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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

John 10

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

JOHN CHAPTER 10

John 10:1-18 Christ declareth himself to be the Door, and the

good Shepherd.

John 10:19-21 Divers opinions concerning him.

John 10:22-30 He proveth to the Jews by his works that he is the

Christ, and asserts his unity with the Father.

John 10:31-38 The Jews go about to stone him: he justifieth his doctrine,

John 10:39-42 and escaping from them, goeth beyond Jordan, where

many believe on him.

In this famous parable, which reacheth to John 10:30, our Saviour seemeth to drive two great designs:

1. To prove himself the true Shepherd.

2. To prove the Pharisees and teachers of those times thieves and robbers.

It should seem, that the sheepfolds in those countries were houses, which had doors by which the entry was into them: there is no doubt but by the sheepfold is meant here the church of God, in which the people of God are gathered together in one.

By the door he apparently meaneth himself, as he himself speaketh, John 10:9. Or rather, more generally, that way which God hath appointed for any that are to take charge of his church to enter. He is both the Shepherd (the true Shepherd) and the Door: the Shepherd, as the care, conduct, and government of the church belongeth to him, and is upon his shoulders: the Door, as he is he whom the Father hath ordained to be the chief Shepherd, from whom all who pretend to any right to teach or govern in the church must derive both their authority and abilities. Now saith our Saviour, Whosoever they be, that thrust themselves into the care, conduct, and government of the church, without any call or warrant from my Father or me, who am the true Door, through which whosoever entereth into the church must enter; and the chief Shepherd, from whom he must derive, or be

a thief and a robber; his very entrance makes it appear, that his end is not to feed the flock, but to feed himself; and that he drives only private designs of advantage to himself.


Verse 2

As it is amongst men, the true shepherd goes into the sheepfold by the door; so it is in the church of God. He that taketh not the honour of governing the church to himself, but being called of God, as Aaron was, he is the shepherd of the sheep. This very argument the apostle useth to prove Christ to be the true High Priest, Hebrews 5:4,5, because he glorified not himself to be made a High Priest, but was made one by him who said unto him, Psalms 110:4, (quoted there also, John 10:6), Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. God (whose the church is, called his heritage, his peculiar people, & c.) was the Door, by which Christ, the chief Shepherd, entered into the flock; he made him the Head of the church. Ephesians 5:23. For this he is said to be sent; and often makes himself known to us under the notion of him whom the Father hath sent. And the under shepherds must also derive from Christ: as the Father’s will in sending Christ was his door, so the will of Christ in sending others is their door; that is, their only true way of entering upon the charge of the flock of Christ. As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you, John 20:21. There is a double sending; the one is extraordinary, of which mission Christ speaketh to his apostles in that place; thus the apostles and first ministers of the gospel were sent; Christ breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, John 20:22: and there was yet a fuller sending of these first shepherds, in the days of Pentecost, Acts 2:17. And there is a more ordinary sending, as to which God revealed his will, 2 Timothy 2:2, The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others. Thus the apostles, Acts 14:23, did themselves ordain elders in every church. And Paul for this purpose left Titus in Crete, to set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, Titus 1:5. Whosoever entereth into any place in the church, for the feeding and governing of it, that way which God hath directed in his word, he entereth in by the door, he is the true shepherd. Concerning Christ’s title, and his way of entrance, and the first preachers of the gospel, immediately sent by Christ, and declared to be sent by the effusion of the Spirit in the days of Pentecost, there can be no question made by any who believeth the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. This text declares, that whosoever cometh into the church with right, and as a true shepherd to it, must come in at the door, by a call from God, (as Christ was sent), or from Christ; either by an extraordinary mission, or in such a method and order as Christ hath in his word directed, either from his own month, or by the mouths of his apostles, whom he, ascending up into heaven, left in the first charge of his church. This is that which every one ought in the first place to look after. We shall observe in God’s whole course with his church, that in the corruption of the state of the church, when it was eminently deviated from the rule he had set, he sent some by an extraordinary mission. Such were the prophets, whose writings make up a part of Scripture. Such were the apostles, and first ministers of the gospel. Such, we say, were our first reformers in Germany, and other parts: nor is it any prejudice to it, that they were able to work no miracles; we read of no miracles wrought by the prophets of old, unless by two or three of them. Their faithful declaring the will of God, and calling men back to the plain law of God in a time when the generality were obviously departed from it; together with their spirit of courage and boldness in their work, was evidence enough that God had sent them. But this text only declareth this general truth, That every true shepherd coming into the church, must come in the right way, by the door. So the great Shepherd of the sheep did, being sent by his Father, whose the church is, to take care of it: so must all inferior shepherds do, by him whom God the Father hath made the door; according to whose directions all the affairs of the church must be ordered.


