A Commentary on the Gospel of John
John Chapter Six Jesus' Ministry in Galilee
by Cooper Abrams
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John 6 records Christ's fourth journey in the third year of His ministry when He preached by the Sea of Galilee.1 John's Gospel is commonly considered as being addressed to the world. One evidence of John's intended audience as being to the world was that he often explains names, places and customs which would be unfamiliar to non-Jews, indicating the audience that God intended the Gospel of John to reach. He explains that the Sea of Galilee was also called Tiberias. It was named by Herod Antipas after the Roman Emperor Tiberias. The earlier name was the sea of Chinneret. Another example of John explaining something that would not be known outside of Israel was that the Passover was a feast of the Jews.
After these things" refers to the events of Chapter 5 which occurred about a year before when Jesus was in Jerusalem in the second year of His ministry. John's Gospel is not a synoptic Gospel, but only covers about twenty-two selected days of Jesus' ministry. The other Gospels record that after Jesus heard the news that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist, He crossed the Sea of Galilee and went into a mountain area on the east side of the sea to a mountain to pray. (Matt. 14:13-21, Mark 6:32-56, Luke 9:10-17).
Luke 9:1-6 records that Jesus had sent His disciples into the land to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal, and the events of Matthew 6 occurred shortly after they returned. Upon returning they reported to Him their experiences and He took them to ". . .desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida." The preaching and miracles of the Apostles and Jesus were widely known even by Herod who thought John the Baptist or some prophet had arisen from the dead. There appears to have been quite a stirring among the people as a result of Jesus' preaching and miracles. (Mark 1:29, 2:1, 3:1, 6:5; John 2:23). Luke records that the people were anxious to hear Him again and to receive healing from Him. (Luke (9:11) While in Galilee Jesus healed many diseased people which drew a large crowd of Jews who were following Him. Jesus then retreats to this mountain and sits down with His disciples.
"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do." (John 6:5-6)
Jesus when He came to the mountain, and seeing the multitudes of hungry people on the hill side, had compassion on them and used the occasion to reveal Himself to them as their Messiah by doing a great miracle. (Mark 6:34; Matt. 14:14; Luke 9:11) It was about mid-afternoon when Jesus' disciples came to Him, saying He should send them away because they were in a desert place and there was no food available for them.
Jesus then looked out towards the people and asked Philip where they could buy food to feed them. John explains that Jesus already knew He would perform the miracle and feed the multitude, but He asked Philip this question to test him. Jesus is the great Teacher and through this opportunity sought to strengthen Phillip's faith by giving him a challenge. True faith will honestly see the difficulty, but also see the opportunity for the Lord to work and provide an answer for what seems humanly impossible. The test was not for Jesus to see what Philip would do, because He already knew. The test was for Philip's benefit that he would learn of his degree of faith in the Lord. When one's faith is tested it is proved to be real or negatively to be only a head knowledge. It is easy to say we are trusting the Lord, but it is another thing to actually be put to the test so that we can see for ourselves if our faith is real.
Peter states, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7) When a child of God exercises true faith, it glorifies our God and Savior and further brings its due reward. God tells us "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) Living a godly life that is pleasing to the Lord is a life lived trusting in the Lord for our every provision. God gives all believers talents and resources which can be used to carry out his will. The opposite of living by faith is living in the flesh which means a person puts his trust in his own ability and resources, not allowing the Lord to direct and use them. God's plan is that believers live filled with the Holy Spirit, living their lives by God's strength and guidance. (Eph. 5:18)
"Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?" (John 6:7-9)
Philip, calculating the number in the crowd, stated that even two hundred pennyworth would not feed the multitude even if each person received only a small amount of food. The "pennyworth" refers to the Roman denarius, a silver coin, which in American money would be about $20. The denarius, in Jesus' day, was a day's wage. Some have suggested that Phillip was indicating the amount of money the disciples had in the "bag" which would be two hundred days wages. That would have been an enormous amount of money for Jesus to have had seeing that He presented Himself as being poor. The most likely meaning is that Phillip, seeing the large number of people, was saying that "even" two hundred denari, if they had that much, could not feed the multitude. Mark 6:44 and Luke 9:14 records that there were about five thousand men there plus women and children. There could have been over ten thousand people gathered on the mountain.
