No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
In this clip, Dr. Sproul recounts the time he was asked to engage in a debate concerning this topic. The word in question is ἑλκύω (helkuō). It is found in the New Testament in the following verses:
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.
But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.
Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut.
But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?
Definitions of this word include:
a prim. vb.; to drag:—drag(1), dragged(2), draw(1), draws(1), drew(2), haul(1). Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : Updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.
ἑλκύω hĕlkuō, hel-koo´-o; or ἕλκω hĕlkō, hel´-ko; prob. akin to 138; to drag (lit. or fig.):—draw. comp. 1667. Strong, J. (2009). Vol. 1: A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (27). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
ἑλκύω (helkuō): vb.; ≡ Str 1670; TDNT 2.503—an alternate lexical form based on the inflected form with an upsilon manifest, yet considered only a part of the inflection, MHT 2:236; see ἕλκω (helkō), just below ἕλκω (helkō): vb. [served by 1816]; ≡ Str 1670—1. LN 15.212 pull in, drag, draw, haul in (Jn 6:44; 12:32; 18:10; 21:6, 11+); 2. LN 15.178 lead by force (Ac 16:19; 21:30; Jas 2:6+) Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
(impf εἷλκον, fut ἑλκύσω, aor εἵλκυσα, subj 3 sg ἑλκύσῃ)
a pull: 15.212
b lead by force: 15.178 Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 2: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (82). New York: United Bible Societies.
- Transliteration: Helkuo
- Phonetic: hel-koo’-o
1. to draw, drag off
2. metaph., to draw by inward power, lead, impel
- Origin: probably akin to G138
- TDNT entry: 10:23,2
- Part(s) of speech: Verb (Thayer)
tn Or “attracts him,” or “pulls him.” The word is used of pulling or dragging, often by force. It is even used once of magnetic attraction (A. Oepke, TDNT 2:503).
sn The Father who sent me draws him. The author never specifically explains what this “drawing” consists of. It is evidently some kind of attraction; whether it is binding and irresistible or not is not mentioned. But there does seem to be a parallel with 6:65, where Jesus says that no one is able to come to him unless the Father has allowed it. This apparently parallels the use of Isaiah by John to reflect the spiritual blindness of the Jewish leaders (see the quotations from Isaiah in John 9:41 and 12:39–40). Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Jn 6:44). Biblical Studies Press.
Yes, before one objects, there could be other nuances in 6:44, so the dictionaries/lexicons are not absolutely definitive here. One should, however, give theological thought to these definitions – they do present a rather compelling (no pun intended) argument for what Dr. Sproul says in this clip: