Gospel of John Chapter 10: 1-10, 14-18, 25-30 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin

John 10:1

1.Verily, verily, I say to you. As Christ had to do with scribes and priests, who were reckoned pastors of the Church, it was necessary that they should be divested of the honor of this title, if he wished his doctrine to be received. The small number of believers might also diminish greatly the authority of his doctrine. He therefore contends that we ought not to reckon, in the number of shepherds or of sheep, all who outwardly claim a place in the Church. But we shall never be able, by means of this mark, to distinguish the lawful shepherds from the reprobate, and the true sheep from the counterfeit, if all have the same object, and beginning, and end.

This warning has been highly useful in all ages, and in the present day it is especially necessary. No plague is more destructive to the Church, than when wolves ravage under the garb of shepherds We know also how grievous an offense it is, when bastard or degenerate Israelites pretend to be the sons of the Church, and, on this pretense, insult believers. But in the present day, there is nothing by which weak and ignorant persons are more alarmed, than when they see the sanctuary of God occupied by the greatest enemies of the Church; for it is not easy to make them understand, that it is the doctrine of Christ which the shepherds of the Church so fiercely resist. Besides, as the greater part of men are led into various errors by false doctrines, while the views and expectations of each person are directed to others, scarcely any person permits himself to be conducted into the right path.

We must therefore, above all things, guard against being deceived by pretended shepherds or counterfeit sheep, if we do not choose, of our own accord, to expose ourselves to wolves and thieves The name of “The Church” is highly honorable, and justly so; but the greater the reverence which it deserves, so much the more careful and attentive ought we to be in marking the distinction between true and false doctrine. Christ here declares openly, that we ought not to reckon as shepherds all who boast of being such, and that we ought not to reckon as sheep all who boast of outward marks. He speaks of the Jewish Church, but what he says applies equally well to our own. We ought also to consider his purpose and design, that weak consciences may not be alarmed or discouraged, when they perceive that they who rule in the Church, instead of pastors or shepherds, are hostile or opposed to the Gospel; and that they may not turn aside from the faith, because they have few fellow-disciples, in listening to Christ, among those who are called Christians.

He who entereth not by the door. It is useless, I think, to scrutinize too closely every part of this parable. Let us rest satisfied with this general view, that, as Christ states a resemblance between the Church and a sheepfold, in which God assembles all his people, so he compares himself to a door, because there is no other entrance into the Church but by himself. Hence it follows that they alone are good shepherds who lead men straight to Christ; and that they are truly gathered into the fold of Christ, so as to belong to his flock, who devote themselves to Christ alone.

But all this relates to doctrine; for, since all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ, (Col_2:3,)

he who turns aside from him to go elsewhere neither keeps the road nor enters by the door. Now, whoever shall not despise Christ or his instructor will easily rid himself of that hesitation which keeps so many in a state of perplexity, what is the Church, and who are they to whom we ought to listen as shepherds For if they who are called shepherds attempt to lead us away from Christ, we ought to flee from them, at the command of Christ, as we would flee from wolves or thieves; and we ought not to form or maintain intercourse with any society but that which is agreed in the pure faith of the Gospel. For this reason Christ exhorts his disciples to separate themselves from the unbelieving multitude of the whole nation, not to suffer themselves to be governed by wicked priests, and not to allow themselves to be imposed upon by proud and empty names.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:1

1. Verily, verily] This double affirmation, peculiar to this Gospel (see on Joh_1:51), never occurs at the beginning of a discourse, but either in continuation, to introduce some deep truth, or in reply. This verse is no exception. There is no break between the chapters, which should perhaps have been divided at Joh_9:34 or 38 rather than here. The scene continues uninterrupted from Joh_9:35 to Joh_10:21, where we have a reference to the healing of the blind man. Moreover Joh_10:6 seems to point back to Joh_9:41; their not understanding the allegory was evidence of self-complacent blindness. This chapter, therefore, although it contains a fresh subject, is connected with the incidents in chap. 9, and grows out of them. The connexion seems to be that the Pharisees by their conduct to the man had proved themselves bad shepherds; but he has found the Good Shepherd: they had cast him out of doors; but he has found the Door: they had put him forth to drive him away; the Good Shepherd puts His sheep forth to lead them. We are not told where these words are spoken; so that it is impossible to say whether it is probable that a sheepfold with the shepherds and their flocks was in sight. There is nothing improbable in the supposition.

He that entereth not by the door] The Oriental sheepfolds are commonly walled or palisaded, with one door or gate. Into one of these enclosures several shepherds drive their flocks, leaving them in charge of an under-shepherd or porter, who fastens the door securely inside, and remains with the sheep all night. In the morning the shepherds come to the door, the porter opens to them, and each calls away his own sheep.

some other way] Literally, from another quarter: the word occurs here only in N.T.

the same] Better, he; literally, that one. It is a pronoun of which S. John is very fond in order to recall with emphasis some person or thing previously mentioned. Comp. Joh_1:18; Joh_1:33, Joh_5:2; Joh_5:39, Joh_9:37, Joh_12:48, Joh_14:21; Joh_14:26, Joh_15:26. In Joh_1:33 (‘the same said unto me’), Joh_5:11, and Joh_12:48 it is inaccurately translated, as here, ‘the same.’

a thief and robber] Everywhere in this Gospel (8, 10, Joh_12:6, Joh_18:40), as also 2Co_11:26, these words are given correctly as renderings of the Greek equivalents; but everywhere else in N.T. (Mat_21:13; Mat_26:55; Mat_27:38, &c., &c.) the word here translated ‘robber’ is less well translated ‘thief.’ The ‘robber’ is a brigand, a more formidable criminal than the ‘thief;’ the one uses violence, the other cunning.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:1

Verily, verily, betokens the deep solemnity and importance of the matter in hand, but not a complete break in the circumstances—neither a new audience nor a new theme. The adoption by Jeremiah (Jer_23:1-4), by Ezekiel (34.), and by Zechariah (Zec_11:4-17) of similar imagery to denote the contrast between the true and false shepherds, and the anticipation by the prophets of a time when the true and good Shepherd would fulfill all Jehovah’s pleasure, throws vivid light on these words of our Lord. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. Several commentators of eminence have maintained that by “the door,” in this first verse, our Lord (as in verse 7) meant at once to designate himself. This is not necessary. He rather summons the Pharisees to recognize the fact that there is a door, a way of sure and divinely appointed admission to the “fold of the sheep,” through which the veritable Shepherd passes, bringing his flock with him by well-known voice and manner. Later on, our Lord claims to be the one Way’ by which all under-shepherds can gain true access to the flock, and all the sheep of God’s pasture can find protection and freedom; but here he suggests the principle of discrimination between a true shepherd and a thief or robber. The κλέπτης is one who is selfishly seeking his own ends, and would avoid detection; the λῃστής is one who would use violent means to secure his purpose (Judas was a “thief,” Barabbas was a “robber”). The false shepherd disdains the door, and climbs up some other way along his own selfish lines of action (ἀλλαχο ́θεν is used in this place only, equivalent to “from some other quarter than the ordinary home of the shepherd”). His purpose is not to benefit the sheep, but to seize them, or slaughter them for his own purposes (Eze_34:8). The Lord suggests that many have assumed to sustain the relation of shepherd to the flock and fold of God, with no inward call either of commission or profession. They have been eager to insist on their own rights, have mistaken their own narrow traditions for the commandments of God, have imposed upon starved and worried souls their own selfish interpretations of that commandment, and have shown that they had no legitimate access to the hearts of men.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:2

But he that enters in by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. Let him be who he may, Pharisee or priest, prophet or king, pastor or evangelist, unless he approach the sheep by the right “way” he demeans and condemns himself. If he come by the door into the fold, he may be so far presumably a shepherd. One fold might contain several flocks, and a shepherd might lead these flocks into different enclosures according to his wisdom and care for his sheep. Neander, Godet, and Watkins think it possible that the whole imagery may have been borrowed from the eye. The shepherds towards evening were probably gathering their scattered flocks, according to Oriental custom, into their well-known enclosures, and Jesus with his audience might have seen them doing it if they gazed out from the courts of the temple over the neighboring hills (see also Thomson, ‘The Land and the Book,’ 1:301, a passage which provides an admirable commentary on this parable). There is no absolute need that the customary and well-known habit of the country-side should have been visible at the moment. The abundantly attested practice furnished to his hearers all needful corroboration. The deeper significance of the passage lies in the prophetic symbolism of Jer_23:1-4; Isa_40:11; Psa_23:1-3; Psa_78:52; Num_27:17; Eze_34:23, Eze_34:31; Eze_37:24. Jehovah was the Shepherd of Israel (Psa_80:1), and he would appoint once more in their Messiah-King a David, who should be his gracious Representative and Agent. All these representations were gathered up in Christ’s wonderful parable of the lost sheep (Luk_15:3-7). Thoma endeavors to credit the author of the Gospel with this ideal picture of the contrast between the true and false shepherd.

A.T. Robertson

John 10:2

The shepherd of the sheep (poimēn estin tōn probatōn). No article with poimēn, “a shepherd to the sheep.” He comes in by the door with the sheep whom he leads. Old word is poimēn, root meaning to protect. Jesus applies it to himself in Joh_10:16 and implies it here. It is used of Christ in 1Pe_2:25; Heb_13:20. Paul applies it to ministers in Eph_4:11. Jesus uses the verb poimainō, to shepherd, to Peter (Joh_21:16) and Peter uses it to other preachers (1Pe_5:2) and Paul uses it for bishops (elders) in Act_20:28. Our word pastor is simply Latin for shepherd. Christ is drawing a sharp contrast after the conduct of the Pharisees towards the blind man between himself and them.

John Calvin

John 10:3

3.To him the porter openeth. If by the word Porter any one choose to understand God, I do not object; and Christ even appears expressly to contrast the judgment of God with the false opinion of men in approving of pastors, as if he had said, “There are others, indeed, whom the world generally applauds, and on whom it willingly confers honor; but God, who holds the reins of government, does not acknowledge or approve of any but those who lead the sheep by this road.”

