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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
John 10



Other Authors
Verse 1

Verily, Verily (Αμην αμηνAmēn class="normal greek">παραβολη — amēn). Solemn prelude by repetition as in John 1:51. The words do not ever introduce a fresh topic (cf. John 8:34, John 8:51, John 8:58). So in John 10:7. The Pharisees had previously assumed (Vincent) they alone were the authoritative guides of the people (John 9:24, John 9:29). So Jesus has a direct word for them. So Jesus begins this allegory in a characteristic way. John does not use the word παροιμιαparabolē but εις την αυλην των προβατωνparoimia (John 10:6), and it really is an allegory of the Good Shepherd and self-explanatory like that of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. He first tells it in John 10:1-5 and then explains and expands it in John 10:7-18.

Into the fold of the sheep (αυληeis tēn aulēn tōn probatōn). Originally αωaulē (from αναβαινωνaō to blow) in Homer‘s time was just an uncovered space around the house enclosed by a wall, then a roofless enclosure in the country where flocks were herded as here and John 10:16. It later came to mean the house itself or palace (Matthew 26:3, Matthew 26:58, etc.). In the papyri it means the court attached to the house.

Climbeth up
(αναβαινωanabainōn). Present active participle of αλλαχοτενanabainō to go up. One who goes up, not by the door, has to climb up over the wall.

Some other way
(αλλοτενallachothen). Rare word for old εκεινοςallothen but in 4Macc 1:7 and in a papyrus. Only here in N.T.

The same
(κλεπτης εστιν και ληιστηςekeinos). “That one” just described.

Is a thief and a robber
(κλεπτωkleptēs estin kai lēistēs). Both old and common words (from ληιζομαιkleptō to steal, κλεπτηςlēizomai to plunder). The distinction is preserved in the N.T. as here. Judas was a kleptēs (John 12:6), Barabbas a robber (John 18:40) like the two robbers (Matthew 27:38, Matthew 27:44) crucified with Jesus erroneously termed thieves like “the thief on the cross” by most people. See Mark 11:17. Here the man jumping over the wall comes to steal and to do it by violence like a bandit. He is both thief and robber.

Verse 2

The shepherd of the sheep (ποιμην εστιν των προβατωνpoimēn estin tōn probatōn). No article with ποιμηνpoimēn “a shepherd to the sheep.” He comes in by the door with the sheep whom he leads. Old word is ποιμηνpoimēn root meaning to protect. Jesus applies it to himself in John 10:16 and implies it here. It is used of Christ in 1 Peter 2:25; Hebrews 13:20. Paul applies it to ministers in Ephesians 4:11. Jesus uses the verb ποιμαινωpoimainō to shepherd, to Peter (John 21:16) and Peter uses it to other preachers (1 Peter 5:2) and Paul uses it for bishops (elders) in Acts 20:28. Our word pastor is simply Latin for shepherd. Christ is drawing a sharp contrast after the conduct of the Pharisees towards the blind man between himself and them.

Verse 3

To him (τουτωιtoutōi). “To this one,” the shepherd, in dative case.

The porter (ο τυρωροςho thurōros). Old word for doorkeeper (τυραthura door, ωραōra care, carer for the door). Used for man (Mark 13:34; John 10:3) or woman (John 18:16.), only N.T. examples. The porter has charge of the sheep in the fold at night and opens the door in the morning for the shepherd. It is not certain that Jesus meant this detail to have a special application. The Holy Spirit, of course, does open the door of our hearts for Jesus through various agencies.

Hear his voice
(της πωνης αυτου ακουειtēs phōnēs autou akouei). Hear and heed (John 10:27). Note genitive case πωνηςphōnēs (accusative in John 3:8).

By name
(κατ ονομαkat' onoma). Several flocks might be herded in the same fold overnight. But the shepherd knows his own (τα ιδιαta idia) sheep (John 10:27) and calls their names. “It is still common for Eastern shepherds to give particular names to their sheep” (Bernard).

And leadeth them out
(και εχαγει αυταkai exagei auta). Old and common verb, present active indicative. The sheep follow readily (John 10:27) because they know their own shepherd‘s voice and his name for each of them and because he has led them out before. They love and trust their shepherd.

Verse 4

When he hath put forth all his own (οταν τα ιδια παντα εκβαληιhotan ta idia panta ekbalēi). Indefinite temporal clause with οτανhotan and the second aorist (effective) active subjunctive of εκβαλλωekballō No need of the futurum exactum idea, simply, “when he leads out all his own sheep.” They are all out of the fold. He overlooks none. ΕκβαλλωEkballō does mean “thrust out” if a reluctant sheep wishes to linger too long.

He goeth before them (εμπροστεν αυτων πορευεταιemprosthen autōn poreuetai). Staff in hand he leads the way in front of the flock and they follow (ακολουτειakolouthei) him. What a lesson for pastors who seek to drive the church like cattle and fail. The true pastor leads in love, in words, in deeds.

Verse 5

A stranger (αλλοτριωιallotriōi). Literally, “One belonging to another” (from αλλοςallos opposed to ιδιοςidios). A shepherd of another flock, it may be, not necessarily the thief and robber of John 10:1. Note associative instrumental case after ακολουτησουσινakolouthēsousin (future active indicative of ακολουτεωakoloutheō John 10:4). Note the strong double negative ου μηou mē here with the future indicative, though usually with the aorist subjunctive (Aleph L W have it here). They simply will not follow such a man or woman, these well-trained sheep will not.

