John Chapters 10 to 12, Part 2
by Karl Kemp
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We continue this verse-by-verse study of John Chapters 10-12 (with John 9:35-41) here in Part 2, starting with John 10:3.
(3) To him the doorkeeper opens [[Since Jesus was the legitimate Shepherd, the One sent and authorized by God the Father, the doorkeeper opens the door for Him. The doorkeeper would not open the door for the religious leaders of Israel, who sent themselves - they were not legitimate shepherds; they were not sent or authorized by God. That's a key point that Jesus was making in verses 1-6. In a figurative discourse like this one, we must guard against over interpretation of every detail, but it is reasonable to say here (and a few commentators do say) that the "doorkeeper" is God; if not God, it is a person assigned by Him to open the door for the legitimate Shepherd when He comes. It doesn't insult the Father to say He is the One who permits entrance through the door, or denies entrance, any more than it insults Christ to call Him a shepherd, or a lion, or a lamb, or a vine, etc.]], and the sheep hear his voice [These words ("hear his voice") in this context, mean more than hearing His words; "his [His] own sheep" hear Him with open hearts, with understanding, with repentance, and with the submission of faith to His Person and His words.], and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. [[The fact that "he [He] calls his [His] own sheep by name" calls attention to the fact that Christ's (and God the Father's) call to salvation has a very personal (Person to person) element through the omnipresent Spirit of God as He deals with individuals. (The shepherds of literal sheep would call their sheep by name, and the sheep knew the voice of their shepherd - they would not follow the voice of another shepherd, but would rather flee from that voice/shepherd.) He "leads them out" of the old-covenant fold and into the much more glorious new-covenant fold that embraces all true Christians/believers.
The fact that the true people of God (the elect) hear Jesus' voice and respond to Him with faith, like the man born blind, further confirms that Jesus is the legitimate Shepherd. The false leaders proved that they didn't know God and were not His shepherds by doing everything they could do to try to keep the man born blind (and everybody else) from coming to the legitimate Shepherd (see John 9:16, 22, 24, 28-34; cf., e.g., Matt. 23:13). They, the illegitimate shepherds, dogmatically rejected the idea that Jesus was a man of God, much less the promised Christ/Messiah. They proved themselves to be thieves and robbers, not shepherds sent by God. But Jesus was the Good Shepherd, who calls His own sheep by name - He calls them out from the old covenant to the glories of new-covenant salvation, and they follow Him (see verses 4, 5, 10, 14-16, 26-28).]] (4) When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them [[On "his [His] own," compare, for example, John 6:37-40, 44, 45. He puts them forth to go ahead of them and lead them into the fullness of new-covenant salvation, a salvation based on His soon-to-be-shed atoning blood. He, the Good Shepherd, goes ahead of them guiding them, protecting them, sanctifying them, saving them from all enemies, etc.]], and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. [His people know His voice. See verses 3, 5, 8, 14, 16, and 27-29.] (5) A stranger [which includes the thieves and robbers, who are illegitimate shepherds] they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.' [See under verses 3, 4.] (6) This figure of speech ["illustration" NKJV] Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. [[They didn't understand what Jesus had said to them, so He went on to explain and expand on what He had said. It isn't clear who the pronouns "they" and "them" refer to here and in verse 7; see John 9:35-41; 10:19-21. The Pharisees were certainly included, but it is quite possible that the other people around Jesus (including the man born blind and any other believers there) didn't understand either. Quite often in the Gospels Jesus' disciples didn't understand what He had said and all the more so when He used figurative language. Frequently He would explain the meaning of His figurative language to the disciples when they were alone.]] (7) So Jesus said to them again, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. [[What it means for Jesus to be "the door of the sheep" is explained in verse 9. He is the door that leads to salvation and eternal life (see verses 9, 10, 28, 29). Compare what Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Jesus' figurative language was flexible enough for Him to be "the door" of the sheep and "the Good Shepherd" of the sheep. Revelation 5:5, 6 provide a prime example of the flexibility of figurative language: Jesus is called "the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David," and He is pictured as "a Lamb standing, as if slain [He had been slain, as the Lamb of God, but now He has been raised from the dead], having seven horns [Seven is a symbolic number for perfection; the "seven horns" symbolize His perfect authority, dominion, and power] and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out into all the earth [The "seven eyes" communicate the fact that Jesus has perfect knowledge of what is happening everywhere through the omnipresent Spirit of God]."]] (8) All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. [[See under verse 1. The man born blind, who was healed and saved in chapter 9, is a good example of a sheep (one of the elect sheep of God) who did not hear