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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

John 10

Verse 1

Verily, verily ( ἀμὴν, ἀμὴν )

The formula never begins anything quite new, but connects what follows with what precedes. This discourse grows out of the assumption of the Pharisees to be the only authoritative guides of the people (John 9:24, John 9:29). They have already been described as blind and sinful.

Sheepfold ( αὐλὴν τῶν προβάτων )

Literally, fold of the sheep. So Rev., better, because the two ideas of the flock and the fold are treated distinctly. Compare John 10:16.

Some other way ( ἀλλαχόθεν )

Literally, from some other quarter. The thief does not, like the shepherd, come from some well-known direction, as from his dwelling or from the pasture, but from an unknown quarter and by a road of his own. This from is significant, because, in the previous discourses, Jesus has laid great stress on the source from which He proceeded, and has made the difference in character between Himself and His opposers turn upon difference of origin. See John 8:23, John 8:42, John 8:44. In the latter part of this chapter He brings out the same thought (John 10:30, John 10:32, John 10:33, John 10:36).

Thief - robber ( κλέπτης - λῃστής )

For the distinction see on Mark 11:17. There is a climax in the order of the words; one who will gain his end by craft, and, if that will not suffice, by violence.

Verse 2

The shepherd ( ποιμήν )

Better, a shepherd. It is the character rather than the person that is contemplated.

Verse 3

Porter ( θυρωρὸς )

From θύρα , door, and ὤρα , care. An under-shepherd, to whose charge the sheep are committed after they have been folded for the night, and who opens the door on the arrival of the shepherd in the morning.

Calleth ( καλεῖ )

But the best texts read φωνεῖ , expressing personal address.

Verse 4

Putteth forth ( ἐκβάλῃ )

Rev., more strictly, hath put forth. Instead of leadeth out, in John 10:3. It implies a constraint; as if some of the sheep were unwilling to leave the fold. Meyer says that putteth forth pictures the manner of the leading out. He lays hold on the sheep and brings them out to the door.

His own sheep ( τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα )

The best texts read πάντα , all, for πρόβατα , sheep: all his own. So Rev.

Goeth before

As the Eastern shepherd always does. Having pushed them forth, he now leads them.


“It is necessary that they should be taught to follow, and not stray away into the unfenced fields of wheat which lie so temptingly on either side. The shepherd calls from time to time to remind them of his presence. They know his voice and follow on; but if a stranger call, they stop, lift up their heads in alarm, and if the call is repeated, they turn and flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers. This is not the fanciful costume of a parable; it is simple fact. I have made the experiment often” (Thomson).

Verse 6

Parable ( παροιμίαν )

The word occurs but once outside of John's writings (2 Peter 2:22). The usual word for parable is παραβολή , which is once rendered proverb in the A.V. (Luke 4:23, changed to parable by Rev.), and which occurs nowhere in John. For the distinction see on Matthew 13:3.

Verse 7

The door of the sheep

Meaning the door for the sheep; not the door of the fold. “The thought is connected with the life, and not simply with the organization.”

Verse 10

The thief ( ὁ κλέπτης )

Christ puts Himself in contrast with the meaner criminal.

I am come ( ἦλθον )

More correctly, I came. I am come would be the perfect tense.

More abundantly ( περισσὸν )

Literally, may have abundance.

Verse 11

The good shepherd ( ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς )

