- DISCOURSE ON THE GOOD SHEPHERD. (Jerusalem, December, A.D. 29.) John 10:1-21
- Verily, verily. See John 1:51.
- I say to you. Unto the parties whom he was addressing in the last section
- He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep. In this section Jesus proceeds to contrast his own care for humanity withthat manifested by the Pharisees, who had just cast out the beggar. OldTestament prophecies were full of declarations that false shepherdswould arise to the injury of God's flock ( Jeremiah 23:1-6 ; Ezekiel 34:1-6 Zechariah 11:4-11 ). But other prophecies spoke of the true shepherdingof God and his Messiah ( Psalms 23:1-6 ; Psalms 80:1 ; Psalms 95:7 ; Isaiah 43:11 ; Jeremiah 31:10 Ezekiel 34:31 ; Micah 7:14 ). The Pharisees were fulfilling the first lineof prophecies, and Jesus was fulfilling the second.
- But climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. A thief steals by cunning in one's absence; a robber takes by violencefrom one's person. The Pharisees were both. They stole the sheep inMessiah's absence, and they slew Messiah when he came. They did notcome in the ways ordained of God.
10:2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep1.
- But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The sheepfolds of the East are roofless enclosures, made of loosestone, or surrounded by thornbushes. They have but one door. Jesus, thetrue shepherd, came in the proper and appointed way (and was the properand appointed Way), thus indicating his office as shepherd.
10:3 To him the porter openeth1; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
- To him the porter openeth. Several small flocks were sometimes kept in one field. The door was fastened from the inside with sticks or barsby the porter, who remained with the sheep during the night, and openedfor the shepherds in the morning. The fold is the church, Christ is thedoor, the sheep are the disciples, and the shepherd is Christ. Theporter is probably part of the drapery of the parable. If he representsanybody, it is God, who decides who shall enter through the door.
10:4 When he hath put forth all his own, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice1.
- When he hath put forth all his own, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. In the East, sheep are notdriven, but led, and each sheep has and knows its name. Disciples alsoare led. There is no rough road or thorny path which the feet of Jesushad not first trod. The Pharisees had put forth beggar to be rid ofhim; the true shepherd puts forth to feed.
10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him1: for they know not the voice of strangers.
- And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him. The mingled flocks are separated by the calling voices of the severalshepherds. The control of the Pharisees was not of this order. Theauthority of the synagogues had passed into their hands, and their rulewas about the same as when thieves and robbers gained possession of thesheepfold. The people were disposed to flee from them ( Matthew 9:36 ).
10:6 This parable spake Jesus unto them1: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them2.
- This parable spake Jesus unto them. The word here translated "parable" is not the Greek word "parabole", which John never uses, butthe word "paroimia", which the synoptists never use. "Paroimia" means,literally, "beside the way", that is, speech not of the common ordirect form, that is, a similitude or allegory.
- But they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. The idea of loving care was so foreign to the nature of thePharisees that they could not comprehend the figures which clothed sucha thought.
10:7 Jesus therefore said unto them again, Verily, verily1, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep2.
- Verily, verily. See John 1:51.
- I am the door of the sheep. Seeing that they did not understand the allegory, Jesus gives a twofold explanation of it found in John 10:7-10 John 10:11-16 .
10:8 All that came before me are thieves and robbers1: but the sheep did not hear them.
- All that came before me are thieves and robbers. He speaks of the past, and refers to false Messiahs.
10:9 I am the door1; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture.
- I am the door. The door is here spoken of with reference to the "sheep", and hence becomes a symbol of the entrance into protection andshelter, or exit to liberty and plenty.
10:10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have [it] abundantly1.
- I came that they may have life, and may have [it] abundantly. Through the life of Jesus, as through a heavenly portal, men haveentered upon true civilization, with its schools, colleges, railroads,telegraph, telephone, and innumerable privileges and liberties.
10:11 I am the good shepherd1: the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep2.
- I am the good shepherd. The relations of Christ to his people are so abounding and complex as to overburden any parable which seeks tocarry them. He is not the only passive doorway to life, but also theactive, energizing force which leads his people through that doorwayinto life.
- The good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. The verses John 10:11-14 set forth the perfect self-sacrifice through whichthe blessings of Christ have been obtained for us. The world-rulingspirit blesses itself through the sacrifice of the people; the Christ-spirit blesses the people through the sacrifice of self.
10:12 He that is a hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, beholdeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth2, and the wolf snatcheth them, and scattereth [them]:
- He that is an hireling, and not the shepherd. Shepherds were not, as a rule, owners of the sheep, but they were expected to love and carefor them by reason of their office as shepherds.
- Beholdeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth. The perils of the Oriental shepherd accord with the picture here given( Genesis 13:5 ; Genesis 14:12 ; Genesis 31:39 Genesis 31:40 ; Genesis 32:7 Genesis 32:8 ; Genesis 37:33 ; Job 1:7 ; 1 Samuel 17:34 1 Samuel 17:35 ).
