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Bible Commentaries
John 10

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-42

John 10:1 . He that entereth not by the door is a thief and a robber. After the scribes had formed a plot against the life of the good shepherd, he told them that they were not the children of Abraham, but were of the serpent’s race. He now denounces them as impostors in the sanctuary, and not “moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them that office and ministry.” They had assumed the sacred dignities for bread, for honour, for the splendour of robes to command the respect of the people. They were thieves, come, as in John 10:10, to kill and to destroy, having that very day expelled the youth born blind, and the greatest trophy of grace both in body and mind. Dr. Robert Gell, in his attempt to amend our present translation, has an authority here to which few have access. “The old English manuscript renders the two Greek words, κλεππης and λησης , a night thief, and a day thief:” p. 455. See the note on Ecclesiastes 12:11.

John 10:3 . To him the porter openeth. To the angel or shepherd of Philadelphia, the Lord says, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” Those who are divinely called to the work, will find openings to follow the Lord. The sheep will hear their voice, and follow their word.

John 10:11 . I am the good shepherd: ο καλος . Erasmus renders the article here by the emphatic pronoun, Ego sum pestor ILLE bonus. I am that good shepherd, foretold by the prophets. Isaiah 40:11. Ezekiel 34:0. Such also are our marginal references.

John 10:15 . As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father. A plain declaration, had he been so understood, that the whole divinity or godhead dwelt in him. This text alone was urged against Arius as a full refutation of his error, as is recorded by Eusebius.

John 10:16 . Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: ποιμνη , that is, not of this flock. The popish commentators indulge here in idle dreams, as though the whole gentile world were put under the pope; and the council of Trent, which assembled many years in Italy to stop the reformation, had the blasphemy to assert, that without subjection to the church of the Romans no human creature could be saved!

John 10:22 . The feast of the dedication. This is described in 1 Maccabees 4. The people illuminated the city on the restoration of their rites, and continued the feast for eight days. Josephus’s Antiq. book 12., and referred to 1 Kings 8:0: 2 Chronicles 7:5. This was about the first of December, the beginning of winter. Tremellius gives us a long note here, translated from the Talmud and other Hebrew books, in which he states that fasting and mourning were forbidden on that day.

John 10:24 . How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. These temple rulers asked for the truth, fighting against the truth, calling the Saviour by the foulest names, and taking up stones to kill him. They asked for words that they might accuse and murder; thus many quarrel with the holy scriptures, because the scriptures condemn their manner of life.

John 10:26 . Ye believe not: ου γαρ , for ye are not my sheep. The literal reading relieves the text of preterition, reprobation, or eternal doom to death.

John 10:33 . For a good work we stone thee not, but because thou makest thyself God. Though our Saviour knew their wicked designs in urging him to speak of himself, yet he gave them a mild reply, that those were called gods to whom the word of God came. He also said in effect, I have already told you, and the scriptures cannot be broken, that God is my Father: chap. John 5:18. I have delicately told you of my preëxistence, that I came forth from the Father; that I do the works of the Father, and that I know the Father, as the Father knoweth me. Why then say of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, that he blasphemes, because I said, I am the Son of God? After this glorious confession, they sought again to lay hands on him, but he walked away to finish his ministry beyond Jordan, leaving the unbelievers in their sins, while many others believed on his name. Here we have the truth as it is in Jesus.

In the name of the Lord then, let us hear no more disputations about Eternal Sonship, which immediately tend to make shipwreck of faith. Whatever mercy heaven may vouchsafe to the less instructed Unitarian, we think the state of the learned, who employ all their philosophy to prove that the Christ is merely the son of Joseph, is worse than that of the Hebrew scribes. When St. John saw Marcion in the bath at Ephesus, he hasted out, lest the bath should fall. Eusebius. See on Acts 13:33. Romans 1:3; Romans 8:3.

Let us on the contrary, learn of the great Shepherd to be true shepherds of the sheep, which he has purchased with his own blood. Being called by him, let us do his work with diligence and delight, watching as those that must give an account. Our time, our talents, are needed by the flock. Like him we must know the sheep, lead them to green pastures, heal the diseased, and bring back those that go astray. And though they may seem worthless, yet if they are a prey to the wolf, they ought to be a prize to the shepherd.

