In the Scriptures, do we see a connection between the drawing of the Father and those who believe in Christ? This a simple yes or no question. The way you answer this all depends on your view of the fall of man, and man’s sin, and your understanding of God’s grace. To start, we will take a brief excursus, looking at some important passages from Scripture and some comments from two notable individuals from church history.
Man’s fallen state according to the following Scriptures:
Jeremiah 13:23; 17:9
Romans 5:12, 14-19
1 John 1:8
This list of Scriptures is far from complete, but they do without a doubt, indite man for his rebellion against God, and establish the fact, that man is dead in his sins and trespasses. For another study dealing with the fall of man, the reader should consult: All of Mankind: Dead in Sin!
Can sinners come to Christ in their own strength?
In the following quotes from Martin Luther from his Bondage of the Will, he is responding to the Dutch humanist, Erasmus, from Rotterdam. Erasmus’ argued in support of man’s natural ability to obey the gospel and keep God’s commands. Erasmus believed that all of God’s commands, if they were to be obeyed, established that man had “free-will” or natural ability to keep God’s law. This is the typical Arminian humanistic reasoning. The humanist is offended to think that God would expect or require man to do something he did not have the natural ability to do. Never mind that man lost this though Adam’s sin, and our own wicked rejection of His law Word.
“Let all the ‘free-will’ in the world do all it can with all its strength; it will never give rise to a single instance of ability to avoid being hardened if God does not give the Spirit, or of meriting mercy if it is left to its own strength.”1
“But if the foreknowledge and omnipotence of God are conceded, it naturally follows by irrefutable logic that we were not made by ourselves, nor live by ourselves, nor do anything by ourselves, by his omnipotence. Seeing that He foreknew that we should be what we are, and now makes us such, and moves and governs us as such, how, pray, can it be pretended that it is open to us to become something other than that which He foreknew and is now bringing about? So the foreknowledge and omnipotence of God are diametrically opposed to our ‘free-will’…This omnipotence and foreknowledge of God, I repeat, utterly destroy the doctrine of ‘free-will.’”2
“’Free-will’ is nothing but the slave of sin, death and Satan, not doing anything, nor able to do or attempt anything, but evil!”3
Is Luther correct or Erasmus? That is a question our Arminian friends should ask themselves, hopefully after reading Luther’s book, The Bondage of the Will. The Scriptures on man’s fallen state listed above, make clear, the desperateness of the human condition. Luther was exactly right in his debate with Erasmus.
The reader can get a copy of Luther’s De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or “The Bondage of Will” in a PDF format at: http://undergroundnotes.com/graphics2/luther_arbitrio.pdf
How exactly do men come to Christ, if their condition is hopeless and they are dead in their sins?
“They must be brought unto Christ, yea, drawn unto him; for. Men, even the elect, have too many infirmities to come to Christ without help from heaven; inviting will not do.”4
Because of the hopelessness of the human condition, the sinner’s only way out, is for God’s grace to make him alive in Christ. Regeneration is our only hope, and it will require God’s action to quicken us. Our three passages in John chapter 6 will therefore be of great comfort to God people.
Scripture and Reformed Commentary:
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out… No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day… And he said, Therefore said I to you, that no man can come to me, except it were given to him of my Father.” John 6:37,44,65
Key word phrase, “shall come” in John 6:37:
πρὸς ἐμὲ ἥξει καὶ τὸν
NAS: gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes
KJV: giveth me shall come to me;
INT: to me will come and him that
hékó: to have come, be present
Original Word: ἥκω
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (hay’-ko)
Short Definition: I have come, am present
Definition: I have come, am present, have arrived.
– Strong’s Concordance
Key word “draw” in John 6:44:
helkó: to drag
Original Word: ἑλκύω
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (hel-koo’-o)
Short Definition: I drag, draw, pull, persuade
Definition: I drag, draw, pull, persuade, unsheathe.