the thieves and robbers who came before Christ (the religious leaders/Pharisees) but who did hear Christ's voice and begin to follow Him.]] (9) I am the door [cf. verse 7]; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved [cf. John 3:17; 5:34; and 12:47], and will go in and out and find pasture. [See under verse 7. We enter new-covenant salvation through Christ, which includes entering the kingdom of God (in an early stage of that kingdom). Finding "pasture" speaks of finding the things that we need to have life and to have it abundantly (cf. verse 10).] (10) The thief comes only to steal and kill [cf., e.g., John 8:40, 41, 44, 59] and destroy [See under verse 1.]; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. [This abundant life starts with the new birth/the birth from above of John 3:1-8; also see, for example, John 1:4, 12, 13; 3:16-18, 36; 5:24-29; 6:51; 14:6; 20:31; Rom. 8:1-18; and 1 John 5:11-13.] (11) I am the good shepherd [[On God the Father's/Christ's being the Good Shepherd, cf., e.g., Psalm 23; Isa. 40:9-11; Ezek. 34:1-16, 23, 24 ((I had a footnote: Ezekiel chapter 34 is a very important cross-reference for John 10:1-19, 26-30. In the first ten verses of that chapter, God rebukes the shepherds of Israel for doing such a poor, sinful job of caring for the flock of God, which is the people of Israel. The shepherds were the rulers of the people, starting with the kings. (In Jesus' day the Jews were under the Romans, but the religious leaders still had quite a bit of room to "minister" to the sheep, and they were doing a very poor, sinful job of shepherding God's flock.)
Starting in Ezek. 34:1, God prophesied of the day that He Himself would come to shepherd and save His sheep. I'll quote Ezek. 34:23, 24, "Then I [God the Father] will set over them one shepherd, My servant David [This shepherd is God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the prophesied offspring of King David who would reign forever. The Lord Jesus Christ was also referred to as "David" in Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 37:24, 25; and Hos. 3:5.] and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. (24) And I the LORD [Yahweh, God the Father], will be their God, and My servant David will be the prince among them; I the LORD have spoken."
Like so many prophecies in the Old Testament, this prophecy receives a partial fulfillment in the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ but will not be completely fulfilled until He comes again at the end of this age. Also see Jeremiah chapter 23 (especially 23:1-8), which is a chapter that has much in common with Ezekiel chapter 34. Jeremiah 23:1-8 are discussed in Part 2 of my paper, "Excerpts from my Paper, 'Verse-by-Verse Studies of Selected Prophecies from the Book of Jeremiah.' ")); 1 Pet. 5:4; and Rev. 7:17.]]; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. [This verse, along with verses 15, 17, and 18, refers to the all-important voluntary atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also see Heb. 13:20; John 15:13; and 1 John 3:16.] (12) He who is a hired hand [See under verse 13.], and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep [I would translate "the shepherd" with the KJV; NKJV; and the NIV (or, "the Shepherd). (See under verse 2.) The Shepherd here is the Lord Jesus Christ, who (with God the Father and the Holy Spirit) is also "the owner of the sheep."], sees the wolf coming [[A literal wolf was one of the animals that would attack literal sheep. The wolf here, in Jesus' figurative discourse, represents any of the enemies that attack God's people, whether those attacks come from/through men of the world, from/through false brethren, or are direct attacks from Satan and his hosts.]], and leaves the sheep and flees [See under verse 13.], and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. (13) He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. [[Jesus contrasts Himself with a hired hand. Unlike a hired hand, He is totally concerned about the sheep, and He is totally competent to protect His sheep from every enemy. A literal hired hand will typically have some concern for the sheep, but there is a definite limit to that concern and competence to protect. There is no limit to the concern, or to the saving ability, of the Good Shepherd. I don't believe a "hired hand" should be equated with the thieves and robbers of verses 1, 8, 10. Apparently Jesus brought the person called the "hired hand" into His discourse here in verses 12, 13 to contrast His shepherding with the shepherding of that person, a person who didn't own the sheep and had a limited concern for the sheep, thereby making the important points that He did own the sheep and did have a total concern for, and ability to protect the sheep. In the natural world there would typically be a big difference between the shepherd who owned the sheep and a hired hand. How much more so with the Lord Jesus Christ!]] (14) I am the good shepherd [cf. verse 11], and I know My own and My own know Me [See under verse 15, and see verses 3, 4, 27.], (15) even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father [[Compare Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 7:29; 8:55; and 17:25. These words, "even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father," put the knowledge of Christ for His disciples and His disciples for Him of verse 14 on the highest possible level. We, in union with Christ, through new-covenant salvation, are caught up into the super-glorious relationship between God the Father and God the Son. This includes the Father's loving us as He loves His unique Son (see John 17:20-23).
