Who’s Up (again) for An Honest Reading? John 6:37-40

image Theological discussion in various venues often pits one position of belief against its opposites. Supporters of one position or another like to issue proposition statements of the form ‘If they would give _____ an honest reading’, ‘once I gave ______ an honest reading’,’ you can’t read _________ honestly and still believe’ or various other permutations that are meant to couch the idea that your position is unsupportable in the light of clear interpretation. In other words, the veiled inference is that theological presuppositions have colored your interpretation of the text and if you would put them aside and engage an honest reading of the text, you would certainly see the validity of the opposing position. Let’s see if that’s a valid argument…

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  (Jn 6:37–40)

A Text Without a Context May Be a Pretext

We closed our discussion yesterday with a brief discussion of the necessity for recognizing context in interpreting biblical texts. In all cases, we want to avoid the interpretive error of proof texting which, unfortunately, has become a substitute for sound exegesis. In our pursuit of an honest reading, let’s have a look at the context in which this passage occurs, starting from the immediate and moving outward.

The passage doesn’t stand on its own as it locates within a paragraph that runs from verses 35 to 40. The paragraph is notable because it is the first of the Lords ‘I Am’ statements in which He proclaims Himself to be the ‘Bread of Life.’ In an echo of the gift of God that gave life to the wandering Israelites (manna), Jesus teaches His querying disciples that those who accept and place their faith in God’s gift of Him will not hunger spiritually. Does he make this proclamation without reason? No, he is answering and clarifying an ongoing discourse on the miracle of Feeding 5000 and the disciple’s response. Notice that they are chastised for their non-belief despite being witness to the miracle. The Lord reiterates that eternal life will come from Him as people believe.

In the larger unit of thought which spans from 6:25-59 it is crucial to note the break in who Jesus is addressing that occurs in verse 41. He is turning His attention from His disciples to the Jews assembled in the synagogue at Capernum. Caution is indicated in making both of these pericopes into a single unit of thought due to this shift and the interpretation which each audience would bring to the message. [ Many times, 6:44 is casually associated with the content of our study passage but it is important to note the difference in listener.]

Moving outward in context is the book in which our passage appears, the Gospel of John, and the intentions of the author. As mentioned earlier, John gave his objective in the formation of this gospel, “..these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20:31) This book is persistently evangelistic and our passage can be readily understood in this context. Those that the Father gives (active, present tense verb) are also those drawn (attracted) by the divine reflection of the Father they are seeing in the Son (and his signs) with belief being the preferable outcome of that encounter. To meet the objective of the book, the chapters work over and over to associate the signs with the divinity of the one performing the miracles that the reader might believe.

This post is too brief to outline the place of this passage within the next concentric circles of scope, the New Testament and the Bible as a whole. The overall message of redemption by grace that threads through the New Testament offers a consistent framework on which to organize this passage for understanding.  The honest reading within all of these circles is simple to grasp, those who place their faith in the Christ will have eternal life and security in persevering.

Watch Your Language

Since our honest reading is done in a translated scriptures, it can be challenged by the exegete who delves into the original word usage and determines that our translation is unclear in conveying the true meaning of the original author. The next post will look into word usage to see if there are any obfuscated meanings that we need to consider. Until then… grace and peace to you.

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2 thoughts on “Who’s Up (again) for An Honest Reading? John 6:37-40

  1. This is really all you had to say:

    “This post is too brief to outline the place of this passage within the next concentric circles of scope, the New Testament and the Bible as a whole..”

    —————-

    What that spirit in your flesh has done is imply that the Word of God is not any different than human speech/non-creating speech. In fact, you have implied they are identical. You have sought to encapsulate the Word of God in that one, very particular Concentric Circle as witchcraft for the express purpose of making those who are deceived by it and caught in it do the unforgivable sin as their default piety.

    The unforgivable sin is to equate the Word of God with human speech/non-creating speech: to posit that the characteristics and qualities of a speech that can create nothing is the same as God as Word. You, as an arminian/semi-pelagian must have a non-interfering-with-the-will/non-creating Word in order to keep saying you have free will and you know it. You have been sold to a lie that you keep repeating as if being pious.

    But God says this to those who equate His Speech with non-creating speech:

    John 8:43-49 Why do ye not know my speech? Because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of the devil, as your father, and ye desire to do the lusts of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks falsehood, he speaks of what is his own; for he is a liar and its father: and because I speak the truth, ye do not believe me. Which of you convinces me of sin? If I speak truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God hears the words of God: therefore ye hear them not, because ye are not of God. The Jews answered and said to him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a demon? Jesus answered, I have not a demon; but I honour my Father, and ye dishonour me.