Andrew, Peter's brother, supporting Philip's conclusion, speaks up saying there was a lad there with five barley loaves and two small fishes. He adds, "but what was this small amount among so many people?" The Gospels do not tell us who the lad was or why he had the barley loaves and fish. This was the time of the barley harvest which made it plentiful and cheap. Barley bread, though nourishing, was not the most tasteful bread and was normally eaten by the poor. The word used for fish indicates it was a small fish caught in the Sea of Galilee. It was like a sardine and was plentiful in the lake. These small fish were cooked or dried by smoking or were salted. It is interesting that although most of the people had brought no food, this young boy or maybe his mother had sent him prepared. There is no mention of the boy being reluctant in giving up his lunch, thus probably when he was asked to give up his food he willingly did so. We should also note that he must have been close to the front of the multitude in order for Andrew to see him with his lunch. Matthew 18:2-17 records earlier while in Capernaum that Jesus called a little child to Him when the disciples disputed among themselves who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Using the child as an example, Jesus told them that only those who humbled themselves as a little child would enter the kingdom of heaven. Furthermore, He said that those who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven would be those that humbled themselves as a little child. This lad, free from malice, had a willing heart to be generous and unselfish towards others. It is those who come to the Lord as a child and willingly give themselves and what they have to the Lord who are greatly used by Him. We can only imagine what the lad thought as he saw the Lord feed so many with his small lunch. It is not the amount we have, but our willingness to give what we have to the Lord that He blesses and uses. As the song says "Little is much when God is in it."
"And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. " (John 6:10-13)
It is interesting that John records there was much grass in the place. This coincides with verse 4 which said it was near the time of the feast of the Passover which is in Spring. Jesus then tells His disciples to seat the people in groups of fifties and one-hundreds. (Mark 6:40) When the crowd was seated, Jesus took the five barley loaves and two fishes and gave thanks for them and gave them to the disciples to distribute. The Synoptic Gospels state that Jesus looked to heaven and then "blessed" them. John explains that the blessing of the bread and fish was actually giving thanks for them.
The people then took the food that was offered and ate their fill, all five thousand men, plus the women and children. It should be noted that this miracle, as were all the Lord's miracles, was done for a purpose. It is significant that this meal was not restricted in any way and the people were allowed to eat their fill. The purpose of the miracle was to show who Jesus truly was by showing He had power over not only diseases of all kinds, but also of the very elements themselves. The feeding of the five thousand was a material illustration used to show spiritual truths. Jesus then began His discourse, comparing Himself to the Bread of Life.
After all the people had eaten Jesus directed the disciples to gather up the fragments of the barley loafs and fishes (Mark 6:43). The amount collected was twelve baskets which was the number of the disciples. They had most likely been too busy passing out the food to have eaten themselves, so each had a portion of the leftovers. What is clear is that everyone including the disciples ate their fill, showing the fullness and abundance of God's provision.
"Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone." (John 6:14-15)
The word "miracle" is the word "semeion" (say-mi'-on) which means a "sign, or token." Jesus performed the "sign" of feeding the five thousand in order to show that He was the Messiah. The people seeing the miracle believed that Jesus was the Prophet as recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15 - "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken". There was a current of great expectation of the appearing of the Messiah. John the Baptist was preaching "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand" and the priests and the Levities asked John if he was Elias or that Prophet. (John 1:21, 11:27) The Jews were well aware of the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. They also knew it was the very time that Daniel had prophesied the Messiah would come as recorded (Daniel 9:24-27). Peter in his discourse at Pentecost reminded the Jews of Moses' prophecy of the Prophet whom God would rise up from among them and to whom they should listen and obey, or be condemned it they did not heed His words. (Acts 3:22-23)
The people, anxious to be delivered from Roman oppression and seeing Jesus demonstrate His power, sought to take the Lord by force and make Him their king. However, their later rejection of Jesus as their Messiah showed the Jew's hope was in a political king who would use his power to overthrow Roman rule of Palestine. They were not seeking the Messiah who would lead them to salvation, life, and spiritual freedom, but only saw Him for what He could materially provide for them. Jesus always avoided any conflict with civil authority. This was seen at His trial. When the Jews brought false witnesses against Him before Pilate, He remained silent. The charges were so clearly fabricated that the Roman governor found Him innocent of all charges.
