Refuting Arminian Arguments: On John 12:32 and ”All Men"

Does the bible teach that Christ will “draw all men” to Himself? Yes, it does. But, it is what we mean by “all men” that is really the issue. Now, before the Arminian or “free-willist” begins to argue that we are redefining words inorder to “force Calvinism into the bible”- let us acknowledge two things:

1. It is the Arminian who redefines biblical words like “election, predestined, chosen” into “God sees who will choose Him out of their own free will, and then chooses those He sees will choose him”.

2. Words are defined by their context.

Let us now look at this passage to understand the context:

20Now<sup class="xref" value="(X)”> among those who went up to worship at the feast were some<sup class="xref" value="(Y)”> Greeks. 21So these came to<sup class="xref" value="(Z)”> Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told<sup class="xref" value="(AA)”> Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23And Jesus answered them, <sup class="xref" value="(AB)”>“The hour has come<sup class="xref" value="(AC)”> for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Truly, truly, I say to you,<sup class="xref" value="(AD)”> unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25<sup class="xref" value="(AE)”> Whoever loves his life loses it, and<sup class="xref" value="(AF)”> whoever<sup class="xref" value="(AG)”> hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26If anyone serves me, he must<sup class="xref" value="(AH)”> follow me; and<sup class="xref" value="(AI)”> where I am, there will my servant be also.<sup class="xref" value="(AJ)”> If anyone serves me,<sup class="xref" value="(AK)”> the Father will honor him.

 27<sup class="xref" value="(AL)”> “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father,<sup class="xref" value="(AM)”> save me from<sup class="xref" value="(AN)”> this hour’? But<sup class="xref" value="(AO)”> for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then<sup class="xref" value="(AP)”> a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said,<sup class="xref" value="(AQ)”> “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, <sup class="xref" value="(AR)”>“This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31<sup class="xref" value="(AS)”> Now is the judgment of this world; now will<sup class="xref" value="(AT)”> the ruler of this world<sup class="xref" value="(AU)”> be cast out. 32And I,<sup class="xref" value="(AV)”> when I am lifted up from the earth,<sup class="xref" value="(AW)”> will draw<sup class="xref" value="(AX)”> all people to myself.”John 12:20-32 -ESV

Commentary: In this text Greeks come to seek Jesus. Salvation was believed to be exclusively for the Jews. But Jesus said “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd (John 10:16). These other sheep are the non-Jews, the gentiles (in this one flock there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile- Galatians 3:28). This of course was a scandal to the Jews who believed they were the apple in God’s eye. Phillip tells Jesus (about the Greeks seeking after Him) and Jesus says “The hour has come<sup class="xref" value="(AC)”> for the Son of Man to be glorified” (verse 23). This sets the tone for Jesus to speak about His death (verse 27-28), and leads to our verse of focus: “And I,<sup class="xref" value="(AV)”> when I am lifted up from the earth,<sup class="xref" value="(AW)”> will draw<sup class="xref" value="(AX)”> all people to myself.”

I believe that the word “all” in this context is referring to Jews and Gentiles. Out of these (both Jew and Gentile) God will draw His elect (Rev 5:9). This makes sense given the Greeks seeing Jesus.

It even seems that John Wesley would agree with me:

” Lifted up from the earth – This is a Hebraism which signifies dying. Death in general is all that is usually imported. But our Lord made use of this phrase, rather than others that were equivalent, because it so well suited the particular manner of his death. I will draw all men – Gentiles as well as Jews. And those who follow my drawings, Satan shall not be able to keep.” Proof here 

It is problematic to read “all” in this verse as every single person. Here is why:

Was God attempting to draw those in the old testament whom He sent no prophets to?
Was God attempting to draw those in the old testament whom He sent the Israelites to kill?
Is God attempting to draw those whom He knows (and has always known) would never choose Him?

Further, the word “draw” in Greek (transliterated) is “Helkuo“. It means to “draw, drag off” or to “draw by inward power, led, impel.” It is forced. Here are some other places where the same word is used:

Acts 16:19- And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,

Acts 21:30- And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

John 21:11Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Whenever John 6:44 is brought up, the Arminian runs to John 12:32. But this attempt is futile. In John 6:44 him who is drawn is also him who is raised up “at the last day”. Therefore, if the Arminian wants to say that all are “drawn” he will also have to conclude that all will be raised up on that last day. And if God is drawing everyone, well, then we might as well be Universalists. 

In Christ, Awretchsaved


About lalvin1517

I'm married with two children and pastor McCall Baptist Church in McCall, Idaho.
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