John 10:1
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.
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(1) Verily, verily, I say unto you.—This formula is not used at the beginning of a fresh discourse, but is, in every case, the solemn introduction of some development of our Lord’s deeper teaching. (Comp. Note on John 1:51.) We are not, then, to regard this chapter as a new subject, but as part of the teaching commenced in John 9:35, and arising out of the sign of healing the blind man. This sign is present to their thoughts at the close of the discourse, in John 10:21.

He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold.—The special form which the discourse here takes has been thought, with a probability which does not fall far short of certainty, due to the actual presence of a sheepfold with the shepherds and their flocks. (See John 5:2.) We know that Bethesda was near the “sheepgate,” and we have seen that it is not improbably to be identified with a covered portion of the Pool of Siloam. (See Note on John 5:2.) In any case, there must have been sheepfolds sufficiently near to make it possible that they had arrived at one, and the change in the central points of the allegory find their most natural explanation in thoughts of the shifting scene on which it is based. The description of such a scene, by Bochart, written more than two centuries ago, has been borne out by all modern travellers. We have to think of an open fold, surrounded by a wall or railing, into which, at eventide, the shepherds lead their flocks, committing them, during the night, to the care of an under-shepherd, who guards the door. In the morning they knock and the porter opens the door, which has been securely fastened during the night, and each shepherd calls his own sheep, who know his voice and follow him to the pasturage. (Comp. Thomson, The Land and the Book, vol. i., pp. 299-302.)

It is to some part of such a scene as this, passing before our Lord’s eye as He taught, that we have to trace the words which follow. But we must remember that His mind and theirs were full of thoughts ready to pass into a train like this. “Thy servants are shepherds, both we and also our fathers” (Genesis 47:3), was the statement of the first sons of Israel, and it was true of their descendants. This truth was bound up with their whole history. The greatest heroes of Israel—Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David—had all been shepherds, and no imagery is more frequent in prophecy or psalm than that drawn from the shepherd’s work. We must fill our minds with these Old Testament thoughts if we would understand this chapter. Let any one, before commencing it, read thoughtfully Psalms 23, Isaiah 40:11, Jeremiah 23:1-4, Ezekiel 34, and especially Zechariah 11:4-17, and he will find that he has the key which unlocks most of its difficulties. We have, then, the scene passing before their eyes, and the Old Testament thoughts of the Shepherd, connected as they were, on one hand with Jehovah and the Messiah, and on the other with the careless shepherds of Israel, dwelling in their minds; and we have, in the events which have just taken place, that which furnishes the starting-point, and gives to all that follows its fulness of meaning. The Pharisees claimed for themselves that they were shepherds of Israel. They decreed who should be admitted to, and who should be cast out from the fold. They professed to be interpreters of God’s truth, and with it to feed His flock. Pharisees, shepherds! what did they, with their curses and excommunications, know of the tenderness of the Shepherd who “shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young”? Pharisees feed the flock of God! What had they, with their pride and self-righteousness, ever known of the infinite love and mercy of God; or what had their hearts ever felt of the wants and woes of the masses of mankind? This poor blind beggar was an example of their treatment of the weaker ones of the flock. In spirit, if not in deed (John 9:22; John 9:34), they had thrust him out from the fold of God. The true Shepherd had sought and found this lost sheep, who is now standing near, in His presence and in that of the false shepherds. He teaches who the Shepherd and what the flock of God really are.

On the meaning of “the door,” see the fuller expansion in John 10:7-9.

Climbeth up some other way.—Or, more exactly, climbeth up from elsewherei.e., from some part of the fence, away from the door where the porter is watching.

The same is a thief and a robber.—The former of these words means the petty thief who commits the smaller or unobserved robbery. The latter means the brigand or highwayman, and is applied, e.g., to Barabbas and to the two crucified with our Lord. The words are repeated in John 10:8. They are probably joined together to express, in all its fulness, the idea which is common to both. If we press the individual sense of each, it may be that the false shepherds united the meaner faults and the greater crimes.

(1) At the Feast of Tabernacles there was a practice, one of those which witnessed to a feeling wider than that of those who acted in it, of offering up seventy oxen for the seventy nations of the world, the number being taken partly from the list in Genesis, and partly from a vague idea of its sanctity. The number seventy was thus brought before the people with the recognition of the heathen world as within the hope of salvation, and the minds of men were prepared for the mission of the Seventy, which followed at no long interval.

