Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
Verily, verily - See the notes at John 3:3.
I say unto you - Some have supposed that what follows here was delivered on some other occasion than the one mentioned in the last chapter; but the expression verily, verily, is one which is not used at the commencement of a discourse, and the discourse itself seems to be a continuation of what was said before. The Pharisees professed to be the guides or shepherds of the people. Jesus, in the close of the last chapter, had charged them with being blind, and of course of being unqualified to lead the people. He proceeds here to state the character of a true shepherd, to show what was a hireling, and to declare that he was the true shepherd and guide of his people. This is called John 10:6 a parable, and it is an eminently beautiful illustration of the office of the Messiah, drawn from an employment well known in Judea. The Messiah was predicted under the image of a shepherd. Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24; Zechariah 13:7. Hence, at the close of the discourse they asked him whether he were the Messiah, John 10:24.
Into the sheepfold - The sheepfold was an inclosure made in fields where the sheep were collected by night to defend them from robbers, wolves, etc. It was not commonly covered, as the seasons in Judea were mild. By the figure here we are to understand the Jewish people, or the church of God, which is often likened to a flock, Ezekiel 34:1-19; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Zechariah 13:1-9. By the door, here, is meant the Lord Jesus Christ, John 10:7, John 10:9. He is "the way, the truth, and the life," John 14:6. And, as the only proper way of entering the fold was by the door, so the only way of entering the church of God is by believing on him and obeying his commandments. The particular application of this place, however, is to religious teachers, who cannot enter properly on the duties of teaching and guarding the flock except by the Lord Jesus that is, in the way which he has appointed. The Pharisees claimed to be pastors, but not under his appointment. They entered some other way. The true pastors of the church are those who enter by the influences of the Spirit of Jesus, and in the manner which he has appointed.
Some other way - Either at a window or over the wall.
A thief - One who silently and secretly takes away the property of another.
A robber - One who does it by violence or bloodshed. Jesus here designates those pastors or ministers of religion who are influenced not by love to him, but who seek the office from ambition, or the love of power, or wealth, or ease; who come, not to promote the welfare of the church, but to promote their own interests. Alas! in all churches there have been many - many who for no better ends have sought the pastoral office. To all such Jesus gives the names of thieves and robbers.
But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
He that entereth by the door - This was the way in which a shepherd had access to his flock. In John 10:7 Jesus says he is the door. In this place he refers to those who by him - that is, in accordance with his spirit and law become ministers of religion.
Is the shepherd of the sheep - Christ does not here refer to himself, for he is the way or door by which others enter; but he refers to all the ministers of the gospel who have access to the church by him. In the original, the article "the" is missing before the word shepherd - "is a shepherd." By his entering in this manner he shows that he is a shepherd one who cares for his flock, and does not come to kill and destroy.
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
To him the porter openeth - The porter is the doorkeeper. It seems that the more wealthy Jews who owned flocks employed some person to take charge of the flock. At first all shepherds attended their flocks personally by day and by night, and this continued to be commonly the practice, but not always.
The sheep hear his voice - The voice of the shepherd. A flock will readily discern the well-known voice of one who is accustomed to attend them. The meaning is, that the people of God will be found disposed to listen to the instructions of those who are appointed by Christ, who preach his pure doctrines, and who show a real love for the church of God. There is scarcely any better test of fidelity in the pastoral office than the approbation of the humble and obscure people of God, when they discern in the preacher the very manner and spirit of the doctrines of the Bible.
He calleth his own sheep by name - It was customary, and is still, we are told by travelers, for shepherds to give particular names to their sheep, by which they soon learned to regard the voice of the shepherd. By this our Saviour indicates, doubtless, that it is the duty of a minister of religion to seek an intimate and personal acquaintance with the people of his charge; to feel an interest in them as individuals, and not merely to address them together; to learn their private needs; to meet them in their individual trials, and to administer to them personally the consolations of the gospel.
Leadeth them out - He leads them from the fold to pasture or to water. Perhaps there is here intended the care of a faithful pastor to provide suitable instruction for the people of his charge, and to feed them with the bread of life. See a beautiful and touching description of the care of the Great Shepherd in Psalm 23:1-6.
