The Agora
Bible Commentary

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John 10

Joh 10:1

See Lesson, Shepherds and hirelings.

The Good Shepherd: Moses (Psa 77:20) brought Israel out of sea (Isa 63:11,12). A type of Christ (Heb 13:20,21). David, the first king of Israel, was a shepherd; he typifies Christ (Eze 34:23). Cp Psa 23; Mic 7:15; Gen 49:24; Psa 80:1,17; Isa 40:1-11.

Joh 10:2

THE SHEPHERD: And others, following his example, may become shepherds also (1Pe 5:1-4).

Joh 10:3

CALLS... SHEEP BY NAME: That is, by HIS name, not theirs. Cp blind man in Joh 9:28,35.

AND LEADS THEM OUT: There was more than one flock in the fold, and there would be a process of separation where each shepherd called out his own flock. This may also be suggested by the mention of a "watchman" or doorkeeper in v 3, since only the larger sheepfolds would have such a guard (NET).

Joh 10:4

HIS SHEEP FOLLOW HIM BECAUSE THEY KNOW HIS VOICE: "On the roads of Palestine, and on the hills, you see the good shepherd. He comes along at the head of his flock, generally carrying over his shoulders a lamb or an injured sheep.

"A most remarkable thing is the sympathy that exists between him and his flock. He never drives them as our own shepherds drive their sheep. He always walks at their head, leading them along the roads and over the hills to new pasture; and, as he goes, he sometimes talks to them in a loud sing-song voice, using a weird language unlike anything I have ever heard in my life.

"Early one morning I saw an extraordinary sight not far from Bethlehem. Two shepherds had evidently spent the night with their flocks in a cave. The sheep were all mixed together and the time had come for the shepherds to go in different directions. One of the shepherds stood some distance from the sheep and began to call. First one, then another, then four or five animals ran toward him; and so on until he had counted his whole flock.

"More interesting than the sight of this was the knowledge that Jesus must have seen exactly the same sight and described it in his own words: 'He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger they will not follow...' This parable spake Jesus unto them. 'I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine' " (HVM 154).

Joh 10:6

FIGURE OF SPEECH: "Paroimia" = proverb, not usual "parabole". Also in Joh 16:25,29. (See Lesson, John's figurative language.)

Joh 10:7

GATE: Or "door", as Psa 24:7.

I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP: A traveler in the Middle East tells this story: "We reached a high ridge overlooking the village of Bethlehem. There we found a sheepfold, and went right in to inspect. It was not long before the owner appeared -- a veteran, like Moses, with a long beard. 'This is your sheepfold?' my friend asked.

" 'Aye.'

" 'And is this where the sheep sleep?' -- pointing to a rough shelter thrown up against the rock in a corner.

"He nodded.

" 'But you have no gate to the fold; how do you close them up at night?'

"The old man looked at us as if we ought to have known better. 'I am the door,' he said with emphasis; and, gathering his loose robe tight about his ankles, he was down in a moment, squatting in the doorway, back against one post, feet against the other, his knees drawn up and clasped by his weather-beaten old hands. Gently he bowed his head and closed his eyes, as many a time he had closed them to catch a few hours' sleep under the starlight. 'I am the door,' he repeated. 'I keep watch here at night. If thieves or wild beasts attempt to enter, they have to tackle me first. I have never lost a lamb from the fold.' "

Joh 10:8

CAME: They "came", but they were not "sent"!

Joh 10:9

Seven "I am's" of John: "the bread of life" (Joh 6:35); "the light of the world" (Joh 9:5); "the door" (Joh 10:9); "the good shepherd" (Joh 10:11); "the way" (Joh 14:6); "the resurrection and the life" (Joh 11:25); and "the vine" (Joh 15:1).

WHOEVER ENTERS THROUGH ME WILL BE SAVED: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand" (Rom 5:1,2). "For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit" (Eph 2:18). "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb 10:19-22).

COME IN AND GO OUT: Num 27:16,17.

Joh 10:11

// Rev 7:17.

See Lesson, Good shepherd.

Seven "I am's" of John: "the bread of life" (Joh 6:35); "the light of the world" (Joh 9:5); "the door" (Joh 10:9); "the good shepherd" (Joh 10:11); "the way" (Joh 14:6); "the resurrection and the life" (Joh 11:25); and "the vine" (Joh 15:1).