– Strong’s Concordance
One of the purposes of this study is to see the connection between the “All that the Father giveth” to Christ in 6:37 are the same ones that come to Christ because the “Father which hath sent me draw him” in 6:44. It is surprising that many Christians miss this. I suspect it because of prior theological commitment. (emphasis mine)
Calvin’s commentary on John is brilliant. Calvin’s commentaries are the the gold standard on which all modern commentaries have been measured. Let us consider Calvin on John:
37. All that the Father giveth me. That their unbelief may not detract anything from his doctrine, he says, that the cause of so great obstinacy is, that they are reprobate, and do not belong to the flock of God. His intention, therefore, in distinguishing here between the elect and the reprobate is, that the authority of his doctrine may remain unimpaired, though there are many who do not believe it. For, on the one hand, ungodly men calumniate and utterly despise the word of God, because they are not moved by reverence for it; and, on the other hand, many weak and ignorant persons entertain doubts whether that which is rejected by a great part of the world be actually the word of God. Christ meets this offense, when he affirms, that all those who do not believe are not his own, and that we need not wonder if such persons have no relish for the word of God, but that it is embraced by all the children of God. In the first place, he says, that all whom the Father giveth him come to him; by which words he means, that faith is not a thing which depends on the will of men, so that this man and that man indiscriminately and at random believe, but that God elects those whom he hands over, as it were, to his Son; for when he says, that whatever is given cometh, we infer from it, that all do not come. Again, we infer, that God works in his elect by such an efficacy of the Holy Spirit, that not one of them falls away; for the word give has the same meaning as if Christ had said, “Those whom the Father hath chosen he regenerates, and gives to me, that they may obey the Gospel.”
And him that cometh to me I will not cast out. This is added for the consolation of the godly, that they may be fully persuaded that they have free access to Christ by faith, and that, as soon as they have placed themselves under his protection and safeguard, they will be graciously received by him. Hence it follows, that the doctrine of the Gospel will be salutary to all believers, because no man becomes a disciple of Christ who does not, on the other hand, feel and experience him to be a good and faithful teacher
44. No man can come to me, unless the Father, who hath sent me, draw him. He does not merely accuse them of wickedness, but likewise reminds them, that it is a peculiar gift of God to embrace the doctrine which is exhibited by him; which he does, that their unbelief may not disturb weak minds. For many are so foolish that, in the things of God, they depend on the opinions of men; in consequence of which, they entertain suspicions about the Gospel, as soon as they see that it is not received by the world. Unbelievers, on the other hand, flattering themselves in their obstinacy, have the hardihood to condemn the Gospel because it does not please them. On the contrary, therefore, Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.
Unless the Father draw him. To come to Christ being here used metaphorically for believing, the Evangelist, in order to carry out the metaphor in the apposite clause, says that those persons are drawn whose understandings God enlightens, and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obedience of Christ. The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn,but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected. True, indeed, as to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, therefore, that none are drawn but those who are willing to be drawn, as if man made himself obedient to God by his own efforts; for the willingness with which men follow God is what they already have from himself, who has formed their hearts to obey him.
65. Therefore have I told you. He again states that faith is an uncommon and remarkable gift of the Spirit of God, that we may not be astonished that the Gospel is not received in every place and by all. For, being ill qualified to turn to our advantage the course of events, we think more meanly of the Gospel, because the whole world does not assent to it. The thought arises in our mind, How is it possible that the greater part of men shall deliberately reject their salvation? Christ therefore assigns a reason why there are so few believers, namely, because no man, whatever may be his acuteness, 174can arrive at faith by his own sagacity; for all are blind, until they are illuminated by the Spirit of God, and therefore they only partake of so great a blessing whom the Father deigns to make partakers of it. If this grace were bestowed on all without exception, it would have been unseasonable and inappropriate to have mentioned it in this passage; for we must understand that it was Christ’s design to show that not many believe the Gospel, because faith proceeds only from the secret revelation of the Spirit.
