John Chapter 10:1-18

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The Gospel Of John Chapter 10:1-18

I. Outline: I. The Good Shepherd: 10:1-18 II. Jewish Opinion Of Jesus Divided: 10:19-21 III. The Feast Of Dedication/Claims Of Deity: 10:22-38 IV. Preaching Beyond The Jordan: 10:39-42

II. Introductory Comments: Chapter 10 does contain a definite reference to time (10:22 ‘At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem’). This feast took place around the 25th of December. The question in this chapter is, does Jesus’ teaching about the Good Shepherd immediately follow chapter 9, which took place around the Feast of Booths (Sept/Oct) (7:2), or is John 10:1-21 to be connected with the time period of 10:22ff? 1. There doesn’t seem to be a break between chapter 9 and 10. In fact, chapter 10:1-21 seems to be a very natural conclusion to what had happened with the blind man. Tasker writers, ‘The indictment of the Pharisees by Jesus for spiritual blindness (9:41) is followed very naturally by the parable of the sheepfold and the good Shepherd. Because the Pharisees are blind leaders, they are also bogus shepherds, and come under the category of those designated in 10:8 thieves and robbers. All who claim to be caring for God’s flock but who do not enter into the sheepfold through the door which is Christ Himself---all, in other words, who hold out before men and women the prospect of a higher and better life apart from the necessity of redemption through the blood of Jesus, are deceivers, spiritual charlatans depriving men of the salvation that might otherwise be theirs.’ (p. 128) 2. By believing in Jesus, the blind man had demonstrated that he was a true member of the flock (10:14). 3. In 10:26-29, Jesus does continue the thought that His sheep will hear His voice. This could be viewed as implying that the whole discourse (10:1ff) took place at the Feast of Dedication, or that after coming back to Jerusalem a couple months later, Jesus goes back and reminds the Jewish leaders what He had taught them only a few months previous. 4. The reader should note that between 10:21 and 10:22 or during this same time: Jesus will send out the Seventy on a preaching tour (Luke 10:1-24); He will teach the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); be a guest in the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42); teach the disciples about prayer (Luke 11:1-13); and heal a woman in the synagogue (Luke 13:10-21).


III. Commentary: John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.” “by the door”-‘For the protection of sheep from wild animals and robbers or even from wandering off in the night and becoming lost, it was necessary to construct folds for their protection.’ (Foster p. 837) A sheepfold was a walled enclosure, in which the sheep were placed at night. It consisted of an outer wall of stones, a sturdy door, and possibly thorny branches placed over the top to keep out thieves and wolves. ‘In the villages and towns themselves there were communal sheep-folds where all the village flocks were sheltered when they returned home at night.’ (Barclay p. 67)

“climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber” -The lesson is clear: 1. Jesus is the door (10:7). Through Him and Him alone can one find access to the Father (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Eph. 2:18). 2. But the Pharisees were rejecting Jesus. In addition, they were trying to prevent people from coming to Jesus and were trying to rob Jesus of followers and disciples (through such things as intimidation, threats of expulsion from the synagogue, 9:22). Therefore, anyone who tries to convince people that they can have a relationship with God, apart from Jesus Christ, is a thief! People who tell others that they are OK, that they don’t have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, are people who are trying to rob God of souls! In the mind of Jesus, all religions and religious teachers who claim that eternal life can be found apart from Him, apart from obeying and believing in Him, are spiritual robbers, people who are depriving others of spiritual life. A prime example of such rejection of the Door was just experienced by Jesus when the blind beggar was ridiculed and rejected because he dared to confess Jesus as one sent from God.

John 10:2 “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep”. “is a shepherd of the sheep”-Jesus is the Good Shepherd (10:11). In addition, any teacher who points people to Jesus as the only way to eternal life, is also playing the role of one who is truly concerned about the souls of men. People who claim that an individual can be saved without having to obey Jesus Christ, are automatically disqualified from being any sort of spiritual leader for the people of God.

John 10:3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.” “the doorkeeper opens”-‘During the night the door-keeper has been with the sheep. He is acquainted with the shepherd.’ (Hendriksen p. 104) The door-keeper retained the key for the door, and was either someone hired for this purpose, or the task was rotated among the various shepherds. I believe that Foster is right when he notes that the door2

keeper is merely part of the scenery or the parable and does not represent a definite person object. If the door-keeper does represent anyone, if would seem that he would represent God the Father, who only opens the door for the true shepherd.

