John 6 Is Not About You

This post is adapted from a brilliant social media discussion by Drew McLeod.

Is John 6 about Gentile Christians 2000 years after Jesus walked the Earth?

When Jesus says, “It is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (v. 39); are those that are given by the Father to Jesus you and me?

The context of the entire Gospel of John says “no”.

The Washington Post recently popularized the phrase “Democracy Dies in Darkness”

Democracy Dies in Darkness

Well, Calvinism Dies in Context

To the claim that John 6:39 is about you and me, Drew answered:

What context is Drew talking about? Let’s look at John 17:12 first:

See the same language from John 6:39, “He has given me” = “you have given me”. John 17 is part of the biblical context of John 6’s use of those given and there is only one reason to ignore it: if you have an a priori concern that you are protecting…some theological baggage you need to come along.

Regarding, “I have guarded them…”, this could mean some spiritual sense in which Jesus is guarding our salvation, though I could think of several problems with that idea. Also Jesus says, “…and not one of them has been lost…” which could refer to us but then the clincher is “…except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Jesus is talking about the original 11 Apostles.

Jesus has guarded them

None of them were lost except the one destined to be lost.

Let’s look at John 18: 8-9,

So, lost is not in some abstract, spiritual sense of salvation, but lost to the sword or prison before they could fulfill their mission. That’s the “losing” Jesus is talking about in John 6:39, and the Apostle John is telling you in John 18 that Jesus protected the Apostles from Roman violence/judgment to fulfill what Jesus said back in John 6. It’s right there. What mission? The mission Jesus just talked about in the high priestly prayer: to preach the Gospel. Follow me here…

You know what other passage is not about you? The first part of the High Priestly Prayer which is often used as an example of Calvinistic Election.

None of that is about you or me. How do I know? Remember, Calvinism Dies In Context, so all you have to do is keep reading. The very next sentence is:

That’s us. We believe in the “their word”, the word of the Apostles. We believe in the word of the given ones, among whose number we are not worthy to be counted. So, we cannot both be “those given” and the ones who believe in the word of “those given”.

I’ll let Drew give us a recap of how “those given” are described in John.

This is why James White wants to debate John 6 only if he can limit his opponent to John 6. If his opponent is allowed to go outside of John 6 and take in the whole context of the Scriptures, the Calvinist argument that John 6 is about us is a special pleading made in the face of every other time “those given” are spoken of in John.

Good questions, Drew. I hope one day there is a Calvinist scholar who will take up those questions and attempt to answer them clearly and sincerely.

25 thoughts on “John 6 Is Not About You

  1. Thanks Eric,

    You were thinking the Calvinists cared about the context?

    If you have ever listened to (or read) MacArthur’s messges through Hebrews you will hear him split many single verses three times (!!) … saying the first part is address to X, the second part to Y, and then he comes back to X. It is the gymnastics that he needs to prove his point.

    But we all know that this is because he comes to the Scriptures with “how it must be” and then scaffolds together a partial verse from here and there to make that work.

    He so often uses the phrase, “We know the author is not addressing believers here [the here being 6-10 words surrounded by words that he says ARE to the believers] because we know such-and-such is not true….” Of course this allows anyone to ignore what appears to be straightforward / clear teaching, because “they know” it can’t mean what it says!

    We all do it to a certain degree, but Calvinist-determinists have perfected it.

    1. FOH, I know very well what you’re referring to here. I went through a Bible study in a “MacArthur” Calvinist church and watched them to exactly as you describe. This was written to Jews that were Christians, this was written to Jews who weren’t Christians but only mildly interested, this was written to Jews who sort of confessed faith but really didn’t believe, it went on and on. At the time I thought, “where are they getting this from? How do they know all this? Where is this documented or stated by the writer?” I later figured out that they were just making it up because they had to in order for Hebrews to fit their Calvinism.

      1. Hello mottwordpress and welcome

        mottworpress
        I later figured out that they were just MAKING IT UP …….

        Excellent observation mottwordpress!
        IMHO most of Calvinism can be best understood as MAKING IT UP :-]

  2. “Is John 6 about Gentile Christians 2000 years after Jesus walked the Earth? ”

    YES! John 6:37 is to be read in context within John 6 and then harmonized with the rest of Scripture. We have:

    John 6
    37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means 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 the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
    40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    This agrees with John 17
    1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,
    2 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
    3*“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

    The use of “all flesh” refers to both Jews and gentiles and recalls John 10, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

    Jesus speaks specifically of the disciples beginning in 17:11, ““I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” Then, Jesus returns the context to “all flesh,” in v20, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” When Jesus says “that they all” He refers to the disciples plus those who will believe in the future so that “Jesus should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.”

