John 10:17
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
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(17) Therefore doth my Father love me . . . For the meaning of this difficult verse, comp. Notes on John 5:17 et seq., and on Philippians 2:8-9. The thought is that in the relation between the Father and the human nature of Christ, the reason of the Father’s love is based upon the self-devotion of the Son. He who so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son to die for it, loves the Son who of His own will gives Himself to die. It is, if we might presume so to speak, as though the salvation of mankind had called forth a new relation of love between the Father and the Son.

That I might take it again.—This is given as part of the reason of the Father’s love; and the words admit of no other construction. At first sight they seem to us paradoxical, beyond and against common feeling. In acts of sacrifice, the fact that that which is lost will be certainly regained, seems to us to take away all value from the act; but here the fact that Christ will lay down His life, is stated to be in order that He may take it again; and this is the foundation of the Father’s love! The key to the meaning is in the truth that for Christ the taking again of human life is itself a further sacrifice, and that this is necessary for the completion of the Great Shepherd’s work. The scattered sheep during the whole of the world’s existence are to be gathered in by Him whose continued union with human nature makes Him at once the Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep, and the Door by whom we ever have access to the Father.

10:10-18 Christ is a good Shepherd; many who were not thieves, yet were careless in their duty, and by their neglect the flock was much hurt. Bad principles are the root of bad practices. The Lord Jesus knows whom he has chosen, and is sure of them; they also know whom they have trusted, and are sure of Him. See here the grace of Christ; since none could demand his life of him, he laid it down of himself for our redemption. He offered himself to be the Saviour; Lo, I come. And the necessity of our case calling for it, he offered himself for the Sacrifice. He was both the offerer and the offering, so that his laying down his life was his offering up himself. From hence it is plain, that he died in the place and stead of men; to obtain their being set free from the punishment of sin, to obtain the pardon of their sin; and that his death should obtain that pardon. Our Lord laid not his life down for his doctrine, but for his sheep.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.

17. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, &c.—As the highest act of the Son's love to the Father was the laying down of His life for the sheep at His "commandment," so the Father's love to Him as His incarnate Son reaches its consummation, and finds its highest justification, in that sublimest and most affecting of all acts.

that I might take it again—His resurrection-life being indispensable to the accomplishment of the fruit of His death.

Christ here asserts two things.

1. That he was about to lay down his life, and should now very shortly lay it down; but yet so as he should take it again; that is, rise again from the dead; death should not have dominion over him: by which he comforteth his disciples concerning his death, declaring,

a) That he was a freewill offering, as he further openeth it in the next verse.

b) That he should not perish in the grave, but rise again from the dead.

2. That therefore the Father loved him; for:

a) By this means he declared himself with power to be the Son of God, and the Father could not but love his Son. And:

b) By this means also he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, Philippians 2:8.

So as that the Father had many reasons to love the Son; and amongst others, this obedience of his to death, even the accursed death upon the cross, to fulfil his Father’s will, for the redemption and salvation of the sons of men, was not the least: and by this also he commendeth his Father’s love to those that are his sheep, in that his Father loveth him with the more exceeding love, for laying down his life, to purchase their redemption and salvation.

Therefore doth my Father love me,.... Christ was the object of his Father's love from all eternity, and was loved by him on various accounts; first and chiefly, as his own Son, of the same nature with him, equal to him; and also as Mediator, engaging for, and on the behalf of his chosen people; and likewise as he was clothed with their nature, and even in his state of humiliation; and not only as subject to his ordinances, and obedient to his will, and doing what was pleasing in his sight, but likewise as suffering in their room and stead, and he loved him on this account; the bruising of him was a pleasure to him, not for the sake of that itself, but because hereby his counsels and decrees were accomplished, his covenant fulfilled, and the salvation of his people obtained: hence it follows here,

because I lay down my life; that is, for the sheep; to ransom them from sin and Satan, the law, its curse and condemnation, and from death and hell, wrath, ruin and destruction: and the laying down his life on this account, was not only well pleasing to his Father, but likewise was done, with the following view; or at least this was the event of it,

that I might take it again; as he did, by raising himself from the dead, by which he was declared to be the Son of God; and to have made full satisfaction to divine justice, for the sins of his people, and therefore rose again for their, justification; and to be the victorious conqueror over death, having now abolished it, and having in his hands the keys of it, the power over that, and the grave: and which life he took up again, by his divine power, and as the surety of his people, to use it for their good; by ascending to his God and theirs, entering into heaven as their forerunner, appearing in the presence of God for them, as their advocate, and ever living to make intercession for them.

