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Compel or hook? Humm.. (Not to argue a point...humm)
Compel would mean God is sovereign and gets what He intends. Hook would mean He might get you or He might not get you. The future is left to man's response, not God's sovereign intention.

These are differences in interpretation between Calvinists and Arminians. My prayer is that you read more of Sproul rather than some Open-Theist writer...the logical consequence of "fish falling off the hook."

Just throwing out a jest. Glad you take time to blog your thoughts. God bless,
GA Baptist

Chris Roberts

First, one problem you are having with Sproul will be reflected in my own comment. There are limits on what one can say depending on what one is trying to accomplish. Sproul did not write Greek language books and perhaps felt he would delve too far into the technical to present thorough research into the word or demonstrate its every usage. John 12:32 is not at odds with Sproul's interpretation of 6:44, though I'm sure we would disagree based on what we believe Jesus is saying in 12:32. Comments being what they are, I won't throw out all the details of my argument, I'll just note our difference and move on.

Second, as for the word for draw, I think you misunderstand Kittel. To begin with the abridged version you cite lacks several elements of the unabridged. But even if we only work with the abridged, Sproul's point remains valid. Where the TDNT says it is not force or magic, it is absolutely correct. God's drawing does not drag someone kicking and screaming, nor does it somehow magically entice. These would be pagan notions of the Greek word draw, as noted in more detail in the unabridged version. We do not have a pagan understanding of this word but the irresistible nature of God's drawing remains.

Part of Kittel's problem is a misunderstanding of the meaning and context of 12:32 so he is trying to deal with what looks like a contradiction. What you quoted is his offered interpretation or reconciliation of those passages. On his interpretation he is wrong. Sproul does not quote Kittel's interpretation of those passages, he quotes Kittel's examination of the Greek words and he quotes Kittel properly. Sproul's reference likely comes from the following, found in the unabridged version, where the TDNT relates the Greek word to a modern Semitic word: "The mağdûb (from ğadaba, “to draw”) is one who is drawn to God by an irresistible and supernatural force" This is the TDNT, vol 2, page 503.

Regardless of how you take the TDNT's interpretation of those verses, its explanation of the meaning of the word remains the same.

peter lumpkins


Thanks for the drop-by. And I am glad my open theism is so noticeable ;^)

With that, I am...

peter lumpkins


Thanks for taking the time to respond. Let me see...

You defend Sproul by appealing to “limits on what one can say,” concluding Sproul was no Greek linguist. Further, you suggest he “felt” he would be too “technical” to present “thorough research” into the word.

The fact is, however, Sproul took much more space in his volumes to argue his conclusion concerning “draw” than I quoted. I’m sure if you check the references I offered, you’ll see what I mean. Nor is it necessary for Sproul or anyone else to be a Greek scholar to argue a point from the Greek. If that’s so, few of us would ever be able to even raise the question.

Pertaining to my reading of Sproul, I assumed no Greek scholarship on his behalf. My contention was and remains his illegitimate use of Greek authorities to prove his point about a Greek term he deems extremely significant.

As for John 12:32 being at odds with John 6:44, Chris, I think you may have skipped the point I made. It’s not whether Calvinists can reconcile the two (which I think you mentioned briefly).

Instead, Sproul apparently side-stepped John 12:32, preferring to cite usages pertaining to raw matter and not drawing of human beings. It’s much easier to make his case from James and Luke on the meaning of “draw” he desires to establish.

You suggest I “misunderstand Kittel.” Fair enough. Perhaps I have and still do. But I fear the reasoning why you suppose I "misunderstand Kittel" does not seem to be conclusive.

The way I understand your reasoning is, since I used the abridged version which “lacks several elements of the unabridged” this sets me up for failure. Furthermore, you point out “even if we only work with the abridged, Sproul's point remains valid.”

You also applaud Oepke’s conclusion pertaining to “draw” not being about “force or magic” but reject his “misunderstanding of the meaning and context of 12:32” because he is “trying to deal with what looks like a contradiction.”

Hence, since I quoted his “interpretation or reconciliation” of John 6:44 and 12:32 and not his "examination" as did Sproul and now you, once again it's suggested I “misunderstood Kittel.”

First, Chris, it’s no surprise an abridged version “lacks” much data contained in an unabridged version. Agreed. Is that a problem? Perhaps. But not necessarily.

The question is, does the abridged version so edit significant information—in this case, the definition & usage of ἕλκω (helkō)—that a proper understanding of the term fails.Evidently, you believe that’s the case here.

However, unless you can demonstrate how Kittel expunged from the abridged version usages of helkō which contradict the author’s own conclusions, your point is not well taken I’m afraid.

Additionally, you strangely grant that, even if we stayed with "Little Kittel,” Sproul’s point is untouched. With that I obviously cannot agree.

Sproul explicitly says in one place Kittel’s definition is “to compel by irresistible authority" and in another place, Kittel’s definition is “to compel by irresistible superiority.” One is tempted to ask if the real Kittel will please stand up!

The fact is, neither of the definitions Sproul mentions is in either the abridged version or the multi-volume set you cite. Sproul simply composes the definition based upon his reading.

Leaving aside the fact Sproul is no Greek linguist as you concede and therefore hardly qualified to compose his own definition of helkō and passing it off as Kittel's, how it is you can say Sproul’s point remains valid seems to me fantastic.

