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Bible: What Does John 10 Teach Us About Jesus Christ, The Good Shepherd?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Good Shepherd

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"Thieves and Robbers"


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The Apostle John

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John 10

In a lengthy discourse, Christ employs another set of self-descriptive metaphors.

Earlier He called Himself “the light of the world” (cf. 9:5); now, using pastoral imagery, He refers to Himself as “the door of the sheep” (v. 7) and “the good shepherd” (vv. 9, 14).

In verses one through five, Jesus provides an illustration of true and false “shepherding” of the flock.

On the one hand, the true “shepherd of the sheep” (pastor) enters the sheepfold (the community of believers) by the door (Jesus) [v. 2]; the one who “climbs up some other way” to be among the sheep, on the other hand, is a thief, representative of other “thieves and robbers” (“all who ever came before Me”) [v. 1; cf. v. 8].

[Ryrie believes that Jesus refers to false Messiahs and teachers here.]

The doorkeeper (the Father?) allows the true shepherd into the fold to tend to the sheep; the sheep hear and respond to this man’s voice, and follow him out into the field.

By calling them all by name, He shows that He cares about the welfare of individuals (v. 3).

He provides them a leadership model, and they trust his word (v. 4).

On the other hand, sheep flee from the false leader (“a stranger”) because they do not accept his voice (that is, the message he brings) [v. 5].

The Apostle John records that Jesus’ audience did not understand this illustration (v. 6), and thus needed Him to interpret it further (vv. 7-18).

True shepherds (and sheep) enter the fold through the door (Jesus); they are thereby saved (spiritually) and can minister effectively (v. 9).

On the contrary, the thief (false teacher) “climbs up some other way” into the sheepfold, and has a three-fold purpose: to steal, kill, and destroy sheep (v. 10a).

As the good shepherd, Christ functions as the door of the sheep; He provides them with abundant life by giving His life for them (vv. 10b-11).

In contrast, the hireling

(1) is not the shepherd,

(2) does not own the sheep, and

(3) does not care about the sheep; accordingly, he abandons them to the ravages of the wolf in order to “save” himself (vv. 12-13).

[Who may represent the hireling?

He does not appear to be the same individual as the thief.]

Jesus now returns to complete His teaching on the good shepherd’s relationship to the sheep by using an analogous relationship: that between the Father and Himself (vv. 14-18).

Both the shepherd and His sheep know each other intimately (v. 14), as do the Father and the Son (v. 15a).

The Father also loves the Son.

As the good shepherd, the Son loves his sheep so much that He is willing to sacrifice Himself in order to unite the sheep of His present fold with those of a future one [the Gentiles] (vv. 15b-17).

According to God’s command, Jesus asserts that He has sovereign authority over the disposition of His own life; human authorities have no power over Him (v. 18).

[What does Jesus mean by this “command” that He has received from the Father?]

These claims cause division and dissension about Him to erupt again (v. 19).

His opponents argue that Jesus is a demon-possessed madman (v. 20); His supporters, however, offer Christ’s healing miracles as proof that He is not in league with Satan (v. 21).

The Feast of the Dedication

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Jesus: "I and the Father are one."


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The Scripture Cannot Be Broken


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As is his wont, the Apostle John delineates an episode in Jesus’ life that occurred around or on a Jewish feast day.

[Elsewhere, Passover or Tabernacles; here, a less ancient one: the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah) (v. 22)].

[Ryrie includes a helpful historical note (New Testament Study Bible, 183).

The episode continues the subject of the previous context.]

The Jewish leaders immediately confront Jesus as He walked in Solomon’s portico, demanding that He tell them plainly (and not in figurative language) if He is the Christ (vv. 23-24).

[What significance does His being in this location have?]

Since the Jews do not accept His words, the Lord lets “the works” that He does “in My [His] Father’s name” speak for Him.

The Jewish leaders still do not believe because they do not belong to His fold.

If they were His sheep, then they would “hear My [His] voice,” recognize Him as Messiah, and follow Him (vv. 25-26, 27a, c).

[Note the order: the cause of their unbelief is the condition of being non-elect, not vice versa.]

Jesus knows His sheep, gives them eternal life that they can never lose, and protects them from “wolves” (vv. 27b, 28).

Not only does Christ hold them in His hand, but the Father also guards them from destruction (v. 29).

[The sheep belonged to the Father before He gave them to the Son, and they became His possession].

Christ then utters a profound assertion—“I and My Father are one”—a declaration that the Jews immediately recognize as blasphemy if it were not true (v. 30).