{5} Therefore doth my Father love me, because {g} I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

(5) Christ is by the decree of the Father the only true shepherd of the true Church, for he willingly gave his life for his sheep, and by his own power rose again to life.

(g) He uses the present tense because Christ's whole life was as it were a perpetual death.

John 10:17-18. Christ’s self-delineation as the Good Shepherd is finished. Jesus now further bears testimony to that which filled His heart, while setting forth this great vocation, which was only to be fulfilled by dying and rising again, namely, the love of His Father, which rests upon Him just because of that which He has declared concerning Himself as the good shepherd.

διὰ τοῦτοὅτι] is to be taken as in all the passages where it occurs in John (John 5:16; John 5:18, John 8:47, John 12:18; John 12:39; 1 John 3:1): thereforebecause, namely, διὰ τοῦτο referring to what had preceded, and ὅτι introducing a more precise explication of διὰ τοῦτο. The sense consequently is: therefore, because of this my relationship as Shepherd, of which I have spoken down to John 10:16, my Father loves me, because, namely, I (ἐγώ; no other does so or can do so) lay down my life, in order to take it again. Note in particular: (1) The explanation ὅτιμου is pragmatically correct, because it is just the readiness to sacrifice His life which is the main characteristic of the good shepherd (John 10:11; John 10:15). (2) ἵνα πάλ. λάβω αὐτήν do not belong to ἀγαπ., but express the intention or design of τίθ. τ. ψ. μου (not merely its result, as Theodore of Mopsuestia, Euth. Zigabenus, Grotius, and many suppose; or its condition, as Calvin, De Wette, and several others maintain); for the ground of the love of God lies not merely in the sacrifice considered by itself, but in the fact that the Good Shepherd, when He gives up His life, is resolved to take it again, in order that He may continue to fulfil His pastoral office till the final goal is reached, when all mankind shall constitute His flock. Indeed, only on the condition of His taking His life again, could He fulfil the office of Shepherd unto the final completion contemplated in the divine decree, and referred to in John 10:16. For this reason, also, ἵνα cannot be regarded as introducing the divine intention (Tholuck), because the ground of the Father’s love must lie in the volition of Jesus,—which volition, it is true, corresponds to the Father’s will, though this is not here expressly declared, but first in John 10:18.

John 10:18. It must be, however, not an unwilling, but a voluntary self-sacrifice, if it is to form the ground of the love of the Father to Him; hence the words οὐδεὶςἀπʼ ἐμαυτοῦ (mea ipsius sponte). Nor must He proceed to effect this voluntary sacrifice of His own authority; but must receive a warrant thereto, as also for that which He had in view in so doing, viz. the resumption of His life; hence the words: ἐξουσίανλαβεῖν αὐτήν. Nay, more; even this very thing which He purposed to do, namely, the surrender and resumption of His life, must have come to Him as a commission from God; hence the expression: ταύτην τ. ἐντολὴνπατρός μου, in which ταύτην (this and not something different) is emphatic, and τὴν ἐντολὴν is correlate to the idea of ἐξουσία, as this latter is grounded in the divine mandate. Notice further: (1) The ἐξουσία, the power conferred (so also in John 19:10 f., not power generally), lies in the relation of subordination to God, of whom the Son is the commissioned representative, and to whom He submits Himself voluntarily, i.e. from no compulsion exerted by a power outside of Himself, but with self-determined obedience to the Father (John 14:30 f.; Matthew 26:53). Equality of nature (Olshausen) is the presupposition of this moral harmony. (2) The view which pervades the New Testament, that Christ did not raise Himself from the dead, but was raised by the Father, is not affected by this passage, inasmuch as the taking again of His life, for which the divine-human Christ had received authorization, implies the giving again of the life, to wit, the re-awakening activity of the Father. This giving again on the part of God, by which Christ becomes ζωοποιηθεὶς πνεύματι (see 1 Peter 3:19, and Huther on the passage), and that ἐξουσία, which Christ receives from God, are the two factors of the resurrection—the former being the causa efficiens, whilst the latter, the ἐξουσία of Christ, is the causa apprehendens. Compare Constitutiones Apostol. 5. 7. 8 : ἑαυτὸν προστάγματι τοῦ πατρὸς διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν ἀνεγείρας.—(3) ταύτην τὴν ἐντολ. embraces the aforementioned twofold ἐξουσία; justly so, inasmuch as the authorization to die and to rise again was only formally divided according to its two aspects. Chrysostom and several others erroneously refer ταύτην to the dying alone.