He calleth his own sheep by name. I consider this as referring to the mutual consent of faith; because the disciple and the teacher are united together by the one Spirit of God, so that the teacher goes before, and the disciple follows. Some think that it denotes the intimate knowledge which every shepherd ought to have of each of his flock, but I do not know if this rests on solid grounds.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:3

3. To him the porter openeth] The ‘porter’ is the door-keeper or gate-keeper, who fastens and opens the one door into the fold. In the allegory the fold is the Church, the Door is Christ, the sheep are the elect, the shepherds are God’s ministers. What does the porter represent? Possibly nothing definite. Much harm is sometimes done by trying to make every detail of an allegory or parable significant. There must be back ground in every picture. But if it be insisted that the porter here is too prominent to be meaningless, it is perhaps best to understand the Holy Spirit as signified under this figure; He who grants opportunities of coming, or of bringing others, through Christ into the Kingdom of God. Comp. 1Co_16:9; 2Co_2:12; Col_4:3; Act_14:27; Rev_3:8 : but in all these passages ‘door’ does not mean Christ, but opportunity. See on 1Co_16:9.

the sheep hear his voice] All the sheep, whether belonging to His flock or not, know from His coming that they are about to be led out. His own sheep (first for emphasis) he calleth by name (Exo_33:12; Exo_33:17; Isa_43:1), and leadeth them out to pasture. Even in this country shepherds and shepherds’ dogs know each individual sheep; in the East the intimacy between shepherd and sheep is still closer. The naming of sheep is a very ancient practice: see Theocritus 5:102.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:3

To him the porter openeth. The doorkeeper of the fold has been variously interpreted. Bengel and Hengstenberg say, “God himself” is meant; Stier, Alford, and Lange, “the Holy Spirit;” against which interpretations may be urged the subordinate position assigned to the “porter,” as compared with the shepherds themselves. Lampe and Godet think that “John the Baptist” was intended; while Meyer and De Wette say that it is one of those elements of the parable which is dropped out of our Lord’s own exposition for which we need not seek any special application. Westcott thinks it must vary with the special sense attributed to “sheep” and “shepherd,” and float we must think of it as “the Spirit working through his appointed ministers in each case.” The “doorkeeper,” if Christ be himself the “Door,” is the keeper of that door—the agency, the ministry, the ordinances by which the excellences and power of Christ were or are manifested. We are reminded of subsequent use of the imagery in Paul’s Epistles (1Co_16:9; 2Co_2:12; Col_4:3; cf. Act_14:27); but the full meaning of the phrase is only suggested, and we had better wait for Christ’s interpretation of some parts of this allegory. The context provides a specific filling out, first of one part of the imagery, and secondly of another part of it. The two interpretations are not to be forced at one and the same time upon the parable. Our Lord continues: And the sheep hear his voice. When a shepherd approaches the door to fetch the folded sheep which belong to him, the porter opens that door for him i.e. a true shepherd who has at heart the interests of the sheep and of their supreme Owner, finds the way made ready for him. In the fold are many flocks. All the sheep give heed to his voice. He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. They know a shepherd calls, and then that shepherd addresses his own sheep by name, and he leads these forth into the pasture. Even in our own pastures the shepherds know each sheep by name. Aristotle (‘Hist. Anim.,’ Joh_6:19) tells us the bell-wether knew his name, and obeyed his shepherd. Archdeacon Watkins gives a quotation from Theocritus’ ‘Idylls,’ charmingly illustrating the habit. The shepherd, by the mere call to his own sheep, would separate them from these which did not belong to him, and lead them forth to their pasture in the wilderness. This method of Oriental life illustrates the function of all true shepherds of men. It has had many partial fulfillments in the history of the Church and of the world. Daring the period of the old theocratic dispensation, many “thieves and robbers” made havoc of the flock; still there were prophetic and kingly men who, sent by God, found their way to the heart of Israel; many came to know that a prophet had been among them, and they followed him. It is equally true now, though all the external conditions are changed. The full application of this part of the allegory is only seen when “the good Shepherd” seeketh his sheep; but the meaning of the first picture is obscured by hurrying on to the enlarged and double exposition which Christ gave of the two parts of his own parable, and much is lost by endeavoring to force into a primary exposition of Joh_10:1-6 the features borrowed from a twofold interpretation of the separate ideas suggested by the composite image.

John Calvin

John 10:4

4.Because they know his voice. Though he speaks here of ministers, yet, instead of wishing that they should be heard, he wishes that God should be heard speaking by them; for we must attend to the distinction which he has laid down, that he alone is a faithful pastor or shepherd of the Church, who conducts and governs his sheep by the direction of Christ. We must attend to the reason why it is said that the sheep follow; it is, because they know how to distinguish shepherds from wolves by the voice This is the spirit of discernment, by which the elect discriminate between the truth of God and the false inventions of men. So then, in the sheep of Christ a knowledge of the truth goes before, and next follows an earnest desire to obey, so that they not only understand what is true, but receive it with warm affection. And not only does he commend the obedience of the faith, because the sheep assemble submissively at the voice of the shepherd, but also because they do not listen to the voice of strangers, and do not disperse when any one cries to them.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:4

4. when he putteth forth his own sheep] Better, when he hath put forth all his own. Most of the best MSS. have ‘all’ for ‘sheep:’ ‘there shall not an hoof be left behind’ (Exo_10:26). The word for ‘put forth’ is remarkable; it is the same as is used in Joh_9:34-35 of the Pharisees ‘casting out’ the man born blind. This is perhaps not accidental: the false shepherds put forth sheep to rid themselves of trouble; the true shepherds put forth sheep to feed them. But even the true shepherds must sometimes use a certain amount of violence to their sheep to ‘compel them to come’ (Luk_14:23) to the pastures. But note that there are no ‘goats’ in the allegory: all the flock are faithful. It is the ideal Church composed entirely of the elect. The object of the allegory being to set forth the relations of Christ to His sheep, the possibility of bad sheep is not taken into account. That side of the picture is treated in the parables of the Lost Sheep, and of the Sheep and the Goats.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:4

In like manner, our Lord continues to describe what every true shepherd of men has done and ever will do: When he hath put forth all his own, and not another’s, drawn them by the music of his voice, or constrained them by the sweet violence of his love, or even compelled them to go forth from a fold in which they may find security, but not pasture; and when he has marshaled them into obedience and into thankful trust by the strength of his sympathy and knowledge of their need, he goeth before them. He is their leader and example; he shows them in his own life the kind of provision made for them; he shares with them the perils of the wilderness, and first of all is prepared to grapple with their fierce foes, “He drinks of the brook in the way.” The highest meaning, the only complete interpretation, of this passage is found when Christ himself is the Shepherd, who does summon from the old enclosure “all his own,” all who have entered into living harmony with himself. And the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. Nothing is here said of “lost sheep” or of “goats;” these are all the “ideal sheep” of the flock, individuals who recognize the voice of the true Leader, and discriminate their own shepherd from all others, whether pretenders to their affections or destroyers of their lives—wolves or butchers, thieves or robbers. Should we persist in interpreting the apologue as it stands, a question arises about the πρόβατα that are not the shepherd’s” own.” Some have answered it by supposing that the latter are the chief of his own flock, who will bring the rest after them. The truth is not obscurely hinted of that election to highest privileges and duties, which does not declare that the rest are not sheep at all.

A.T. Robertson

John 10:5

A stranger (allotriōi). Literally, “One belonging to another” (from allos, opposed to idios). A shepherd of another flock, it may be, not necessarily the thief and robber of Joh_10:1. Note associative instrumental case after akolouthēsousin (future active indicative of akoloutheō, Joh_10:4). Note the strong double negative ou mē here with the future indicative, though usually with the aorist subjunctive (Aleph L W have it here). They simply will not follow such a man or woman, these well-trained sheep will not.

But will flee from him (alla pheuxontai ap’ autou). Future middle of pheugō and ablative case with apo. They will flee as if from a wolf or from the plague. Alas and alas, if only our modern pastors had the sheep (old and young) so trained that they would run away from and not run after the strange voices that call them to false philosophy, false psychology, false ethics, false religion, false life.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:6

This parable spake Jesus unto them. The word παροιμία occurs only in this place and in Joh_16:25-29; 2Pe_2:22. It is the LXX. rendering of לשָׁםָ proverb, in Pro_1:1, a similitude or didactic saying. The Greek word means any speech (ethos) deviating (παρὰ) from the common way (Lange). It may deviate by its sententious or parabolical form, which conceals under a closed metaphor a variety of meanings. But they, the Pharisees, who were confident of their own position, and gloried in their influence over men, and whose moral nature was steeled and armed to resist even a possible reference to themselves as “thieves,” or “robbers,” or “aliens,” and who would not admit any of Christ’s claims to their own disparagement, understood not what things they were which he was saying to them. The blind man had heard Ms voice, obeyed, found healing, advanced step by step from a bare knowledge of “a man Jesus” to a confession of him as one empowered by God; to a belief that he was a “Prophet,” able to relax Mosaic Law; and finally to a ready acknowledgment that he was the Son of God. The Pharisees were conscious of neither need, nor blindness, nor desire of salvation, nor of the Shepherd’s care or grace. They will not go to him for life. They can make nothing of his enigmatic words. They take counsel against him. Their misconception contrasts strongly with the susceptibility of the broken-hearted penitents. So far the parable or proverb corresponds with the parables of the kingdom in the synoptic Gospels, and is open to many interpretations.

John Calvin

John 10:7

7.I am the door. If this explanation had not been added, the whole discourse would have been allegorical. He now explains more clearly what was the chief part of the parable when he declares that he is the door The amount of what is stated is, that the principal point of all spiritual doctrine, on which souls are fed, consists in Christ. Hence also Paul, one of the shepherds, says: I reckon nothing to be worth knowing but Jesus Christ, (1Co_2:2.)

And this mode of expression conveys the same meaning as if Christ had testified that to him alone we must all be gathered together. Therefore, he invokes and exhorts all who desire salvation to come to him. By these words, he means that in vain do they wander about who leave him to go to God, because there is but one open door, and all approach in any other way is prohibited.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:7

7. Then said Jesus unto them again] Better, Therefore said Jesus again. They did not understand; therefore He went through the allegory again more explicitly, interpreting the main features. ‘Unto them’ is of doubtful authority.

