"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him". E.S.V.

The verb ἑλκύσῃ (helkysē) [from the root ἑλκω (helkó)] is translated "draws". Does drawing in this verse guarantee a positive result, i.e. that the drawn thing actually moves?

In John 21:6 they intended to helkysai the net but it would not move. Or, suppose a rope is put round the neck of a stubborn mule, and the Jews have just been described [John 6:43] as people who grumble, [complain rather than comply],then here too pulling/drawing may produce no positive effect. The thing drawn does not necessarily move.

At this point we could broaden out to consider under what conditions of grace drawing might produce a positive result. But again, does helkyse imply anything more than a pull or intention which may or may not produce something? Acts 16:19 shows us that heilkysan can be an act of force, but that by itself does not prove that it always is. In common parlance we can feel drawn to do various things [eat something not good for us] which we do not end up doing. How should we see "draws"?

  • Without 'drawing' there is no 'coming'. So it is, in essence, effectual. I cannot see a real question, here, myself.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 23:02
  • @Nigel Many are called[drawn] but few are chosen[given the grace to respond to being drawn], if this is true then there cannot be coming without drawing, but there can be drawing without coming.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 12:13
  • 1
    'Called' in Matthew 22:14 is κλητοί Strong 2822. 'Drawn' in John 6:44 is ἑλκύσῃ Strong 1670. They are different Greek words with different meanings.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 15:32
  • @ Nigel In John 21v6 I mistook the intention for the act. The net might have been pulled but was not drawn.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 11:09
  • You drew me in to this question, because you sent the son of man. Good bye.
    – Decrypted
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 20:17

5 Answers 5


Meaning of the verb ἑλκω (helkó)

BDAG gives three meanings for this verb as follows:

  1. to move an object from one area to another in a pulling motion, draw, with the implication that the object being moved is incapable of propelling itself or in the case of a person is unwilling to do so voluntarily. Eg, John 18:10, Acts 21:30, 16:19, etc.
  2. to draw a person in the direction of values for inner life, draw, attract. Eg, John 6:44.
  3. to appear to be pulled in a certain direction, flow. [This meaning not used in the NT but is part of the spectrum of meaning for the word.]

It is obvious that God does this via the means of His Spirit working on the hearts of mankind such as in 1 Thess 5:19, Eph 4:30, Phil 2:13, Rom 2:44, etc.

Can this drawing be resisted?

There are numerous examples in the NT of people electing to resist the drawing of God, one of which is quoted by the OP in John 21:6. Here are more examples:

  • John 12:32 says that when Jesus is lifted up He will draw all people to Himself. Clearly, not everyone is actually attracted to Jesus and so many have resisted the drawing of Jesus.
  • Acts 7:51 describes the frustration of Stephen when he states that the Jews were always resisting the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Thess 5:19 says not to quench (ie, resist) the Holy Spirit
  • Eph 4:30 says not to grieve (ie, resist) the Holy Spirit
  • 1 Tim 6:10 describes some who allow the lure of money to be greater than the drawing of Jesus and His faith.
  • 2 Peter 2:21 also describes some who once knew the way of righteousness but have abandoned the faith and thus resist the drawing of Jesus via His Spirit.
  • John 12:32 states παντας ελκυσω προς εμαυτον - will draw all unto me. 'All' does not necessarily mean 'all men'. The 'all' is the totality of a certain group of individuals.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 15:36
  • That is true - and who composes this "certain group of individuals"? and how can this be deduced from the text itself in John 12:32?
    – user25930
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 19:25
  • Well that is within the mystery of Divinity, ordained before the foundation of the world, I would say.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 23:01
  • That is not in the text at hand - that is only true if Calvin's doctrine of divine election is true which I would question. I think the text means simply what it says - all men on earth.
    – user25930
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 6:34
  • 1
    The words were certainly used by Jesus but Calvin introduced the doctrine of Unconditional election, Limited atonement, and Irresistible grace which I struggle to find in the Bible.
    – user25930
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 11:47

"helkysē" by itself does not guarantee any good or bad. When combined with other words and given a context then there is more to work with to try and work out the meaning.

It's like having a human tooth which is a part of a human being, but it is not the human being. You might have clues as to what someone might have eaten, but you can't tell their personality without actually knowing the whole person.

In John 21:6 Those in the boat could not "draw" the net, but in verses 10 and 11 Jesus asks for fish, and it says that Peter "helkysē" the net and it didn't break.


Perhaps out of all the range of words used that are linked to helkysē the best word is persuade. The Father persuades us through the hearing of the word.

What does "draws" mean in John 6:44

Draw can mean persuade

ἑλκύσω (helkysō) Verb - Future Indicative Active - 1st Person Singular Strong's 1670: To drag, draw, pull, persuade, unsheathe. Or helko hel'-ko; probably akin to haireomai; to drag.

The Father persuades us through the hearing of the word.

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.


What does “draws” mean in John 6:44?

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him". E.S.V.

Humans have been created with free will, so everyone has the choice when it comes to serving him.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NASB)

19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have placed before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your [a]descendants, 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding close to Him; for [b]this is your life and the length of your days, [c]so that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them

God gently draws people to himself that have the right heart and mental attitude. He saw a heart that would be receptive to his liberating law, a heart that would submit to his kind influence. He does this by means of his message in the Bible and through his holy spirit.

Acts 13:48 (NASB)

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.

John 6:65 (NASB)

65 And He was saying, “For this reason, I have told you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

  • Ozzie "no one can come to me unless.." that sounds conditional, not free. If what humans will to do is conditional upon what the Father grants then that makes me question your statement: "Humans have been created with free will".
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 13:52
  • C. Stroud: I disagree with you. Your parents induced or gave rise to your birth,of which you had no control. God gave us free will (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) He does not force our hearts to open, He opens the door to our hearts, he searches billions of people and will open the door of our heart to those that are inclined to him. (1 Chronicle 28:9 and Acts 13:48) When God sees a heart that is responsive to the Bible truths, he used his holy spirit to help that individual to understand and apply them to his life.(1 Cor. 2:11-12) Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 18:10
  • Ozzie I would be happy to go to chat room if you would like to chat Bible and free will.But otherwise I conclude with-I think: we choose; we choose on the basis of who we are; we do not choose who we are. We do do not choose our nurture, nature or spiritual disposition. These are all God's plan. He has a holy motive for them all.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 11:45
  • C. Stroud : I would certainly love to talk to you on free will and other Bible topics, . I do not know how to start on chat. , please start and call me, Tks. Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 16:42

John 12:31 says "Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out." The context of John 12:32 when Jesus says he will draw all men to Himself, is referring to judgment. All men are judged based on their belief in Jesus as Savior.

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    – agarza
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 18:17
  • You say 'draw' means 'judge' but you have not expanded to explain when this happens nor have you substantiated your claim with any references to scripture.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 12:06

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