From: Mike Sangrey (email@example.com)
Date: Sun Feb 27 2000 - 16:07:39 EST
Ward Powers <firstname.lastname@example.org> said:
> Then the point is often drawn from this passage that intellectual
> belief is not enough, heart commitment to Jesus is required of a
> disciple, and so forth. A parallel may be drawn with Judas - one of
> the inner group, and yet he betrayed Jesus.
> Now, is this really a valid understanding of this passage? My
> examination of the Greek makes me wonder whether a different meaning
> is intended.
Ward Powers is questioning how John can say on the one hand the Jews
believe in Jesus and then show what is apparently such clear evidence
of not believing.
I think John is using this stark contrast to thrust before us a much
more important point. One that Ward, IMO, has almost accurately
grasped, but not quite.
I believe John 8:30-59 is part of a larger discourse, namely John
6:1-8:59 (Joe "Mr. Discourse" Friberg: please jump in here at any
point :-). Note that after Jesus performs the miracle of feeding the
five thousand, people follow Him. He tells them to believe on Him
and their response is to ask for another sign. Why? The argument
which Jesus lays before them is very instructive. He essentially
says that believing is a spiritual thing and you are trying to do it
by the flesh. In 6:63 we have
TO PNEUMA ESTIN TO ZWOPOIOUN, hH SARX OUK WFELEI OUDEN
"the spirit is that which makes alive, the flesh doesn't
So, the problem is not between intellectual versus heart belief.
It is, if you'll allow the word picture, between spirit-generated
and flesh-generated belief.
Now, just to expose my assumption, my understanding of SARX is that it
is the embodiment of those physical impulses which motivate our natural
desires (illustrated in the text by the people wanting fed). These
natural desires are a God given thing, not evil in and of themselves.
However, the flesh is to be subjugated to the regenerated spirit.
Note verse 6:65
KAI ELEGEN, DIA TOUTO EIRHKA hUMIN hOTI OUDEIS DUNATAI ELQEIN
PROS ME EAN MH H DEDOMENON AUTW EK TOU PATROS
"He went on to say, 'this is the reason I said to you that
no one can come to me unless the giving to me would be from
Therefore, Jesus is stressing a person's complete reliance on God.
There are strong hints of this throughout 6:25-40. I should hardly
call them 'hints'.
In John 8:31-58, I think John is again stressing the spiritual over
the fleshly. Notice the different ways the two "actors" (Jesus and
the group of Jews) are using the word 'Abraham'. So, I think here
in John 8, John is saying essentially the same thing he did in John 6.
Belief is a spiritual thing, not something one achieves by human
effort. Notice also, John 8:47:
hO WN EK TOU QEOU TA hRHMATA TOU QEOU AKOUEI; DIA TOUTO hUMEIS
OUK AKOUETE, hOTI EK TOU QEOU OUK ESTE
"those who are from God [ie. those given to me] hear the word
of God; this is the reason you do not hear, you aren't [given]
Isn't this a parallel to 6:65?
I haven't said as much as I would like to and perhaps parts of
what I've said are still unclear. I'll gladly clarify, but I do
encourage you to read (and reread) the entire discourse--6:1-8:59.
The theological implications of what I've said are close at hand,
but I'll leave them to private email, if anyone wishes to pick them
up and handle them. (I'm not baiting anyone, just redirecting.)
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