Verse 3

By the porter is understood God; or more particularly, (to show the order of the Holy Trinity in working), the Holy Spirit, who openeth the hearts of men to receive and embrace Jesus Christ, who is the chief Shepherd; and the sheep are able to distinguish his voice from the voice of thieves and robbers. Probably they had in those countries particular words and phrases, which, their shepherds having used them to, the sheep understood, and moved according to the direction of them. Some think they had also names for their sheep, (as we have for our dogs and horses), which they understood. Otherwise, it only signifieth that particular knowledge which Christ hath of all those that are truly his: as the former phrase signified, that judgment of discerning spirits and doctrines, which was in an eminent degree in the first ministers of the gospel, and is yet in a measure in believers; by which, though they cannot perfectly and infallibly judge concerning truth, and the will of God, in all things, yet they can in a great measure do it; and are not ordinarily led aside into pernicious and damnable errors, to the ruin of their souls. And, saith our Saviour, the true shepherd leadeth the sheep out; that is, into their pastures and true feeding places. This is eminently true concerning Christ the chief Shepherd: when he came into the world, God opened to him the door of his church; so as though he was rejected by many, (the builders and rulers of the Jewish church in particular), yet he was by many received; multitudes followed him; many truly believed on him, and truly heard his voice; he had a particular knowledge of them who truly were his sheep; he knew Nathanael while he was yet under the fig tree; he led them out into their true pastures, preaching the gospel of the kingdom to them, and showing them the way of life and salvation. It is in its measure true of every inferior shepherd, that truly derives from Christ; God giveth unto such favour in the eyes of his people. The true sheep of Christ hear them, receive and embrace the truth delivered by them. They take a particular charge of them, and they lead them to Christ, and to the embracing of his gospel; as by the holy and true doctrine which they preach to them, so by their holy lives and conversations before them.


Verse 4

In our country at this day, shepherds generally follow their sheep, which go before them. In other countries, as France, &c., it is otherwise at this day; the shepherds go before their flocks, and their flocks follow them, upon some sounds they make. In Palestine (which was the Jews country) it should seem that the shepherds sometimes went before their sheep, and sometimes followed them. David followed his father’s sheep, 2 Samuel 7:8 Psalms 78:71. On the other side, God is spoken of, Psalms 80:1, under the notion of the Shepherd of Israel, who leadeth Joseph like a flock. And the psalmist, Psalms 23:1, speaking of God as his Shepherd, saith, Psalms 23:2, he leadeth me beside the still waters. Christ here speaketh of himself under the notion of a shepherd that went before his sheep, and whom the sheep followed; and thereby lets us know the duty of all faithful pastors in the church, so to live, that their flocks may follow them with safety; which cannot be, unless they follow Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:1. For, saith our Saviour, those that are my true sheep, they know my voice; thereby signifying that power of discerning between truth and damnable errors, which the Lord gives unto all true believers, 1 John 2:27.


Verse 5

This he further enlargeth upon, telling them, that his sheep would not follow those that did not lead them into his truth, and in his ways, for they understood not such voices. Here ariseth a question, Whether the elect of God, or such as, being truly called, and believe in Christ, are the sheep of Christ in the most strict and proper sense, may not be seduced into errors, and led away by strangers?

Answer. First, We must distinguish between single persons and the generality of believers. As in a flock the generality keep together, following the voice of the true shepherd, though some particular sheep may wander; so the generality of believers will be found keeping close to the truth and doctrine of Christ, though amongst them some particular persons may be seduced, and be led away by seducers. Secondly, We must distinguish between errors and damnable errors; a pertinacious adherence to which will divide the soul from Christ, and end in the ruin of souls. Christ’s sheep may follow strangers, dissembling the spiritual voice of the true Shepherd, a little way, but they will not follow them into such errors as will plunge their souls in eternal ruin and destruction. Thirdly, They may hear even this voice of strangers speaking to them perverse and damnable things; but it will be but for a short time; God will reduce and bring them back again; they shall never perish, John 10:28.


Verse 6

Our Saviour was wont to instruct them in the mysteries of the kingdom of God by parables, that is, similitudes taken from reasonable actions of men, which might be, and were, proper to express spiritual things by. Wherefore he used this method in teaching, we are told, Matthew 13:10-13. They well enough understood the words in which those parables were delivered; but the inward sense, the spiritual mysteries shadowed out in those similitudes, these they understood not; neither the common sort of his disciples understood them, nor did the better sort of his disciples understand them without a further explication of them. Our Lord therefore, in the following verses, comes to give them a large explication of the parable.


