Before me (pro emou). Aleph with the Latin, Syriac, and Sahidic versions omit these words (supported by A B D L W). But with or without pro emou Jesus refers to the false Messiahs and self-appointed leaders who made havoc of the flock. These are the thieves and robbers, not the prophets and sincere teachers of old. The reference is to verse Mark 1 . There had been numerous such impostors already (Josephus, Ant. XVIII. i. 6; War II. viii. I) and Jesus will predict many more ( Matthew 24:23 ). They keep on coming, these wolves in sheep's clothing ( Matthew 7:15 ) who grow rich by fooling the credulous sheep. In this case "the sheep did not hear them" (ouk hkousan autwn ta probata). First aorist active indicative with genitive. Fortunate sheep who knew the Shepherd's voice.