Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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.VI
CHRIST THE FULFILMENT OF ALL SYMBOLICAL PASTORAL LIFE; THE TRUTH OF THE THEOCRACY AND THE CHURCH. A) THE DOOR OF THE FOLD IN ANTITHESIS TO THE THIEVES; B) THE FAITHFUL SHEPHERD IN ANTITHESIS TO THE HIRELING AND THE WOLF; C) THE CHIEF SHEPHERD OF THE GREAT DOUBLE FLOCK. (REFERENCE OF THE DOOR OF THE FOLD TO THE EXCOMMUNICATION, JOHN 9:35. CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE SHEPHERDS, THIEVES AND MURDERERS. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD. CHRIST, THEREFORE, NOT ONLY THE HIGHER REALITY OF THE EARTHLY, BUT ALSO THE TRUTH AND FULFILMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL PASTORAL OFFICE IN ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH, IN CONTRAST TO THE FEARFUL PERVERSIONS OF THE SYMBOLICAL OFFICE.) THE SYMBOLICAL COMMUNION AND THE REAL COMMUNION, OR SYMBOLICAL EXCOMMUNICATION AND REAL EXCOMMUNICATION.—THE COMMOTION AND DISAGREEMENT AMONG THE JEWS AT THEIR UTMOST HEIGHT
(John 10:1–11 pericope for Tuesday in Whitsun-week; John 10:12–16 pericope for Misericordias Domini.)
1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by [through] the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2But he that entereth in by [through] the door is the [omit the] shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear [give heed to] his voice: and he calleth1 his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4And when he putteth forth his own sheep [when he hath put forth all his own],2 he goeth before 5them, and the sheep follow him: for [because] they know his voice. And [But] a stranger will they [they will] not follow,3 but will flee from him; for [because] they know not the voice of strangers.
6This parable spake Jesus [Jesus spoke] unto them; but they understood not what things they were which he spake [spoke] unto them.
7Then said Jesus unto them again [Jesus therefore said],4 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All that ever [All those who] came before me [or, instead of me, ἦλoον πρὸ ἐμοῦ]5 are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door; by [through] me if any man enter in, he shall 10[will] be saved, and shall [will] go in and out, and [will] find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for [omit for] to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come [I came] that they might [may] have life, and that they might have it more abundantly [may have abundance].
11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth [layeth down]6 his life for the sheep. 12But he that is an hireling, and not the [a] shepherd, whose own the sheep are not [nor the owner of the sheep], seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth [teareth] them, and scattereth the sheep.7 13The hireling fleeth,8 because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine [and they know 15me9 even as]. As [as] the Father knoweth me, even so know I [and I know, κὰγώ] the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall [will] hear my voice; and there shall be [will become] one fold [flock, ποίμη, not αὐλή, Comp. John 10:16], and 17[omit and] one shepherd. Therefore [On this account, for this reason] doth my [the] Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might [may] take it again. 18No man [No one] 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 commandment10 have I received of my Father.
19There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20And many of them said, He hath a devil [demon], and is mad; why hear ye him? 21Others said, These are not the words of him [of one] that hath a devil [demon]. Can a devil [demon] open the eyes of the blind?