We, the sheep of the Good Shepherd's pasture, hear His voice to some extent before we are born again (cf. verses 3, 4, 9, 10, 16, 27, 28), but we really get to know God after we are born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Much of this knowledge comes through God's written word, but there is a person to Person relationship established through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in union with Him, by the indwelling Spirit.]]; and I lay down My life for the sheep. [See verses 11, 17, 18.] (16) I have other sheep, which are not of this fold [cf., e.g., Isa. 56:8; John 3:16-18; 4:39-42]; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice [On hearing Jesus' voice, see verses 3-5, 16, 27; cf., e.g., John 8:47; 18:37.]; and they will become one flock [cf. John 17:20-23; Eph. 4:4-6] with one shepherd. [["This fold" here in verse 16 speaks of the Jewish fold (the people of the old covenant); see under verse 1. The "other sheep, which are not of this fold" are the elect Gentiles, the Gentiles who will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him in faith (cf., e.g., John 11:52; 12:20-24; 17:20-24; Eph. 2:11-22; and 1 Pet. 2:25). The "one flock with one shepherd" is the new-covenant church that embraces all true born-again Christians. ((I had a footnote: When I speak of "born-again" Christians I am referring to those Christians who actually have been born again by the Spirit of God, in whom the Spirit dwells, and who continue in a life-flowing walk with Him, whether they call themselves born again Christians, or not.)) All true Christians are part of God's true Israel, along with the believers of Old Testament days (cf. Rom. 11:17-27).
Of course the "one shepherd [Shepherd]" is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. Because of God's foreknowledge and election, Jesus could speak of these Gentile sheep being His sheep/people before they became Christians (cf., e.g., Acts 13:48; 18:10; Eph. 1:4, 5). The Father gave the elect to the Son (cf., e.g., John 6:37, 39; 17:6, 24). The New Testament also teaches that Christ died for all mankind and that all are called to repent and submit to God and His plan of salvation (cf., e.g., Acts 17:30, 31; 1 Tim. 2:1-7; and 1 John 2:2).]] (17) For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. [[This is at least one reason the Father loves His unique Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father has always loved God the Son (cf., e.g., John 17:1-5, 20-26). This verse, with verses 11, 15, and 18 (and much other scripture), speaks of the all-important voluntary atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved (which includes being forgiven, born-again, sanctified, and ultimately glorified) through His atoning blood, and the devil, his followers, and death (spiritual death and physical death) are overthrown through Christ's atoning death. This verse and verses 11, 15, 18 speak of the voluntary nature of Christ's atoning death, but verse 18 elaborates on that important fact. ((I had a footnote: The facts that God planned the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world (cf. Acts 2:22-24; 4:27, 28; and 1 Peter 1:20) and that Jesus voluntarily laid down His life do not lessen the guilt of those who put Him to death (the devil and the men). In one sense all of us (all mankind) were responsible for His death in that we were all sinners.))]] (18) No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment [cf. John 12:49, 50; 14:31; and 15:10] I received from My Father.' [[As I mentioned, this verse elaborates on (and emphasizes) the VOLUNTARY nature of the atoning death of the Lamb of God. See Matt. 26:53; John 10:11, 15, 17; cf. Heb. 12:2. ((I had a footnote: "[HEBREWS 12:2] fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author [I would translate "leader" or "pioneer" or the equivalent] and perfecter of faith [He perfected faith in His Person; He was the perfect example of a man (though He was much more than just a man; He was the God-man) walking in faith, and especially as He faced the extremely difficult events that involved His atoning death; He (our great high priest) is also able to make us strong in faith as we look to Him and live for Him], who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising [I would translate "disregarding"] the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." "The joy set before Him" included His knowing that He was doing the Father's will and that He would end up at the right hand of God the Father. We too (fixing our eyes on Jesus) must continually press on in faith, knowing that God's grace is sufficient to bring us through every trial and take us to eternal glory.)) No one takes it from Him; He lays it down on His own initiative; He has authority to lay it down, even as He has authority to take it up again (in His resurrection on the third day [cf. John 2:19-21]). I'll list several key reasons why Jesus voluntarily submitted to die on the cross: He knew that it was the Father's will. That reason, by itself, would suffice. (He loves the Father and always does His will [cf., e.g., John 14:31].) But, also, Jesus loved us and He knew that He was saving us (the elect) through His atoning death, and He knew that He was overthrowing Satan, his kingdom, and death (spiritual death and physical death) through His atoning death. The "commandment" to lay down His life on a voluntary basis and to take it again came from