White Has Been Proven Wrong So Many Times, It Isn't
runs part of the headline on Scott Windsor’s “response”
to his appearance on our webcast.
I swore I would not even waste my time looking at it.
Many felt I had wasted an entire program a few weeks
ago having an amateur “apologist” on the program, Scott
Windsor, to discuss John six (click
here to listen). I
did so for a reason many could not possibly understand: I
have tried, repeatedly, for almost fifteen years, to reason
with Mr. Windsor, all to no avail.
I have provided him with resources, information....you
name it. But,
Scott simply doesn’t hear the message.
So when I heard that Scott had spent many hours
crafting a “response” to our debate (why do folks feel
the need to “respond” to debates when they were in
them?), I told a friend of mine, “I’m not even going
to look.” And
at first, I didn’t. But
Mr. Windsor kept making reference to it, and even sent me an
e-mail in which he again asserted he had proven me “wrong”
numerous times, so I finally gave in.
Maybe it was a moment of weakness, I don’t know.
But here is the article I looked at:
person who listens to the program will find the majority of
the written “response” most telling.
The problems with its are so manifold it is about as
difficult to respond to it as it is to rebut Gail Riplinger:
it takes three pages just to set up all the background and
context errors made by the author under review, so that any
response ends up being an exercise in frustration (let alone
as exciting as chewing aluminum foil while watching paint
dry). Some of
the alleged errors are simply humorous they are so obviously
the result of Mr. Windsor’s lack of comprehension of what
it was we were supposed to be talking about in the first
place. But, in
the midst of scanning through the article, I ran across a
few citations of Robert Sungenis.
In fact, right as I started looking at the article,
Scott Windsor himself dropped into our chatroom, so we
started discussing the problems with his article.
One of the issues I raised with him was the “24th”
error he alleged in my comments.
Here is what his article alleges:
- Let's go on to this
other point though, Jesus turns to the 12 and I assume you
would agree that these are part of the elect, the called,
the drawn. (James responds "right.") And He turns
to them and says, "Will you also leave?" He gave
them a choice! Was He only kidding when He said that?
wait-wait-wait-wait-wait! This is where we have to look at
what the Scripture actually says. There is a way in the
Greek language that you can phrase a question that expects a
negative answer, and that is the way Jesus phrased this.
- He may have phrased it
that way, but He still gave them a choice.
Greek wording does not use the type of wording used with a
(Telephone conversation, Robert Sungenis, February 6, 2001).
- Obviously it was not
purely a rhetorical question, because Peter answered Him!
I immediately chuckled since it seems Mr. Windsor is unaware
of the difference between a question that expects a negative
answer and a rhetorical question.
They are, of course, not the same thing, and his
response assumes they are.
We demonstrated in the chat channel that indeed the
when used with a question assumes a negative answer: we
cited three different Greek grammars (Mounce, Davis, and
Perschbacher) that all said the exact same thing and fully
substantiated the assertion I made.
As anyone can see from listening to the program, Mr.
Windsor tried to insert the concept of free will into John
6:67, and I pointed out the form of the text does not
support his position. I
did not attempt to make any positive point on the basis of
the passage: I had already done so in John 6:37ff.
it was clear that Mr. Windsor, being unable to deal with the
original text himself, had decided to depend upon Robert
fact, when faced with the joint citation of two of the above
three grammars, Mr. Windsor commented,
again... I don't know the Greek.... I asked someone who did
(actually a couple people who did and both concurred)... so
I defer to Sungenis
Mr. Windsor invests in Robert Sungenis greater authority in
the Greek language than established, proven and published
thankful Mr. Sungenis does not claim such a position for
himself, but for some reason Mr. Windsor is comfortable
making such a blind leap.
Now while I wish to focus upon a later issue wherein
Mr. Sungenis provides a lengthy section of Mr. Windsor’s
article, I should note in passing that when I wrote to Mr.
Sungenis about this particular issue, I was most surprised
by his response. He
attempted to say that mh
does not always have to indicate a negative response.
He provided one example that he said indicates a
positive response, John 7:31. However, upon examination, Mr. Sungenis is obviously in
many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying,
"When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs
than those which this man has, will He?" (NASB)
Sungenis interprets this passage to mean, “Yes, Christ
will perform more signs” than those Jesus did.
