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The "work" and "works" of John 6:28

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Biblicist, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist Well-Known Member
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    Nov 13, 2011
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    Jn. 6:28 ¶ Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

    Need some input. Jesus had just told them to labor for meat that endureth unto everlasting life. He used the term "labouer" as analogous to "seek" in verse 26. They had found boats and crossed over and then came to Christ in order to get more food. Thus they had "laboured for meat." However, in the same verse he said that eternal life was a gift (v. 27 "give you").

    In this verse they respond to the use of "labour" by Christ and understand him to mean that they must do something - "what shall we do"? However, they go on to assert personal ability to "work" (singular) the "works of God" (plural). The phrase "we might work" represents the Present Subjunctive and demands two things (1) They are professing ability to perform (work); (2) they believe this performance must be a continual on going action. Hence, they are clearly asserting the doctrine of justification by works for eternal life.

    This is stated in direct contrast to the latter phrase in verse 26 "for him hath God the Father sealed." Here the term "sealed" represents God's approval. The Person and works of Christ had God's stamp of approval - meaning the works of God performed by Him merited eternal life. He could "give" eternal life because His life had the "seal" of God's Law of approval. His audiance ignored that statement and asserted they too had equal ability to obtain the same stamp of approval by their own "labour" for eternal life.

    Hence, the assertion "we might work" is a declaration of ability to perform "the works of God" to achieve the same end which Christ had declared he had acheived - "sealed" by God. Hence, the singular "work" refers to their own declared ability, while the plural "works" refer to what is required to achieve/obtain the approval of God - being "sealed" by God in regard to "eternal life."

    In verse 29 Jesus responds by using the same present subjunctive "that ye believe" meaning "that ye keep on believing." Furthermore, he drops the plural "works" of God and responds by the singular "work" of God required to be "sealed" by the Father. Thus, he declares that believing is a "work." However, is it a product of their singular "work" or is it the product the singular "work of God"?? They use singular "work" in reference to their own ability. Jesus responds by using the singular "work" in reference to God's ability as the "author and finisher of our faith."

    In verse 30 they continue to assert that they are able to believe on him IF visible undeniable supernatural evidence is produced by Christ to confirm He is whom he says he is. They suggest that such a miracle as providing manna is such undeniable supernatural evidence. He responds that they have already seen undeniable external miracles and yet continue in unbelief (v. 36). Hence, external miraculous evidence is not sufficient to produce inward faith in Christ.

    Verses 37-65 Jesus argues that it is God's work alone that produces inward faith in Christ. He argues that coming to him by faith is exclusively the product of God's work. None come to Christ but those first given to Christ by God (vv. 37-40). None come to Christ but those first drawn by God (vv. 44-45). He does not draw all men to Christ (vv. 64-65). Those not drawn only make false professions (v. 64).

    Indeed,the whole issue of John 6:1-36 is the wrong motives for coming to Christ:

    1. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. – v. 2

    2. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. – vv. 14-15

    3. 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. – v. 26

    4. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?…..But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.- vv. 30,36

    The first three causes are purely external in nature. The last case is an admission they are without saving faith. All reasons given for motivating them to Christ have their source in themselves and in their own lusts. The four wrong causes listed are:

    1. Visual reasons (“they saw”) instead of faith as the cause of coming to Christ – v. 2

    2. Political reasons (“to make him king”) instead of faith as the cause of coming to Christ – vv. 15-16

    3. Material (“because ye did eat”) reasons instead of faith as the cause for coming to Christ– v. 26

    4.Unbelief (“that we may….believe”)instead of faith as the cause for coming to Christ – vv. 30,36

    The first three of these causes are external in nature, while the fourth is internal in nature, but all are equally void of faith in Christ.

    The context purposely lists a variety of wrong causes that move people to come to Christ. Take note that reasons are stated clearly (“because they saw….to make him king….not because…but because…that we may see and believe”).

    So where is my exposition wrong? And what is your contextual evidence to support your criticism?
    #1 The Biblicist, Aug 7, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2014
  2. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Mar 19, 2012
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    They seemed to be stuck in the mindset, just as the rich young ruler was coming to jesus, that salvation had to be earned by merit, that God would approve how well they could keep the law, but Jesus responded bacl to them the truth that salvation is of and from the lord himself...