In spite of the crowd’s response, Jesus was not discouraged. His confidence in the success of His mission was firmly rooted in the omnipotent sovereignty of God. He knew that all those whom the Father gives to Him (cf. v. 39; 10:29; 17:2, 6, 9, 24) will come to Him. The neuter singular form of pas (all) views those whom God gives to Jesus as a collective body, those chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). This profound reality teaches us that all who are saved are a love gift from the Father to the Son. The whole history of redemption is the gathering of this redeemed body—or the calling of a bride for the Son as a love gift from the Father. The Son views every soul given by the Father to Him as an expression of the Father’s irresistible love, so that all whom He gives will come to Christ.
From the standpoint of human responsibility, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30; cf. Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mark 6:12), and “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13; cf. John 3:15–16). Yet salvation does not depend on the human will. The redeemed are those “who were born, not … of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Salvation “does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16). Both repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25) and faith (Eph. 2:8–9; Phil. 1:29; cf. Acts 16:14) are granted by God. Otherwise no one would ever come to Him, since “there is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11; cf. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:1–3).
That God is absolutely sovereign in salvation is foundational to the Christian faith. Those errant theological systems (i.e., Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, and Arminianism) that make salvation dependent on man’s will in effect dethrone God, and are contrary to the clear statements of Scripture:
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (v. 44)
And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” (v. 65)
For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matt. 22:14)
Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. (Mark 13:20)
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Rom. 8:28–30)
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. (Eph. 1:4)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Col. 3:12)
Knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you. (1 Thess. 1:4)
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (2 Thess. 2:13)
Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. (2 Tim. 1:9)
For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. (2 Tim. 2:10)
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness. (Titus 1:1)
Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (James 2:5)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. (1 Peter 1:1–2)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
The unbelief of spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1) sinners cannot thwart the saving work of God. Having chosen them in eternity past, He graciously and irresistibly calls them to Himself.
Lest any seeking souls should fear that they might not be among the elect, Jesus described the one whom the Father gave to the Son as none other than the one who comes to Me. From God’s view, we are given by His sovereign power to the Son. From our view, we come to Christ. And, of course, our Lord would never reject one who comes as a love gift from the Father. So Jesus added, I will certainly not cast that one out. The strong double negative ou mē states emphatically that Christ will not reject anyone who sincerely and submissively comes to Him. True saving faith can never be exercised in vain, but only at the prompting of the Father (v. 44).
Here again is the incomprehensible (to the human mind) interplay between divine sovereignty and human responsibility: only those given to the Son by the Father will come to Him, yet all who are “thirsty [may] come” and anyone “who wishes [may] take the water of life without cost” (Rev. 22:17). Though they seem impossible to harmonize, there is no conflict between those two truths in the infinite mind of God (Deut. 29:29). (God’s sovereignty in salvation does not negate the believer’s responsibility to evangelize the lost—Matt. 24:14; 26:13; 28:19; Mark 13:10; cf. Acts 8:25, 40; 14:7, 15, 21; 16:10; Rom. 1:15; 15:19–20; 1 Cor. 1:17; 9:16, 18; 15:1; 2 Cor. 10:16; 11:7; Gal. 1:8–9, 11; 2:2; Phil. 4:15; 1 Peter 1:12).
MacArthur New Testament Commentary