[The Father and Christ’s being one does not mean that they are one person—the neuter pronoun rules out that interpretation—but that They share the same divine essence and operate together as a unit in Their activity.]

Both the Jews’ intention to stone Him again and their actual words in response to Jesus’ inquiry as to why they want to kill Him (v. 32) indicate that they understood His claim to deity (vv. 31, 33).

To show them that they err in their purposes, Jesus refers to a verse in their “law”—actually, the verse He quotes is not in torah, but in Psalm 82; sometimes this Hebrew word does pertain to the entire OT, however—which designates corrupt Israelite judges as “gods” (’elohim) [vv. 34-35].

[Jesus regarded the entire OT text, even down to a single word, as having unimpeachable authority.

However, why does He insert this important statement about verbal inerrancy here?]

His argument is, “Why do you say that I, the One set apart and sent by the Father, am blaspheming if I am doing the works of the Father?

In addition, I am not calling Myself ’elohim, but bar ’elohim? (vv. 36-37).

[Is Jesus saying that the title “Son of God” is an inferior one to “gods”?]

Even though He acknowledges that they are not willing to believe in Him, Christ desires that the Jewish leaders understand that He and the Father work in unity to perform miracles (v. 38).

[How could they accept the latter but not the former?]

Once more, the Jews try to arrest Him, but Jesus eludes them again (v. 39).

Now He returns to John the Baptizer’s old haunts and abides there, gathering yet more disciples to Himself (vv. 40-42).

© 2014 glynch1

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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      I appreciate your detailed study of the verses in John 10. The Shepherd-sheep analogy is very inviting. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Rayne123 3 years ago

      Great hub

      Very informative

      Thank you

    • Righteous Atheist profile image

      Righteous Atheist 3 years ago

      Interesting that you reject honesty and truth. I don't blame you - the truth hurts.....

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      I appreciate your support.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      Please do not try to instigate any arguments; I am not into that scene.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      No, we are not all children of God; only those who believe (trust in) Christ become members of God's family (John 1:12-13). We are not "part of God"; that is a pantheistic idea--a concept totally foreign to biblical teaching.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 20 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      [Jesus regarded the entire OT text, even down to a single word, as having unimpeachable authority.

      However, why does He insert this important statement about verbal inerrancy here?]

      Three questions:

      1. Where is the citation(s) where Jesus regarded the entire OT text, even down to a single word, as having unimpeachable authority?

      2. Isn't it wrong for one person to harm another?

      3. If we as people are not supposed to harm each other, why are people in the OT claiming God told them to harm someone? See Joshua.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      Jay,

      Besides John 10:35 ("and the Scripture cannot be broken"), the Lord also said, ". . . not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished" (Matt. 5:18).

      The inhabitants of the "Promised Land" were already under God's condemnation; Yahweh used the Israelites as instruments of judgment upon these people.

      You should also be aware that before the people entered the Land, they annihilated others who first attacked them (for example: Sihon, Num. 21:21ff, and Og, Num. 21:33-35). In other words, they operated on the principle of self-defense. Israel made every peaceable effort to pass through the lands of these people, but were forced to defend themselves in the interests of self-preservation.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 20 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      1. Isn't it wrong for one person to harm another?

      2. Didn't Jesus say not to condemn and He did not condemn/Judge? Why do you speak of judgment and condemnation when Jesus says not to?

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      Yes. It is wrong for one person to harm another. However, when defending oneself, one oftentimes has to injure or even kill a would-be murderer. Scripture allows self-defense.

      In His first coming, Jesus did not come as a judge; He came as the Redeemer. However, when He comes a second time, He will come as the Judge. The end of the book of Revelation and so many other places speak of Jesus as the One to whom judgment is given (Revelation 19; John 5:26-29).

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 20 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      So we agree it is wrong for one person to harm another. There is always a peaceful solution. Get smart and do not invite trouble; be alert and walk away if needed. Most if not all problems can be dealt with simply by walking away. I am a retired Peace Officer. I taught about the Use of Force. It is also called Crisis Intervention Training (CIT). Research and learn.

      The point was for us not to condemn others and try to justify the use of violence in the first place. Neither you nor I are allowed to force our will on others through violence. We are all related, part of one great family.

      Note, the Hebrews and Canaanites were interbred since Abraham. They were related, cousins.

