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What Jesus Meant When He Promised An Abundant Life in John 10:10

Updated on December 4, 2019
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Abundance: Definition

Anything in abundance is more than enough. It a very large quantity of something as well as an excess of that thing. There is nothing scarce when abundance is present because there is an overflow of something.

The word “abundant” in Greek is perisson which means “more than enough, beyond measure, and a quantity that is much greater than anticipated.”

In Christianity, abundant life is a term used to denote fullness that is not limited to wealth or the accumulation of material possessions. In other words, a person with a low bank account or no bank account can have an abundant life because his possessions do not describe his life.

An abundant life could include one's good health, a loving family and other things that make a person happy and free from worry. Being a billionaire doesn't mean that the person has an abundant life because he could be very unhappy in other areas of his life.

John 10:10

While we want to think this scripture promises us material things, it doesn't! In order to understand John 10:10, one must not take that one scripture out of context. That scripture should be read in conjunction with the scriptures that come before it and those that come after it. In order to understand and get the full understanding of John 10:10, we need to know its context.

John 10 is about sheep and a shepherd. The thief in John 10:10 is the one who comes only to steal, kill and destroy the sheep. Many people think the thief is Satan, but that is not who the thief is in this particular scripture. The thief is anyone who tries to steal, kill and destroy the sheep. The thief appears to be a false teacher or a lazy religious leader who fails to properly look out for the sheep he has been entrusted to care for. In contrast, Jesus is the one who has come to give life in a more abundant manner with no agenda to steal, kill or destroy the sheep.

Sheep in a field
Sheep in a field | Source

The theme of John 10:10 is life more abundantly and not material possessions. To focus on acquiring more material things takes away the real meaning of that familiar scripture.

Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have LIFE and that they may have IT more abundantly.” Jesus was talking about life and the word "it" confirms that concept in the same verse. Notice that Jesus did not just say "an abundant life." He said He had come so we could have "a more abundant life." That means living a full life with everything we need spiritually. Jesus was and still is more concerned with our spiritual life than with having a life filled with material things.

First, Jesus said what the thief would come to do harm to the sheep that were kept in the field and looked after by the shepherd. Jesus contrasted Himself to the thief by stating His reason for coming. He comes to give, not to destroy. He comes that people may have life more abundant through Him.

Jesus promised us a life far better than we could ever imagine. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 2:9 when he says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” The apostle also tells us that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

What An Abundant Life Is Not

Abundant life is not about what we have or what we will get in a material manner. Abundant life is about what we receive as a gift from God and to live knowing we are stewards of His blessings.

It’s not a sin to be rich and possess nice things while on this earth. However, John 10:10 is not about money, finances, a high credit score or anything material. It is about having an exceedingly abundant spiritual life.

Proof of an Abundant Life

Abundant life is not the accumulation of several lavish homes, expensive cars, a yacht, and a large bank account. Jesus never promised us those things in reference to abundant life. Many people do have those things, but according to 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, wealth in this world is not God's priority for His people. Abundant life does not consist of being rich.

Unfortunately, many people misinterpret John 10:10 and believe that abundant life means having more than enough of physical things. The abundance in this particular scripture is spiritual abundance, not material abundance.

Solomon had all the material blessings that any person could ever have. He had so much money that he hired people to count it for him. He ordered them to throw the small amounts away instead of taking the time to count it. With the abundance of things that Solomon possessed, he confessed that it was all meaningless (Ecclesiastes 5:10-15). That's because all his money, servants, 700 wives, 300 concubines, ships, horses, chariots and other worldly possessions did not provide satisfaction for him.

How to Know You Have an Abundant Life

We know we have abundant life when we are full to the capacity with love of self and those around us. We have abundant life when we have so many things of God that we can share with others, such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

One's salvation is the first step to an abundant life. When one has the assurance of eternal life in heaven with God than that is the ultimate proof of abundant life on earth as one waits to be in the presence of God.

More Abundantly

More abundantly means to have a superabundance of a thing. According to Jesus' teachings, abundant life is not based on prosperity but on the total being of a person including health and well being in the body, mind, emotions, relationships, and eternal life. Abundant life can be described as the fullness of everything a person needs to be happy and whole.

A person cannot accuse God of not fulfilling His promise of John 10:10 because of his misunderstanding of the scripture. No one should sit back and rely on that one scripture for their "pie in the sky."

Did this article help you understand John 10:10 much better?

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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for explaining "spiritual abundance, not material abundance." So glad you cleared up that issue.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      7 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks a lot, Charlie, for reading and for your comment!

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 

      7 weeks ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans

      another good one my friend

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      7 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

      Cheryl, thanks for sharing your thoughts about my article. John 10:10 is often used as a scripture about accumulating material possessions when it actually means having a spiritually abundant life.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile image

      Cheryl E Preston 

      7 weeks ago from Roanoke

      This is an amazing truth. How sad that preachers misuse it to promise money that never comes. Thank you again for allowing Him to flow through you.

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