Verse 7

Our Saviour had before been speaking of the door in another notion; there he spake of the door of the shepherd; here, of the door of the sheep: there, of the door, that is, the true and regular way of entrance into the care, conduct, and government of the church; here, of the true way of entrance, not into the church militant only, but into the church triumphant. It may be also understood of the door, or way of entrance and admission, into the church visible here upon the earth. Circumcision, baptism, external profession, are the doors into the visible Church; but none, unless by Christ, that is, by a true and lively faith wrought by the Spirit of Christ in the soul, can be a true member of Christ’s invisible church here upon the earth, much less a member of his glorious church in heaven.


Verse 8

This must not be understood of the prophets, but of such only as came before Christ, not being sent by him: all those that taught people another way of life and salvation, than by believing in the Messiah, who was to be revealed for the salvation of the world; all such did but seek themselves, not the good of the people’s souls; and destroyed souls instead of profiting or doing them any good. But those that were mine by an eternal election, or by my special grace bestowed upon them, did not embrace them.


Verse 9

Our Saviour here lets us know, that he meant by the door, in the former verse, the door of salvation; the way by which every man must enter into life that findeth life; not the door only by which every true pastor must enter into the church, but by which every soul that shall be saved must enter into heaven; which is the doctrine which he before taught, John 3:16,18,36. And he, who so believeth in me, shall be so guided, and governed, and taught, that he shall be secure, and want nothing for the management of his whole conversation in the world. Under the notion of pasture here, are signified all good things that the soul can stand in need of: it is much the same promise with that John 6:35, He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst; and with that Psalms 84:11; as also with the Psalms 23:1-6; to which Psalm our Saviour is thought in this parable to have a special reference.


Verse 10

Look as it is with the true shepherd, that owneth the sheep, and whose the flock is; he cometh regularly into the care and conduct of it; he cometh into the sheepfold, to take care of the life and welfare of his sheep: but a thief and a robber, that climbeth into the window, and so gets into the sheepfold, he comes not there out of any good will to the sheep, but merely, by destroying the sheep to provide for himself. So it is with them that, without any call or derivation of authority from me, thrust themselves into the care and conduct of the church of God; they do it with no good design to the souls of people, not out of any care or respect unto their good, but merely that they may serve themselves in the ruin of my people’s souls. But that is not my end in coming into the world: I am not come to destroy them, but to save them; I am come, that they might have a spiritual life, and at last eternal life; that they might live the life of grace here, and not fail of the life of glory hereafter; and not only that they may barely live, but that their life may abound, through the upholdings, strengthenings, quickenings, and comfortings of my holy and gracious Spirit; that my beloved may not only drink, but drink abundantly; not only live, but live abundantly furnished with all the affluences and accommodations of a spiritual life.


Verse 11

That good Shepherd prophesied of, Isaiah 40:11. I cannot agree with those who think that Christ here speaketh not of himself as the good Shepherd, with reference to his office, as he was the Messiah, but only in opposition to the hirelings after mentioned. I can allow that he thus calleth himself, both in the one respect and the other; but I cannot allow the latter sense exclusively to the former; for what followeth is peculiar to the Messiah, of whom it was prophesied, Daniel 9:26, that he should be cut off, but not for himself: and though it be true, that the true shepherd will hazard his life for his sheep, as David did, when he encountered the lion and the bear, 1 Samuel 17:34,35; yet it cannot be said to be the duty of the best shepherd to lay down his life for the sheep, for the life of a man is much more valuable than the life of any beast. Our Saviour therefore, doubtless, in this place showeth wherein he was the most excellent Shepherd, far excelling the best shepherds in the world, because he was come, not only to expose, hazard, and adventure his life, but actually, willingly, and freely to lay it down.


Verse 12

Those that deal in sheep, either keep them themselves, or by their near relations, as Jacob’s sons, and David, and Laban’s daughters did; or else they hired persons to keep them for them. There is a great deal of difference between the care of an owner, and the care of a hired servant in any thing; the owner taketh a more natural, diligent care, because the whole profit of the sheep, thriving and doing well, returneth unto himself. The hired servant may be careful in his measure and degree; but no such servant will take the care that an owner will take, nor run the hazards that he will run, because he knoweth that, let the flock thrive never so well, he shall have no more than the wages he is hired for: therefore what our Saviour saith is true concerning the generality of such hired servants, they will take some care of the flocks of sheep in their trust so long as there appeareth no danger, but if any danger appeareth, they leave the sheep, and flee, and the wolf cometh, and scattereth the sheep.


