God’s drawing: When does “draw” mean “drag”?
If we are to believe Calvinism, we would have to conclude that God is a “dragger.” Calvinists are quick to point out that in John 6:44 the term “draw” actually means “drag” and this is what God does to His elect who, in their unregenerate state, are both unwilling and unable to respond to Him in faith.
Taking the Biblical test
Let’s have a close look at the word “draw” to see what it actually means.
If we look up the Greek term for the biblical usage of the word for “draw” we can see that the primary meaning is to “attract.” There are other meanings for draw when animals, clothing, judgment and mistreatment are the context. For example, the Greek word can mean to “haul” in a net, or to “stretch” a piece of cloth.
It can also mean to drag a person out for the purpose of punishment, mistreatment or judgment:
Under this category, a person can be dragged because they are unwilling to go for mistreatment, punishment or judgment, and the mover uses something like a sword as a means of compelling the unwilling. An object can also be pulled because the object being moved is incapable of propelling itself.
Do Bible translations use the term “drag” in John 6:44?
Bible translations do not use the term “drag” or “haul” in John 6:44 because the context is the Holy God and that He works by bringing an attraction to Jesus. I would invite you to do what I did and check out http://bible.cc/john/6-44.htm to see if you can find a reputable translation that would translate “draw” as “drag.” I couldn’t find a single Bible translation that shows the context of God “dragging.” In fact, the BDAG lexicon makes it clear that the context of John 6:44 is of God Himself with the meaning of “attract” for the purpose of drawing, attracting, a person in the direction of values for inner life.
Why does Calvinism apply a word meaning forceful dragging to God’s work on the human heart?
There is nothing at all in the context surrounding John 6:44 that represents God’s force so it should be a mystery why Calvinism teaches God must use force on unwilling people to bring them to Christ. That is except for the fact that it is vital for the doctrine of Calvinism which must have a proof text even though the context of John 6:44 does not support the meaning of force. After all, if a doctrine denies that anyone is capable of being attracted to Jesus, how else do they get to Jesus but to be dragged when they are unwilling and unable to respond? When you have an unbiblical idea, how can the truth be found in it? It is an honorable thing to ask these questions for we are all instructed to be Bereans.
When we allow the Bible to speak for itself, it is clear that God can interpret His own terms. Look at the very next verse, John 6:45.
John 6:45 (NASB) “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
Notice that God is equating drawing with teaching. God does not connect the term “draw” to an Old Testament passage about God dragging people to Himself. Rather God says that His drawing is spoken of in the prophets as God teaching all. If you are a Calvinist, I would sincerely like to ask you to answer several questions.
1. Can you give me even one translation that renders John 6:44 as “drag”?
2. Can you give me another New Testament example where the term “drag” is used regarding what is done to a man in a good way? (i.e. not an abusive act but a godly usage towards another human.)
3. Why do you think that the clear positive effort of God to attract and teach in the context of John 6:44 is forced into an unnatural meaning by using a term that is only used for humans in the New Testament in the context of abuse or judgment?
4. Why do you tell people that “draw” in John 6:44 means drag? Have you really thought this one through?