John 10:1. Verily, &c. — The Pharisees supported themselves in their opposition to Christ with this principle, that they were pastors of the church; and that Jesus, having no commission from them, was an intruder and an impostor, and that, therefore, the people were bound in duty to adhere to them against him. In opposition to this, Christ here describes who were the false shepherds and who were the true, leaving them to infer what they were. He introduces his discourse with, Verily, verily, I say unto you — To show, not only the certain truth, but the deep importance of what he uttered. He speaks by way of parable or similitude, taken from the customary way of managing sheep in that country. It is supposed that he was now in the outer court of the temple, near the sheep which were there exposed to sale for sacrifice, the sight of which reminded him of the language of the ancient prophets, “who often compared the teachers of their own time to shepherds, and the people to sheep. Accordingly, in describing the characters of the scribes and Pharisees, he made use of the same metaphor, showing that there are two kinds of evil shepherds, pastors, or teachers; one, who, instead of entering in by the door to lead the flock out and feed it, enter in some other way, with an intention to kill and destroy; another, who, though they may have entered in by the door, feed their flocks with the dispositions of hirelings; for when they see the wolf coming, or any danger approaching, they desert their flocks, because they love themselves only. The Pharisees plainly showed themselves to be of the former character, by excommunicating the man that had been blind, because he would not act contrary to the dictates of his reason and conscience to please them. But though they cast him out of their church, Christ received him into his, which is the true church, the spiritual enclosure, where the sheep go in and out and find pasture.” He that entereth not by the door into the sheep-fold, &c. — “I assure you, that whosoever, in any age of the church, assumed the office of a teacher, without commission from me, and without a sincere regard to the edification and salvation of men’s souls, was a thief and a robber; and in the present age, he is no better who assumes that office without my commission, and particularly without believing on me, and without intending my honour and the good of the church.” — Macknight. Add to this, those do not enter in by Christ, and indeed can have no authority from him, nor ability to become pastors of his flock, who do not first take care to secure, by faith working by love, an interest in, and union with him, or, to be found in him, not having their own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; to be in him new creatures: Php 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17. But climbeth up some other way — Enters the sheep-fold as a pastor of Christ’s flock, without the necessary prerequisites and qualifications, without first obtaining a saving acquaintance with Christ, and genuine love to him; without being called to, and qualified for the work by him, and of consequence, without authority from him; who, influenced by unworthy motives, by a view to wealth, or honour, or ease, or a maintenance, or some secular employment or advantage, gets himself appointed a minister of Christ’s church, through the interest of rich and powerful friends and connections, or the aid of natural abilities, and mere human learning; or some endowment or accomplishment which is not connected with, and does not imply true piety, and a manifest call from the Lord Jesus; the same is a thief and a robber — In God’s account; entering the fold “to fleece and butcher, not to feed the flock; robbing Christ of his honour, and starving the souls of his people, in order to enrich himself, and aggrandize his family.” — Scott.

10:1-5 Here is a parable or similitude, taken from the customs of the East, in the management of sheep. Men, as creatures depending on their Creator, are called the sheep of his pasture. The church of God in the world is as a sheep-fold, exposed to deceivers and persecutors. The great Shepherd of the sheep knows all that are his, guards them by his providence, guides them by his Spirit and word, and goes before them, as the Eastern shepherds went before their sheep, to set them in the way of his steps. Ministers must serve the sheep in their spiritual concerns. The Spirit of Christ will set before them an open door. The sheep of Christ will observe their Shepherd, and be cautious and shy of strangers, who would draw them from faith in him to fancies about him.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.


Joh 10:1-21. The Good Shepherd.

This discourse seems plainly to be a continuation of the closing verses of the ninth chapter. The figure was familiar to the Jewish ear (from Jer 23:1-40; Eze 34:1-31; Zec 11:1-17, &c.). "This simple creature [the sheep] has this special note among all animals, that it quickly hears the voice of the shepherd, follows no one else, depends entirely on him, and seeks help from him alone—cannot help itself, but is shut up to another's aid" [Luther in Stier].

