The thief comes 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The thief cometh not, but for to steal.—Comp. Notes on John 10:1; John 10:8. The description of the thief is opposed to that of the shepherd, who constantly goes in and out and finds pasture. His visits are but rare, and when he comes it is but for his own selfish purposes, and for the ruin of the flock. Each detail of his cruel work is dwelt upon, to bring out in all the baseness of its extent the corresponding spiritual truth.
I am come that they might have life.—More exactly, I came that they might have life. The pronoun should be emphasised. I came, as opposed to the thief. He does not further dwell upon the shepherd, but passes on to the thought of Himself, and thereby prepares the way for the thought of Himself as the Good Shepherd in the following verse. The object of His coming is the direct opposite of that of the thief, who comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. He came once for all, that in Him the sheep may have life. (Comp. John 6:50-51.) The Sinaitic MS. inserts the word “eternal” here—“that they might have life eternal.” The word is probably not part of the original text, and the thought is rather of the present spiritual life which every believer now hath, and which will issue in eternal life. But comp. Note on John 10:28.
And that they might have it more abundantly.—Better, and that they might have it abundantly. The word “more” is an insertion of the English version without any authority, and it weakens the sense. It is not that a greater is compared with a less abundance, but that the abundance of life which results through Christ’s coming is contrasted with the spiritual wants and death which He came to remove. This life is through Him given to men abundantly, overflowingly. We are reminded of the Shepherd-King’s Psalm singing of the “green pastures,” and “waters of rest,” and “prepared table,” and “overflowing cup”; and carrying all this into the region of the spiritual life we come again to the opening words of this Gospel, “And of His fulness did we all receive, and grace for grace” . . . “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).
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.
And to kill and to destroy; either the souls of men by their false doctrines, which eat as doth a cancer, and poison the minds of men, and slay the souls that should not die, subverting the faith of nominal professors, though they cannot destroy any of the true sheep of Christ; or the bodies of the saints, by their oppression, tyranny, and persecution, who are killed all the day long for the sake of Christ, and are accounted as sheep for the slaughter, by these men, they thinking that by so doing they do God good service.
I am come that they might have life; that the sheep might have life, or the elect of God might have life, both spiritual and eternal; who, as the rest of mankind, are by nature dead in trespasses and sins, and liable in themselves to an eternal death: Christ came into this world in human nature, to give his flesh, his body, his whole human nature, soul and body, for the life of these persons, or that they might live spiritually here, and eternally hereafter; and so the Arabic version renders it, "that they might have eternal life"; Nonnus calls it, "a life to come"; which is in Christ, and the gift of God through him; and which he gives to all his sheep, and has a power to give to as many as the Father has given him:
and that they might have it more abundantly; or, as the Syriac version reads, "something more abundant"; that is, than life; meaning not merely than the life of wicked men, whose blessings are curses to them; or than their own life, only in the present state of things; or than long life promised under the law to the observers of it; but even than the life Adam had in innocence, which was but a natural and moral, not a spiritual life, or that life which is hid with Christ in God; and also than that which angels live in heaven, which is the life of servants, and not of sons: or else the sense is, that Christ came that his people might have eternal life, with more abundant evidence of it than was under the former dispensation, and have stronger faith in it, and a more lively hope of it: or, as the words may be rendered, "and that they might have an abundance": besides life, might have an abundance of grace from Christ, all spiritual blessings in him now, and all fulness of joy, glory, and happiness hereafter.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 10:10. The opposite of such a one as entered διʼ ἐμοῦ, is the thief to whom allusion was made in John 10:1; when he comes to the sheep, he has only selfish and destructive ends in view. Comp. Dem. 782. 9 : ἃ φησι φυλάττειν πρόβατα, αὐτὸς κατεσθίων.
ἐγὼ ἦλθον, etc.] Quite otherwise I! I have come (to the sheep), etc. By this new antithesis, in which Christ contrasts Himself, and not again the shepherd appointed through Him, with the thief, the way is prepared for a transition to another use of the figure which represents Him no longer as the door (from John 10:11 onwards), but as the true Shepherd Himself (Matthew 26:31; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:23). Compare the promise in Exodus 34:23; Exodus 37:24, in contrast to the false shepherds in Ezekiel 34:2 ff.
ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσι]. The opposite of θύσῃ κ. ἀπολ.; the sheep are not to be slaughtered and perish, but are to have life; and as the nature of the reality set forth requires, it is the Messianic life in its temporal development and eternal perfection that is meant.
