The Contextual Definition of "the work of God" in John 6:29

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Biblicist, Aug 16, 2016.

  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    A. This is the work of God that ye believe on him - Jn. 6:26-30

    26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
    27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
    28 ¶ Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
    29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
    30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?


    The previous context presents different reasons that people came to Christ, none of which were for eternal life:

    1. Some came to him because of miracles - v. 2 "because they saw his miracles"
    2. Some came to him because they wanted civil power - v. 15 "by force, to make him a king,"
    3. These came to him for food - v. 26 "because ye did eat of the loaves"

    Moreover, these are unbelievers in Christ by their own testimony "that we may....believe" (v. 30) and were pronounced as unbelievers by Christ "ye also have seen me, and believe not." (v.36).

    The issue here is what do the words "this is the work of God that ye believe" mean. There are two different interpretations:

    1. believing in him is a "work" they can do
    2. believing in him is a "work" of God that no man can do but must be given by God

    The first option is directly repudiated by Christ in the immediate context as Jesus says "no man can come to me" (Jn. 6:44). The exception clause demands that coming is the work of God and does not and cannot originate in man.

    The only possible contextual objection is found in verse 27 where Jesus instructs them not to labor after food that perishes but to labor for food that endureth unto eternal life. Hence, the implication is that eternal life may be obtained by works as the root for the term translated "labor" is "ergos" the same term translated "work."

    However, when Christ referred to their "labor" for perishable food he was not referring to any works of the law, but referring to their previous pursuit of coming to Christ for the wrong thing. They had followed him across the sea and sought him out for literal perishable "meat" Jesus is simply telling them that the labor they had expended in pursuing him for perishable food was the wasted as they should have expended that labor and coming to him for eternal life. However, that eternal life is not earned but is something he shall "give" to those who come to him by faith or metaphorically speaking partake of him by faith as one would partake of food.
    "Which the Son of man shall give unto you:" Eventually they realize that it is something given rather than earned as they later say "give us this bread" but when they realize this bread is Christ - they will not believe in him.

    The second option is reaffirmed over and over again by the larger context.

    1. Coming to Christ by faith for eternal life is directly placed as a consequence of God's act of giving to the Son - Jn. 6:37

    2. Coming to Christ by faith for eternal life is explicitly said to be something man cannot do - Jn. 6:44 but is the work of God drawing. The Greek term translated "can" in John 6:44 is "dunamai" and refers to ability. To respond that man can once God draws proves my point that it is the work of God.

    3. The explanation given by Christ for some of his disciples continuing in a state of unbelief "from the beginning" (Jn. 6:64) is that they were not objects of the Father's work of drawing - Jn. 6:65. The change from using "draw" to "it were given unto him of my Father" clearly again asserts that coming to Christ by faith for eternal life is the work of God.

    The second option is also confirmed by the immediate context:

    1. Those being addressed refused to believe in him apart from seeing him do more miracles.

    2. The explanation for having seen him and yet remaining in unbelief (v. 36) is that they were not "of all" the Father gives to the Son because "all" given do in fact come to Christ by faith.

    3. The condemnation by Christ in verse 36 is immediatlely followed by an explanation of why anyone does come to Christ by faith for eternal life as a consequence of the act of God giving them to the Son.

    Some object that "come to me" does not mean come to Christ by faith for eternal life. However, Christ establishes that words "cometh unto me" is precisely what that means as he says just preceding this passage:

    35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

    He first asserts that he is the bread of life and then illustrates coming to him by faith for eternal life in the metaphorical language of eating and drinking as partaking of him by coming to him by faith for eternal life.

    CONCLUSION: I believe that the immediate context followed by the overall context of John 6 conclusively proves that Jesus is asserting that coming to him by faith for eternal life is "the work of God" which he goes on to define as (1) Coming to Christ is consequence of God's work of giving - vv. 38-39; which occurred prior to the incarnation and (2) Coming to Christ is the consequence of God's work of drawing which occurs prior to coming to Christ by faith for eternal life.
     
  2. HankD

    HankD
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    While I am almost in the camp you espouse, I still believe it is all together possible (IF GOD had CHOSEN in eternity) to give every man the predisposition to believe and the free will to do so without violating His own sovereignty as many passages seem to indicate an ability to freely choose:

    Acts 17:30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

    Don't ask me how that is possible as we are talking about our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Eternal God but I do believe it is within the realm of possibility.

    John 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

    HankD
     
  3. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Hank take a look at my exposition of John 6:44-45 and you will see that "draw" cannot possibly be applied to anyone other than the children of the new covenant, that is, if immediate context is the determining factor of a right interpretation.

    No one disputes the responsibility of all sinners everywhere to repent. With regard to John 1:9 I think the context demonstrates that this is not referring to granting temporary freedom of the will from the bondage of sin but is defined as "life" originating with Christ as Creator or that Christ is the source of all life.

    Jn. 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
    4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.


    As creator (v. 3) he is the source of all human life and it is that life which was "the light of men." When a human "cometh into the world" it is because they have been given life from Christ as creator. John 1:9 is referring to the human entrance into this world "cometh into the world." Their very life originates with Christ just as he tells those philosophers on Mar's hill that you just referred to:

    "seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;" -Acts 17:24

    "For IN HIM WE LIVE, and move, and have our being; " - Acts 17:28
     
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  4. HankD

    HankD
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    Thanks B.
    HankD
     
  5. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Your welcome hank.
     

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