Archive for the ‘John 6’ Category

Response to Jason Reed’s Apostasy Story

October 7, 2013

Jason Reed recently joined Rome’s communion. Because he’s served as a seminary professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, his apostasy to Rome’s communion has made waves in certain circles. Mike Schulte was kind enough to post a 56 minute video that includes a recent talk given by Jason, in which he explains his move.

No summary of Reed’s story will be fully fair to all its nuances, but it appears Reed never could explain why Roman Catholicism is contrary to Scripture and enjoyed Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica when introduced to it as seminary student. Thus, when he was surrounded by Roman Catholic professors, intellectual Roman Catholic peers in grad school, and Roman Catholic family, he found justifications for making a move to Rome.

In more detail (all time stamps are approximate):

0 – 4:30 The video starts with a montage of images purporting to be of Christ with a musical background
4:30 – 11:00 Introductions by others.
11:00 – 12:00 A prayer to Mary by a Roman Catholic priest.
Reed then begins his presentation, starting with an icebreaker about being nervous because God is just down the hall in the chapel. Reed talks about his Methodist upbringing, his profession of faith as a teen, his subsequent descent into hedonism in college, and his claimed conversion to Christianity in college. Reed subsequently went to seminary, where he fell in love with Aquinas and his Summa. After seminary, Reed says Norman Geisler encouraged him to go on for further education. Reed selected St. Louis University for graduate studies in philosophy, because of the presence of Eleonore Stump, a professor whose work on Aquinas’ Summa is very well received. (this portion ends around 25:00)

Reed explains that in grad school he encountered educated Roman Catholics who (his words) “schooled him” when he got into theological debates with them. He also describes listening to EWTN and not having any rebuttal to a Roman Catholic priest’s argument that Roman Catholics are Christians, because the confess that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Still, at this time Jason felt he couldn’t be a Roman Catholic because he didn’t agree with devotion to Mary, the papacy, and transubstantiation. (this portion ends around 28:30)

Here’s our first chance to interact with Reed’s comments and thought process. The definition of Christian as “anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God” is problematic. The definition may be a useful sociological definition to distinguish “Christian” from “Muslim” or “Buddhist” etc. On the other hand, such a definition fails to distinguish authentic, apostolic Christianity (as defined by the Scriptures) from a variety of heretical views – not just those of the communion of Rome, but even those of more radical groups like Mormons.

Reed continues by describing how he returned to his seminary, this time to teach. However, when he was asked to instruct the students in how to defend the Evangelical faith, he could not. He states:

I could get to God’s existence, objective morality, even Jesus Christ is the son of God, but when it came to doctrine, when it came to formulating doctrine, I didn’t know how to do that.

He states that this led him to have “intellectual doubts,” but that he was not considering Catholicism at that time. (this portion ends around 30:00)

It’s a little difficult to respond to this kind of vague statement. Was Reed simply unaware of Sola Scriptura? Was he unaware that we formulate doctrines by reading and studying God’s self-revelation in his Word? I suspect that what Reed is suggesting is that he had already begun to adopt the kind of radical skepticism/post-modernism we have seen from another St. Louis University philosophy student, Bryan Cross, who treats Scripture as though it cannot itself communicate doctrine clearly to us. This radical skepticism stands at odds with Scripture’s own characterizations of itself as lamp to our feet and a light to our path, and as sufficient to thoroughly furnish the man of God.

Reed mentions that his wife began going “to church,” and that when his in-laws came to town he and his wife joined them in going to mass to honor them. Reed mentions that he liked the mass, particularly in terms of its resemblance to one of the Lord of the Rings movies. He thought that the form of liturgy in which a priest is to the side was better than a form of liturgy in which the preacher stands at the center. Reed also liked that in the Roman church, the people ignored him, as opposed to in evangelical churches, where visitors got lots of attention. In general, Reed liked that idea that king is up front. (this section ends around 33:00)

In fact, though, bodily Jesus is absent from us. Of course, spiritually Jesus is with us, but there is a real bodily absence:

2 Corinthians 5:6
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

John 14:28
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

Jesus is not bodily present at the front of the room. He’s bodily present in heaven.