Yet this is not the obvious meaning of the text at
all. Instead, Mr. Sungenis has completely missed the clear
statement that these are the words of believers in
Jesus. They are
responding favorably and were saying that surely the
Christ would not perform more signs than Jesus had
performed, hence, Jesus was the Messiah. As A.T. Robertson put it,
he do? (mh
Future active indicative of poiew
answer expected). Jesus had won a large portion of the
tou oclou polloi)
either before this day or during this controversy. The use
aorist active) looks as if many came to believe at this
these were true, regenerate believers or not is not the
issue at the moment; their statement is properly translated
by the NASB, which recognizes the form of the question.
Not only does Robertson contradict Sungenis regarding
the use of mh,
but he also recognizes the obvious fact that these people
are indeed arguing for Christ, not against Him.
Sungenis is simply in complete error at this point.
this in mind, I would like to turn to the assertions made by
Mr. Sungenis in the body of Mr. Windsor’s “response”
to our debate. I
believe his words provide an excellent opportunity of
testing both the validity of my oft-repeated claim that
consistent Roman Catholics are not able, due to what I might
call “epistemological ham-stringing,” to engage the text
in its native context (i.e., to engage in meaningful
exegesis), and hence that this is supportive of my belief
that Rome teaches sola ecclesia, the Church as the
highest and final authority in all things.
6:37-39 and the Sovereignty of God
we can meaningfully examine, and refute, Robert Sungenis’
position, we must first understand what it was I was
attempting to say. One
can listen to the program and hear that in the course of
five minutes I presented the standard Reformed understanding
of this passage. But, for those who may not have access to the Real Audio
recording, I provide here the section I wrote on this
passage from my rebuttal of Norman Geisler titled The
setting is important: Jesus speaks to the crowds gathered in
the synagogue at Capernaum.
They have followed Him there after the feeding of the
five thousand the day before.
They are seeking more miracles, and more food.
Jesus does not pander to their “felt needs,” but
goes directly to the real issue: who He is and how He is
central to God’s work of redemption. He identifies Himself as the “Bread of life” (v. 35), the
source of all spiritual nourishment.
In our modern setting we might not feel the force of
His words as they must have felt them that morning.
“Who is this man to speak this way of Himself?”
they must have thought. Not even the greatest prophets of Israel had directed people
to faith in themselves!
Not even an Abraham or an Isaiah would claim to have
come down from heaven, nor would they ever say “the one
coming to Me will never hunger and the one believing in Me
will never thirst.” We
must attempt to feel the sharp impact of these words just as
they were spoken.
The blessed Lord was quite blunt with His audience.
He knew they did not possess real faith.
“But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet
do not believe” (v. 36).
They had seen Him with their eyes, but unless
physical sight is joined with spiritual enlightenment, it
profits nothing. Often
the importance of this statement is overlooked.
Verse 36 is a turning point in the chapter.
Jesus now explains their unbelief.
How is it that these men could stand before the very
Son of God, the Word made flesh, and not
believe? Anyone who does not take seriously the deadness of man in sin
should contemplate this scene.
The very Creator in human form stands before men who
are schooled in the Scriptures and points to their unbelief.
He then explains the why,
and yet so few today will listen and believe.
that the Father gives Me will come to Me.”
These are the first words to come from the Lord in
explanation of man’s unbelief.
We dare not engage in hopscotch across this text and
ignore the very order of teaching He provides.
The first assertion is one of complete divine
word speaks volumes.
“All that the Father gives Me.”
The Father gives someone to Christ.
The elect are viewed as a single whole, [footnote: The
neuter form pa'n
is used when the entire
group is in view; when each individual person comes into
view with reference to their response of faith the masculine
is used, showing the
personal element of faith.]
given by the Father to the Son. [footnote: Two
tenses are used by the Lord in this passage: here the
present tense is used, “all the Father gives
(divdwsin) Me....” In verse 39, however, the perfect tense is used, “all that
He has given
The Father has the right to give a people to the Son.
He is the sovereign King, and this is a divine
are given by the Father to the Son come to the Son.
Not some, not most, but all.