Verse 13

The reason why he that is a mere hired servant, and hath no property in the sheep, fleeth, is, because he is a hireling, and doth what he doth merely for his wages; and when a danger ariseth, which his wages will not balance, he will never encounter it; he hath no property in the sheep, nor any love to them, nor care for them.


Verse 14

I am no hireling; the sheep are mine own; I have a true love and affection for them, which obliges me to a just and true care of them; I know them by name, (as was said before), by a particular distinct knowledge; or I love them, and have tender bowels for them. And as I know them, so I am mutually known, and owned, and acknowledged by them; they have heard my voice, and discerned between my voice and the voice of such as are strangers, refusing to follow them, but following me, going before them. Thus our Saviour in the same parable giveth us both notes to know a true and good shepherd, and particularly to know that himself was the true, good, and most excellent Shepherd; and also notes by which we might know who they are that are the true sheep of Christ.


Verse 15

By these words our Saviour openeth how he knew his sheep, and should be again known of them, even as the Father knoweth him, and he knows his Father: this mutual knowledge between the Father and Christ was joined with perfect love and delight. Thus our Saviour knoweth those that are his sheep, not only fully and distinctly, so as to call them all by their names; but so as to love them, delight in them; so as to be ready to lay down his life for their good, and eternal salvation. Christ, to show not only the sincerity, but the degrees, of his love to his people, doth often compare it to the love wherewith his Father loved him, John 15:9 17:23,26. So that if we can believe that God the Father loved Christ his only begotten Son, we may also believe that both the Father and Christ love those that are truly the sheep of Christ. The love that Christ hath to his people is as true and as certain as the Father’s love to Christ, or Christ’s love to his Father; and this could be showed by no higher act than that of laying down his life, John 15:13. Now, saith he,

I lay down, that is, I am ready to lay down, or I shall shortly lay down, my life for the sheep: whether sheep can signify all and every person born into the world, is their concern more strictly to inquire, who are so tenacious of that point. That Christ died equally for all and every man: as also, whether upon that principle that absurdity must not follow. That Christ loved those who shall yet perish eternally, with such a love as the Father loved him, and he loved the Father.


Verse 16

And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; our Saviour meaneth the Gentiles, who belonged not to the Jewish state and church, so were not under the same laws and government; for, 1 John 2:2, he was not only a propitiation for the sins of the Jews, but for the sins of the whole world: he calleth those sheep, because the Lord knew who were his from eternity; and they were sheep in the counsels of God, and they were suddenly to be made his sheep by calling, the gospel being soon to be preached to all nations.

Then also (saith he) I must bring in; it is so written in God’s book, the promises and prophecies to that purpose must be fulfilled. They shall not only hear the voice and sound of my gospel, though going out of Zion, yet not terminated in Zion; but they shall embrace, receive, and believe that joyful sound.

And there shall be one fold, and one shepherd; and there shall be but one church; as I am one Shepherd, so there shall be but one flock of sheep; one body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, as there is one God and Father of all, as the apostle speaketh, Ephesians 4:4-6.


Verse 17

Christ here asserts two things.

1. That he was about to lay down his life, and should now very shortly lay it down; but yet so as he should take it again; that is, rise again from the dead; death should not have dominion over him: by which he comforteth his disciples concerning his death, declaring,

a) That he was a freewill offering, as he further openeth it in the next verse.

b) That he should not perish in the grave, but rise again from the dead.

2. That therefore the Father loved him; for:

a) By this means he declared himself with power to be the Son of God, and the Father could not but love his Son. And:

b) By this means also he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, Philippians 2:8.

So as that the Father had many reasons to love the Son; and amongst others, this obedience of his to death, even the accursed death upon the cross, to fulfil his Father’s will, for the redemption and salvation of the sons of men, was not the least: and by this also he commendeth his Father’s love to those that are his sheep, in that his Father loveth him with the more exceeding love, for laying down his life, to purchase their redemption and salvation.


Verse 18

No man taketh it from me by force, without my willing it and consenting to it; the Jews and Pilate will take it from me, but not without my free and voluntary surrender of it: and this is that which we read, Acts 4:27,28, For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Plate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. By which he asserts his Divine power, and so comforteth his disciples against the disturbances they were like to have from the sight of his passion, at this time not many months off. And this, saith he, is the will of my Father, that which my Father hath given me commission to do, and for which he hath sent me into the world: and thus he declareth his death to be a fulfilling of his Father’s purpose, and an act of obedience to his Father’s will; and indeed, in his obedience in the thing lay much of the virtue of his death.


