All Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Note: This study may be a little hard to follow for most — unless one already has a good understanding of Corporate Election and Fulfillment Theology. It would also be helpful to read a solid interpretation of John 6:37,44-45 overall. Therefore, in order to benefit most from this study, I encourage you to read the posts below first:
44 No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me.
Calvinists believe this passage refers to “the elect” who “hear” and “learn” from the Father via regeneration, who are then able to understand unto faith. These are the one’s who are “drawn” (irresistible grace) and “given” to Jesus (Jn 6:37).
However, the overall context reveals that Jesus has all people in mind, and not the “elect few” of Calvinist theology.
I believe what Jesus reveals here in verse 45, is that salvation is not only available to all individuals, but that election is corporate – not the election of a “select few.” Furthermore, I believe that Jesus also reveals that the fulfillment of Israel is in the Church. This is known as Fulfillment Theology. I believe there is a direct correlation between Corporate Election and Fulfillment Theology. They are a mirror image of each other.
Corporate Election is, briefly, the choosing of Christ as the Corporate Head of the Church, and that our election is in Christ and the Church. In other words, Jesus is the true “Elect,” and when we place our faith in Him, we enter into His election. Together we make up the Church, which is the corporate body of Christ. We are not elect before conversion, but we become elect at conversion when we become members of the Elect Church in Christ. Our identification as “the elect” is in Christ.
Examination of John 6:45:
To understand what Jesus has in view in verse 45, we have to go to the Old Testament passage that He is quoting, which is from the book of Isaiah:
11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. 12 And I will make thy pinnacles of rubies, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy border of precious stones. 13 And all thy children shall be taught of Jehovah; and great shall be the peace of thy children. 14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee.
Verse 13 is the verse that Jesus is specifically quoting, but in order to accurately interpret what He’s talking about, we have to consider the whole context of this Isaiah passage. To do that, we must start with the previous chapter, which is chapter 53 (beginning with Is 52:13-15). This, of course, is a key Old Testament passage about Christ and His crucifixion. I will not quote from it, but I encourage you to read it.
Isaiah 53 is a detailed picture of the crucified Savior (Messiah), who of course did not die just for the people of Israel, but for the Gentiles too (whole world). However, if we read chapter 52, we see that chapter 53 is in the context of the people of Israel. However, in chapter 54 we see a clear picture of the future glory of the Church, especially seen in verses 11-14 (also Is 54:2-3). In chapters 55 and 56, we see the offer of salvation to the whole world. Please take the time to read Isaiah, chapters 52 thru 56.
So what is my point? My point is, the passage that Jesus quotes from, is a picture of the glorious Church in Christ, which was still future at that time. It’s the fulfillment of Israel. In other words, the Church is the spiritual Israel in Christ. The OT as a whole points to Christ, and therefore, the Church. Jesus is the Corporate Head of the Church, thus we cannot separate the two in the context of the New Covenant.
While Israel of the whole OT is a type and shadow of Christ and the Church, we see this in miniature in our Isaiah text. We see national Israel in chapter 52; the crucified Savior in chapter 53; we see the fulfillment of Israel in the glorious Church in chapter 54, especially in verses 11-14. In chapters 55 and 56 we see the inclusion of the Gentiles. So in these chapters we see Christ as the Savior of the world, but with a special view of those who believe in Him, both among Jews and Gentiles, which under the New Covenant, is the corporate body of Christ, which is the Church.
So we see in the passage that Jesus quotes from (Is 54:11-14), a picture of the future glory of the Church in Christ, which is the fulfillment and continuation of Israel.
Once we consider the whole context surrounding the passage that Jesus quotes from, the picture of verse 45 expands greatly. It reveals a much deeper meaning than what we see on the surface of His statement. Jesus sees the glorious Church, and in the context of all people – all individuals of John, chapter 6.
The Apostle John himself likely has this same Isaiah passage in mind when he describes the New Jerusalem of the Eternal Kingdom (Rev 21, 22). The New Jerusalem is the final dwelling place of all of God’s people in Christ.
Thus we see that Israel has its continuation in Christ and the Church, and that the the Church has its continuation in the New Jerusalem (of the New Heaven and New Earth), where Christ and His Father will co-reign forever and ever. We see that this reign of Christ in the Eternal Kingdom has its beginning in the Church over His people:
“who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love;” (Col 1:13)
The rule of Christ over His people begins in the Church, and continues in the Eternal Kingdom where He co-rules with the Father.
Therefore, the Church is the fulfillment of both Israel and the Kingdom of the Messiah they looked forward to….and still do today.
So why all the discussion about the Kingdom of Christ in the context of verse 45? Because it’s part of the prophecy that Jesus quotes from. It’s important that we see the complete picture of what Jesus Himself apparently sees there.
But how does it help us interpret what Jesus means in verse 45? In that one short quote, “And they shall all be taught of God,” it’s evident that He sees both the glorious Church and the Eternal Kingdom that awaits her. It’s in the Eternal Kingdom that we will be fully and forever be taught by God.