All those given by the Father to the Son will
come to the Son. It
is vital to see the truth that is communicated by this phrase: the
giving by the Father to the Son precedes and determines the
coming of the person to Christ.
The action of giving by the Father comes
before the action of coming to Christ by the individual.
And since all
of those so given infallibly
come, we have here both unconditional election as well
as irresistible grace, and that in the space of nine words!
It becomes an obvious exercise in eisegesis to say,
“Well, what the Lord really means is that all that the
Father has seen will believe in Christ will come to Christ.”
That is a meaningless statement.
Since the action of coming is dependent upon the action of giving, we can see that it
is simply not exegetically possible to say that we cannot
determine the relationship between the two actions. God’s giving results in man’s coming. Salvation is of the Lord.
But note as well that it is to
the Son that they come.
They do not come to a religious system.
They are coming
to Christ. This
is a personal relationship, personal faith, and, given that
the ones who come are described throughout the passage by
the present tense participle, it is not just a coming that
happens once. This
is an on-going faith, an on-going looking to Christ as the
source of spiritual life.
The men to whom the Lord was speaking had “come”
to Him for a season: they would soon walk away and follow
Him no more. The
true believer is
coming to Christ, always.
This is the nature of saving faith.
“And the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.”
The true believer, the one “coming” to the Son,
has this promise of the Lord: using the strongest form of
denial possible, [footnote: Here the aorist subjunctive of
strong denial, ouj
mh; ejkbavlw e[xw,
“I will never cast out.” The
idea is the emphatic denial of the possibility of a future
affirms the eternal security of the believer.
Jesus is the one who gives life and raises His own up
at the last day. He
promises that there is no possibility whatsoever that any
one who is coming to Him in true faith could ever find Him unwilling to
save. But this
tremendous promise is
the second half of a sentence.
It is based upon the truth that was first proclaimed.
This promise is to those who are given by the Father
to the Son and to no
one else. Of course, we will see in verse 44 that no one
but those who are so given will be coming to Christ in faith
anyway: but there are surely those who, like many in that
audience in Capernaum, are willing to follow for
a while, willing to believe for
a season. This promise is not
The promise to the elect, however, could not be more
Christ is able to save perfectly (He is not dependent upon
man’s will, man’s cooperation), His promise means the
elect cannot ever be lost.
Since He will not cast out, and there is no power
greater than His own, the one who comes to Christ will find
Him an all-sufficient and perfect Savior.
This is the only
basis of “eternal security” or the perseverance of the
saints: they look to a perfect Savior who is able to save.
It is Christ’s
ability to save that means the redeemed cannot be lost.
If it were, in fact, a synergistic relationship,
there could never be any ground for absolute confidence and
Many stop at verse 37 and miss the tremendous
revelation we are privileged to receive in the following
will Christ never cast out those who come to Him?
Verse 38 begins with a connective that indicates a
continuation of the thought: verses 38 and 39 explain verse
keeps all those who come to Him for He is fulfilling the
will of the Father. “I
have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the
will of Him who sent Me.”
The divine Messiah always does the will of the
preceding chapter in John’s Gospel had made this very
clear. There is
perfect harmony between the work of the Father and the Son.
what is the will of the Father for the Son?
In simple terms, it is the Father’s will that the
Son save perfectly.
“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all
that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the
last day.” It
is vital to remember that this continues
the explanation of why He does not cast out the one coming
to Him. We must
see this for some might be tempted to say that the Father
has entrusted all things into the hands of the Son, and that
this passage is saying nothing more than the Son will act
properly in regards to what the Father has given Him.
But the context is clear: v. 37 speaks of the Father
“giving” the elect to the Son, and v. 39 continues the
same thought. Those
who are given infallibly come to the Son in v. 37, and it is
these same ones, the elect, [footnote: Jesus uses the neuter
to refer to the elect as an entire group, though the fact
that this group is made up of individuals
is seen in their being raised to life and in their
individually coming to Him.] who are raised up at the last
is the work of Christ, and in this passage, is paralleled
with the giving of eternal life (see v. 40).
Christ gives eternal life to all those who are given
to Him and who, as a result, come to Him.
must ask the Arminian who promotes the idea that a truly
saved person can be lost: does this not mean that Christ can
fail to do the will of the Father?