Verse 19

Christ by his words often caused a division amongst the Jews, so as they could not agree in their sentiments and censures about him; which was either caused through the mixture amongst them of such as truly believed with those who believed not; or else from the mixture of a more considering part amongst them with others who were more brutish, irrational, and full of passion. We met with much the same, John 7:43, and again, John 9:16. It is one method of God’s providence for the deliverance of his servants from unreasonable men, to cause divisions among them, so as they cannot agree among themselves.


Verse 20

Some of the people said, He hath a devil, and is mad; for (as was said before) this was the opinion of the Jews concerning all that were mad and distracted, that it was by the influence of the devil, and they were infested with an evil spirit.


Verse 21

But others, that were less passionate and brutish in their expressions, and more thinking and considerate in passing their judgments, said, These are not the words (so we translate it; the word in the Greek is rhmata, which signifies things, and matters, as well as words; and by what follows, one would think that were the more proper translation of it here) of him that hath a devil. They instance in no words, but in a matter of fact; asking if a devil could open the eyes of the blind? That is, of one that was born blind; for they certainly speak with reference to that miracle which he had so lately wrought upon such a person.


Verse 22

This verse affords two questions, which have not a little troubled interpreters.

1. What feast of dedication this was?

2. Whether dedications of places to the worship of God be warrantable or no, in that manner as they are dedicated amongst the papists at this day?

As to the first of these, that which we have about it in Scripture is this: Exodus 40:1-15, we have God’s command and direction for the hallowing, or dedication, of the sanctuary, or the tabernacle, which was the first house we read of in Scripture set apart for the public worship of God. We have a particular account of Moses’s punctual obedience to that command, Leviticus 8:1-36. When the temple was built by Solomon, we read of Solomon’s dedication of it; but nothing of ceremony used at it, only a multitude of sacrifices offered, (which was God’s ordinary worship in the Jewish church), and a feast kept fourteen days: we read of no law that he made for the annual keeping of it; no obligation upon all the males in Israel to be present at it. As concerning the other solemn feasts which God appointed, Leviticus 23:1-44, Solomon’s feast of dedication in this differed from them, that it held double the time, for seven or eight days was the longest time that any of those feasts were kept. This temple was destroyed by the Chaldeans and Babylonians, and rebuilt by Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, as we read in the books known by those names. In analogy to the practice of Solomon, when they had finished the building of the temple, there was another feast of dedication kept; of which we read, Ezra 6:16-18; but we read of nothing done in that dedication but the offering of one hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and twelve he-goats; and setting the priests and Levites in order for the service of God. This temple was defaced by Antiochus, but not wholly ruined; and was repaired and purified by Judas Maccabeus, of which we read, /Apc 2 Maccabees 2:23 10:6-8 /Apc 1 Maccabees 4:52,58; which books of Maccabees, though they be no canonical Scripture, yet are as good a piece of ecclesiastical history as any: and Josephus also giveth us an account of it, (Antiq. 1. 12.

c. 11.). We do not read of any thing they did, saving offering sacrifices, and setting things in order, according to the law of Moses, and feasting; Josephus tells us they used all lawful pleasures. We do not read, that either God appointed an annual feast of dedication for the sanctuary; nor Solomon, nor Ezra, for either of the temples; but we read twice in the book of Maccabees, and Josephus (writing the Jewish history) tells us, that Judas Maccabeus made it a law, That the feast should be kept yearly for eight days, in memory of that mercy which God had showed them. This was without doubt the feast of dedication here mentioned: for this feast began upon the twenty-fifth day of the month Chisleu, which answereth our months of November and December, and took in part of each; so it agreeth with the text, which saith that it was winter; whereas Solomon’s dedication was in autumn; Ezra’s in the spring. Some make a question, Whether Judas Maccabeus did well in appointing this annual feast, neither Solomon nor Ezra having, that we read of, before done any such thing: and that our Saviour was not at this feast in any honour to the feast, but only to take advantage of the multitude of people that met, to preach the gospel. For my own part, as I will not defend, so I durst not condemn him: I see no more that he did in this, than was done, Esther 9:27,28, as to the days of Purim. Magistrates certainly have a power to appoint public days, yea, annual days of thanksgivings, for mercies never to be forgotten. Indeed they cannot make a day holy, so as it shall be a sin against God to labour in it, or to use any pleasures (as in the case of the sabbath); but they may command the public worship of God to be performed on particular days, and men ought to attend it when with convenience they can; only they ought to take care that such days be not spent in luxury and profaneness, and that they be for signal providences, and not so multiplied, and frequently renewing, as that the service of them degenerate into mere matter of form. Whether Christ went up in order to the feast, or because of the great concourse of people he knew would be there at that time, cannot be determined.