    This same theme carries through John 6, where we read, “Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”and “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” and ““As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”

    Gentile Christians 2000 years after Jesus walked the Earth can take comfort in the works of Jesus even as John sums up his purpose for writing his gospel when he write “truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

    1. Did you…did you get to that question and just stop reading the article? Or did you read it and ignore the evidence presented?

      1. Hey Julio, that’s not how this works. I wrote an article adding commentary to an argument made by someone else. This argument provided biblical evidence for the thesis “John 6:39 is not about you”. Anyone can comment on anything not responding to that evidence or argument, but the onus is not on me to refute such tangents. I mean, Rhutchin quite literally ignored the argument from the article, skipping over the “have given” from John 17 presuming that’s you and me when the entire point of the article is that it’s obviously not. It’s fine that he disagrees but it’s not on me to repeat what I already said. I’m happy to respond to comments that are actual responses to the evidence of or the argument of the article.

      2. Hello Julio and welcome.

        Did rhutchin provide a LOGICAL response to the arguments within the article?
        Or was his response a simple tautology?

        Paul asks Timothy to bring him is parchments.
        According to RH’s reasoning – that is to be taken in context with other scriptures – from which it follows: – Gentiles 2000 years later are to bring Paul his parchments.

        In this case – Jesus refers to a “Them” – in whom he lost only one person.
        So we are to conclude that one person among Gentiles 2000 years later is lost?
        Or is the context understood as limited to the small group in which Jesus is speaking?

        A typical Calvinist approach to scripture is called “Montage”

        You look for some kind of key verse with which you WANT to prove a theological theory.
        And then you cobble up other verses from anywhere you can find – to create the APPEARANCE of support.

        Not a very respectful or scholarly way to handle scripture.

      3. And besides that – we must not forget the TRUE “P” in the Calvinist TULIP

        P ossibility of Election:
        According to the underlying doctrine, an individual’s election is either infallibly/immutably true or infallibly/immutably false.

        And it is a logical impossibility for something that is infallibly/immutably true to ever be false.
        Therefore, the notion that something infallibly/immutably true needs to “Persevere” in order to keep itself from becoming false is no more rational than a married bachelor.

        The idea of apostasy or falling away in this context is an illusion, and the typical resolve concerning an individual in that situation, is that he was never really elect in the first place.

        And that individual’s perception of election and salvation as infallibly/immutably true, would have been a predestined illusion.

        “P” Possibility of Election
        Any human certainty of election in this lifetime is a predestined illusion. Each believer is promised only the possibility of election.

        So in Calvinism – Gentiles 2000 years later – can conclude they have a higher chance of being created specifically for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for Calvin’s god’s good pleasure.

      4. Julio, this might help some… John 6, 37

        John 6:37 speaks of the Father’s giving (present tense) to Christ. Therefore it would be calling Jesus a deceiver to suggest all had already been given to Christ, unless, of course, Jesus did not know the determinist doctrine very well.

        If determinism was true, Jesus would have known it and He would have said – “All the Father already gave to me will come to me.” The context of John 6 clearly indicates what kind of people the Father was actively giving to the Son… They were those who were looking to the Son and believing in Him (6:40). There is nothing in this chapter about pre-creation decrees or individual election. The determinist forces those ideas into these verses because he wants to see them there.

        The response of freewill is a condition that God sovereignly made part of the “giving” requirements to be met before the coming. No-one is given to Christ before creation. Remember the word “gives” in John 6:37 is present tense which clearly contradicts the determinist idea of some being eternally immutably given before creation.

        The context points to drawing, looking at, being taught by, believing in, and other things in that are in the process and responses of whom the Father’s gives. Jesus is explaining these things to unbelievers because He wants them to keep seeking Him, but not just for food that perishes.

        If you can’t see that Jesus is being used by the Father in this context to draw people to a decision to trust Jesus for everlasting food, everlasting life… I certainly can’t share the context any more clearly than Jesus has.

      5. Eric writes, “did you get to that question and just stop reading the article? Or did you read it and ignore the evidence presented?”