1, 2. He that entereth not by the door—the legitimate way (without saying what that was, as yet).

into the sheepfold—the sacred enclosure of God's true people.

climbeth up some other way—not referring to the assumption of ecclesiastical office without an external call, for those Jewish rulers, specially aimed at, had this (Mt 23:2), but to the want of a true spiritual commission, the seal of heaven going along with the outward authority; it is the assumption of the spiritual guidance of the people without this that is meant.John 10:1-18 Christ declareth himself to be the Door, and the

good Shepherd.

John 10:19-21 Divers opinions concerning him.

John 10:22-30 He proveth to the Jews by his works that he is the

Christ, and asserts his unity with the Father.

John 10:31-38 The Jews go about to stone him: he justifieth his doctrine,

John 10:39-42 and escaping from them, goeth beyond Jordan, where

many believe on him.

In this famous parable, which reacheth to John 10:30, our Saviour seemeth to drive two great designs:

1. To prove himself the true Shepherd.

2. To prove the Pharisees and teachers of those times thieves and robbers.

It should seem, that the sheepfolds in those countries were houses, which had doors by which the entry was into them: there is no doubt but by the sheepfold is meant here the church of God, in which the people of God are gathered together in one.

By the door he apparently meaneth himself, as he himself speaketh, John 10:9. Or rather, more generally, that way which God hath appointed for any that are to take charge of his church to enter. He is both the Shepherd (the true Shepherd) and the Door: the Shepherd, as the care, conduct, and government of the church belongeth to him, and is upon his shoulders: the Door, as he is he whom the Father hath ordained to be the chief Shepherd, from whom all who pretend to any right to teach or govern in the church must derive both their authority and abilities. Now saith our Saviour, Whosoever they be, that thrust themselves into the care, conduct, and government of the church, without any call or warrant from my Father or me, who am the true Door, through which whosoever entereth into the church must enter; and the chief Shepherd, from whom he must derive, or be

a thief and a robber; his very entrance makes it appear, that his end is not to feed the flock, but to feed himself; and that he drives only private designs of advantage to himself.

Verily, verily, I say unto you,.... To the Scribes and Pharisees, who had taken it ill that they should be thought to be blind; and who had cast out the man that Christ had cured of blindness, for speaking in favour of him; and who had traduced Christ as an impostor, and a deceiver, and set up themselves to be the shepherds of the flock, and the guides and rulers of the people; all which occasion the following parable; the design of which is to show, that Christ is the true and only shepherd, who was appointed, called, and sent of God, whose the sheep are, whose voice they hear, and know, and whom they follow; and that they, the Scribes and Pharisees, were thieves and robbers, and not shepherds of the flock; who were not sent of God, nor did they come in at the right door, but in another way, and usurped a domination, which did not belong to them.

He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold: the sheepfold, with the Jews, was called and this, as their writers say (o), was an enclosure sometimes in the manner of a building, and made of stone, and sometimes was fenced with reeds, and in it was a large door, at which the shepherd went in and out, when he led in, or brought out the sheep. At tithing, which was done in the sheepfold, they made a little door, so that two lambs could not come out together; and to this enclosure is the allusion here; and by the "sheepfold" is meant the church of God; see John 10:16; and a good fold it is, Ezekiel 34:14. The church may be compared to a sheepfold, because it is separated from the world: it is where the people of God, and sheep of Christ are gathered together; where there is a strict union between them; have society with each other; keep one another warm and comfortable; and where they are fed and nourished, and are preserved; and where they lie down and have rest; and which, like a sheepfold, will be taken down, and not always continue in the form it now is: and by "the door" into it, is meant Christ himself, as appears from John 10:7; faith in him, a profession of him, and authority from him. Now he that does not come into the church of God, whether as a member of it, or officer in it, at this door,

but climbeth up some other way; by hypocrisy and deceit: or, like the prophets of old, who ran and were not sent; prophesied when they were not spoken to, but took their place and post by usurpation:

the same is a thief and a robber; steals into the church, or into an office in it, and robs God or Christ of their power and authority; and such were the Scribes and Pharisees: the Persic version renders the words, "whoever does not introduce the sheep through the door of the sheepfold, know that that man is a thief and a robber"; which these men were so far from doing, that they would not suffer those that were entering to go in, Matthew 23:13. The difference between a thief and a robber, with the Jews, was, that the former took away a man's property privately, and the latter openly (p).

(o) Maimon & Bartenora in Misn. Becorot, c. 9. sect. 7. (p) Maimon. Hilchot Genuba, c. 1. sect. 3.

Verily, {1} 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.