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL11
[The parabolic discourse of John 10 is closely connected with the preceding miracle and suggested by the tyrannical and cruel conduct of the Pharisees—the blind guides and false shepherds—towards the blind man who had been restored to sight by Jesus—the Light of the world and the true Shepherd. It was no doubt spoken before the same audience, as may be inferred not only from the uninterrupted connection, but also from the express reference to the preceding miracle in John 10:21. We have here a divine pastoral taken from everyday life in Palestine and addressed mainly to ministers of the gospel. With the whole subject should be carefully compared the Old Testament descriptions of the false shepherds and the true Shepherd of Israel with prophetic reference to the Messiah, in Ezek. 34.; Jer. 23:1–6; Zech. 11:4–17. To these may be added, as a remoter parallel, the incomparable Ps. 23 which represents the Lord as the good Shepherd of the individual believer, who feeds and guides and protects him throughout life, and even through the dark valley of death.12—John omits the parables which form such a prominent and characteristic part of Christ’s teaching in the Synoptists (comp. especially Matt. 13), but he gives two parabolic discourses or parabolic allegories, extended similes (called παροιμία, 10:6), one on the Good shepherd (John 10), and on the True Vine (John 15), which are not found in the other Gospels. A parable (παραβολή, from παραβάλλω, a comparison, similitude), in the strict technical sense derived from the synoptical parables, is a poetic narrative taken from real life for the illustration of a higher truth relating to the kingdom of heaven, which is reflected in, and symbolized by, the world of nature. As a conscious fiction, the parable differs from the myth, and the legend, which are unconsciously produced and believed as an actual fact (as children invent stories without doubting the reality); as a truthful picture of real life for the illustration of spiritual truth, it differs from the fable, which rests on admitted impossibilities (as animals thinking, speaking and acting like rational men), and serves the purpose of inculcating the lower maxims of worldly wisdom and prudence. John’s parables are extended allegories rather than parables; they present no narrative or completed picture, but simply one figure, either a man (the shepherd in relation to his flock), or an object of nature (the vine in relation to its branches), as a symbolic illustration of the character and relation which Christ sustains to His true disciples.13 Christ stands out here expressly as the object and meaning of the parable. In the parable before us we must distinguish two acts: in the one Christ appears as the Door of access to the church and to God, John 10:1–10; in the other as the true Shepherd of the flock, John 10:11–18.14 A similar blending of images we find in Heb. 9 and 10, where Christ is set forth both as the priest and the sacrifice, as the offerer and the offering (9:12; 10:19). Bengel says: Christus est ostium et pastor et omnia.—P. S.]
Our section closes the period of undecided fluctuations and fermentations in the nation. It is not merely a continuation of the word of the preceding chapter (as Meyer, Tholuck, Besser suppose); in that light is the fundamental idea, in this the shepherd is the leading thought. The conversion of the man who was born blind to Christ and his excommunication by the Pharisees (it appears from this chapter also, that they acted as an official forum) induce the Lord to exhibit in His own person the truth and fulfilment of the earthly as of the spiritual pastoral office, and in believers on Him the truth and fulfilment of the theocratic communion. Hence, this discourse ripens the disagreement among the people to a point necessarily resulting in separation. The scene is undoubtedly unchanged, the auditors are the same, but there is no reason why we should on this account, in pursuance of the example of Meyer [to which Alford assents], begin the chapter with John 9:35. Even John 10:40 and 41 belong to the close of the foregoing chapter.
This figurative speech is in form a flowing parabolical discourse [παροιμία, together with παραβολή to be comprehended in the Hebrew מָשָׁל; according to Quinctilian: fabella brevior, as the saying, John 15:1), and not a completed similitude (a parable). There is no foundation for the assumption of Strauss, that what was originally a parable was transposed by the hand of the evangelist into this more fluent form, especially as flowing parabolic discourses are to be found in the Synoptists also. Tholuck after Wilke (Rhetorik [p. 109],): “It has the character of an allegory, which exhibits a relation and is technically significant in all its features, not that of a parable, the scope of which is the application of the fundamental thought.” Allegories and parables form, however, no true antithesis. See Comm. on Matthew, chap. 13.
John 10:1–9. FIRST PARABOLIC DISCOURSE.—Christ the Door of the fold for the true shepherds of the communion in antithesis to thieves and slaughterers. Introduced by the solemn formula, Verily, verily.—Certain knowledge of the true church-discipline in antithesis to that exercised by the hierarchy.