        The article begins, “The context of the entire Gospel of John says “no”. ” Only John 17 and 18 are addressed to any degree. The argument made is that certain verses in 17/18 refer specifically to the disciples. On that point, there is no disagreement. John 17/18 do have the apostles as their object. However, that does not mean that we then understand John 6 in that manner – at least not without evidence, for which there was none presented, We don’t even see an argument for doing this.

        This claim is made, “John 17 is part of the biblical context of John 6’s use of those given and there is only one reason to ignore it: if you have an a priori concern that you are protecting…some theological baggage you need to come along. ” Yet, no supporting argument is made. It even ignores the first three verses of 17 where the term “all flesh” occurs and the importance of that term in opening the chapter.

        The article says, “So, lost is not in some abstract, spiritual sense of salvation, but lost to the sword or prison before they could fulfill their mission. That’s the “losing” Jesus is talking about in John 6:39, and the Apostle John is telling you in John 18 that Jesus protected the Apostles from Roman violence/judgment to fulfill what Jesus said back in John 6.”

        Fine. Now let’s see the argument for that claim.

        John 6 is not unclear in what it says. The terms used – “all,’ “everyone,” “mo one,” anyone,” are generic and broad in scope. Those terms within the context they are used easily apply to believers from the first century until today and into the future. Are we to believe that these terms apply only to the disciples (or just the apostles)? If so, then the article needs to backtrack from 17/18 into 6 to explain how this is done.

        The claims of the article is poorly argued (if at all), ignored obvious problems to the interpretation of the article (such as ignoring 17:1-3), and only presented an opinion – not an analysis. Did you read the article??

      6. rhutchin
        The claims of the article is poorly argued (if at all)

        br.d
        The article provides two primary observations:
        – v12 I have kept THEM in your name…… I have guarded THEM…..not one of THEM is lost.

        How in the world – this is construed as referring to Gentiles 2000 years later – is not only ignoring context – it is totally IRRATIONAL in Calvinism. But alas IRRATIONAL is the norm in Calvinism.

        – v20: I do not ask for THESE ONLY. But for those who believe in me through THEIR word.
        That is us! We believe in the “their word”, the word of the Apostles.

        How that can be construed as poorly argued (if at all) – is simply another Calvinist tautology.
        The Calvinist AUTO-MAGICALLY classifies anything that does not affirm his doctrine to be “poorly argued (if at all)”

        Which is a total joke – when one realizes how INHERENTLY IRRATIONAL Calvinism is :-]

        rhutchin
        The terms used – “all,’ “everyone,” “mo one,” anyone,” are generic and broad in scope.

        br.d
        A term which the Calvinist historically seeks to limit.

        Nothing new here – move along – move along! :-]

      7. br.d writes, ‘The article provides two primary observations:
        – v12 I have kept THEM in your name…… I have guarded THEM…..not one of THEM is lost.
        How in the world – this is construed as referring to Gentiles 2000 years later…”

        It doesn’t as both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree. There is not issue here.

        Then, “– v20: I do not ask for THESE ONLY. But for those who believe in me through THEIR word.
        That is us! We believe in the “their word”, the word of the Apostles. ”

        Again, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree so no issue here either.

        Then, “How that can be construed as poorly argued (if at all) – is simply another Calvinist tautology.”

        That just shows that br.d doesn’t understand the argument of the article providing evidence that it is poorly argued. Perhaps br.d did not read the title of the article.

      8. rhutchin
        That just shows that br.d doesn’t understand the argument of the article providing evidence that it is poorly argued. Perhaps br.d did not read the title of the article.

        br.d
        Nah!
        It just shows that br.d is able to understand the arguments in the article.
        Perhaps RH doesn’t understand the arguments in the article because he only read the title
        But the conclusions that infallibly come to pass within a Calvinist’s brain are not determined by rational reasoning anyway – they are determined by an external mind.

        So no need to read arguments :-]

      9. Hutch, “However, that does not mean that we then understand John 6 in that manner – at least not without evidence, for which there was none presented, We don’t even see an argument for doing this.”

        So, the same nominal(?) phrase “those given” being used in John 17/18, and in John 6, is not evidence that it is part of the same context?

        “Are we to believe that these terms apply only to the disciples (or just the apostles)? If so, then the article needs to backtrack from 17/18 into 6 to explain how this is done.”