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
He putteth forth - Or leads them out of the fold.
He goeth before them - He leads them, and guides them, and does not leave them. A shepherd spent his time with his flocks. He went before them to seek the best pastures and watering-places, and to defend them from danger. In this is beautifully represented the tender care of him who watches for souls as one that must give account.
And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
A stranger ... - This was literally true of a flock. Accustomed to the voice and presence of a kind shepherd, they would not regard the command of a stranger. It is also true spiritually. Jesus by this indicates that the true people of God will not follow false teachers - those who are proud, haughty, and self-seeking, as were the Pharisees. Many may follow such, but humble and devoted Christians seek those who have the mild and self-denying spirit of their Master and Great Shepherd. It is also true in reference to those who are pastors in the churches. They have an influence which no stranger or wandering minister can have. A church learns to put confidence in a pastor; he knows the wants of his people, sees their danger, and can adapt his instructions to them. A stranger, however eloquent, pious, or learned, can have few of these advantages; and it is more absurd to commit the churches to the care of wandering strangers, of those who have no permanent relation to the church, than it would be for a flock to be committed to a foreigner who knew nothing of it, and who had no particular interest in it.
The pastoral office is one of the wisest institutions of heaven. The following extract from The Land and the Book (Thomson) will show how strikingly this whole passage accords with what actually occurs at this day in Palestine: "This is true to the letter. They are so tame and so trained that they follow their keeper with the utmost docility. He leads them forth from the fold, or from their houses in the villages, just where he pleases. Since there are many flocks in such a place as this, each one takes a different path, and it is his business to find pasture for them. It is necessary, therefore, that they should be taught to follow, and not to stray away into the unfenced fields of grain which lie so temptingly on either side. Anyone that thus wanders is sure to get into trouble. The shepherd calls sharply from time to time to remind them of his presence. They know his voice and follow on; but if a stranger call, they stop short, lift up their heads in alarm, and, if it is repeated, they turn and flee, because they do not know the voice of a stranger.
This is not the fanciful costume of a parable; it is simple fact. I have made the experiment repeatedly. The shepherd goes before, not merely to point out the way, but to see that it is practicable and safe. He is armed in order to defend his charge, and in this he is very courageous. Many adventures with wild beasts occur not unlike that recounted by David, and in these very mountains; for, though there are now no lions here, there are wolves in abundance; and leopards and panthers, exceedingly fierce, prowl about these wild wadies. They not unfrequently attack the flock in the very presence of the shepherd, and he must be ready to do battle at a moment's warning. I have listened with intense interest to their graphic descriptions of downright and desperate fights with these savage beasts. And when the thief and the robber come (and come they do), the faithful shepherd has often to put his life in his hand to defend his flock. I have known more than one case in which he had literally to lay it down in the contest. A poor faithful fellow last spring, between Tiberias and Tabor, instead of fleeing, actually fought three Bedouin robbers until he was hacked to pieces with their khanjars, and died among the sheep he was defending."
This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
This parable - See the notes at Matthew 13:3.
They understood not ... - They did not understand the meaning or design of the illustration.
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
I am the door - I am the way by which ministers and people enter the true church. It is by his merits, his intercession, his aid, and his appointment that they enter.
Of the sheep - Of the church.
All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
All that ever came before me - This does not refer to the prophets, but to those who came pretending to be the pastors or guides of the people. Some have supposed that he referred to those who pretended to be the Messiah before him; but there is not evidence that any such person appeared before the coming of Jesus. It is probable that he rather refers to the scribes and Pharisees, who claimed to be instructors of the people, who claimed the right to regulate the affairs of religion, and whose only aim was to aggrandize themselves and to oppress the people. See the notes at John 1:18. When the Saviour says that "all" were thieves, he speaks in a popular sense, using the word "all" as it is often used in the New Testament, to denote the great mass or the majority.