Reed mentions that his wife told him she was going to start going to mass. He says that he did not have any theological objection to that. He says he couldn’t tell you what evangelical theology is – he could just tell you the spectrum. He then offers a number of points on which he claims there is disagreement in Protestantism. Ironically, he picked some like “creation vs. evolution,” on which there is diversity within the Roman communion. He says he remembers thinking, “There’s no way to answer this.” (this section ends around 35:00)

Let’s start with the easy points:
1) The Bible does not guarantee that all of our questions will be answered.
2) Even if the Bible answers our questions, not every answer it gives is as clear as all the others. For example, it is very clear that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again from the dead. On the other hand, many other things are less clear.
3) The fact that something may be hard to figure out does not mean that “there’s no way to answer this.”
4) The fact that we may not be able to get universal consensus in this life about something does not mean “there’s no way to answer this.”
5) Sometimes the answer may be that we need to wait until heaven in order to find out the answer (and the Bible does not promise all our questions will be answered even then).
6) There is a tremendous amount of diversity within the Roman communion on a lot of issues, including some of the issues that Reed mentions, like evolution (already mentioned above).
7) The way to answer these questions is to go look for answers in God’s revelation of himself – in His Word.

Reed continued (about 35:10): “The question I asked myself was, ‘Given all of these differences, what is Christianity?’ Didn’t know.”

The answer is that Christianity is defined by what Christ taught. Christ’s teachings have been faithfully preserved for us and handed down to us in the New Testament Scriptures. Christianity is defined by the Gospel that Christ taught the apostles – the gospel that Paul preached. Anything else is another gospel.

Reed says that honest people were thinking to go “back to the ancient church.” He said that this argument seemed persuasive to him. He said he thought that the Reformers of the 16th century were seeking to restore the church of “Augustine and all those individuals.” But when Reed went back and looked, he did not find the doctrines that he had been taught, and he could not believe what he found. He says he almost felt that he had been lied to and deceived. He says that in the ancient church he found “apostolic succession” as un-debated thing, he found “baptism as how you enter into the church,” “the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist” and “belief in a visible church.” Thus, to him the ancient church “smells Catholic.” (this section ends around 36:30)

Some responses:
1) The Reformers, especially Calvin, definitely did appreciate the work of Augustine and other patristic and medieval authors.
2) The Reformers, however, were trying to reform back to the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, as recorded in Scripture.
3) The idea that “apostolic succession” was an un-debated thing is just false. About a century after Christ’s resurrection, Irenaeus debated the topic with the Gnostics (see the discussion here). Moreover, Augustine debated the topic with the Donatists hundreds of years after that.
4) Even pinning down what “apostolic succession” refers to, can be rather fluid. One thing is certain, the bishop of Rome has not always been appointed the way he is now, with the college of cardinals, etc.
5) Indeed, the idea of “apostolic succession” raises all sorts of questions, like the curious case of John XX (see link) or in general Rome’s meaningless claim to have an “unbroken succession” (see link).
6) The idea of “baptism as how you enter the church” does not seem very controversial in its own right. It is a visible manifestation of a person’s desire to have their sins forgiven through faith in Christ. What is odd about Tridentine Roman Catholicism, is that Trent teaches that Baptism actually infuses a person with faith (see this link). But where is that among the patristic authors? Reed, of course, does not tell his listeners.
7) Yes, there is some reference to “real presence” in the Eucharist – although when this is explained by people like Augustine, it is explained spiritually (see the discussion here). What is missing from the fathers before about the 9th or 10th century is the Roman Catholic distinctive doctrine of transubstantiation.
8) Yes, there is a visible church. That visible church is made up of numerous visible churches. What is missing from the early era is a papacy.
9) One cannot really argue with a person’s sense of smell, but what smells “Catholic” to Reed smells quite non-Tridentine to me.

Reed continued: “And then, as I started reading the reformers, they’re Catholic! Luther believed in the devotion to Mary. Calvin did not believe that you could just interpret the Bible any way you wanted. The faith that I had been given is basically 200 years old.” (section ends around 36:50)

I will let James Swan, who is expert at tracking down Luther’s views, tackle this comment about Luther and devotion to Mary. Suffice to say that Luther’s views on lots of issues evolved and matured over time, particularly as he spent time considering them and comparing them to Scripture.