John the Baptist had just been recently beheaded by Herod which added to the fervor of the day. To defuse the situation, Jesus then sent His disciples away to the boat instructing them to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He then appears to have slipped away and went alone unto a mountain to spend time praying. He continued praying alone until late evening. (Matthew 14:22-23)
"And when evening was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them." (John 6:16-17)
Jesus' disciples did not want to leave Him and Matthew records that Jesus "constrained" His disciples to get into the ship and leave. (Matt. 14:22) They then left without Jesus and headed north northwest across the Sea of Galilee towards Capernaum. Mark 6:45 records that the disciples were headed across the sea toward Bethsaida. The word "Bethsaida" means "the house of the fishermen", however, the location of the city was lost sometime after the First Century. It was a city of fisherman and must have been very close or adjoining to Capernaum. Peter, Andrew and Phillip, all fishermen, lived there. It is mentioned in all four Gospels and Matthew 9:1 identifies Capernaum as Jesus' "own city."
As the disciples rowed towards Capernaum darkness fell and Christ was not with them. They were probably very concerned for Him being alone and how He would return to the city.
"And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." (John 6:18-21)
Normally, the sea of Galilee is beautiful and mostly calm. However, being located in a rift valley surrounded by mountains, it is subject to sudden violent storms that come up without warning. The disciples were about three or four miles out on the sea when the storm blew in and they were not making any head way rowing against the wind. Both Matthew and Mark state it was about "about the fourth watch" of the night which would be between three and six o'clock in morning.
As they struggled with the oars through the storm they saw Jesus walking across the water towards them. (Mark 6:48) Mark records that it appeared Jesus walked by them and seeing Him, they thought He was a spirit and they cried out in fear. (Matt. 14:26) Jesus identified Himself to them saying "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." (Matt. 14:27) Matthew 14:28-32 records that as they looked toward Jesus who is standing on the water, Peter rashly asked Jesus to verify who He was by bidding him to come across the water to Him. The fact that the sea was raging makes his request even more interesting. Peter had great faith intellectually, but it was not a tested and proven faith. Jesus simply told Peter to come and Peter stepped out on to the water and walked toward Christ. However, Peter then saw the reality of the situation, the raging waters whipped up by the wind, his faith waned. In truth, it was not the raging sea that put his life in peril, but his lack of faith. He took his eyes off Jesus and humanly was overcome by the danger of the situation. The moment he stopped trusting in Christ he began to sink. Jesus reached out his hand to Peter and lifted him up and once again Peter walked on the water with Christ to the boat. Most consider Jesus' statement ". . . O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" as a rebuke. (Matthew 14:31) However, it can also be seen as instruction for the future, both to Peter and the other disciples. The point was there was never any need to doubt as Christ is an ever-present Savior.
Hearing Jesus speak to them calmed their fears and they were happy when He entered the ship and the sea was immediately calmed. John does not record how far out from Capernaum they were, but they were amazed that they immediately found themselves safely at their destination.
"The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)" (John 6:22-23)
The following day, after the miracle of feeding the five thousand and His walking on the water, the people who had remained on the eastern shore realized that there were no boats left. The only boat that had been there was the one the disciples had left in on the previous evening. They also realized that Jesus had not left with the disciples, but was not there with them. John states that later other boats arrived from the city of Tiberias which is located on the central western shore of the sea.
"When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?" (John 6:24-25)
When the people who remained on the eastern shore recognized that Jesus was not there, they left seeking to find Him. They took the boats which came from Tiberias and went to Capernaum. Finding Him in the city and knowing He had not traveled with the disciples, they asked Him how He came to Capernaum.
"Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." (John 6:26-27)
Jesus in replying did not answer their question, but rebuked them telling them they were following Him only for the material food He has provided not for spiritual meat that would endure forever unto everlasting life. Their interest in Him was clearly selfish and worldly and they were not seeking salvation of their souls which was the reason that Jesus had come and why He performed the miracles.
Jesus frequently addressed Himself as the "Son of man." Some mistakenly teach the title "Son of man" refers only to Christ's humanity, but in reality it means much more. Note here that Jesus says the Son of man, whom God has sealed, shall give everlasting life. In other words Jesus was proclaiming He was the Messiah whom God had attested or appointed to this task of bringing everlasting life. The Jews understood the title as referring to the Messiah because Daniel used this title of the Messiah.