Verily, verily] This is the important point, to recognise that the one door of the fold, through which the sheep and the shepherds enter, is Christ. I (with great emphasis) am the Door. Comp. ‘I am the Way’ (Joh_14:6).

the door of the sheep] Better, ‘the Door to the sheep’ (Joh_10:1-2), and also ‘the Door for the sheep’ (Joh_10:9). Sheep and shepherds alike have one and the same door. The elect enter the Church through Christ; the ministers who would visit the flocks must receive their commission from Christ. Note that Christ does not say, ‘the Door of the fold,’ but ‘the Door of the sheep.’ The fold has no meaning apart from the sheep.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:7

Jesus therefore (οὖν, with its resumptive force, introduces the effect upon Christ of the unsusceptible character of the Pharisees). Some pause may have occurred, during which these men displayed their bitter feeling and utter lack of appreciation, and he proceeds first to give them an explanation of the words, which should leave them in no doubt as to one emphatic meaning which they contained; Said again unto them, I am the Door of the sheep, This exposition of the allegory is introduced by the solemn Amen, amen. Christ first calls attention to the “door” into the sacred fellowship of men with God. On a subsequent occasion (Joh_14:6), he said, “I am the Way” to the Father; “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The parable as it stands refers to true and false teachers of the people, and to just and unjust claims to confer upon the sheep of God’s pasture safe and sure access to God, and all privileges of Divine life. In interpreting it, he declares first that he is the one Door, not of “the fold” so much as of the sheep, in their individual capacity. This corresponds with every claim made by him and made in his Name, that he, in all the fullness of his Personality, had always been the one Medium by which, in the theocracy or beyond it, men have drawn near to the Father. The Loges is the Angel of the covenant, the Rock in the wilderness, the great High Priest, the Yell over the holy place, the propitiatory Sacrifice, the Prophet, the King. He it is who ever and always has given consolation and peace to his people. He is the one method, agency, reality, by which not only the shepherds, but the sheep, enter into the fold, and go forth thence to pasture.

Pop Comm Bible Schaff

John 10:7

Joh_10:7.Jesus therefore said unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. The formula which introduced the parable (Joh_10:1) now brings in the interpretation. This interpretation is given in two parts,—or, as perhaps we ought rather to say, two distinct applications of the parable are given: the two most important points in the figure are taken in succession, and in each aspect the parable finds its fulfilment in the Lord Jesus. But as the formula which introduces this verse is not repeated in Joh_10:11, it is more correct to divide Joh_10:1-18 into two parts (Joh_10:1-6, Joh_10:7-18—the latter being subdivided at Joh_10:11) than into three.

First, Jesus declares Himself to be ‘the door of the sheep,’—that is, not the door by which the sheep enter into the fold, but the door through which they will leave the fold at the call of the Shepherd, and (though this is not particularly specified until Joh_10:9) through which a shepherd enters to his sheep. The whole description of Joh_10:1-5 must be interpreted in harmony with this word of Jesus. If He is the Door, what is the fold?—who are the sheep? To answer these questions we must look forward to a later verse (Joh_10:16): ‘And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must lead, and they shall hear my voice, and they shall become one flock, one shepherd.’ That Jesus here speaks of the heathen world few will doubt; and if so, it is very clear that in Joh_10:1 the Jewish Church is intended by ‘the fold of the sheep.’ Not that all who are found within the pale of Judaism belong to ‘the sheep’ of which Jesus speaks. The sheep are those who hear a true shepherd’s voice; and we may so far forestall Joh_10:11 as to say that none are included under this designation who refuse to hear the voice of Jesus Himself. ‘The sheep’ are therefore those who in other passages are described as ‘of God’ (see chap. Joh_8:47), and ‘of the truth’ (chap. Joh_18:37), and the ‘fold’ is the Jewish Church in so far as that Church has sheltered these until the fulness of time has come. Then, and not till then, shall the sheep be led out of the fold into the free open pastures: then, too, the ‘other sheep’ will be brought, and there shall be, not two flocks but one, under one Shepherd. It will be seen that in no part of this parable are the sheep said to return to the fold; the shepherds only are spoken of as entering in, and that for the purpose of leading out their flocks. In saying, ‘I am the door of the sheep,’ therefore, Jesus says in effect—(1) that through Him alone has any true guardian and guide of the sheep entered into the fold; (2) that through Him alone will the sheep within the ‘fold’ be led out into the open pastures. The latter thought is easily understood; it presents the same promise of the gladness and freedom and life of Messianic times as was set forth by the symbols of the feast of Tabernacles in the seventh and eighth chapters. Then the figures were the pouring out of water and the lighting of the golden lamps: the figure now is very different, but (as we have seen) equally familiar in Old Testament prophecy. Not until Messiah shall come will the night of patient waiting cease, and the fold be seen to have been only a temporary shelter, not a lasting home. The application of the words before us to the shepherds is more difficult; for when we consider how this chapter is connected with the last, it is plain that Jesus adverts to the presence within the fold of some who are not true shepherds. They have climbed up from some other quarter, and are in the fold to gratify their own selfishness and greed, not to benefit the flock. How then can it be said of them that they did not enter through the Door,—i.e., through our Lord Himself? In answering this question it seems plain that we have here a saying akin to that of chap. Joh_8:56, or Joh_12:41, or to that of Heb_11:26, in which Moses is said to have esteemed ‘the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.’ The leading characteristic of preceding ages had been that they were a time of preparation for the Christ, that during them the promise and hope of the Christ had stood in the place of His personal presence. The object of every ruler in the Jewish Church, and of every teacher of the Jewish people, should have been to point forward to the coming of the Messiah; and each should have used all his power and influence, not for himself, but to prepare for the event in which the Jewish Church was to culminate and (in an important sense) come to an end, giving place to the Church Universal. The rulers brought before us in the last chapter had done the reverse; in no true sense had they prepared for the Christ: and, when the Christ appeared, so far from receiving Him, they had combined together to put away from the Church in which they bore rule every one who acknowledged that Jesus was He. Hence, accordingly, the strong language of Joh_10:1. These teachers had ‘climbed up from another quarter,’ instead of entering by the Door. They had been marked by a spirit of self-exaltation, of earthly Satanic pride; they had appeared as the enemies of God, had refused to submit themselves to His plans, had sought not His glory but their own; their aims had been thoroughly selfish, devilish; they were of their father the devil (Joh_8:44). Thus, also, we see that the term ‘a thief and a robber,’ applied to such teachers in Joh_10:1, is not too strong, for they had perverted the whole object of the theocracy; they had made that an end which was only designed to be a means, and had done this as men who had blinded themselves to the true light, and were using the flock of God as instruments for their own aggrandisement. They were in the fold, but they had not entered through the door.

Such then being the meaning of the ‘Door,’ the ‘fold,’ the ‘sheep,’ the true and false shepherds, the rest of the description is easily understood. The true sheep know the voice of every rightful shepherd (Joh_10:3-4); in all past ages there has been this mutual recognition between teachers sent by God and those who have desired to be taught of God. But the Ml accomplishment of the work described in these verses awaits the coming of Him who is the true Shepherd, through whom the sheep are to be led forth from the fold. To Him alone apply the words in their completeness, but in measure they most truly belong to every shepherd whose mission comes through Him.

John Calvin

John 10:8

8.All who came before me. The words πάντες ὅσοι may be literally rendered, all as many as came before me They who restrict this expression to Judas the Galilean, and such persons, depart widely, in my opinion, from Christ’s meaning; for he contrasts all false doctrine, in general, with the Gospel, and all false prophets with faithful teachers. Nor would it even be unreasonable to extend this statement to the Gentiles, that all who, from the beginning of the world, have professed to be teachers, and have not labored to gather sheep to Christ, have abused this title for destroying souls. But this does not at all apply to Moses and the Prophets, who had no other object in view than to establish the kingdom of Christ. For it ought to be observed, that a contrast is here made between the words of Christ and those things which are opposed to them. But so far are we from discovering any contradiction between the Law and the doctrine of the Gospel, that the Law is nothing else than a preparation for the Gospel. In short, Christ testifies that all the doctrines, by which the world has been led away from him, are so many deadly plagues; because, apart from him, there is nothing but destruction and horrible confusion. Meanwhile, we see of what importance antiquity is with God, and in what estimation it ought to be held by us, when it enters, as it were, into a contest with Christ. That no man may be moved by the consideration, that there have been teachers, in all ages, who gave themselves no concern whatever about directing men to Christ, Christ expressly states that it is of no consequence how many there have been of this description, or how early they began to appear; for it ought to be considered that there is but one door, and that they who leave it, and make openings or breaches in the walls, are thieves

But the sheep did not hear them. He now confirms more clearly what he had already spoken more obscurely and in the figure of an allegory, that they who were led out of the way by impostors did not belong to the Church of God. This is said, first, that when we see a great multitude of persons going astray, we may not resolve to perish through their example; and, next, that we may not waver, when God permits impostors to deceive many. For it is no light consolation, and no small ground of confidence, when we know that Christ, by his faithful protection, has always guarded his sheep, amidst the various attacks and crafty devices of wolves and robbers, so that there never was one of them that deserted him.

But here a question arises, When does a person begin to belong to the flock of the Son of God? For we see many who stray and wander through deserts during the greater part of their life, and are at length brought into the fold of Christ. I reply, the word sheep is here used in two ways. When Christ says afterwards, that he has other sheep besides, he includes all the elect of God, who had at that time no resemblance to sheep At present, he means sheep which bore the shepherd’s mark. By nature, we are at the greatest possible distance from being sheep; but, on the contrary, are born lions, tigers, wolves, and bears, until the Spirit of Christ tames us, and from wild and savage beasts forms us to be mild sheep Thus, according to the secret election of God, we are already sheep in his heart, before we are born; but we begin to be sheep in ourselves by the calling, by which he gathers us into his fold. Christ declares that they who are called into the order of believers are so firmly bound together, that they cannot stray or wander, or be carried about by any wind of new doctrine.