“and the sheep hear his voice”-‘In the case of a small flock there would be no such official (door-keeper), but what is apparently in mind is a large fold where several flocks find shelter.’ (Morris p. 502)

“he calls his own sheep by name”-‘The Eastern shepherd often has an individual call for each of his sheep’ (Morris p. 502) Points To Note: 1.

Even to this day Eastern Shepherds often call their sheep by name, cases have been reported of shepherds who had been blindfolded but who even with that handicap recognized their individual sheep. 2. Barclay notes, ‘The relationship between sheep and shepherd is quite different in Palestine. In Britain the sheep are largely kept for killing; but in Palestine the sheep are largely kept for their fleece for making wool. It thus happens that in Palestine the sheep are often with the shepherd for years. Often the sheep have names by which the shepherd calls them. Usually these names are descriptive—“Brown-leg”, “Black-ear”.’ (pp. 64-65) 3. ‘One wonders whether the man born blind recalled, as he heard this, how he had recognized Jesus by His voice, while he himself was still blind’ (Foster p. 838)

“and leads them out”-The sheep obediently follow the true shepherd. Note that the true shepherd doesn’t drive the sheep. ‘In Palestine the shepherd did go before the sheep and the sheep did follow him. The shepherd went first to see that the path was safe, and that there were no dangers.’ (Barclay p. 65) Point To Note: At this point I think it is appropriate to make some applications to the work of elders. For elders are shepherds of a flock (1Peter 5:2). Like the true shepherd, they must be more concerned about the welfare of the flock, than their own comfort and popularity (Hebrews 13:17). They must continually point people to Jesus Christ and His teachings (Titus 1:9). They need to set the example for others to follow (1 Peter 5:3).

John 10:4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” ”know his voice”-‘A normal sheep does not follow a stranger even though the latter may put on the shepherd’s garb, and may even try to imitate the shepherd’s call. It has been tried again and again.’ (Hendriksen p. 106)


John 10:5 “And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” “a stranger they simply will not follow”-‘It appears that strangers, even when dressed in the shepherd’s clothing and attempting to imitate his call, succeed only in making the sheep run away.’ (Morris p. 503) Points To Note: 1.

The way that I demonstrate that I am a true follower of Jesus, is that I hear His voice, i.e. I follow His teachings. And, I will not listen to those voices which are teaching something different or even something kind of similar. 2. Once again, Jesus links our relationship with Him on the basis of obeying His teachings (Matthew 7:21-27; John 14:15). 3. True followers of Christ will not be mislead by false teachers, because they insist on following the words of Jesus. This statement demands that His words are clear, understandable and able to be interpreted by an honest and good heart. 4. A love for truth is what characterizes those who belong to Jesus (2 Thess. 2:10-12). 5. Compare this passage with John 7:17; 8:47 ‘He who is of God hears the words of God’; John 18:37 ‘Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’)

John 10:6 ‘This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.’ “they did not understand”-On other occasions they clearly got the point when He used figurative speech (Matthew 21:45). Often they did not understand, because they did not want to understand (Matthew 13:15). But look at what Jesus will do in the following verses. He wants them to understand, He wants them to be convicted, repent and believe in Him. He thus sets out to explain this illustration.

John 10:7 ‘Jesus therefore said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”’ “I am the door of the sheep”-There was only one door into a sheepfold, all the sheep and shepherds alike had to pass through this door. Jesus provides the door or way by which the sheep must enter, He alone provides the only way of access to eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Romans 5:2). The door gave the sheep access to protection in the sheepfold, but also access to rich pasture outside. Jesus is the only access to all true spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). Only a relationship with Him can give us access to true security and rich pastures (Psalm 23:1-6).


John 10:8 “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” “All who came before Me”-Jesus isn’t talking about Moses and the prophets, for He commends their work (Luke 24:44). Rather, He is talking about all the false prophets, false teachers, false Messiahs since the time of Malachi, including the current Jewish leadership. This includes every person who tries to lead people away from the true door. Barclay notes, ‘He was referring to those adventurers who were continually arising in Palestine and promising that if people would follow them, they would bring in the golden age. All these claimants were revolutionaries and insurrectionists. They believed that men would have to wade through blood to the golden age.’ (p. 68) ‘Jesus is naming all those who make themselves and their schemes pre-eminent to Him as thieves and robbers. The Lord is primarily aiming this condemnation toward the self-seeking, materialistic, selfrighteous Pharisees and Sadducees who sought to intimidate the sheep and destroy the flock.’ (Butler p. 109) Compare with Matthew 23:13 ‘you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.’

