The Evangelical Universalist Forum

A possible 3rd way to the John 10:26 calvinist vs tautological dilemma?

John 10 (ESV)
26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:26 has bothered me. Based on how this verse is translated, it sounds to me like what Jesus is saying is either tautological or he is teaching some kind of determinism in which his “sheep” are people God predestined to believe and that those he was addressing were predestined not to believe.

Last night I looked up John 10 in my CLNT. For those unfamiliar with the CLNT, most words are in bold. From the CLNT’s instructions for use: “Lightface type is used for words (or parts of words) which have been added to clarify the meaning of the Greek, avoid ambiguous renderings, and make the English read more smoothly.” With this in mind, here’s how the CLNT translates the text in question:

26 But you are not believing, seeing that you are not of My sheep, according as I have said to you
27 "My sheep are hearing My voice, and I know them, and they are following Me.

The ESV doesn’t have the v 26 ending that the CLNT translates as “according as I said to you”. The NKJV, KJV, and WEB on the other hand do.

What I find significant is that the “seeing” in v 26 (translated as “because” in the ESV, NKJV, KJV, and WEB) is something that was added. Also significant is that according to the Concordant Greek Text, the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (two of the three manuscripts the CLNT uses) do not have the “according as I said to you” ending, and these two manuscripts are older than the other manuscript the CLNT uses (Codex Alexandrinus). Assuming the CLNT is correct about all this, here’s what I’d like to propose as an alternative way of reading John 10:26-27:

But you are not believing. That you are not of my sheep, my sheep are hearing my voice, and I know them, and they are following me.

The word translated as “that” makes this a little clunky. But is what I’m proposing a valid possible translation? @paidion @davo @JasonPratt

I don’t really understand how you get anymore from these verses beyond the obvious which is that “you don’t believe because you are not a believer.” The Hebrew style of writing tends to repeats things in a different way, so simply being a sheep or not being a sheep says nothing about how one became a sheep. His sheep hear his voice I believe is similar to what Paul said “The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit” but in both cases it doesn’t say why some people “hear” the Holy Spirit or some people hear Jesus voice and others don’t.

Any of our forum’s Greek experts have any thoughts?

I inclined to think the translations have it pretty much right as it is, with or without the additional line; which really makes sense when read as the beginning of vs. 27 and thus alludes back to what Jesus previously said in vs. 4, 14.

As for predestination… that comes nowhere near the text other than from that being introduced to the reader’s mind first and then transferred onto the text, i.e., eisegesis. That IMO becomes the roots of any clunky reading.

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Can you expound the Greek word translated as “that” in v 26?

The Greek is… ὅτι hoti and can be rendered by the likes of — that, seeing that, because, for or since.

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I don’t see anything about predestination, I think the issue has to do with salvation history. Those Jewish people who already had a sincere belief in the father would come to Jesus.

My trouble with the text is that unless it teaches predestination, it seems tautological. The way it’s usually translated is like saying, “But you are not married because you are bachelors.”

No, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and calling them out. He is saying that the Jewish people who already had excepted the Father would also receive him. He is claiming that the Pharisees are objecting to his claims because they do not know the father.

He is in effect saying you are not going to come to me because you do not know my father.

Hmm, I still don’t see how it’s not tautological if Jesus wasn’t teaching determinism. I think the bachelor analogy illustrates this. Another analogy might be a basketball coach saying to some students at his school: “But you do not play basketball because you are not among my team.” You might say this illustrates that 10:26 is not tautological, but I think there’s a difference between this on one hand and the bachelor analogy and 10:26 on the other. If you think of what constitutes a basketball player, I think you realize that it’s not necessarily someone on the coach’s team. On the other hand, a bachelor is identical to someone who is not married, and someone who believes Jesus is identical to one of Jesus’s sheep. (This of course seems to clash with Jesus’s statement that he has other sheep, usually understood as gentiles, who had not yet believed at the time Jesus said he has other sheep).

Jesus is not making a tautology. Jesus is showing that he and the Father are one. Those who have come to the Father already will come to Jesus. because Jesus and the Father are one. This has nothing to do with election to salvation before time. But one member of a team (the Father) passing the ball to another member of the team (Jesus). If it is a form of determinism is has nothing to do with being chosen before time.

Those who believe in the Father in 29 A.D. would believe in Jesus in 30 A.D. because they would spot that Jesus was from the Father. The Pharisees would not come to Jesus because they were rejecting the father. Those who stopped rejecting the Father would also stop rejecting Jesus.

I did talk about the Greek a lot, back in my ExCom entry for this section. JRP's Exegetical Commentary: John 10:22-28

There is a TON of narrative and thematic context going on here and nearby, including citational reference to Psalm 82.

My conclusion was:

But if the Creator of all creatures comes Himself as Abraham’s descendant, to fulfill the covenant made between the visible and the invisible Jehovah (because Abraham was put to sleep rather than actually participating in the covenant), then all rational creatures are included in the covenant between YHWH the Father and YHWH the Son. There can be no spiritual pride, because there is no spiritual exclusivity: the elect, such as the nation of Israel, are chosen for the sake of blessing the non-elect, not for their own sakes, nor as the only people whom God has chosen to be saved from their sins into righteousness!

But those who insist on having spiritual pride – and so who from that position insist that only some people (like themselves) are being saved, while others have never been chosen by God to be brought to righteousness – must reject the blessings and eventual inclusion of the non-elect in order to keep their spiritual pride. They want to have only their own souls lifted up – not other people’s souls! They have no interest in going out from the flock to bring more people into being followers of the Good Shepherd. They want the flock to be as small and exclusive as possible, in order to promote their own self-importance – even if that would necessarily require that God shall be ultimately blasphemed, and that Justice Himself should either fail or never even intend to lead some doers of injustice to do justice at last in full and loving agreement with Justice Himself.

The whole underlying referential context actually runs against the insistence that some people shall never be servants of God. Of course, what’s being morally judged here isn’t the mere idea that some people shall never be servants of God, which is only a question of fact – a mere mistake about that fact isn’t a sin, even though the mistake should and shall be corrected some day. But insisting that some people must always be sinners, for the sake of one’s own spiritual pride? That is definitely a sin, and in its own way it is the sin of Satan.

The Pharisaic Jews here want to be assured of their own salvation: they don’t want an ultimate scope of salvation, nor an ultimate assurance of other people’s salvation, to be true. As often happens in the Gospel accounts, Jesus judges against them with the assurance that other people will be saved, not at the moment talking about the assurance that they also will be saved from their sins – including being saved from the sin of insisting that God cannot or will not save other people from their sins! But if we, coming along afterward, insist that God cannot or will not save these Pharisees from their sins, too, then we are revealing ourselves to be like them, and under the same judgment, insofar as we do so from our own spiritual pride. [/quote]

By itself can it carry the sense of “regarding that”?

@davo can that word carry the sense of “pertaining to”? @jasonpratt

No not really… it is simply as I noted earlier that the Greek conjunction ὅτι hoti reads as — that, seeing that, for, for that, because or since.