- Teaching on the Good Shepherd (10:1-18)
- A Division Occurs Among the Jews (10:19-21)
- The Lord in Solomon’s Porch: Encounter with Unbelievers, Not His Sheep (10:22-38)
- The Lord Beyond Jordan: Encounter with Many Believers, His Sheep (10:39-42)
Teaching on the Good Shepherd (10:1-18)
- He came in by the door (vv.1-6). He is qualified to be the true Shepherd because He came into the fold by the door, meeting all the qualifications for the Messiah.
- He is the door, in two ways (vv.7-10). He is leading the elect of Israel out of Judaism into Christian privilege.
- He is the Good Shepherd (vv.11-18). His character in contrast with the Pharisees is that of: (1) intimate knowledge of His own, and (2) laying down His life for His own.
- v.1 The door of entrance to the fold, where the fold is Judaism. The Lord entered through this door by fulfilling all the Old Testament scriptures and prophesies completely.
- v.7 The door of exit from the enclosure of Judaism. To exit before the Shepherd came would be apostasy.
- v.9 The door of entrance into Christian blessings.
The Allegory: Entrance of the Good Shepherd into the Fold (vv.1-6)
- He comes in the proper door. The door speaks of the scriptural qualifications for the Messiah, which only the true Shepherd would fulfill. When the Son came into this world, even though He was a Divine Person, still He submitted to all the Messianic requirements established by Jehovah in the Old Testament. His entrance through the door is fully detailed in Matthew’s gospel. His herald (Mal. 3:1), His place of birth (Mic. 5:2), His royal lineage (Matt. 1), His virgin birth (Isa. 7:14), the character of His ministry (Isa. 42:1-4), the sphere of His ministry (Isa. 9:2), the manner of His presentation to Israel (Zec. 9:9), His betrayal (Zech. 11:12-13), His sufferings (Isa. 53), His time of death (Dan. 9:26) were all the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. There were some “thieves and robbers” that entered the sheep fold, but they came in by another way; i.e. not in fulfillment of prophecy. These were false Messiahs; such as Theudas and Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:36-37). Their mission was to create a following of Jews after themselves… an action characterized by the Lord as “stealing the sheep”. But they did not meet the requirements for the Messiah.
- The Porter opens to Him. This unnamed servant who operates the door is a picture of the Spirit of God; see seven figures of the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel. The action described as “the porter openeth” is the providential working of the Spirit of God to mark out Jesus as the Messiah. The begetting power of His incarnation was the Spirit of God (Matt. 1:18). His identification by John the Baptist (John 1:29-34), and the witness from heaven at the Jordan baptism (Matt. 3:16-17) was by the Spirit of God. This identification by the Spirit of God is what Paul calls His being “justified in the Spirit” (1 Tim. 3:16). Through the work of the Porter there was a small formation of sheep ready to receive the Shepherd when He entered the fold; for we read of His reception by a small remnant in Jerusalem (Simeon and Anna, Luke 2:25-38).
- The sheep hear His voice. Those in Israel who truly loved God, the elect, responded to the “voice” or teaching of Jesus. An example is the two disciples of John who “heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (John 1:37). The hearing of His voice indicates faith; the existence or the impartation of divine life… “an hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have heard shall live” (John 5:25). These sheep are those referred to as “as many as received Him” which were “born of God” (John 1:12, 13).
- The thief. The thief is looking to “steal, kill, and to destroy”. A theft occurs any time there in an unauthorized taking of property from another; and usually craftiness or subtlety is involved. This type of enemy might refer to a heretical man, who would, through “good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting” (Rom. 16:18), and draw sheep away from the rightful Shepherd. In the words of Paul, “of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). An illustration of this in the Old Testament is Absalom, who “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6).
- The robber. Robbery is essentially theft accomplished through the use of physical force or fear. This might refer to a tyrannical overseer, one who dictates total control over the sheep, and views them, not as ones he can serve, but as ones who ought to serve him. Strictly speaking, the robber is only connected with the fold of Judaism. However, an example in a Christian context might be “Diotrephes, who loves to have the first place” known for refusing apostles and casting ones out of the assembly (3 John 9-10).
- The stranger. The stranger is mentioned as using his voice to lead sheep astray, which indicates teaching or presenting doctrine. This type of enemy might refer to a false teacher. Peter warns that “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1).
- The hireling. A hireling is one who takes the place of oversight without a care for the flock. This type of enemy might refer to an indifferent overseer. He doesn’t encourage the evil, but he doesn’t resist it either. Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders; “take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers…” (Act 20:28). This may or may not be a true believer. It is one in the place of oversight without a true care for the flock. Wolves are allowed in on the hireling’s watch.