It will perhaps be objected, that even those who had been devoted to Christ frequently go astray, and that this is proved by frequent experience, and that it is not without good reason that Ezekiel ascribes it to the good Shepherd, that he gathers the scattered sheep, (Eze_34:12.) I readily acknowledge that it frequently happens, that they who had belonged to the household of faith are, for a time, estranged; but this is not at variance with Christ’s statement, for, so far as they go astray, they cease, in some respects, to be sheep What Christ means is simply this, that all the elect of God, though they were tempted to go astray in innumerable ways, were kept in obedience to the pure faith, so that they were not exposed as a prey to Satan, or to his ministers. But this work of God is not less astonishing, when he again gathersthe sheep which had wandered for a little, than if they had all along continued to be shut up in the fold. It is always true, and without a single exception, that

they who go out from us were not of us, but that they who were of us remain with us to the end, (1Jo_2:19.)

This passage ought to strike us with the deepest shame; first, because we are so ill accustomed to the voice of our Shepherd, that there are hardly any who do not listen to it with indifference; and, next, because we are so slow and indolent to follow him. I speak of the good, or of those who are at least passable; for the greater part of those who boast that they are Christ’s disciples kick fiercely against him. Lastly, as soon as the voice of any stranger has sounded in our ears, we are hurried to and fro; and this lightness and unsteadiness sufficiently shows how little progress we have hitherto made in the faith. But if the number of believers is smaller than might be desired, and if out of this small number a large proportion be continually dropping off, faithful teachers have this consolation to support them, that the elect of God, who are Christ’s sheep, listen to them. It is our duty, indeed, to labor diligently, and to strive by every possible method, that the whole world may be brought, if possible, into the unity of the faith; but let us, in the meantime, be well satisfied with belonging to the number.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:8

8. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers] These words are difficult, and some copyists seem to have tried to avoid the difficulty by omitting either ‘all’ or ‘before Me.’ But the balance of authority leaves no doubt that both are genuine. Some commentators would translate ‘instead of Me’ for ‘before Me.’ But this meaning of the Greek preposition is not common, and perhaps occurs nowhere in N.T. Moreover ‘instead of Me’ ought to include the idea of ‘for My advantage;’ and that is impossible here. We must retain the natural and ordinary meaning of ‘before Me:’ and as ‘before Me in dignity’ would be obviously inappropriate, ‘before Me in time’ must be the meaning. But who are ‘all that came before Me?’ The patriarchs, prophets, Moses, the Baptist cannot be meant, either collectively or singly. ‘Salvation is of the Jews’ (Joh_4:22); ‘they are they which testify of Me’ (Joh_5:39); ‘if ye believed Moses, ye would believe Me’ (Joh_5:46); ‘John bare witness unto the truth’ (Joh_5:33): texts like this are quite conclusive against any such Gnostic interpretation. Nor can false Messiahs be meant: it is doubtful whether any had arisen at this time. Rather it refers to the ‘ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing’ who had been, and still were, the ruin of the nation, who ‘devoured widow’s houses,’ who were ‘full of ravening and wickedness,’ who had ‘taken away the key of knowledge,’ and were in very truth ‘thieves and robbers’ (Mat_7:15; Mat_23:14; Luk_11:39; Luk_11:52). Some of them were now present, thirsting to add bloodshed to robbery, and this denunciation of them is no stronger than several passages in the Synoptists: e.g. Mat_23:33; Luk_11:50-51. The tense also is in favour of this interpretation; not were, but ‘are thieves and robbers.’

but the sheep did not hear them] For they spoke with no authority (Mat_7:29); there was no living voice in their teaching. They had their hearers, but these were not ‘the sheep,’ but blind adherents, led by the blind.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:8

All that came before me are thieves and robbers. Great difficulty has been felt by commentators in understanding “before me.” The words clearly gave the early Gnostic heretics a text on which they established their dualistic rejection of the old dispensation. Their absence from certain texts led Augustine and others to emphasize the word “came.” “All who came,” i.e. in their own strength or wisdom, when not “sent” or authorized by God. Other endeavors have been made (see Meyer and Lunge) to give it a non-temporal meaning, such as χωρίς, “independently of me.” Wolf and Olshausen make πρὸ equivalent to ὐπὲρ, “in the place” or “in the stead of me” (so Lunge, Lampe, Schleusner). De Wette and others accept the temporal meaning, “before,” i.e. in point of time, and include under it the entire corpus of Old Testament saints and teachers, and therefore regard the saying as inconsistent with the gentleness of Christ. But with Joh_5:39, Joh_5:45-47, and many other passages in this Gospel, it is certain the words could not mean to denounce all who came as teachers or shepherds before him in mere point of time as “thieves and robbers,” whom the sheep did not hear. Therefore the πρὸ must be to some extent modified in meaning. We agree with Westcott and Godet in limiting πρὸ ἐμού, by throwing the emphasis on the “came,” and by adding, moreover, to it the essential point, “came making themselves doors of the sheep”—claiming to have the “key of knowledge,” professing vainly to open or shut the door of heaven. That is, no other has ever had the right or claim to be such “a door.” The Baptist, the prophets, one by one, Abraham and Moses, in their day made no such profession. The dignity belongs to Christ alone. The language may receive accentuation from the pressing urgency of false Christs, as well as the hopeless system of Pharisaic pride. Theme sees here the mere dressing out of St. Paul’s language, condemnatory of false prophets and ravening wolves who would not spare the flock of Christ (Act_20:29), and Christ’s own words in the synoptists (Mat_7:15; Mat_23:1-39. 13, etc.). Special reference is made to the ceremonial superstitions, to “the hedge about the Law,” to the cruel slavery of modern Pharisaism, which had done what neither prophets nor priests of old had attempted. Archdeacon Watkins emphasizes the present tense, “are thieves,” etc., making Christ’s reference obvious to the lawyers and scribes of his own day, who were closing the door, and plundering those whom they kept out of the kingdom. But the sheep did not hear them. The true sheep have not been seduced by them. The teaching of these Pharisees has not prevailed over susceptible souls.

Pop Comm Bible Schaff

Joh_10:8.All that came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did nothear them. In the similitude of the door, Jesus had declared that it was through Him alone that the flocks could come out of the Jewish fold into the pastures into which they had longed to enter; and this was a truth not depending only upon His proclamation of it, but lying in the very essence of the Old Testament dispensation. The prophecies had fixed the thoughts of all true Israelites on ‘Him that cometh,’ and had shown them that until His coming their hopes could not be fulfilled. But some had forgotten this, and had falsely claimed the place that belonged to Jesus, each deceiver pretending that he himself was the medium through which God’s people were to be led to the satisfaction of their hopes. But those who trusted in God and waited patiently for Him were kept by Him from these deceivers: ‘the sheep did not hear them.’

Such is the general sense of this verse; it is less easy to fill up the outline it presents. We may well wonder that any should have thought that the words ‘all that came before me’ might include the prophets of the former dispensation; for the context most clearly proves that Jesus is speaking of those who ‘came before Him,’ professing to be ‘the door of the sheep.’ The word ‘came,’ indeed, can hardly be interpreted without the thought of that designation so peculiarly belonging to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel, ‘He that cometh.’ No one else has a right thus to say ‘I come,’ ‘I have come,’ ‘I came.’ The idea of taking the work of Jesus in hand lies in ‘came.’ When, accordingly, setting aside the thought of all true prophets, we ask who they are to whom this description applies, we naturally think, in the first instance, of false Messiahs, of whom many appeared in Jewish history. It may be said that we have no record of a claim to Messiahship earlier than the time when these words were spoken. This answer contains too positive an assertion. There is reason for believing that Judas of Galilee (mentioned in Act_5:37) was regarded by some as the Christ; and Gamaliel’s words respecting Theudas (Act_5:36) may very possibly cover a similar assumption. The Gospels reveal a state of Messianic hope out of which such deception might easily arise. That popular insurrections were continually occurring is a notorious fact; and if Josephus, our chief authority for the history of this period, fails to give us a careful account of the religious hopes that were fostered by the leaders of revolt, his character and aims as a historian are a sufficient explanation of his silence. But whether the thought of false Messiahs is admissible or not, the meaning of the words must extend much farther, and must embrace all who had sought to turn the people from waiting for the promise which God had given, or had substituted other principles of national life for the hope of the Messiah. Such had long been the practical effect of the rule and teaching of Pharisees and Sadducees. These men had sat in the seat of Moses to make void the law and to extinguish the promise by their vain traditions, and for their selfish ends; and they are certainly, perhaps mainly, thought of here.

Student Guide NT R.B. Terry

John 10:8

:

TEXT: “All who came before me are thieves and bandits” EVIDENCE: p66 Sc A B D (both Greek and Latin omit “All”) K L W X {Theta} Pi Psi {f1} f13 33 {565} 700 1241 some Byz syr(h+) most cop(north) TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB TEV RANK: C

NOTES: “All who came are thieves and bandits” EVIDENCE: p45vid p75 S* E F G M U Gamma Delta 028 28 892 1010 some Byz Lect most lat vg syr(s,p,h,pal) one cop(north) cop(south) TRANSLATIONS: ASVn

COMMENTS: The words “before me” are in brackets in the UBS text. The manuscripts listed in braces have the words before “came.” On the one hand, it is possible that they were originally absent and added by copyists to make better sense. On the other hand, it is possible that they were deleted so that they statement of Jesus would not seem to apply to the Old Testament saints. Almost certainly the deletion of “all” by manuscript D was for this reason.

John Calvin

John 10:9

9.If any man enter by me. The highest consolation of believers is, that when they have once embraced Christ, they learn that they are out of danger; for Christ promises to them salvation and happiness. He afterwards divides it into two parts.

He shall go in and out, and find pasture. First, they shall go safely wherever they find necessary; and, next, they shall be fed to the full. By going in and out, Scripture often denotes all the actions of the life, as we say in French, aller et venir, (to go and come,) which means, to dwell These words, therefore, present to us a twofold advantage of the Gospel, that our souls shall find pasture in it, which otherwise become faint and famished, and are fed with nothing but wind; and, next, because he will faithfully protect and guard us against the attacks of wolves and robbers.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:9

9. by me] Placed first for emphasis; ‘through Me and in no other way.’ The main point is iterated again and again, each time with great simplicity, and yet most emphatically. “The simplicity, the directness, the particularity, the emphasis of S. John’s style give his writings a marvellous power, which is not perhaps felt at first. Yet his words seem to hang about the reader till he is forced to remember them. Each great truth sounds like the burden of a strain, ever falling upon the ear with a calm persistency which secures attention.” Westcott, Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, p. 250.

he shall be saved] These words and ‘shall find pasture’ seem to shew that this verse does not refer to the shepherds only, but to the sheep also. Although ‘find pasture’ may refer to the shepherd’s work for the flock, yet one is inclined to think that if the words do not refer to both, they refer to the sheep only.