καὶ περισσὸν ἔχ.] and have it abundantly (over-flowingly), i.e. in the figure: rich fulness of nourishment (comp. Psalms 23); as to the thing, abundance of spiritual possessions (grace and truth, John 1:14; John 1:17), in which the ζωή consists. Incorrectly Vulgate, Chrysostom, Euth. Zigabenus, Grotius, and many others, compare also Ewald, who interpret the passage as though περισσότερον were used, more than ζωή, wherewith is meant—the kingdom of heaven; or, according to Ewald, “Joy, and besides, constantly increasing blessing.” The repetition of ἔχωσιν gives the second point a more independent position than it would have had if καί alone had been used. Comp. John 10:18; Xen. Anab. i. 10. 3 : καὶ ταύτην ἔσωσαν καὶ ἄλλα
ἔσωσαν.John 10:10. The tenth verse introduces a new contrast, between the good shepherd and the thieves and hirelings.—ὁ κλέπτης … ἀπολέσῃ. The thief has but one reason for his coming to the fold: he comes to steal and kill and destroy; to aggrandise himself at the expense of the sheep. θύσῃ has probably the simple meaning of “kill,” as in Acts 10:13, Matthew 22:4; cf. Deuteronomy 22:1. With quite other intent has Christ come: ἐγὼ ἦλθον … ἔχωσιν, that instead of being killed and perishing the sheep “may have life and may have abundance”. This may mean abundance of life, but more probably abundance of all that sustains life. περιττὸν ἔχειν in Xen., Anab., vii. 6, 31, means “to have a surplus”. “The repetition of ἔχωσιν gives the second point a more independent position than it would have had if καί alone had been used. Cf. John 10:18; Xen., Anab., i. 10, 3, καὶ ταύτην ἔσωσαν καὶ ἄλλα … ἔσωσαν,” Meyer. Cf. Psalm 23:1.10. and to kill] To slaughter as if for sacrifice.
I am come] Better, I came. ‘I’ is emphatic, in marked contrast to the thief. This is the point of transition from the first part of the allegory to the second. The figure of the Door, as the one entrance to salvation, is dropped; and that of the Good Shepherd, as opposed to the thief, is taken up; but this intermediate clause will apply to either figure, inclining towards the second one. In order to make the strongest possible antithesis to the thief, Christ introduces, not a shepherd, but Himself, the Chief Shepherd. The thief takes life; the shepherds protect life; the Good Shepherd gives it.
that they might have] Rather, in both clauses, that they may have.
have it more abundantly] Omit ‘more;’ it is not in the Greek, and somewhat spoils the sense. More abundantly than what? Translate, that they may have abundance.John 10:10. Ἵνα κλέψῃ, that he may steal) That is peculiarly the act of a thief. There follow worse things. A thief, 1) steals for the sake of his own advantage: 2) he inflicts loss on others, a) by killing the sheep, b) by destroying the remainder of their food. There is a climax in the division, not in the subdivision: ἀπώλεια, the destruction caused by a thief, is not spiritual, but civil; but a spiritual injury is metaphorically described by it, just as by theft and murder.—καὶ θύσῃ and that he may kill) In antithesis to life.—καὶ ἀπολέσῃ, and that he may destroy) In antithesis to abundance [περισσόν]: concerning which see Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,”Verse 10. - The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy. Christ, elaborating, evolving, what is contained in the image of "thief," regards his rival as the thief of souls; he whose pretension to be a way to God is based on no inward and eternal reality, who comes for no other purpose than to make the sheep his own, not to give them pasture; to sacrifice them to his selfish ends, to use them for his own purposes, not to deal with them graciously for theirs; but to destroy, since in the pursuit of his selfish ends he wastes both life and pasture. A terrible impeachment, this of all who have not recognized the true Door into the sheepfold, who would shut up the way of life that they may exalt their own order, would diminish the chances of souls in order to secure their own position. This forms the transition to the second interpretation of the parabolic words; for he adds, I came that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly; more even than they can possibly use. This is one of the grandest of our Lord's claims. He gives like God from overflowing stores (Titus 3:6). Those who receive life from him have within them perennial sources of life for others - fullness of being (see notes, John 7:38; John 4:14). One of the differentiae of "life" is "abundance" of supply beyond immediate possibility of use. Life has the future in its arms. Life propagates new life. Life has untold capacities about it - beauty, fragrance, strength, growth, variety, reproduction, resistance to death, continuity, eternity. In the Logos is life - and Christ came to give it, to communicate "life to the non-living, to the dead in trespasses, and to those in their graves" (John 5:26).
Christ puts Himself in contrast with the meaner criminal.
I am come (ἦλθον)
More correctly, I came. I am come would be the perfect tense.
More abundantly (περισσὸν)
Literally, may have abundance.
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