John Chapters 10 to 12, Part 3
by Karl Kemp
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We continue the discussion under John 10:25 here in Part 3.
Jesus was reluctant to use the title Christ/Messiah. One reason for that was that there were several wrong ideas associated with that title circulating among the Jews in those days. ((I had a footnote: I'll quote several sentences from what F. F. Bruce says under verse 24 ("Gospel of John" [Eerdmans, 1983], page 230). "Jesus had not so far said outright in Jerusalem that he was the Messiah. His description of himself as the good shepherd was as near to such a claim as made little difference, but he had not used the actual designation 'Messiah.' It was one thing for him to tell the woman at the well of Sychar who he was (John 4:26); to her the term 'Messiah' (or its Samaritan equivalent) had purely religious connotations. But among the Jews it had political and military implications, which Jesus was careful to avoid. ... But the authorities would not have been any more inclined to believe in him as the Messiah if he had made the claim 'plainly.' " I'll quote a sentence from what William Hendricksen says here ("Gospel of John," pages 120, 121). "But although Jesus had not used the very words which the Jews were now trying to extract from his lips, he had, nevertheless employed phraseology which clearly implied the fact that he regarded himself as the Messiah; in the strictly spiritual sense however." I'll also quote a sentence from Gary M. Burge ("John" [Zondervan, 2000], page 295). "But given the explosive, highly politicized views of the Messiah in this period, it is not surprising that Jesus has used restraint so far.")) For one thing, many of the Jews were looking for the Christ/Messiah to overthrow the hated Romans and exalt Israel (cf. Acts 1:6). (There are many prophecies in the Old Testament and the New Testament which show that the Christ/Messiah will overthrow the evil forces of this world, but those prophecies refer to His second coming. The Jews didn't realize that there would be two comings [two very different comings] of the Christ/Messiah.) John 6:15 gives a good illustration of the manifestations of fleshly zeal that Jesus was trying to avoid, "So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew to the mountain by Himself alone."
Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; and Luke 9:18-22, which are the verses where Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, illustrate two relevant points. For one thing, before the time of that confession (which was relatively late; the last year of Jesus' earthly ministry had already begun) it seems, somewhat surprisingly, that His apostles were not solidly established regarding the fact that Jesus was the Christ/Messiah. (See, for example John 1:41 ("[Andrew] found first his own brother Simon [Peter] and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which translated means Christ)"; John 1:41 took place just before Jesus began to call disciples to Himself; and see John 3:28, which as the context shows, refers to Jesus.) And on the occasion when Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus "warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ" (Matt. 16:20 [Mark 8:30; Luke 9:21]; cf., e.g., Luke 4:41; Mark 1:34). Another reason Jesus was reluctant to use the title Christ/Messiah was that it greatly stirred up His opponents. As I mentioned, they were on record that Jesus was not the Christ/Messiah (cf., e.g., John 9:22).]]; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me [cf., e.g., Matt. 11:2-6; Luke 7:18:23; John 2:14-17, 23; 5:36; 10:32, 37, 38; 14:11; and 15:24; it was prophesied in the Old Testament that the Messiah would do these works]. (26) But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. [[See, for example, John 8:47; 10:2-5, 11-16; and 17:2. It is important to see that Jesus was speaking these words to His opponents. He was telling them here (as He told His opponents in John 8:39-59) that the reason they didn't believe in Him was that they were not His people/sheep or people/sheep of God the Father (which to them would have been a shocking, obviously untrue statement). The true situation was not so much that Jesus was being rejected/judged/condemned by His opponents (centering in the Jewish leaders), as it appeared to man in the flesh - God, the sovereign God, was fully in control, as He always is - the truth of the matter was that His opponents rejection and condemnation of Jesus was part of the plan of God the Father, who sent His Son in a way that would demonstrate that His opponents were not really people of God. Their rejection of Christ would bring about their judgment (condemnation). Their rejection of the Son of God showed where there hearts were; they didn't really love God the Father, His truth, or His righteousness. God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ were not at all surprised when so many of the Jews (or Gentiles) rejected and condemned Jesus.