For the second question, it is not so much a question, whether it be lawful in a solemn and decent manner to consecrate a house to the public worship of God, by such acts of worship as God hath appointed under the gospel, such as prayer and praise, reading, preaching, and hearing the word; as whether it may be done by such rites and ceremonies as the papists do it with, for the which there is no institution. For the former, though it may be some will not agree it necessary; yet, certainly, no sober person can deny, but if a place be made for people ordinarily to meet in to worship God, there they may as well meet at the first to praise God for his mercy, and to beg his presence when they shall there meet together to worship God, and to hear his word, as they may meet there afterwards for prayer, praise, preaching, or hearing. But this satisfieth not the papists. They first do it by many superstitious ceremonies. Secondly, they plead for the holiness of the place when so consecrated. As for the ceremonies of their consecrations, or dedications, Bellarmine reckoneth up eight.

1. The painting twelve crosses in the several parts of the house to be consecrated, and lighting up twelve lamps, one at every cross; to signify the twelve apostle, who carried the banner of the cross throughout the world.

2. The bishop’s knocking at the door with a pastoral staff, commanding the devil to give place and invoking of God, the angels, and the saints, to grant their presence in that place; which they make to signify the opening of people’s hearts by the preaching of the gospel.

3. The scattering of ashes upon the floor of the place, upon which the bishop writes letters of the Latin and Greek alphabet, in the figure of the cross.

4. The sprinkling of the place with holy water, and lighting up wax candles.

5. The anointing of the crosses before mentioned, and painted on the walls.

6. The sprinkling of the place with a mixture of water, wine, salt, and ashes.

7. The anointing of the temple and the alter.

8. The keeping of a festival upon it. And for all these they have devised several significances, too vain and fanciful to repeat.

For none of which we know the least warrant in holy writ; nor can we conceive how any consecration can imprint any character of holiness upon a place, or make prayers offered up in or toward it more acceptable; though we know it did so as to the temple, both because it was an eminent type of Christ, and also because of the particular promises made to it, 1 Kings 9:1-28; which were not applicable to the synagogues, which were the Jews’ ordinary meeting places for public worship; but only to the temple, upon the account before mentioned. Though we say that all places for that use ought to be used with all imaginable decency, and we ought during the public worship of God to carry ourselves in them with all reverence, because of the angels, and because of the special presence of God, promised to the assemblies of his people in his name, and for his public worship.


Verse 23

Of this Solomon’s porch we read, 1 Kings 6:3, that Solomon built the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits long, and ten cubits broad. This was the place where they walked in winter. Though this was destroyed when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians; yet it seemeth that there was one built that was like it, and kept that name. It should seem that it was a place better defended from the weather, than those other parts of the temple where in summer time they used to walk.


Verse 24

Our Saviour was at this time within three months of his crucifying: he had often before told them that he was the Light of the world, the true Shepherd; he had preached doctrine to them, from whence they might easily have concluded what he was; he had wrought works among them which none could do but by a Divine power; but he had been very wary of telling them in plain terms that he was the Messiah, the Christ; when at any time he had so declared himself to his disciples, or they had owned him as such, he still laid a charge upon them to tell no man of it, Matthew 16:20, &c. They therefore come to him, demanding a plain resolution in the case, as some of their minds were in some suspense about it. It was but a captious question; for had he denied it, besides that it had been the denial of a truth which he came to bear a testimony unto, they had had a great advantage to have lessened his reputation amongst those who had believed on him as such. Had he affirmed it, he had brought himself in danger of the Roman governor; for the Jews indeed expected a Messiah, a Christ, but to be a temporal prince, to deliver them from their enemies; and for him to have declared himself such a Christ as they expected, had been fatal to him. He therefore answers with his usual prudence and wariness to this question.


Verse 25

I have in effect told it you more than once; I have told you that I am sent of the Father, &c., I have said enough for you to conclude it; but you will not understand, you will not receive it, you will not believe what I say. What need you any further witness of it, than those works which I do by Divine power; by virtue of my oneness with my Father, and of that power and authority which he hath committed to me, that by them I might confirm the doctrine which I have taught you?