If the will of the Father for the Son is that He lose
none of those that
are given to Him, does it not follow inexorably that Christ
is able to
accomplish the Father’s will?
And does this not force us to believe that the Son is
able to save without
introducing the will of man as the final authority in the
any synergist (one who teaches, as Dr. Geisler does, that
God’s grace works “synergistically” and that man’s
free will is a vitally important part of the salvation
process, and that no man is saved unless that man wills it)
believe these words? Can
one who says that God tries
to save as many as “possible” but cannot
save any man without that man’s cooperation fully believe
what this verse teaches?
It is not the Father’s will that Christ try
to save but that He save a
particular people perfectly.
He is to lose nothing of all that He is given.
How can this be if, in fact, the final decision lies
with man, not with God?
It is the Father’s will that results in the
resurrection to life of any
is election in the strongest terms, and it is taught with
clarity in the reddest letters in Scripture.
Verse 39 begins with “This is the will of Him who
sent Me,” and verse 40 does the same, “For this is the
will of My Father.” But
in verse 39 we have the will of the Father for the Son.
Now we have the will of the Father for the elect.
“That everyone who beholds the Son and believes in
Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up
on the last day.” Amazingly,
many wrench this verse out of its context, misunderstand the
reference to “every one who beholds...every one who
believes in Him,” and say, “See, no divine election
here! Any one
can do this.” But
it is obvious, when the text is allowed to stand as a whole,
that this is not the intention of the passage.
Who is the one “beholding” the Son and “believing”
in Him? Both
these terms are present participles, referring to on-going
action, just as we saw in “the one coming” to Christ in
verse 37. Jesus
raises up on the last day all
those who are given to Him (v. 39) and all
those who are looking and believing in Him (v. 40). Are we to believe these are different groups?
Of course not. Jesus only raises one group to eternal life.
But since this is so, does it not follow that all
those given to Him will look to Him and believe in Him?
Most assuredly. Saving faith, then, is exercised by all of those given to the
Son by the Father (one of the reasons why, as we will see,
the Bible affirms clearly that saving faith is a gift of
then, is the position I have presented over the course of
the past decade in previous books, in The Potter’s
Freedom, and in brief on the webcast with Mr. Windsor.
In response, Mr. Sungenis is quoted as saying:
tense of dedooken is not crucial. White is taking it to mean
that the Father chose everyone without their free will, but
the text does not say that.
our perspective, it is very easy to interpret this as the
Father having given to Jesus those who responded to the
grace the Father gave them. They respond by their free will.
fact, the next verse, John 6:40, uses "sees" and
"believes" in the Greek present tense, active
voice, showing that the people are seeing and believing at
the present time, by their own wills (Greek active voice,
not passive), and it is the Father's will that each one who
does this will be raised on the last day.
is also significant since the "last day" in John
6:40 is pivoting off of the "last day" in John
6:39, showing that the "have given" of John 6:39
must be related to the those who chose to "see"
and "believe" in John 6:40. If anything, there is
a dynamic relationship here, not one weighted to the Father
making all the decisions.
the verb "give" in John 6:37 ("All that the
Father gives to me will come to me") is a Greek present
tense, not a perfect, which shows that the action of
"giving" is occurring presently, and is not
confined to whatever White conceives the perfect tense of
6:39 to be saying. The "give" of John 6:37 is the
same Greek word as the "has given" of John 6:39,
only a different tense.
we can say the same about 6:37 as we did about 6:39, that
is, those the Father "gives" to Jesus are those
who have responded to the Father's call by their free will.
The Father gathers these people and brings them to Jesus.
the final analysis, one cannot say what period of time the
perfect tense of John 6:39 refers to, since the text does
not give a reference point. It is very easy to abuse the
perfect tense, because we don't always know when the action
of the perfect tense starts.
is assuming that the perfect tense refers to a time long
before the coming of Jesus. But all we can tell from the
verse is that the action of the perfect tense occurs before
the future tense occurrences of "I shall not lose"
and "I shall raise him up."
it is possible that the perfect tense refers to an event in
the mind of God before the world was created, there is
absolutely nothing in the grammatical text itself that
demands that interpretation. That interpretation is simply
commandeered from other passages they see as teaching
absolute predestination, which they then place in John 6:39.
fact, coupled with the present tense didoosin in John 6:37,
and the present tense, active voices of "seeing"
and "believing" in John 6:40, leans the
interpretation to a present interaction between the Father
and man, not an exclusive action by the Father in the
shall we say in response to this?