Calvin’s view of Scripture should not have been a surprise to Reed. The Scriptures have to be interpreted according to what their author, God, intended. They cannot just be arbitrarily interpreted. Surely only the most post-modern “Protestants” think that Biblical interpretation can be totally arbitrary.

I’m not sure what exactly Reed viewed as being “200 years old.” John Wesley, one of the founding Methodists, died a little over 200 years ago. Perhaps that is what Reed had in mind. But whether or not Methodism as a distinctive body is only 200 years old seems a little irrelevant.

Reed continues by stating that he still was not ready to become Roman Catholic. So, he continued teaching at SES part time. But when students asked about devotion to Mary, he would tell them, “Actually, Marian devotion is the historical norm – not worshiping Mary, but having personal devotion to her – is basically standard practice throughout most of the Christian world historically.” He says that is what made him want to join Rome. (section ends around 38:30).

1) Devotion to Mary was not the historic norm before the council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). Devotion to Mary did come to be pretty widespread, but it was not the practice of the apostles or the earliest centuries of the churches.

2) Thomas Aquinas, Reed’s hero, while he did not believe in the immaculate conception of Mary, did not shun to categorize devotion to Mary as one kind of worship, even while distinguishing it from that offered to God. Indeed, in the Summa, Thomas Aquinas writes:

Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of “latria” is not due to her, but only that of “dulia”: but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of “dulia” is due to her, but “hyperdulia.”

Summa, 3rd Part, Question 25, Article 5.

Next, Reed turns to John 6. He walks through the text, suggesting that he thinks the Father was drawing him at that time. Eventually he bursts out, “Jesus was not Protestant, because he says ‘… unless you eat the flesh … and drink his blood, you have no life in you’.” Reed points out that Jesus repeats this “eat my flesh” and “drink my blood” several times. Reed emphasizes that when the disciples object, he doesn’t say “this is just a parable” or “this is just symbolic.” Reed says that he felt like the passage was teaching “the Catholic understanding” and he was compelled to accept it, because Jesus is God. (section ends around 44:00)

Yes, Jesus does not say “this is a parable,” But Jesus does say “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) I’m not sure how much more clear Jesus could have been in saying that emphasis was spiritual, not carnal.

Reed continued by saying that he still had doubts about the whole Mary thing. Nevertheless, he felt like God was telling him that he would just have to drop his objections on that point, so he contacted a priest to join Rome. He’s been with Rome for a year now. He said he’s heard about bad priests, but he says they are rare. He has found lots of faithful, God-loving Roman Catholics. (section ends around 48:00)

There are plenty of sincere Roman Catholics – there even sincere priests. The bad priests are not the main reason to avoid Rome – the main reason to avoid Rome is that it has a false gospel.

Reed concludes by stating that his reason for joining Rome is that “I believe in the Scriptures, I believe in the Bible, and I believe that the Church gave us the Scripture, and that it has the teaching authority to preserve that Gospel – why Jesus died on the cross – Jesus Christ gave us this [Roman] Catholic church to combat error … and I believe Jesus taught us to believe in the Eucharist – he taught us to believe to eat his flesh and drink his blood, and the church is it.” And he went on to talk about how Rome is unrivaled in terms of thinkers, beauty, and so on. (sections ends at 49:45)

Reed’s fundamental reasons for associating himself with Rome are wrong. Rome did not give us the Bible. Indeed, not even “the church” gave us the Bible. Rather, Scripture itself tells us:

2 Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

God inspired men to write the Scriptures. It was not the church that inspired those men, nor were those men working on behalf of the church, but on behalf of the Holy Spirit himself.

Additionally, the Bible nowhere teaches us that Rome has any “teaching authority to preserve the gospel.” While we do drink Christ’s flesh and blood in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (the Eucharist), we do so spiritually. It would be worthless for us to become flesh-eating zombies or blood-drinking vampires. What profits is the Word and Spirit.

The remainder of the video is just applause, song, and some closing remarks from the lady who was apparently in charge of the event.