Thieves and robbers - See John 10:1; also Jeremiah 23:1; "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture;" Ezekiel 34:2-3; "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed; but ye feed not the flock." This had been the general character of the Pharisees and scribes. They sought wealth, office, ease at the expense of the people, and thus deserved the character of thieves and robbers. They insinuated themselves slyly as a thief, and they oppressed and spared not, like a robber.
The sheep - The people of God - the pious and humble portion of the Jewish nation. Though the great mass of the people were corrupted, yet there were always some who were the humble and devoted people of God. Compare Romans 11:3-4. So it will be always. Though the great mass of teachers may be corrupt, yet the true friends of God will mourn in secret places, and refuse to "listen to the instruction that causeth to err."
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
By me - By my instruction and merits.
Shall be saved - See John 5:24.
Shall go in and out ... - This is language applied, commonly to flocks. It meant that he shall be well supplied, and defended, and led "beside the still waters of salvation."
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The thief cometh not ... - The thief has no other design in coming but to plunder. So false teachers have no other end in view but to enrich or aggrandize themselves.
I am come that they might have life - See the notes at John 5:24.
Might have it more abundantly - Literally, that they may have abundance, or that which abounds. The word denotes that which is not absolutely essential to life, but which is superadded to make life happy. They shall not merely have life - simple, bare existence - but they shall have all those superadded things which are needful to make that life eminently blessed and happy. It would be vast mercy to keep men merely from annihilation or hell; but Jesus will give them eternal joy, peace, the society of the blessed, and all those exalted means of felicity which are prepared for them in the world of glory.
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
The good shepherd - The faithful and true shepherd, willing to do all that is necessary to defend and save the flock.
Giveth his life - A shepherd that regarded his flock would hazard his own life to defend them. When the wolf comes, he would still remain to protect them. To give his life, here, means the same as not to fly, or to forsake his flock; to be willing to expose his life, if necessary, to defend them. Compare Judges 12:3; "I put my life in my hands and passed over," etc.; 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 28:21. See John 10:15. The Messiah was often predicted under the character of a shepherd.
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
A hireling - A man employed to take care of the sheep, to whom wages is paid. As he does not own the sheep, and guards them merely for pay, rather than risk his life he would leave the flock to the ravages of wild beasts. The word translated "hireling" is often employed in a good sense; but here it denotes one who is unfaithful to his trust; and especially those ministers who preach only for support, and who are unwilling to encounter any danger or to practice any self-denial for the welfare of the church of God. They are those who have no boldness in the cause of their Master, but who, rather than lose their reputation or place, would see the church corrupted and wasted by its spiritual foes.
Whose own the sheep are not - Who does not own the sheep.
The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
Because he is a hireling - Because he regards only his wages. He feels no special interest in the flock.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Know my sheep - Know my people, or my church. The word "know" here is used in the sense of affectionate regard or love. It implies such a knowledge of their wants, their dangers, and their characters, as to result in a deep interest in their welfare. Thus the word "knoweth," in John 10:15, is in John 10:17 explained by the word "loveth." Jesus knows the hearts, the dangers, and the wants of his people, and his kindness as their shepherd prompts him to defend and aid them.
Am known of mine - That is, he is known and loved as their Saviour and Friend. They have seen their sins, and dangers: and wants; they have felt their need of a Saviour; they have come to him, and they have found him and his doctrines to be such as they need, and they have loved him. And as a flock follows and obeys its kind shepherd, so they follow and obey him who leads them beside the still waters, and makes them to lie down in green pastures.
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
As the Father knoweth me ... - See the Matthew 11:27 note; also Luke 10:22 note.
I lay down my life for the sheep - That is, I give my life as an atoning sacrifice for their sins. I die in their place, to redeem them from sin, and danger, and death. See John 10:17-18.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Other sheep - There are others who shall be members of my redeemed church.
