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John 6:44 says:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (ESV)

While John 14:6 says:

No one comes to the Father except through me (ESV)

Comparing these two verses, brings to my mind the egg/chicken paradox: Which came first: the chicken or the egg? In the bible context, who we should seek first: The Father or the Son? How do we harmonize these two verses? What do they teach together?

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  • Where is the contradiction, please? Switch them (a common tactic in Biblical explanation) to get No one comes to the Father except through me; No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him… That way, are they not words that work together well, and without contradiction? To you is the general meaning more important, or the specific order of words written many centuries ago and reaching us only through multiple translations? Which matters most, please? Jan 24, 2023 at 20:20

8 Answers 8

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We seek Jesus first according to John 14:6. John 6:44 does not say we seek the Father and then come to Jesus. It says the Father draws us to Jesus. So, yes, the first thing we do is to seek Jesus but the Father is the one who draws us to seek Jesus. Therefore, in answer to who seeks whom first; it is the Father who seeks us first, and then we seek Jesus. Romans 8 further cements this in verse 29. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren”. We are not the one who make the first step; God is.

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  • If we are not the one who make the first step, or are "passive recipients", as @Stephen Disraeli puts it in his answer, then it would imply that we are also not "guilty" if God decides not to draw us to himself? That is - it implies that it is the God's decision, or his "fault", if we don't come to Jesus, because God didn't draw us to him? How do we distinct between - "God called us, but we didn't listen or didn't want to listen" and "God never called us"?
    – userfuser
    Jan 25, 2023 at 11:30
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We just need to combine the two statements to see our movement path.

We are passive recipients of being drawn by the Father, so that isn't a choice we need to make. (ch6)

Having been drawn by the Father, we come to the Son. (ch6)

On coming to the Son, we have also reached the Father. (ch4)

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A good, biblical way to resolve the apparent paradox is to look at what happened to the apostle Peter after he'd spent time with Jesus, then Jesus asked him who he said the Son of Man (himself) was. Bear in mind that Peter was Jewish, and already had belief in God before being called by Jesus to be an apostle. He had already known the prophetic promises made to the Jewish people that God would send them one who would be their deliverer - the Messiah - and he recognised Jesus to be that one. Now, read this account where Jesus asked his disciples:

"Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? ...But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 16:13-17 A.V.

This shows that even those who believe in God and seek to obey him, and who also believe in the person of Jesus Christ, may not be drawn to either the Father or the Son until the Father reveals the Son to them. Divine revelation is needed to have one's spiritual senses awoken, to give what the New Testament calls "new birth". Jesus stated that nobody gets into the Kingdom of God without being born again, of the Spirit, from above. John 3:1-21

Consider how several billion people today believe in God, but have no belief (faith) in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Yet so many people testify to something happening at a particular stage in their life to have their 'eyes' opened as to just who this Jesus of the Bible is - the one who is both Son of Man and Son of God. Then they are drawn to Jesus as such. Then they become Christians. This is a mysterious work of God's Holy Spirit, often only realised with hindsight, after they discover things about the Son of God that had previously not touched their hearts, for this is not about knowledge. Coming to the Father and the Son is a heart transplant, not a head trip. Further, this example shows the three persons of the Godhead working in harmony to bring a person to spiritual life. Jesus said the Holy Spirit lifts up Christ (John 15:26 & 16:13-15). That is how Peter received that revelation about Christ, from the Father, through the unseen working of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus also said that the Father seeks those who are to worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Jesus further said that the apostles did not choose him but that he chose them (first). See Matthew 12:18 & John 13:18 & 15:16. And, if you want to be truly overwhelmed with how this seeking 'works', consider these scriptures:

"For he [God] hath chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world... in him [Christ] we were also chosen..." Ephesians 1:4 & 11

"...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto he called you by our gospel..." 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

There is no getting away from the wonder of the calling of God, to those he has chosen, with the person of Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit integral to the miracle of the new birth.

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There is nothing incongruous in those two statements. Consider the Bible's own teachings for a good analogy.

God is said to be "light":

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5, KJV)

And Jesus is said to be "the door":

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9, KJV)

Now, in the darkness of night, a moth, seeing light, will be drawn to it. But it can only approach the light through the door, not through the wall. It is the light that draws the creature to it, but the light can only pass through the door, and if there were no open door, the creature could not be thus drawn to the light.

In the same way, God draws us to Himself, but does so through His Son.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17, KJV)

All the knowledge we have of God has come to us through His Son; yet it is still from God.

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In John 6, Jesus is dealing with people who followed Him because He spoke God's truth, and also with people who followed him for the free food. The statement is meant to emphasize that the former were following Jesus, and the latter were following something else.

In short, if you are following Jesus for any reason other than obtaining a relationship with God, you aren't really following Jesus; you are following whatever brought you into the meeting house.

In John 4, Jesus emphasizes that following Him is the only way to obtain this relationship.

It's a case of, "You have to do X in order to get Y" (John 4), and, "If you're not after Y, you're not really doing X (John 6)."

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Those two harmonize perfectly. It is saying that you were drawn to Jesus via Gods will and not of your own will and that only through him can you be with God in eternity. He said "I am the way, the truth and the light, no man cometh unto to the father but by me." In reality this is Jesus via his father in heaven telling mankind us to walk the ways of Jesus, practice the ways of Jesus and live a life his father expected of him! No man is worthy to be in the kingdom of God, For we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus is in your path and your public defender in the court of God.

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    – Community Bot
    Jan 23, 2023 at 19:21
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There is no contradiction. Those who eventually come to the Father (ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸν πατέρα; 14:6) have first been drawn (ἑλημμένος; 6:40) to come to Jesus by the same Father.

Augustine discussed this in his 26th Tractate on John:

For what is I am the way, the truth, and the life? Is it not No one comes to the Father except through me? Therefore, the one who draws is the Father, and the one who is drawn is the one who comes. And yet, no one comes except through Christ. How do we reconcile these two sayings? If no one comes except through Christ, how is it that the one who draws is the Father? But if the Father does not draw, neither can anyone come. And so, it is not to be doubted that both are true, both that the Father draws and that no one comes except through Christ. For if anyone comes, he is drawn; and if he is not drawn, he does not come. Therefore, let him who can understand, understand that both are true

The Divine Nature of the Father is not accessible for any mortal being, but God reveals Himself in the Son and through the Son (Hebrews 1:1), provided the person through the faith and love preached in the Gospel makes themself capable of receiving God's revelation.

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I believe that all are drawn to God through His word. John 3:16 says "whoever" believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. That "whoever" person is you and I or anyone who believes. God does not make men believe, it is entirely up to the person whether they choose to believe. It would be unfair to say that God has preordained some and not others. All mankind is preordained, which is stated in John 3:16. We are that world, we are the "whosoever"that God sent His Son to die for. So it is up to the person to believe. Jesus died for all of mankind, not just some. 2Tim 2:4 says that God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Also see 2Peter 3:9

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  • God enables the initial belief - otherwise He could never be found let alone believed on. "no one comes to me lest the Father draw them. Welcome!
    – Steve
    Oct 1, 2023 at 11:24
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