        We are talking about the phrase “those given” in John 6:39. You can insert other phrases but that doesn’t change the point. I showed you how this is done; Jesus says in John 6 he will not lose “those given” and then in John 18 Jesus protects the Apostles from Roman arrest specifically for the purpose of “not losing those given, as he had said”, so “losing” is about the sword, not salvation and “those given” are the Apostles. Tell me how I’m wrong about that.

        If you want to assert that “those given” in John 6 are not the same “those given” in John 17/18, that’s fine, but I have biblical evidence for how I define who “those given” are in John 6 and you seem to just be asserting that it’s different than John 17/18 because the other words are used in John 6. And my only possible response to that argument is: Yes, and?

      10. Eric writes, “So, the same nominal(?) phrase “those given” being used in John 17/18, and in John 6, is not evidence that it is part of the same context? ”

        Not automatically. In John 17, we have–

        “[God gave Christ] authority over all flesh, that Christ should give eternal life to as many as God gave Him.’ v2

        ““I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.” v6

        Are both these verses the same context? Are we to equate “all flesh” with “men…out of the world.”? Context says that “men…out of the world.” refers to the apostles as does John 18. Does context tell us that “all flesh” also refers to the apostles? 17:1-3 presents a broad truth with which Jesus opens His prayer to God – Jesus glorifies God and Himself in this opening.. Jesus then gets specific in v6, saying “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.” We understand that Jesus is now referring to His apostles form the following verses.

        There is still the issue of tying the apostles given to Christ with John 6:37. There is nothing that ties John 6 to the apostles as is evident in John 17/18/ If this is not true, what in John 6 would cause us to do so?

        Then, “so “losing” is about the sword, not salvation and “those given” are the Apostles. Tell me how I’m wrong about that. ”

        You are wrong because John 6 has nothing to do with the sword. John 6 is obviously about salvation. Jesus says, ““Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life,…” v27,and “I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe….” v36, ““This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.” v39, and “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.,” v47. John 6 uses the language of salvation. John17/18 (after 17:1-3) deals with the apostles as the context shows. You cannot take a common phrase our of different contexts and use it to negate the different contexts. If you want to do that, then make the argument for your hypothesis.

        Then, “I have biblical evidence for how I define who “those given” are in John 6 and you seem to just be asserting that it’s different than John 17/18”

        What evidence? The article makes the case for John17/18 dealing with the apostles to which all agree. That is non-controversial. The article makes no effort, nor does it provide evidence, that ties the apostles to John 6. In John 6, we do not see Jesus incorporating His disciples until v61. Before that, Jesus is dealing with the Jews who see Him but do not believe and murmur about the things He is saying. So, what evidence from John 6 are you talking about?

      11. Hutch, “Are both these verses the same context? Are we to equate “all flesh” with “men…out of the world.”? Context says that “men…out of the world.” refers to the apostles as does John 18. Does context tell us that “all flesh” also refers to the apostles?”

        No, because words mean things and “all flesh” means something different than “those given”. You are forced to force this comparison because you cannot have contextual correlation of phrases in the Gospel of John.

        “There is still the issue of tying the apostles given to Christ with John 6:37.”

        Things aren’t true just because you say them. “37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” fits just perfectly with “those given” being the Apostles. The Apostles were given, and they came, and Jesus did not send them away. How does that not fit?

        “There is nothing that ties John 6 to the apostles as is evident in John 17/18”

        Nothing, except that Jesus is using the exact same phrases and then the author alludes BACK to what He has said earlier as being fulfilled. Nothing at all.

        “You are wrong because John 6 has nothing to do with the sword.”

        I’m going to submit this to the Logical Fallacies Institute as a textbook example of the “begging the question” fallacy. You essentially just said “You’re wrong about John 6 because I’m right about John 6”.

        “The article makes no effort, nor does it provide evidence, that ties the apostles to John 6…So, what evidence from John 6 are you talking about?”

        This is fun game you’re playing. When I provide the evidence you go “But that’s not evidence because ” so then, later, you can claim no one has given you evidence.

      12. Eric writes, “No, because words mean things and “all flesh” means something different than “those given”. You are forced to force this comparison because you cannot have contextual correlation of phrases in the Gospel of John.”