With the verse as a whole should be compared ‘the strait gate and narrow way which leadeth unto life’ (Mat_7:14). In the Clementine Homilies (iii. lii.) we have ‘He, being a true prophet, said, I am the gate of life; he that entereth in through Me entereth into life.’ See on Joh_9:3.

A.T. Robertson

John 10:9

The door (hē thura). Repeated from Joh_10:7.

By me if any man enter in (di’ emou ean tis eiselthēi). Condition of third class with ean and second aorist active subjunctive of eiserchomai. Note proleptic and emphatic position of di’ emou. One can call this narrow intolerance, if he will, but it is the narrowness of truth. If Jesus is the Son of God sent to earth for our salvation, he is the only way. He had already said it in Joh_5:23. He will say it again more sharply in Joh_14:6. It is unpalatable to the religious dogmatists before him as it is to the liberal dogmatists today. Jesus offers the open door to “any one” (tis) who is willing (thelei) to do God’s will (Joh_7:17).

He shall be saved (sōthēsetai). Future passive of sōzō, the great word for salvation, from sōs, safe and sound. The sheep that comes into the fold through Jesus as the door will be safe from thieves and robbers for one thing. He will have entrance (eisleusetai) and outgo (exeleusetai), he will be at home in the daily routine (cf. Act_1:21) of the sheltered flock.

And shall find pasture (kai nomēn heurēsei). Future (linear future) indicative of heuriskō, old word from nemō, to pasture. In N.T. only here and 2Ti_2:17 (in sense of growth). This same phrase occurs in 1Ch_4:40. The shepherd leads the sheep to pasture, but this phrase pictures the joy of the sheep in the pasture provided by the shepherd.

John Calvin

John 10:10

10.The thief cometh not. By this saying, Christ — if we may use the expression — pulls our ear, that the ministers of Satan may not come upon us by surprise, when we are in a drowsy and careless state; for our excessive indifference exposes us, on every side, to false doctrines. For whence arises credulity so great, that they who ought to have remained fixed in Christ, fly about in a multitude of errors, but because they do not sufficiently dread or guard against so many false teachers? And not only so, but our insatiable curiosity is so delighted with the new and strange inventions of men, that, of our own accord, we rush with mad career to meet thieves and wolves. Not without reason, therefore, does Christ testify that false teachers, whatever may be the mildness and plausibility of their demeanour, always carry about a deadly poison, that we may be more careful to drive them away from us. A similar warning is given by Paul, See that no man rob you through vain philosophy, (Col_2:8.)

I am come. This is a different comparison; for Christ, having hitherto called himself the door, and declared that they who bring sheep to this door are true shepherds, now assumes the character of a shepherd, and indeed affirms that he is the only shepherd Indeed, there is no other to whom this honor and title strictly belongs; for, as to all the faithful shepherds of the Church, it is he who raises them up, endows them with the necessary qualifications, governs them by his Spirit, and works by them; and therefore they do not prevent him from being the only Governor of his Church, or from holding the distinction of being the only Shepherd For, though he employs their ministry, still he does not cease to fulfill and discharge the office of a shepherd by his own power; and they are masters and teachers in such a manner as not to interfere with his authority as a Master. In short, when the term shepherd is applied to men, it is used, as we say, in a subordinate sense; and Christ shares the honor with his ministers in such a manner, that he still continues to be the only shepherd both of themselves and of the whole flock.

That they may have life. When he says that he is come, that the sheep may have life, he means that they only who do not submit to his staff and crook (Psa_23:4) are exposed to the ravages of wolves and thieves; and — to give them greater confidence — he declares that life is continually increased and strengthened in those who do not revolt from him. And, indeed, the greater progress that any man makes in faith, the more nearly does he approach to fullness oflife, because the Spirit, who is life, grows in him.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:10

The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy. Christ, elaborating, evolving, what is contained in the image of “thief,” regards his rival as the thief of souls; he whose pretension to be a way to God is based on no inward and eternal reality, who comes for no other purpose than to make the sheep his own, not to give them pasture; to sacrifice them to his selfish ends, to use them for his own purposes, not to deal with them graciously for theirs; but to destroy, since in the pursuit of his selfish ends he wastes both life and pasture. A terrible impeachment, this of all who have not recognized the true Door into the sheepfold, who would shut up the way of life that they may exalt their own order, would diminish the chances of souls in order to secure their own position. This forms the transition to the second interpretation of the parabolic words; for he adds, I came that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly; more even than they can possibly use. This is one of the grandest of our Lord’s claims. He gives like God from overflowing stores (Tit_3:6). Those who receive life from him have within them perennial sources of life for others—fullness of being (see notes, Joh_7:38; Joh_4:14). One of the differentiae of “life” is “abundance” of supply beyond immediate possibility of use. Life has the future in its arms. Life propagates new life. Life has untold capacities about it—beauty, fragrance, strength, growth, variety, reproduction, resistance to death, continuity, eternity. In the Loges is life—and Christ came to give it, to communicate “life to the non-living, to the dead in trespasses, and to those in their graves” (Joh_5:26).

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:15

15. As the Father knoweth me, even so, &c.] This rendering entirely obscures the true meaning. There should be no full stop at the end of Joh_10:14, and the sentence should run; I know Mine, and Mine know Me, even as the Father knoweth Me and I know the Father. So intimate is the relation between the Good Shepherd and His sheep that it may be compared to the relation between the Father and the Son. The same thought runs through the discourses in the latter half of the Gospel: Joh_14:20, Joh_15:10, Joh_17:8; Joh_17:10; Joh_17:18; Joh_17:21.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:14, Joh_10:15

The Lord resumes: I am the good Shepherd. He now makes his discourse more explicit. He almost drops the allegory, and merely adopts the sacred metaphor. His self-revelation becomes more full of promise and suggestion for all time. He takes up one of the characteristics of the shepherd which discriminated him from “hireling,” “thief,” or “robber.” And I know mine own, and my £ own know me, even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father. This more accurate text, translation, and punctuation of the Revised version brings into living comparison the mutual knowledge of Christ and his own sheep, with the mutual knowledge of Christ and the Father. Christ’s personal knowledge of his people is that which comes into their religious consciousness. They know his knowledge of them. They know him to be what he is—to be their Lord God, as they realize his personal recognition and care. The one involves the other (see Gal_4:9; 1Co_8:3). The particle of transition is more than a mere illustration (καθώς is more than ὥσπερ; κἀθώς introduces not infrequently an explanation, sometimes a causal consideration, or an illustration which accounts for the previous statement; see Joh_15:12; Joh_17:21, Joh_17:23). The knowledge which the sheep have of the Shepherd corresponds with the Son’s knowledge of the Father, and the Shepherd’s knowledge of the sheep answers to the Father’s knowledge of the Son; but more than this, the relation of the Son to the Father, thus expressed, is the real ground of the Divine intimacies between the sheep and the Shepherd (cf. Joh_15:10; Joh_17:8). Then the Lord repeats and renews the solemn statement made at the commencement of the sentence, And I lay down my life for the sheep. Such knowledge of the peril of “his own” involves him in sacrifice. Whereas in Joh_10:11 this is attributed to the “good Shepherd,” now he drops the first part of the figure, and says, “I am laying down my life.”

Pop Comm Bible Schaff

John 10:14-15

Joh_10:14-15.I am the good shepherd, and Iknowmine own, and mine own know me, even as theFather knoweth me and Iknow the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. Asthe figure of Joh_10:7 was repeated in Joh_10:9, that it mightreceive a new and blessed application, so here we have a repetition of the figure presented in the 11th verse. The repetition removes fromviewthe unworthy: we are brought once more into the presence of Jesus and His own. First and lastin these two verses stand the two clauses of theformer verse, altered only in so far that what there was said of the Good Shepherd is here said ofJesus Himself (‘I lay down’). Between these twoclauses are placed two other sayings, the first suggested at once by the figure used, the secondrising higher than any earlier words of the parable. Since Jesus is the good Shepherd, His sheep hear His voice and He calleth His own sheep by name (Joh_10:3): hence He says that He knows (recognises) His own sheep and His own know (recognise) Him. But once more (see chap. Joh_8:38) He places in parallelism His own relation to the Father and the relation of His own to Him. Helooks on the sheep and sees at once that they are His: they see Him and hear His voice and know that He is their Shepherd. So the Father looks on Him and sees in Him the Good Shepherd whomHe sent: He looks on the Father, and constantly recognises His presence as the Father with Him. There iswonderful beauty and elevation in thecomparison; no saying of our Lord goes beyond this inunfolding the intimacy of communionbetween Himself and His people which it reveals and promises. They are His, as He is the Father’s. It seems very probable that in these words there lies a reference to Joh_10:2, where we read that he who stands at the gate admits the true shepherd within the fold, recognising him, distinguishing him at once from those who falsely claim the name, just as the shepherd distinguishes his own sheep from those that are not of his flock.—These two verses are remarkable for simplicity of structure. As in the simplest examples of Hebrew poetry, thought is attached to thought, one member is placed in parallelism with another. Yet, as in the Hebrew poetry of which this reminds us, a dependence of thought upon thought may be inferred, though it is not expressed. Thus we have seen that, if Jesus is the Good Shepherd, it must be true that He recognises His own sheep. So also (and it is to point out this that we call attention to the structure of the verse) the Father’s recognition of Him closely connects itself with His laying down His life, as the Shepherd for the sheep.In this the Father sees the highest proof of His devotion to the work He has accepted: in thespirit of constant readiness for this crowning act of love He recognises theFather’s constant presenceand love (Joh_10:17). And, as the words ofthe verse bear witness to the Father’s care for man(not less truly and powerfully because this meaning does not lie on the surface of the words), it is easy to see once more with what fitness we hereread ‘the Father,’ and not simply ‘my Father’ (see chap. Joh_8:27; Joh_8:38).