“but the sheep did not hear them”-the sheep are not people predestined for salvation (2 Peter 3:9). Rather, they are people who are willing to exercise their hearts in an honest way, willing to obey the truth at all cost (John 7:17; 18:37). Point To Note: This should give all personal workers new incentive! Yes, the world is filled with false teachers and counterfeit religions. But honest hearts will abandon such things when they hear the truth! True people of God, people who really want to serve God don’t need fancy presentations, they just need to hear the truth. Brethren, the world is filled with people who are looking and waiting, they realize that they haven’t found the whole truth yet, but at this point in their lives they don’t know what to do next. The world is filled with people who are waiting to hear from you!

John 10:9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and go in and out, and find pasture.” “I am the door”-The only access, the way (John 14:6). ‘If there is one door, then men must enter by it or stay outside.’ (Morris p. 508)

“if anyone enters”-The faith under consideration is an active faith. Believing that the door is there or exists is one thing, opening it and entering is something else. Note the word “anyone’, salvation is open to all who will come to Jesus (John 3:16).

“through Me”-Hebrews 7:25


“go in and out”-Far from a life of restriction and gloom, Christianity is a life of true liberty and real freedom (John 8:32; Galatians 5:1ff). It is not the freedom to disobey Christ or substitute our will for His will. Rather, it is freedom from the bondage of sin, guilt, worry, anxiety, superstition, peer pressure, human traditions and fear.

“find pasture”-compare with Psalm 23:1ff. ‘Pasture’ infers great blessings, true and satisfying nourishment. A rich, abundant, fulfilling and meaningful life! ‘They shall not merely have life—simple, barren existence—but they shall have all those superadded things which are needful to make life eminently blessed and happy.’ (Barnes)

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” “only to steal”-Jesus didn’t have anything good to say about the false messiah’s of the past or the religious leaders of the present. Jesus didn’t say that such individuals were accomplishing some good. Rather, they were destroying the opportunity for people to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 23:13,15). ‘That these religious leaders spiritually killed and destroyed the people whom they had stolen is clear’ (Hendriksen pp. 109-110). We must never lose sight of the fact, that Jesus specifically labeled as thieves and robbers, as murderers, those who teach that one can have eternal life apart from obeying His will, apart from accepting the fact that He is the Son of God. Note, people who follow such teachers, or who are unaware of the true motivation behind such teachers, will still suffer! Jesus doesn’t see such thieves and robbers has having pure motives. ‘His interest is entirely selfish. He steals or kills for food or even destroys the sheep. He comes only for harm to the flock.’ (Morris p. 508)

“that they might”-‘might’, the language of freewill. Man is given the choice as to whether he wants to accept this offer of abundant life.

“might have it abundantly”-‘and have it to the full’ (Mof). Christianity is as far as you can get from a deprived life, a life of bare existence. ‘The Greek term used suggests the idea of a continuous overflowing—a never-ceasing supply of life.’ (Woods p. 208) ‘not only life, but a more abundant life (20:31). There is nothing cramping or restricting about life for those who enter His fold.’ (Morris p. 509) See Matthew 11:28-30.

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd”-Be impressed that in the Old Testament, Jehovah was the shepherd of Israel (Psalm 23:1). In fact God is often pictured as a shepherd in the Old Testament (Psalm 77:20; 79:13; 80:1; 95:7 ‘For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand’; 100:3; Isaiah 40:11). Here is one more indication that was claimed for Jehovah in the Old Testament, is claimed by Jesus in the New Testament. 6

“the good shepherd”-in contrast to false shepherds. The leaders among the people of God in the past had often been terrible shepherds (Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34). Barclay notes, ‘He is the shepherd who will risk His life to seek to save the one straying sheep (Matthew 18:12; Luke 15:4). He has pity upon the people because they are as sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34). His disciples are His little flock (Luke 12:32). When He, the shepherd, is smitten the sheep are scattered (Mark 14:27; Matthew 26:31). He is the Shepherd of the souls of men (1 Peter 2:25), and the Great shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20).’ (pp. 62-63) Point To Note: Of all the occupations which God could have identified Himself with, He often chose to use the imagery associated with the task of a shepherd. It is an occupation which demanded courage, bravery, sacrifice, diligence, sleepless nights, care, compassion, tenderness, and a complete dedication to those under your care. Ultimately, the shepherd was more concerned about his sheep than his actual wages. This tells us something about God. Overseeing this world, providing for man—is not a “job” to God. Jesus would have died for all men, even if only one person would respond to Him.