John 10:17. At this point the exposition of the functions of the good shepherd terminates; but as a note or appendix Jesus adds διὰ τοῦτο, “on this account,” i.e., because I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:15 and following clause) does my Father love me. The expressed ἐγώ serves to bring out the spontaneity of the surrender. And this free sacrifice or death is justified by the object, ἵνα πάλιν λάβω αὐτήν. He dies, not to remain in death and so leave the sheep defenceless, but to live again, to resume life in pursuance of the object for which He had given it. The freedom of the sacrifice is proved by His taking His life again. He was not compelled to die.

17. Therefore] Better, On this account, or, For this cause (John 12:18; John 12:27). See on John 7:22 and John 8:47, and comp. John 5:16; John 5:18, John 6:65. The Father’s love for the incarnate Son is intensified by the self-sacrifice of the Son.

that I might take it again] literally, in order that I may take it again. This clause is closely connected with the preceding one: ‘that’ depends upon ‘because.’ Only because Christ was to take His human life again was His death such as the Father could have approved. Had the Son returned to heaven at the Crucifixion leaving His humanity on the Cross, the salvation of mankind would not have been won, the sentence of death would not have been reversed, we should be ‘yet in our sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:17). Morever, in that case He would have ceased to be the Good Shepherd: He would have become like the hireling, casting aside his duty before it was completed. The office of the True Shepherd is not finished until all mankind become His flock; and this work continues from the Resurrection to the Day of Judgment.

John 10:17. Ἀγαπᾷ) loveth Me, and lovingly enjoins this on Me,—lovingly as it were persuades Me, and I, although I must lay down My life, remain sure of His love; for I lay it down, that I may take it up again: moreover the Father, in love to Me, gives Me the sheep as my peculiar portion; because I keep His commandment concerning the laying down of My life; John 10:18, “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.” Love is intimated as coming over and above [supervenient. Coming as an extraneous addition]. The love of the Father is to be kept in sight, in the passion of Christ, not only towards us, but also towards Christ: we are not to look merely to His avenging severity [stern justice].

Verse 17. - Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. The διὰ τοῦτο points to the whole of the previous statement, and ὅτι to a more complete exposition of the precise point in it on which the Divine Father's love (ἀγαπή) rests. The "I" and "me" refer to the incarnate Son, i.e. to the Divine-human Personality of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father loveth me, because, not merely that I lay down my life, for such might be the consequence of helplessness in the presence of victorious and desperate foes. The love which merely "laid down life" would be a Buddha-like self-sacrifice, producing certain moral effects upon the minds of the onlookers, and revealing a large and loving sense of the need of others. Yet in such expression of his sacrificial love he would have relinquished his undertaking. There would have been no more that he could do for his flock, this Shepherd-functions would, in the consummating act, cease, he would be a beautiful Memory, not a living Energy; a glorious Example, not the Author of eternal salvation. He would cease to be the great Shepherd of the sheep. Now the Father's love contemplated more than this, viz. the Lord's own purpose to take up again that life which he was prepared voluntarily to lay down for the sheep. Thus he would indeed die, that he might be more of a Shepherd to them than he had ever been before. How otherwise would he personally bring the other sheep into his flock, or be known of them, as the Father was known by him? Christ declares that after his death he would still exercise royal rights, be as much a Divine-human Personality as ever. Christ, as a sinless Man, the sinless One, might indeed, after the victory over the tempter in the wilderness, or from the Mount of Transfiguration, have returned to the spiritual world without accomplishing an exodus on Golgotha, but he chose, he willed, to lay down his life. Having done this much, he might have joined the great majority, and been their Head and Chief, and left his work to be commented on by others. But such a consummation would have fallen far short of the true and sufficing object of the Father's love. Christ declares that the very end of his death was his resurrection from death. In retaking his life, he is able to continue, on perfectly different terms, the shepherding of his people he becomes in the highest sense, the great Shepherd, the good Shepherd, the archetypal, and the veritable Shepherd of the flock of God. John 10:17
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