John Calvin

John 10:16

16.And I have other sheep. Though some refer this indiscriminately to all, both Jews and Gentiles, who were not yet disciples of Christ, yet I have no doubt that he had in his eye the calling of the Gentiles. For he gives the appellation fold to the assemblage of the ancient people, by which they were separated from the other nations of the world, and united into one body as the heritage of God. The Jews had been adopted by God in such a manner, that he surrounded them with certain enclosures, which consisted of rites and ceremonies, that they might not be confounded with unbelievers, though the door of thefold was the gracious covenant of eternal life confirmed in Christ. For this reason he calls those sheep which had not the same mark, but belonged to a different class, other sheep In short, the meaning is, that the pastoral office of Christ is not confined within the limits of Judea, but is far more extensive.

Augustine’s observation on this passage is undoubtedly true, that, as there are many wolves within the Church, so there are many sheep without But this is not applicable, in every respect, to the present passage, which relates to the outward aspect of the Church, because the Gentiles, who had been strangers for a time, were afterwards invited into the kingdom of God, along with the Jews. Yet I acknowledge that Augustine’s statement applies in this respect, that Christ gives the name of sheep to unbelievers, who in themselves were the farthest possible from being entitled to be called sheep And not only does he point out, by this term, what they will be, but rather refers this to the secret election of God, because we are already God’s sheep, before we are aware that He is our shepherd. In like manner, it is elsewhere said that we were enemies, when he loved us, (Rom_5:10;) and for this reason Paul also says that we were known by God, before we knew him, (Gal_4:9.)

Them also I must bring. He means that the election of God will be secure, so that nothing of all that he wishes to be saved shall perish. For the secret purpose of God, by which men were ordained to life, is at length manifested in his own time by the calling, — the effectual calling, when he regenerates by his Spirit, to be his sons, those who formerly were begotten of flesh and blood.

But it may be asked, How were the Gentiles brought to be associated with the Jews? For the Jews were not under the necessity of rejecting the covenant which God made with their fathers, in order to become Christ’s disciples; and the Gentiles, on the other hand, were not under the necessity of submitting to the yoke of the Law, that, being ingrafted in Christ, they might be associated with the Jews. Here we must attend to the distinction between the substance of the covenant and the outward appendages. For the Gentiles could not assent to the faith of Christ in any other way than by embracing that everlasting covenant on which the salvation of the world was founded. In this manner were fulfilled the predictions,

Strangers shall speak the language of Canaan, (Isa_19:18.)

Again,

Ten men of the Gentiles shall take hold of the cloak of one Jew, and say, We will go with you, (Zec_8:23.)

Again,

Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, (Isa_2:4; Mic_4:2.)

Abraham was also called

a father of many nations, (Gen_17:5; Rom_4:17,) because they shall come from the East and from the West, who shall sit down with him in the kingdom of God, (Mat_8:11.)

As to ceremonies, they are the middle wall of partition, which, Paul informs us, hath been thrown down, (Eph_2:14.) Thus, we have been associated with the Jews in the unity of the faith, as to the substance; and the ceremonies were abolished, that there might be nothing to prevent the Jews from stretching out their hand to us.

And there shall be one fold and one shepherd That is, that all the children of God may be gathered and united into one body; as we acknowledge that there is one holy universal Church, and there must be one body with one head.

There is one God, says Paul, one faith, one baptism. Therefore we ought to be one, as we are called into one hope, (Eph_4:4.)

Now though this flock appears to be divided into different folds, yet they are kept within enclosures which are common to all believers who are scattered throughout the whole world; because the same word is preached to all, they use the same sacraments, they have the same order of prayer, and every thing that belongs to the profession of faith.

And they shall hear my voice. We must observe the way in which the flock of God is gathered. It is, when all have one shepherd, and when his voice alone is heard These words mean that, when the Church submits to Christ alone, and obeys his commands, and hears his voice and his doctrine, then only is it in a state of good order. If Papists can show us that there is any thing of this sort among them, let them enjoy the title of The Church, of which they vaunt so much. But if Christ is silent there, if his majesty is trodden under foot, if his sacred ordinances are held up to scorn, what else is their unity but a diabolical conspiracy, which is worse and far more to be abhorred than any dispersion? Let us therefore remember that we ought always to begin with the Head. Hence also the Prophets, when they describe the restoration of the Church, always join David the king with God; as if they said, that there is no Church where Christ does not reign, and that there is no kingdom of God, but where the honor of shepherd is granted to Christ.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:16

16. other sheep I have] Not the Jews in heathen lands, but Gentiles, for even among them He had sheep. The Jews had asked in derision, ‘Will He go and teach the Gentiles?’ (Joh_7:35). He declares here that among the despised heathen He has sheep. He was going to lay down His life, ‘not for that nation only’ (Joh_11:52), but that He might ‘draw all men unto Him’ (Joh_12:32). Of that most heathen of heathen cities, Corinth, He declared to S. Paul in a vision, ‘I have much people in this city’ (Act_18:10).

not of this fold] Emphasis on ‘fold,’ not on ‘this;’ the Gentiles were in no fold at all, but ‘scattered abroad’ (Joh_11:52).

them also I must bring] Better, them also I must lead. No need for them to be removed; Christ can lead them in their own lands. ‘Neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem’ (Joh_4:21) is the appointed place. Note the ‘must;’ it is the Messiah’s bounden duty, decreed for Him by the Father: comp. Joh_3:14, Joh_9:4, Joh_12:34, Joh_20:9.

there shall be one fold, and one shepherd] Rather, they shall become one flock, one shepherd. The distinction between ‘be’ and ‘become’ is worth preserving (see on Joh_9:27; Joh_9:39), and that between ‘flock’ and ‘fold’ still more so. ‘There shall become one fold’ would imply that at present there are more than one: but nothing is said of any other fold. In both these instances our translators have rejected their better predecessors: Tyndale and Coverdale have ‘flock,’ not ‘fold;’ the Geneva Version has ‘be made,’ not ‘be.’ One point in the Greek cannot be preserved in English. The words for ‘flock’ and ‘shepherd’ are cognate and very similar, poimnê and poimen: ‘one herd, one herdsman’ would be the nearest approach we could make, and to change ‘flock’ for ‘herd’ would be more loss than gain. The change from ‘flock’ to ‘fold’ has been all loss, leading to calamitous misunderstanding.

“The universalism of Joh_10:16, which is so often quoted against the Gospel, seems rather to be exactly of the kind of which we have abundant evidence in the Synoptists: e.g. in Mat_8:11; Mat_13:24-30; Mat_28:19; Luk_13:29. A certain precedence is assigned to Israel, but the inclusion of the Gentiles is distinctly contemplated.” And if S. Matthew could appreciate this side of his Master’s teaching, how much more S. John, who had lived to see the success of missions to the heathen and the destruction of Jerusalem. “On the other hand, the nature of S. John’s universalism must not be mistaken. It implies a privileged position on the part of the Jews.” S. pp. 172, 173. Moreover, even O.T. prophets seem to have had a presentiment that other nations would share in the blessings of the Messiah. Mic_4:2; Isa_52:15.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:16

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice. “The other sheep,” not of this fold, not sheltered by the theocracy, not needing the pasturage of such privileges—Gentiles they may be, earnest souls of many a name, denomination, and profession, are, while he speaks, and went before the formation of his Church, ‘ his own.” “Other sheep I have.” Though they have never as yet heard his voice, they are his. His relation with them is personal and direct and spiritual, not dictated or conditioned by “the fold.” They will hear his voice. We in vain ask the question, “When?” He alone can answer it. Many a Cornelius in every nation is accepted by him (cf. Act_10:35; Act_14:17; Act_17:27; Act_28:28). But the passage contemplates a wider application: “Them also I must bring, or lead, among my own.” They are scattered abroad now, but eternal Love, by assuming Shepherd-wise relations with them, determines not to bring them to one place or enclosure—to express such a thought we should have had, not ἀγαγεῖν, but συναγαγεῖν (Joh_11:52) or προσαγαγεῖν (Westcott)—but to bring them into personal relations with himself. They shall become one flock, one Shepherd. The false English translation of ποίμνη, viz. “fold,” should be specially noticed. If our Lord had meant to convey the idea of the rigid enclosure into which all the scattered sheep should be gathered, he would have used the word αὐλή. The word ποίμνη is, however, studiously chosen. The error has done grievous injury. There is no variation of the Greek text, or in the earliest versions. It came through the vulgate ovile into Wickliffe’s version, and into many other European versions. The Old Latin versions were correct, but Jerome led the way into the inaccurate translation. Tyndale perceived its true meaning, and Luther beautifully preserved the play upon the words. Coverdale, in his own Bible, followed Tyndale; but in 1539, “the Great Bible” followed the vulgate (Westcott). When naturalized, it sustained the false and growing pretension that outside the one “fold” of the visible Church the good Shepherd was not ready with his care and love (see for the only adequate translation of ποίμνη, Mat_26:31; Luk_2:8; 1Co_9:7, where the Authorized version has correctly rendered it “flock”). Christ, on other occasions, carefully warned his disciples against such narrowness, and here he declares that the sheep, independently of the fold or folds, may yet form one great flock, under one Shepherd. When he described himself as the Door, he was, as we have seen, careful to speak of himself as “Door of the sheep,” and not as the Door into the fold. He laid down his life in order to break down the partition between Jew and Gentile (Eph_2:13), between God and man, and between man and man. “In Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, bond nor free.” There may be many folds. Different nations, ages, times, and seasons may cause variations in these; but there is but one flock under the watchful guardianship of one Shepherd.