John 10:1. He that entereth not through the door, etc.—A figure borrowed from oriental pastoral life. The sheep needing protection and guidance, but, at the same time, submissive and gentle, pressing closely to its fellows in such wise as to form a flock, knowing and following its leader, symbolizes the pious, believing soul;15 the flock is a symbol of the Church;16 the shepherd, entering by the door, symbolizes the ministry in the Church (Ps. 100:3; 95:7; 77:20); the fold גְּדֵרָה αὐλή aula), i.e., an uncovered space, surrounded by a low wall and affording protection to the flock at night—is a symbol of the fenced-in and inclosed theocracy (φραγμός, Matt. 21:33); the door itself, as the necessary entrance to the fold, is the symbol of Christ. For the further features consult the sequel. The ENTERING in [εἰσερχόμενος] is brought forward as the leading thought in antithesis to the climbing up [ἀναβαίνων]. By itself it denotes authorized entrance with right purposes. Each, however, is characterized by the addition: THROUGH THE DOOR. There should be no doubt as to the meaning of this, after the explanation of Christ, John 10:7, in reference to the Pharisees who did not understand Him, John 10:6: I AM THE DOOR.
The interpretation of the door as signifying the Holy Scriptures (Chrysostom, [Theophyl., Euth.-Zigab.] Ammon), is connected with the false discrimination of the parabolic discourses, in accordance with which the similitude changes as early as John 10:8 or 9; Tholuck approves of this discrimination. Patristic expositors since Augustine have therefore rightly comprehended the expression as having reference to the institution of the ministry by Christ; they were wrong only in limiting it to the historic Christ and the New Testament ministry. Luthardt wishes us to understand by the door, simply, the way ordained by God, without further definition, in contradiction to John 10:7. Tholuck, assenting to the opinion of Luthardt: the right, divinely ordained entrance, by which devoted love to the sheep is meant. De Wette: Only in HIS truth, in HIS way can one arrive at the condition of a true shepherd of the faithful. Approximately correct. But why is Christ spoken of in the Old Testament, and why is He in an especial manner the subject of this Gospel throughout? Christ is the principle of the Theocracy, the fundamental idea, fundamental impulse and goal of the Old Testament church of God, and hence the principle of every theocratico-official vocation from the beginning. Thus, He is the Door of the fold. He who enters not by Abrahamic faith in the promise, or through the spirit of revelation and in accordance with that, upon a theocratic office, has not entered into the fold through the door. Even Meyer says: Christ Himself is the door,—with the wonted, chiliastic reference, however, to the “future members of the Messianic Kingdom.”17
Climbeth up some other way [ἀναβαίνων ἀλλαχόθεν].—Climbeth over from some other side [than the one indicated by the door], in order to get in over the wall or over the hedge. The “OTHER WHENCE [ἀλλαχόθεν, like the old classical ἄλλοθεν],” chiefly indicates the other place; it denotes likewise, however, the comer from some other direction, the stranger, who does not belong to the fold. Significant of the untheocratic mind, i.e., disbelief of the promise, and of untheocratic motives (according to Matt. 4 cupidity and sensuality, ambition, lust of power). The climbing over may denote a human, vain striving in scriptural learning, legalistic zeal, etc., in antithesis to the way of the Spirit.
The same is a thief and a robber.18 The false way is in itself indicative of treacherous designs. The λῃστής, robber, is not simply a climactic augmentation (Meyer); neither is it a downright murderer. But the robber readily becomes a murderer if he meet with resistance, and the sheep-robber in the like case becomes a slaughterer (in this respect also the translation: MURDERER is incorrect, since it is a question of sheep). In the explanation, John 10:10, the thief is the leading idea; it is divided, however, into the stealing thief and the rapacious slaughterer and destroyer. Thus, false officials become thieves to those souls that submit themselves to them and confide in them, and worriers of those that maintain their independent faith, as. chap. 9 of the blind man whom they excommunicated. The antithesis presented by these thieves and true shepherds is of course (after Tholuck) the antithesis of selfishness (Ezek. 34:8) and love (Jer. 23:4).
John 10:2. Is a shepherd of the sheep.—[ποιμήν without the article, in the generic sense, while in John 10:11, 12, 14 where it refers specifically to Christ, the article is used three times. The E. V. misses this difference by translating in all cases “the shepherd,” while Luther is equally inaccurate in using uniformly the indefinite article: “ein (guter) Hirte.” In tho first part of the parable, John 10:1–10, Christ appears as the Door; in the second as the Shepherd. He is indeed both, but the figures must not be mixed in the same picture.—P. S.] Only he who has become a shepherd through faith in the promise or through Christ, has a loving shepherd’s heart. The form of his entrance upon the office must have been pure, in accordance with his pure motive, and he will prove himself a shepherd. This TRUE shepherd does but form a contrast to the robber; he is not yet, as the GOOD Shepherd, placed in antithesis to the hireling, or as the head Shepherd (John 10:16) to the under shepherds.