Daniel prophesied that the Son of man would be given an everlasting kingdom (dominion). Clearly, the Son of man was the promised Messiah. In Matthew 9:2, Jesus told the man with palsy that his sins were forgiven. Immediately the Pharisees accused Him of blasphemy, stating that only God could forgive sins. Jesus then healed the man saying, "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." (Matthew 9:6) Therefore, in using the title 'Son of man', Jesus was proclaiming his deity in forgiving sin and that He was the promised Messiah.
The title Son of man is only found four times outside of the Gospels. Acts 7:55-56 records Stephen's vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God after his message denouncing the Jews for rejecting and crucifying Jesus. "But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56) The reaction of the Jews was to cast Stephen outside the city and stone him to death. The phrase is used in Hebrews 2:6 quoting Psalm 8:4-6. In Revelation 1:13-18, John describes Jesus as the Son of man in the midst of the seven candlesticks. Lastly, in Revelation 14:14, Jesus is called the Son of man and is seen with a sharp sickle about to reap the tares (unsaved) off the earth in the end of the seven year Tribulation.
"Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:28-29)
Some have concluded the Jews were sincere in asking the question as to what they should do to do the works of God. However, their further responses seem to show they were not seeking the answer, but rather asked the question in an attitude of haughtiness toward Jesus' statement. The Jews, showing their lack of spiritual understanding, asked the obvious question to them, what works should they do to do the works of God. This reveals the heart of Judaism which was a works salvation. Jesus simply responded that they should believe on him whom God had sent, referring to Himself. Salvation is received only by faith in Jesus Christ, apart from any works or merit of man. It is Jesus alone, who is God, incarnate in man, who suffered and died for the sins of the world. The common error of the Jews and the world is to assume one can do some work or ritual and thereby please God and be saved. Man failed to accept that he is dead in his trespasses and sins and thus stands guilty and condemned before God. "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. . . .He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:18, 36) This was the gross error of Judaism which thought by good works and deeds a man could save himself.
Jesus said the "work of God", which is His plan of salvation, is that a man believe on Jesus Christ. The Jews used the plural word "works". Jesus, however, responded using the singular word "work." His answer was that salvation was purely and only the work of God. If a man would be saved, he must believe and accept God's plan apart from any work, trusting alone in Jesus Christ as his Savior. God makes how salvation is received perfectly and unmistakably clear by saying, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
"They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat." (John 6:30-31)
The Jews motives for following Jesus was that they had repeatedly seen Jesus' miracles of healing. The day before, he had fed five thousand of them with only five barley loaves and two fishes, thus adding giving them food to his miracles. But their further question reveals the condition of their hearts. They asked Jesus for a further sign and interestingly referred to God giving the children of Israel manna in the desert. (See Exodus 16:14-15) They were insinuating that Jesus' feeding of the five thousand was inferior to God giving the millions of the children of Israel daily food to eat during the wilderness wanderings. In other words, they wanted to see some greater sign from Jesus.
"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (John 6:32-33)
Jesus responded that the bread that Moses gave them was temporal and not the spiritual bread that comes from heaven. He declared the bread of God, is "He" which comes from heaven and gives life unto the world. Clearly it was "he" Himself who came from heaven who could give them true spiritual life. Jesus used the analogy of bread being the staff of life to show them the foundation of spiritual nourishment was believing in Him.
"Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not." (John 6:34-36)
It is revealing that the Jews responded to Jesus statements thinking in worldly and material manner when Jesus was giving them spiritual truth. Jesus promptly responded, referring to Himself as the bread of life and that those who ate this bread would never perish. We must never misunderstand that Jesus, throughout His ministry, always plainly and unmistakably presented Himself to the Jews as the Messiah and as the source of spiritual life. The religion of the Jews was one of works and self-righteousness and was devoid of anything spiritual. He could not have made it clearer who He was when He said ". . .he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Further, He showed His deity by revealing to them the condition of unbelief in their hearts. They had asked Jesus to show them a "work" or miracle, but the truth was they had seen His miracles and heard His message but it did not cause them to believe.