(1) Seeing that by Christ alone we have access to the Father, there are no true shepherds other than those who come to Christ themselves and bring others there also, neither is any to be thought to be in the true sheepfold but those who are gathered to Christ.

John 10:1.[58] The new chapter ought to have begun with John 9:35; for John 10:1-21 constitute one act with John 9:35-41, as is evident both from the circumstance that John 10:1 ff. follow immediately without the slightest indication of a change having taken place, and also from John 10:6 (comp. John 9:41). The parable is therefore still addressed to the Pharisees of chap. 9; as John 10:21 also shows by the reference which it contains to the healing of the blind man.

ἀμὴν ἀμὴν, etc.] After the punitive words of John 9:41, Jesus now, with solemn earnestness, and through the medium of a parable, unveils to them how their hostile relation to Him, in rejecting Him, whilst at the same time regarding themselves as the leaders of the people of God, necessarily made them the corrupters of the nation. His discourse proceeds, however, without any objection or contradiction being raised by His opponents; for they did not understand the figure, John 10:6; many also fail to understand the explanation, and despise the speaker as crazy (John 10:20); whilst others, again, yield to the impression made by the penetrating truth of His words (John 10:21). It happened, accordingly, that Jesus was able to carry out the beautiful allegory (John 10:6) in all its detail, without interruption, as it were in one breath; and had therefore, at its close, nothing further to do than to let the words spoken produce their natural impression. Their primary effect was a division among His hearers (John 10:19), in accordance with John 9:39; such as had already showed itself in John 9:16.

ὁ μὴ εἰσερχόμενος, etc.] The flocks of sheep spent the night in a fold (αὐλή, גְּדֵרָה) surrounded by a wall, at whose gate an under-shepherd (ὁ θυρωρός, John 10:3) kept watch during the night. See especially Bochart, Hieroz. I. p. 482, ed. Rosenm. Opposed to the ΕἸΣΕΡΧΌΜ. ΔΙᾺ Τ. ΘΎΡΑς (the emphasis lies on the last word) is the ἈΝΑΒΑΊΝΩΝ ἈΛΛΑΧΌΘΕΝ, who gets up (on to the wall, for the purpose of coming into the αὐλή, over it) from elsewhere, i.e. from another direction than that indicated by the gate. There is only one gate. On ἀλλαχόθεν, which is equivalent to the old classical ἄλλοθεν, see Ael. H. A. 7. 10; V. H. 6. 2; 4Ma 1:7.

κλέπτ. κ. λῃστής] Thief and robber; a climactic strengthening of the idea (Bornemann, Scholia in Lucam, p. xxx.; Lobeck, Paralip. p. 60 f.); the individual features, however, of the soul-destroying, selfish procedure thus indicated (Ezekiel 34:8; Malachi 2:8; Jeremiah 23:1) are not to be dissevered.

For the explanation of the figure we must note,—(1) The αὐλὴ τῶν προβάτων is the Church of the people of God, whose members are the πρόβατα (comp. Psalms 23, Ps. 77:21, Psalm 95:7, Psalm 100:3), conceived in their totality as the future community of the Messianic kingdom (John 21:16 f.); comp. Matthew 25:32, consequently as to their theocratic destination (ideally). It is in itself correct, indeed, as to substance, to assume a reference to the predestinated (Augustine, Lampe) (though not in the Augustinian sense); but in form it introduces something foreign to the context. (2) The ΘΎΡΑ is not to be left without its proper signification (Lücke, De Wette); nor to be taken as denoting in general the legitimus ordo, the divine calling, the approach ordained by God, and the like (Maldonatus, Tholuck, Luthardt, Brückner, Hengstenberg, Godet, and several others); but Christ Himself is the door; indeed, He Himself in John 10:7 expressly thus interprets the point, because His hearers had failed to understand it.[59] The true leaders of the theocratic people can enter on their vocation in no other way than through Him; He must qualify and commission them; He must be the mediator of their relation to the sheep. Quite a different position was taken up by the Pharisees; independently of Him, and in an unbelieving and hostile spirit towards Him, they arrogated to themselves the position of the leaders of the people of God. It is thoroughly arbitrary to assume that Jesus did not here intend by the figure of the gate to denote Himself, notwithstanding the distinct declaration contained in John 10:9. Chrysostom, Ammonius, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, and several others, have perversely interpreted the doors of the Holy Scriptures. “Ipse textus addit imagini interpretationem qua contenti simus,” Melancthon.