A striking fact
to note is that Mr. Sungenis assumes the presence of
“free will” in the exact same way an Arminian does (and
Mr. Windsor did). Yet,
the text never makes reference to such a concept, and
instead denies the very heart of that concept in 6:44.
He asserts, “From our
perspective, it is very easy to interpret this as the Father
having given to Jesus those who responded to the grace the
Father gave them. They respond by their free will.”
Yet, there is nothing about God giving “grace”
to anyone, nor is there any reference to “free will.”
The point I made in the program is completely skipped
by Mr. Sungenis in his response, that being the fact that
the giving of the Father to the Son preceeds the
coming of those so given to the Son.
Further, the context of the passage, that being the unbelief
of those who are hearing His words, is ignored as well.
Instead, a foreign context of “free will”
theology is inserted out of nowhere, and the text is left in
a jumbled mess. In
fact, the reader may well notice that Sungenis’
interpretation does not follow the flow of the text: it
skips from one section to another, even making 6:40
determinative in the meaning of the words that come
immediately before it, rather than following the logical
method of realizing that 6:40 is to be interpreted in light
of what comes in 6:37-40.
In fact, it is unfair to say that Mr. Sungenis is
even offering exegesis here: he is offering Mr. Windsor a
way around the offered exegesis, but is not actually
exegeting the passage at all.
we can summarize this response as follows:
1) the perfect tense does not tell us this took place
in eternity (i.e., it could take place as a result of human
action); 2) John 6:40 indicates that man actively believes,
and 3) the use of the present tense “give” in 6:37
refutes the interpretation White makes of 6:39.
Let’s respond to each of these arguments in turn.
perfect tense is irrelevant” argument.
emphasized the use of the perfect tense with Mr. Windsor
because he was inserting into the text his concept of free-willism,
and limiting God to the role of responding to the
actions of man. In fact, he introduced a very unusual, very
difficult to understand idea of how men are given to Christ
“at the last day.”
I pointed out this was impossible, since the action
of giving by the Father obviously comes before the
“last day.” Look again at the text:
is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has
given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
“raise up on the last day” is a terminal action: the
danger of “losing” then must come before the last
giving, therefore, is logically prior to the last day, which
contradicts what Mr. Windsor was trying to say.
Further, and naturally, the “giving” would
precede the experience of danger on the part of any
who might otherwise be lost, hence, it precedes (as is seen
in 6:37) any action on the part of those who are so given.
Sungenis divorces this passage from the context. As I noted in my exegesis, 6:38-39 explains the
glorious claim of 6:37: "All
that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who
comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
Why do all who are given by the Father to the
Son come to the Son? And
why will He not cast out the one who comes to Him?
Verses 38 and 39 explain this in the text, but not in
the attempted explanation offered by Mr. Sungenis.
He joins Mr. Windsor in reversing the order of the
action of 6:37 (i.e., he makes the giving of the Father
dependent upon the coming of the believer, when the text
says it is the other way around).
perfect tense makes sense in the context in which it is
used: Christ came to do the will of the Father.
Surely Christ knew, when He came to earth, what that
will was, did He not? Are
we to actually believe that what Jesus is saying here is
that He came to perform a general salvation of an unknown
group, so that the text really should say, “This is the
will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He will give Me
upon the basis of their free will action I lose nothing,
but raise it up on the last day”?
How would that be relevant to the assertion of 6:37?
Remember, Jesus is explaining the unbelief of
the crowd: how would this explain their unbelief, since such
would involve the assertion that they have the very ability
to believe that is denied to them in 6:44 and 6:65?
the Father’s will is obviously well known to the Son.
He is entrusted with God’s elect, and His unlimited
power and salvific ability explain His assertion in 6:37:
not only will He never cast those who are given to Him by
the Father out, but all who are given will come to Him,
since He has the capacity to bring this about!