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:37-40)
Jesus continued by telling these hard-hearted Jews that they were responsible to Him and that He was the source of salvation. He explained that those whom the Father gave Him, meaning those who believed and accepted Him, He would not cast out. He was telling them that He was in charge of the kingdom of heaven.
Some have falsely used the verse to support the idea that God has predestined some to be saved through that they called irresistible grace. They teach that only the ones whom God calls came come to Christ and be saved. The rest, they teach God withholds his grace, thus condemning them to the Lake of Fire with no chance to be saved. However, the verse does not say or imply this. Those who make this false interpretation are reading into the text their erroneous Calvinistic presuppositions. No one, upon reading the verses alone, would come up with the idea that God was saying He predestined who would come and be saved and who would not. God's word repeatedly states that those who believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ will receive everlasting life. That is God's plan and stated in John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The scope of the love of God is to the world, not just to a predestined few. Christ died for the sins of all the world as John stated in his epistle, "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2) Jesus stated that all the Father gave to Him shall come to Him and He would not cast them out. That is God the Father's plan and it is Jesus Christ to whom one must come to be saved. What was predestined was God's plan and that those who believed would be elected, would become a part of God's plan and be "conformed to the image of Christ." (Rom. 8:29)
There is no question He was stating that salvation rested with Him. He made it clear that He was not simply some man seeking to draw men to Himself, but that He was come from God in heaven, on God's mission, and doing God's will in the full power of the Father. He was declaring His deity in that all that would be saved, He, Jesus the Messiah, would raise up those that believed at the resurrection in the last day. He was straightforwardly telling them He was the promised Messiah. The Messiah would bring salvation and God's plan of salvation is clear - all who see the Son, meaning with spiritual and believing eyes, and who believe on Him, are given eternal life and that Jesus Himself will raise that person in the resurrection.
Paul revealed the heart of the unbeliever when he wrote "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."(1 Corinthians 2:14)
It is interesting that the Jews
understood that He said He was the bread, came down from
heaven, but ignored His miracles and message in their
unbelief, and only saw Him as Joseph the carpenter's
son. Later in John 8:19, Jesus plainly stated their
spiritual condition when He said, ". . .Ye neither
know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye
should have known my Father also."
statement is twofold. First, He said that no one
can come to Him unless the Father draw him, and
secondly, He teaches eternal security that once
a person comes they will never be cast out. This
is another verse the Calvinists falsely use to
teach that God has predestined who He would save
and who He would not allow to be saved. They
claim the "drawing" indicates God predestined
who He would save and who He would not allow to
receive His grace. The verse does not support
this false idea. John 6:35 says, "And
Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of
life: he that cometh to me shall never
hunger; and he that believeth on me shall
The ones who would never hunger or thirst,
Jesus said, were those that believed on Him. God
did not say, "those I draw are the one's whom I
save." Rather God said, "he
that cometh shall never hunger; and "he
that believeth on me shall never thirst."
The verse only
states that unless God "draws" the person, that
a person cannot come to Christ, be saved, and
thus raised us in the "last day" which is the
resurrection. There is a difference between
"drawing" a person to salvation, and forcing
them to be saved through the Calvinistic false
idea of "irresistible" grace.2 It is the work of
the Holy Spirit to bring conviction in a man's
heart which is God's drawing him to Christ. The
(draw) is used in John
6:44, 18:10, 21:6, 11; Acts. 16:19, 21:10, and James
2:6. Clarke states, "The best Greek writers use the verb
in the same sense of alluring, inciting, etc."3 No man is
able to draw himself to Christ and salvation, as
salvation is the work of the Lord alone. Thus God, in
His grace and mercy, reveals to man his state as being
lost in trespasses and sin and then attracts and compels
the sinner to believe and accept His Son Jesus Christ
for remission of sin and salvation. The verse does
address, nor does it mean the sinner cannot resist God's
offer. Men can and do resist the Gospel. Often a person,
who eventually believes, the first time they are
confronted with the Gospel struggles with belief. Many
in time believe though they initially resisted God's
drawing. Others resist and refuse to believe, which also
is an action of their wills, and are never saved.
Nowhere in God's word does it say that God condemns the unsaved because God, being sovereign, has chosen to extend His grace and mercy to some but to withhold it from the rest of mankind. The Bible teaches that the basis of God's condemnation is not in God's sovereign choice, but in man's rebellion at truth God reveals to all. This false idea denies that our Creator is a God of love or is just. God cannot be unloving and withhold His grace, which would be against His very nature.