John Calvin

John 10:18

18.No man taketh it from me. This is another consolation, by which the disciples may take courage as to the death of Christ, that he does not die by constraint, but offers himself willingly for the salvation of his flock. Not only does he affirm that men have no power to put him to death, except so far as he permits them, but he declares that he is free from every violence of necessity. It is otherwise with us, for we are laid under a necessity of dying on account of our sins. True, Christ himself was born a mortal man; but this was a voluntary submission, and not a bondage laid upon him by another. Christ intended, therefore, to fortify his disciples, that, when they saw him shortly afterwards dragged to death, they might not be dismayed, as if he had been oppressed by enemies, but might acknowledge that it was done by the wonderful Providence of God, that he should die for the redemption of his flock. And this doctrine is of perpetual advantage, that the death of Christ is an expiation for our sins, because it was a voluntary sacrifice, according to the saying of Paul, By the obedience of one many were made righteous, (Rom_5:19.)

But I lay it down of myself. These words may be explained in two ways; either that Christ divests himself of life, but still remains what he was, just as a person would lay aside a garment from his body, or, that he dies by his own choice.

This commandment have I received from my Father. He recalls our attention to the eternal purpose of the Father, in order to inform us that He had such care about our salvation, that he dedicated to us his only-begotten Son great and excellent as he is; and Christ himself, who came into the world to be in all respects obedient to the Father, confirms the statement, that he has no other object in view than to promote our benefit.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:18

18. No man taketh it from me] Better, No one taketh it from Me; not even God. See on Joh_10:28. Two points are insisted on; (1) that the Death is entirely voluntary; (2) that both Death and Resurrection are in accordance with a commission received from the Father. Comp. ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit’ (Luk_23:46). The precise words used by the two Apostles of Christ’s death bring this out very clearly; ‘yielded up (literally ‘let go’) the ghost’ (Mat_27:50); ‘gave up the ghost’ (Joh_19:30; see note there). The word used by S. Mark and S. Luke (‘breathed His last,’ or ‘expired’) is less strong. Here there is an emphasis on the pronoun; ‘but I lay it down of Myself.’

I have power] i.e. right, authority, liberty: same word as in Joh_1:12, Joh_5:27, Joh_17:2, Joh_19:10. This authority is the commandment of the Father: and hence this passage in no way contradicts the usual N.T. doctrine that Christ was raised to life again by the Father. Act_2:24.

This commandment have I received] Better, This commandment received I, viz., at the Incarnation: the commandment to die and rise again. Comp. Joh_4:34, Joh_5:30, Joh_6:38.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:18

No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. Should the aorist be the true reading, then the whole of the Incarnation must have been regarded by the Lord as already accomplished, as a completed fact. The οὐδεὶς, “no one” neither God, nor man, nor evil spirit—taketh it, i.e. my life, away from me, from myself, in the exercise of my sovereign will, in the full consciousness of spontaneity. I am laying it down, not in consequence of my impotence before the powers of darkness, but “from myself.” This proceeding is in perfect harmony with the will of God the Father; but it is Christ’s free act notwithstanding, and of all things the most worthy of the Father’s love (cf. here Joh_5:30, which appears at first to be in contradiction with the statement of this verse; but the closing words of the verse rectify the impression; see also Joh_7:28; Joh_8:28). Christ justifies his extraordinary claim to lay down and after his death (retaining then the full possession of his Personality), to reassume the life which for a while, in submission to the doom on human nature, he had resolved to sacrifice, tie says, I have (ἐξουσι ́αν) right—or, power and authority combined—to lay it down, and right to take it again. This commandment received I from my Father. I have power to do both these things. No other has ever put forth such a claim, and the discharge of it “from himself,” i.e. spontaneously, is stated to be in consequence of an ἐντολή, an appoint-merit, an ordinance, he had received from the Father. The Divine purpose was realized in his perfect freedom and his perfect and absolute fulfillment of the Father’s will. The narrative of the agony in the garden, given by the synoptists, confirms the blending of his own freedom with the Divine order; but the language of this Gospel (Joh_18:6 (cf. Mat_26:53), and Joh_19:11), and the best researches into what is called “the physical cause of the death of Christ” (see Dr. Stroud’s valuable work on that subject), all confirm the voluntary nature of our Lord’s suffering and death. “To cover this incomparable privilege with a veil of humility, he thought good to call it a command. The Father’s mandate was, Thou shalt die or not die, thou shalt rise again or not rise again, according to the free promptings of thy love” (Godet). It was, however, the Father’s appointment that Christ should freely exercise this stupendous consequence of his perfect obedience. So that all the assurances that God raised him from the dead are confirmed by the mode in which he speaks of his Divine right.

R.B. Terry

John 10:18

:

TEXT: “No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down” EVIDENCE: p66 Sc A D K L W X Delta Theta Pi Psi f1 f13 28 565 700 892 1010 1241 Byz Lect lat vg syr(s,h,pal) cop TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV NASVn NIV TEV RANK: C

NOTES: “No one took it away from me, but I lay it down” EVIDENCE: p45 S* B syr(p) TRANSLATIONS: ASVn NASV NEB

COMMENTS: Although the aorist tense “took” (or, “has taken”) is the more difficult reading (which is usually to be preferred), the fact that it is found in only the Alexandrian type of ancient text led the UBS Textual Committee to prefer the present tense with the majority of the evidence.

John Calvin

John 10:25

25.I have told you. Our Lord Jesus does not conceal that he is the Christ, and yet he does not teach them as if they were willing to learn, but rather reproaches them with obstinate malice, because, though they had been taught by the word and works of God, they had not yet made any progress. Accordingly, that they do not know him, he imputes to their own fault, as if he said: “My doctrine is easily enough understood, but the blame lies with you, because you maliciously resist God.”

The works which I do. He speaks of his works, in order to convict them of being doubly obstinate; for, besides the doctrine, they had a striking testimony in his miracles, if they had not been ungrateful to God. He twice repeats the words, You do not believe, in order to prove that, of their own accord, they were deaf to doctrine, and blind to works; which is a proof of extreme and desperate malice. He says that he did the works in the name of his Father; because his design was, to testify the power of God in them, by which it might be openly declared that he came from God.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:25

Jesus answered them. The reply of Jesus is full of wisdom. If he had at once given an affirmative answer, they would have misunderstood him, because he was not the Christ of their expectations. If he had denied that he was the Messiah, he would have been untrue to his deepest consciousness of reality. The answer was: I spake with you—told you what I am—and ye believe not. To the woman in Samaria, to the Capernaites, to the blind man, to Peter and the other apostles, and in several emphatic forms, he had admitted his Messiahship. In Joh_8:1-59. he had claimed the highest honors and announced his [Divine commission, and appealed to his great Messianic works, but his endeavor to rectify their Messianic ideal had, through their obtuseness, failed of its purpose. So now once more he referred them to works done in his Father’s name, which hitherto had failed to convince them: The works that I do in my Father’s name (Joh_5:19, Joh_5:36), they bear witness concerning me.

John Calvin

John 10:26

26.Because you are not of my sheep. He assigns a higher reason why they do not believe either in his miracles or in his doctrine. It is, because they are reprobate. We must observe Christ’s design; for, since they boasted of being the Church of God, that their unbelief may detract nothing from the authority of the Gospel, he affirms that the gift of believing is a special gift. And, indeed, before that men know God, they must first be known by him, as Paul says, (Gal_4:9.) On the other hand, those to whom God does not look must always continue to look away from him. If any one murmur at this, arguing that the cause of unbelief dwells in God, because he alone has power to make sheep; I reply, He is free from all blame, for it is only by their voluntary malice that men reject his grace. God does all that is necessary to induce them to believe, but who shall tame wild beasts? This will never be done, till the Spirit of God change them into sheep They who are wild will in vain attempt to throw on God the blame of their wildness, for it belongs to their own nature. In short, Christ means that it is not wonderful, if there are few who obey his Gospel, because all whom the Spirit of God does not subdue to the obedience of faith are wild and fierce beasts. So much the more unreasonable and absurd is it, that the authority of the Gospel should depend on the belief of men; but believers ought rather to consider, that they are the more strongly bound to God, because, while others remain in a state of blindness, they are drawn to Christ by the illumination of the Spirit. Here, too, the ministers of the Gospel have ground of consolation, if their labor be not profitable to all.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:26

26. as I said unto you] These words are omitted by some of the best authorities, including the Vatican and Sinaitic MSS. But they may possibly have been left out to avoid a difficulty. If they are genuine they are best joined, as in our version, with what precedes. Nowhere in the Gospels does Christ make such a quotation from a previous discourse as we should have if we read, ‘As I said unto you, My sheep hear My voice, &c.’ The arrangement ‘Ye are not of My sheep, as I said unto you,’ is better, and the reference is to the general sense of the allegory of the sheep-fold, especially Joh_10:14-15. He and His sheep have most intimate knowledge of one another; therefore these Jews asking who He is prove that they are not His sheep. Comp. Joh_6:36, where there seems to be a similar reference to the general meaning of a previous discourse. It is strange that an objection should have been made to His referring to the allegory after a lapse of two months. There is nothing improbable in His doing so, especially if He had been absent from the city in the interval (see on Joh_10:22). Might not a speaker at the present time refer to a speech made two months before, especially if he had not spoken in public since then?

John Calvin

John 10:27

27.My sheep hear my voice. He proves by an argument drawn from contraries, that they are not sheep, because they do not obey the Gospel. For God effectually calls all whom he has elected, so that the sheep of Christ are proved by their faith. And, indeed, the reason why the name of sheep is applied to believers is, that they surrender themselves to God, to be governed by the hand of the Chief Shepherd, and, laying aside the fierceness of their nature, become mild and teachable. It is no small consolation to faithful teachers, that, though the greater part of the world do not listen to Christ, yet he has his sheep whom he knows, and by whom he is also known Let them do their utmost to bring the whole world into the fold of Christ; but when they do not succeed according to their wish, let them be satisfied with this single consideration, that they who are sheep will be gathered by their agency. The rest has been already explained.

John Calvin

John 10:28

28.And they shall never perish. It is an inestimable fruit of faith, that Christ bids us be convinced of our security when we are brought by faith into his fold. But we must also observe on what foundation this certainty rests. It is because he will be a faithful guardian of our salvation, for he testifies that our salvation is in his hand And if this were not enough, he says that they will be safely guarded by the power of his Father This is a remarkable passage, by which we are taught that the salvation of all the elect is not less certain than the power of God is invincible. Besides, Christ did not intend to throw this word foolishly into the air, but to give a promise which should remain deeply axed in their minds; and, therefore, we infer that the statement of Christ is intended to show that the elect are absolutely certain of their salvation. We are surrounded, indeed, by powerful adversaries, and so great is our weakness, that we are every moment in imminent danger of death; but as He who keeps what we have committed to him (2Ti_1:12) is greater or more powerful than all, we have no reason to tremble as if our life were in danger.

