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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Porter

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PORTER (θυρωρός, Mark 13:34, John 10:3; John 18:16 f. [in last passage, ‘she that kept the door’]).—The English word ‘porter’ is ambiguous, meaning ‘burden-bearer’ as well as ‘door-keeper.’ ‘Janitor’ or ‘gate-keeper’ would be a better rendering. ‘Porters’ were employed to guard city gates, and to keep watch at the entrance of public buildings and of private houses. It would appear from John 18:16 f., where a ‘damsel’ acts as door-keeper of the high priest’s palace, that in some instances women were thus employed (cf. Acts 12:13 f.); see, further, Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible , artt. ‘Gate,’ ‘Porter,’ ‘Priests and Levites’ (iv. 93a).

The identity of the porter of the sheepfold (John 10:3) has been much discussed. Obviously, he is the guardian of the fold, whose office is to open the door to any shepherd (John 10:2 [Greek and (Revised Version margin) ]) whose sheep are in the fold. See art. Sheep. Thus the porter may be (1) God: so Calvin (Com. on John, in loc.), Bengel (Gnomon, in loc.), and Hengstenberg (Com. on John, in loc.); (2) Christ: so Cyril and Augustine (quoted by Hengstenberg), who remark that Christ is His own porter; (3) the Holy Spirit: so Stier, Lange, Alford, and others. Others apply the figure to John the Baptist (so Godet) or to Moses. The most natural interpretation is that given by Westcott (Gospel of John, in loc.): ‘The interpretation will vary according to the special sense attached to the “sheep” and the “shepherd.” The figure is not to be explained exclusively of the Holy Spirit, or of the Father, or of Moses, or of John the Baptist, but of the Spirit acting through His appointed ministers in each case.’ For parallels to the symbolism of the passage, cf. Acts 14:27; Acts 16:14, 2 Corinthians 2:12, Colossians 4:3, Revelation 3:7.

James Mursell.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Porter'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/p/porter.html. 1906-1918.

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