John 6:64-65 reads:

“But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray Him. And He was saying “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father”.

To me this seems as though it proves total depravity as well as unconditional election because he begins by talking about Judas betraying Jesus and Jesus knowing this from the beginning. And then it says “for this reason” and essentially talks about God choosing/granting salvation to the elect.

This would also link to John 6:44:

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

Wesleyan theology teaches that all are drawn, but only some are sent to Jesus to be raised however I don’t see any reason why the drawing, coming to Jesus, and raising would be talking about a different group of people. The text just doesn’t suggest it. But anyway, I’m not sure what other explanation we could give to this passage but if anyone has another interpretation please let me know!

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    Only one's own self discovery of depravity within oneself 'proves' the truth of the doctrine. But yes, this particular text is evidence of the fact.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 9, 2021 at 5:33
  • It does not follow from John 6:64-65 that we are totally depraved, since the possibility is left open by the passage that someone could do good deeds even before becoming a Christian i.e. coming to the Son. Jesus foreknowing the lack of belief of some does not say anything about election: the possibility is left open that God elects based on foreseen aspects of a person: for example, a foreseen faith, or aforementioned lack thereof. John 6:44 does not say on which basis the Father draws people: the possibility is left open that He draws based on foreseen aspects of a person. Aug 9, 2021 at 7:26
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    What is proves is foreknowledge, which is what election is according to. "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" - 1 Peter 1:1-2 Aug 9, 2021 at 23:52

1 Answer 1



"Proof-texting" can be a way to bypass a thorough-going hermeneutic. I emphasize the words can be, because in Christians' witness to the world, there is nothing inherently wrong with quoting a verse "out of context" when the situation warrants it.

Verses like John 3:16, among others, is a great verse to quote to a seeker, and the Holy Spirit, I believe, is willing and able to implant the meaning of that verse into a seeker's heart. Sometimes that soil upon which that seed falls will be receptive to it, and the seed will germinate as the Holy Spirit wings the truth of that verse to a seeker's heart.

On the other hand, proof-texting carries with it the danger of eisegesis. To combat the tendency of interpreters of Scripture to project their own ideas onto (and into) a text, God has given them 66 books(!) from which they can, in analogical fashion, contextualize a pericope, making it clearer through what could be called a system of checks and balances.

That system of checks and balances can prevent, in many instances, an interpreter from over-emphasizing or under-emphasizing an aspect of biblical doctrine. Sometimes, however, the Bible presents us with paradox, and while some paradoxes can be reconciled, some cannot.

An example of paradox that can be reconciled quite easily is Jesus's teaching about gaining life only to lose it, and losing life to gain it (see Mark 8:34; Matthew 16:24ff; and Luke 9:23ff).


An example of a paradox that cannot be reconciled that easily--if at all--is the paradox of "the free will of humankind" and the "Sovereignty of God." According to Reformed Theology, the supposed paradox of which I speak is not a paradox at all. Rather, it is a clear-cut issue that when rightly understood takes "free will" out of the equation in order to give way to God's sovereignty. Free will to Reformed Christians is a spurious construct that robs God of his right to choose his elect and gives humans the freedom to believe or not believe for their salvation.

Free-willists, on the other hand (i.e., Arminians), while not detracting--they believe--from the doctrine of God's sovereignty, insist that humankind does have the ability to believe or not believe, else how can anyone make sense of the numerous invitations in Scripture to believe, to take that first step of faith (whether in a pinpoint of time or gradually over time). Crassly, you don't extend an invitation to someone you know in advance is not able to accept it. Jesus did not say "Come unto me, you elect ones." He said, "“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28)

I'd like to think that both camps believe in the drawing power of God the Father and the Holy Spirit to regenerate sinners who are dead in sin, which brings me to my conclusion regarding your interpretation of John 6:64-65.

What the passage under consideration does quite nicely is simply corroborate other scriptures that teach the same or similar aspects of the same doctrine; more specifically, the doctrine concerning God's role in making corpses who are dead in sin come alive in Christ. If you want to "read into" John 6 the concept of total depravity, I do not think you are necessarily violating a hermeneutical principle, but I think you need to look elsewhere in Scripture for corroborating evidence ot total depravity. I assume there are plenty of evidences.

I think author A. W. Pink makes a valid point in his classic work, The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man, in which he suggests there exists an antinomy between God's sovereignty, on the one hand, and man's will on the other hand. Think of an antinomy as the kind of paradox that is impossible to explain and reconcile. That suggests that both the free-willists and the election-emphasizers are only partially correct on this crucial and often schism-producing, two-perspective issue.


So why, I ask, is each side so adamant in insisting that only their perspective is correct? Why are proponents of each perspective so willing--even eager--to pick apart the perspective of the supposedly opposing camp (viz. Calvinists versus Arminianists) instead of letting the two perspectives remain an antinomy?

In conclusion, frankly I think the primary reason for this standoff is pride and the desire to be right at any cost, even it it leads to schism, bickering, disunity, grudges, bitterness, factionalism ("I am of Paul" and "I am of Apollos"), ad hominems (i.e., name-calling), and other God-dishonoring behaviors that potentially sully Christians' witness to the world.

  • +1 I do get involved in the debate but, OH, how I love this answer. Aug 9, 2021 at 23:54
  • @MikeBorden: Thanks, Mike. That means alot! Don Aug 10, 2021 at 3:32

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