If this were not the case, nothing in 6:39 would make
Sungenis says the perfect tense is not “crucial” to the
why does he later lay weight upon the present tense of the
same verb, if the verb tenses are not crucial?
(Mr. Windsor said on the program that discussing
these issues was really irrelevant anyway.
Mr. Sungenis seems to disagree).
The perfect tense tells us that the Son has already
been given, at the time of the speaking of these words, a
Sungenis neglects to note the use of the neuter pa'n
as the object of
what has been given to the Son.
As I pointed out in my exegesis, it is a people, a
whole, that has been entrusted to the Son.
[We will see this helps us to see the consistency of
the use of the present tense in 6:37 below as well.]
This people is defined by God’s act of giving, not
by any human act of “free will.”
The perfect tense points to a completed action.
Mr. Sungenis says that we cannot tell when
this action took place. That is quite true, but we can surely determine that it took
place prior to other actions.
It took place prior to the coming of anyone to
Christ; and it takes place prior to Jesus’ action
of “not losing” those who are given to Him.
I certainly do believe that this giving took place in
eternity past: but as I said on the program, I prove that by
direct reference to such passages as Romans 8:29-30 and
Ephesians 1:3-11. The
key in John 6 is that the giving results in the
actions of coming and believing.
summary, the perfect tense is surely very important: it not
only refutes the erroneous application Mr. Windsor made (and
which Mr. Sungenis did not repeat--we truly wonder what he
thought of it), but it does communicate to us vital
information concerning the absolute freedom of God in giving
a people unto the Son.
The people of God have been given to the Son.
What a tremendous truth!
6:40 indicates that man actively believes
The single most
common means of attempting to get around the meaning of John
6:37-39, which so strongly precludes the insertion of human
will and effort into the sovereign work of salvation, is to
literally turn the text on its head and read it backwards. That is, rather than following the natural progression of
thought, from the topic of unbelief in 6:35, through the
assertion of v. 37, into the will of the Father in 38-39,
and then into verse 40, they start with an a-contextual
interpretation of 6:40, and then insist that the preceding
verses cannot bear their natural meaning because of their
assumed, but undefended (and indefensible) interpretation of
that one verse.
There is no doubt on anyone’s part that 6:40
clearly presents man as active and believing.
That is not even relevant to the debate, since no one
is asserting that man does not believe in Christ as an
active agent. Note the plain assertion of the text:
this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the
Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself
will raise him up on the last day."
“free will” argument is clear: “beholds” and “believes”
are active verbs. Men
behold the Son, men believe in the Son.
Hence, it is argued, this act of beholding and
believing forms the basis upon which God elects.
Such an explanation takes a partial truth (the elect
surely come to Christ, behold Christ, believe in Christ) and
turns it upside down in clear violation of the text.
The careful reader, however, will note that 6:40 follows
if the flow of thought means anything, we already have the
identity of those who will come, behold, and believe,
established in these preceding verses. Remembering that Jesus is explaining the unbelief of
those who have seen Him work miracles, we have the
identification of those who do come to Christ as
those who are given to the Son by the Father (6:37); the
same ones who will be infallibly raised up by the Son as per
the Father’s will (6:38-39).
We have already been told in 6:37 that those the
Father gives to the Son come to the Son: coming is
faith is a gift of God, given to His elect people.
Indeed, Augustine put it well long ago:
16.--WHY THE GIFT OF FAITH IS NOT GIVEN TO ALL.
then, as well in its beginning as in its completion, is
God's gift; and let no one have any doubt whatever, unless
he desires to resist the plainest sacred writings, that this
gift is given to some, while to some it is not given. But
why it is not given to all ought not to disturb the
believer, who believes that from one all have gone into a
condemnation, which undoubtedly is most righteous; so that
even if none were delivered therefrom, there would be no
just cause for finding fault with God. Whence it is plain
that it is a great grace for many to be delivered, and to
acknowledge in those that are not delivered what would be
due to themselves; so that he that glorieth may glory not in
his own merits, which he sees to be equaled in those that
are condemned, but in the Lord. But why He delivers one
rather than another,--" His judgments are unsearchable,
and His ways past finding out." (On the Predestination
of the Saints)
it is completely true that every believer believes,
every believer comes to Christ. But
the wonder of the passage is that every single one given
by the Father to the Son, all, without exception, look
to Christ in faith and receive eternal life.
