Sunday, March 09, 2008

Everyone Who Hears and Learns From the Father Comes to Me

Manata has done an excellent job with John 6:44 below, by analyzing the text logically. For me, I'll just second his work and offer my own reading of the text without all the logical formulae, just to make it easier to handle for some of our readers whose eyes may gloss over when reading the formulae. The text is rather simple, which is one reason you'd think Thibodeux, simpleton he has demonstrated himself to be of late, would be able to read it with clarity.

No one can come unless the Father draws him does not imply that everyone drawn will come, simply that they can come. Speaking in relation to those who come is what the raising refers to, not all who are drawn."

JCT continues to demonstrate his inability to do simple exegesis by inserting a disjunction between those who are drawn and those who are raised. Where's the supporting argument for this move?

So, the one who is raised and the ones who are drawn are two different groups of people. Wrong! They are the SAME group of people.

1. Everyone who comes is drawn.
2. Nobody who comes is turned away.

Ah, but, would say JCT, this does not prove that everyone who is drawn comes!

Ah, but it does, for 45 is epexegetical to 44. The big word (epexegetical) means that this explains the preceding statement. It's a form of Hebrew parallelism. We find it throughout the Psalms. We also find it in Isaiah. That should be a clue, since the text actually quotes Isaiah! Perhaps one of these days Mr's. Thibodeux and Witizi will let their eyes drop down and read v. 45.

It is written in the Prophets, "And they shall be taught of God." Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me.

This proves that everyone drawn comes. How? Everyone who hears and learns from the Father and "be taught of God" explains what drawing is. So, let's place them in parallel:

Nobody (universal negative) can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him
Everyone (universal positive) who hears and learns from the Father (is drawn) comes to me

And I will raise him up (the person who is drawn/hears and learns/is taught by the the Father) on the last day
Notice that I, as a Calvinist, don't have to posit any disjunctions in the text, and I'm reading the text as it is actually written. My interpretation of 44 comes directly from 45, which is precisely how you read parallelisms in the Psalms and Prophets. I can read through the text in one run without running to John 12 or talking about "free will." I don't have to bring anything to this text that is not in this text and this text alone. Arminians can't do this, as we've seen repeatedly.

JCT argues that God draws everybody equally (UPG). Well, if that's true, we wind up with universalism since EVERYONE who hears and learns from the Father comes to Jesus. JCT has two choices: Calvinism or Universalism. On Arminian grounds alone, Arminianism is excluded, since JCT is no universalist.

Indeed, this is confirmed by the text preceding 44.

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

38"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

39"This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

40"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

Notice 40, EVERYONE who beholds the Son and believes in HIm will have eternal life and I Myself will raise Him upn the last day.

JCT must say that not everyone believes who beholds the Son in order to avoid universalism.

But the text continues,

41Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven."

42They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?"

43Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves.

THEN we have 44/45. 44/45 as an explanation of the unbelief of the people in 41 - 43. These are people who certainly "beheld" Jesus yet did not believe.

Why? Because they were not taught by the Father. They were NOT drawn. It was NOT given to them to believe (65). Ergo, those who are drawn and those who are raised in 44 are the same group of people, or else this text makes no sense in its context, an explanation of the unbelief of those in the synagogue to whom Jesus was speaking.

We're left to ask JCT and Mr. Witzki this question: Why does one person come and not another if everyone is, in fact, drawn? This is HIGHLY germane to this text, as this text supplies the answer.

Only the Calvinist can read this passage consistently without stopping to talk about matters extraneous to the text or running elsewhere. Indeed, I've seen Arminians over the years resort to all manner of maneuvers to alleviate their problem here, even one on the Baptistboard who went so far as to claim the verb "(h)elkuo" wasn't in any of the critical texts!

The objections to the Calvinist exegesis of this text are not coming from the exegesis of the text, but from the imposition of LFW upon the text, but LFW is not taught by a single line of Scripture. We've seen JCT try to show that to be the case and fail, and we've seen Ben say that LFW is a "presupposition" that is simply in Scripture. As LFW goes, so goes Arminian exegesis of John 6:44.