"The true shepherd is always an example of courage and faithfulness in the discharge of his duty. He is ready to defend his flock against all foes, counting the care of the sheep of greater consequence than his own life. He knew his sheep by name, leading them to good pastures and quiet waters; he laid down his life for them. His sheep hear and know his voice, and follow him. He keeps them in safety, and no man is able to snatch them from him, for God has given them to him. These things are written concerning him, and they enable us to judge the immorality of his foes, whom he did not hesitate to compare with thieves and robbers and wolves, when he turns from them, and pronounces their doom. 'Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat everyone the flesh of another' (Zec 11:9)" (PAE 122).

Joh 10:13

HIRED HAND... CARES NOTHING FOR THE SHEEP: Cp Judas in Joh 12:6. Also, Phi 2:21; ct Phi 1:24,25.

Joh 10:15

Christ's relation with Father // sheeps' relationship with Christ.

Joh 10:16

OTHER SHEEP THAT ARE NOT OF THIS SHEEP PEN: Gentile sheep, in ct lost sheep of house of Israel (Mat 15:24; Rom 11:25-32). Cp Isa 42:1,6; Act 9:15; 1Ti 2:7.

THEY TOO WILL LISTEN TO MY VOICE: Jesus is quoting Psa 95:7. This psalm reminds Israel that many fell in the wilderness even though they had been delivered from Egypt. Very appropriate when we realize that Jesus is calling for commitment very close to the time of his death. Some would have continued with him for most if not all of his ministry, and were liable to fall away just as Jesus effected the real work of redemption through his death and resurrection.

MY VOICE: Through preaching of disciples: Luk 10:16; 2Co 5:20. Thus not necessarily Christ's literal voice (as Mormons, etc assert).

ONE SHEPHERD: Cp Ecc 12:11. The mention of "one shepherd" probably caused the disciples to think of Eze 34:23; 37:24; probably they would have thought that the "other sheep", then, were the kingdom of Israel who were taken captive by the Assyrians. However, Jesus clearly is thinking about the way in which even the Gentiles would be incorporated into his name.

Joh 10:18

God raised up Christ; it was not possible that death should hold him: Act 2:23,24,32; 3:15; 5:30; 10:39,40; 1Co 15:15.

AUTHORITY: "Exousia", ie Mat 7:29; 21:23; Luk 7:8; Joh 5:27. Thus, a right bestowed by a higher power. "I am authorized..." (Weym). Cp Joh 5:19,30.

Joh 10:20

"Demoniacs" suffered from: blindness, dumbness (Mat 12:22; Luk 11:14), insanity, schizophrenia (Mar 3:21; 5:1-5; Joh 10:20), epilepsy (Mar 9:17-27), and arthritis (Luk 13:11-17).

Joh 10:22

FEAST OF DEDICATION: To commemorate the purification and restoration of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus Ephiphanes, 170 BC. Also called "Feast of lights", or "Hannukah" - 25th of Chisleu (Dec) (1Ma 4:52-59; Ant 12:7:7).

IT WAS WINTER: Cp Christ's frigid reception by the Jews.

Joh 10:23

SOLOMON'S COLONNADE: Where the wisdom of Solomon was heard from Christ.

Joh 10:24

At this time, the commonly held expectation of the coming of the Messiah: Mat 2:4-6r.

IF YOU ARE THE CHRIST, TELL US PLAINLY: Many were really looking only for an incriminating statement.