It is a gross misuse of the passage to turn it into a
proof-text for “free will” by removing it from its
context and turning it backwards.
Such is very much like those who read the words of
Jesus in John 8:47: "He who is of God hears the words
of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because
you are not of God,” and hear it saying the
opposite if what it actually says.
When tradition is allowed to over-ride the text,
people hear the text saying the opposite of what it
really says: they hear it say, “the reason you do not
belong to God is because you refuse to hear,” rather than
what it actually says, the reason they do not hear is
because the pre-existing condition which allows them
to hear, that of belonging to God (being of the elect, being
one of Christ’s sheep) is not present.
So too, here in John 6, while verse 40 is surrounded
by the testimony of God’s sovereignty (6:37-39, 44-45,
65, etc.), those who exalt man’s will due to their traditions
refuse to listen and understand.
use of the present tense “give” in 6:37 refutes the
interpretation White makes of 6:39
The final element of Mr. Sungenis’ attempt to
derail the exegesis of John 6:37-39 and its witness to the
truth of sovereign election and divine predestination is
based upon the use of the present tense “give” at John
says, “All that the Father gives (present tense) Me will
come to Me.” Sungenis comments:
Also, the verb "give" in John 6:37 ("All that the
Father gives to me will come to me") is a Greek present
tense, not a perfect, which shows that the action of
"giving" is occurring presently, and is not
confined to whatever White conceives the perfect tense of
6:39 to be saying. The "give" of John 6:37 is the
same Greek word as the "has given" of John 6:39,
only a different tense.
shall we say to this? Does
the use of the present tense in 6:37 mean the perfect in
6:39 cannot have reference to the same divine act we see in
Ephesians 1:4-6? Not
in the least. So
then, why is “give” in the present in 6:37, but the
perfect in 6:39?
The answer is not difficult to see.
John 6:37 speaks of the person coming to
Christ in faith. All
that the Father is giving Him, as a result of being
given, will come (future tense) to Him.
This fits perfectly with John 6:44, where the Father
is actively (and effectively, without failure), drawing
those He has given to the Son to Christ. Sungenis’ point, however, is fully refuted by simply
thinking about the use of the present in context. In John 6:37, the present tense giving results in the future
tense coming. Sungenis’
idea is that our “free will” decision predicates and
informs the “giving” of the Father, so that it is our
choice that determines the Father’s choice.
But the text refutes this clearly.
Those who will come will do so not out of some
mythological “free will” but due to the gracious work of
the Father wherein He will draw them to the Son: and the
Father performs this miracle of grace only in the
lives of those He gives to the Son.
it seems Mr. Sungenis is insisting that the present tense
here must be emphasizing an on-going action (though,
for some reason, the normal meaning of the perfect is said
to be less than definitional in 6:39), which while possible,
is not the most logical syntactical choice.
In fact, given his position, Sungenis would have to
assert a kind of “iterative present” understanding of
this present tense verb, since the action of “giving”
would be dependent upon the free-will actions of men. This makes the future action of coming determine the present
action of giving, just the opposite of what the text
the fact that this present tense is used in tandem with a
future tense (gives/will come) throws the emphasis upon the timing
of the action into the future, hence the normative
translation “All that the Father gives me” (NASB,
NIV, KJV “giveth”, NRSV) rather than the unusual “All
that the Father is giving me....”
While not fully a “gnomic” present, surely it
exists in the same general area, stating a general truth of
the Father’s giving of a people to the Son, and the
emphasis lies squarely upon the result of that giving, the
coming of the elect to Christ.
Contextually this is the point: those who stood
before the Lord in unbelief, who, despite seeing miracles,
would not come to Him, did not because they were not
given to Him by the Father. This explains their continued unbelief. To throw the emphasis in 6:37 upon the present tense rather
than the future action is to miss the context; to miss the
weight of the perfect in 6:39 in defining the will of the
Father is likewise an error.
Sungenis responded to this article. Our reply to that
response is over 200K in length, and can be read here.