Joh 10:1-21. The Good
This discourse seems plainly to be a continuation of
the closing verses of the ninth chapter. The figure was familiar to the
Jewish ear (from Jer 23:1-40; Eze 34:1-31;
Zec 11:1-17, &c.). "This
simple creature [the sheep] has this special note among all animals,
that it quickly hears the voice of the shepherd, follows no one else,
depends entirely on him, and seeks help from him alone—cannot
help itself, but is shut up to another's aid" [Luther in Stier].
1, 2. He that entereth not by the
door—the legitimate way (without saying what that was, as
into the sheepfold—the sacred
enclosure of God's true people.
climbeth up some other way—not
referring to the assumption of ecclesiastical office without an
external call, for those Jewish rulers, specially aimed at, had this
23:2), but to the want of a
true spiritual commission, the seal of heaven going along with the
outward authority; it is the assumption of the spiritual guidance of
the people without this that is meant.
2. he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd
of the sheep—a true, divinely recognized shepherd.
3. To him the porter openeth—that is,
right of free access is given, by order of Him to whom the sheep
belong; for it is better not to give the allusion a more specific
interpretation [Calvin, Meyer, Luthardt].
and the sheep hear his voice—This and
all that follows, though it admits of important application to
every faithful shepherd of God's flock, is in its direct and highest
sense true only of "the great Shepherd of the sheep," who in the first
five verses seems plainly, under the simple character of a true
shepherd, to be drawing His own portrait [Lampe, Stier,
7-14. I am the door of the sheep—that
is, the way in to the fold, with all blessed privileges, both
for shepherds and sheep (compare Joh 14:6; Eph 2:18).
8. All that ever came before me—the
false prophets; not as claiming the prerogatives of Messiah, but as
perverters of the people from the way of life, all pointing to Him
the sheep did not hear them—the
instinct of their divinely taught hearts preserving them from seducers,
and attaching them to the heaven-sent prophets, of whom it is said that
"the Spirit of Christ was in them" (1Pe 1:11).
9. by me if any man enter in—whether
shepherd or sheep.
shall be saved—the great object of the
pastoral office, as of all the divine arrangements towards mankind.
and shall go in and out and find
pasture—in, as to a place of safety and
repose; out, as to "green pastures and still waters" (Ps 23:2) for nourishment and refreshing,
and all this only transferred to another clime, and enjoyed in another
manner, at the close of this earthly scene (Re 7:17).
10. I am come that they might have life, and
… more abundantly—not merely to preserve but
impart LIFE, and communicate it
in rich and unfailing exuberance. What a claim! Yet it is only an echo
of all His teaching; and He who uttered these and like words must be
either a blasphemer, all worthy of the death He died, or "God with
us"—there can be no middle course.
11. I am the good shepherd—emphatically,
and, in the sense intended, exclusively so (Isa 40:11; Eze 34:23; 37:24; Zec 13:7).
the good shepherd giveth his life for the
sheep—Though this may be said of literal shepherds, who, even
for their brute flock, have, like David, encountered "the lion and the
bear" at the risk of their own lives, and still more of faithful
pastors who, like the early bishops of Rome, have been the foremost to
brave the fury of their enemies against the flock committed to their
care; yet here, beyond doubt, it points to the struggle which was to
issue in the willing surrender of the Redeemer's own life, to save His
sheep from destruction.
12. an hireling … whose own the sheep are
not—who has no property, in them. By this He points to
His own peculiar relation to the sheep, the same as His Father's, the
great Proprietor and Lord of the flock, who styles Him "My Shepherd,
the Man that is My Fellow" (Zec 13:7), and though faithful under-shepherds
are so in their Master's interest, that they feel a measure of His own
concern for their charge, the language is strictly applicable only to
"the Son over His own house" (Heb 3:6).
seeth the wolf coming—not the
devil distinctively, as some take it [Stier, Alford,
&c.], but generally whoever comes upon the flock with hostile
intent, in whatever form: though the wicked one, no doubt, is at the
bottom of such movements [Luthardt].
14. I am the good shepherd, and know my
sheep—in the peculiar sense of 2Ti 2:19.
am known of mine—the soul's response
to the voice that has inwardly and efficaciously called it; for of this
mutual loving acquaintance ours is the effect of His. "The
Redeemer's knowledge of us is the active element, penetrating us
with His power and life; that of believers is the passive
principle, the reception of His life and light. In this reception,
however, an assimilation of the soul to the sublime object of its
knowledge and love takes place; and thus an activity, though a derived
one, is unfolded, which shows itself in obedience to His commands"
[Olshausen]. From this mutual knowledge
Jesus rises to another and loftier reciprocity of knowledge.
15-18. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I
the Father—What claim to absolute equality with the Father
could exceed this? (See on Mt 11:27).
and I lay down my life for the
sheep—How sublime this, immediately following the lofty claim
of the preceding clause! It is the riches and the poverty of "the Word
made flesh"—one glorious Person reaching at once up to the Throne
and down even to the dust of death, "that we might live through Him." A
candid interpretation of the words, "for the sheep," ought to go
far to establish the special relation of the vicarious death of Christ
to the Church.