I have - This does not imply that they were then his friends, but that they would be. There were others whom it was his purpose and intention to call to the blessings of the gospel and salvation. The purpose was so sure, and the fact that they would believe on him so certain, that he could use the present tense as if they were already his own. This purpose was in accordance with the promise Isaiah 53:11, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." An instance of a parallel expression occurs in Acts 18:10, "I have much people in this city" (Corinth). That is, it was the purpose of God to bless the preaching of Paul, and give him many souls as the seals of his ministry. It was so certain that they would believe in the Saviour, that it could be spoken of as if it were already done. This certainty could have existed only in consequence of the intention of God that it should be so. It did not consist in any disposition to embrace the gospel which was foreseen, for they were the most corrupt and licentious people of antiquity, and it must have been because God meant that it should be so. Declarations like these are full proof that God has a plan in regard to the salvation of men, and that the number is known and determined by him. Learn:
1. that it is not a question of chance or uncertainty whether men shall be saved.
2. that there is encouragement for preaching the gospel. There are those whom God means to save, and if he intends to do it it will be done.
Not of this fold - Not Jews. This is a distinct intimation that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles a doctrine extremely offensive to the Jews. This prediction of the Saviour has been strikingly confirmed in the conversion of millions of the Gentiles to the gospel.
Them also I must bring - Bring into the church and kingdom of heaven. This was to be done, not by his personal ministry, but by the labor of his apostles and other ministers.
One fold - One church; there shall be no distinction, no special national privileges. The partition between the Jews and the Gentiles shall be broken down, and there shall be no pre-eminence of rank or honor, Ephesians 2:14; "Christ hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;" Romans 10:12; "There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek."
One shepherd - That is, the Lord Jesus - the common Saviour, deliverer, and friend of all true believers, in whatever land they were born and whatever tongue they may speak. This shows that Christians of all denominations and countries should feel that they are one redeemed by the same blood, and going to the same eternal home. Compare 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; Acts 17:26.
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
I lay down my life - I give myself to die for my people, in Jewish and pagan lands. I offer myself a sacrifice to show the willingness of my Father to save them; to provide an atonement, and thus to open the way for their salvation. This proves that the salvation of man was an object dear to God, and that it was a source of special gratification to him that his Son was willing to lay down his life to accomplish his great purposes of benevolence.
That I might take it again - Be raised up from the dead, and glorified, and still carry on the work of redemption. See this same sentiment sublimely expressed in Philippians 2:5-11.
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
No man taketh it from me - That is, no one could take it by force, or unless I was willing to yield myself into his hands. He had power to preserve his life, as he showed by so often escaping from the Pharisees; he voluntarily went up to Jerusalem, knowing that he would die; he knew the approach of Judas to betray him; and he expressly told Pilate at his bar that he could have no power at all against him except it were given him by his Father, John 19:11. Jesus had a right to lay down his life for the good of people. The patriot dies for his country on the field of battle; the merchant exposes his life for gain; and the Son of God had a right to put himself in the way of danger and of death, when a dying world needed such an atoning sacrifice. This shows the special love of Jesus. His death was voluntary. His coming was voluntary - the fruit of love. His death was the fruit of love. He was permitted to choose the time and mode of his death. He did. He chose the most painful, lingering, ignominious manner of death then known to man, and thus showed his love.
I have power - This word often means authority. It includes all necessary power in the case, and the commission or authority of his Father to do it.
Power to take it again - This shows that he was divine. A dead man has no power to raise himself from the grave. And as Jesus had this power after he was deceased, it proves that there was some other nature than that which had expired, to which the term "I" might be still applied. None but God can raise the dead; and as Jesus had this power over his own body it proves that he was divine.
This commandment - My Father has appointed this, and commissioned me to do it.
There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.
And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
He hath a devil - John 7:20.
Is mad - Is deranged, or a maniac. His words are incoherent and unintelligible.
Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
Not the words ... - His words are sober, grave, pious, full of wisdom. The preaching of Jesus always produced effect. It made bitter enemies or decided friends. So will all faithful preaching. It is not the fault of the gospel that there are divisions, but of the unbelief and mad passions of men.