John 10:3. To him the porter [ὁ θυρωπός] openeth.—The porter watches in the night-time within the fold, and in the morning thrusts aside the bolt for the shepherd when he announces himself. Meyer (after Lücke, De Wette and others): “Ὁ θυρωρός is requisite to complete the picture of the lawful entering in, and is not designed for special exegesis; hence it is not taken into consideration again John 10:7. It is, therefore, not to be interpreted either as referring to GOD (Maldonat, Bengel [Tholuck, Ewald, Hengstenberg, with reference to 6:44 f.] ), or to the HOLY SPIRIT, Acts 13:2 (Theodor., Heracl., Rupert, Aret., Cornel, a Lap. and several others), or to CHRIST (Cyrill, Augustine), or to MOSES (Chrysost., Theod. Mopsuest. and several others).” Tholuck interprets it as signifying THE FATHER, in accordance with John 6:44, 45. But as the porter is within, in the fold, we must undoubtedly, with Stier, apprehend the Holy Spirit in this feature of the parable, although qualified as the Spirit of the church; this view is contested by Luthardt without sufficient grounds.19
And the sheep [τὰ πρόβατα] give heed to his voice, and he calleth his own sheep [τὰἵδιαπρόβατα] by name.—The article τὰ πρόβατα is to be observed. According to most expositors, these are all the sheep of the fold, and are identical with the ἴδια προβατα. [Bengel, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, etc.—P. S.] This view is impugned by the fact that nothing is said of the πρόβατα in general, but that they hear his voice; the ἴδια however, he calls by name.20 According to Bengel, these ἴδια are distinguished from the great mass of the sheep by their special need. Meyer considers it necessary to make use of the circumstance that one fold often afforded shelter at night to several flocks, whose shepherds, coming every morning, were known to all the sheep. On the other hand, the ἴδια are the sheep belonging to the particular flock of the shepherd in question. It is, however, an unfree dependence [of Meyer] upon an archæological note to pretend to discover in this passage a portrayal of the driving together of a plurality of flocks, when the figure has reference to the unitous Old Testament Theocracy. The second misapplication of an archæological comment, according to which it, was customary for the shepherds to give names to the sheep (Pricæus on our passage), consists in the idea that the shepherd must call out all the sheep of his flock by their names (indulge in a very minute roll-call). The statement that the sheep hear his voice forms part of the ideal background of the figure, for in the enclosure of the Old Testament Theocracy there are some that are not true sheep, and these do not give ear to the voice of the shepherd (comp. the Prophets and Galatians, chaps. 3 and 4). But from the real sheep, i.e., the susceptible in general, Christ further distinguishes the ί̓δια πρόβατα, that the shepherd calls by name; the favorite sheep, the elect in a stricter sense [Leben Jesu, II., p. 995); in the symbol of pastoral life the bell-wethers which precede the flock and are followed by it.21
Meyer controverts this view in the text and ratifies it in the note (against Luthardt) in these words [p. 395]: “Only the ἴδια does the shepherd call by name.” The idea of the figure is very clear: among the sheep there are some that are on terms of closest intimacy with the shepherd; these he calls by name, and because these follow him, he is followed by the whole flock. But to τὰ πρόβατα, the others in the fold, do not here come under further consideration.
John 10:4. And when he hath put forth [ἐκβάλῃ] all his own [τὰἲδιαπάντα, according to the true reading, instead of τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα his own sheep.—P. S.] These come at his call. He LAYS HOLD OF THEM and brings them out through the door. Comp. Acts 10. An intimation of the exode of the faithful from the old theocracy. He brings forth all the elect (see the reading πάντα), leaves not one behind.
