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Bible Commentaries
John 10

The Fourfold GospelFourfold Gospel

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Verses 1-21

(Jerusalem, December, A. D. 29.)
dJOHN X. 1-21.

d1 Verily, verily, I say to you [unto the parties whom he was addressing in the last section], He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. [In this section Jesus proceeds to contrast his own care for humanity with that manifested by the Pharisees, who had just cast out the beggar. Old Testament prophecies were full of declarations that false shepherds would arise to the injury of God’s flock ( Ezekiel 34:1-6, Jeremiah 23:1-6, Zechariah 11:4-11). But other prophecies spoke of the true shepherding of God and his Messiah ( Psalms 23:1-6, Psalms 77:20, Psalms 80:1, Psalms 95:7, Jeremiah 31:10, Ezekiel 34:31, Micah 7:14, Isaiah 43:11). The Pharisees were fulfilling the first line of prophecies, and Jesus was fulfilling the second. The sheepfolds of the East are roofless enclosures, made of loose stone, or surrounded by thornbushes. They have but one door. Jesus, the true shepherd, came in the proper and appointed way (and was the proper and appointed Way), thus indicating his office as shepherd. A thief steals by cunning in one’s absence; a robber takes by violence from one’s person. The Pharisees were both. They stole the sheep in Messiah’s absence, and they slew Messiah when he came. They did not come in the ways ordained of God.] 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. [Several small flocks were sometimes kept in one field. The door was fastened from the inside with sticks or bars by the porter, who remained with the sheep during the night, and opened for the shepherds in the morning. The fold is the church, Christ is the door, the sheep [468] are the disciples, and the shepherd is Christ. The porter is probably part of the drapery of the parable. If he represents anybody, it is God, who decides who shall enter through the door.] 4 When he hath put forth all his own, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. [In the East, sheep are not driven, but led, and each sheep has and knows its name. Disciples also are led. There is no rough road or thorny path which the feet of Jesus have not first trod. The Pharisees had put forth the beggar to be rid of him; the true shepherd puts forth to feed.] 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. [The mingled flocks are separated by the calling voices of the several shepherds. The control of the Pharisees was not of this order. The authority of the synagogues had passed into their hands, and their rule was about the same as when thieves and robbers gained possession of the sheepfold. The people were disposed to flee from them-- Matthew 9:36.] 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. [The idea of loving care was so foreign to the nature of the Pharisees that they could not comprehend the figures which clothed such a thought. The word here translated "parable" is not the word "parabole," which John never uses, but the word "paroimia," which the synoptists never use. Paroimia means, literally, "beside the way," i. e., speech not of the common or direct form, i. e., a similitude or allegory.] 7 Jesus therefore said unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. [Seeing that they did not understand the allegory, Jesus gives a twofold explanation of it found in John 10:7-16.] 8 All that came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. [He speaks of the past, and refers to false Messiahs.] 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture. [The door is here spoken of with [469] reference to the sheep, and hence becomes a symbol of entrance into protection and shelter, or exit to liberty and plenty.] 10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. [Through the life of Jesus, as through a heavenly portal, men have entered upon true civilization, with its schools, colleges, railroads, telegraph, telephone, and innumerable privileges and liberties.] 11 I am the good shepherd [The relations of Christ to his people are so abounding and complex as to overburden any parable which seeks to carry them. He is not only the passive doorway to life, but also the active, energizing force which leads his people through that doorway into life]: the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. [ John 10:11-14 set forth the perfect self-sacrifice through which the blessings of Christ have been obtained for us. The world-ruling spirit blesses itself through the sacrifice of the people; the Christ-spirit blesses the people through the sacrifice of self.] 12 He that is an hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not [shepherds were not, as a rule, owners of the sheep, but they were expected to love and care for them by reason of their office as shepherds], beholdeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth, and the wolf snatcheth them, and scattereth them [the perils of the Oriental shepherd accord with the picture here given-- Genesis 13:5, Genesis 14:12, Genesis 31:39, Genesis 31:40, Genesis 32:7, Genesis 32:8, Genesis 37:33, Job 1:7, 1 Samuel 17:34, 1 Samuel 17:35]: 13 he fleeth because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep. [He flees because he loves his wages rather than the flock.] 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me, 15 even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father [Our Lord’s relationship to his flock is one of mutual knowledge and affection, and is far removed from the spirit of hire. The knowledge existing between disciple and Master springs from mutual acquaintanceship and love. Thus it is the same kind of knowledge which exists between Father and Son, though it is not of the [470] same quality, being infinitely less full and perfect]; and I lay down my life for the sheep. [The sacrifice of the good shepherd to shield his sheep has never been in vain.] 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and they shall become one flock, one shepherd. [Jesus was speaking to the Jews, who had been frequently spoken of in Scripture as God’s flock. The other sheep were Gentiles. They are spoken of as scattered sheep, and not as flocks, because with them there was no unity. Here, as everywhere, the truth breaks through, revealing Christ as the world’s Redeemer, who would break down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, and cause all true worshipers to have a common relationship to one Master.] 17 Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. [Jesus did not permit his life to be sacrificed so as to become cast away, but to be raised again as an earnest of the resurrection of all flesh.] 18 No one taketh it away 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 received I from my Father. [This shows that his death was voluntary, and with the resurrection which followed, it was in full and perfect accordance with his original commission or commandment from the Father.] 19 There arose a division again among the Jews because of these words. [The word "again" refers to John 7:43, John 9:16.] 20 And many of them said, He hath a demon, and is mad; why hear ye him? [The theory that demons could produce supernatural effects ( Matthew 12:24) formed a handy device for explaining away the miracles of Christ.] 21 Others said, These are not the sayings of one possessed with a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind? [These defenders refer to the well-remembered cure of the man born blind, and argue, as he did, that a demoniac could not work such a miracle. They fail, however, to make a positive confession of faith in Jesus.] [471]

