John 10:6
This parable spoke Jesus to them: but they understood not what things they were which he spoke to them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) This parable spake Jesus unto them.—Better, this allegory spake Jesus unto them. The word rendered “parable” is the wider word (παροιμία, paroimia) which includes every kind of figurative and proverbial teaching, every kind of speech, as the etymology reminds us, which departs from the usual course (οῑμος, oimos). St. John nowhere uses the word “parable.” The word paroimia occurs again in John 16:25; John 16:29, and once besides in the New Testament; this is in 2Peter 2:22 (“according to the true proverb”), in a quotation from the Greek version of Proverbs 26:11, where the Hebrew word is māshal. (Comp. Note on Matthew 13:3, and Trench On the Parables, pp. 8-10.) The discourse of this chapter differs from the true parable, which is a story in which the outer facts are kept wholly distinct from the ideal truths that are to be taught; whereas here the form and the idea interpenetrate each other at every point. It is so in the other so-called “parable” in this Gospel (John 15). Strictly speaking, neither the “Good Shepherd” nor the “True Vine” is a parable. Both are “allegories,” or rather, they are, as there is every reason to think, allegorical interpretations of actual events in the material world, which are thus made the vehicle of spiritual truths. It will follow from this that the interpretation of every point in the history of the material facts (e.g., “the porter” in John 10:3) is not always to be pressed. In the parable the story is made to express the spiritual truth, and with greater or lesser fulness every point in it may have its spiritual counterpart. The outer facts which are allegorised exist independently of the spiritual truth. The fact that they express it at some central points is all that is necessary for the allegory, and greater caution should attend the use of any addition to the interpretation which is given.

But they understood not what things they were . . .—They of course understood the outer facts, then passing before their eyes, or, in any case, well known to them. What they did not understand was the spiritual truths underlying these phenomena. They must have known His words had some spiritual meaning. They were accustomed to every form of allegorical teaching, and they could not have thought that He was simply describing to them the everyday events of the shepherd’s life. But they who think that they see (John 9:41) are spiritually blind, and cannot understand the elements of divine truth.

John 10:6-8. This parable spake Jesus: but they understood not, &c. — In this symbolical way Jesus taught the Pharisees the difference between true and false teachers; but they did not understand the meaning of what he said: therefore he added, by way of explication, Verily, verily, I say unto you — I solemnly assure you of it, as an undoubted and most momentous truth; I am the door of the sheep — That is, the door by which the sheep- fold is entered. Or his meaning may be, I am not only the door by which the shepherds must enter; not only the person whose right alone it is to admit men to the office of shepherds, and who alone can qualify them for that office and dignity, but I am also the door of the sheep; it is by the knowledge of, and faith in me, by an interest in my merits, and by a participation of my Spirit, and in no other way, that men must or can enter into the truly spiritual enclosure of my church. All that ever came before me — Assuming the character of the Messiah, or any part thereof, or pretending, like your elders and rabbis, to a power over the consciences of men, attempting to make laws in and for the church, and teaching their own traditions as necessary to be observed, or other methods of obtaining salvation than by me; all those, who in former times assumed the character of teachers of religion, without a commission from me, and all those teachers and preachers of God’s word that enter not by the door into the sheep-fold, but run before I send them by my Spirit, and before they themselves are my true disciples, subjects, and servants, or are in me new creatures; (our Lord seems in particular to speak of those that had undertaken this office since he began his ministry;) are thieves and robbers — Persons influenced by improper motives, who had and have no warrant from above for assuming any such character, pretending to any such power, or undertaking any such office, and whatsoever their pretences have been or are, the administration of such persons had, and always will have, a tendency to destroy the souls they should watch over and feed: for they are not only thieves, stealing temporal profit to themselves, but robbers, plundering and murdering the sheep. But the sheep — My true people; did not hear them — Did not attend upon, relish or regard their doctrine.10:6-9 Many who hear the word of Christ, do not understand it, because they will not. But we shall find one scripture expounding another, and the blessed Spirit making known the blessed Jesus. Christ is the Door. And what greater security has the church of God than that the Lord Jesus is between it and all its enemies? He is a door open for passage and communication. Here are plain directions how to come into the fold; we must come in by Jesus Christ as the Door. By faith in him as the great Mediator between God and man. Also, we have precious promises to those that observe this direction. Christ has all that care of his church, and every believer, which a good shepherd has of his flock; and he expects the church, and every believer, to wait on him, and to keep in his pasture.This parable - See the notes at Matthew 13:3.