[Ἐκβάλλειν illustrates the energetic mode of ἐξαγαγεῖν, and is appropriate to the employment of a shepherd who “drives” and “turns out” the sheep to pasture. It implies that the sheep hesitate and linger behind, and must be almost forced out of the enclosure. Dr. Lange first discovered in this passage an allusion to the approaching violent secession of the Christian church from the Jewish theocracy, although Luther already intimated that Christian freedom from legal bondage and judgment was here hinted at. It is supported by the term ἐκβάλλειν, by the true reading, πάντα, but especially by the preceding historical situation, the excommunication of the blind man, 9:34, the threatening decree of the excommunication of Jesus with all His disciples (9:22) and the deadly hostility of the Jewish leaders, which made an ultimate violent rupture inevitable. Meyer objects without reason, but Godet adopts and expands Lange’s view, although he connects it more with ἐξάγει (John 10:3) than ἐκβάλῃ (John 10:4). “Jesus, he says (II. 280), charactérize par ces mots une situation historique determinée. Le moment est venu pour lui d’emmener son propre troupeau hors de la théocratic, dévouée à la ruine,” etc.—P. S.]
John 10:5. But a stranger.—The communion represented in John 10:4 and 5, is delineated in respect of its exclusive nature. By the stranger only the false prophets can here be understood, until the time of the pseudo-Messiahs.22
[They will not follow, but will flee from him. The future οὐ μὴ ἀκολουθήσουσιν (the true reading instead of ἀκολουθήσωσιν), and φεύξονται is taken by Lampe as Prophetic, pointing to the cathedra Mosis plane deserenda, by Meyer simply as indicating the consequence.—This whole picture of John 10:4 and 5 is drawn from real life, and is to this day illustrated every day on the hills and plains of Palestine and Syria. Thomson, The Land and the Book, I. p. 301: “I never ride over these hills, clothed with flocks, without meditating upon this delightful theme. Our Saviour says of the good shepherd, ‘When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him.’…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. Any one that 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 know not the voice of the stranger. This is not the fanciful costume of a parable; it is a simple fact.”—P. S.]
John 10:6, 7. This parable spoke Jesus unto them, etc.—Παροιμία [not=παραβολή], any discourse deviating from (παρά) the common way (οἶμος). See above [and Meyer and Alford in loc.]. What has been said is totally incomprehensible to the Pharisees, in consequence of the idea entertained by them of their office; hence follows the direct explanation of Christ, see above. Tholuck remarks: The not understanding is not to be taken in a merely literal sense, any more than John 8:27; it means rather a state of being sealed up against that truth, which would affirm that they are not the true leaders of the people. Nevertheless it is here a question of an inability to understand, resting upon that evil basis, not simply of the unwillingness to understand.—The door to the sheep, i.e., here, the door of the shepherds; not yet primarily that of the sheep (Chrysostom, Lampe). [John 10:7. I am the door of the sheep. An expansion of the parabolic allegory and the key to its understanding. Ἐγώ, emphatic. τῶνπροβάτων not to the sheep (Lange and Meyer who thinks that John 10:1 requires this interpretation), but for the sheep, i.e., the door through which both the sheep and the shepherds (spoken of John 10:1–5 in distinction from the one true arch-shepherd, mentioned afterwards, John 10:11) must pass into the fold of the church of God (Chrysostom, Lampe, Hengstenberg, Godet, Alford, etc.).—P. S.]