It's important and comforting to know that God is in sovereign control, but it is also important to understand that our sovereign God has set things up in a way that requires people to respond to Him and His grace - we have a part to play from the beginning to the end; faith (and repentance) is something we do in response to God and His grace, and by His enabling grace. Jesus goes on to speak of those who are His (and the Father's) sheep in verses 27-30.]] (27) My sheep hear My voice [See John 10:3, 4, 16.], and I know them [See John 10:14.], and they follow Me [[See John 10:3, 4. Hearing the Shepherd's voice and following Him are things the sheep do as free moral agents. ((I had a footnote: People are in spiritual death and bondage to sin and Satan after the fall, but the will is still free to some extent: People have some capacity to respond to God's grace and to appropriate and cooperate with that grace. We are totally dependent on God's grace to save us, and we are saved one-hundred percent by His grace, but we must respond to, appropriate, and cooperate with His grace on a continuous basis by faith in accordance with His Word, which shows His will.)) They respond (in faith) to the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd. It isn't emphasized in this passage, but the New Testament makes it very clear that Christ's sheep (true Christians) must continue to follow the Shepherd by grace through faith. God's grace enables us to begin to follow Christ and to continue to follow Him; it does not, however, force us to repent and to begin to follow Christ or force us to continue to follow Him. He doesn't give us saving faith to begin with, and He doesn't force us continue on in faith to the end. (See my "A Paper on Faith." Extensive excerpts of that paper are included on this Christian article site.) God didn't create robots!
It is totally necessary, however, for us to understand that the fact that we must appropriate and cooperate with God's grace by faith does not detract from the fact that we are saved 100% by the saving grace of God in Christ. God must receive all the glory! We don't (by God's definition) earn salvation by receiving and cooperating with God's saving grace. As the apostle Paul says in Rom. 4:16, "For this reason [since the old covenant Law could not save us] IT IS BY FAITH [faith in God the Father, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; faith in the gospel of new covenant salvation], THAT IT MAY BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH GRACE [my emphasis] ...." Faith receives and cooperates with what God makes available by His grace. His grace enables us to be strong in faith and makes us righteous and holy.
In verse 28 Jesus went on to say that His sheep "will never perish; and that no one will snatch them out of [His] hand." Many believe that what Jesus said in verse 28 proves that it is impossible for born-again Christians to lose their salvation. If the New Testament didn't have anything more to say on the topic than what Jesus said in John 10:28 (and in John 6:37, 40, 44), I would agree that it isn't possible for born-again Christians to lose their salvation, but the New Testament contains a large number of very clear passages which demonstrate that born-again Christians can lose their salvation. Losing one's salvation is not the will of God, however; we are totally secure while we continue to believe what we are required to believe and do what we are required to do by His sufficient grace through faith, in accordance with His Word. (I had a footnote: Start with the discussion under John 6:37-45 in my paper on John chapters 5-8. Other references are cited there. See my paper, "Once Saved, Always Saved?" Both papers are located on this Christian article site.) God is not trying to get rid of us, quite the contrary; and no one can snatch us out of His hand.]]; (28) and I give eternal life to them [See John 10:10; cf., e.g., John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 17:2, 3; 20:31; 1 John 2:25; and 5:11-13.], and they will never perish [cf. John 3:16]; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. [[See under verse 27. Compare John 6:37-40. These words at the end of verse 28 build on what Jesus said in John 10:12. Jesus spoke in that verse of the wolf being able to come and snatch sheep when shepherds other than the Good Shepherd (Christ Jesus), who (with God the Father) is the owner of the sheep, are (supposedly) shepherding the sheep. The same Greek verb for "snatch" (harpazo) is used in verses 12, 28, and 29. The wolf represents any enemy (whether the devil, evil angels, demons, evil men, etc.) who want to snatch/take away sheep (as many as possible) from God and His kingdom.
Jesus made it very clear in John 10:12, 28, 29, and other verses, that He will protect His disciples from all enemies. It is important to know, however, that He does not override the will of Christians and force them to be faithful to Him. But He always provides sufficient grace (enabling grace) for us to stay faithful; He will not let us be tempted beyond what we are able to endure, for example (1 Cor. 10:13); and He warns and chastens in various ways if we need to repent (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 11:27-32; 1 Tim. 1:20; Heb. 12:5-17; and Rev. 2:4; 3:1-5, 15-20). The Good Shepherd is not trying to get rid of us; He does not want to lose any of His sheep (thank God!) ((I had a footnote: Compare, for example, Jesus' parable about the man who had a hundred sheep and lost one of them in Luke 15:1-7. The man left the ninety-nine and went to look for the lost sheep until He found it. This parable certainly shows that God (the triune God) is not trying to get rid of any of His sheep. Quite the contrary! But we can't afford to miss what Luke 15:7 says about the need for the sheep lost in sin TO REPENT, "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one SINNER WHO REPENTS [my emphasis] than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." God calls to repentance, but the lost/straying sheep must repent (in response to the loving call of the Good Shepherd to repent and by His enabling grace).)), but let's not try to see how far we can stray from faithfulness (faithfulness to God includes believing the truth and living the truth) and still be His sheep. Talk about dangerous, evil experimentation! We must make it top priority to stay faithful to Him by His grace and in accordance with His word, which includes His commandments!