But will flee from him (αλλα πευχονται απ αυτουalla pheuxontai ap' autou). Future middle of πευγωpheugō and ablative case with αποapo They will flee as if from a wolf or from the plague. Alas and alas, if only our modern pastors had the sheep (old and young) so trained that they would run away from and not run after the strange voices that call them to false philosophy, false psychology, false ethics, false religion, false life.

Verse 6

This parable (ταυτην την παροιμιανtautēn tēn paroimian). Old word for proverb from παραpara (beside) and οιμοςoimos way, a wayside saying or saying by the way. As a proverb in N.T. in 2 Peter 2:22 (quotation from Proverbs 26:11), as a symbolic or figurative saying in John 16:25, John 16:29, as an allegory in John 10:6. Nowhere else in the N.T. Curiously enough in the N.T. παραβοληparabolē occurs only in the Synoptics outside of Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 11:19. Both are in the lxx. ΠαραβοληParabolē is used as a proverb (Luke 4:23) just as παροιμιαparoimia is in 2 Peter 2:22. Here clearly παροιμιαparoimia means an allegory which is one form of the parable. So there you are. Jesus spoke this παροιμιαparoimia to the Pharisees, “but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them” (εκεινοι δε ουκ εγνωσαν τινα ην α ελαλει αυτοιςekeinoi de ouk egnōsan tina ēn ha elalei autois). Second aorist active indicative of γινωσκωginōskō and note ηνēn in indirect question as in John 2:25 and both the interrogative τιναtina and the relative αha “Spake” (imperfect ελαλειelalei) should be “Was speaking or had been speaking.”

Verse 7

Therefore again (ουν παλινoun palin). Jesus repeats the allegory with more detail and with more directness of application. Repeating a story is not usually an exhilarating experience.

I am the door of the sheep (εγω ειμι η τυρα των προβατωνegō eimi hē thura tōn probatōn). The door for the sheep by which they enter. “He is the legitimate door of access to the spiritual αυληaulē the Fold of the House of Israel, the door by which a true shepherd must enter” (Bernard). He repeats it in John 10:9. This is a new idea, not in the previous story (John 10:1-5). Moffatt follows the Sahidic in accepting ο ποιμηνho poimēn here instead of η τυραhē thura clearly whimsical. Jesus simply changes the metaphor to make it plainer. They were doubtless puzzled by the meaning of the door in John 10:1. Once more, this metaphor should help those who insist on the literal meaning of bread as the actual body of Christ in Mark 14:22. Jesus is not a physical “door,” but he is the only way of entrance into the Kingdom of God (John 14:6).

Verse 8

Before me (προ εμουpro emou). Aleph with the Latin, Syriac, and Sahidic versions omit these words (supported by A B D L W). But with or without προ εμουpro emou Jesus refers to the false Messiahs and self-appointed leaders who made havoc of the flock. These are the thieves and robbers, not the prophets and sincere teachers of old. The reference is to John 10:1. There had been numerous such impostors already (Josephus, Ant. XVIII. i. 6; War II. viii. I) and Jesus will predict many more (Matthew 24:23.). They keep on coming, these wolves in sheep‘s clothing (Matthew 7:15) who grow rich by fooling the credulous sheep. In this case “the sheep did not hear them” (ουκ ηκουσαν αυτων τα προβαταouk ēkousan autōn ta probata). First aorist active indicative with genitive. Fortunate sheep who knew the Shepherd‘s voice.

Verse 9

The door (η τυραhē thura). Repeated from John 10:7.

By me if any man enter in (δι εμου εαν τις εισελτηιdi' emou ean tis eiselthēi). Condition of third class with εανean and second aorist active subjunctive of εισερχομαιeiserchomai Note proleptic and emphatic position of δι εμουdi' emou One can call this narrow intolerance, if he will, but it is the narrowness of truth. If Jesus is the Son of God sent to earth for our salvation, he is the only way. He had already said it in John 5:23. He will say it again more sharply in John 14:6. It is unpalatable to the religious dogmatists before him as it is to the liberal dogmatists today. Jesus offers the open door to “any one” (τιςtis) who is willing (τελειthelei) to do God‘s will (John 7:17).

He shall be saved
(σωτησεταιsōthēsetai). Future passive of σωζωsōzō the great word for salvation, from σωςsōs safe and sound. The sheep that comes into the fold through Jesus as the door will be safe from thieves and robbers for one thing. He will have entrance (εισλευσεταιeisleusetai) and outgo (εχελευσεταιexeleusetai), he will be at home in the daily routine (cf. Acts 1:21) of the sheltered flock.

And shall find pasture
(και νομην ευρησειkai nomēn heurēsei). Future (linear future) indicative of ευρισκωheuriskō old word from νεμωnemō to pasture. In N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 2:17 (in sense of growth). This same phrase occurs in 1 Chronicles 4:40. The shepherd leads the sheep to pasture, but this phrase pictures the joy of the sheep in the pasture provided by the shepherd.