John 10:8. All who came instead of me, ἧλθονπρὸἐμοῦ.—The expression is obscured by the failing to abide strictly by the figure, i.e., the DOOR. In the first place, then, the meaning is: all who πρὸ τῆς θύρας ἧλθον. With the first idea of passing by-the door, this other is connected: the setting of themselves up for the door, i.e., all who came claiming rule over the conscience, as spiritual lords, instead of the Lord who is the Spirit. The time of their coming is undoubtedly indicated to be already past by the ἧλθον, not, however, by the πρό, forasmuch as the positive πρό does not coincide with the temporal one. Hence we must not only reject the interpretation of this passage as an antijudaistic utterance against Moses and the Prophets (Hilgenfeld23), but also the temporal construction of Meyer: the hierarchic, especially the Pharisaic opposition preceded Him.24 John the Baptist also came before Him, as did all the Prophets. The explanations of Camerarius: præter me (sine me, me neglecto), of Calov: before me (antequam mitterentur, instead of after me), of Tittmann, Schleussner: ὑπέρ, loco, in the place of, are correct; they are, however, imperfect and liable to misapprehension, since all the prophets came in a certain sense loco Christi. The instead of our text at once expresses the substitution of some one for Christ, the denial of Christ, the claim to absolute Messianic authority. And at the same time emphasis is given to the ἦλθον. They came as though the Messiah were come; there was no room left for Him (Jerome, Augustine, etc.). As a matter of course, they were false Messiahs, though without bearing that name. It is not necessary that we should confine our thought to those who were false Messiahs in the stricter sense of the term (Chrysostom, Grotius and many others), since the majority of these did not make their appearance until after Christ. Every hierarch prior to Christ was PSEUDO-MESSIANIC in proportion as he was ANTI-CHRISTIAN, for pseudo-christianity involves anti-christianity, and the converse is also true. To covet rule over the conscience of men is pseudo-christian. Be it further observed that the thieves and robbers who climb over the wall, appear in this verse with the assumption of a higher power. They stand no longer in their naked selfishness; they lay claim to positive importance, and that not merely as shepherds, but as the Door itself. Thus, the hierarchs had just been attempting to exercise conscience-rule over the man who was born blind.
But the sheep did not heed them. Only those who were like-minded with them became their followers. But the true sheep remained constant to the good Shepherd.
John 10:9, 10. I am the door; if any one enter in through me.—Conclusion of the antithesis.—Enter in through me, he will be saved; i.e., he shall find deliverance in the theocratic communion. The fence of the fold saves from destruction; so also does entrance into the true fastness of the church THROUGH CHRIST.—He will go in, i.e., in the truth of the Old Testament he shall subordinate himself to the Law.—He will go out; i.e., he shall find in the fulfilment of the Old Testament, in Christ, the liberty of the New Testament faith.—And will find pasture. He who goes out through the door shall reach the true pasturage of faith, knowledge, peace. Already a new parabolical discourse announces itself: the true shepherd does indeed find the pasture for his sheep in the first place, but he also finds it for himself as a sheep (Augustine, Stier and others). Opposed to him stands the thief who arbitrarily makes a false door for himself, and finally himself counterfeits the door. He comes but, on the one hand, to steal, i.e., to rule over souls, and, on the other hand, to slay, i.e., to cast out spirits; in the one case, however, as in the other, to destroy.
The following words: I came that they may have life, and that they may have abundance (περισσόν), constitute the transition to the next parable. Two considerations here claim our attention. First, they are for the first time to receive true life; secondly, together with true life they are to receive abundance of true food (green meadows, fresh water-springs). [Comp. John 1:1: “Of His fulness have we all received grace for grace.” The English Version (with the Vulg., Chrysostom, Grotius, etc.), renders περισσόν “more abundantly,” but this would require περισσότερον.—P. S.]
John 10:11. I am the good shepherd. Second parabolic discourse. Antithesis of the good Shepherd and the hireling, on the one hand; on the other hand, of the good Shepherd and the wolf, John 10:11–15. I, Ἐγώ, emphatically repeated. As THE Shepherd (with the article), He is the true, real Shepherd, in antithesis to symbolical shepherds in the field and symbolical shepherds in the legal office (Heb. 13:20: ό ποιμὴν ὁ μέγας); as the Good Shepherd (ὁ καλός25). He is the ideal of the shepherd (Ps. 23; Is. 40:11; Ezek. 34:11) in antithesis to bad shepherds (Ezek. 37; Zech.11; Jer.23), who first appeared in the form of the thief, and now branch out into the figures of the HIRELING and the WOLF. That this is at the same time indicative of the promised Shepherd, Ezek. 34:23; 37:24, results from the foregoing passages, especially the: “I came,” “they came in my position.” “Comp. Tr. Berachoth, fol. lv. 1: Three things God Himself proclaims; famine,, plenty and a פּרנם טוב i.e., a good shepherd or head of the congregation; פדנסים טובים of Moses and David in Vitringa, Syn. Vet., p. 636. As the leading consideration in the idea of the shepherd, sacrificing love for his sheep is brought forward in Heb. 13:20.” Tholuck.