- The wolf. The wolf comes is from outside, not from the inside; “after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). This type might refer to an apostate infiltrator. Jude refers to them as “certain men crept in unawares” (Jude 4). The effect of the wolf is to “scatter” the sheep; i.e. to distract them from following Christ.
The Door of the Sheep: Exit and Entrance (vv.7-10)
The Door of Exit from Judaism: Authority to Exit (vv.7-8)
The Door of Entrance into Christianity: Security & Liberty (vv.9-10)
- Salvation. Notice that the way is exclusive; “if any one enter in by me, he shall be saved“. The Jews believed that salvation came from keeping the Law, but here we find that it is through the glorious Person of Christ.
- Liberty. The sheep in Christ’s flock are no longer restricted by a legal enclosure of laws and ordinances; they have liberty to “go in and out“. It reminds us of the liberty of sonship that we enjoy as a result of the indwelling Spirit (Gal. 4). See note below on “in and out”.
- Food. The Shepherd will see to every need of His sheep. In His love, God has freely given us all things (Rom. 8:32). What a contrast to the false shepherds of Israel (Ezek. 34) who only cared about feeding themselves, and not the poor of the flock. Without doubt, the Christian’s food is Christ Himself!
- (John 1) The Son must come and reveal God to man.
- (John 3) The work of redemption must be accomplished.
- (John 4) The Spirit of God must take up residence in the believer.
The Good Shepherd (vv.11-18)
The Shepherd’s Sacrificial Love for His Sheep (vv.11-13)
Also, the Antichrist can be seen typically in the following ten persons: Abimelech (Judges 9), Saul (1 Samuel 8-31), Absalom (2 Samuel 15-19), Ahab (1 Kings 16-18), Ahaz (2 Kings 16), Shebna (Isaiah 22), Zedekiah (Jeremiah 39 & 52), Haman (Esther 3-7), Herod (Matthew 2), and the Hireling (John 10).Read more…
The Mutual Knowledge of the Shepherd and His Sheep (vv.14-15)
Bringing in Other Sheep to form One Flock around One Person (v.16)
The Intrinsic Value of the Son’s Death, His Divine Power & Perfect Obedience (vv.17-18)
A Division Occurs Among the Jews (10:19-21)
The Lord in Solomon’s Porch: Encounter with Unbelievers, Not His Sheep (10:22-38)
The “Feast of the Dedication” also called the “Feast of Lights” occurred in the winter (John 10:22). It was not one of the feasts of Jehovah, but it began in the times of the Maccabees. After Antiochus Epiphanies desecrated the temple, it remained in a defiled condition for 2300 days (Daniel 8:14). This period was brought to a close partly by the force and courage of the Maccabees. The temple was once more cleansed, and the Jewish worship resumed. When they went to light the menorah in the Temple, only one flask of holy oil was found, which was enough to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days! This was accomplished in the winter time. Jews worldwide to this day celebrate “Hanukkah” (“dedication”) for eight days, usually in December. This feast, along with the "Days of Purim" (Est. 9) are two man-made feasts that the Jews had, different than the seven feasts of Jehovah. Evidently the Lord went along with man-made feasts, but never commended them.It was physically winter, but it was morally winter as well. The beautiful declarations of the truth of the Son of God are met with by ice-cold indifference from the Jews (v.24).
was a porch or colonnade attached to the Temple. It was originally constructed by King Solomon (1 Kings 6:2–3), and later rebuilt after a fashion by Herod. Solomon's porch comes up three times in the scripture, and each time it is connected with a notable rejection of God by Israel. The first mention is John 10:23, where Jesus had presented Himself as the Good Shepherd, and then was attacked by the Jews who tried to stone Him for claiming equality with God. The second mention is in Acts 3, where Peter and John had healed the lame man, and Peter held out the provisional offer of repentance to Israel, then the Jewish leaders cast Peter and John into the hold (Acts 4). The third mention is in Acts 5, where Israel had witnessed the unity of the believers and the signs of power among them, and the High Priest cast the Apostles into prison, where they were beaten. In all three cases, Israel was presented with grace, and rejected it with hostile energy.It would seem that the contrast in this chapter is between the rejection of Christ by those more privileged Jews in Solomon’s porch, and the reception of Christ by those less privileged Jews beyond Jordan (vv.39-42).
Anti-sheep Marked by Unbelief (vv.24-26)
The Characteristics of the True Sheep of Christ (vv.27-30)
- Faith. “My sheep hear my voice”. The first great characteristic of the true sheep is that they hear the Shepherd’s voice. This speaks of faith in the individual, evidence that divine life has been imparted by the Spirit of God. This is how God has always communicated to His people; “on the principle of faith, to faith” (Rom. 1:17)… the “faith frequency”! The voice is extremely personal.