        You asked, ““So, the same nominal(?) phrase “those given” being used in John 17/18, and in John 6, is not evidence that it is part of the same context? ” Now you agree that “all flesh” in 17:2 does not refer to the apostles, Is there any reason we could not link “You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” to those given by God to Christ in 6:37? Then, we have Christ drilling down into “as many as You have given Him.” to identify a smaller group, “the men whom You have given Me out of the world.” (the apostles).

        Jesus ties “all flesh” to “those given” in the phrase, “You have given Christ authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” This comparison is not forced. Those whom God gives to Cgrist are taken from all flesh (Jews and gentiles) What is forced is to restrict “as many as You have given Him,” in v2 to be only the apostles introduced beginning in v6 and then linking the apostles to 6:36 when nothing in John 6 points us to the apostles. That is the argument you need to support given the title of the article, “John 6 Is Not About You.”

        Then, “Things aren’t true just because you say them. “37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” fits just perfectly with “those given” being the Apostles.”

        The apostles fit as does everyone else. You still need to exclude everyone else but the apostles from 6:37. You have to show that ““All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,” applies only to the apostles when the apostles are not even in view in John 6, if your claim is yo hold.

        Then, “Nothing, except that Jesus is using the exact same phrases and then the author alludes BACK to what He has said earlier as being fulfilled. Nothing at all.”

        Except the the contexts are different. 6:37 can be tied to “all flesh” in 17:2. All flesh would then include, as a subset, “”the men whom You have given Me out of the world.” You have provided no reason for the apostles to be the only ones given to Christ in John 6, when there is nothing to point us in that direction in John 6. All you can conclude by the similarity in phrases is that yhe apostles were included among all those given to Christ.

        Then rhutchin: ““You are wrong because John 6 has nothing to do with the sword.”
        Eric: “I’m going to submit this to the Logical Fallacies Institute as a textbook example of the “begging the question” fallacy. You essentially just said “You’re wrong about John 6 because I’m right about John 6”.

        The article has, “So, lost is not in some abstract, spiritual sense of salvation, but lost to the sword or prison before they could fulfill their mission. That’s the “losing” Jesus is talking about in John 6:39,…”

        John 6 deals specifically with people coming to, or believing, in Jesus. The ones who believe in Jesus are those given by God to Christ and then drawn by God to Christ. It is these whom Jesus says that He will raise up. In John 17/18, Jesus speaks of the apostles and not losing them during His ministry These are two different contexts.

        Then, ‘When I provide the evidence you go “But that’s not evidence because ””

        The only evidence is one phrase common to both John 6 and John 17/18. That commonalty only means that the aposyles are among those identified in John 6, not that they are the only ones in view. For that you need evidence.

      1. Hello Arthur and welcome

        So then – on that reasoning – out of those two groups – Jesus declares only one person is lost :-]

    2. rhutchin
      Gentile Christians 2000 years after Jesus walked the Earth can take comfort in the works of Jesus…….

      br.d
      in Calvinism – not quite!

      In Calvinism Gentile Christians 2000 years after Jesus – can take comfort in knowing that Calvin’s god -quote “INSTILLS INTO THEIR MINDS such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. (Institutes pg 342)

      And:
      -quote
      “illumines ONLY FOR A TIME TO PARTAKE OF IT then he ….strikes them with even greater blindness (Institutes)

      In other words
      The Calvinist has the wonderful comfort – of knowing that Calvin’s god designed him specifically for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for his good pleasure.

      As R.C. Sproul explains:
      -quote
      “Evil is good”

      VERY COMFORTING! :-]

  3. Great read! I really appreciate the context brought to John 6. Context should always be the biggest concern as we interpret God’s Word.

    I only want to pick on one thing—please don’t quote the Washington Post. Even if it’s as innocuous as yours, they are a part of the democrat media complex which has amassed a disgusting amount of power and has indoctrinated Americans to reject the Bible and Biblical values. It’s important right now that we recognize there is a cultural and spiritual war in our country and on one side (the democrats) are those that seek to erase any trace of God in our society.

    Sorry for the short political rant. I know it’s off topic, but I wasn’t the one who brought up the Washington Post 😉 Anyway, thank you again for a very good read on a passage that is so often abused.

    1. Hey BW, I appreciate the kind words. I quoted the Washington Post in a completely non-political way to relate the slogan to the article. Respectfully, I’m probably going to keep referencing things people have strong opinions about if I think it illustrates my point.

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