“lays down His life for the sheep”-like David, who put his life in jeopardy (1 Samuel 17:34-37). Woods notes, ‘Rushing walls of water down the valleys from sudden showers may sweep them away, robbers may appear and wolves may swiftly spring upon the flock…Not one moment may the shepherd relax his care for the sheep and on his vigilance their lives depend. Driving snow, in the winter; blinding dust and burning sands in summer, long lonely hours each day the shepherd patiently endures for the welfare of the flock….Here, the substitutionary death of Christ is clearly taught. He died, not as a martyr in defense of a cause, but “for” (huper) us, instead of and on our behalf’ (pp. 209210)

John 10:12 “He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them.” “He who is a hireling”-This man is someone who merely views tending sheep as so much work for so much pay. His interest is the wages, not the sheep. ‘It speaks of a man whose interest is in what he is paid for doing his job rather than in the job itself..Such a man lacks pride of ownership and the care that proceeds from possession.’ (Morris p. 510) ‘He was in it simply and solely for the pay he could get out of it..These wolves attacked, and the hireling shepherd forgot everything but the saving of his own life and ran away.’ (Barclay p. 71) Points To Note: 1.

Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees were guilty of being “hirelings”. ‘interested only in maintaining their own selfish interests at the expense of the people…Individuals and organizations abound which prey on people in the name of religion whose sole 7

purpose is the personal profit they derive.’ (Woods pp. 210-211) 2. In addition, there is the temptation to love personal comfort, more than the truth. Sacrificing the truth for error, refusing to defend the flock against false teaching, is paying the role of a hireling (Acts 20:28ff). ‘And, the church today is not without those who feel no obligation to defend the truth against false teachers and godless philosophies and who flee at the first approach of such in their congregations because they love the “peace” and tranquillity they enjoy, being in perfect harmony with denominational bodies round about.’ (Woods p. 211)

John 10:13 “He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep.” “because he is a hireling”-A person’s actions reveal their true nature. Rather than being concerned about popularity and a superficial peace, elders, teachers and preachers need to have a great love for people and their souls. The realization that people are in a sense putting their eternal destiny in your hands and are in some measure depending upon you to tell them the whole truth (1 Timothy 4:16; Acts 20:27). Point To Note: As with any literal flock of sheep, the church also faces danger from without (wolves/false teachers-Acts 20:29); and from within. Barclay notes, ‘It is always under attack from outside. It often suffers from the tragedy of bad leadership, from the disaster of shepherds who see their calling as a career and not a means of service. The second danger is by far the worse; because, if the shepherd is faithful and good, there is a strong defense from the attack from outside; but if the shepherd is faithless and a hireling, then the foes from outside can penetrate into and destroy the flock.’ (p. 72)

John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me,” “I know My own”-(2 Timothy 2:19). “My own know Me”-One demonstrates that they ‘know’ Jesus by responding to His voice/teachings (10:3,4,8). This is not a predestined or inherent “knowing”. Rather, it is a chosen knowing, a deliberate choice to obey the truth, to accept the Son of God when confronted with Jesus.

John 10:15 “even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” “even as”-Jesus wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him, even as He has an intimate and fulfilling relationship with the Father. ‘the happy relationship subsisting


between himself and his flock…What an exalted concept this is of being faithful disciples of the Lord!’ (Woods p. 211)

John 10:16 “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd.” “I have other sheep”-There are so many other passages which teach that the two groups which Jesus united into one body (flock) are Jews (‘this fold’) and the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-16). In fact, even the Old Testament had prophesied about this fact (Isaiah 2:3 ‘many peoples will come and say’; 11:10 ‘the nations will resort to the root of Jeese’; 56:8). In fact Paul quotes a number of Old Testament passages on this very point in Romans 15:9-12.

“I have”-Jesus knew that there would be those among the Gentiles who would respond (Acts 18:10). Jesus isn’t talking about specific individuals whom God had selected to be saved, even prior to any say so on their part. Rather, Jesus knew that good and honest hearts, that class of men and women did exist among the Gentiles.