-TurretinFan

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Augustine – Christ’s Words in John 6 are Figurative

February 4, 2011

The following are some quotations from Augustine on the question of whether Christ’s words in John 6 are figurative. I’ve numbered the quotations for ease of reference, if anyone wishes to remark on them in the comment box. Augustine’s writings are quite extensive, so I don’t promise that this is a complete list of all his statements to the effect that Christ’s words in John 6 are figurative, and should be understood spiritually.

1. NPNF1: Vol. II, On Christian Doctrine, Book III, Chapter 16 (section 24).

If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,” says Christ, “and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.

2. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate 25, §12.

“They said therefore unto Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” For He had said to them, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life.” “What shall we do?” they ask; by observing what, shall we be able to fulfill this precept? “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent.” This is then to eat the meat, not that which perisheth, but that which endureth unto eternal life. To what purpose dost thou make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and thou hast eaten already.

3. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate 26, §1.

Wherefore, the Lord, about to give the Holy Spirit, said that Himself was the bread that came down from heaven, exhorting us to believe on Him. For to believe on Him is to eat the living bread. He that believes eats; he is sated invisibly, because invisibly is he born again. A babe within, a new man within. Where he is made new, there he is satisfied with food.

4. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate 26, John 6:41-59, §18.

In a word, He now explains how that which He speaks of comes to pass, and what it is to eat His body and to drink His blood. “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” This it is, therefore, for a man to eat that meat and to drink that drink, to dwell in Christ, and to have Christ dwelling in him. Consequently, he that dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, doubtless neither eateth His flesh [spiritually] nor drinketh His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather doth he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to come to the sacraments of Christ, which no man taketh worthily except he that is pure: of such it is said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

5(a). John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms, Part 3, Vol. 18, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Psalm 98, §9 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2002), p. 475.

But the Lord insisted: It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life (Jn 6:54). “Understand what I have told you in a spiritual way. You are not asked to eat this body that you can see, nor to drink the blood that will be shed by those who will crucify me. What I have revealed to you is something mysterious, something which when understood spiritually will mean life for you. Although it is to be celebrated in a visible manner, you must understand it in a way that transcends bodily sight.” Exalt the Lord our God, and worship his footstool, because he is holy.

5(b). NPNF1: Vol. VIII, St. Augustin on the Psalms, Psalm 99 (98), §8.

It seemed unto them hard that He said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you:” they received it foolishly, they thought of it carnally, and imagined that the Lord would cut off parts from His body, and give unto them; and they said, “This is a hard saying.” It was they who were hard, not the saying; for unless they had been hard, and not meek, they would have said unto themselves, He saith not this without reason, but there must be some latent mystery herein. They would have remained with Him, softened, not hard: and would have learnt that from Him which they who remained, when the others departed, learnt. For when twelve disciples had remained with Him, on their departure, these remaining followers suggested to Him, as if in grief for the death of the former, that they were offended by His words, and turned back. But He instructed them, and saith unto them, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Understand spiritually what I have said; ye are not to eat this body which ye see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth. I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken. Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood.

6. NPNF1-7, Tractates on John, Tractate 27, Section 1

And He explained the mode of this bestowal and gift of His, in what manner He gave His flesh to eat, saying, “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” The proof that a man has eaten and drank is this, if he abides and is abode in, if he dwells and is dwelt in, if he adheres so as not to be deserted. This, then, He has taught us, and admonished us in mystical words that we may be in His body, in His members under Himself as head, eating His flesh, not abandoning our unity with Him. But most of those who were present, by not understanding Him, were offended; for in hearing these things, they thought only of flesh, that which themselves were. But the apostle says, and says what is true, “To be carnally-minded is death.” [Rom. vii. 6.] The Lord gives us His flesh to eat, and yet to understand it according to the flesh is death; while yet He says of His flesh, that therein is eternal life. Therefore we ought not to understand the flesh carnally.