and by the "authority" of God the Father (cf., e.g., John 19:11).]] (19) A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. [[Compare John 7:12, 31, 40-44; 9:16. Verse 21 shows that some of those Jews were open to Jesus. Some of the ones who were open to Jesus undoubtedly eventually became committed Christians. Also, it is quite possible that a few of Jesus' fiercest opponents in that audience later became committed Christians; the case of the apostle Paul shows that such things can happen by the grace of God in Christ.]] (20) Many of them were saying, 'He has a demon [see John 7:20; 8:48, 49, 52; cf. Matt. 9:34; 11:18; 12:22-29; Mark 3:20-30; and Luke 11:14-26] and is insane. [These fierce critics undoubtedly thought His supposed "insanity" was related (at least in part) with "[His supposedly having] a demon."] Why do you listen to Him?' (21) Others were saying, 'These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind [These words relate to the opening of the eyes of the man born blind spoken of in John chapter 9.], can he?' (22) At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem [[I prefer the translation of the NIV, "Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem." The things that took place in John 10:22-42 could have been more than two months after the events of John 10:1-21. The Feast of Dedication, which was/is also called Hanukkah, took place some two and one-half months after the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles, which was mentioned in John 7:2. That Feast of Booths/Tabernacles took place some six months before Jesus was crucified at the Feast of Passover. The Feast of Dedication (which lasted for eight days) started on the 25th of the month Chislev/Kislev (that month comes at the time of our November/December). The Feast of Dedication was not mentioned in the Old Testament because it celebrated things that took place after the Old Testament was written.
The Feast of Dedication celebrated the cleansing of the temple and the resumption of sacrifices in the temple at Jerusalem on the 25th of Chislev of the year 164 BC, after the Maccabees took the temple back from the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes and cleansed the temple. ((I had a footnote: Antiochus Epiphanes was mentioned in the book of Daniel, but not by name. See Dan. 8:8-14; 11:21-35; on those verses see pages 91-105 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture".)) Forces from Antiochus Epiphanes had defiled the temple three years earlier by stopping the sacrifices being offered to God on the altar in the temple and setting up a pagan altar on top of God's altar and then offering sacrifices on that pagan altar to a pagan god. That pagan altar was called the "abomination of desolation" in Dan. 11:31. Also see 1 Maccabees 1:54, 59; 4:36-54; and 6:7. ((I had a footnote: Antiochus' "abomination of desolation," which prefigured Antichrist's end-time "abomination of desolation," is discussed on pages 93-105 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." The verses I cited from 1 Maccabees are quoted there and discussed to some extent. Antiochus Epiphanes, also known as Antiochus IV, reigned over the Seleucid dynasty from 175-164 BC. That dynasty, which was centered in Syria, just north of Israel, was started by Seleucus, who had been a general under Alexander the Great who died in 323 BC. Seleucus was one of the four generals of Alexander who ended up taking over parts his extensive kingdom after he died. (See Dan. 8:8-11, 21, 22 [cf. Dan. 7:6 ("four heads"); 11:4]; see pages 91-107, 63 of "The Mid-Week Rapture.") The forces from Antiochus had first offered sacrifices on that abominable altar on the 25th of Chislev of the year 167 BC, which was exactly three years earlier (1 Macc. 1:59).]]; (23) it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico [which had a roof supported by pillars] of Solomon [cf. Acts 3:11; 5:12]. [[I'll quote part of what Andreas J. Kostenberger says here ("John" [Baker, 2004], page 310). "Probably owing to the cold winter weather...Jesus taught not in an open court but in the temple area called Solomon's colonnade, which, being about two hundred yards long...offered protection from the raw east wind and was located on the east side of the temple. (Kostenberger has a footnote. "See Josephus, 'Jewish Wars' 5.5.1...; "Antiquities" 15.11.3...; 20.9.7.... ....") This colonnade, which was commonly (but erroneously) thought to date back to Solomon's time but in fact derived from the pre-Herodian Hasmonean period, formed part of a magnificent covered structure that surrounded the outermost court of the temple on all sides."]] (24) The Jews [Those called "the Jews" here and in verses 31, 33 (and often in the Gospel of John) were opponents of Jesus.] then gathered around [[The Greek verb used here (kukloo) could also be translated "surrounded" (with the NKJV) or "circled around," or the equivalent. The BAGD Greek Lexicon (third edition, page 574) lists this verse under the heading, "to move so as to encircle an object, surround, encircle" and under the subheading "with hostile intent...." Verse 31 confirms their hostile intent; verses 25-27 confirm that these Jews (at least most of them) were opponents of Jesus Christ who never would become His disciples. Such Jews had already determined to their satisfaction that Jesus was not the Christ (cf., e.g., John 5:18; 7:1, 19, 25, 47-52; 8:37-59; and 9:16, 21-24).