“one flock with one shepherd”-that is, one body of believers, one universal church (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4-6). The New Testament is completely devoid of the denominational concept of one fold composed of many flocks. Individuals compose the ‘one flock’, not entire, distinct religious bodies (Romans 12:5). And the one shepherd is not the Pope, another human leader or a human earthly headquarters or World Council of Churches. Jesus is the sole head of the Church (Eph. 1:22-23). And be impressed that, ‘This is not an enforced unity—held together by a great superstructure or “World Church” organization. This is a unity based on faith and love where all the true sheep hear, answer and obey one shepherd. This oneness is based on loyalty to Jesus Christ.’ (Butler p. 116) And neither is this a unity based on an agreement to disagree about the teachings of the one Shepherd, or that the teachings of the one Shepherd are not all important. Points To Note: 1.

The Jehovah Witnesses claim that the “other sheep” are a Kingdom Class of 144,000 who will be caught up to heaven while all other righteous people will live on a perfected earth. In contrast, the Bible tells all believers to lay up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20; Colossians 3:1-2; 1 Peter 1:4), the earth will be completely destroyed (2 Peter 3:10), and all Christians, living and dead will be caught up in the clouds with Jesus (1 Thess. 4:13-18). 2. The Mormons claim that the “other sheep” are the American Indians about whom they say the Book of Mormon gives a history. But the American Indians are only a small fraction of the non-Jewish world. In addition, if the other sheep are North American Indians, then what right to do any other non-Jewish people, like Europeans have in seeking Jesus Christ? Only two groups exist in John 10:16 which will make up the one flock. Rather, Ephesians 2:11-22 gives us a perfect inspired commentary on John 10:16. Two groups of people, believing Jews and believing Gentiles, who Jesus 9

brought together into one body ‘and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross’ (2:16). Even Lenski, a denominational writer can see the above truths, when he notes, ‘Jesus knows only of one church or kingdom of God…Paul knows of only one olive tree in Romans 11:17 from which the unbelieving Jews were broken out and into which the believing Gentiles shall be grafted. In Ephesians 2:12ff he writes of only one household and city, into which the Jews and the Gentiles are equally admitted.’ (pp. 738-739) Foster notes, ‘”And other sheep I have” (v. 16) indicates clearly the outreach of the gospel through all the world to every creature…With typical perversity modernists hold that Jesus, when He found that He had been rejected by Israel, changed His mind and His plans and projected a world-wide campaign among the Gentiles.’ (p. 840) See also these passages, (Luke 2:10; 2:32; John 3:16), ‘no matter what race, place, or time. In the Sermon of the Mount we find this same universality.’ (p. 841)

John 10:17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.” “For this reason the Father loves Me”-As with Jesus, the Father loves, appreciates and values unselfishness, true love and sacrifice.

“I lay down”-along with other things, it was the voluntary nature of Jesus’ death which gives it so much meaning and so much moral and spiritual power. It is one of the elements which makes His sacrifice a valid sacrifice for the sins of the world (Hebrews 9:14). Be impressed that Jesus wasn’t forced to leave heaven and die for our sins (Philippians 2:411).

“that I may take it again”-a clear prediction of His resurrection. John 10:18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” “No one has taken it away from Me”-‘Jesus was not helplessly caught up in a mesh of circumstances over which He had no power. There was purpose behind His death and that purpose was the resurrection! He did not lose His life: He gave it.’ (Butler p. 117) It is clear from these verses that the death of Jesus wasn’t an accident, and neither had Jewish rejection caught Him or the Father by surprise, and neither did the unbelief of men force God to change His plans.

“I lay it down on My own initiative”-‘lay it down of my own free will’ (Phi); ‘No one can kill me without My consent’ (Tay). Which means that Jesus permitted wicked men to kill Him (Matthew 26:52-56).


“I have authority to take it up”-This makes it clear that Jesus played an active role in resurrecting His own body. The entire Godhead was involved in this event (Romans 1:4). Points To Note: 1. For Jesus, His death and victory were inseparable. ‘It tells us that Jesus always saw the Cross and the glory together. He never doubted that He must die; and He equally never doubted that He would rise again.’ (Barclay p. 77) 2. This section also reveals Jesus attitude towards the commands of God. He obeyed them, even them they resulted in His own death. Can you imagine the Jesus who is speaking here, ever arguing that there is a greater principle than the commands of God? That the commands of God can be set aside if they start causing you trouble or inconvenience?


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