16. other sheep I have … not of this fold:
them also I must bring—He means the perishing Gentiles,
already His "sheep" in the love of His heart and the
purpose of His grace to "bring them" in due time.
they shall hear my voice—This is
not the language of mere foresight that they would believe, but the
expression of a purpose to draw them to Himself by an inward and
efficacious call, which would infallibly issue in their
spontaneous accession to Him.
and there shall be one fold—rather
"one flock" (for the word for "fold," as in the foregoing verses, is
17. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I
lay down my life, &c.—As the highest act of the Son's
love to the Father was the laying down of His life for the sheep at His
"commandment," so the Father's love to Him as His incarnate Son
reaches its consummation, and finds its highest justification, in that
sublimest and most affecting of all acts.
that I might take it again—His
resurrection-life being indispensable to the accomplishment of the
fruit of His death.
18. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down
myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it
again—It is impossible for language more plainly and
emphatically to express the absolute voluntariness of Christ's
death, such a voluntariness as it would be manifest presumption in any
mere creature to affirm of his own death. It is beyond all doubt
the language of One who was conscious that His life was His own
(which no creature's is), and therefore His to surrender or retain
at will. Here lay the glory of His sacrifice, that it was
purely voluntary. The claim of "power to take it again" is no
less important, as showing that His resurrection, though ascribed to
the Father, in the sense we shall presently see, was nevertheless
His own assertion of His own right to life as soon as the
purposes of His voluntary death were accomplished.
This commandment—to "lay down
His—life, that He might take it again."
have I received of my Father—So that
Christ died at once by "command" of His Father, and by such a voluntary
obedience to that command as has made Him (so to speak) infinitely dear
to the Father. The necessity of Christ's death, in the light of
these profound sayings, must be manifest to all but the superficial
19-21. There was a division … again among
the Jews for these sayings—the light and the darkness
revealing themselves with increasing clearness in the separation of the
teachable from the obstinately prejudiced. The one saw in Him only "a
devil and a madman"; the other revolted at the thought that such
words could come from one possessed, and sight be given to the
blind by a demoniac; showing clearly that a deeper impression had been
made upon them than their words expressed.
Joh 10:22-42. Discourse at
the Feast of Dedication—From the
Fury of His Enemies Jesus Escapes beyond Jordan, Where Many Believe on
22, 23. it was … the feast of the
dedication—celebrated rather more than two months
after the feast of tabernacles, during which intermediate period our
Lord seems to have remained in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. It was
instituted by Jude Maccabeus, to commemorate the purification of the
temple from the profanations to which it had been subjected by
Antiochus Epiphanes 165 B.C., and kept
for eight days, from the twenty-fifth Chisleu (December), the day on
which Judas began the first joyous celebration of it (1 Maccabees
4:52,56,59; and Josephus,
it was winter—implying some
23. Jesus walked … in Solomon's
porch—for shelter. This portico was on the east side of the
temple, and Josephus says it was part of
the original structure of Solomon [Antiquities, 20.9.7].
24. Then came the Jews—the
rulers. (See on Joh 1:19).
How long dost thou make us to
doubt?—"hold us in suspense" (Margin).
If thou be the Christ, tell us
plainly—But when the plainest evidence of it was
resisted, what weight could a mere assertion of it have?
25, 26. Jesus answered them, I told
you—that is, in substance, what I am (for example Joh 7:37, 38; 8:12, 35, 36, 58).
26. ye believe not, because ye are not of my
sheep, as I said—referring to the whole strain of the Parable
of the Sheep, (Joh 10:1,
27-30. My sheep hear my voice,
&c.—(See on Joh 10:8).
28. I give unto them eternal life—not
"will give them"; for it is a present gift. (See on Joh 3:36; Joh 5:24). It is a very
grand utterance, couched in the language of majestic authority.
29. My Father, which gave them me—(See
on Joh 6:37-39).
is greater than all—with whom no
adverse power can contend. It is a general expression of an admitted
truth, and what follows shows for what purpose it was uttered, "and
none is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." The impossibility
of true believers being lost, in the midst of all the temptations which
they may encounter, does not consist in their fidelity and decision,
but is founded upon the power of God. Here the doctrine of
predestination is presented in its sublime and sacred aspect; there is
a predestination of the holy, which is taught from one end of the
Scriptures to the other; not, indeed, of such a nature that an
"irresistible grace" compels the opposing will of man (of course
not), but so that that will of man which receives and loves the
commands of God is produced only by God's grace (Olshausen—a testimony all the more valuable,
being given in spite of Lutheran prejudice).
30. I and my Father are one—Our language
admits not of the precision of the original in this great saying.
"Are" is in the masculine gender—"we (two persons)
are"; while "one" is neuter—"one thing."