Continuing with Hosea 11, which JCT had cited earlier to equate "drawing" in some contexts with wooing...

First, even if "wooing" and "drawing" were the same in some contexts, it does not follow that John 6 is one of those contexts. That said...
Steve wrote:

In 11:4, Hosea has employed the metaphor of an animal trainer who uses ropes (or a yoke) to control his livestock or wild animals.

It’s obvious that J.C. never bothered to exegete his prooftext. He could have learned about the imagery by consulting the standard commentators on Hosea (e.g. David Hubbard, Thomas McComiskey, Gary Smith, Douglas Stuart)

Which is why I asked him how Hosea 11 relates to John 6, which was the text I had in mind, and his reply, if you'll recall was originally to me.

Here's Hosea 11:1-4

1When Israel was a youth I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.

2The more they called them,
The more they went from them;
They kept sacrificing to the Baals
And burning incense to idols.

3Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them in My arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.

4I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love,
And I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws;
And I bent down and fed them.
This text is not about God "wooing" Israel, it's about God's deliverance of Israel, the Exodus. It's about His faithfulness to them. This text, if we want to talk about it's relation to the meaning of "drawing" is on our side, not his. God did not "woo" Israel out of Egypt or "woo" Israel into the land of Canaan. Indeed, He did not "woo" them into the Exile and the Return. He drove them there and pulled them out.

And, if JC wants to say, "Well, Israel fell into sin," yes it did, but if he'd care to check out the whole trajectory of Hosea, after the Exile, Israel was delivered through the remnant. God preserved the nation, and God did so as a type of the Church, the elect.


  1. If this were little league you guys would be called for running up the score on your opponent

  2. "This proves that everyone drawn comes. How? Everyone who hears and learns from the Father and "be taught of God" explains what drawing is."
    Could you please give a more detailed explanation of why you think that these two are exactly equivalent (if that's what you are saying)? It doesn't seem to me like Hebrew parallelism requires this...not that I'm an expert or anything. But take, for example, genesis 1.27:
    So God created humankind in his image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

    The parallelism here gives gender an "explanation" as to what is meant by being created in the image of God, but surely it is not an exhaustive account of how humanity bears the image of God. In the same way, hearing from the Father and being taught of God may not be exhaustive of "drawing."

  3. This discourse is given in Midrashic form (cf.for example, Blomberg's material on John).

    Parallelism is common in midrashic teaching. The only question is "what sort to we have?"

    We have 4 options:

    Synonymous Parallelism: In synonymous parallelism, the second line of the pair repeats the idea of the first line without making any significant addition or subtraction. Your example from Genesis seems to fit this pattern.

    Antithetic Parallelism: In antithetic parallelism—the most common form in Proverbs—the second line is set in contrast to the idea of the first line, and usually by means of the adversative conjunction “but.” This often consists of a restatement of the idea of the first line by asserting its opposite (i.e., both lines state the same idea but in antithetical ways):


    10:1: “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother.”

    c. Emblematic Parallelism: In emblematic parallelism, one line is figurative and the other is literal, and together they form a simile with the word “like” or “as” introducing one of the lines (usually the figurative one):


    10:26: “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one to those who send him.”

    d. Synthetic Parallelism: Synthetic parallelism is a form of synonymous parallelism in which the second line completes, advances, or develops the thought of the first line by supplying additional ideas. If the second line provides no further clarification of the first, the parallelism should be classified as synonymous, but if it does bring forth clarification or expansion, it is synthetic.


    15:3: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.”


    16:4: “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.”

    The interpreter is to determine the contribution of that second line, as well as the point of the two statements taken together as a whole. Because synthetic parallelism usually takes the form of a wisdom saying (see 2b in part 1), the interpreter will need to determine the unstated exhortation implied by the proverb by wrestling with the question: How am I to live in light of this truth?