Verse 10

But that he may steal, and kill, and destroy (ει μη ινα κλεπσηι και τυσηι και απολεσηιei mē hina klepsēi kai thusēi kai apolesēi). Literally, “except that” (ει μηei mē) common without (Matthew 12:4) and with verb (Galatians 1:7), “if not” (literally), followed here by final ιναhina and three aorist active subjunctives as sometimes by οτανhotan (Mark 9:9) or οτιhoti (2 Corinthians 12:13). Note the order of the verbs. Stealing is the purpose of the thief, but he will kill and destroy if necessary just like the modern bandit or gangster.

I came that they may have life (εγω ηλτον ινα ζωην εχωσινegō ēlthon hina zōēn echōsin). In sharp contrast (εγωegō) as the good shepherd with the thieves and robbers of John 10:1 came Jesus. Note present active subjunctive (εχωσινechōsin), “that they (people) may keep on having life (eternal, he means)” as he shows in John 10:28. He is “the life” (John 14:6).

And may have it abundantly
(και περισσον εχωσινkai perisson echōsin). Repetition of εχωσινechōsin (may keep on having) abundance (περισσονperisson neuter singular of περισσοςperissos). Xenophon (Anab. VII. vi. 31) uses περισσον εχεινperisson echein “to have a surplus,” true to the meaning of overflow from περιperi (around) seen in Paul‘s picture of the overplus (υπερεπερισσευσενhupereperisseusen in Romans 5:20) of grace. Abundance of life and all that sustains life, Jesus gives.

Verse 11

I am the good shepherd (εγω ειμι ο ποιμην ο καλοςegō eimi ho poimēn ho kalos). Note repetition of the article, “the shepherd the good one.” Takes up the metaphor of John 10:2. Vulgate pastor bonus. Philo calls his good shepherd αγατοςagathos but καλοςkalos calls attention to the beauty in character and service like “good stewards” (1 Peter 4:10), “a good minister of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 4:6). Often both adjectives appear together in the ancient Greek as once in the New Testament (Luke 8:15). “Beauty is as beauty does.” That is καλοςkalos

Layeth down his life for his sheep (την πσυχην αυτου τιτησιν υπερ των προβατωνtēn psuchēn autou tithēsin huper tōn probatōn). For illustration see 1 Samuel 17:35 (David‘s experience) and Isaiah 31:4. Dods quotes Xenophon (Mem. ii. 7, 14) who pictures even the sheep dog as saying to the sheep: “For I am the one that saves you also so that you are neither stolen by men nor seized by wolves.” Hippocrates has πσυχην κατετετοpsuchēn katetheto (he laid down his life, i.e. died). In Judges 12:3 ετηκα την πσυχηνethēka tēn psuchēn means “I risked my life.” The true physician does this for his patient as the shepherd for his sheep. The use of υπερhuper here (over, in behalf of, instead of), but in the papyri υπερhuper is the usual preposition for substitution rather than αντιanti This shepherd gives his life for the sin of the world (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2).

Verse 12

He that is a hireling (ο μιστωτοςho misthōtos). Old word from μιστοωmisthoō to hire (Matthew 20:1) from μιστοςmisthos (hire, wages, Luke 10:7), in N.T. only in this passage. Literally, “the hireling and not being a shepherd” (ο μιστωτος και ουκ ων ποιμηνho misthōtos kai ouk ōn poimēn). Note ουκouk with the participle ωνōn to emphasize the certainty that he is not a shepherd in contrast with μη εισερχομενοςmē eiserchomenos in John 10:1 (conceived case). See same contrast in 1 Peter 1:8 between ουκ ιδοντεςouk idontes and μη ορωντεςmē horōntes The hireling here is not necessarily the thief and robber of John 10:1, John 10:8. He may conceivably be a nominal shepherd (pastor) of the flock who serves only for the money, a sin against which Peter warned the shepherds of the flock “not for shameful gain” (1 Peter 5:2).

Whose own (ου ιδιαhou idia). Every true shepherd considers the sheep in his care “his own” (ιδιαidia) even if he does not actually “own” them. The mere “hireling” does not feel so.

(τεωρειtheōrei). Vivid dramatic present, active indicative of τεωρεωtheōreō a graphic picture.

The wolf coming
(τον λυκον ερχομενονton lukon erchomenon). Present middle predicate participle of ερχομαιerchomai

Leaveth the sheep, and fleeth
(απιησιν τα προβατα και πευγειaphiēsin ta probata kai pheugei). Graphic present actives again of απιημιaphiēmi and πευγωpheugō The cowardly hireling cares naught for the sheep, but only for his own skin. The wolf was the chief peril to sheep in Palestine. See Matthew 10:6 where Jesus says: “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.”

And the wolf snatcheth them and scattereth them
(και ο λυκος αρπαζει και σκορπιζειkai ho lukos harpazei kai skorpizei). Vivid parenthesis in the midst of the picture of the conduct of the hireling. Bold verbs these. For the old verb αρπαζωharpazō see John 6:15; Matthew 11:12, and for σκορπιζωskorpizō late word (Plutarch) for the Attic σκεδαννυμιskedannumi see Matthew 12:30. It occurs in the vision of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 34:5) where because of the careless shepherds “the sheep became meat to all the beasts of the field, and were scattered.” Jesus uses αρπαζωharpazō in John 10:29 where no one is able “to snatch” one out of the Father‘s hand.