Literally, the shepherd the good (shepherd). Καλὸς , though not of frequent occurrence in John, is more common than ἀγαθός , good, which occurs but four times and three times out of the four in the neuter gender, a good thing, or that which is good. Καλὸς in John is applied to wine (John 2:10), three times to the shepherd in this chapter, and twice to works (John 10:32, John 10:33). In classical usage, originally as descriptive of outward form, beautiful; of usefulness, as a fair haven, a fair wind. Auspicious, as sacrifices. Morally beautiful, noble; hence virtue is called τὸ καλὸν . The New Testament usage is similar. Outwardly fair, as the stones of the temple (Luke 21:5): well adapted to its purpose, as salt (Mark 9:50): competent for an office, as deacons (1 Timothy 4:6); a steward (1 Peter 4:10); a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3): expedient, wholesome (Mark 9:43, Mark 9:45, Mark 9:47): morally good, noble, as works (Matthew 5:16); conscience (Hebrews 13:18). The phrase it is good, i.e., a good or proper thing (Romans 14:21). In the Septuagint καλὸς is the most usual word for good as opposed to evil (Genesis 2:17; Genesis 24:50; Isaiah 5:20). In Luke 8:15, καλὸς and ἀγαθός are found together as epithets of the heart; honest (or virtuous, noble) and good. The epithet καλὸς , applied here to the shepherd, points to the essential goodness as nobly realized, and appealing to admiring respect and affection. As Canon Westcott observes, “in the fulfillment of His work, the Good Shepherd claims the admiration of all that is generous in man.”

Giveth his life ( τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν )

The phrase is peculiar to John, occurring in the Gospel and First Epistle. It is explained in two ways: either (1) as laying down as a pledge, paying as a price, according to the classical usage of the word τίθημι . So Demosthenes, to pay interest or the alien tax. Or (2) according to John 13:4, as laying aside his life like a garment. The latter seems preferable. Τίθημι , in the sense of to pay down a price, does not occur in the New Testament, unless this phrase, to lay down the life, be so explained. In John 13:4, layeth aside His garments ( τίδησι τὰ ἱμάτια ) is followed, in John 13:12, by had taken His garments ( ἔλαβε τὰ ἱμάτια ). So, in this chapter, giveth ( τίδησιν ) His life (John 10:11), and I lay down ( τίδημι ) my life (John 10:17, John 10:18), are followed by λαβεῖν to take it again.” The phrases τὴν ψυχὴν Helaid down His life, and τὰς ψυχὰς θεῖναι tolay down our lives, occur in 1 John 3:16. The verb is used in the sense of laying aside in the classics, as to lay aside war, shields, etc. Compare Matthew 20:28, δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν , to give His life.

For the sheep ( ὑπὲρ )

On behalf of.

Verse 12

Hireling ( μισθωτὸς )

From μισθός , hire. See on 2 Peter 2:13. Wyc., merchant.

Seeth ( θεωρεῖ )

Very graphic. His gaze is fixed with the fascination of terror on the approaching wolf. Compare Dante:

“But not so much, that did not give me fear

A lion's aspect which appeared to me.


And a she wolf, that with all hungerings

Seemed to be laden in her meagerness,

And many folk has caused to live forlorn!

She brought upon me so much heaviness,

With the affright that from her aspect came,

That I the hope relinquished of the height.”

Inferno,” i., 44 54.

Westcott cites Augustine on this word: fuga animi timor est, the flight of the mind is cowardice; with which again compare Dante:

“So did my soul, that still was fleeing onward,

Turn itself back,” etc.

Inferno,” i., 25.

Leaveth ( ἀφίησι )

See on John 4:3.

Catcheth ( ἀρπάζει )

Better, as Rev., snatcheth; though catch is doubtless used by the A.V. in its earlier and stronger sense, from the low Latin caciare, to chase, corrupted from captare, to snatch or lay hold of. Compare the Italian cacciare, to hunt. The same word is used at John 10:28, of plucking out of Christ's hand. See on Matthew 11:12.

The sheep

The best texts omit. Read, as Rev., scattereth them.

Verse 13

The hireling fleeth

The best texts omit. Read, as Rev., supplying he fleeth.

Careth not ( οὐ μέλει αὐτῷ )

Literally, the sheep are not a care to him. See on 1 Peter 5:7. The contrast is suggestive.

Verse 14

Am known of mine ( γινώσκομαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐμῶν )

The best texts read, γινώσκουσί με τὰ ἐμά , mine own know me. So Rev.

Verse 15

As the Father knoweth me

Connect these words with the previous sentence: mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me, etc.