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
The feast of the dedication - Literally, the feast of the renewing, or of the renovation. This feast was instituted by Judas Maccabaeus, in the year 164 b.c. The temple and city were taken by Antiochus Epiphanes in the year 167 b.c. He killed 40,000 inhabitants, and sold 40,000 more as slaves. In addition to this, he sacrificed a sow on the altar of burnt-offerings, and a broth being made of this, he sprinkled it all over the temple. The city and temple were recovered three years afterward by Judas Maccabaeus, and the temple was purified with great pomp and solemnity. The ceremony of purification continued through eight days, during which Judas presented magnificent victims, and celebrated the praise of God with hymns and psalms (Josephus, Ant., b. xii. ch. 11). "They decked, also, the forefront of the temple with crowns of gold and with shields, and the gates and chambers they renewed and hanged doors upon them:" 1 Macc. 4:52-59. On this account it was called the feast of renovation or dedication. Josephus calls it the feast of lights, because the city was illuminated, as expressive of joy. The feast began on the 25th day of Chisleu, answering to the fifteenth day of December. The festival continued for eight days, with continued demonstrations of joy.
It was winter - The feast was celebrated in the winter. The word here implies that it was cold and inclement, and it is given as a reason why he walked in Solomon's porch.
And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
Solomon's porch - The porch or covered way on the east of the temple. See the notes at Matthew 21:12.
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
Tell us plainly - The Messiah was predicted as a shepherd. Jesus had applied that prediction to himself. They supposed that that was an evidence that he claimed to be the Messiah. He also performed miracles, which they considered as evidence that he was the Christ, John 7:31. Yet the rulers made a difficulty. They alleged that he was from Galilee, and that the Messiah could not come from thence, John 7:52. He was poor and despised. He came contrary to the common expectation. A splendid prince and conqueror had been expected. In this perplexity they came to him for a plain and positive declaration that he was the Messiah.
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
I told you - It is not recorded that Jesus had told them in so many words that he was the Christ, but he had used expressions designed to convey the same truth, and which many of them understood as claiming to be the Messiah. See John 5:19; John 8:36, John 8:56; John 10:1. The expression "the Son of God" they understood to be equivalent to the Messiah. This he had often used of himself in a sense not to be mistaken.
The works - The miracles, such as restoring the blind, curing the sick, etc.
In my Father's name - By the power and command of God. Jesus was either the Messiah or an impostor. The Pharisees charged him with being the latter Matthew 26:60-61; Matthew 27:63; John 18:36; but God would not give such power to an impostor. The power of working miracles is an attestation of God to what is taught. See the notes at Matthew 4:24.
But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Are not of my sheep - Are not my people, my followers. You do not possess the spirit of meek and humble disciples. Were it not for pride, and prejudice, and vainglory for your false notions of the Messiah, and from a determination not to believe, you would have learned from my declarations and works that I am the Christ.
As I said unto you - Compare John 8:47.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
My sheep - My church, my people, those who have the true spirit of my followers. The name is given to his people because it was an illustration which would be well understood in a country abounding in flocks. There is also a striking resemblance, which he proceeds to state, between them.
Hear my voice - See John 10:3-4. Applied to Christians, it means that they hear and obey his commandments.
I know them - See John 10:14.They follow me - A flock follows its shepherd to pastures and streams, John 10:3. Christians not only obey Christ, but they imitate him; they go where his Spirit and providence lead them; they yield themselves to his guidance, and seek to be led by him. When Jesus was upon earth many of his disciples followed or attended him from place to place. Hence, Christians are called his followers, and in Revelation 14:4 they are described as "they that follow the Lamb."
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
I give unto them eternal life - See John 5:24.
Shall never perish - To perish here means to be destroyed, or to be punished in hell. Matthew 10:28; "which is able to destroy (the same word) both soul and body in hell." Matthew 18:14; "it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." John 3:15; "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish" Romans 2:12; They who have sinned without law shall also perish without law" John 17:12; 1 Corinthians 1:18. In all these places the word refers to future punishment, and the declaration of the Saviour is that his followers, his true disciples, shall never be cast away. The original is expressed with remarkable strength: "They shall not be destroyed forever." Syriac: "They shall not perish to eternity." This is spoken of all Christians - that is, of all who ever possess the character of true followers of Christ, and who can be called his flock.
