John 10:1-42 - Outline of John (MENU page)
The first half of ch. 10 concludes the conversation of ch. 9 between Jesus and the religious leaders. He has shown Himself to be the Light of the world, but they remain spiritually blind to Him (9:39-41). In ch. 10, the metaphor changes from 'light and darkness' to 'shepherd and sheep.' But the focus is still on the identity of Jesus. The critical question is: 'Do you believe on the Son of God?' (9:35)
The Pharisees, as Israel's teachers and leaders, regarded themselves as...-
  1. 'Guide[s] of the blind, ...light[s] of them which are in darkness' (Rom 2:19).
    In their self-righteousness, they were above asking the blind man's question (9:36).
  2. Shepherds of God's flock. God had indeed placed men as stewards over His people.
    But leaders are accountable to Him and must lead according to His authority.
    The illustrations, drawn from Israel's long heritage as a nation of shepherds, would have been crystal clear to them, if they had not been blind. cp. v.6; Isa 56:10,11; Jer 23:1-4 (where 'pastor' and 'shepherd' are the same word).
Verses 1-21 contain three related, but distinct parables:
  1. The Rightful Shepherd, v.1-6
  2. The Door of the Sheep, v.7-10
  3. The Good Shepherd, v. 11-21
10:1. Verily, verily, I say unto you,
He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way,
the same is a thief and a robber.
10:2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
10:3 To him the porter openeth;
and the sheep hear his voice:
and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them,
and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him:
for they know not the voice of strangers.
10:6 This parable spake Jesus unto them:
but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
to him the porter openeth-
Background: At night, several shepherds would bring their individual flocks to share a common large sheepfold. One man (the porter) would remain to guard the combined flocks, while the others went home for the night. The sheepfold consisted of a corral surrounded by a rock wall. A single gap in the wall formed the only entrance (the door), which the porter watched. Obviously, any potential thief would attempt to find another way into the fold. However, when morning came, a shepherd would claim his sheep by going to the door where the porter would recognize him and allow him entrance.
the sheep- are God's people. Psa 100:3
the shepherd of the sheep- is the Lord Jesus (see v.11 and note at v.11 below).
He has the right to claim His sheep. His credentials satisfy the OT prophecies:
eg., born into the line of David, born in Bethlehem, born of a virgin, (etc.)...
the porter- is the Holy Spirit, cp. Isa 42:1-4; Mat 3:13-17.
He identifies the Messiah through the OT prophets and scriptures.
He opens the hearts of God's sheep to recognize the Shepherd's voice. cp. 6:44,45
Eg., the blind man of ch. 9 responded to Jesus, while others rejected Him.
the sheep hear his voice.- cp. Psa 95:7
Once inside the sheepfold, the shepherd would be surrounded by hundreds of sheep, most of them belonging to other flocks. How was he to separate his own sheep from the others? The shepherd would simply call them. His sheep would recognize his voice and come to him. Other sheep would run from him because he was not their shepherd.
He calls His own... by name- ie., Each sheep is known and cared for individually. cp. Isa 40:11
Eg., the Lord Jesus personally sought out the man whose eyes He opened, when others ridiculed him and cast him out (9:35-38).
He leads them out --
--out of bondage to sin and death, Isa 42:16; 49:9
--out from among the mixed flocks. 2Cor 6:17,18
He goes before them.- cp. Psa 23:2-5; Joh 17:19; Col 2:11-15
they know His voice.- cp. Song 2:8; 5:2
a stranger they will not follow.- A child of God may be temporarily confused by
false prophets (2Pet 2:1-3), false gospels (Gal 1:8), false apostles (2Cor 11:13-15),
but he will soon respond to God's Word calling him back to his Shepherd. Eph 4:11-15; Col 2:6-10
they understood not.- cp. 8:43
The religious leaders who were blind to the Light of the world, were also deaf to the Shepherd's voice. Yet, because of their knowledge of scripture, and their responsibility in the community, they should have been leading people to Him.
10:7 Then said Jesus unto them again,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
10:8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers:
but the sheep did not hear them.
10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in,
he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.
the door of the sheep- In v.2, the door provides entrance for the rightful shepherd.
Here, the emphasis is on the door as it benefits the sheep.
Jesus has already told us how He calls His sheep out and separates them from sheep who follow other masters. So now, He is speaking of His private sheepfold where He keeps His own secure.
I am the door.- He guards against intruders to His fold (the role of the 'porter' in v.3).
There was no gate across the gap in the wall around a sheepfold. At night, the shepherd would lay down in the gap. He placed himself between the sheep and anyone who would harm them or lead them away. So, the Lord Jesus Himself guards His own against false teachers and false pastors.
all that came before me...- ie., all who desired to claim my sheep for themselves...