Verse 13

Because he is a hireling (οτι μιστωτος εστινhoti misthōtos estin). And only that, without the shepherd heart that loves the sheep. Reason given for the conduct of the hireling after the parenthesis about the wolf.

And careth not for the sheep (και ου μελει αυτωι περι των προβατωνkai ou melei autōi peri tōn probatōn). Literally, “and it is no care to him about the sheep.” This use of the impersonal μελειmelei (present active indicative) is quite common, as in Matthew 22:16. But God does care (1 Peter 5:7).

Verse 14

I am the good-shepherd (εγω ειμι ο ποιμην ο καλοςegō eimi ho poimēn ho kalos). Effective repetition.

And mine own know me (και γινωσκουσιν με τα εμαkai ginōskousin me ta ema). Jesus as the Good Shepherd knows his sheep by name as he had already said (John 10:3) and now repeats. Yes, and they know his voice (John 10:4), they have experimental knowledge (γινωσκωginōskō) of Jesus as their own Shepherd. Here (in this mutually reciprocal knowledge) lies the secret of their love and loyalty.

Verse 15

And I know the Father (καγω γινωσκω τον πατεραkagō ginōskō ton patera). Hence he is qualified to reveal the Father (John 1:18). The comparison of the mutually reciprocal knowledge between the Father and the Son illustrates what he has just said, though it stands above all else (Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 17:21-26). We cannot claim such perfect knowledge of the Good Shepherd as exists between the Father and the Son and yet the real sheep do know the Shepherd‘s voice and do love to follow his leadership here and now in spite of thieves, robbers, wolves, hirelings.

And I lay down my life for the sheep (και την πσυχην μου τιτημι υπερ των προβατωνkai tēn psuchēn mou tithēmi huper tōn probatōn). This he had said in John 10:11, but he repeats it now for clearness. This he does not just as an example for the sheep and for under-shepherds, but primarily to save the sheep from the wolves, the thieves and robbers.

Verse 16

Other sheep (αλλα προβαταalla probata). Sheep, not goats, but “not of this fold” (εκ της αυλης ταυτηςek tēs aulēs tautēs). See John 10:1 for αυληaulē Clearly “his flock is not confined to those enclosed in the Jewish fold, whether in Palestine or elsewhere” (Westcott). Christ‘s horizon takes in all men of all races and times (John 11:52; John 12:32). The world mission of Christ for all nations is no new idea with him (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28). God loved the world and gave his Son for the race (John 3:16).

Them also I must bring (ον kakeina dei me agagein). Second aorist active infinitive of κακεινα δει με αγαγεινagō with αγωdei expressing the moral urgency of Christ‘s passion for God‘s people in all lands and ages. Missions in Christ‘s mind takes in the whole world. This is according to prophecy (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 56:8) for the Messiah is to be a Light also to the Gentiles. It was typified by the brazen serpent (John 3:14). Christ died for every man. The Pharisees doubtless listened in amazement and even the disciples with slow comprehension.

And they shall hear my voice
(δειkai tēs phōnēs mou akousontai). Future middle indicative of και της πωνης μου ακουσονταιakouō with the genitive ακουωphōnēs These words read like a transcript from the Acts and the Epistles of Paul (Rom 9-11 in particular). See especially Paul‘s words in Acts 28:28. Present-day Christianity is here foretold. Only do we really listen to the voice of the Shepherd as we should? Jesus means that the Gentiles will hearken if the Jews turn away from him.

And they shall become one flock, one shepherd
(πωνηςkai genēsontai mia poimnē και γενησονται μια ποιμνη εις ποιμηνheis poimēn). Future middle indicative of γινομαιginomai plural, not singular γενησεταιgenēsetai as some MSS. have it. All (Jews and Gentiles) will form one flock under one Shepherd. Note the distinction here by Jesus between ποιμνηpoimnē (old word, contraction of ποιμενηpoimenē from ποιμηνpoimēn shepherd), as in Matthew 26:31, and αυληaulē (fold) just before. There may be many folds of the one flock. Jerome in his Vulgate confused this distinction, but he is wrong. His use of ovile for both αυληaulē and πομνιονpomnion has helped Roman Catholic assumptions. Christ‘s use of “flock” (ποιμνηpoimnē) here is just another metaphor for kingdom (βασιλειαbasileia) in Matthew 8:11 where the children of the kingdom come from all climes and nations. See also the various metaphors in Ephesians 2 for this same idea. There is only the one Great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20), Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verse 17

For this reason (δια τουτοdia touto). Points to the following οτιhoti clause. The Father‘s love for the Son is drawn out (John 3:16) by the voluntary offering of the Son for the sin of the world (Romans 5:8). Hence the greater exaltation (Philemon 2:9). Jesus does for us what any good shepherd does (John 10:11) as he has already said (John 10:15). The value of the atoning death of Christ lies in the fact that he is the Son of God, the Son of Man, free of sin, and that he makes the offering voluntarily (Hebrews 9:14).

That I may take it again (ινα παλιν λαβω αυτηνhina palin labō autēn). Purpose clause with ιναhina and second aorist active subjunctive of λαμβανωlambanō He looked beyond his death on the Cross to the resurrection. “The purpose of the Passion was not merely to exhibit his unselfish love; it was in order that He might resume His life, now enriched with quickening power as never before” (Bernard). The Father raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:32). There is spontaneity in the surrender to death and in the taking life back again (Dods).