Those Jewish opponents were not about ready to submit to Jesus as the Christ if He were to plainly tell them, "I am the Christ," any more than the Jewish leaders were ready to submit to Him a few months later when the high priest said to Jesus at His trial before those leaders, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God" (in Matt. 26:63). Jesus answered in the affirmative in the next verse (Matt. 26:64), "... 'You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.' " The next two verses (Matt. 26:65, 66) show that Jesus' confession that He was the Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Man, was all they needed, they thought, to convict Him of blasphemy and turn Him over to Romans to be killed, "Then the high priest tore his robes and said, 'He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?' They answered, 'He deserves death!' " I'll also quote the next two verses (Matt. 26:67, 68), which show their hatred of and contempt for Christ, "Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, and said, 'Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?' " (Also see Mark 14:61-65; Luke 22:66-71.)]] Him, and were saying to Him, 'How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly [cf. Luke 22:67].' [See under verse 25.] (25) Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and you do not believe [[John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare the way for Christ Jesus, had testified many exalted things about Him, including the fact that He was the Christ/Messiah (see John 1:6-8, 15, 19-36; 3:25-30; I'll quote John 3:28, "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but 'I have been sent ahead of Him' "). Regarding Jesus' comment that He had told the Jews in Jerusalem that He was the Christ/Messiah, compare John 5:17-47; 7:14-52; 8:12-59; and 9:35-10:21 (the Pharisees were listening when Jesus told the man born blind who He was). Jesus didn't use the title Christ/Messiah of Himself in these passages, but John 7:26, 27, 31, 41, 42; and 9:22 show that the issue of whether Jesus was the Christ, or not, was a hot topic in those days. (Also see Matt. 2:4-6; 26:63-68; 27:17, 22; Luke 2:11, 26; 4:41; John 1:41 [Here Andrew found Peter and told him they had found the Messiah/Christ, referring to Jesus]; 4:25, 26 [Here Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He was the Christ/Messiah], 29; 11:27; and 20:31.) Although Jesus didn't use the word Christ/Messiah of Himself in John 5:17-47; 7:14-52; 8:12-59; or 9:35-10:21 (at least the title was not mentioned in any of the verses just listed), many of the things He said there indicated that He was the Christ/Messiah, and some of the things He said that were recorded by John claimed more for Himself than what the Jews expected the Christ/Messiah to be. The Jews didn't believe the Christ/Messiah would be deity for one thing.
I'll quote a sentence from what Henry Alford says under verse 25 ("New Testament for English Readers," Vol. 2 [Baker, 1983 reprint], page 557). "He had often told them [that He was the Christ/Messiah], in unmistakable descriptions of Himself: see 5:19; 8:36, 56, 58, etc." I'll quote what Edward G. Dobson says under verses 25, 26 ("Liberty Bible Commentary," New Testament [Old-Time Gospel Hour, 1982], pages 235, 236). "Christ had already told them (6:35; 7:37-39; 8:23-25). The problem was they had rejected what Christ had said about Himself. Christ had supplemented His claims by His works. The cause for their unbelief is rooted in the fact that they were not His sheep." And I'll quote part of what H. A. W. Meyer says under verses 25, 26 ("Meyer's Commentary on the New Testament," Vol. 3 [Alpha Publications, 1980 reprint] page 328). "Jesus had not only told them (on many occasions, if not always so directly as, for example, to the woman of Samaria, or the man born blind) that He was the Messiah, but had also testified to the fact by His Messianic works. But they did not believe."
We will continue this discussion under John 10:25 in Part 3 of this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 10-12.
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