Layeth down his life for the sheep—Τιθέναι τὴν ψυχήν, a Johannean expression (John 13:37; 15:13; 1 John 3:16). If we keep the figure in mind, this is here expressive neither of the sacrificial death, nor of the payment of a ransom for the slave, but of the heroic risking of life in combat with the wolf. The ὑπέρ, then, is here synonymous with ἀντί. The shepherd dies that the flock may be saved. [Alford: “These words are here not so much a prophecy, as a declaration, implying, however, that which John 10:15 asserts explicitly.”—P. S.]
John 10:12. But he that is an hireling [μισθωτός]. —He is characterized by two things: 1. he is not a real shepherd to the sheep, but a hired servant,—he has no affection for the sheep; 2. the sheep are not his own, are not united to him by appropriation and cannot confide in him. The inner vital bond is wanting on both sides. Characteristic of the Pharisaic leaders of the people. Whose own the sheep are not, does not denote the “owner,” but the own shepherd. In this very thing consisted the guilt of the hierarchical hirelings, that they constituted themselves “owners” of the flock. And in this very way also they became hirelings, i.e. under-shepherds, to whom the dishonestly increased wages were the principal thing, while they of course as hirelings had also the predicate of the official situation. [Christ sees here, prophetically, the long list of those selfish teachers who make merchandise of the ministry for filthy lucre and hate the cross, from the apostolic age (Gal. 6:12; Phil. 3:18) down to the present.—P. S.]
He beholdeth the wolf coming.26—That he perceives him while yet at a distance, is expressive of his fear, not of his watchfulness; this fear is manifested by his withdrawal at first to a place of security (ἀφίησι τὰ προβ.), and then by his downright flight (φεύγει). The wolf comes from without, from the wilderness; he is, however, connected with the hireling by the fact of his being an alien to the flock and by his treachery towards it. He has been interpreted as symbolizing the devil (Euthymius and others, Olshausen), heretics (Augustine and others), “every anti-theocratic power” (Lücke); “every anti-Messianic power, whose ruling principle, however, as such, is contained in the devil” (Meyer). According to Matt. 7:15 and Acts 20:29, wolves may also make their appearance in an official or pseudo-prophetic form. In such case, however, according to the first passage, they have disguised themselves in sheep’s clothing. The declared wolf is the enemy of the flock, displaying his enmity openly and boldly, while the apostasy of the hireling is still cloaked in cowardly friendship; hence the wolf is the antichristian adversary of the Church, as heretic or persecutor,—in any case the instrument of Satan (comp. the Wolf in Northern Mythology).
The wolf ravisheth them and scattereth.—Twofold pernicious effect. Individual sheep are ravished and torn to pieces, i.e. individual souls are destroyed, but the flock as a Whole, the Church, is confused and scattered.
John 10:13. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, etc.—No repetition, but the explanation of the flight. As a hireling, he is solely and selfishly interested in pasturing himself; he has not the welfare of the sheep at heart. It is questionable in what degree this figure is illustrated by the conduct of the Jewish shepherds of that time. They did not seem to be wanting in bravery; at first they acted like havening wolves towards Christ, the Good Shepherd, and in the Jewish war they conducted themselves in a similar manner towards the Romans. The point illustrated by the figure is this: The hireling vanishes at the appearance of danger. There are two classes of shepherds to be found when destruction overtakes a church; the one class is composed of cowards who are secretly faithless, the other of bold and open apostates. It is, however, the cowardice of the former that enables the boldness of the latter class to excite consternation in the church. Such hirelings composed a good part of the Sanhedrin, and were especially numerous among the Scribes in the time of Jesus (John 12:42); they possessed a consciousness of the truth of Christ but no heart for it, and they delivered up the Good Shepherd to the wolf.