Christians are totally secure in God as they walk in faith and do the things He requires of them by His grace (which includes holding the truth and living the truth in the righteousness and holiness of God), but to the extent Christians are living in fleshiness, worldliness, sin, doubt, and ignorance of God's Word (which defines the covenant He made with us), they should not feel secure. When Christians are not living in the center of His will by His grace and feel insecure they should be thankful that their conscience isn't satisfied - it shouldn't be satisfied - they are not living in a place that is acceptable or secure.
I'll quote a few sentences from what R. C. H. Lenski says under verse 28 ("Interpretation of St. John's Gospel" [Augsburg Publishing House, 1943], page 756). "The 'hand' of Jesus is his power. His gracious power is all-sufficient to protect every believer forever. ... Yet a believer may after all be lost (John 15:6). Our certainty of eternal salvation is not absolute. [It is absolute if we continue to do the things God requires of us by grace through faith. This includes our making it a top priority to learn what He requires of us and to live in the righteousness and holiness of God. If we should sin (cf. 1 John 2:1, 2), we must make it a top priority to appropriate forgiveness, to make things right as far as possible, and to do everything possible to avoid sinning again.] While no foe of ours is able to snatch us from our Shepherd's hand, we ourselves may turn from him and may perish willfully of our own accord."
I'll quote part of what Joseph H. Mayfield says here ("Beacon Bible Commentary," Vol. VII [Beacon Hill Press, 1965], page 130). "Some have taken this to mean that one is eternally secure regardless of what a man does himself in respect to his relationship to God. But the guarantee of security - it is a wondrous and adequate promise - is that nothing outside man can destroy him while he is putting his faith in God. [We are saved by faith in God/Christ/the gospel; we must, of course, continue to have faith, and faith without works is dead.] Westcott says 'If man falls at any stage in his spiritual life, it is not from want of divine grace, nor from the overwhelming power of adversaries, but from his neglect to use that which he may or may not use. We cannot be protected against ourselves in spite of ourselves.' [B. F. Westcott, "The Gospel According to St. John" (John Murray, 1908), page 158]." See my paper, "Once Saved, Always Saved?," which is on this Christian article site.]] (29) My Father, who has given them to Me [cf. John 6:37, 39, 44, 45 (As I mentioned, John 6:37-45 are discussed in some detail in my paper on John chapters 5- 8, which is on this Christian article site.); and 17:2, 24], is greater than all [[The triune God is obviously greater than all the beings/things that He has created. It is also true that God the Son and God the Spirit (uncreated Persons/Beings) are in some ways subordinate to God the Father (cf., e.g., John 14:28; 1 Cor. 15:27, 28). ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: On the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ (God the Son) and on His subordination to God the Father, see under John 1:1-5, 9-18 and under Col. 1:15-18 in my paper on those passages on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). The Holy Spirit is briefly discussed there too. Also see my subsequent papers, "Who Do We Worship?"; "Who Do We Pray To?"; "More on the Trinity"; and "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son" on this Christian article site.