Verse 26

As many as were ordained to eternal life believed, Acts 13:48. Here our Saviour giveth this as one reason of the Jews’ unbelief, that they were not of his sheep. Were they not Israelites? Yes, but all are not Israel that are descended of Israel. It seems a very hard interpretation that some would put, upon these words, Ye believe not, because you are not teachable, and fit to be made my sheep; the words are ou gar ete ek twn probatwn twn emwn. Nor can such interpretation be paralleled from any other scripture. That by sheep, here, cannot be meant members of the church, is plain; for they were of the church of Israel, whom the Lord led as a flock, as the psalmist speaks, Psalms 80:1. That believers, and such as are truly called and sanctified, are not meant, is as plain; for then the sense would be: You believe not because you believe not; besides, our Saviour had before said, he had other sheep that were not of that fold, (by which he meant the Gentiles), such for whom he prayed, John 17:20, being such as should believe on him. By sheep therefore he meaneth, certainly, such as were ordained to life, as Acts 13:48. Nor will it therefore follow, that God’s not ordaining of them to life, was the near and immediate cause of their not believing; but their own stubborn and perverse wills in not repenting, that they might believe; as our Saviour tells them, Matthew 21:32: that is, not turning from their gross and sinful ways, which they might have done by virtue of that common grace of God which was afforded them in the gospel, by the preaching of John the Baptist, and of Christ himself.


Verse 27

This is the same which he said: See Poole on "John 10:4".


Verse 28

I do give them, and I will give them, eternal life; as soon as they shall come to hear, and believe my voice, and to follow me, they shall have a sure right and title to it; and when my Father by his providence shall remove them out of the world, and in the great day, they shall be taken up into the actual possession of it. For they shall never perish, but though they may fall, they shall rise again by repentance. They are in my hand, and my hand shall preserve them, none shall ever pluck them out of it; they shall be preserved through faith, by the power of God, to eternal life and salvation.


Verse 29

All that are my sheep became so by my Father’s donation and gift, so as my Father is equally with myself concerned in the preservation of them to that happy end, to which he hath ordained and designed them. Those that would pluck them out of my hand, and deprive them of that eternal life which I will give them, must be too strong, not for me alone, but for my Father also; which none is, for who can be too strong for omnipotence?


Verse 30

My Father and I are one, not only in counsel and will, (as John 17:11,22, and believers are said to be of one heart, Acts 4:32), but in nature, power, and essence; for it is plain that our Saviour here ascribes the preservation of his sheep, not to the will, but to the power of his Father: None is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. And it is plain by what follows, that the Jews thus understood our Saviour. Some eminent protestant interpreters expound this of a oneness in consent and will, doing the same things, and driving the same design, both agreeing to preserve the sheep unto eternal life; but (with all respect unto them) I think the context implies more, though this be not excluded.


Verse 31

Tumultuously, as we read they did once before, John 8:59. From whence we may learn with what design they came to Christ, John 10:24, plainly to tell them whether he were the Christ. By the law of God the false prophet was to be stoned; but he was first to be judicially tried and judged. This was but a tumultuous action of an enraged multitude.


Verse 32

The word translated good is of a very large signification; signifying excellent, useful, profitable, beauteous, &c., whatsoever in common speech cometh under the notion of good. I (saith our Saviour) never did harm to any of you, but I have been the instrument of a great deal of good to you. I have given sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, healed many that were sick of grievous diseases, cast out many devils out of those which were infested with or possessed by them. Do any of these deserve any such usage at your hands? What maketh you in such a rage against me?


Verse 33

The Jews answered him, These are not the things we are incensed against thee for; we grant that thou hast done many good works amongst us; these we gratefully acknowledge. But this is that which we are not able to bear, that whereas thou art but a mere man, by thy discourses thou makest thyself equal with God, and so art guilty of

blasphemy; which is committed as well by arrogating to ourselves what is proper to God, as by imputing to God the natural or moral imperfections of the creature; and the blasphemer deserveth to be stoned, according to the law of God. By this it is manifest, that the Jews understood our Saviour, affirming that he and his Father were one, as asserting himself one in essence with his Father, not in will only.


Verse 34

This was written, Psalms 82:6. The whole Scripture of the Old Testament, being wrote by holy men, inspired of God, and directive of men’s conversation before men, and towards God, is sometimes called the law, Psalms 19:7. It was spoken concerning magistrates, and the governors of God’s people, who, being God’s deputies and vicegerents, intrusted to execute the judgments and vengeance of God, are dignified with the name of gods.


Verse 35

If God dignified those men (and many of them were also vile and sinful men) with the title of gods, because they had a commission to govern people according to the law of God; and none must contradict what God hath said in his word; there can be no falsehood in the revelation of any part of the Divine will.


