John 6:64 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Joh 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.

John 6:64 is used as a prooftext for Jesus’ Omniscience. Bruce Ware is explicit:

…Jesus’ knowledge of the future is evidence that he has the knowledge of God.

In light of Jesus’ claim in John 13:19, consider a few specific examples in John of Jesus’ foreknowledge. We find Jesus telling Peter of his three denials before the rooster crows (see John 13:38 with 18:15-27); predicting the kind of death Peter would die (John 21:18 19); and predicting that Judas would be the one to betray him (John 6:64, 70-71; cf. Matt. 26:21-25). In all of these cases, Jesus’ predictions require that other humans do precisely what Jesus predicted they would do. Yet these predictions are not presented as mere guesses regarding the future. Rather, Jesus knows what other free agents will in fact choose to do, states what these future actions will be, and provides his reason for so doing: “that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.”

Ware, Bruce A.. Their God is Too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God (Kindle Locations 604-607). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.

John 6 introduces a scene in which Jesus is speaking to a group of disciples. He proceeds to aggravate them with triggering statements such as “eating flesh”, a redefinition of food (they were hungry and asking for lunch), and an equating of his followers with the true followers of God. All of this leads to murmuring (v43, v61). The false disciples eventually leave due to frustration (v66). But this is not before Jesus calls them out for their unbelief:

Joh 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.

A few questions need to be asked before entertaining Ware’s reading of this verse:

When Jesus “knew from the beginning” what beginning is being referenced? Is it the beginning of the world, or a beginning of his ministry, or the beginning of this event in Capernaum? Likely the “beginning of the world” could be ruled out as Jesus is portrayed as non-omniscient elsewhere in John. Most likely, this verse is describing the fact that Jesus had accurately pegged his audience as scammers and skeptics since first meeting them.

When the people are “betraying Jesus”, what event is this referencing? Their “betrayal” is most likely their turning aside in verse 66, and this is after Jesus insults them until they leave. This is hardly miraculous or evidence of omniscience. Rather it is a process of weeding out false followers through use of cunning and intrigue.

Ware wants this verse to be about Jesus’ omniscience and a claim of divinity. More likely, this is setting up the scene to explain why Jesus treated his audience in such a triggering fashion. He knew what they were after.

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