- Relationship. “I know them”. The second characteristic is the “being known” by the Shepherd. Not that we know Him, although we do, but that He knows us. It is the intimate knowledge of relationship. “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways” (Psa. 139:1-3). Those who are lost are not known by the Shepherd (Matt. 7:23). Our knowledge of Him might be weak, but we can rest in His knowledge of us.
- Obedience. “They follow me”. The third characteristic is that the sheep follow the Shepherd; i.e. they obey His word. Faith is practical. Not that we obey in order to become Christ’s sheep, but simply that those who are His sheep (those of faith) will obey His word.
- Communion. “I give them life eternal”. The fourth characteristic is that the sheep have eternal life.
The term "eternal life" is commonly translated “everlasting life” or “life eternal”. The term is used in two different ways in scripture. In the Old Testament (e.g. Psa. 133:3; Dan. 12:2), and in the synoptic gospels (e.g. Mark 10:30), eternal life refers to the Millennial kingdom. But in the other New Testament books, and especially John's writings, "eternal life" refers to a life we can possess now. The word “eternal” does not define the duration of the life, but it defines the character of the life; "the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18). It couldn’t be the idea of "living forever" because eternal life pertains to believers, and even the unsaved live forever in eternal fire. What is implied in "eternal life" is a lifestyle characterized by love and light, and by communion with the Father and the Son by the Holy Spirit; "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Eternal life is the highest character of life that one can ever know, because it is the same life that the Father and Son enjoy together (1 John 1:3), and which had existed from eternity to eternity (John 1:2). In 1 John we find that Christ Himself personally is that eternal life! He is the perfect expression of that life; the Word of Life. In His ineffable grace, God purposed in His eternal counsels that the fellowship of the Father and the Son would be shared with the sons of men! Read John 14:18-20. We are brought into this fellowship through the gift of eternal life. It is the greatest blessing that God can bestow on man, as it is the very same life of Christ! This eternal life, which He shares with others, is "in His Son" (1 John 5:11) meaning you can't have it apart from Him, and that "he that hath the Son hath life" (1 John 5:12).2Read more…
- Security. “They shall never perish”. The fifth characteristic is that the sheep are eternally secure. To “perish” in this verse is to die the second death. A believer, once saved, can never be lost. Jesus says that “no one”; neither man nor demon can void the believer’s security. Not only are we in the Son’s hand, but we are in the Father’s hand! This is a double security. We get pictures of this double security all throughout the Old Testament. Noah’s ark was atoned within and without with pitch (Gen. 6:14). Each board in the tabernacle rested on two sockets of silver (Exodus 26:19). The names of the tribes of Israel engraved in onyx stones rested on two shoulders of the high priest (Exodus 28:9). Abraham was given two immutable things, God’s word and God’s oath, and we are too; that we might have “strong consolation” (Heb. 6:18). These verses deal a death-blow to the denial of eternal security. In an attempt to deny eternal security some will say they can pluck themselves out of the Father’s hand. That is adding to the word of God, and utterly false.
Indeed, the Son and the Father are one, not one Person, but one thing, one Divine nature or essence (as other Scriptures equally prove).3
Controversy over Christ’s Deity (vv.31-37)
The Lord Beyond Jordan: Encounter with Many Believers, His Sheep (10:39-42)
- The Lord does not add here “for the sheep,” nor should we limit His death to ourselves. He lets us see the value His own laying down His life had in itself. It was a fresh motive for the Father’s love; and no wonder, if it were only as the unfathomable depth to which His own devotedness could go down. But, indeed, none but the Father knows what He found in it of love, confidence in Him, self-abandonment, and moral excellence in every way, crowned by the personal dignity of Him Who, standing in ineffably near relationship to the Father Himself, was thus pleased to die. Hence it could not but be that the Son would take His life again, not now in connection with the earth and man living on it, but risen from the dead, and so the power and pattern of Christianity. – Kelly, William. Exposition of the Gospel of John.
- A deeper blessing it is impossible for God to bestow or for man to receive; for it is exactly what characterised the Lord Himself, Who is the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us. Only Christ could be said to be that life; we as believers are not, but we have it in Him; and as by faith alone it is received, so in faith it is exercised, sustained, and strengthened. - Kelly, W. Exposition of the Gospel of John.
- Kelly, William. An Exposition of the Gospel of John. T. Weston, 1898. p.220
- “And when Allah will say: O Isa (Jesus) son of Marium (Mary)! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah he will say: Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to (say); if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it; Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Thy mind, surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen things.” – The Quran, sura 5, verse 116, Shakir Translation
- Huebner, R. A. The Eternal Relationships in the Godhead: Fundamental Truth Concerning the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Word, the Eternal Life, and the Eternal Sonship. Vol. 1, Present Truth Publishers, 1997. p.66