Joh 10:27

AND THEY FOLLOW ME: "We should follow our Lord as unhesitatingly as sheep follow their shepherd, for He has a right to lead us wherever He pleases. We are not our own, we are bought with a price -- let us recognize the rights of the redeeming blood. The soldier follows his captain, the servant obeys his master, much more must we follow our Redeemer, to whom we are a purchased possession. We are not true to our profession of being Christians, if we question the bidding of our Leader and Commander. Submission is our duty, cavilling is our folly. Often might our Lord say to us as to Peter, 'What is that to thee? Follow thou me' [Joh 21:22]. Wherever Jesus may lead us, he goes before us. If we know not where we go, we know with whom we go. With such a companion, who will dread the perils of the road? The journey may be long, but his everlasting arms will carry us to the end... We should follow Christ in simplicity and faith, because the paths in which he leads us all end in glory and immortality. It is true they may not be smooth paths -- they may be covered with sharp flinty trials, but they lead to the 'city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God' [Heb 11:10]. 'All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant.' Let us put full trust in our Leader, since we know that, come prosperity or adversity, sickness or health, popularity or contempt, His purpose shall be worked out, and that purpose shall be pure, unmingled good to every heir of mercy. We shall find it sweet to go up the bleak side of the hill with Christ; and when rain and snow blow into our faces, His dear love will make us far more blest than those who sit at home and warm their hands at the world's fire. To the top of Amana, to the dens of lions, or to the hills of leopards, we will follow our Beloved. Precious Jesus, draw us, and we will run after Thee [Song 1:4]" (CHS).

Joh 10:28

I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE: Eternal life, not a present possession: Joh 10:10; 11:25; 1Co 15:21; 1Jo 4:9; Phi 3:21. Even the identity of the sheep is yet uncertain: Mat 25:33,41-46; 7:21-23; Luk 13:26,27. However, see Lesson, Eternal life now?

THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH: "Perish" = the second death (cp Joh 3:16; Luk 13:3,5; cp Jer 51:53,57). For the disciple, death is not a "perishing" but a "sleep": Joh 11:11,13; Mat 9:24; 1Th 4:13; 1Co 15:6,18.

NO ONE CAN SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND: "Snatch" = "harpazo". True of the "sheep", but who can tell before the judgment which is a "sheep" and which is a "goat" (Mat 25:33)? Many who think they are sheep will be mistaken: Luk 13:26,27; Mat 7:21-23. So Jesus prays that his sheep will be protected: Joh 17:11,12; Luk 22:31,32. Likewise, Paul: 2Ti 1:12.

Joh 10:30

I AND THE FATHER ARE ONE: A oneness of purpose, mind, not a oneness of nature -- cp John 17:11,21-23: Christ's prayer that saints may be "one" with Christ and his Father. See Joh 5:19,30; 14:28. (See Lesson, John's figurative language.)

Joh 10:33

YOU, A MERE MAN, CLAIM TO BE GOD: Like Adam and Eve, Moses presumed to appropriate God's prerogative to himself -- making himself "equal" with God in the matter of smiting the Rock (Num 20:10; ct Exo 17:4-7). Thus he lost the opportunity to lead Israel into the Land of promise. But Jesus never presumed to any office or position that was not his by right (Phi 2:5-12), and so he will receive an inheritance that far exceeds that of any one Land or people (Psa 82:8)!

Joh 10:34

IN YOUR LAW: This phrase covers not just the Pentateuch, but the entire OT (Joh 15:25; 12:34; Rom. 3:19; 1Co 14:21).

GODS: That is, God's appointed representatives, called "elohim" or "gods" in Psa 82:1-6. See Exo 7:1; 21:6; 22:8,28. Angels also may bear the Yahweh-name (Act 7:30).

Joh 10:35

'GODS': Here the Greek word is without the definite article; thus its meaning is weakened, so as to sig men with responsibility from (and to) God.

TO WHOM THE WORD OF GOD CAME: Here "to" is used in the sense of "against": cp Mar 12:12: "For they knew that he had spoken the parable against them"!

Joh 10:36

I AM GOD'S SON: So even here Christ does not assume the title of "God".

SET APART... AND SENT INTO THE WORLD: As believers are sanctified (Joh 17:17,19), and sent into the world (Mar 16:15).

Joh 10:37

Vv 37,38: Miracles of healing (v 32), which were one means of caring for the poor and oppressed (Psa 82:3,4), were performed by Jesus in abundance. He appeals to his adversaries' complete knowledge of all this, to condemn their rejection of him as blasphemy, but to no avail....

Joh 10:39

AGAIN THEY TRIED TO SEIZE HIM: And thus -- stubbornly walking on in darkness (Psa 82:5) -- they sealed their own fates!

Joh 10:40

ACROSS THE JORDAN: Perhaps "Judea beyond Jordan" (Joh 1:28; Mat 19:1,2), the territory in Gilead settled by the descendants of Jair of tribe of Judah (Jos 19:34; 1Ch 2:21,22; WEnj 139).

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