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”
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.