lack consistency with other Scripture; they take on a different meaning when compared with the rest of the passage and consistency of doctrine throughout the Bible. Calvinists, please do your homework more thoroughly!
For further follow-up please follow this link to John 6:44.
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