[FFG 468-471]

Verses 22-42

(Jerusalem and beyond Jordan.)
dJOHN X. 22-42.

d22 And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem: 23; it was winter; and Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. [The feast of dedication was one of eight days’ duration and began upon the 25th Chisleu, which, according to the calculation of M. Chevannes, fell upon the nineteenth or twentieth of December, A. D. 29. The feast was kept in honor of the renovation and purification of the temple in the year B. C. 164, after it had been desecrated by the Syrians under Antiochus Epiphanes (I. Macc. i. 20-60; iv. 36-59; II. Macc. x. 1-8; Jos. Ant. xii. 7. 6, 7). As this feast was commemorative of national deliverance, the rulers considered it an opportune time to tempt Jesus to declare himself to be the Messiah, or coming Deliverer from the present Roman oppression. We are told that it was winter, that we may understand why Jesus walked under cover in Solomon’s porch. This was a colonnade on the east side of the temple court, the name probably being derived from the wall against which it was built, which Josephus tells us was the work of Solomon--Jos. Ant. xx. 9. 7.] 24 The Jews therefore came round [484] about him [as if to detain him until he answered], and said unto him, How long dost thou hold us in suspense? If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly. [The previous conduct and temper of the questioners, together with the context (which includes an attempt to stone, followed by an effort to arrest), shows that this question was asked for the purpose of committing Jesus to an open declaration which might be used as an accusation against him.] 25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me. [Jesus was the Christ of the Old Testament, but not the Christ of Pharisaic hopes. Had he assumed to himself in their presence the title of Christ, it would have led them to false expectations. By his declarations and works Jesus had repeatedly published and proved to all his claims to be the true Messiah. He had, at the feast of tabernacles, set himself forth as the Good Shepherd, and on other occasions as the Son of God, etc. ( John 5:19, John 8:36, John 8:56). Had they understood or received the Old Testament ideal of the Messiah, they could not have failed to understand his claims.] 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep. [Failure to be Christ’s sheep was not the cause, but the evidence of their unbelief.] 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. [The thought here is similar to to that set forth on Romans 8:38, Romans 8:39; but both passages must be interpreted in the light of Hebrews 6:4-8. We can not be taken from God against our will; but our will being free, we may choose to leave him. We can not be [485] protected against ourselves in spite of ourselves. If that were so, no one could be lost.] 30 I and the Father are one. [This assertion as to the unity of power residing in the hand brings forward the idea of the general unity which subsists between the Father and the Son. This unity Jesus asserts fully, without limitation or restriction; the unity of interest, design, and essence are all included. It is the advance from an assertion of special unity to an assertion of general unity.] 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. [They prepared to act on Leviticus 24:14-16, and a precedent as to it found at 1 Kings 21:10; though the right to stone for blasphemy was now abrogated by the Roman dominion. The repairs and enlargements then going on in the temple no doubt supplied an abundance of missiles. The word "again" refers back to John 8:59.] 32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from the Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 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. [Jesus, conscious that he was living the divine life, endeavored to arouse the Jews to a consciousness of that life by asking them to point out what part of it offended them. It was a demand that his claim to be divine be tested and judged by his life. But the Jews insisted upon judging him by his words without in any way taking his life into account. Jesus urged that a divine claim was made good by a divine life, but they replied that a divine claim issuing from a human body was blasphemy.] 34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law [ Psalms 82:6. The whole Old Testament not infrequently is thus designated as the "law"], I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), 36 say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? [Since the civil rulers of a land are ordained of God ( Romans 13:1-7, 1 Samuel 24:6, 1 Samuel 24:7), they were regarded as God’s delegates or ministers, and as such the inspired Psalmist addresses them, calling them gods. Compare also Exodus 22:28. If it was not blasphemy to call those gods who so remotely represented the Deity, how much less did Christ blaspheme in taking unto himself a title to which he had a better right than they, even in the subordinate sense of being a mere messenger. The expression "word of God" is equivalent to "commission from God." Compare Luke 3:2, where John was commissioned. The Jews regarded the Scripture as final authority. Jesus asserted this view by stating that the Scripture could not be broken; that is, could not be undone or set aside. We may regard Jesus as here ratifying their view, since he elsewhere concurred in it--see Matthew 5:19.] 37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do them, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. [Having set aside their false judgment which was based upon his mere words, Jesus again bids them to consider his works or manner of life.] 39 They sought again to take him: and he went forth out of their hand. [The calm reasoning of Jesus cooled their violence, and so far changed their evil designs that they now sought to arrest him that they might bring him before the Sanhedrin. The word "again" refers back to John 7:30, John 7:32, John 7:44.] 40 And he went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was at first baptizing; and there he abode. [The word "again" either refers to John 1:28, or else it refers to some former escape beyond the Jordan not recorded by John, but by one of the other evangelists. The supplementary nature of John’s Gospel makes this latter view somewhat plausible.] 41 And many came unto him; and they said, John indeed did no sign: but all things whatsoever John spake of this man were true. [John at first baptized "in the wilderness of Judæa" and afterwards at Bethany and Ænon. The presence of Jesus in this place recalled to the [487] minds of the people the work of the Baptist and his testimony concerning Jesus. They had held John to be a prophet, yet when they searched for his credentials as a prophet, they found them inextricably intertwined with the claims of Jesus. John had failed to prove himself a prophet by miracles and signs--the accustomed credentials. But he had done so by his predictions which had come true, and all of these predictions related to Jesus.] 42 And many believed on him there. [The word "there" stands in contrast to Jerusalem, which rejected Jesus.]

[FFG 484-488]

Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 10". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tfg/john-10.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.
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