They understood not ... - They did not understand the meaning or design of the illustration.

3. To him the porter openeth—that is, right of free access is given, by order of Him to whom the sheep belong; for it is better not to give the allusion a more specific interpretation [Calvin, Meyer, Luthardt].

and the sheep hear his voice—This and all that follows, though it admits of important application to every faithful shepherd of God's flock, is in its direct and highest sense true only of "the great Shepherd of the sheep," who in the first five verses seems plainly, under the simple character of a true shepherd, to be drawing His own portrait [Lampe, Stier, &c.].

Our Saviour was wont to instruct them in the mysteries of the kingdom of God by parables, that is, similitudes taken from reasonable actions of men, which might be, and were, proper to express spiritual things by. Wherefore he used this method in teaching, we are told, Matthew 13:10-13. They well enough understood the words in which those parables were delivered; but the inward sense, the spiritual mysteries shadowed out in those similitudes, these they understood not; neither the common sort of his disciples understood them, nor did the better sort of his disciples understand them without a further explication of them. Our Lord therefore, in the following verses, comes to give them a large explication of the parable. This parable spake Jesus unto them,.... To the Pharisees, who were with him, John 9:40;

but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them; the things spoken by him being delivered in a parabolical way, though in lively figures, and in terms plain and easy to be understood; yet what through the blindness of their minds, and the hardness of their hearts, and their prejudices in favour of themselves, and against Christ, they did not understand what were meant by them; see Matthew 13:13.

This {b} parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

(b) This word parable, which the evangelist uses here, signifies a hidden type of speech, when words are not used with their natural meaning, but are used to signify another thing to us.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 10:6-7. Παροιμία] Every species of discourse that deviates from the common course (οἶμος); hence in the classical writers especially—proverb (Plat. Soph. p. 261 B; Soph. Aj. 649; Ael. N. H. 12. 22; Lucian, Nigr. 1. 37; comp. 2 Peter 2:22). It denotes here, as corresponding to the Hebrew משׁל, if we define the conception more exactly, not parable (because it is not a history), but allegory (see Wilke, Rhetor. p. 109). Suidas: ἡ παροιμία ἐστὶ λόγος ἀπόκρυφος διʼ ἑτέρου προδήλου σημαινόμενος.

The Pharisees do not understand the meaning of what He thus allegorically delivered to them, and therefore (οὖν, John 10:7) Jesus sees Himself compelled to begin again (πάλιν), and to explain to them, first of all, the main point on which the understanding of the whole depended, namely, how the door in John 10:1 is to be understood. It is incorrect, accordingly, with most recent commentators (also Hengstenberg and Godet), to say that we have a second parable with a different turn; if Christ had not intended even in John 10:1 to describe Himself as the θύρα, He would only have confused His hearers in John 10:7, instead of clearing matters up.

ἐγώ] with great emphasis.