    They said he had a demon because of the obvious value and understanding He had of God as Word, which, in their pretense of being professional exegetes, they had to deny in order to keep up their traditions of lies. But He plainly says they are under an everlasting sin for equating His speech with demonic/human/non-creating speech:

    Mar 3:21 And his relatives having heard of it went out to lay hold on him, for they said, He is out of his mind.

    Mark 3:22-30 And the scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, He has Beelzebub, and, By the prince of the demons he casts out demons. And having called them to him , he said to them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom has become divided against itself, that kingdom cannot subsist. And if a house has become divided against itself, that house cannot subsist. And if Satan rise up against himself, and is divided, he cannot subsist, but has an end. But no one can, having entered into his house, plunder the goods of the strong man unless he first bind the strong man , and then he will plunder his house. Verily I say unto you, that all sins shall be forgiven to the sons of men, and all the injurious speeches with which they may speak injuriously; but whosoever shall speak injuriously against the Holy Spirit, to eternity has no forgiveness; but lies under the guilt of an everlasting sin; –because they said, He has an unclean spirit.

    You can’t stop. It not as if you have free will. You didn’t get to where you are now without being told by Jesus Christ through many, multiple times, that you were lying. That means you can’t hear the Word of God, which means you are of Satan.

    You are not saved. You are not a nice person. You are not an evangelist sent from God. You are just a hardened liar who hates Jesus Christ and seeks to instill the lie of Balaam in all he may.

    In the Name of Jesus Christ, may your plans for your victims immediately fall on you and all your house and all those with whom you have camaraderie, ..that whole concentric circle of all related witchcrafts, and remain on you forever.

    Mark 3:32-35 And a crowd sat around him. And they said to him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren seek thee without. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother or my brethren? And looking around in a circuit at those that were sitting around him, he says, Behold my mother and my brethren: for whosoever shall do the will of God, *he* is my brother, and sister, and mother.

    timothy

    In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

  2. timothy – are you sure you read what was written before you fired off this denouncement? Nothing in what I wrote even suggests a non-divine inspiration for the biblical text. If I’m understanding your accusations, you believe that the Bible is similar to the Koran in its creation. While I suppose that your Dictation theory of inspiration could be true, I don’t hold to that position nor do most evangelicals. I trust you are not condemning us all.

    This is a discussion of hermeneutics and how a true, honest reading of a text must take into account the human authors, their theological positions, and the culture and time in which the book was written in order to understand the inspired truth that God conveyed through that author. Surely you are not going to say that God whispered in King James English each of the passages you quoted above are you? If so, our discussion is done because we are too far apart in our understanding of the Bible. If not, then you must agree that at a minimum it is necessary to understand the Greek and Hebrew usage in which the original documents were written.

    Your mishandling of the text from John you attempt to demonize with provides a great object lesson in how not to read the Bible. You said:

    “But God says this to those who equate His Speech with non-creating speech:

    John 8:43-49 Why do ye not know my speech? Because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of the devil, as your father, and ye desire to do the lusts of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks falsehood, he speaks of what is his own; for he is a liar and its father: and because I speak the truth, ye do not believe me. Which of you convinces me of sin? If I speak truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God hears the words of God: therefore ye hear them not, because ye are not of God. The Jews answered and said to him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a demon? Jesus answered, I have not a demon; but I honour my Father, and ye dishonour me. ”

    This passage has nothing to do with misappropriating words. (Just because the heading has something to do with the Devil and you found the word speech in it doesn’t make it a proof-text.) This passage is addressed to Jewish non-believers who held so tightly to their preconceptions that they were blind to the truth of Jesus right in front of them. You would know that by expanding the context from the idea you want it to convey to the larger unit of thought in which the passage resides. You would also know in the greater context of the book why Jesus is saying such harsh things to Pharisees. It has nothing to do with disparaging the word of God. It has everything to with bringing one’s presuppositions to the text instead of letting the text speak for itself.

    As for your attempt to insult me by labeling me arminian (should be capital A) and semi-pelagian, well I don’t think you know anything about me to level any kind of label nor do I think you have any idea what those particular labels indicate. As to determining my salvation, I would be very, very cautious. Setting oneself up as God can have dire consequences (since He would be the only one with any say so regarding my redemption). Lucifer tried that and look how it worked out for him.

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