What is the Work of God?
In my last post, I discussed the phrase in John 6, which Calvinists ignore from their own proof text passage. In this post, we will deal with John 6:28, 29.
John 6:28–29 (NASB)
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
When the crowd that had followed Jesus asked Him what they were to do to work the works of God, their question was about their moral or legal obligations before God to gain eternal life. Their question was about works (plural). Their question was also personal. “What work shall we do…?”, they asked.
In reply to the unbelieving crowd, Jesus responded, “this is the work of God” (a singular thing as opposed to plural works). This one (singular) thing is God’s work, in order that you believe in Him (Jesus) whom He (God) has sent.
Who is working?
This is God’s work (Greek genitive “work of God”), in order that (this is the Greek hina clause), “you” believe. The term “believe” in this passage is present, active, subjunctive, second person, plural. God Himself is Sovereignly working. But, what does God’s work have as its purpose? Calvinist James White writes about the subjunctive and the hina clause:
The subjunctive in Greek is a mood that is often used to communicate possibility or probability. It can be used alone or in conjunction with other particles to add particular nuance of meaning. One particle that is often used with the subjunctive is the particle hina. When hina is used with the subjunctive, the mood changes from one of possibility or probability, to one of purpose or result. [i] It appears from the evidence of the New Testament that hina clauses (as such constructions are called) are not intended to imply uncertainty, even though they use the subjunctive mood, which, when used alone or with other particles, can indeed convey uncertainty.
The Sovereign work of God is done for a purpose and Jesus reveals the purpose “so that you believe.” The “you” in context is the unbelieving crowd.
One thing we can know for certain – that Jesus never lies, and He always tells the truth. In the last post, we saw from John 6:27 that Jesus gave a promise to the unbelieving crowd that the Son of Man “WILL give to you” the bread. It is real and not just a possibility, because of the usage of the Greek grammar, that Jesus would give the crowd the bread that endures to eternal life. The Greek word for “give” means to bestow or grant, yet we know that not everyone is saved. We also know that in John 6:28, 29 Jesus says that God’s will, the very Sovereign work of God, is for the purpose that this unbelieving crowd would believe in Jesus. These truths from Jesus are a foundation that Jesus will build upon and use for His case in the rest of John. Stayed tuned as we explore the inspired words of John 6.