Verse 16

Fold ( αὐλῆς )

From ἄω , to blow, hence, strictly, a place open to the air; an uncovered space enclosed by a wall. So Homer, of the cave of the Cyclops:

“But when we came upon that neighboring coast,

We saw upon its verge beside the sea

A cave high-vaulted, overbrowed with shrubs

Of laurel. There much cattle lay at rest,

Both sheep and goats. Around it was a court ( αὐλή ),

A high enclosure of hewn stone.”

Odyssey,” ix., 181-186.

Dr. Thomson says: “The low building on the hill-side which we have just passed, with arches in front, and its enclosure protected by a rubble wall and thorny hedge, is a sheepfold or marah … . The marahs are generally built in a valley, or on the sunny side of a hill, where they are sheltered from the winter winds. In ordinary weather the sheep and goats are gathered at night into the enclosed yard; but when the nights are cold and stormy the flocks are shut up in the marah. The sharp thorn-bushes on the top of the wall that surrounds the yard are a defense which the prowling wolf will rarely attempt to scale. The leopard and panther of this country, however, when pressed with hunger, will sometimes overleap this thorny hedge, and with one bound land amongst the frightened fold” (“Central Palestine and Phoenicia,” p. 591). Compare Homer:

“As a lion who has leaped

Into a fold - and he who guards the flock

Has wounded but not slain him - feels his rage

Waked by the blow; - the affrighted shepherd then

Ventures not near, but hides within the stalls.

And the forsaken sheep are put to flight,

And huddling, slain in heaps, till o'er the fence

The savage bounds into the fields again.”

Iliad,” v., 136-142.

Bring ( ἀγαγεῖν )

Better, lead, as Rev., in margin. Compare John 10:3, leadeth them out. The idea is not bringing them together (as συναγάγῃ , John 11:52), or conducting them to one place, but assuming the guidance.

There shall be ( γενήσεται )

More correctly, shall come to be. Some editors read γενήσονται , they shall become.

One fold ( μία ποίμνη )

The A.V. entirely ignores the distinction between αὐλή , fold, and ποίμνη , flock. The latter word is found Matthew 26:31; Luke 2:8; 1 Corinthians 9:7, and always distinctly meaning a flock, as does also the diminutive ποίμνιον , little flock (Luke 12:32; 1 Peter 5:2, etc.). Render, as Rev., one flock, one shepherd. So Tyndale's Version of the New Testament. Compare Ezekiel 34:23. We are not, however, to say with Trench (“A.V. of the New Testament”), that the Jew and the Gentile are the two folds which Christ will gather into a single flock. The heathen are not conceived as a fold, but as a dispersion. See John 7:35; John 11:52; and, as Meyer observes, “the thought of a divine leading of the heathen does not correspond at all to the figure of fold, of which the conception of theocratic fellowship constitutes an essential feature.” So Bengel. “He says, other sheep, not another fold, for they were scattered abroad in the world.” When Jesus speaks of the other sheep who are not from this fold, the emphasis is on fold, not on this. Compare Romans 11:17sqq. Nor, moreover, does Jesus mean that the Gentiles are to be incorporated into the Jewish fold, but that the unity of the two is to consist in their common relation to Himself. “The unity of the Church does not spring out of the extension of the old kingdom, but is the spiritual antitype of that earthly figure. Nothing is said of one fold under the new dispensation” (Westcott). It will readily be seen that the incorrect rendering fostered by the carelessness or the mistake of some of the Western fathers, and by the Vulgate, which renders both words by ovile, fold, has been in the interest of Romish claims.

Verse 18

Taketh away ( αἴρει )

Some texts read ἤρεν , took away. According to this reading the word would point back to the work of Jesus as conceived and accomplished in the eternal counsel of God, where His sacrifice of Himself was not exacted, but was His own spontaneous offering in harmony with the Father's will.

I lay it down of myself

Wyc., I put it from myself.

Power ( ἐξουσίαν )

Rev., in margin, right. See on John 1:12.

