According to John 12:32 (NRSV):

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoplea to myself.”

aJohn 12:32 Other ancient authorities read all things

Yeshua seems to be saying- without exception- that each and every individual, or even every thing, will eventually be drawn/dragged to himself. Or does he mean that even an average North Korean inherently knows that the Catholic gospel is true, so they are freely wicked people for refusing the Church’s dogmas?

What is the Catholic interpretation of John 12:32?

  • 1
    The verb ελκυο helkuo appears six times in scripture, five of them being in John's gospel, one in Acts. Four are 'non-doctrinal'. The two doctrinal are here, John 12:32 and John 6:44 : No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


No, St. John does not mean "everyone" when he says "all things".

From lession 5 of St. Thomas Aquinas's commentary on Jn. 12:

  1. Here we may note that the Father draws and the Son also draws: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (6:44). He says here, I will draw all things, in order to show that the same action belongs to both of them. And he says, all things, and not "all men," because not all men are drawn to the Son. I will draw all things, that is, the body and the soul; or all types of men, such as Gentiles and Jews, servants and freemen, male and female; or, all who are predestined to salvation.

From his Catena Aurea on John 12, lesson 4, he quotes St. Augustine:

What is this all that He draws, but that from which the devil is cast out? He does not say, All men, but, All things; for all men have not faith. He does not mean then all mankind, but the whole of a man, i.e. spirit, soul, and body; by which respectively we understand, and live, and are visible. Or, if all means all men, it means those who are predestined to salvation: or all kinds of men, all varieties of character, excepting in the article of sin.

  • Fr. Ripperger said it is all men drawn under the foot of the cross. But to be judged! During the exorcism, they send devils there too. So my understanding is that at the final judgment everyone will be put under the cross to be judged and it will be decided if we were in Christ or not.
    – Grasper
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 12:20

This is a common argument from those outside the Church, that "All" means each and every individual. Protestants, in General, use "All" often times in the very same way your questions suggests, yet at other times, the word "All" is not used to mean each and every individual.

In this Scripture, the Church teaches that "All" means, All the men, from every Nation.

When Christ was lifted up on the Cross

When Christ was lifted up into heaven

When Christ is lifted up in the mass, all are drawn to him in his Eucharistic Presence from every Nation, one body.

As to the Wicked North Koreans, that is another topic having to do with those people who have not been evangelized. The Church teaches that there is hope for them.

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