10:13 [he fleeth] because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep1.
- [He fleeth] because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep. He flees because he loves his wages rather than the flock.
10:14 I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me1,
- I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me. Our Lord's relationship to his flock is one of mutual knowledge andaffection, and is far removed from the spirit of hire. The knowledgeexisting between disciple and Master springs from mutualacquaintanceship and love.
10:15 even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father1; and I lay down my life for the sheep2.
- Even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father. Thus it is the same "kind" of knowledge which exists between Father and Son,though it is not of the same "quality", being infinitely less full andperfect.
- And I lay down my life for the sheep. The sacrifice of the good shepherd to shield his sheep has never been in vain.
10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold1: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and they shall become one flock, one shepherd2.
- And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold. Jesus was speaking to the Jews, who had been frequently spoken of in Scripture asGod's flock. The other sheep were Gentiles.
- Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and they shall become one flock, one shepherd. They are spoken of as scatteredsheep, and not as flocks, because with them there was no unity. Here,as everywhere, the truth breaks through, revealing Christ as theworld's Redeemer, who would break down the middle wall of partitionbetween Jew and Gentile, and cause all true worshipers to have a commonrelationship to one Master.
10:17 Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again1.
- Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. Jesus did not permit his life to be sacrificed soas to become cast away, but to be raised again as an earnest of theresurrection of all flesh.
10:18 No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself1. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment received I from my Father.
- No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. This shows that his death was voluntary, and with the resurrection whichfollowed, it was in full and perfect accordance with his originalcommission or commandment from the Father.
10:19 There arose a division again among the Jews because of these words1.
- There arose a division again among the Jews because of these words. The word "again" refers to John 7:43 ; John 9:16 .
10:20 And many of them said, He hath a demon, and is mad; why hear ye him1?
- He hath a demon, and is mad; why hear ye him? The theory that demons could produce supernatural effects ( Matthew 12:24 ) formed a handy devicefor explaining away the miracles of Christ.
10:21 Others said, These are not the sayings of one possessed with a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind1?
- Can a demon open the eyes of the blind? These defenders refer to the well-remembered cure of the man born blind, and argue, as he did,that a demoniac could not work such a miracle ( John 9:33 ). They fail,however, to make a positive confession of faith in Jesus.
10:22 And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem1:
- FEAST OF THE DEDICATION. THE JEWS ATTEMPT TO STONE JESUS AND HE RETIRES TO PEREA. (Jerusalem and beyond Jordan.) John 10:22-42
- And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem. The feast of dedication was one of eight days' duration and began upon the twenty-fifth of Chisleu, which, according to the calculation of M. Chevannes,fell upon the nineteenth or twentieth of December, A.D. 29. The feastwas kept in honor of the renovation and purification of the temple inthe year B.C. 164, after it had been desecrated by the Syrians underAntiochus Epiphanes (2 Macc. 1:20-60; 4:36-59; 10:1-8; Josephus Ant.12:6.6,7). As this feast was commemorative of national deliverance, therulers considered it an opportune time to tempt Jesus to declarehimself to be the Messiah, or coming Deliverer from the present Romanoppression. We are told that it was winter, that we may understand whyJesus walked under cover in Solomon's porch ( John 10:23 ).
10:23 it was winter1; and Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon's porch2.
- It was winter. See John 10:22.
- And Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon's porch. This was a colonnade on the east side of the temple court, the name probably beingderived from the wall against which it was built, which Josephus tellsus was the work of Solomon (Josephus Ant. 20:9.7).
10:24 The Jews therefore came round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou hold us in suspense? If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly.
- How long dost thou hold us in suspense? If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly. The previous conduct and temper of the questioners,together with the context (which includes an attempt to stone, followedby an effort to arrest), shows that this question was asked for thepurpose of committing Jesus to an open declaration which might be usedas an accusation against him.
10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not1: the works that I do in my Father's name, these bear witness of me2.
- I told you, and ye believe not. Jesus was the Christ of the Old Testament, but not the Christ of Pharisaic hopes. Had he assumed tohimself in their presence by the "title" of Christ, it would have ledthem to false expectations.
- The works that I do in my Father's name, these bear witness of me. By his declarations and works Jesus had repeatedly published and provedto all his claims to be the true Messiah. He had, at the Feast ofTabernacles, set himself forth as the Good Shepherd ( John 10:11 John 10:14 ),and on other occasions as the Son of God ( John 5:19 ; John 8:36 John 8:56 ). Had theyunderstood or received the Old Testament ideal of the Messiah, theycould not have failed to understand his claims.
10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep1.
- But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep. Failure to be Christ's sheep was not the cause, but the evidence of their unbelief.
