John 6:37 – On the Other Hand

Perhaps we could continue with the subject discussed in brother Dunlap’s helpful article. As noted, John 6:37 should not be assumed to describe one group of people to whom both ideas apply. Is it not possible that “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,” and “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” differentiate two distinct classes of humanity? Note that the first speaks of a group given, “all”; the second of those who make an individual choice, “the one who comes to Me.”

This becomes clearer as the Lord Jesus explains: “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (vv. 39-40). Here the action of the Savior raising persons up “at the last day” seems to be repeated to emphasize this thought of two distinct categories of those who are “His own.” Again notice the group/individual distinction: “all” and “everyone.” Who were these two kinds of believers?

When the Lord Jesus arrived on the planet, there were people living who were the spiritual children of Abraham by faith. They had, like the patriarch, a living relationship with Jehovah, though they had not yet met Jesus. As He would later say, “You believe in God, believe also in Me” (14:1). But a new society was about to be birthed, the Church. And some of those who previously would have been “the Israel of God” were now being transferred by the Father to the care of His Son: “All that the Father gives Me.” Please note that salvation in the present age is described as involving the Spirit wooing people to Christ, not as the gift of the Father to His Son.

From this point forward, those like us who “see the Son and believe” and therefore “come” to Him (see vv. 37 and 40) would also be included in the flock that belong to the Good Shepherd. He will not reject one sinner who comes believing.

This is what irritated His Jewish audience that day. They considered themselves in Group A—those who already belonged to the Father—but Jesus explained that the proof they were not the Father’s was that they did not recognize the Son. We are so alike, He told them, that “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also” (8:19; see 14:7, 9; 16:3). But, He added graciously, there is no reason you cannot now believe and become part of Group B, those who spiritually see and so come to Me.

The scene is similar in John 10: “The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (vv. 25-27). When Jesus came to the sheepfold of Judaism, there were some who did not recognize His voice. They did not believe because they had no living relationship with God. But could they never be His sheep? The rest of the chapter shows how they can! “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (vv. 37-38). They were not the Father’s to be transferred to the Son, but if they would begin their journey by believing His works were of God, they could eventually “know and believe” and if they came to Him, He would not cast them out.

What of Judas? “Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition” (17:12). This construction is awkward to our ears, similar to Luke 4:26, 27, where we should not suppose that the woman of Sarepta was one of the widows of Israel, nor Naaman the Syrian one of the lepers in Israel. Perhaps a better reading might be “None of them is lost; but the son of perdition is lost, that the scripture might be fulfilled.” Clearly Judas, though never one of the Shepherd’s sheep, was chosen: “Did I not choose you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (Jn. 6:70) but he was chosen for a role, not for salvation, just as 15:16 is often misconstrued. Similarly, we are chosen for this lofty role: “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:3). What an honor!