[58] On the parable, see Fritzsche in Fritzschior. Opusc. p. 1 ff.; Voretzsch, Diss. de John x. 1–18, Altenb. 1838.

[59] Comp. Ignat. ad Philad. 9, where Christ is termed θύρα τοῦ πατρός; also Herm. Past. 3; Sim. 9. 12.

John 10:1. Ἀμὴνλῃστής. The αὐλή, or sheepfold, into which the sheep were gathered for safety every night, is described as being very similar to folds in some parts of our own country; a walled, unroofed enclosure. The θύρα, however, is not as with us a hurdle or gate, but a solid door heavily barred and capable of resisting attack. This door is watched by a θυρωρός [door-guard, for root “or” vide Spratt’s Thucyd., iii. p. 132], who in the morning opened to the shepherd. He who does not appeal to the θυρωρός but climbs up over the wall by some other way (lit. from some other direction: ἀλλαχόθεν, which is used in later Greek for the Attic ἄλλοθεν) is κλέπτης καὶ λῃστής, a “thief” who uses fraud and a “robber” who is prepared to use violence. That is to say, his method of entrance, being illegitimate, declares that he has no right to the sheep.

1–10. The Allegory of the Door of the Fold

1. Verily, verily] This double affirmation, peculiar to this Gospel (see on John 1:51), never occurs at the beginning of a discourse, but either in continuation, to introduce some deep truth, or in reply. This verse is no exception. There is no break between the chapters, which should perhaps have been divided at John 9:34 or 38 rather than here. The scene continues uninterrupted from John 9:35 to John 10:21, where we have a reference to the healing of the blind man. Moreover John 10:6 seems to point back to John 9:41; their not understanding the allegory was evidence of self-complacent blindness. This chapter, therefore, although it contains a fresh subject, is connected with the incidents in chap. 9, and grows out of them. The connexion seems to be that the Pharisees by their conduct to the man had proved themselves bad shepherds; but he has found the Good Shepherd: they had cast him out of doors; but he has found the Door: they had put him forth to drive him away; the Good Shepherd puts His sheep forth to lead them. We are not told where these words are spoken; so that it is impossible to say whether it is probable that a sheepfold with the shepherds and their flocks was in sight. There is nothing improbable in the supposition.

He that entereth not by the door] The Oriental sheepfolds are commonly walled or palisaded, with one door or gate. Into one of these enclosures several shepherds drive their flocks, leaving them in charge of an under-shepherd or porter, who fastens the door securely inside, and remains with the sheep all night. In the morning the shepherds come to the door, the porter opens to them, and each calls away his own sheep.

some other way] Literally, from another quarter: the word occurs here only in N.T.

the same] Better, he; literally, that one. It is a pronoun of which S. John is very fond in order to recall with emphasis some person or thing previously mentioned. Comp. John 1:18; John 1:33, John 5:2; John 5:39, John 9:37, John 12:48, John 14:21; John 14:26, John 15:26. In John 1:33 (‘the same said unto me’), John 5:11, and John 12:48 it is inaccurately translated, as here, ‘the same.’

a thief and robber] Everywhere in this Gospel (8, 10, John 12:6, John 18:40), as also 2 Corinthians 11:26, these words are given correctly as renderings of the Greek equivalents; but everywhere else in N.T. (Matthew 21:13; Matthew 26:55; Matthew 27:38, &c., &c.) the word here translated ‘robber’ is less well translated ‘thief.’ The ‘robber’ is a brigand, a more formidable criminal than the ‘thief;’ the one uses violence, the other cunning.

1–18. “The form of the discourse in the first half of chap. 10 is remarkable. It resembles the Synoptic parables, but not exactly. The parable is a short narrative, which is kept wholly separate from the ideal facts which it signifies. But this discourse is not a narrative; and the figure and its application run side by side, and are interwoven with one another all through. It is an extended metaphor rather than a parable. If we are to give it an accurate name we should be obliged to fall back upon the wider term ‘allegory.’

This, and the parallel passage in chap. 15, are the only instances of allegory in the Gospels. They take in the Fourth Gospel the place which parables hold with the Synoptists. The Synoptists have no allegories distinct from parables. The fourth Evangelist has no parables as a special form of allegory. What are we to infer from this? The parables certainly are original and genuine. Does it follow that the allegories are not?