Therefore, we must conclude, that when Jesus says, all who “hear” and “learn” from the Father, He is referring to those who initially hear and learn in the manner that gets them into His Church and into His Kingdom — both the Kingdom that is Now and the Eternal Kingdom
Those who “hear” and “learn” are those who believe from a heart of humility. Salvation is available to all, and the opportunity to exercise the humility of faith is available to all, just as the context of chapter 6 shows.
Corporate Election teaches that Christ is the true Elect, and those who place their faith in Him, enter into His election. Together, they make up the Elect Church, whom Christ is Head. This is who He sees in Isaiah 54:11-14. So those who “hear” and “learn,” do so in the manner that gets them into the Elect Church, which is through faith – which is through the enabling work of the Holy Spirit.
The whole nation of Israel serves as the pattern for Corporate Election:
While it’s true that the nation of Israel always had but a remnant of true believers, it was the whole nation that was referred to as “My people Israel” (2 Sam 7:8). All we have to do is go to the first chapter of Isaiah to see this:
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for Jehovah hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly! they have forsaken Jehovah, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are estranged and gone backward.
“Attend unto me, O my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a
law shall go forth from me, and I will establish my justice for a light of the
6 For thou art a holy people unto Jehovah thy God: Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. 7 Jehovah did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all peoples: 8 but because Jehovah loveth you, and because he would keep the oath which he sware unto your fathers, hath Jehovah brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
(Also read De 14:2; 1 Chr 16:13; Ps 105:6-10; 135:4: Is 44:1; 45:4)
We see that this book opens with God addressing the whole nation of Israel – through the prophet Isaiah. The LORD refers to this rebellious and sinful people as “My people.” Thus God Himself viewed the nation of Israel as His people, and not just the true believers in Yahweh. They were His people in the sense that God had chosen them above all the people of the world, in order to carry out His plan of redemption for the world.
It was the nation of Israel that represented the true God and true religion. It was the nation of Israel that God chose to reveal Himself to and through. It was from the nation of Israel that God chose prophets to speak through. It was to the nation of Israel that the Ten Commandments and the whole Law was given. It was through the nation of Israel that God chose to bring His Son into the world. Etc. The Apostle Paul says the same thing in substance:
1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren’s sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Clearly, Paul understood all these things to be given to the nation of Israel, and not just to the believing remnant. The whole nation had their identity in these things.
However, Paul goes on from there to describe who true “Israelites” are under the New Covenant:
6 But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: 7 neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.
In this one passage alone in Romans, we see a clear picture of national Israel giving birth to spiritual Israel. It’s the nation of Israel that is the type and shadow of the Church in Christ.
Under the New Covenant in Christ, the true Jews are those who are of the faith of Abraham, and not those of ethnic lineage. In fact, in verse 6, Paul uses the national term “Israel” to describe the true Israel in Christ. Paul describes this in further detail earlier in this same book:
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
16 For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
Again in Galatians:
Galatians 3:16, 25-29
16 Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ….25 But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. 28 There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.
In all of these passages, Paul is identifying true Israel under the New Covenant, the true offspring (seed) of Abraham. His true offspring are not those who are in his physical line, but who share his faith Christ, both Jews and Gentiles.
Notice that in Galatians 3:16, that the promises were made to Abraham and to “his seed,” referring not to those of national lineage, but to Christ. Under the New Covenant, Jesus is true Israel. Those who place their faith in Him become a part of this Israel that is now a spiritual nation, in Christ.
As an ethnic nation, Israel was to be all that God had called them to be, to be faithful to the God they represented. It was the true God and the truth they represented that gave them their identity. Thus it wasn’t just the believing Jews that had their identity in Yahweh. To suggest such a thing would be contrary to the common understanding of the Old Testament.
Christ fulfilled everything that the nation of Israel was called to be. Thus it was the nation of Israel that serves as the type and shadow of the spiritual Israel that they were to become in Christ. In Christ, the nation of Israel finally becomes all that they were meant to be, but as a spiritual nation – in Christ. What they were not able to accomplish as an ethnic nation, they fulfill in Christ. The Church is that spiritual nation. This is all-important to understand.
We must conclude, then, that what Jesus saw in Isaiah 54:11-14 (also Is 54:2-3), from which He quoted in John 6:45, is what what Paul did. He saw the glorious Church in Christ, the true Israel of the New Testament.
When Jesus quotes Isaiah 54:13, He sees the glorious Church and the glorious Kingdom, but he does so in the context of salvation being available to all individuals. Paul’s teachings allows us to correctly interpret what Jesus saw by explaining that the Church is the true Israel in Christ. Furthermore, we saw and that the corporate choosing of national Israel must, necessarily, continue on in the New Testament in Christ and the Church.
Therefore, those who are “taught by God,” those who “hear” and “learn,” from the Father, are those who do so in the manner that makes them members of the Elect Church in Christ – which is according the the humility of faith.