    So what do we have here:

    No man can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him.

    This is given to explain the unbelief of the audience.

    Jesus follows: It is written in the prophets, "And they shall be taught of God." This refers to Isaiah 54: "All your sons will be taught of the LORD;
    And the well-being of your sons will be great.

    Then Jesus says, "Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me."

    The text continues on with a parallel incident among the disciples themselves, which is a microcosm of the events in the synagogue:

    59These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

    60Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"

    61But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble?

    62"What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?

    63"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

    64"But there are some of you who do not believe " For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.

    65And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."

    So, we have,stylistically, a number of things going on:

    Statements in Midrashic form, each building one upon the other. Commentaries frequently refer to John's "shingle" or "stair step" fashion, in which one statement is made and a subsequent statement develops it. This is consistent with Hebrew parallelism.

    In the synagogue itself, in 44/45, we see either synonymous or synthetic parallelism. Take your pick. Either 45 is repeating 44 without developing it further, or it is adding to the force of 44. Either way, hearing and learning from the Father is equivalent to "drawing," and an explanation of unbelief. Why do some not believe? Because they are not drawn by the Father. Why? Because EVERYONE who hears and learns from the Father comes to Jesus. The addition of a new qualifier, the universal positive, "everyone" leads me to view it as synthetic, as it clarifies and adds force to the previous statement (44),where the universal negative (Nobody can come) is stated.

    Moving on, John, adds another layer as if to reinforce his meaning, not by a new line of dialogue, but a parallel incident, this time among the Disciples. They too are stumbling over Jesus' words,and there are those there who do not believe (Judas). Why? Because belief is something granted by the Father. Nobody can come to Jesus without the Father granting it to him. Those who do not come are those to whom it has not been granted to come.

    So, having been "granted" by the Father runs parallel to being taught by the Father, which in turn runs parallel to being drawn by the Father. So, in this context, "drawing" is explained in a number of ways in the context of explaining why some people believe in Jesus and others do not.

    The Arminian contention is that all people are drawn equally, which is why the often run to John 12. Otherwise, they try to insert a disjunction in 44, which the text does not support, per 45.

    Well, if that's so, on Arminian grounds, that leads directly to universalism given the constraints of the text of John 6. Arminians deny universalism.

  4. Thanks for your detailed response. Though you've certainly clarified for me some things about Hebrew parallelism, I'm still having difficulties with the reasoning behind your analysis. You said that "Everyone who hears and learns from the Father and 'be taught of God' explains what drawing is." You justify this on the basis of the parallelism, where 45 explains 44. Now in the passage I posted from genesis, we have something going on that, while I'm not sure which of your categories it falls into, seems to negate the type of reasoning you are engaging in. You say:

    "In the synagogue itself, in 44/45, we see either synonymous or synthetic parallelism. Take your pick. Either 45 is repeating 44 without developing it further, or it is adding to the force of 44. Either way, hearing and learning from the Father is equivalent to "drawing," and an explanation of unbelief."

    I don't know if I fully understand your categories for Hebrew Parallelism (or whether they are accurate and exhaustive), but I simply can't see why the parallelism would make the latter statement "equivalent" to the former. In genesis, we have "in the image of God he created them" parallel to "male and female he created them." This seems to me to not be an equivalence with, nor a strengthening of, the first statement. I see the second statement, rather, as pointing out a major, central aspect of what is meant in the first: God created humankind in his image, and one major thing this means is that we are created for a male/female reciprocal relationship that models the trinity. But there are also ways we are created in God's image--our rationality, our creativity, our brotherly love, etc. The second line is not equivalent or stronger than the first, but weaker, because it lists a particular (though central) aspect of what was mentioned in the first. It "expands" on the idea by giving more detail, but it also leaves stuff out by becoming specific.