Perhaps "one interest" expresses, as nearly as may be, the
purport of the saying. There seemed to be some contradiction between
His saying they had been given by His Father into His own hands,
out of which they could not be plucked, and then saying that none could
pluck them out of His Father's hands, as if they had not been
given out of them. "Neither have they," says He; "though He has
given them to Me, they are as much in His own almighty hands as
ever—they cannot be, and when given to Me they are not,
given away from Himself; for He and I
HAVE ALL IN COMMON." Thus it will be
seen, that, though oneness of essence is not the precise thing
here affirmed, that truth is the basis of what is affirmed,
without which it would not be true. And Augustine was right in saying the "We are"
condemns the Sabellians (who denied the distinction of
Persons in the Godhead), while the "one" (as explained)
condemns the Arians (who denied the unity of their essence).
31. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone
Him—and for precisely the same thing as before (Joh 8:58, 59).
32. Many good works have I showed
you—that is, works of pure benevolence (as in Ac 10:38, "Who went about doing good," &c.;
from my Father—not so much by His
power, but as directly commissioned by Him to do them. This He
says to meet the imputation of unwarrantable assumption of the divine
for which of those works do ye stone
me?—"are ye stoning (that is, going to stone) me?"
33. for a blasphemy—whose legal
punishment was stoning (Le 24:11-16).
thou, being a man—that is, a man
makest thyself God—Twice before they
understood Him to advance the same claim, and both times they prepared
themselves to avenge what they took to be the insulted honor of God, as
here, in the way directed by their law (Joh 5:18; 8:59).
34-36. Is it not written in your law—in
Ps 82:6, respecting judges or
Ye are gods—being the official
representatives and commissioned agents of God.
35, 36. If he called them gods unto whom the word
of God came … Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and
sent into the world, Thou blasphemest—The whole force of this
reasoning, which has been but in part seized by the commentators, lies
in what is said of the two parties compared. The comparison of
Himself with mere men, divinely commissioned, is intended to show (as
Neander well expresses it) that the idea
of a communication of the Divine Majesty to human nature was by no
means foreign to the revelations of the Old Testament; but there is
also a contrast between Himself and all merely human
representatives of God—the one "sanctified by the Father and
sent into the world"; the other, "to whom the word of God
(merely) came," which is expressly designed to prevent His being
massed up with them as only one of many human officials of God. It
is never said of Christ that "the word of the Lord came to Him";
whereas this is the well-known formula by which the divine commission,
even to the highest of mere men, is expressed, as John the
3:2). The reason is that
given by the Baptist himself (see on Joh 3:31).
The contrast is between those "to whom the word of God came"—men
of the earth, earthy, who were merely privileged to get a divine
message to utter (if prophets), or a divine office to
discharge (if judges)—and "Him whom (not being of the earth at
all) the Father sanctified (or set apart), and sent into the
world," an expression never used of any merely human messenger
of God, and used only of Himself.
because, I said, I am the Son of
God—It is worthy of special notice that our Lord had not
said, in so many words, that He was the Son of God, on this
occasion. But He had said what beyond doubt amounted to
it—namely, that He gave His sheep eternal life, and none could
pluck them out of His hand; that He had got them from His Father, in
whose hands, though given to Him, they still remained, and out of whose
hand none could pluck them; and that they were the indefeasible
property of both, inasmuch as "He and His Father were one." Our
Lord considers all this as just saying of Himself, "I am the Son of
God"—one nature with Him, yet mysteriously of Him.
The parenthesis (Joh 10:35),
"and the Scripture cannot be broken," referring to the terms used of
magistrates in the eighty-second Psalm, has an important bearing on the
authority of the living oracles. "The Scripture, as the
expressed will of the unchangeable God, is itself unchangeable and
indissoluble" [Olshausen]. (Compare
37-39. though ye believe not me, believe the
works—There was in Christ's words, independently of any
miracles, a self-evidencing truth, majesty and grace, which those who
had any spiritual susceptibility were unable to resist (Joh 7:46;
8:30). But, for those who
wanted this, "the works" were a mighty help. When these failed, the
case was desperate indeed.
that ye may know and believe that the Father is
in me, and I in him—thus reiterating His claim to essential
oneness with the Father, which He had only seemed to
soften down, that He might calm their rage and get their ear again for
39. Therefore they sought again to take
him—true to their original understanding of His words, for
they saw perfectly well that He meant to "make Himself God"
throughout all this dialogue.
he escaped out of their hand—(See on
Lu 4:30; Joh 8:59).
40-42. went away again beyond Jordan … the
place where John at first baptized—(See on Joh 1:28).
41. many resorted to him—on whom the
ministry of the Baptist had left permanent impressions.
John did no miracle, but all things John spake
of this man were true—what they now heard and saw in Jesus
only confirming in their minds the divinity of His forerunner's
mission, though unaccompanied by any of His Master's miracles. And
thus, "many believed on Him there."