7. NPNF1-7, Tractates on John, Tractate 27, Section 3

“But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at it,”—for they so said these things with themselves that they might not be heard by Him: but He who knew them in themselves, hearing within Himself,—answered and said, “This offends you;” because I said, I give you my flesh to eat, and my blood to drink, this forsooth offends you. “Then what if ye shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before?” What is this? Did He hereby solve the question that perplexed them? Did He hereby uncover the source of their offense? He did clearly, if only they understood. For they supposed that He was going to deal out His body to them; but He said that He was to ascend into heaven, of course, whole: “When ye shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before;” certainly then, at least, you will see that not in the manner you suppose does He dispense His body; certainly then, at least, you will understand that His grace is not consumed by tooth-biting.

-TurretinFan

>John 6:44-45 – A Grammatical Note

March 28, 2010

>One of the key texts on which Arminians and Calvinists disagree is John 6:44-45. That passage states:

John 6:44-45

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.


οὐδεὶς δύναται ἐλθεῖν πρός με, ἐὰν μὴ ὁ πατὴρ ὁ πέμψας με ἑλκύσῃ αὐτόν, καὶ ἐγὼ ἀναστήσω αὐτὸν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ. ἔστι γεγραμμένον ἐν τοῖς προφήταις· καὶ ἔσονται πάντες διδακτοὶ Θεοῦ· πᾶς ὁ ἀκούσας παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μαθὼν ἔρχεται πρὸς με.

Calvinists assert that the same group is discussed throughout. That group is the elect. The group is the group that comes, that is drawn, that will be raised up, that is taught of God, and that hears and learns. Some Arminians disagree.

For example, some Arminians try to say that one group is “taught” but only a sub-group of that “hears” and “learns.” This position is not necessarily the position of all Arminians. When Arminians argue this, however, there a clear grammatical answer.

The expression “taught of God” is expressed using a predicate adjective that we translate “taught” (διδακτοὶ) with the genitive form of God (Θεοῦ). The adjective διδακτοὶ, when referring to people, conveys that the people have received the educational effect of the teaching, much like “engraved” means that something has received the effect of the engraving, or “shattered” means that something has received the effect of the shattering.

Various forms of the word διδακτός are found in Scripture. When that word refers to things, it refers to the objects of instruction (the lessons) and when it refers to people it refers to the subjects of instruction (the students).

In the latter sense it seems to be more rarely used. In addition to this one instance in the New Testament, we find it similarly in the Greek translation of Isaiah 54:13 (διδακτοὺς θεοῦ) but also in a related form in 1 Maccabees:

1 Maccabees 4:7 (Apocrypha) And they saw the camp of the heathen, that it was strong and well harnessed, and compassed round about with horsemen; and these were expert of war.

That expression “Expert of war” is διδακτοὶ πολέμου. In the context of 1 Maccabees 4:7, it should be clear that the focus of the word is on the result in the heathen. The point isn’t that they all went to boot camp, but rather that they all were expert (as the KJV puts it). The use of “of war” πολέμου may specifically suggest that these were veterans. Their expertise was forged in the fires of armed conflict.

Another instance and even more similar reference can be found in the ancient pseudepigraphic literature called the “Psalms of Solomon”:

Psalms of Solomon 17:32 (Pseudepigrapha) And he will be a righteous king over them, taught by God. There will be no unrighteousness among them in his days, for all will be holy, and their king will be the Lord Messiah. (translation by Robert B. Wright)[FN1]

Again it should be clear from the immediate context that the idea is not simply that the king was at a school, but that he was actually educated. There is no question about whether he heard and learned, but rather it is given as a result. He did not just sit under teaching, he is taught.

Finally, let’s consider the context of the usage in Isaiah 54:13. Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint provides the following context:

Isaiah 54:11-17

11 Afflicted and outcast thou has not been comforted: behold, I will prepare carbuncle for thy stones, and sapphire for thy foundations; 12 and I will make thy buttresses jasper, and thy gates crystal, and thy border precious stones. 13 And I will cause all thy sons to be taught of God, and thy children to be in great peace. 14 And thou shalt be built in righteousness: abstain from injustice, and thou shalt not fear; and trembling shall not come nigh thee. 15 Behold, strangers shall come to thee by me, and shall sojourn with thee, and shall run to thee for refuge. 16 Behold, I have created thee, not as the coppersmith blowing coals, and bringing out a vessel fit for work; but I have created thee, not for ruin, that I should destroy thee. 17 I will not suffer any weapon formed against thee to prosper; and every voice that shall rise up against tee for judgment, thou shalt vanquish them all; and thine adversaries shall be condemned thereby. There is an inheritance to them that serve the Lord, and ye shall be righteous before me, saith the Lord.