I'll quote Deut. 6:4 and briefly comment on that verse, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD [Yahweh in Hebrew] is our God, the LORD [Yahweh] is one!" When it said that Yahweh is ONE it was not denying the Trinity (which was not fully revealed in the Old Testament, but which is fully revealed in the New Testament); it was denying the polytheism that all the other peoples held to in the days of Moses. Deuteronomy 6:4 was boldly proclaiming what all the other nations didn't want to hear, that there is really only one God, the God who created everything that exists, the God who revealed Himself to Abraham and Israel. The Hebrew noun "echad" translated "one" here could also be translated "alone" (see, for example, the KB "Hebrew Lexicon of the Old Testament" under "echad"). I'll quote Deut. 4:39 which is another verse in the book of Deuteronomy that boldly proclaimed the unpopular truth that YAHWEH ALONE IS GOD. "Know therefore today, and take it to your heart that the LORD [Yahweh], He is God in heaven above and on the earth below, THERE IS NO OTHER." Deuteronomy 6:4 is discussed in more detail in my article, "More on the Trinity."]]; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. [[In verse 28 Jesus said that no one will be able to snatch the elect out of His hand. One reason for that is that it is the Father's will (cf. John 6:37-39), and Jesus always does the Father's will; He is able to perfectly do the Father's will because He always has the authority and power of God the Father backing Him up, for one thing - as Jesus says in verse 30, He and the Father are one. They are one in purpose; they are one in what they do; there is no competition or jealousy or superiority complex or inferiority complex or strife; God the Father and God the Son relate together perfectly and love one another with perfect love.]] (30) I and the Father are one.' [[See under verse 29. What Jesus said here in John chapter 10 (and what the Bible consistently says on this topic) makes it quite clear that Jesus wasn't saying that He and the Father are the same Person. He wasn't saying that He and the Father are the same Person any more than He was asking (in John 17:22) that Christians cease being individual persons when He prayed to the Father "that they may BE ONE, JUST AS WE ARE ONE [my emphasis]." The orthodox Christian view has always been that there are three Persons in the Godhead, the Trinity; One God (the triune God), three Persons. (See under verse 29 and the references cited there.) We may not be able to fully understand the Trinity: We are limited to what God has chosen to reveal to us, and we are limited by our present level of existence, but the Trinity isn't all that complicated or unreasonable.
Why shouldn't the God of creation, the uncreated God who has always existed and who created the time system of our world when He created our world, be a triune Being? God is not asking us to believe that one equals three or that three equals one. They don't! The Father speaks about the Son and to the Son, and the Son speaks about the Father and to the Father, the Son was sent by the Father and goes back to the right hand of the Father, where He is right now; the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father; the Son reigns with the Father in new Jerusalem of the eternal state; etc. It is true that God didn't choose to reveal His triune Being to His people in Old Testament days (at least He didn't clearly reveal this truth at that time, and Israel didn't get the message), but there were a lot of other things that God didn't clearly reveal back then too: His revelation is progressive.]] (31) The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. [[See John 8:59. The Jews were convinced that Jesus was claiming far too much for Himself. If you take His words of verse 30 in the fullest sense, He was claiming to be deity with the Father (cf., e.g., John 3:16-18 [Jesus was the "unique Son" sent from heaven into the world (I had a footnote: I should point out that I don't believe the apostle John was quoting Jesus in John 3:16-21. As discussed in my paper on John 1:19-4:54, I believe that Jesus' words ended at John 3:12 and that the apostle John wrote John 3:13-21 (under the inspiration of God).]; 5:17-23, 25-29; 6:48-51; 8:12-19, 24, 28, 56-59; 9:5; 10:3, 4, 11-18). In John 1:1-18, for example, the apostle John clearly declared the deity of God the Son. The Jews were on record that Jesus was not the Christ/Messiah (the anointed One) who had been promised in the Old Testament, and they certainly weren't open to the idea that He was deity with God the Father - to them that idea was totally blasphemous. As I have mentioned, the Jews did not (and they do not) understand that the Messiah was to be deity.
The Jews did not have the authority from Rome to carry out the death penalty (cf. John 18:31), but that doesn't mean they never killed anybody themselves, the stoning of Stephen being a case in point (Acts 7:54-8:1).
I'll quote what John Calvin said under verse 31 ("Gospel According to St. John," Part one, translated by T. H. L. Parker [Eerdmans, 1993 reprint], page 274). "When godliness upholds God's glory, it burns with a zeal directed by the Spirit of God. In the same way, unbelief is the mother of fury, and the devil so stirs up the ungodly that they breathe out slaughter. The result shows their motive in putting the question to Christ, for His open confession, which they pretended to want, at once drives them to madness. And yet though they are carried away with such violence to oppress Christ, there is no doubt that they hid behind a colour of legality, as if they were acting according to the command of the law by which God commands false prophets to be stoned (Deut. 13:5)."]] (32) Jesus answered them, 'I showed you many good works from the Father [cf., e.g., John 2:23; 3:2; 5:17-20, 36; 9:3, 4; 10:25, 38; and 14:10, 11]; for which of them are you stoning Me?' [[Jesus' opponents didn't accept the fact that His works were from the Father. They were convinced, for one thing, that His healings on the Sabbath could not be of God (cf., e.g., John 5:16; 9:13-16). More importantly, as the next verse shows (along with verses 29-31), they were convinced that He was blaspheming (which is a very serious sin according to the Old Testament, punishable by death [cf. Lev. 24:10-16]) when He said things like what He said in verses 29, 30 (cf., e.g., John 5:17, 18; 19:7). However, His works were from God the Father, and He was deity with God the Father, whether they accepted it, or not.]] (33) The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone You [verse 31], but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man [Jesus was a "man," but He was much more than just a man; He was the God-man.], make Yourself out to be God.' [[See under verse 32. The New Testament makes it very clear that the Lord Jesus Christ was deity with God the Father (and God the Spirit). (See under verse 29, including the references to other papers.) But Jesus wasn't interested in discussing His deity with those who totally rejected Him and His word (cf., e.g., John 10:25-27). His response in verses 34-36 was evasive, as His responses often were with His opponents (cf., e.g., Matt. 21:23-27; 22:41-46; and John 2:18-22). ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: Jesus didn't deny His deity in verses 34, 35. How could He? He was deity. Nor did He offer any proof for His deity in verses 34, 35. He showed in verses 34, 35 that the Old Testament sometimes used the word "god" (Hebrew "elohim") of humans, but He wasn't saying, of course, that they were deity (God).