Commandment ( ἐντολὴν )

See on James 2:8.

Verse 19

There was a division ( σχίσμα ἐγένετο )

Rev., more correctly, there arose. The word σχίσμα , division, from σχίζω , to cleave, describes a fact which continually recurs in John's narrative. See John 6:52, John 6:60, John 6:66; John 7:12, John 7:25sqq.; John 8:22; John 9:16, John 9:17; John 10:19, John 10:24, John 10:41; John 11:37sqq.; John 12:19, John 12:29, John 12:42; John 16:18, John 16:19.

Words ( λόγους )

Or, discourses.

Verse 21

That hath a devil ( δαιμονιζομένου )

Literally, of one demonized. Rev., one possessed with a devil.

Can a devil ( μὴ δύναται )

Surely a demon cannot.

Verse 22

Feast of the dedication ( ἐγκαίνια )

Only here in the New Testament. The word signifies renewal, from καινός , new, fresh. Josephus calls it φῶτα , lights. It was instituted by Judas Maccabaeus (b.c. 164), in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollutions of Antiochus Epiphanes. The victorious Jews, says Dean Stanley, “entered and found the scene of havoc which the Syrian occupation had left. The corridors of the priests' chambers, which encircled the temple, were torn down; the gates were in ashes, the altar was disfigured, and the whole platform was overgrown as if with a mountain jungle or forest glade. It was a heartrending spectacle. Their first impulse was to cast themselves headlong on the pavement, and blow the loud horns which accompanied all mournful as well as all joyful occasions - the tocsin as well as the chimes of the nation. Then, whilst the foreign garrison was kept at bay, the warriors first began the elaborate process of cleansing the polluted place … . For the interior of the temple everything had to be refurnished afresh - vessels, candlesticks and incense-altar, and tables and curtains. At last all was completed, and on the 25th of Chisleu (middle of December), the same day that, three years before, the profanation had occurred, the temple was rededicated … . What most lived in the recollection of the time was that the perpetual light blazed again. The golden candlestick was no longer to be had. Its place was taken by an iron chandelier, cased in wood” (“Jewish Church,” pt. iii., 345,346). According to tradition, the oil was found to have been desecrated, and only one flagon of pure oil, sealed with the High-Priest's signet, was found, sufficient to feed the candlestick for a single day. But by a miracle the flagon was replenished during eight days, until a fresh supply could be procured. The festival lasted for eight days. Lights were kindled, not only in the temple, but in every home. Pious householders lighted a lamp for every inmate of the home, and the most zealous added a light every night for every individual, so that if a house with ten inmates began with ten lights, it would end with eighty. The Jews assembled in the temple, or in the synagogues of the places where they resided, bearing branches of palm, and singing psalms of praise. No fast or mourning, on account of any calamity or bereavement, was permitted to commence during the festival.

Verse 23

Solomon's porch

A covered colonnade on the eastern side of the outer court of the temple. According to Josephus it was a relic of Solomon's days, which had remained intact in the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar.

Verse 24

Make us to doubt ( τὴν ψυχὴν ἡμῶν αἴρεις )

Literally, lift up our soul. Excite us and inflame our hopes. Rev., hold us in suspense.

Plainly ( παῤῥησίᾳ )

See on John 7:13.

Verse 26

As I said unto you

The best texts omit.

Verse 27

My sheep ( τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἐμὰ )

Literally, the sheep, those that are mine. A characteristic form of expression with John. Compare John 3:29; John 5:30; John 14:15, etc.

Verse 28

I give ( δίδωμι )

Not, I will give. The gift is present and continuous. Compare John 3:36.

Shall pluck ( ἁρπάσει )

See on John 10:12. Compare can pluck, John 10:29. Here Jesus speaks of the fact; there of the possibility. Rev., snatch. Wyc., ravish.