Shall any - The word "any" refers to any power that might attempt it. It will apply either to men or to devils. It is an affirmation that no man, however eloquent in error, or persuasive in infidelity, or cunning: in argument, or mighty in rank; and that no devil with all his malice, power, cunning, or allurements, shall be able to pluck them from his hand,
Pluck them - In the original to rob; to seize and bear away as a robber does his prey. Jesus holds them so secure and so certainly that no foe can surprise him as a robber does, or overcome him by force.
My hand - The hand is that by which we hold or secure an object. It means that Jesus has them safely in his own care and keeping. Compare Romans 8:38-39.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
Which gave them me - See John 6:37.
Is greater - Is more powerful.
Than all - Than all others - men, angels, devils. The word includes everything - everything that could attempt to pluck them away from God; in other words, it means that God is supreme. It implies, further, that God will keep them, and will so control all other beings and things that they shall be safe.
None is able - None has power to do it. In these two verses we are taught the following important truths:
1. that Christians are given by God the Father to Christ.
2. that Jesus gives to them eternal life, or procures by his death and intercession, and imparts to them by his Spirit, that religion which shall result in eternal life.
3. that both the Father and the Son are pledged to keep them so that they shall never fall away and perish. It would be impossible for any language to teach more explicitly that the saints will persevere.
4. that there is no power in man or devils to defeat the purpose of the Redeemer to save his people. We also see our safety, if we truly, humbly, cordially, and daily commit ourselves to God the Saviour. In no other way can we have evidence that we are his people than by such a persevering resignation of ourselves to him, to obey his law, and to follow him through evil report or good report. If we do that we are safe. If we do not that we have no evidence of piety, and are not, cannot be safe.
I and my Father are one.
I and my Father are one - The word translated "one" is not in the masculine, but in the neuter gender. It expresses union, but not the precise nature of the union. It may express any union, and the particular kind intended is to be inferred from the connection. In the previous verse he had said that he and his Father were united in the same object that is, in redeeming and preserving his people. It was this that gave occasion for this remark. Many interpreters have understood this as referring to union of design and of plan. The words may bear this construction. In this way they were understood by Erasmus, Calvin, Bucer, and others. Most of the Christian fathers understood them, however, as referring to the oneness or unity of nature between the Father and the Son; and that this was the design of Christ appears probable from the following considerations:
1. The question in debate was (not about his being united with the Father in plan and counsel, but in power. He affirmed that he was able to rescue and keep his people from all enemies, or that he had power superior to men and devils that is, that he had supreme power over all creation. He affirmed the same of his Father. In this, therefore, they were united. But this was an attribute only of God, and they thus understood him as claiming equality to God in regard to omnipotence.
2. The Jews understood him as affirming his equality with God, for they took up stones to punish him for blasphemy John 10:31, John 10:33, and they said to him that they understood him as affirming that he was God, John 10:33.
3. Jesus did not deny that it was his intention to be so understood. See the notes at John 10:34-37.
4. He immediately made another declaration implying the same thing, leaving the same impression, and which they attempted to punish in the same manner, John 10:37-39. If Jesus had not intended so to be understood, it cannot be easily reconciled with moral honesty that he did not distinctly disavow that such was his intention. The Jews were well acquainted with their own language. They understood him in this manner, and he left this impression on their minds.
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
The Jews took up stones - Stoning was the punishment of a blasphemer, Leviticus 24:14-16. They considered him guilty of blasphemy because he made himself equal with God, John 10:33.
Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
Many good works - Many miracles of benevolence healing the sick, etc. His miracles were good works, as they tended to promote the happiness of men, and were proofs of his benevolence. He had performed no other works than those of benevolence; he knew that they could charge him with no other, and he confidently appealed to them as witnesses of that. Happy would it be if all, when they are opposed and persecuted, could appeal even to their persecutors in proof of their own innocence.
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
For blasphemy - See the notes at Matthew 9:3.
Makest thyself God - See the notes at John 5:18. This shows how they understood what he had said.
Makest thyself - Dost claim to be God, or thy language implies this.