10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me1:
- My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. The thought here is similar to to that set forth at John 10:14 .
10:28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish1, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand2.
- John 10:28 John 10:29
- And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish. This passage is taken by Calvinists as asserting the doctrine of theimpossibility of apostasy. It is certainly a strong assurance that theChristian may expect to succeed in fighting the good fight. It may betaken in connection with Romans 8:38 Romans 8:39 , but both passages must beinterpreted in the light of ( 6:4-8 ).
- And no one shall snatch them out of my hand. We cannot be taken from God against our will; but our will being free, we may choose toleave him. We cannot be protected against ourselves in spite ofourselves. If that were so, no one could be lost.
10:30 I and the Father are one1.
- I and the Father are one. This assertion as to the unity of power residing in the hand brings forward the idea of the general unity whichsubsists between the Father and the Son. This unity Jesus assertsfully, without limitation or restriction; the unity of interest,design, and essence are all included. It is the advance from anassertion of special unity to an assertion of general unity.
10:31 The Jews took up stones again to stone him.
- Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. They prepared to act on Leviticus 24:14-16 , and a precedent as to it found at 1 Kings 21:10 ,though the right to stone for blasphemy was now abrogated by the Romandominion. The repairs and enlargements then going on in the temple nodoubt supplied an abundance of missiles. The word "again" refers backto John 8:59 .
10:32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from the Father; for which of those works do ye stone me1?
- Many good works have I showed you from the Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? Jesus, conscious that he was living thedivine life, endeavored to arouse the Jews to a consciousness of thatlife by asking them to point out what part of it offended them. It wasa demand that his claim to be divine be tested and judged by his"life".
10:33 The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God1.
- For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. But the Jews insisted uponjudging him by his "words" without in any way taking his life intoaccount. Jesus urged that a divine claim was made good by a divinelife, but they replied that a divine claim issuing from a human bodywas blasphemy.
10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law1, I said, ye are gods2?
- Is it not written in your law. The whole Old Testament not infrequently is thus designated as the "law".
- I said, Ye are gods? See Psalms 82:6 .
10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came1 (and the scripture cannot be broken)2,
- If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came. Since the civil rulers of a land are ordained of God ( Romans 13:1-7 ; 1 Samuel 24:6 1 Samuel 24:7 ),they were regarded as God's delegates or ministers, and as such theinspired Psalmist addresses them, calling them gods. Compare Exodus 22:28 .The expression "word of God" is equivalent to "commission from God".Compare Luke 3:2 , where John was commissioned.
- (And the scripture cannot be broken). The Jews regarded the Scripture as final authority. Jesus asserted this view by stating thatthe Scripture could not be broken; that is, could not be undone or setaside. We may regard Jesus as here ratifying their view, since heelsewhere concurred in it. See Matthew 5:19 .
10:36 say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world1, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am [the] Son of God?
- Say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world,
- Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am [the] Son of God? If it was not blasphemy to call those gods who so remotely represented the Deity,how much less did Christ blaspheme in taking unto himself a title towhich he had a better right than they, even in the subordinate sense ofbeing a mere messenger.
10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not1.
- John 10:37 John 10:38
- If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. Having set aside their false judgment which was based upon his mere words, Jesusagain bids them to consider his works or manner of life.
10:39 They sought again to take him1: and he went forth out of their hand2.
- They sought again to take him. The word "again" either refers back to John 7:30 John 7:32 John 7:44 .
- And he went forth out of their hand. The calm reasoning of Jesus cooled their violence, and so far changed their evil designs that theynow sought to arrest him that they might bring him before theSanhedrin.
10:40 And he went away again beyond the Jordan1 into the place where John was at the first baptizing; and there be abode.
- And he went away again beyond the Jordan. The word "again" either refers to John 1:28 , or else it refers to some former escape beyondthe Jordan not recorded by John, but by one of the other evangelists.The supplementary nature of John's Gospel makes this latter viewsomewhat plausible.
10:41 And many came unto him1; and they said, John indeed did no sign: but all things whatsoever2 John spake of this man were true.
- And many came unto him. John at first baptized "in the wilderness of Judea" ( Matthew 3:1 Matthew 3:6 ), and afterwards at Bethany and Aenon( John 1:28 ; John 3:23 ). The presence of Jesus in this place recalled to theminds of the people the work of the Baptist and his testimonyconcerning Jesus.
- And they said, John indeed did no sign: but all things whatsoever John spake of this man were true. They had held John to be a prophet,yet when he searched for his credentials as a prophet, they found theminextricably intertwined with the claims of Jesus. John had failed toprove himself a prophet by miracles and signs--the accustomedcredentials. But he had done so by his predictions which had come true,and all of these predictions related to Jesus.
10:42 And many believed on him there1.
- And many believed on him there. The word "there" stands in contrast to Jerusalem, which rejected Jesus.