τῶν προβάτων] to the sheep, as is required by John 10:1; not, through which the sheep enter into the fold (Chrysostom, Euth. Zigabenus, Wolf, Lampe, Fritzsche, Ebrard, Hengstenberg, Baeumlein, Godet, and others), so that Jesus characterizes Himself as the tutorem ac nutritorem of the sheep (Fritzsche). Christ, however, is the door to the sheep, so far as the true spiritual leaders of the people of God receive through Him the qualification and appointment to their vocation. See on John 10:1.John 10:6. The application of the parable was sufficiently obvious; but ταύτηναὐτοῖς. παροιμία [παρά, οἶμος, out of the way or wayside] seems more properly to denote “a proverb”; and the Book of Proverbs is named in the Sept[73] αἱ παροιμίαι or παροιμίαι Σαλωμῶντος; and Aristotle, Rhetor., 3, 11, defines παροιμίαι, as μεταφοραὶ απʼ εἴδους επʼ εἶδος. But παροιμία and παραβολή came to be convertible terms, both meaning a longer or shorter utterance whose meaning did not lie on the surface or proverbial sayings: the former term is never found in the Synoptic Gospels, the latter never found in John. [Further see Hatch, Essays in Bibl. Greek, p. 64; and Abbot’s Essays, p. 82.] This parable the Pharisees did not understand. They might have understood it, for the terms used were familiar O.T. terms; see Ezekiel 34, Psalms 80. But as it had been spoken for their instruction as well as for the encouragement of the man whom they had cast out of the fold, (John 10:7) εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν, Jesus therefore began afresh and explained it to them.—ἐγὼ εἰμι ἡ θύρα τῶν πρόβατων. I, and no other, am the door of the sheep. [Cf. the Persian reformer who proclaimed himself the “Bâb,” the gate of life.] Through me alone can the sheep find access to the fold. Primarily uttered for the excommnuicated man, these words conveyed the assurance that instead of being outcast by his attachment to Jesus he had gained admittance to the fellowship of God and all good men. Not the Pharisees but Jesus could admit to or reject from the fold of God.

[73] Septuagint.6. This parable] Better, This allegory. The word which the Synoptists use for ‘parable’ (parabolê) is never used by S. John; and the word here used by S. John (paroimia) is never used by the Synoptists. This should be brought out in translation; both are rendered by our translators sometimes ‘parable’ and sometimes ‘proverb.’ Paroimia occurs again John 16:25; John 16:29 and 2 Peter 2:22, and nowhere else in N.T. Everywhere but here it is translated ‘proverb.’ Paroimia means something beside the way; hence, according to some, a trite ‘way side saying;’ according to others, a figurative ‘out-of-the-way saying.’ On parabolê see on Mark 4:2.

understood not] Did not recognise the meaning.John 10:6. Οὐκ ἔγνωσαν, they understood not) Thus they might have perceived, that they were blind; ch. John 9:41, “Now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”Verse 6. - This parable spake Jesus unto them. The word παροιμία occurs only in this place and in John 16:25-29; 2 Peter 2:22. It is the LXX. rendering of מָשָׁל proverb, in Proverbs 1:1, a similitude or didactic saying. The Greek word means any speech (ethos) deviating (παρὰ) from the common way (Lange). It may deviate by its sententious or parabolical form, which conceals under a closed metaphor a variety of meanings. But they, the Pharisees, who were confident of their own position, and gloried in their influence over men, and whose moral nature was steeled and armed to resist even a possible reference to themselves as "thieves," or "robbers," or "aliens," and who would not admit any of Christ's claims to their own disparagement, understood not what things they were which he was saying to them. The blind man had heard Ms voice, obeyed, found healing, advanced step by step from a bare knowledge of "a man Jesus" to a confession of him as one empowered by God; to a belief that he was a "Prophet," able to relax Mosaic Law; and finally to a ready acknowledgment that he was the Son of God. The Pharisees were conscious of neither need, nor blindness, nor desire of salvation, nor of the Shepherd's care or grace. They will not go to him for life. They can make nothing of his enigmatic words. They take counsel against him. Their misconception contrasts strongly with the susceptibility of the broken-hearted penitents. So far the parable or proverb corresponds with the parables of the kingdom in the synoptic Gospels, and is open to many interpretations. Parable (παροιμίαν)

The word occurs but once outside of John's writings (2 Peter 2:22). The usual word for parable is παραβολή, which is once rendered proverb in the A.V. (Luke 4:23, changed to parable by Rev.), and which occurs nowhere in John. For the distinction see on Matthew 13:3.

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