Unless it be given him by my Father. He now uses the word give instead of the word which he formerly used, draw; by which he means that there is no other reason why God draws, than because out of free grace he loves us; for what we obtain by the gift and grace of God, no man procures for himself by his own industry.5
Excerpts from Matthew Henry’s Commentary:
Verses 36-46 – The discovery of their guilt, danger, and remedy, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, makes men willing and glad to come, and to give u every thing which hinders applying to him for salvation. The Father’ will is, that not one of those who were given to the Son, should be rejected or lost by him. No one will come, till Divine grace has subdued, and in part changed his heart; therefore no one who comes will ever be cast out. The gospel finds none willing to be saved in the humbling, holy manner, made known therein; but God draws with his word and the Holy Ghost; and man’s duty is to hear and learn; that is to say, to receive the grace offered, and consent to the promise. None hath seen the Father but his beloved Son; and the Jews must expect to be taught by his inward power upon their minds, and by his word, and the ministers whom he sent among them.6
In commenting on verse 37, the Puritan theologian, John Gill says:
All that the Father giveth me,…. The “all” design not the apostles only, who were given to Christ as such; for these did not all, in a spiritual manner, come to him, and believe in him; one of them was a devil, and the son of perdition; much less every individual of mankind: these are, in some sense, given to Christ to subserve some ends of his mediatorial kingdom, and are subject to his power and control, but do not come to him, and believe in him: but the whole body of the elect are here meant, who, when they were chosen by God the Father, were given and put into the hands of Christ, as his seed, his spouse, his sheep, his portion, and inheritance, and to be saved by him with an everlasting salvation; which is an instance of love and care on the Father’s part, to give them to Christ; and of grace and condescension in him to receive them, and take the care of them; and of distinguishing goodness to them: and though Christ here expresses this act of his Father’s in the present tense, “giveth”, perhaps to signify the continuance and unchangeableness of it; yet he delivers it in the past tense, in John 6:39, “hath given”; and so all the Oriental versions render it here. And it certainly respects an act of God, antecedent to coming to Christ, and believing in him, which is a fruit and effect of electing love, as is clear from what follows:
shall come unto me; such who are given to Christ in eternal election, and in the everlasting covenant of grace, shall, and do, in time, come to Christ, and believe in him to the saving of their souls; which is not to be ascribed to, any power and will in them, but to the power and grace of God. It is not here said, that such who are given to Christ have a “power” to come to him, or “may” come if they will, but they shall come; efficacious grace will bring them to Christ, as poor perishing sinners, to venture on him for life and salvation:
and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out; such who come to Christ in a spiritual manner, and are brought to believe in him truly and really, he not only receives kindly, but keeps and preserves them by his power, and will not cast them out, or thrust them from him into perdition: the words are very strongly and emphatically expressed in the original, “I will not, not, or never, never, cast out without”; or cast out of doors. Christ will never cast them out of his affections; nor out of his arms; nor out of that family that is named of him; nor out of, and from his church, which is his body, and of which they are members; nor out of a state of justification and salvation; and therefore they shall never perish, but have everlasting life. The three glorious doctrines of grace, of eternal election, efficacious grace in conversion, and the final perseverance of the saints, are clearly contained in these words.
On verse 44 John Gill makes the following observations:
No man can come to me,…. That is, by faith, as in John 6:35; for otherwise they could corporeally come to him, but not spiritually; because they had neither power nor will of themselves; being dead in trespasses and sins, and impotent to everything that is spiritual: and whilst men are in a state of unregeneracy, blindness, and darkness, they see no need of coming to Christ, nor anything in him worth coming for; they are prejudiced against him, and their hearts are set on other things; and besides, coming to Christ and believing in Christ being the same thing, it is certain faith is not of a man’s self, it is the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit; and therefore efficacious grace must be exerted to enable a soul to come to Christ; which is expressed in the following words, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him: which is not to be understood of moral persuasion, or a being persuaded and prevailed upon to come to Christ by the consideration of the mighty works which God had done to justify that he was the true Messiah, but of the internal and powerful influence of the grace of God; for this act of drawing is something distinct from, and superior to, both doctrine and miracles. The Capernaites had heard the doctrine of Christ, which was taught with authority, and had seen his miracles, which were full proofs of his being the Messiah, and yet believed not, but murmured at his person and parentage. This gave occasion to Christ to observe to them, that something more than these was necessary to their coming to him, or savingly believing in him; even the powerful and efficacious grace of the Father in drawing: and if it be considered what men in conversion are drawn off “from” and “to”, from their beloved lusts and darling righteousness; to look unto, and rely upon Christ alone for salvation; from that which was before so very agreeable, to that which, previous to this work, was so very disagreeable; to what else can this be ascribed, but to unfrustrable and insuperable grace? but though this act of drawing is an act of power, yet not of force; God in drawing of unwilling, makes willing in the day of his power: he enlightens the understanding, bends the will, gives an heart of flesh, sweetly allures by the power of his grace, and engages the soul to come to Christ, and give up itself to him; he draws with the bands of love. Drawing, though it supposes power and influence, yet not always coaction and force: music draws the ear, love the heart, and pleasure the mind. “Trahit sua quemque voluptas”, says the poet. The Jews have a saying (t), that the proselytes, in the days of the Messiah, shall be all of them, , “proselytes drawn”: that is, such as shall freely and voluntarily become proselytes, as those who are drawn by the Father are. And I will raise him at the last day; See Gill on John 6:40; compare with this verse John 6:40.