Verse 18

No one taketh it away from me (ουδεις αιρει αυτην απ εμουoudeis airei autēn ap' emou). But Aleph B read ηρενēren (first aorist active indicative of αιρωairō to take away), probably correct (Westcott and Hort). “John is representing Jesus as speaking sub specie aeternitatis ” (Bernard). He speaks of his death as already past and the resurrection as already accomplished. Cf. John 3:16.

Of myself (απ εμαυτουap' emautou). The voluntariness of the death of Jesus repeated and sharpened. D omits it, probably because of superficial and apparent conflict with John 5:19. But there is no inconsistency as is shown by John 3:16; Romans 5:8. The Father “gave” the Son who was glad to be given and to give himself.

I have power to lay it down
(εχουσιαν εχω τειναι αυτηνexousian echō theinai autēn). ΕχουσιαExousia is not an easy word to translate (right, authority, power, privilege). See John 1:12. Restatement of the voluntariness of his death for the sheep.

And I have power to take it again (και εχουσιαν εχω παλιν λαβειν αυτηνkai exousian echō palin labein autēn). Note second aorist active infinitive in both cases (τειναιtheinai from τιτημιtithēmi and λαβεινlabein from λαμβανωlambanō), single acts. Recall John 2:19 where Jesus said: “And in three days I will raise it up.” He did not mean that he will raise himself from the dead independently of the Father as the active agent (Romans 8:11).

I received from my Father
(ελαβον παρα του πατρος μουelabon para tou patros mou). Second aorist active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō He always follows the Father‘s command (εντοληentolē) in all things (John 12:49.; John 14:31). So now he is doing the Father‘s will about his death and resurrection.

Verse 19

There arose a division again (σχισμα παλιν εγενετοschisma palin egeneto). As in John 7:43 in the crowd (also in John 7:12, John 7:31), so now among the hostile Jews (Pharisees) some of whom had previously professed belief in him (John 8:31). The direct reference of παλινpalin (again) may be to John 9:16 when the Pharisees were divided over the problem of the blind man. Division of opinion about Jesus is a common thing in John‘s Gospel (John 6:52, John 6:60, John 6:66; John 7:12, John 7:25.; John 8:22; John 9:16.; John 10:19, John 10:24, John 10:41; John 11:41.; John 12:19, John 12:29, John 12:42; John 16:18.).

Verse 20

He has a demon and is mad (δαιμονιον εχει και μαινεταιdaimonion echei kai mainetai). As some had already said (John 7:20; John 8:48 with the addition of “Samaritan”). So long before in Mark 3:21. An easy way of discounting Jesus.

Verse 21

Of one possessed with a demon (δαιμονιζομενουdaimonizomenou). Genitive of present passive participle of δαιμονιζωdaimonizō They had heard demoniacs talk, but not like this.

Can a demon open the eyes of the blind? (μη δαιμονιον δυναται τυπλον οπταλμους ανοιχαιmē daimonion dunatai tuphlon ophthalmous anoixai). Negative answer expected. Demons would more likely put out eyes, not open them. It was an unanswerable question.

Verse 22

And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem (εγενετο δε τα ενκαινια εν τοις Ιεροσολυμοιςegeneto de ta enkainia en tois Ierosolumois). But Westcott and Hort read τοτεtote (then) instead of δεde (and) on the authority of B L W 33 and some versions. This is probably correct: “At that time came the feast of dedication in Jerusalem.” ΤοτεTote does not mean that the preceding events followed immediately after the incidents in 10:1-21. Bernard brings chapter 9 up to this date (possibly also chapter 8) and rearranges chapter 10 in a purely arbitrary way. There is no real reason for this arrangement. Clearly there is a considerable lapse between the events in 10:22-39 and 10:1-21, possibly nearly three months (from just after tabernacles John 7:37 to dedication John 10:22). The Pharisees greet his return with the same desire to catch him. This feast of dedication, celebrated for eight days about the middle of our December, was instituted by Judas Maccabeus b.c. 164 in commemoration of the cleansing of the temple from the defilements of pagan worship by Antiochus Epiphanes (1Macc 4:59). The word ενκαινιαenkainia (ενen καινοςkainos new) occurs here only in the N.T. It was not one of the great feasts and could be observed elsewhere without coming to Jerusalem. Jesus had apparently spent the time between tabernacles and dedication in Judea (Luke 10:1-13:21).

Winter (χειμωνcheimōn). Old word from χειμαcheima (χεωcheō to pour, rain, or from χιωνchiōn snow). See Matthew 24:20.

Verse 23

Was walking (περιεπατειperiepatei). Imperfect active of περιπατεωperipateō to walk around, picturesque imperfect.

In Solomon‘s porch (εν τηι στοαι του Σολομωνοςen tēi stoāi tou Solomōnos). A covered colonnade or portico in which people could walk in all weather. See Acts 3:11; Acts 5:12 for this porch. This particular part of Solomon‘s temple was left uninjured by the Babylonians and survived apparently till the destruction of the temple by Titus a.d. 70 (Josephus, Ant. XX. 9, 7). When John wrote, it was, of course, gone.

