“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47)
Ask people what their favorite verse(s) is in the Bible and they may mention Psalm 23, Genesis 1:1, Proverbs 3:5-6 and most likely on everyone’s top ten list, John 3:16. But what about John 6:47? It’s a pretty amazing with an equally amazing promise from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
First of all, let us note that Jesus is the one doing the speaking. As you may recall, today’s text is within the context of Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse. Jesus has already said some rather thought provoking truths in the discourse. John 6:47 is one of the most wonderful and encouraging. It is wonderful and encouraging, but also exclusive.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly.” The Greek word is ἀμήν; amen, from which we derive the English word Amen. Jesus is saying that what He is about to say is indeed a certainty. It is such a certainty that Jesus repeats Himself for emphasis.
Notice also that Jesus invoked His own authority. Much like the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus used the phrase “I say to you.” Jesus meant for the people then, and now, to understand that what He said carries with it the full authority of Scripture. It is the Word of God.
What is this truly, true truth that Jesus communicated? It is this. “Whoever believes (in Me) has eternal life.” Let’s unpack this portion of the verse word by word.
Whoever! Who belongs to the category of people known as the “whoever?” This is where it is of utmost importance for us not to remove John 6:47 from its immediate context. The whoever must be those who the Father has given to the Son unto salvation (John 6:35-46). The “whoever” are they who comprise the “all” mentioned by Jesus in John 6:35 who the Father will give as a gift to the Son.
What are these “whoever” enabled by God to do? They believe. Their belief is a present and an active reality in their lives. They are people who trust, depend, commit and worship a particular object. The result of this belief, Jesus said, is that those people, the “whoever”, who believe have eternal life. Eternal life is not just a future promise, but also a present reality which those who are the “whoever” actively and presently possess.
Now, who, or what, is the object of the “whoever’s” belief? The English Standard Version infers that it is Jesus. Let’s examine this text from other English translations.
NASB 95 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”
NIV84 – “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.”
NRSV – “Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.
KJV 1900 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
It is the King James, and New King James, Versions of the Bible that explicitly identify the object of faith to be the Son: Jesus Christ.
It is important for us to be precise as to truly what type of faith, and object of the believer’s faith, is saving faith. The object of the believer’s faith must be the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. No add-on’s and no take-away’s. Saving faith is a trust, commitment, dependence and worship in and of Jesus and in and of Jesus alone. Those who have faith in Jesus Christ are those who the Father has given to the Son and who evidence this reality by having come to Christ in faith.
John 6:47 could stand beside John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 as specific, biblical statements as to the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. And that’s the truth!
Renounce today any notion in your soul of becoming accepted by God the Father except on the merits of Jesus Christ and faith in the same. This is the only salvation out there. Don’t miss it.
Soli deo Gloria!