It also gives much encouragement to ministers, that the sheep who know their Shepherd’s voice will never leave him to follow the voice of a stranger. By him they enter the door of the penn, and go in and out in ordinances, and find celestial food. He feeds the flock with the words of eternal life, and guards them against the noxious herbage of heresy and deceit.

It is above all to be remarked, that the true pastor is not a hireling. He preaches because he must preach; he preaches for a crown and a kingdom; and while he thus labours and wears out life for the flock, let the people see that neither he nor his family want either food or raiment. For who can estimate the value of a man that would lay down his life for the people of God; and in all things doing the will of his heavenly Father.

John 10:40 . Where John at first baptized. This is stated in John 1:28.


The pharisees had asked Jesus, John 9:40, Are we blind also? Here he gives them a full reply, and becoming the contempt they had shown to his mission. He declares that they had assumed their office and dignity for the sake of honour and gain; and that they had no mission from him, the owner of the sheep. But as thieves steal over the wall, so they had climbed into rank and revenue by worldly interest and human learning. Christ is the door. He called to him for the ministry whom he would. Abraham, Moses, Aaron, David, and the prophets, had neither thought nor wish in their call and mission. The scripture characters, as to their prophetic work, were elevated purely by a divine hand.

Christ is the good, the great, the regal shepherd, so oft mentioned by the prophets. Psalms 23:0. Isaiah 40:14. Ezekiel 34:0. Zechariah 9:0. He being owner of the flock, for all that the Father hath belongs to him, he takes delight in the flock. He calls each sheep by name, as the ancient shepherds used to do; he goes before them, calling them to follow; and they know his voice. He makes them lie down in green pastures, and leads them beside the still waters of ordinances and comfort. He explores the lost, he heals the wounded, and he defends them by night; for he that keepeth Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth. If the lion or the wolf comes against them, he clothes himself with majesty, meets the persecutor in the open field, and lays down his life on Calvary. Oh how glorious is his person, how wonderous his grace. Let us follow him withersoever he goeth, and turn a deaf ear to every strange voice.

Christ gives his sheep eternal life; yea he came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly. This life he has in himself. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He unites them in one spirit to himself. He destroys the life of sin, and opens by a heavenly birth a life of divine enjoyment in the soul; for this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, or Godhead, and Jesus Christ in his mediatorial offices, whom the Father hath sent.

The Saviour boldly told the jewish idle shepherds, that he would break their covenant, as he had said by Zechariah 11:10, and make the gentiles, on conversion, one with his sheep of the Hebrew fold. This is consonant to all the prophets. Isaiah 11, 60. So the sheep and the fold should all be one. The little flock in the house of Cornelius was the first admitted into the fold.

He comforted his flock, and set his enemies at defiance. He declared in the face of the persecutors that they could not pluck them out of his hand. Bonds and imprisonments would drive them the nearer to Christ. And though in many cases they suffered martyrdom for his sake, yet he adds, I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish. Now, as Jesus was comforting the persecuted, he does not mention the conditions of their salvation; for they are often mentioned, and often omitted, being always understood. No mention was made of Eli’s conditions, but they were understood. 1 Samuel 2:30. No mention is made in many places of the conditions of David’s covenant; yet in his charge to Solomon he adds, If thou forsake him and rebel, he will cast thee off for ever. So here: St. Peter tells this persecuted flock, that they were kept by the mighty power of God, “through faith unto salvation.” 1 Peter 1:5. And Jesus said, He that endureth to the end shall be saved. And again, Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Assuredly these are all cautions of health to the soul, which never did any harm to the church, nor do they derogate from the glory of Christ to whom alone the depths of deity are known. Meanwhile, in affliction and persecution, let us drink the full cup of comfort which Christ here administers to his menaced and despised flock, and let us never be discouraged at the frowns of a persecutor’s brow. The crosier of our good shepherd is able to break the teeth of the wicked.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on John 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/john-10.html. 1835.
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