Faithful pastors do not draw sheep away after themselves, but tend the flock for the rightful Owner.
Such pastors are actually called to serve from among the sheep. 1Pet 5:2-4; Acts 20:28-30
were thieves and robbers...- In the OT, the Lord frequently warned Israel's religious leaders
that He held them accountable as shepherds of His people. Since they were out to benefit themselves, rather than the sheep, He fired them, and promised that "I Myself will search for My sheep." cp. Ezek 34:1-16
the sheep did not hear them.-
(because they were listening for the Shepherd's voice. v.4; cp. Luk 10:16; Joh 8:47.)
Lacking true shepherds, the sheep were scattered. cp. Mat 9:36; Mark 6:34; Luk 19:10
I am the door.- Notice that this statement is repeated (v.7,9).
He not only guards the well-being of His sheep within His fold (v.7), but also, He is the only means by which a sheep may enter into His fold (v.9).
  • by me if any man enter in...- There is no way to join God's flock, except via the Lord Jesus.
    'No man comes... but by me...' (v.9; cp. 14:6)
  • ...he shall be saved.- Those who belong to Him have been rescued from deadly danger.
  • ...he shall go in and out and find pasture.- His own find provision as He leads them.
steal... kill... destroy- The thief (false shepherd) serves his self-interest at the expense of the sheep. cp. 8:44
life... life more abundantly- The true Shepherd desires what is best for His sheep.
He not only rescues them from death, but also, gives them life 'more abundantly' {ie., beyond measure, exceeding all expectations, extraordinary}.
The Shepherd's own Life overflows, to fill His sheep. cp. 6:33; 7:37-39
10:11 I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not,
seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth:
and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
10:13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine.
10:15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father:
and I lay down my life for the sheep.
I am the good Shepherd.- By these words, Jesus clearly states His oneness with the Father.
cp. Psa 23:1; 80:1; Isa 40:9-11
the good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep- for He is also the Lamb of God (1:29).
cp. v.17,18; Isa 53:6,7; Gal 1:4; 1Pet 2:24,25; 3:18
Three aspects of Christ's Shepherd work are seen in scripture. He is...
The Good ShepherdSaving, by His deathv.11-18Psa 22
The Great Shepherd
Keeping & perfecting,
by His life
v.7-10Psa 23Heb 13:20,21
The Chief Shepherd
at His return
Psa 241Pet 5:4
the good Shepherd- has a personal relationship with His own:
  1. I know my sheep.- cp. Nah 1:7; 2Tim 2:19
  2. I am known of {by} my sheep.- cp. 2Tim 1:12; Php 3:8,10
    This mutual knowledge is compared with His relationship with the Father. v.15; Mat 11:27
10:15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father:
and I lay down my life for the sheep.
10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring,
and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd.
10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me,
because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.
I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.
This commandment have I received of my Father.
I lay down my life {4x}, that I might take it again {2x}- Note the repetition of these phrases in v.15-18.
Both functions flow out of His oneness with the Father (v.15), and express -
Notice that:
  1. Jesus gave His life willingly: 'I lay down my life...'
    He was motivated by His love for the Father, and by His oneness with His purposes.
    He acted according to the 'commandment' received from His Father. Heb 10:5-9
  2. He was in control of His death: ' man taketh it from me.' (cp. Mat 26:53; Joh 18:6)
    His enemies planned to take His life 'but not on the feast day...' (Mat 26:3-5)
    But He offered Himself as the temple priests sacrificed the Passover.
  3. He was in control after death: 'I have power to take it again.' 2:19
Therefore doth my Father love me.- His death has value apart from its benefit for the sheep.
  1. It declares God's love for the sinner. 1Joh 4:10
  2. It vindicates God's righteous judgment upon sin. Rom 3:23-26
  3. It culminated His life of love, obedience and dependence upon the Father.
    cp. 5:19,20; Psa 40:7,8; Eph 5:2; Php 2:8,9 [adapted from GWms]
other sheep I have which are not of this fold- He is speaking of gentiles. Isa 56:6-8; 49:5-7
  • The OT prophecies about the Shepherd have a unique application to Israel as a nation.
    They will not be completely fulfilled until Christ returns to rule from David's throne.
    At that time, divided and scattered Israel will believe and be physically regathered under one Shepherd. cp. Ezek 34:22-31; 37:24
  • But today, Jewish and Gentile believers are already joined spiritually in one fold (the church), and under one Shepherd. cp. 11:52; Eph 2:11-16; 3:1-6; Col 3:10,11
10:19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. {cp. 7:43; 9:16}
10:20 And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
10:21 Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil.
Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
  • The world is still divided over Jesus. -- Either He is a fraud, or He is your God and Savior.
  • Jesus said: "I am the good Shepherd." -- But can you say: "The Lord is my Shepherd!"?
  • There is only one way into God's Sheepfold. -- Jesus said: "I am the door.
    By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture."

10:22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
10:23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
the feast of the dedication- ie., Hanukah, or the feast of lights.
-- Approximately 2 months have passed since v.21 (at the Feast of Tabernacles, 7:2- 10:21).
-- The Feast of Dedication is not mentioned in the OT because it commemorated events which occurred after the OT scriptures were completed. However, these events had been prophesied in the book of Daniel (cp. Dan 8:9-14; 11:21-35). The apocryphal books of the Maccabees provide a historical record, although they are not to be considered as Scripture.
History: In 170 BC, Antiochus IV (Antiochus Epiphanes) a Greek, plundered Jerusalem, profaned the Temple, and enslaved great numbers of the inhabitants. On December 25, 168 BC, Antiochus offered a pig upon the Temple altar, and erected an image to the Greek god Zeus in the Temple. This is the "desolation" of Dan 8:13, and is a foreshadowing of the eventual "abomination of desolation" (Mat 24:15). Jewish Temple worship was forbidden, and the people were forced to eat swine flesh. These actions provoked a revolt led by the five sons of Mattathias, a godly priest. (One of the sons, Judah, was called Maccabee, meaning 'hammer.') In 165 BC, they regained possession of Jerusalem, and purified and rededicated the Temple. Hanukah celebrates that rededication. Antiochus Epiphanes is the 'little horn' that Daniel saw rising out of the Greek Empire. "Epiphanes" means "the manifest god." Antiochus exalted himself above the God of Israel. In Antiochus, there is a prophetic preview of the future antichrist. [Adapted from ScofRB]
it was winter.- This should go without saying, since Hanukah always falls in December.
There may be a deeper meaning here: The Jews had basked under the teaching of Jesus. Yet, they had rejected Him as the Savior. As His earthly ministry neared its close, time was running out for those who were spiritually cold to Him. cp. 8:23,24; 12:35,36; Jer 8:20
Solomon's porch- was a long covered walkway on the east side of the court of the gentiles.
On previous occasions, Jesus had taught in the court of the women, at the center of the temple compound. Now, He seems to have drawn back to the outer edge of the compound, distancing Himself from the leaders who had rejected Him.
10:24 Then came the Jews round about him {lit., closed in around Him},
and said unto him,
How long dost thou make us to doubt?
If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
make us to doubt- GK= psuchen airo, lit., 'raise the breath,' meaning: 'keep us in suspense.'
Paraphrase: "How long dost thou raise our expectations without satisfying them?" [WEVine]
tell us plainly...- They accuse Him of speaking in riddles.
But others had been able to recognise Him as the Christ: eg., Andrew and Nathanael (1:41,49), the Samaritan woman and neighbors (4:29,42), the blind man (9:35-38).
10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not:
the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
I told you...- Jesus had spoken plainly. cp. 8:12; 8:23,24; 8:58; 10:11
the works... bear witness- His works confirmed His words, and demonstrated God's approval.-
ye are not of my sheep.- Their unbelief was due, not to His lack of credentials,
nor to His inadequate communication, but to their very nature.
In their hearts, they did not want to believe. cp. 6:37; 7:17; 8:43-45
10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,
neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.
10:29 My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all;
and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand.
10:30 I and [my] Father are one.
my sheep- Their characteristics:
  • they hear my voice.- They respond to Him, and draw near at His call. cp. v.3-5; 6:44
  • I know them.- They welcome His careful inspection of their hearts. cp. v.14; Psa 139:23,24
  • they follow me.- They are obedient to His direction, and live to please Him. cp. v.4-5; 8:31
    Those who truly belong to Him are changed on the inside, where only He can see.
    But outside, their lives are branded by obedience to their Lord.
my sheep- Their security:
  • I give them eternal life.- the Lord Jesus Christ freely gives what only He can provide.
    cp. Joh 3:16,36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:51; 10:10; 14:27; Rom 6:23
  • they shall never perish.- This statement is very emphatic:
    ''They shall positively not perish, never.'' [Wuest]
    For those who are truly His, Christ guarantees life with Him forever.
