Without realizing it, many of us somehow misinterpret Scripture by disregarding context. Sometimes we quote a favorite verse to support our view but without realizing it, unintentionally of course, we sometimes miss the point.
John 6:44 is one good example of an often-quoted verse. In this verse Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Of course, we can easily understand this verse and its meaning is quite clear. That is, if this verse — this sentence — is all by itself and there are no other verses surrounding it. But there lies the problem. Interpreting a verse in isolation — apart from its context — can mislead us into a wrong interpretation.
We have to remember a sound principle in interpretation that: Words or phrases derive its meaning depending on how it is used in a particular context.
Another way of saying it is that: In interpretation, the message of the text is not conveyed through single words alone but through words in relationship with each other as they occur in a specific literary context.
Without considering its surrounding context, we can misunderstand John 6:44 to mean that God is limiting the number of those whom he will save or elect.
Some interpret this verse to mean that only a few elected ones are predestined to be saved and the rest of humanity will be damned in hell. But is this really what Jesus is telling us in John 6:44? Let’s find out and check its surrounding context.
Getting the Context
It is always best to read the whole chapter to get the larger context. In John 6:41 we find Jesus claiming to be the Bread of Life or the Bread that came down from heaven. The Jews began to grumble and complain when Jesus claimed divine status by saying that he is the Bread from heaven. It was tantamount to blasphemy according to the Jews.
Jesus’ reply to the Jews was that they should not grumble (verse 43) if many people are coming to him. Jesus said that it was the Father who was drawing these many people to come to him—the Bread of Life (verse 44). Yes, the Father was the one inviting and drawing everyone to come to Jesus, the Bread of life. Jesus affirmed his divine status as the Bread of life. That is the surrounding context of John 6:44.
My main point in this blog is to show that God was not limiting the number of people who are drawn to him. That is how most people assume is the meaning of John 6:44 when reading it outside of its surrounding context. God was actually inviting and drawing everyone to come to Christ—the Bread of life!
This very verse which some people use to support a view that only a few will be saved or only a few are elected at this time is actually a verse that tells us that God wants to include and save all! God loves the whole world!
Verse 40 is interesting and is quite clear: “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.” Please take note that verse 40 is part of the immediate context and should not be disregarded! This is God’s open invitation to all!
Clearly then, God is not limiting the number of those whom he will save. The opposite is actually intended by Jesus Christ in John 6:44. God wants to draw all men to himself. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
This is the context of John 6:44, the context of the whole book of John and the context of Scripture viewed from a Christ-centered point of view. You are loved! You are accepted! You are included! Everybody is invited to come and enjoy life and love in Jesus Christ!
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