This is part of my Exegetical Compilation series, which I am slllooooowwwwlly posting up, and which can be found here.
John 6:44 involves people given to the Son by the Father being saved by being (rather explicitly in the Greek) “dragged” to Him: a topic directly related to them being resurrected on the final Day. Relatedly, all that the Father gives Him shall come to Him and shall not be cast out (v.36), nor shall the Son lose any of the all who have been given to Him by the Father. (v.39) The disputed question, between purgatorial Christian universalists and non-universalist Christians, is whether anyone who beholds the Son (which would logically be everyone He raises and judges) and yet doesn’t believe in Him shall be lost. (Ultra-universalistic Christians would argue that everyone who beholds the Son, which everyone will do, will accept Him, with no post-mortem punishment at all.)
But then they wouldn’t be coming to Him: because if they were coming to Him they wouldn’t be cast out! So either not all people are given to Him by the Father (which could hardly be an Arminian position, although a Calvinist might try it), or else all people that the Father gives Him shall NOT come to Him and some shall be lost who have been given to Him by the Father! Which runs totally against the promise of this verse.
At any rate, not even one person can come toward the Son if the Father Who sends the Son does not draw (i.e. drag) him; yet the Son shall still be raising such a person in the final day. (verse 44; the Greek grammatically indicates the same “him” is being talked about for raising as for not coming to the Son.)
This is sometimes suggested, especially by Calvinists, to indicate a schism of intention between those whom God intends to save and those He never intended to save and so whom He never even tried to drag in the first place. But Jesus (in verse 45) connects this raising of those not drawn to Him with the prophecy from Jeremiah 31:34 that all people from the least to the greatest shall come to YHWH to be taught by YHWH, “for I will forgive their injustice and their sin I will remember no more.” So the topic is not about Jesus raising people who will never be given to Him, but about raising people who have not come to Him yet: but they will, and will be saved.
The resurrection itself, even of those not yet drawn to the Son, thus counts as part of the dragging of all to the Son, once all the pieces are accounted in context. The scope of salvific intention is total, as Arminians tend to recognize here; and the assurance of salvific victory is total, as Calvinists tend to recognize here. As usual, a place where Arms and Calvs tend to quote scripture against each other, turns out to mean both sides are right! – but then by coherent theology, hopeless punishment must be wrong (which to be fair is why each side opposes the gospel assurance each other draws from this area of scripture).
For further commentary on the concept of dragging all to Christ, see notes on John 12:30-50.
Members may discuss these verses pro and con below, and are invited and encouraged to post links to other discussions of these verses, whether at the forum or off-site.
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