    Nothing can rob His own of the life that is in Him. cp. Joh 1:4; 6:37,39,40; 14:19; Rom 8:29,33-39
    "This assurance is called the 'eternal security' of the believer. But for the person pretending to be a Christian, who does not allow Christ to change his heart and life, there is only the 'insecurity of the make-believer'." [McGee]
  • no man can pluck them out of my hand.- 'pluck' is GK= harpesei, to snatch, to catch. cp. v.12
    The believer is as secure as the Hand of God can hold him.
    cp. Col 3:4; 2Tim 1:12; Heb 7:25; Jude 1:24
    "The false shepherds might pluck the blind man out of the outward fold (9:34), but they could never pluck him out of the Good Shepherd's hand." [GWms]
my Father's hand-
Jesus is not making a distinction between the strength of His hand versus the strength of His Father's hand. Rather, He is saying that His hand is God's hand (v.30). The Father and the Son are inseparably united in the work of salvation. Consider:
  • Apart from the LORD, there is no other God, there is no other Savior. Isa 43:10-12.
  • Isa 53 vividly describes the suffering Savior, the Lamb of God who bore our sins upon Himself. The chapter seems to shout that it is talking about none other than Jesus. But the opening verse of that chapter introduces the work of "the arm of the LORD."
  • "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." 2Cor 5:18,19
    Jesus was subservient to His Father, just as your hand serves your head. But both your head and your hand are fully human, they are both you. So, the Lord Jesus, "the arm of the LORD" by which God reached into time and space, is fully God.
I and my Father are 'one' {GK= neuter gender}- The gender indicates that they are not one Person.
Rather, they are one in essence, nature, will, and purpose. cp. 1:1,2; 20:28; Php 2:6; Col 2:9
10:31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
10:32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father;
for which of those works do ye stone me?
10:33 The Jews answered him, saying,
For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy;
and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
They had accused Jesus of leaving them in doubt of His identity (v.24).
They obviously understood His claim to be God.
many good works- He reminded them of evidence to the truth of His words. cp. v.25, 37,38
But they refused to consider the evidence.
10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came,
and the scripture cannot be broken;
10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world,
Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
ye are gods.- Is Jesus stepping back from His claim of equality with the Father?
Is He saying that we all have a 'divine spark' within us?
No! He quotes God's Word to condemn unfaithful shepherds, and to reinforce His claim to be God.
  1. Ex 18:21-23 - Moses was instructed to choose men who 'feared God' to serve as judges who would represent God in governing His people.
  2. Ex 21:6; 22:8,9 - The word translated 'judges,' in these verses, is actually HB 'elohim' (lit., 'gods'). The same word is usually used as a basic name for God. That this name should be applied to His human representatives is emphatic of their responsibility and accountability before Him.
  3. Psa 82:6 (quoted in v.34) - Refers to these judges. The Psalm condemns them for acting as though they were gods in themselves, independent of the one true God. "God stands in the midst" of the corrupt judges (Psalm 82:1; cp. Joh 10:24) calling them to account for acting contrary to His will. Compare other points of the Psalm with Jesus' admonitions:
if He {ie., God} called them gods, unto whom the word of God came...-
ie., If men to whom God merely sent instructions could be called 'gods', then the One, whom God had 'sanctified' (ie., 'set apart', cp. Heb 7:26), and 'sent on a mission' (ie., the Word Himself, 1:1,14), should properly be called the Son of God.
say ye of Him: 'thou blasphemest'?- In reality, these judges were the blasphemers because
they refused to honor Him, and elevated themselves above Him. cp. 5:23; 15:23,24
It is more than coincidental that this interchange between Jesus and the corrupt religious leaders took place at the Feast of Dedication, which celebrated the removal of false gods from the Temple, in order that the true God should fill His rightful place. Because they had placed themselves above God, 'All the foundations of the earth are out of course.' So, these men would be removed. The rejected One would 'inherit all nations.' Psa 82:5-8; cp. Psa 2
the scripture cannot be broken- ie., God's written word is without error, and will be fulfilled.
10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
10:38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works:
that ye may know, and believe, that the Father [is] in me, and I in him.
Jesus patiently appeals again to the religious leaders to reconsider and to judge His case justly.
The Shepherd waits. Would some of these lost sheep recognize Him?
The evidence of His identity was before them. He had no desire that they perish in unbelief.
5:23,24,36,37; 6:44,57; 7:16-18; 8:16-18
10:39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
10:40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized;
and there he abode.
10:41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle:
but all things that John spake of this man were true.
10:42 And many believed on him there.
The bottom line: What will you do with Jesus?
Beware of raising your hand against the Hand of God.
Beware of misjudging the One who is your Judge.
many believed...- Does that include you?
"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 man pluck them out of my hand." (v.27,28)

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