Verse 24

Came round about him (εκυκλωσαν αυτονekuklōsan auton). Aorist active indicative of κυκλοωkukloō old verb from κυκλοςkuklos (cycle, circle). See Acts 14:20 for the circle of disciples around Paul when stoned. Evidently the hostile Jews cherished the memory of the stinging rebuke given them by Jesus when here last, particularly the allegory of the Good Shepherd (10:1-19), in which he drew so sharply their own picture.

How long dost thou hold us in suspense? (εως ποτε την πσυχην ημων αιρεισheōs pote tēn psuchēn hēmōn aireis). Literally, “Until when dost thou lift up our soul?” But what do they mean by this metaphor? ΑιρωAirō is common enough to lift up the eyes (John 11:41), the voice (Luke 17:13), and in Psalm 25:1; Psalm 86:4 (Josephus, Ant. III. ii. 3) we have “to lift up the soul.” We are left to the context to judge the precise meaning. Clearly the Jews mean to imply doubt and suspense. The next remark makes it clear.

If thou art the Christ
(ει συ ει ο Χριστοςei su ei ho Christos). Condition of first class assumed to be true for the sake of argument.

Tell us plainly
(ειπον ημιν παρρησιαιeipon hēmin parrēsiāi). Conclusion with ειπονeipon rather than the usual ειπεeipe as if first aorist active imperative like λυσονluson The point is in “plainly” (παρρησιαιparrēsiāi), adverb as in John 7:13, John 7:26 which see. That is to say “I am the Christ” in so many words. See John 11:14; John 16:29 for the same use of παρρησιαιparrēsiāi The demand seemed fair enough on the surface. They had made it before when here at the feast of tabernacles (John 8:25). Jesus declined to use the word ΧριστοςChristos (Messiah) then as now because of the political bearing of the word in their minds. The populace in Galilee had once tried to make him king in opposition to Pilate (John 6:14.). When Jesus does confess on oath before Caiaphas that he is the Christ the Son of God (Mark 14:61.; Matthew 26:63.), the Sanhedrin instantly vote him guilty of blasphemy and then bring him to Pilate with the charge of claiming to be king as a rival to Caesar. Jesus knew their minds too well to be caught now.

Verse 25

I told you, and you believe not (ειπον υμιν και ου πιστευετεeipon humin kai ou pisteuete). It was useless to say more. In 7:14-10:18 Jesus had shown that he was the Son of the Father as he had previously claimed (5:17-47), but it was all to no purpose save to increase their rage towards him.

These bear witness of me (ταυτα μαρτυρει περι εμουtauta marturei peri emou). His works confirm his words as he had shown before (John 5:36). They believe neither his words nor his works.

Verse 26

Because ye are not of my sheep (οτι εκ των προβατων μουhoti ek tōn probatōn mou). This had been the point in the allegory of the Good Shepherd. In fact, they were the children of the devil in spirit and conduct (John 8:43), pious ecclesiastics though they seemed, veritable wolves in sheep‘s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

Verse 27

My sheep (τα προβατα τα εμαta probata ta ema). In contrast with you they are not in doubt and suspense. They know my voice and follow me. Repetition of the idea in John 10:4, John 10:14.

Verse 28

And I give unto them eternal life (καγω διδωμι αυτοις ζωην αιωνιονkagō didōmi autois zōēn aiōnion). This is the gift of Jesus now to his sheep as stated in John 6:27, John 6:40 (cf. 1 John 2:25; 1 John 5:11).

And they shall never perish (και ου μη απολωνταιkai ou mē apolōntai). Emphatic double negative with second aorist middle (intransitive) subjunctive of απολλυμιapollumi to destroy. The sheep may feel secure (John 3:16; John 6:39; John 17:12; John 18:9).

And no one shall snatch them out of my hand
(και ουχ αρπασει τις αυτα εκ της χειρος μουkai ouch harpasei tis auta ek tēs cheiros mou). Jesus had promised this security in Galilee (John 6:37, John 6:39). No wolf, no thief, no bandit, no hireling, no demon, not even the devil can pluck the sheep out of my hand. Cf. Colossians 3:3 (Your life is hid together with Christ in God).

Verse 29

Which (οςhos). Who. If οho (which) is correct, we have to take ο πατηρho patēr as nominative absolute or independent, “As for my Father.”

Is greater than all (παντων μειζων εστινpantōn meizōn estin). If we read οςhos But Aleph B L W read οho and A B Theta have μειζονmeizon The neuter seems to be correct (Westcott and Hort). But is it? If so, the meaning is: “As for my Father, that which he hath given me is greater than all.” But the context calls for ος μειζωνhosο πατηρ meizōn with εστινho patēr as the subject of estin The greatness of the Father, not of the flock, is the ground of the safety of the flock. Hence the conclusion that “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father‘s hand.”

Verse 30

One (ενhen). Neuter, not masculine (ειςheis). Not one person (cf. ειςheis in Galatians 3:28), but one essence or nature. By the plural συμυςsumus (separate persons) Sabellius is refuted, by υνυμunum Arius. So Bengel rightly argues, though Jesus is not referring, of course, to either Sabellius or Arius. The Pharisees had accused Jesus of making himself equal with God as his own special Father (John 5:18). Jesus then admitted and proved this claim (John 5:19-30). Now he states it tersely in this great saying repeated later (John 17:11, John 17:21). Note ενhen used in 1 Corinthians 3:3 of the oneness in work of the planter and the waterer and in John 17:11, John 17:23 of the hoped for unity of Christ‘s disciples. This crisp statement is the climax of Christ‘s claims concerning the relation between the Father and himself (the Son). They stir the Pharisees to uncontrollable anger.

