Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 9 – John 6:65

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

This is another favorite verse of the theologically deterministic thinking folks, Calvin’s disciples that is.

John 6:65 – And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Why? Why did Jesus tell them that no man can come to Him unless it is granted him by the Father? Let’s take a few moments to check the context.

John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
John 6:61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?
John 6:62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
John 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Jesus had just finished teaching a hard saying, that is that He was the bread of Life. In verse 51, Jesus equates Himself with the true manna, and instructs those who would live forever to eat of this bread. This is a very very hard saying for a good Jew to understand, since it may imply cannibalism.

Fun with words: cannibal - languagePRO

Of course the Lord meant it spiritually, and this was a genius move on the Lords method of winnowing out the ones who were simply following for the wrong reasons.

Are you following for the sake of the food (and miracles)? Or are you following because I am the true Deliverer, even if my message seems hard or difficult?

The Jews were in a tizzy, taking the message literally.

There are two audiences in this passage – the literalists – those who question the ability to eat of the Messiah’s actual flesh (WOW) and those who understand the message as a symbolic or spiritual message. Note that verse 60 opens the immediate context, where the disciples speak of the “hard saying” The message is the topic!

Jesus responds, asking if they are going to take offence at the message. After the bread message, Jesus actually warns them of more difficult saying that will be coming, such as in verse 62, speaking of His ascension. Things weren’t going to get easier for those who sought to follow Him!

Verse 63 is a defining verse. My very first preaching in a church was based on this passage, and looking back, I had it all messed up. Nevertheless, my understanding now is as follows.

  • The Spirit gives life. (The Spirit doesn’t force life)
  • The flesh is no help (Eating the body of the Messiah is not the message!)
  • The words that Jesus spoke are spirit and life. Jesus, in giving the message, was providing the spirit of the message and was the method the Father was using to bring men to the Messiah and life.

Now to our supposed proof passage.

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

Jesus is speaking of the reception of the words He provides to the masses, not of some secret mysterious will that is conjured up in the minds of some theologians.

Lets consider the action of the Father in this verse. The one coming is granted by the Father. It seemed a funny word to use in this translation, but after reviewing some study books, found it is synonymous with “enabled”. The same idea of the Father enabling the one coming is similar in our previous post on John 6:44.

Enable / Compel

There is a difference.

To be enabled does not equate with to be compelled. I can enable my children to attend a function by inviting them, providing times and addresses and durations for the event. Many may come, but one may not come. Enabling my child to attend does not compel them, or force them to come to the function.

So lets wrap up some of our thoughts. The words of Jesus are the focus, and the words of Jesus include the enabling of those coming. Peter admitted to understanding this when challenged if they will leave the Messiah. He answered – “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

The gospel is the invitation. The words of Jesus is the life giving message. The message was believed, and Peter (along with most of the remaining disciples) knew that Jesus was the Holy One of God. This belief was a result of hearing the message Jesus preached and taught.

As an aside, for my friends who are leaning in the deterministic camp, consider that Jesus chose Judas (vs 6:70), yet was the very one that betrayed the Lord, that fell from grace. That is if he ever walked in grace at all! How is it that the one chosen should be the one who betrays? This is confusing if the choices were made before the foundation of the world!

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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