Jesus gives the scope of His redemptive act saying, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) God the Father draws all men through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Peter proclaims this truth, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) God has never decreed or desired that man reject Him in unbelief and thus condemn themselves to the Lake of Fire. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
The question is
to whom does God draw?
Romans 1:18-19 states, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them." (Romans 1:18-19) This passage states the basis of the lost man's condemnation, referring to the lost as in "all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Those that reject Jesus Christ are the ones on whom God's wrath is revealed and they are without excuse. (V20) Specifically the verse is referring to those who "hold the truth in unrighteousness", which clearly refers to the unsaved. John proclaimed that Jesus was the Light that came into the world ". . .which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9b) Men knowingly and willingly reject Jesus Christ, the Light, and thus condemn themselves. They are not condemned by some supposed and unstated decree by God in which He wills to withhold grace from most of the lost world, and not allow them to be saved, but rather they are condemned because they rejected the truth they know. They chose not to believe.
Let us belabor the point a little. Paul explains that these persons are without excuse as verse 19-20 states, because "that which may be manifest of God", He has shown them. "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse". (Romans 1:19-20) Therefore, God plainly states that the basis of man's condemnation is because men know the truth but refuse to believe or accept it, thus condemning themselves.
Jesus also stated the basis of God's judging the unsaved when talking with the Pharisee Nicodemus. "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (John 3:19-20) Jesus revealed the reason that the unsaved are punished is that "light", meaning the knowledge of God and of righteousness, was come into the world, but men rejected it because they loved their sin and did not want to be reproved. In other words they do not want to be told their sins are wrong and will destroy them, thus they willingly ignore the truth that is always before them, the truth that God through the Holy Spirit reveals to them. The vital point of Jesus' statement is that these who refuse salvation, know the truth and reject it.
Nowhere in God's word does it say
that God condemns and refuses to "draw" the unsaved. God
has elected His plan of salvation and what salvation
would accomplish in the life of the believer, but He has
never "elected" which individuals He would save and
those He would not. His plan is that those who do not
believe will not be saved and those who do will. That is
God's sovereign choice.
"It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (John 6:45)
Jesus next refers to Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 31:33-34 and other Old Testament passages which state "all" shall be taught of God. Robertson states that the phrase "hath learned of the Father" is grammatically "second aorist active participle of manthanô. It is not enough to hear God's voice. He must heed it and learn it and do it and this is a voluntary response. This one inevitably comes to Christ."4 In other words, God reveals Himself to all men, but the ones who come and are saved are those who willingly "learn" and accept God's truth.
"Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life." (John 6:46-48)
In order to clarify His statement of verse 45, Jesus explains that no one has seen God the Father, in the sense that no man visibly can see God or vocally be taught by Him. God is not a material being, but Spirit. Jesus says only "he which is of God," meaning only Himself, has seen the Father and thus declares His deity. This was a powerful statement. No one could misunderstand His statement.
The Jews were rejecting Jesus as the Messiah in spite of His miracles and message. Therefore He makes it emphatically clear that everlasting life was only to those who believed on Him, because He was God's promised Messiah, "bread of life." Peter proclaimed this truth to the Jews later after Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
"Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:49-51)
"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:52)
"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum." (John 6:53-59)
1 Chinneroth, the name of a fenced city which stood near the shore of the lake of Galilee, a little to the south of Tiberias. The town seems to have given its name to a district, as appears from 1 Kings 15:20, where the plural form of the word is used. The Sea of Chinnereth (Num. 34:11; Josh. 13:27), or of Chinneroth (Josh. 12: 3), was the “lake of Gennesaret” or “sea of Tiberias” (Deut. 3:17; Josh. 11:2). Chinnereth was probably an ancient Canaanitish name adopted by the Israelites into their language. (WebBible Encyclopedia, http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/chinnereth.html).
2“Irresistible grace” according the Calvinists means God has elected (chosen) who He will save and who He will not allow to be saved, thus logically this false teachings concludes that God’s grace is irresistible. Thus the person God has chosen to be saved cannot resist God when He decides to save them, in other words the person cannot resist God’s calling.