(1) We notice, first, that along with the change of form there is a certain change of subject. The parables generally turn round the ground conception of the kingdom of heaven. They … do not enlarge on the relation which its King bears to the separate members.… Though the royal dignity of the Son is incidentally put forward, there is nothing which expresses so closely and directly the personal relation of the Messiah to the community of believers, collectively and individually, as these two ‘allegories’ from S. John. Their form seems in an especial manner suited to their subject matter, which is a fixed, permanent and simple relation, not a history of successive states. The form of the allegories is at least appropriate.

(2) We notice next that even with the Synoptists the use of the parable is not rigid. All do not conform precisely to the same type. There are some, like the Pharisee and Publican, the Good Samaritan, &c., which give direct patterns for action, and are not therefore parables in the same sense in which the Barren Fig-tree, the Prodigal Son, &c. are parables.… If, then, the parable admits so much deviation on the one side, may it not also on the other?

(3) Lastly, we have to notice the parallels to this particular figure of the Good Shepherd that are found in the Synoptists. These are indeed abundant. The parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4-7; Matthew 18:12-13).… ‘I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matthew 15:24).… ‘But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no Shepherd’ (Matthew 9:36), which when taken with Matthew 11:28-29 (‘Come unto Me all ye that labour,’ &c.), gives almost an exact parallel to the Johannean allegory.” S. pp. 167–169.

John 10:1. Ἀμήν verily) These words are in close connection with those that precede; for the ἐκεῖνοι, John 10:6, “they understood not what things they were which He spake,” has reference to ch. John 9:40, “The Pharisees—heard these words, and said, Are we blind also?” [And indeed we may suppose that this parabolic discourse, John 10:1-5, was delivered at a point of time mid-way between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22); for John 10:21, “Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?refers back to the miracle that was wrought next after the Feast of Tabernacles; and the words which He put forth at the Feast of Dedication, John 10:26-30 (containing the same image, sheep), refer to that parabolic discourse (John 10:1-5).—Harm., p. 363.]—διὰ τῆς θύρας, through the door) through Christ: John 10:9, “I am the door.” Only one legitimate way of access lies open; all others are closed.—εἰς τὴν αὐλήν, into the sheep-fold) concerning which, John 10:16, “There shall be one fold and one Shepherd.”—τῶν προβάτων, of the sheep) This allegory is continued as far as to ver, 30. And sheep seem to have been before His eyes at the time.—ἀναβαίνων, climbing up) over the fence.—κλέπτης καὶ λῃστής, a thief and robber) John 10:8, “All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers.”

Verses 1-21. -

5. Christ the Shepherd of the flock of God. The discourse which now follows was the Lord's parabolic or allegoric reply to the conduct of the Pharisaic malignants. These men, claiming to be infallible guides of the ignorant, to be veritable shepherds of the flock of God, had ignored the advent of the true and good Shepherd, had opposed the Divine call and supreme claim of the Messiah, had set themselves to disturb and dislocate the relations between him and those who saw his glory and found in him the Consolation of Israel. They had excommunicated the adoring disciple who had passed out of lifelong darkness into marvelous light. They had exaggerated the faint glimmer of light which had broken upon their own blindness into true vision. They had said, "We see," and thus shown themselves to be willfully in the wrong. Their sin abode upon them. The fold of God's sheep was something different from their own expectations and definitions. Their way into it proved that they did not know its true nature. To meet this crisis our Lord delivers a triad of related and parallel pictures, which differ from the ordinary parable (παραβολή). The parable is a picture which is complete in its elf, and invites the reader to discover some answering spiritual truth. It consists of a careful setting forth of some physical fact, some fragment of biography, some personal or domestic detail. It is true to life and experience, and embodies some ethical principle or religious emotion; and while it does not explicitly teach either, yet it suggests them to the inquiring mind. The parables of the synoptic Gospels are not exclusive or rigid in their form. The so-called parable of "the Pharisee and the publican" and that of "the good Samaritan" are at once transformable into patterns or principles of action. The element of its own interpretation is also conspicuous in that of "the rich man and Lazarus" and "the rich fool." With these latter specimens of our Lord's teaching may be compared the allegoric illustrations of the present discourse. These pictures are "transparencies" (Godet), through which the Savior's spiritual teaching pours its own illumination. They both alike differ from the "fable," a form of address in which personal characters and activities are attributed (as in the apologue of Jotham, etc.) to the irrational or even to the inanimate creation. The first of the similitudes before us has more of the character of the parable proper, because it does not at once carry its own interpretation with it. Vers. 1-6 represent in parabolic form the claims of those who aspired to provide a "door," i.e. a sure and safe entrance to the theocratic fold. In vers. 7-10 our Lord interprets and expands the first representation by giving special significance to the words he had already used, adding something to their meaning, and contrasting his own position with that of all others. From the eleventh to the eighteenth verse he once more reverts to the original picture, and claims to occupy a relation to the sheep of God's band of far more intimate and suggestive kind than what was connoted by the door into the fold. He is "the good Shepherd." In that capacity he adds other and marvelous features. The parabolic or allegorical language passes away into vivid description of the leading features of his work. The parable at last glows into burning metaphor. In the first paragraph our Lord gives a parabolic picture of flock and fold, door and porter, robber and shepherd. In the second paragraph he emphasizes the relation between the door and the fold, claiming to be "the Door." In the third he illustrates the function and the responsibility of the true "Shepherd," and the relation of the shepherd to the flock, and he claims to be the Shepherd of Israel. Verses 1-6. -