      Where did Jesus say he was going to condemn/judge people? Citation please.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      Yes, of course. Unless God uses His people (as He once did in the Old Testament, but no longer does so) to execute judgment upon those already condemned, Christians should not harm others (except in the case of self-defense). God calls Christians to "live peaceably with all men" (Rom. 12:18).

      By creation, human beings are "all related"; however, only those born from above (born again spiritually) are children of God (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8). Those who do not receive (believe) Christ as Lord and Savior are not children of God (spiritually), but children of the devil (John 8:44; Eph. 2:1-3).

      I have already given you John 5:26-29 as an example of where Jesus said the Father has given all judgment into His hands; in other words, He will judge all people. You should also check out John 5:22. Revelation 19 provides the scenario of His second coming during which He will kill those who oppose Him (see verse 21). Revelation 20:11-15 speaks of the Great White Throne judgment where the Son will mete out eternal punishment to all those who rejected Him.

      You may not like it, but that is what the Scriptures teach.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 20 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      "Yes, of course. Unless God uses His people (as He once did in the Old Testament, but no longer does so) to execute judgment upon those already condemned, Christians should not harm others (except in the case of self-defense). God calls Christians to "live peaceably with all men" (Rom. 12:18)."

      God has never used people to harm others. To say He did is blasphemy. It is wrong to even try to justify genocide or infanticide. No writing is scripture if it tries to justify harming others. Jesus never accepted the violence of the OT.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      Jesus is the God of the Old Testament; He is the great I AM (John 8:58). The Holy Spirit is the Author of the OT (2 Tim. 3:16). Moses did not just wake up one day and say to the Israelites, "Hey, let's go into the land and kill all these people." No, God told them in Spirit-inspired Scripture that they were to enter the Land and dispossess all these degenerate peoples destined for destruction. For instance, He said, "I have given Jericho into your hand, its king and the might men of valor" (Josh. 6:1-2).

      You are the one who is dishonoring God by not believing His word, not I.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 20 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      Please be patient.

      Let me suggest another idea. The Rabbis wanted land to rule so they made up a story to justify taking the land and the genocide of the Canaanites. This is called the Big Lie Theory. Remember, the Rabbis wrote the history (Big Lie) so you may not use it as proof. How Do We Know today whether God actually told the Rabbis (Moses, Joshua, etc.) they could have the land?

      Are you saying God used people to harm other people in the OT, but stopped this practice in the NT?

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      You clearly do not accept the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures. If you did, you would not be coming up with all these unbelieving, humanistic theories. I have told you what I believe; I will say no more.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 20 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      I question assumptions. That should be OK. Does faith justify a genocide? Please continue. I would like to have your answers.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      You call what Israel did a "genocide"; I (and the Scriptures) call it divine judgment upon peoples doomed to destruction. I have already included explanations above. Respond to those ideas and read the Scriptures I've sent to you first, and then ask specific questions you want me to answer about "assumptions." I question your assumptions also.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 20 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      The problem is not with God, but in ourselves. The Rabbis projected their need to dominate, control and judge onto their God and acted accordingly.

      Jesus did not dominate, control or judge. Even upon the cross He said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." No judgment comes from Jesus. Justice is mercy and mercy is justice. As YOU condemn you will be condemned. Forgive to heal. This is what Jesus taught, follow him.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      You still have not read the passage in John 5, for if you had read and understood it, you would not question that Jesus (the Son) will one day judge all people. And I also do not see the specific questions I asked you to send my way.

      God grants forgiveness only to those who repent from their sins and turn to Jesus; He does not give it to people regardless of their response toward Him.

      Justice is not mercy. Justice is giving sinful people what they deserve (hell); mercy is withholding judgment from them. Narrow is the gate that leads to life; broad is the way that leads to destruction.

      I sense that this conversation is going nowhere; you need to repent of your unbelief, believe the Scriptures, and turn to Christ for salvation.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 20 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      We agree in John 5:22 The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son....

      Refer to the teachings of Jesus in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and the Adulteress (John 8:4-11). In neither story did the father (or Jesus) condemn the person. He did Not judge.

      The father ran to his son and welcomed him before the son said a word. "But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20.

      The adulteress said not a word of repentance to Jesus and He said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again." Repentance had nothing to do with the story. John 8:4-11.

      Jesus said, "You judge by human standards; I judge no one." John 8:15

      "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." Matt. 7:1-2.

      Contrast the NT, Jesus to the OT, Joshua. Joshua killed many people in the name of God. Do you advocate killing in the name of God?

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 20 months ago

      You just don't understand, so I will no longer comment. I hope God opens your eyes someday.

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