I'll quote two sentences from what Gerald L. Borchert says under verses 34-38 ("John 1-11" [Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996, 2000, 2002], page 343). "Perhaps it is best to remember that Jesus raised the issue in a rhetorical fashion [quoting from Psalm 82:6a and commenting on the meaning of these words] because he knew his opponents could not supply an answer that would be adequate to defend their charge of blasphemy against him. ... The argument is similar to Jesus' unanswerable question when he quoted Psalm 110:1 in his...arguments with the Jews (cf. Matt. 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44).")) Jesus went on to exhort His opponents (to repent and) to believe in Him because of His works in verses 37, 38, but as verse 39 shows, His response of verses 34-36 and His exhortation of verses 37, 38 did not affect them much (at least not most of them), which didn't surprise Him at all.]] (34) [See under verses 33.] Jesus answered them, 'Has it not been written in your Law [On the words "your Law," cf. John 8:17. The word "Law" was used here in a fuller sense than of the Mosaic Law; sometimes the word covered the entire Old Testament (cf. 1 Cor. 14:21 [where Paul was quoting from Isaiah]; Rom. 3:19; John 12:34; and 15:25).], "I SAID, YOU ARE GODS"? [[Jesus quoted these words from Psalm 82:6a. Psalm 82 is discussed in my paper titled "Verse-by-Verse Studies of Selected Eschatological Psalms" on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). As discussed there, I believe the word "gods" (Hebrew "elohim") was used in Psalm 82:1 and 6 as a term of significant respect for the role (under God) of the rulers/judges of mankind worldwide. (Compare Rom. 13:1-7. The word "elohim" is (apparently) used of the judges of Israel in Ex. 21:6; 22:8; and Jud. 5:8.) God was not saying (in Psalm 82), and Jesus was not suggesting here, that the rulers/judges were gods in any literal sense. Jesus' opponents were right to insist that there is only one God (the God of creation; the God who revealed Himself to Abraham). They were wrong in that they didn't leave room for the fuller revelation regarding the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).]] (35) If he ["He" NKJV] called them gods, to whom the word of God came [The "word of God came" to the rulers/judges in the sense that Psalm 82:6a was addressed to them (Psalm 82:1b spoke of the rulers/judges as "elohim").] (and the Scripture cannot be broken [Jesus clearly had a high view of Scripture (the Old Testament; the New Testament wasn't written yet); it was given through men, but it was the Word of God; it could not be broken.]), (36) do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world [[God the Father sanctified (or we could translate "consecrated" [See the BAGD Greek Lexicon ]) His unique Son and sent Him into the world to be born of the virgin and carry out His infinitely important mission. See, for example, John 1:1-18; 4:34; 5:23, 24, 30, 36-38; 7:16, 18, 28, 29, 33; 8:16, 18, 26, 29, 42; and 9:4. But His opponents didn't accept any of that.]], "You are blaspheming," because I said, "I am the Son of God"? [[Jesus hadn't used the words "Son of God" of Himself earlier in this discourse, but He had spoken of God as His Father in a very special sense (see verses 25, 28-30; cf., e.g., John 5:17-29 [Jesus called Himself the "Son of God" in John 5:25; and note the use of the word "Son," with the word "Father," in John 5:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26; and 10:15, 18). John the Baptist had said at the beginning that Jesus was "the Son of God" and the New Testament is full of verses that confirm that He was/is the Son of God. (See under the word "son" in an exhaustive concordance.)]]
We will continue with this verse-by-verse study of John Chapters 10-12 in Part 4, starting with John 10:37.
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