Notice that the discussion in Isaiah 54:11-17 with respect to the people of God is essentially monergistic. The point in the passage are the good things that God is going to do to his people. The KJV translation of the Hebrew text provides the same context:

Isaiah 54:11-17

11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. 12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. 13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. 14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. 15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. 16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. 17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Notice that God is the one making the foundations from sapphires, the windows out of agates, the gates out of carbuncles (red stones), and their borders from other precious stones. The point is not just that the children will have access to a good education, but rather that they will get the education – they will be taught. We can tell this because it is nestled between the comments about building and the comment that these God-taught children will have great peace. God will establish them and give them freedom from oppression. The only human actions are the actions of their enemies, actions that God will render fruitless.

Applying this understanding of the infrequently used word διδακτός to John 6:44-45, we see that it is mistaken to act as though “taught of God” is a broad category of which “hear and learn” are subsets. It is wrong to try to suggest that there are some people who are taught of God but who do not hear and learn.

Instead, the correct way to understand “taught” as being in parallel to “heard and learn.” They are two ways of talking about the same group. Those who are God-instructed are the same ones who hear and learn. Everyone who is taught by God (i.e. who hears and learns) comes to God (vs. 45), and only those come (vs. 44). This is similar to the discussion later in the chapter in which Jesus explains that everyone who eats of him will have eternal life (vs. 54) and only those (vs. 53).

This helps us to understand that Jesus’ discussion is about the elect specifically. That is to say, Jesus is explaining that the elect and only the elect come to the Father because the elect and only the elect are drawn of the Father, that is they are taught of God. Consequently the elect and only the elect ultimately believe savingly on the Lord Jesus Christ.

This fits within the immediate context. Jesus is responding to their disbelief about his claim to have come down from heaven. Jesus is explaining the reason for their disbelief. The point of Jesus’ response is that the Father hasn’t drawn them, he hasn’t taught them. They haven’t heard and learned from him. This fits quite well within a Calvinistic soteriology.

It doesn’t fit well within a view of Universal Prevenient Grace (UPG) and Libertarian Free Will (LFW). In such a view everyone absolutely (each and every person who has or will ever live) is given sufficient grace to believe. Then they exercise their free will either to believe or not believe. If that were the case, Jesus’ words wouldn’t make much sense. The reason wouldn’t be that God hasn’t drawn the people, or that they haven’t been taught of God. Perhaps one could try to seize on the terms “heard” and “learned” (since in some cases those terms can have more proactive senses – though there is no reason to impose such a meaning here). Nevertheless, the rest of Jesus’ explanation for why the people shouldn’t murmur would not make sense.

Thus, while the passage may not specifically use words like “election” or “predestination” the passage is a very Calvinistic passage. It helps us see that what makes the difference between faith and unbelief is not human free will, but rather is the drawing and power of God.

– TurretinFan


FN1: Wright’s is probably the leading translation of the text. However, there are a number of other translations available, which I’ve collected below. There is some question about when the text was originally written (the consensus seems to place it in the late intertestamental period). The original language of the text may have been Hebrew, but the text did not survive in Hebrew. The title of this work is found in what amounts to the table of contents of Codex Alexandrinus, although the text of the work is missing from the existing copy of the codex. Readers of this blog will be pleased to note, incidentally, that Athanasius’ letter to Marcellinus (which we discussed earlier) was included as a preface to the books of Psalms in that codex.

Here are some alternative English translations of the verse in question:

NETS: And he shall be a righteous king, taught by God, over them, and there shall be no injustice in his days in their midst, for all shall be holy, and their king the anointed of the Lord.

G. Buchanan Gray: (32) And he (shall be) a righteous king, taught of God, over them, 36 And there shall be no unrighteousness in his days in their midst, For all shall be holy and their king the anointed of the Lord.

Heerak Christian Kim translates it: And this righteous king, taught by God, shall be over them. 36 And there is not injustice in his days in the midst of them, because all are holy, and their king is the annointed of the Lord.


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