Verse 29

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all ( ὁ πατήρ μου ὃς δέδωκέ μοι, μείζων πάντων ἐστιν )

There is considerable confusion here about the reading. Westcott and Hort and Tischendorf read ὁ πατήρ μου (Tischendorf rejects μου ) ὃ δέδωκέν μοι πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν . That which the Father (or my Father ) hath given me is greater than all. Rev. gives this in the margin. For gave, render hath given.

Verse 30

One ( ἕν )

The neuter, not the masculine εἶς , one person. It implies unity of essence, not merely of will or of power.

Verse 31

Took up - again ( ἐβάστασαν - πάλιν )

Again refers to John 8:59. It seems as though a different verb is purposely chosen here (compare ἦραν tookup, in John 8:59), since the interview took place in Solomon's porch, where stones would not be at hand. The verb here may mean to take up. So Ajax says:

“Send some one as a messenger to bear

The evil news to Teucros, that he first

May lift ( βαστάσῃ ) my corpse by this sharp sword transfixed.”

Sophocles, “Ajax,” 827.

Its more usual meaning in the New Testament, however, is to bear or carry. So of the cross (John 19:17; Luke 14:27). Here it might very properly be rendered brought, perhaps from the works which were then going on at the temple. See further on John 12:6.

Verse 32

Good works ( καλὰ )

Beautiful, noble works, adapted to call forth admiration and respect. Compare Mark 14:6, and see on John 10:11.

For which of these works ( διὰ ποῖον αὐτῶν ἔργον )

Literally, for what kind of a work of these. This qualitative force of ποῖον is not to be lost sight of, though it is impossible to render it accurately without paraphrasing. Jesus does not mean, as the A.V. and Rev. imply, “for which one of these works,” but “what is the character of that particular work among all these for which you stone me?” The me, closing the sentence, is emphatic.

Verse 33



Verse 34

Is it not written ( οὐκ ἐστιν γεγραμμένον )

More strictly, does it not stand written.

Law ( νόμῳ )

The word is sometimes used in the New Testament of other scriptures. See John 12:34; John 15:25; Romans 3:19; 1 Corinthians 14:21.

I said, etc.

The reference is to Psalm 82:6.

Verse 35

The Scripture ( ἡ γραφή )

The passage of scripture. See on John 2:22; see on John 5:47.

Broken ( λυθῆναι )

Literally, loosened. Wyc., undone. The word is characteristic of John. He uses it of the destruction of the temple (John 2:19); the breaking of the Sabbath (John 5:18); the violation of the law (John 7:23); the destruction of Satan's works (1 John 3:8), besides elsewhere in the physical sense.

Verse 36

Sanctified ( ἡγίασεν )

Better, as Rev., in margin, consecrated. The fundamental idea of the word is separation and consecration to the service of Deity. See note on Acts 26:10, on the kindred adjective ἅγιος , holy or consecrated.

The Son of God

There is no article. Its absence directs us to the character rather than to the person of Jesus. The judges, to whom the quotation in John 10:35refers, were called gods, as being representatives of God. See Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8, where the word rendered judges is elohim gods. In Exodus 22:28, gods appears in the A.V. Jesus' course of reasoning is, if these judges could be called gods, how do I blaspheme in calling myself Son of God, since the Father has consecrated me and sent me on a special mission to the world?

Verse 37

Believe me ( πιστεύετέ μοι )

Notice believe, with the simple dative; believe me, not on me. It is a question of faith in His testimony, not in His person. See on John 1:12.

Verse 38

In Him

The best texts read ἐν τῷ πατρί , in the Father.

Verse 39


Pointing back to John 7:30, John 7:32, John 7:44, where the word πιάσαι , to seize, is found.

Escaped out of ( ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ )

Rev., literally, went forth out of. The phrase occurs only here.

Verse 40

Beyond Jordan ( πέραν τοῦ Ιορδάνου )

Into the region called Peroea, from πέραν , beyond. It was on the east side of the river, and was the ancient possession of Gad and Reuben. It corresponds, in an enlarged sense, to the region round about Jordan (Matthew 3:5; Luke 3:3). Compare Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1.

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 10". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.