And on verse 65, Gill says:
And he said, therefore said I unto you,…. Referring to John 6:44, where the substance of what is here said, is there delivered; though the Ethiopic version reads, therefore I say unto you, what follows:
that no man can come to me, except it be given him of my Father; which is the same, as to be drawn by the Father; for faith in Christ is the gift of God, and coming to him, is owing to efficacious grace, and is not the produce of man’s power and freewill.7
Some excerpts from RC Sproul concerning John 6:44:
“First, we notice that Jesus said “no one.” This is a universal negative statement. It does not mean that some cannot come unless the Father draws them. It means absolutely no one can come unless God does something first. Mankind is so depraved in fallen-ness that, apart from the irresistible grace of God, no one would ever turn to Christ.
Second, we notice that Jesus said “can.” Remember the difference between the words can and may. Can means “is able,” while may means “has permission.” Jesus is not saying that no one has permission to come to him. Rather, he says that no one is able to come to him. This is the biblical doctrine of man’s total inability.
Third, we notice the word “unless.” This introduces an exception. Apart from this exception, no one would ever turn to Christ.
Finally we come to the word “draw.” Some have said that draw only means “woo” or “entice.” That is not the case, however. In James 2:6 we read, “Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” In Acts 16:19 we find, “They dragged them into the marketplace.” The same Greek word is used in all three verses. Obviously, enticement is not in view here in John 6:44. Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that the word translated draw in John 6:44 means “to compel by irresistible authority.” It was used in classical Greek for drawing water from a well. We do not entice or persuade water to leave the well; we force it against gravity to come up by drawing it. So it is with us. We are so depraved that God must drag us to himself.”8
Summary of Being Drawn by the Father in: John 6:37, 44, 65:
We see that no one can come to Christ without being “drawn” in John 6:44.
“Draw” is equivalent to “compel” as seen in James 2:6, and Acts 16:19.
In John 12:32, when it says draw “all men,” this means all types of men, Gentiles and Jews.
It is clear that all who are “drawn,” will come as seen in John 6:37.
Moreover, no one who comes “will I cast out” as seen in John 6:37.
Therefore, those who are “drawn,” were “given” faith in John 6:65.
And finally, not all believe, because not all were “given” in John 6:65.
1. Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, (Old Tappan, New Jersey, Fleming H. Revell Company) 1957, p.202.
2. Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, (Old Tappan, New Jersey, Fleming H. Revell Company), 1957, p.216,217.
3. Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, (Old Tappan, New Jersey, Fleming H. Revell Company), 1957, p.301.
4. John Bunyan,The Works of John Bunyan, Volume 1-3, (Sovereign Grace Publishers, Incorporated), 2001. Volume 1, 209/419.
5. John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, John, Volume XV1I, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), pp.251-257,276.
6. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, Fourth printing 1985) pp. 1951-1955.
7. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments 9 Volumes, John, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, pp.215,216,221,222,234.
8. RC Sproul, Chosen By God, (Tyndale House, Wheaton, Illinois), 1986, pp.67-69.
Let it be widely proclaimed:
Psalm 110 A Psalm Of David.
1The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
2The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. 3Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth. 4The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 5The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. 6He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. 7He will drink from a brook beside the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com