Verse 36

Suppose I were no more than a mere man, yet being sanctified, that is, set apart of God for the special work of man’s redemption, and sent of God into the world with commission both to reveal and to do his will, yet dare you say that I blaspheme,

because I said, I am the Son of God? In the place {viz. Psalms 82:6} where God said of magistrates, Ye are gods, he also added, all of you are children of the Most High; you have therefore no reason to rage at me, though I did say I was the Son of God; being one whom the Father hath in his eternal counsels set apart for this great and special work, and actually by his providence sent into the world for the finishing and despatching of it. But we must take heed that we do not understand our Saviour here, as if he in another sense assumed to him the title of the Son of God; it was enough for him at present to assert, that the title well enough belonged to him, if he indeed had been no more than the Son of man, as they said.


Verse 37

Our Saviour doth often appeal to his works to testify concerning his Divine mission and power; these works he here calleth the

works of his Father; by which he doth not only mean works that are pleasing and acceptable to God, as acts of obedience to the will of God performed by men may be called, and are, John 6:28,29; nor (as I conceive) only those works which he did by commission and authority from his Father, which, John 17:4, he calleth the work which his Father had given him to do; but those works which none but God could do; such were the multiplication of the loaves, John 6:1-14, the curing of him who was born blind, John 9:1-41, &c. If (saith our Saviour) I do not do those works which no mere man ever did, give me no credit; but if I do those works which can be done by no human art or power, you have reason to believe me.


Verse 38

If I do such works as can be done by no less than a Divine power, being beyond the power and ability of all creatures; then, though you will not give credit to any bare affirmations of myself, because I say I am the Son of God, yet believe the things for the testimony that my works give unto it. Proper effects give testimony to the proper cause; he who doth those things which none but God can do, must needs be God, or empowered by God to do them. This is the way for you to know, be persuaded, and believe, that the Father is in me by his mighty, Divine, working power: John 14:10, The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works; and I work in and together with him. This phrase, The Father is in me, and I in him, teacheth us three things concerning Christ:

1. His oneness in nature and essence with the Father.

2. His personal distinction from his Father: here are two mentioned, the Father, and me: none can properly be said to be in himself.

3. The most perfect and intimate indwelling of one of the Persons in the Holy Trinity in the other.


Verse 39

Therefore they sought again to take him; because he said, that the Father was in him, and he in the Father; by which they well enough understood, that he asserted a union with the Father. They did not again go about to stone him, as they did before; he had sufficiently stopped their mouths as to their imputation of blasphemy; but they seek to apprehend him, with a design (no doubt) to carry him before the sanhedrim, their great court, which had cognizance of those things. But as he had once and again before, so he now again escapeth out of their hands; whether by darkening the air before their eyes, or (as some would have it) making his body invisible, by his Divine power, or what other way, the Scripture tells us not, and it is great rashness to determine.


Verse 40

Christ’s time was not yet come when he should be betrayed and crucified; it was yet three months and more to it; he saw the Jews at Jerusalem were in such a rage and fury, that there was no staying in that place: he goes beyond Jordan to Bethabara, where he found John at first baptizing, John 1:28, before he baptized in Aenon near Salim, John 3:23. See Poole on "John 1:28". Possibly he chose that place as being a place where John had been preparing a way for him, by turning men’s hearts in some measure for receiving the gospel, and pointing out Christ to his disciples, as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.

And there he abode: how long he abode there we cannot tell; probably till he took his last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem; of which the other evangelists speak, Matthew 20:17 Mark 10:32 Luke 18:31. What he did in Galilee during these three months John reports not, only saith... {see John 10:41}


Verse 41

God so ordered it in the wisdom of his providence, that though Elijah and Elisha under the law wrought miracles, by which they confirmed their Divine mission; yet John, coming immediately before Christ, as his messenger and forerunner, wrought none; that so the glory of Christ in working miracles when he came might be more clear and evident. This made the people, that came to Christ while he was in Galilee, say thus amongst themselves, We paid a great veneration to John the Baptist, yet he never did those things which Christ hath done: and whatsoever John told us of this person hath proved true; he hath done, and doth, greater things than ever John did, and is in the judgment of sense to be preferred before him, should we not now believe in him? John told us he was the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world; and told us much more concerning him, which our eyes see is true.


Verse 42

Some believed on him as such whom John Baptist had spoken him to be; others possibly believed on him in the sense mentioned John 2:23; not to the saving of their souls, but as one sent of God, a great Prophet, no ordinary man. The rage of men shall not hinder the progress of the gospel.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 10:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-10.html. 1685.


Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, August 20th, 2017
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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