Verse 31

Took up stones again (εβαστασαν παλιν λιτουςebastasan palin lithous). First aorist active indicative of βασταζωbastazō old verb to pick up, to carry (John 12:6), to bear (Galatians 6:5). The παλινpalin refers to John 8:59 where ηρανēran was used. They wanted to kill him also when he made himself equal to God in John 5:18. Perhaps here εβαστασανebastasan means “they fetched stones from a distance.”

To stone him (ινα λιτασωσιν αυτονhina lithasōsin auton). Final clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of λιταζωlithazō late verb (Aristotle, Polybius) from λιτοςlithos (stone, small, Matthew 4:6, or large, Matthew 28:2), in John 10:31-33; John 11:8; Acts 5:26; Acts 14:19; 2 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 11:37, but not in the Synoptics. It means to pelt with stones, to overwhelm with stones.

Verse 32

From the Father (εκ του πατροςek tou patros). Proceeding out of the Father as in John 6:65; John 16:28 (cf. John 7:17; John 8:42, John 8:47) rather than παραpara as in John 1:14; John 6:46; John 7:29; John 17:7.

For which of those works (δια ποιον αυτων εργονdia poion autōn ergon). Literally, “For what kind of work of them” (referring to the “many good works” πολλα εργα καλαpolla erga kala). Noble and beautiful deeds Jesus had done in Jerusalem like healing the impotent man (chapter 5) and the blind man (chapter 9). ΠοιονPoion is a qualitative interrogative pronoun pointing to καλαkala (good).

Do ye stone me
(λιταζετεlithazete). Conative present active indicative, “are ye trying to stone me.” They had the stones in their hands stretched back to fling at him, a threatening attitude.

Verse 33

For a good work we stone thee not (περι καλου εργου ου λιταζομενperi kalou ergou ou lithazomen). “Concerning a good deed we are not stoning thee.” Flat denial that the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath had led them to this attempt (John 8:59) in spite of the facts.

But for blasphemy (αλλα περι βλασπημιαςalla peri blasphēmias). See Acts 26:7 where περιperi with the genitive is also used with εγκαλουμαιegkaloumai for the charge against Paul. This is the only example in John of the word βλασπημιαblasphēmia (cf. Matthew 12:31).

And because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God
(και οτι συ αντρωπος ων ποιεις σεαυτον τεονkai hoti su anthrōpos ōn poieis seauton theon). In John 5:18 they stated the charge more accurately: “He called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” That is, he made himself the Son of God. This he did beyond a doubt. But was it blasphemy? Only if he was not the Son of God. The penalty for blasphemy was death by stoning (Leviticus 24:16; 1 Kings 21:10, 1 Kings 21:13).

Verse 34

Is it not written? (ουκ εστιν γεγραμμενονouk estin gegrammenon). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of γραπωgraphō (as in John 2:17) in place of the usual γεγραπταιgegraptai “Does it not stand written?”

In your law (εν τωι νομωι υμωνen tōi nomōi humōn). From Psalm 82:6. The term νομοςnomos (law) applying here to the entire O.T. as in John 12:34; John 15:25; Romans 3:19; 1 Corinthians 14:21. Aleph D Syr-sin. omit υμωνhumōn but needlessly. We have it already so from Jesus in John 8:17. They posed as the special custodians of the O.T.

I said
(οτι εγω ειπαhoti egō eipa). Recitative οτιhoti before a direct quotation like our quotation marks. ΕιπαEipa is a late second aorist form of indicative with -αa instead of -ονon

Ye are gods
(τεοι εστεtheoi este). Another direct quotation after ειπαeipa but without οτιhoti The judges of Israel abused their office and God is represented in Psalm 82:6 as calling them “gods” (τεοιtheoi elohim) because they were God‘s representatives. See the same use of elohim in Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:9, Exodus 22:28. Jesus meets the rabbis on their own ground in a thoroughly Jewish way.

Verse 35

If he called them gods (ει εκεινους ειπεν τεουςei ekeinous eipen theous). Condition of first class, assumed as true. The conclusion (John 10:36) is υμεις λεγετεhumeis legete (Do ye say?). As Jews (and rabbis) they are shut out from charging Jesus with blasphemy because of this usage in the O.T. It is a complete ad hominem argument. To be sure, it is in Psalm 82:6 a lower use of the term τεοςtheos but Jesus did not call himself “Son of Jahweh,” but “υιος τεουhuios theou ” which can mean only “Son of προς ους ο λογος του τεου εγενετοElohim It must not be argued, as some modern men do, that Jesus thus disclaims his own deity. He does nothing of the kind. He is simply stopping the mouths of the rabbis from the charge of blasphemy and he does it effectually. The sentence is quite involved, but can be cleared up.

To whom the word of God came (εκεινουςpros hous ho logos tou theou egeneto). The relative points to τεοιekeinous before. These judges had no other claim to the term και ου δυναται λυτηναι η γραπηtheoi (Λυτηναιelohim).