(1) The parable of the fold and flock, the door and the porter, the robber and the shepherd. Verse 1. - Verily, verily, betokens the deep solemnity and importance of the matter in hand, but not a complete break in the circumstances - neither a new audience nor a new theme. The adoption by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:1-4), by Ezekiel (34.), and by Zechariah (Zechariah 11:4-17) of similar imagery to denote the contrast between the true and false shepherds, and the anticipation by the prophets of a time when the true and good Shepherd would fulfill all Jehovah's pleasure, throws vivid light on these words of our Lord. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. Several commentators of eminence have maintained that by "the door," in this first verse, our Lord (as in ver. 7) meant at once to designate himself. This is not necessary. He rather summons the Pharisees to recognize the fact that there is a door, a way of sure and divinely appointed admission to the "fold of the sheep," through which the veritable Shepherd passes, bringing his flock with him by well-known voice and manner. Later on, our Lord claims to be the one Way' by which all under-shepherds can gain true access to the flock, and all the sheep of God's pasture can find protection and freedom; but here he suggests the principle of discrimination between a true shepherd and a thief or robber. The κλέπτης is one who is selfishly seeking his own ends, and would avoid detection; the λῃστής is one who would use violent means to secure his purpose (Judas was a "thief," Barabbas was a "robber"). The false shepherd disdains the door, and climbs up some other way along his own selfish lines of action (ἀλλαχόθεν is used in this place only, equivalent to "from some other quarter than the ordinary home of the shepherd"). His purpose is not to benefit the sheep, but to seize them, or slaughter them for his own purposes (Ezekiel 34:8). The Lord suggests that many have assumed to sustain the relation of shepherd to the flock and fold of God, with no inward call either of commission or profession. They have been eager to insist on their own rights, have mistaken their own narrow traditions for the commandments of God, have imposed upon starved and worried souls their own selfish interpretations of that commandment, and have shown that they had no legitimate access to the hearts of men. John 10:1Verily, verily (ἀμὴν, ἀμὴν)

The formula never begins anything quite new, but connects what follows with what precedes. This discourse grows out of the assumption of the Pharisees to be the only authoritative guides of the people (John 9:24, John 9:29). They have already been described as blind and sinful.

Sheepfold (αὐλὴν τῶν προβάτων)

Literally, fold of the sheep. So Rev., better, because the two ideas of the flock and the fold are treated distinctly. Compare John 10:16.

Some other way (ἀλλαχόθεν)

Literally, from some other quarter. The thief does not, like the shepherd, come from some well-known direction, as from his dwelling or from the pasture, but from an unknown quarter and by a road of his own. This from is significant, because, in the previous discourses, Jesus has laid great stress on the source from which He proceeded, and has made the difference in character between Himself and His opposers turn upon difference of origin. See John 8:23, John 8:42, John 8:44. In the latter part of this chapter He brings out the same thought (John 10:30, John 10:32, John 10:33, John 10:36).

Thief - robber (κλέπτης - λῃστής)

For the distinction see on Mark 11:17. There is a climax in the order of the words; one who will gain his end by craft, and, if that will not suffice, by violence.

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