Hence, too, we infer how mad is the confidence of the Papists, which relies on free-will, on their own virtue, and on the merits of their works. Widely different is the manner in which Christ instructs his followers, to remember that, in this world, they may be said to be in the midst of a forest, surrounded by innumerable robbers, and are not only unarmed and exposed as a prey, but are aware that the cause of death is contained in themselves, so that, relying on the guardianship of God alone, they may walk without alarm. In short, our salvation is certain, because it is in the hand of God; for our faith is weak, and we are too prone to waver. But God, who has taken us under his protection, is sufficiently powerful to scatter, with his breath alone, all the forces of our adversaries. It is of great importance for us to turn our eye to this, that the fear of temptations may not dismay us; for Christ even intended to point out the way in which sheep are made to live at ease in the midst of wolves.

And none can wrest them out of my Father’s hand. The word and, in this passage, means therefore For, since the power of God is invincible, Christ infers that the salvation of believers is not exposed to the ungovernable passions of their enemies, because, ere they perish, God must be overcome, who has taken them under the protection of his hand.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:28

28. I give unto them] Not ‘will give.’ Here as in Joh_3:15, Joh_5:24 and often, the gift of eternal life is regarded as already possessed by the faithful. It is not a promise, the fulfilment of which depends upon man’s conduct, but a gift, the retention of which depends upon ourselves.

they shall never perish] This is parallel to Joh_8:51 (see note there); shall certainly not perish for ever, being the literal meaning, But the negative belongs to the verb, not to ‘for ever;’ and the meaning is, not ‘they may die, but shall not die for ever,’ but ‘they shall never die for all eternity.’ Comp. Joh_11:26.

neither shall any man pluck them] Better, and no one shall snatch them. ‘No one’ rather than ‘no man’ (as in Joh_10:18), for the powers of darkness are excluded as well as human seducers. ‘Snatch’ rather than ‘pluck,’ for in the Greek it is the same word as is used of the wolf in Joh_10:12, and this should be preserved in translation.

This passage in no way asserts the indefectibility of the elect, and gives no countenance to ultra-predestinarian views. Christ’s sheep cannot be taken from Him against their will; but their will is free, and they may choose to leave the flock.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:27, Joh_10:28

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand. Commentators have differed as to the arrangement of these two verses—whether the six assertions should be regarded as two triplets, in the first of which the sheep of Christ are made prominent, and in the latter of which the Shepherd; thus—

(l) The sheep—

“My sheep hear my voice” (their receptivity).

“And I know them” (the Lord’s response to their faith).

“And they follow me” (their active obedience).

(2) The Shepherd—

“I give them eternal life” (involving freedom from peril and death).

“They shall not perish foreverse”

“No one (not man or devil, wolf or hireling)

shall pluck them out of my hand.”

This is not so satisfactory as the arrangement which puts this weighty saying into three couplets instead of two triplets; in which the sheep are the prominent theme of each proposition. The three couplets display the climacteric character of the wondrous rhythm and interchange of emotion between the Divine Shepherd and the sheep-

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them”= mutual recognition.

“They follow me, and I give them eternal life” = reciprocal activity.

“They shall not perish forever, and no one shall pluck them out of my hand” = an authoritative assurance, and its pledge or justification.

Christ’s knowledge of the sheep corresponds with their recognition of his supreme claims; theft active trust is rewarded by his greatest gift; their indefeasible birthright is guaranteed by his limitless authority and power to protect them. It would be gross perversion of the passage to urge this indefeasible birthright on the ground of a few occasional flashes of conscious assurance and without any recognition of all the terms of the relation.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:29

29. which gave them] Better, which hath given them. Comp. Joh_17:6; Joh_17:24. This enforces the previous assertion. ‘To snatch them out of My hand, he must snatch them out of My Father’s hand; and My Father is greater than all:’ even than the Son (Joh_14:28). But the reading is not certain. The most probable text gives, that which the Father hath given Me is greater than all. The unity of the Church is strength invincible.

out of my Father’s hand] The better reading is, out of the Father’s hand. ‘Out of His hand’ would have sufficed; but ‘Father’ is repeated for emphasis.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:29

The last statement is sustained by a still loftier assumption. Before translating, it is necessary to notice the three readings of the text.

(1) That of the T.R. and the Revisers’ Text: My Father who gave (them) to me is greater than all the powers that can possibly be arrayed against them.

(2) The reading of א, D, With reference to that which my Father, One greater than all, gave me, and no one is able to pluck from the hand of the Father. Meyer, however, translates this differently; he supposes the μεῖζον to refer to the Father “a something greater, a greater potence.” Westcott and Hort prefer the reading with ὅ and μείζον; and Westcott translates, That which my Father has given me is greater than all, and regards it as a reference to the sheep as a collective unity. The internal reasons compel Luthardt, Godet, and Lange to fall back on T.R., and surely the extraordinary strain of the meaning justifies them. Our Lord would sustain with even stronger assurance the safety of his sheep. The Father’s gift to himself, the Father’s own eternal love and power, the Divine omnipotence of the Lord God himself, is pledged to their security. “My hand” becomes “my Father’s hand.” He seems to say, “If you question my capacity, you need not question his power. Sacrilegious violence may apparently nail my hands to the cross; the sword may awake against Jehovah’s Shepherd. But none can outwit, surprise, crucify, conquer, my Father, none can invalidate his care.”

R.B. Terry

John 10:29

:

TEXT: “That which my Father has given me is greater than all” EVIDENCE: B* most lat vg most cop(north) TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSVn NASVn NIVn NEBn TEV RANK: D

NOTES: “My Father, who has given [them] to me, is greater than all” EVIDENCE: p66 K M U Delta Pi f1 f13 (include “them”) 28 33 565 700 892 1010 1241 Byz Lect one lat syr(s,p,h) {one cop(north) cop(south) (include “them”)} TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV NASV NIV NEB TEVn

NOTES: “My Father (that which he has given me) is greater than all” EVIDENCE: S D L W Psi TRANSLATIONS: NEBn

OTHER: “My Father, who has given [them] to me, is [something] greater than all” EVIDENCE: A Bc X Theta syr(pal)

COMMENTS: There are eight major variations of this passage plus several minor ones. The four best supported by evidence are given above. The two major differences are between “who” and “that which” (only one letter difference in Greek) and between “he is greater” and “it is greater” (the difference is only one of a long ‘o’ or a short ‘o’). The latter difference is probably due to mistakes of the ear, where a copyist misunderstands the word or misspells it. Although it is possible that the neuter reading (“that which”) arose when a copyist changed “who” to “that which” to agree with “it is greater,” this would not explain the nonsense reading found in manuscripts S, D, L, W, and Psi. It is difficult to believe that copyists would change “who” to “which”; it is more likely that they would change “which” to “who.” The reading found in manuscript B* and most latin manuscripts (although difficult to understand) seems to be the reading most likely to have given rise to the others.

John Calvin

John 10:30

30.I and my Father are one. He intended to meet the jeers of the wicked; for they might allege that the power of God did not at all belong to him, so that he could promise to his disciples that it would assuredly protect them. He therefore testifies that his affairs are so closely united to those of the Father, that the Father’s assistance will never be withheld from himself and his sheep The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is (ὁμοούσιος) of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father, so that whatever is done by Christ will be confirmed by the power of his Father.

Cambridge Bible Plummer

John 10:30

30. I and my Father are one] ‘One’ is neuter in the Greek; not one. Person, but one Substance. There is no ‘My’ in the Greek; I and the Father are one. Christ has just implied that His hand and the Father’s hand are one, which implies that He and the Father are one; and this He now asserts. They are one in power, in will, and in action: this at the very least the words roust mean; the Arian interpretation of mere moral agreement is inadequate. Whether or no Unity of Essence is actually stated here, it is certainly implied, as the Jews see. They would stone Him for making Himself God, which they would not have done had He not asserted or implied that He and the Father were one in Substance, not merely in will. And Christ does not correct them, as assuredly He would have done, had their animosity arisen out of a gross misapprehension of His words. Comp. Rev_20:6; Rev_22:3.

Pulpit Commentary

Joh_10:30

Then follows the sublime minor premise of the syllogism, I and the Father (we) are one. As Augustine and Bengel have said, the first clause is incompatible with Sabelliauism, and the second clause with Arianism. The Lord is conscious of his own Personality as distinct from that of the Father, and yet he asserts a fundamental unity. But what kind of unity is it? Is it a unity of wish, emotion, sentiment, only? On the contrary, it is a oneness of redemptive power. The Divine activity of the Father’s eternal love did not come to any arrest or pause when he gave the sheep to the Son, but with its irresistible might is present in the “hand” of Jesus (no one “can,” not no one “shall”). Therefore the ἕν, the one reality, if it does not express actual unity of essence, involves it. Some have endeavored to minimize the force of this remarkable statement by comparing it with Joh_17:21-23, where Jesus said believers are “to be in us,” and “to be one, even as we are one,” i.e. to have the same kind of relation with one another (being a collective unity) as the Father and Son sustain towards each other, “I in them, thou in me, that they may be perfected [reach their τέλος, by being blended] into one;” i.e. into one Divine personality by my indwelling. Now, it is nowhere there said that believers and the Father are one, but such a statement is scrupulously avoided. Numerous attempts have been made to escape from the stupendous assumption of this unity of power and essence with the Father. The whole gist of the assertion reveals the most overwhelming self-consciousness. The Lord declares that he can bestow eternal life and blessedness upon those who stand in close living relation with himself, and between whom and himself there is mutual recognition and the interchanges of love and trust. He bases the claim on the fact that the Father’s hands are behind his, and that the Father’s eternal power and Godhead sustain his mediatorial functions and, more than all, that the Father’s Personality and his own Personality are merged in one essence and entity. If be merely meant to imply moral and spiritual union with the Father, or completeness of revelation of the Divine mind, why should the utterance have provoked such fierce resentment?

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