    Might it be the case that, in the same way, the statement that everyone who hears and learns from the Father and will "be taught of God" comes to Jesus is meant to highlight the specific, central (in terms of the salvation story) quality of the "drawing," but does not exclude other potential aspects of it, such as the drawing of those that do not eventually come to Jesus?

  5. Your "epexegesis" is impressive; it's impervious within the frame of your focus.
    That would be the end of it; if the scriptures consisted of this portion of text solely, but the problem is the remaining 31000+ verses of the Bible.
    Why is epexegesis required to understand a handful of verses as a passage, but erroneous to apply to all of the Scriptures as one body for complete apprehension of divine revelation?
    Can epexegesis of another isolated section of the Scriptures, like 1 Timothy 4, make for example the language of v. 10 conform to a strictly Calvinistic understanding, when we hear that God is the Savoir of all people, especially of those who believe?

    My thoughts are probably a little hasty; I'm coming to this argument cold; I don't know of this Thibodeux and haven't read the text you are engaging. Plus I'm still quite green in regards to the theology of Armenianism vs Calvinism; I grew up in a simple Baptist church and only in recent years became a member of an Anglican church.
    On top of all that, I'm writing this and browsing references while at work, when I should be doing other things.
    But it's gotten the cogs to turn, and for that, I thank you.

  6. Dear Gene,

    Here's the issue I have. You seem to be saying drawing is equivalent to hearing and learning. But I think teaching is a better candidate for equivalency. Who draws? God. Who teaches? God. Who hears and learns? Us. So hearing and learning doesn't seem parallel to drawing, but teaching does.

    Hearing and learning is a response to teaching (i.e. drawing). This seems to be the purpose of the law. The law as a schoolmaster leads us to Christ. It prepares us for saving grace.

    In Christ audience, some believe Moses (John 6:14) and some didn't (John 5:46). In other words, some heard, but didn't learn.

    God be with you,

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Is John 6:44 a parallel of 6:45?

    The post in the main thread reads in part:
    “Nobody (universal negative) can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him
    Everyone (universal positive) who hears and learns from the Father (is drawn) comes to me”

    John 6:44 sections a and b: No one can come to Christ, unless the Father draws him.

    P1 - If the Father draws X, then X can come to Christ.
    P2 - The Father draws X.
    C1 - Therefore, X can come to Christ.
    C2 – Therefore, X does come to Christ.

    From P1 and P2, C1 follows, not C2 (as well). That is to say, the only conclusion that can be deduced from the premises is that X can come to Christ, not that X does come. Thus, based on available data, X, who can come, does not necessarily come.

    What of verse 44 section c: And Christ will resurrect him on the last day? Let us add it to the syllogism above:

    P1 – [If the Father draws X, then X can come to Christ], and Christ will resurrect X on the last day.
    P2 - The Father draws X.
    C1 - Therefore, X can come to Christ, and Christ will resurrect X on the last day.

    If all people are drawn and are able to come to Christ, then Christ will resurrect all people on the last day. This is universalism, and it is false. Does the falsehood of universalism necessitate that the Father draws some people AND that they necessarily come to Christ?

    First, from a logical standpoint, if it is false that all people will be saved, then the only conclusion that can legitimately be made is that some people may or may not be saved, much less whether Calvinistic irresistible grace is true or false. So, to conclude (merely from the falsehood of universalism) that the Father draws some and that they necessarily come is a non-sequitur. The Calvinist still carries the burden of proof to show this. (But this is not to say that the Arminian is excused from providing support for the position that the Father draws all people and that drawing does not necessitate coming to Christ.)

    Second, notice carefully that the Father’s drawing of all people, according to John 6:44, is a problem for the Arminian – ONLY if it leads to universalism. But what if it doesn’t? We do not determine if universalism is true based solely on one verse. The immediate context of the text tells us who is going to be resurrected: “everyone who looks to the Son and believes” (40); “whoever comes” (37-38); “whoever eats” Jesus’ flesh and “drinks” his blood (54). (At this point, I'm not arguing for Unlimited Atonement, although that is my position.) Thus, it seems to make sense to revise the conclusion as follows:

    C1 (revised) – Therefore, X can come, and Christ will resurrect X on the last day, if X does come to Christ.

