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John 6:37:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

You might see my question about John 12:32 and can probably guess where I am going with this question.

What is meant here? Specifically by the phrase "that the Father gives me"? On the face, it appears as though this verse backs an irresistible grace, but I suppose that depends on what is meant by the Father giving. Is it anyone who responds to a prevenient/pre-regenerate/resistible grace favorably? Or is it those that the Father elected and "sent" irresistible grace to?

Please provide specific evidence/rationale for your answer.

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  • Mike am not sure if this works, without the word 'all'. In themselves the words you have chosen, would indicate that you wish to know what the nature of the Fathers giving to Christ is. Am I right? That would definitely be an 'election question' then, with or without the word 'all'. The question then might be plainer with the word 'All' included in the emphasis. Please feel free to explain if I am wrong. Thanks! – John Unsworth Nov 19 '13 at 17:58
  • Perhaps I should have emphasized the word "Gives" and "Whoever" I guess those were the ones I was more asking about then al :) – Mike Walsh Nov 19 '13 at 23:05
  • And actually judging my comment here and a re-read of the question and your comment, it should be readily apparent that I am confused. So I'm not sure I completely get your comment? – Mike Walsh Nov 20 '13 at 2:52
  • On a site like this a downvote without a comment is especially not helpful. Could be many valid reasons for one and I sure would like to understand the rationale, oh well.. – Mike Walsh Feb 1 '14 at 20:28
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In John 6:37, it is written,

Πᾶν ὃ δίδωσίν μοι ὁ πατὴρ πρὸς ἐμὲ ἥξει καὶ τὸν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς με οὐ μὴ ἐκβάλω ἔξω

Everyone whom the Father gives me, he will come to me, and I will certainly not cast out him who comes to me.

Thus, we see that those who come to Jesus and are henceforth not cast out are those whom the Father gives him.

In John 6:39, it is written,

τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με πατρός, ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκέν μοι μὴ ἀπολέσω ἐξ αὐτοῦ ἀλλὰ ἀναστήσω αὐτὸ ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ

And this is the will of the Father who sent me, that everyone whom He gave me, I will not lose him, but I will resurrect him on the last day.

In John 6:40, it is written,

τοῦτο δὲ ἐστιν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντος με, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ θεωρῶν τὸν υἱὸν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ ἀναστήσω αὐτὸν ἐγὼ τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ

And this is the will of Him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes on him may have eternal life, and I will resurrect him on the last day.

The parallelism in vv. 39-40 indicate that those whom the Father gives the Son are those who see the Son and believe on him. These, say Jesus, are those who will have eternal life, and he will resurrect them on the last day.

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  • "those whom the Father gives the Son are those who see the Son and believe on him." - I may be reading too much into your answer here but it seems like you are saying there is an order here and that order is 1.) See and Believe on and 2.) That (1) has made you one that the Father gave to the Son.. I'm not sure I follow where it couldn't be: 1.) The Father gave you to the Son 2.) Therefore you will look on and believe in the Son ? – Mike Walsh Nov 20 '13 at 3:00
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    I'm not implying an order; rather, I'm simply saying that those who see and believe (not just see, of course, for many saw yet did not believe) are those whom the Father gave. – user862 Nov 20 '13 at 3:20
  • Ok. I get that then. I +1'd the answer because I think it answers the question well and includes a background. I guess the order question is a good one for christianity.se ;-) – Mike Walsh Nov 20 '13 at 3:22
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"Irresistible grace" is a notion that seems to have originated with Augustine of Hippo (354-430), who took a rather extreme view against Pelagius (c 360-418), a Briton who emphasized the superiority of free will over grace. Augustine went too far in the other direction. In his treatise, "On Rebuke and Grace", for example, he writes:

Will you dare say that even when Christ prayed that Peter's faith might not fail, it would still have failed if Peter had willed it to fail? As if Peter could in any measure will otherwise than Christ had wished for him that he might will."1

Other Church Fathers of the time criticized this view (while perhaps not identifying Augustine by name) and even Augustine himself later recanted some of his more extreme views. John Cassian (365-435), for example, wrote:

AND so these are somehow mixed up and indiscriminately confused, so that among many persons, which depends on the other is involved in great questionings, i.e., does God have compassion upon us because we have shown the beginning of a good will, or does the beginning of a good will follow because God has had compassion upon us? For many believing each of these and asserting them more widely than is right are entangled in all kinds of opposite errors. For if we say that the beginning of free will is in our own power, what about Paul the persecutor, what about Matthew the publican, of whom the one was drawn to salvation while eager for bloodshed and the punishment of the innocent, the other for violence and rapine? But if we say that the beginning of our free will is always due to the inspiration of the grace of God, what about the faith of Zaccheus, or what are we to say of the goodness of the thief on the cross, who by their own desires brought violence to bear on the kingdom of heaven and so prevented the special leadings of their vocation?

These two then; viz., the grace of God and free will seem opposed to each other, but really are in harmony, and we gather from the system of goodness that we ought to have both alike, lest if we withdraw one of them from man, we may seem to have broken the rule of the Church's faith: for when God sees us inclined to will what is good, He meets, guides, and strengthens us: for "At the voice of thy cry, as soon as He shall hear, He will answer thee;" and: "Call upon Me," He says, "in the day of tribulation and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me."2 And again, if He finds that we are unwilling or have grown cold, He stirs our hearts with salutary exhortations, by which a good will is either renewed or formed in us.3

I think this background is relevant because it is hard to imagine that the Church Fathers, who opposed any doctrine of irresistible grace, would have opted to include the Gospel of John in the canonical New Testament Scriptures as they did at the local council of Carthage in 397 and the later 7th Ecumenical Council in 787, if said Gospel would have been understood to contain teachings contrary to their doctrine.

Notwithstanding, neither is their support for such an interpretation in the Gospel text itself. You quote only v.37, but the full context includes v.35-36:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Jesus does not say, "whoever the Father gives to me shall never thirst", but rather, "whoever believes in me shall never thirst." The conclusion to be drawn here is that those whom the Father gives are whoever believes. One Greek commentary on the passage explains:

All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me

This means, "The Father gives Me those who believe in Me. You Jews, being unworthy, are not given to Me by the Father. This is why you do not come to Me: you are not upright of heart. If you were, God the Father in His love for you would lead you to faith in Me.4

An earlier Greek commentary by John Chrysostom (c 349-407) reads:

And in this place, by the “which the Father giveth Me,” He declareth nothing else than that “the believing on Me is no ordinary thing, nor one that cometh of human reasonings, but needeth a revelation from above, and a well-ordered soul to receive that revelation.”

But perhaps some one will say ... if none can come unto Thee except it be given him from above, then those to whom the Father giveth not are free from any blame or charges.” These are mere words and pretenses. For we require our own deliberate choice also, because whether we will be taught is a matter of choice, and also whether we will believe.5


1. Seraphim Rose, The Role of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church (St. Herman's Press, 2007), p.37
2. Isaiah 30:19; Psalm 49:15 LXX
3. Conferences XIII.11
4. Theophylact, Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. John (tr. from the Greek; Chrysostom Press, 2007), p.106
5. Homily XLV on John

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I know that this is an old thread, but I'd like to point out something very important in the context of this verse:

John 6:35-37 KJV 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. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

Notice in verse 35 that coming to Christ is parallel to believing on Christ. This parallel is substantiated in other verses as well.

Those who say that verse 37 means "The Father gives Me those who believe in Me" are blatantly misrepresenting the verse. They've essentially rewritten it to say "All that cometh to me the Father shall give to me".

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