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
Jesus answered them - The answer of Jesus consists of two parts. The first John 10:34-36 shows that they ought not to object to his use of the word God, even if he were no more than a man. The second John 10:37-38 repeats substantially what he had before said, left the same impression, and in proof of it he appealed to his works.
In your law - Psalm 82:6. The word "law" here, is used to include the Old Testament.
I said - The Psalmist said, or God said by the Psalmist.
Ye are gods - This was said of magistrates on account of the dignity and honor of their office, and it shows that the Hebrew word translated "god," אלהים ̀elohiym, in that place might be applied to man. Such a use of the word is, however, rare. See instances in Exodus 7:1; Exodus 4:16.
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Unto whom the word of God came - That is, who were his servants, or who received their dignity and honor only because the law of God was intrusted to them. "The Word of God" here means the command of God; his commission to them to do justice.
The scripture cannot be broken - See Matthew 5:19. The authority of the Scripture is final; it cannot be set aside. The meaning is, "If, therefore, the Scripture uses the word "god" אלהים ̀elohiym as applied to magistrates, it settles the question that it is right to apply the term to those in office and authority. If applied to them, it may be to others in similar offices. It cannot, therefore, be blasphemy to use this word as applicable to a personage so much more exalted than mere magistrates as the Messiah."
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
Whom the Father hath sanctified - The word "sanctify" with us means to make holy; but this is not its meaning here, for the Son of God was always holy. The original word means to set apart from a common to a sacred use; to devote to a sacred purpose, and to designate or consecrate to a holy office. This is the meaning here. God has consecrated or appointed his Son to be his Messenger or Messiah to mankind. See Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:1, Exodus 29:44; Leviticus 8:30.
And sent into the world - As the Messiah, an office far more exalted than that of magistrates.
I am the Son of God - This the Jews evidently understood as the same as saying that he was equal with God. This expression he had often applied to himself. The meaning of this place may be thus expressed: "You charge me with blasphemy. The foundation of that charge is the use of the name God, or the Son of God, applied to myself; yet that same term is applied in the Scriptures to magistrates. The use of it there shows that it is right to apply it to those who sustain important offices (see the notes of John 10:34-35). And especially you, Jews, ought not to attempt to found a charge of blasphemy on the application of a word to the Messiah which in your own Scriptures is applied to all magistrates. And we may remark here:
1. That Jesus did not deny that he meant to apply the term to himself.
2. He did not deny that it was properly applied to him.
3. He did not deny that it implied that he was God. He affirmed only that they were inconsistent, and were not authorized to bring a charge of blasphemy for the application of the name to himself.
If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
The works of my Father - The very works that my Father does. See John 5:17; "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." See the note on that place. The works of his Father are those which God only can do. As Jesus did them, it shows that the name "Son of God," implying equality with God, was properly applied to him. This shows conclusively that he meant to be understood as claiming to be equal with God. So the Jews naturally understood him John 10:39, and they were left with this impression on their minds.
But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
Believe the works - Though you do not credit me, yet consider my works, for they prove that I came from God. No one could do them unless he was sent of God.
Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
Sought again to take him - They evidently understood him as still claiming equality with God, and under this impression Jesus left them. Nor can it be doubted that he intended to leave them with this impression; and if so, then he is divine.
He escaped - See John 8:59.
And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
Where John at first baptized - At Bethabara, or Bethany, John 1:28.
And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.
No miracle - He did not confirm his mission by working miracles, but he showed that he was a prophet by foretelling the character and success of Jesus. Either miracle or prophecy is conclusive proof of a divine mission, for no man can foretell a future event, or work a miracle, except by the special aid of God. It may be remarked that the people of that place were properly prepared by the ministry of John for the preaching of Jesus. The persecution of the Jews was the occasion of his going there, and thus the wrath of man was made to praise him. It has commonly happened that the opposition of the wicked has resulted in the increased success of the cause which they have persecuted. God takes the wise in their own craftiness, and brings glory to himself and salvation to sinners out of the pride, and passions, and rage of wicked men.
And many believed on him there.