    Thus, when verse 44 is interpreted in light of its context, the problem of possible universal salvation disappears. So again, it is not the case that the Father draws some people and that they necessarily come to Christ. Rather, as the context demands, the ones who will be resurrected do necessarily come to Christ by faith first; that is to say, only if people do come to Christ that they are guaranteed resurrection.

    Verse 45: Having been taught by the Father, everyone, who had listened and had learned from him, does come to Christ.

    P1 - If the Father taught X and X had listened and had learned from him, then X does come to Christ.
    P2 – The Father taught X and X had listened and had learned from him.
    C1 – X does come to Christ.
    C2 – X can come to Christ.

    From P1 and P2, C1 follows; of course, C2 follows as well. That is, the conclusion that X does come to Christ is necessarily true from the established premises. And, of course, “does” implies “can,” in that if X does come to Christ, then X can come to Christ.

    So: Is John 6:44 a parallel of 6:45? Perhaps, but not the way Calvinists interpret them. The Father teaches people, and people respond by listening and learning. People who had listened (aorist) and had learned (aorist) do come to Christ. Question: Does the “drawing” of the Father:
    (1) amount merely to “teaching” people? Or, does it
    (2) entail BOTH the Father’s teaching people AND people, in turn, listen/learn?

    If (1), then it would align with what is logically established in verse 44, namely – X, who can come, does not necessarily come. It may be inferred, it seems, that people who are taught of the Father DO NOT necessarily (at least logically speaking) listen and learn from him: “All shall be taught of God. Everyone who had listened and had learned from the Father, comes to me” (verse 45). Now, if you assume Calvinistic Total Depravity, Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace, then of course, the people whom God teaches do necessarily listen and learn, because in and of themselves, people are totally incapable to even respond and thus in need to be unconditionally elected and irresistibly drawn to Christ. But rather than assuming Calvinism, the only thing that is necessitated here is that X who listened and learned, does (necessarily) come to Christ.

    If (2), then verse 45 would still align with what is established in verse 44, that is, X, who can come, does not necessarily come. Granted that “drawing” entails BOTH the Father’s teaching people AND people, in turn, listen/learn. This does not follow that the Father’s teaching necessarily makes people listen/learn.

    a. Notice the conjunctive “and” – the Father’s teaching AND people’s listening/learning, equals DRAWING. There is a human response in such drawing. Nowhere are we told that such human response is operatively induced by the Father, that is, without man’s cooperation; in fact, such drawing is WITH man’s cooperation, namely, that he so listens and learns.

    b. As mentioned, there is no logical necessity to suppose that the Father’s teaching necessarily makes people listen and learn. Only a Calvinistic assumption would make this necessary. (But this begs the question in favor of the doctrine.)

    c. At best, verse 45 says that there are people that when taught of the Father, they happen to choose to listen and learn, and in turn do necessarily come to Christ. Nowhere is it ever mentioned that the Father makes an unwilling unto willing in order for (the now regenerated) willing to choose to listen and learn and then come to Christ. Such interpretation is contrary to verse 53, which says that unless a person “eats” Jesus’ flesh and “drinks” his blood, that person has no life in him; a person comes to Christ in order to become alive, not become alive in order to come. The Calvinistic position is NEITHER in the text NOR in the context of John 6:44 and 45.

    In summary, John 6:44 must be interpreted in light of the context in the chapter, yielding: A person who is drawn by the Father can come, but does not necessarily come, to Christ; and if he does come, Christ will resurrect him on the last day. Given the established logical structure of verse 44, verse 45 parallels with it, since verse 45 yields: A person, who is taught of the Father AND who chooses to listen/learn, does come to Christ. The idea that the Father somehow arbitrarily makes the unwilling, willing is merely read into the text as an attempt to legitimize Calvinism.