Even more, it's possible you have misunderstood the quote from the abridged version yourself, Chris. When Oepke says “there is no thought of force or magic” he is not referring to “pagan notions of the Greek word draw.” Instead he is denying any OT usage of the term helkō (presumably in the LXX) means magic or force, concluding afterward concerning NT usage that "compulsion" in the word helkō "is not automatic." Thus, Chris, it may not be me who’s misunderstanding Oepke but you.

Once again, your defending Sproul: “Sproul does not quote Kittel's interpretation of those passages, he quotes Kittel's examination of the Greek words and he quotes Kittel properly.”

Nice try, my brother. Juxtaposing Oepke’s “interpretation” with his “examination,” arguing the validity of the latter against the illegitimacy of the former without the slightest argumentation for the discrepancy, remains unconvincing. Nor do the definitions Sproul cite as belonging to Kittel match Kittel’s examination. Again the connection is spurious.

Your strongest point comes from your hunch concerning Sproul’s probable reference from Kittel:

“Sproul's reference likely comes from the following, found in the unabridged version, where the TDNT relates the Greek word to a modern Semitic word: "The mağdûb (from ğadaba, “to draw”) is one who is drawn to God by an irresistible and supernatural force" This is the TDNT, vol 2, page 503.”

First, while you’re undoubtedly correct concerning the inspiration for Sproul’s definition, you're undoubtedly incorrect about Sproul’s rightly citing Kittel. I must repeat: neither “to compel by irresistible authority" nor “to compel by irresistible superiority” is a definition referenced by Kittel for the term helkō, the only term about which our point is concerned.

Instead both of Sproul’s references he alleges are from Kittel are actually deductions—interpretations—of Kittel’s words, not citations of Kittel’s definitions as he explicitly suggests.

Hence, at minimum, Sproul took undeniable liberties by making readers think he was quoting from Kittel a lexical definition. I’m quite sure you would not want to argue as acceptable scholarship making it look like you get a definition from a dictionary, all the while the definition is a product of your making. If you do, I think I’ll just pass on discussing that with you, Chris.

Second, contra my conclusion concerning Sproul, on first reading you could have a great counterpoint in your citation on the term "The mağdûb (from ğadaba, “to draw”).” Nevertheless, a closer examination proves your point hardly great, and, unfortunately, may actually prove your point negligible. If I may…

You suggest TDNT relates helkō to the modern Semitic word mağdûb. If I am not mistaken, “Little Kittel” lists an older form of this term and offers several passages for referencing (1Sam. 10:5; 19:19; Jer. 29 26; Hos. 9:7).

Assuming I am correct, not only is “Little Kittel” not as hollow toward the point I referenced as you suggest in your initial criticism, but the references “Little Kittel” offers actually work against the point your are making, Chris.

Oepke’s point is, while the Semitic world of the OT had a concept of an irresistible drawing to God—perhaps alluding to prophetic utterances of inspired holy men—the term in no way is suggested as wed to the Greek term helkō, the term under discussion here, the term Sproul cites.

Consequently, unless you can show that mağdûb (from ğadaba) and helkō are substantially related, the citation from “King Kittel” remains moot.

Now we are back to my main point of this post. What Sproul ends doing is classic ‘cherry-pickin’ an article for an obscure reference to prove his needy point. Whatever the case is, on the one hand, Sproul’s citing Kittel as the “Greek standard” reference work which defines helkō as either “to compel by irresistible authority" or “to compel by irresistible superiority” when Kittel says no such thing, and on the other hand, conveniently overlooking Kittel’s conclusion that usage of helkō suggests “compulsion is not automatic” makes one extra suspicious of those areas where checking up on Sproul’s references is not as easy.

In short, your defense of Sproul fails, Chris. Consequently, Sproul’s scholarship continues tumbling farther and farther into a nose-dive—at least in my view.

Thanks again, Chris.

With that, I am…


Chris Roberts


I had started to reply point by point but far too often my words were along the lines of "see the unabridged version" so I will cut out a lot and simply say "see the unabridged version". You will still disagree with me, I am sure, but many of my comments are drawn from things found in the unabridged version that are not present in the abridged.

Sproul cites and summarizes Kittel. I am convinced he is remaining faithful to Kittel's examination of the Greek. You are convinced he is not. We disagree. Not the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last. :)

peter lumpkins


No problem. I understand. However, the impression you give, Chris, is "King Kittel" definitively overturns what I've stated here. In fact, according to you, so much detail apparently exists, you're reluctant to record it.

Actually, a single quote from "King Kittel" will go a long way in making your defense more credible. Does or doesn't the unabridged Kittel define helkō as either “to compel by irresistible authority" or “to compel by irresistible superiority”? This stands at the core of my complaint against Sproul.

If the unabridged Kittel does give either of Sproul's definitions, you may have a very good counterpoint. If it does not, I'm unsure how one may still, without tongue-in-cheek, conclude, as do you, Chris, Sproul remains "faithful to Kittel's examination of the Greek."

With that, I am...


Hey Brother,
No open theism on your account :)
I believe you may be going the other way if you keep up the good work.
With that...I'm gabaptist.

Les Puryear


I'm no greek scholar by any stretch of the imagination (should've taken languages at seminary: bad mistake). Since I am biblical-language crippled, I rely on lexicons. The two which I use are the ever present Strong's Concordance and Thayer's Lexicon.

In Strong's, the word "draw" in John 6:44 is Strong's #1670 which states: "helko; 'to drag' (lit. or fig.)." Thayer's agrees with Strong's. Doesn't sound like a passive wooing, does it?

If better lexicons are available, I would like to know about them.



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