And the scripture cannot be broken
(λυωkai ou dunatai luthēnai hē graphē). A parenthesis that drives home the pertinency of the appeal, one that the Pharisees had to accept. Luthēnai is first aorist passive infinitive of luō to loosen, to break.

Verse 36

Of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world (ον ο πατηρ ηγιασεν και απεστειλεν εις τον κοσμονhon ho patēr hēgiasen kai apesteilen eis ton kosmon). Another relative clause with the antecedent (τουτονtouton it would be, object of λεγετεlegete) unexpressed. Every word counts heavily here in contrast with the mere judges of Psalm 82:6.

Thou blasphemest (οτι βλασπημειςhoti blasphēmeis). Recitative οτιhoti again before direct quotation.

Because I said
(οτι ειπονhoti eipon). Causal use of οτιhoti and regular form ειπονeipon (cf. ειπαeipa in John 10:34).

I am the Son of God
(υιος του τεου ειμιhuios tou theou eimi). Direct quotation again after ειπονeipon This Jesus had implied long before as in John 2:16 (my Father) and had said in John 5:18-30 (the Father, the Son), in John 9:35 in some MSS., and virtually in John 10:30. They will make this charge against Jesus before Pilate (John 19:7). Jesus does not use the article here with υιοςhuios perhaps (Westcott) fixing attention on the character of Son rather than on the person as in Hebrews 1:2. There is no answer to this question with its arguments.

Verse 37

If I do not (ει ου ποιωei ou poiō). Condition of first class, assumed as true, with negative ουou not ει μηei mē = unless.

Believe me not (μη πιστευετε μοιmē pisteuete moi). Prohibition with μηmē and the present active imperative. Either “cease believing me” or “do not have the habit of believing me.” Jesus rests his case on his doing the works of “my Father” (του πατρος μουtou patros mou), repeating his claims to sonship and deity.

Verse 38

But if I do (ει δε ποιωei de poiō). Condition again of the first class, assumed as true, but with the opposite results.

Though ye believe not me (καν εμοι μη πιστευητεkan emoi mē pisteuēte). Condition now of third class, undetermined (but with prospect), “Even if you keep on (present active subjunctive of πιστευοpisteuo) not believing me.”

Believe the works
(τοις εργοις πιστευετεtois ergois pisteuete). These stand irrefutable. The claims, character, words, and works of Jesus challenge the world today as then.

That ye may know and understand
(ινα γνωτε και γινωσκητεhina gnōte kai ginōskēte). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the same verb γινωσκωginōskō repeated in different tenses (first γνωτεgnōte the second ingressive aorist active subjunctive, that ye may come to know; then the present active subjunctive, “that ye may keep on knowing”). This is Christ‘s deepest wish about his enemies who stand with stones in their uplifted hands to fling at him.

That the Father is in me, and I in the Father
(οτι εν εμοι ο πατηρ καγω εν τωι πατριhoti en emoi ho patēr kagō en tōi patri). Thus he repeats (John 10:30) sharply his real claim to oneness with the Father as his Son, to actual deity. It was a hopeless wish.

Verse 39

They sought again to seize him (εζητουν αυτον παλιν πιαζαιezētoun auton palin piazai). Imperfect active, “They kept on seeking to seize” (ingressive aorist active infinitive of πιαζωpiazō for which see John 7:30) as they had tried repeatedly (John 7:1, John 7:30, John 7:44; John 8:20), but in vain. They gave up the effort to stone him.

Out of their hand (εκ της χειρος αυτωνek tēs cheiros autōn). Overawed, but still angry, the stones fell to the ground, and Jesus walked out.

Verse 40

Again (παλινpalin). Referring to John 1:28 (Bethany beyond Jordan). ΠαλινPalin does not mean that the other visit was a recent one.

At the first (το πρωτονto prōton). Adverbial accusative (extent of time). Same idiom in John 12:16; John 19:39. Here the identical language of John 1:28 is used with the mere addition of το πρωτονto prōton (οπου ην Ιωανης βαπτιζωνhopou ēn Iōanēs baptizōn “where John was baptizing”).

And there he abode
(και εμενεν εκειkai emenen ekei). Imperfect (continued) active of μενωmenō though some MSS. have the constative aorist active εμεινενemeinen Probably from here Jesus carried on the first part of the later Perean Ministry (Luke 13:22-16:10) before the visit to Bethany at the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44).

Verse 41

Many came to him (πολλοι ηλτον προς αυτονpolloi ēlthon pros auton). Jesus was busy here and in a more congenial atmosphere than Jerusalem. John wrought no signs the crowds recall, though Jesus did many here (Matthew 19:2). The crowds still bear the impress of John‘s witness to Christ as “true” (αλητηalēthē). Here was prepared soil for Christ.

Verse 42

Many believed on him there (πολλοι επιστευσαν εις αυτον εκειpolloi episteusan eis auton ekei). See John 1:12; John 2:11 for same idiom. Striking witness to the picture of the Messiah drawn by John. When Jesus came they recognized the original. See John 1:29-34. What about our sermons about Jesus if he were to walk down the aisle in visible form according to A.J. Gordon‘s dream?


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 10:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 23rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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