John 10:14. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, etc.—Explicit interpretation of the parabolic discourse just unfolded, as John 10:7. The proof of this character: I know them that are Mine, and the fact of the indissoluble connection with the flock, with true believers, whom the Father has given Him, here expressed by the relation of mutual acquaintance. True, this knowing does not mean loving; but it is still an emphatic expression by which a loving knowledge is implied. It is the expression of the personal, divine cognition of kindred personalities. The grace of Christ is such a cognition of His own on His part; faith, on the other hand, is a corresponding cognition of Christ on their part.
John 10:15. Even as the Father knoweth me.—[Belongs to the preceding verse. The E. V. wrongly treats this as an independent sentence.—P. S.] In the personal, spiritual communion of the Father with Christ, and of Christ with the Father, the mutual relationship between Christ and the faithful is rooted. The “as” denotes the similarity of manner as also of kind, inasmuch as the life imparted by Christ to His people is a divine one. A chief motive for the comparison, however, is that the cognition on the part of Christ is the cause of His recognition by believers in return, as the cognition of the Father is the foundation for the corresponding cognition of Christ (comp. chap, 14:20; 15:10; 17:8, 21; 1 John 5:1; Matt. 25:40). Tholuck: “The γινώσκειν τὰ ε̇μά corresponds with the καλεῖν κατ’ ὄνομα, the γινώσκομαι with the οἴδασι τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ.”—And I lay down my life.—Expression and measure of the strength of His love towards His people. But the salvation of the heathen also is to be effected by His death (see John 11:52; 12:24; Eph. 2:14; Heb. 13:20). Thus this thought leads to the following. Τίθημι. “Near and certain future,” Meyer.
John 10:16. And other sheep I have. [Other sheep, not another fold; for they are scattered throughout the world (11:52), while there is but one kingdom of Christ into which they will all ultimately be gathered, and to which they already belong in the counsel and love of God and His Son. Salvation comes from the Jews, but passes over to the Gentiles.—P. S.] Christ the chief Shepherd as Shepherd of the double flock of believers from the Jews and the Gentiles, John 10:16. The Jews resident out of Palestine (Paulus) are not meant, for they too belonged to the unitous Jewish fold; it is the heathen to whom Christ refers; they are not to be thought of as existing in a fold (De Wette), although subject to the guidance of God in another way (John 11:52; Acts 14:16). The heathen are His sheep in the manner stipulated, even as the Jews, i.e. those who hear His voice, who follow the drawing of the Father. Of these Christ says: I have them (ἔχω) with divine confidence. He must lead them (δεῖ); it is the decree of His Father’s love and of His own love. That He shall bring them into the fold of Israel (Tholuck), is not implied by the ἀγαγεῖν, which “means neither adducere, bring (Vulgate, Luther, Beza, Lutthardt [Hengstenb. Godet]), nor συναγαγεῖν (Euthymius, Casaubon and others), but to lead as a shepherd.” Meyer. Bengel: “Non opus est illis solum mutare.” Yet the form: ἀγαγεῖν certainly indicates that the imminent manifest leading of these sheep is a continuation of a secret leading, previously begun (gratia præveniens). Christ saw the restriction of His ministry to Israel (Matt. 10:5) abolished with His death (Matt. 21:43; chap. 28) As the exalted Christ He was made manifest as the Shepherd of the nations.
And they shall hear my voice.—Christ’s confidence in His mission to the Gentiles presupposes at the same time an assurance of their destination to salvation and of the divine guidance of grace exercised over them. They are already sheep, not merely proleptically speaking (Meyer), for the idea of the sheep which gives heed to the voice of the shepherd, and the idea of the regenerate child of God are not one and the same. The sheep is a symbol of the man who hears the voice of Christ; hence, he is shown to be a sheep by his calling, while regeneration occurs but in company with justification.
One shepherd, one flock [μία ποίμνη, εἷς ποιμήν].27—The asyndeton betokens the closer connection of the two members. On an analogous utterance of Zeno in Plutarch28 (Alex., chap. vi.), see Tholuck. The two flocks become one flock by means of the one Shepherd, in Him; not by entrance into the αὐλή of the Jews. On the contrary, the subject recently under consideration has been the leading of the Jewish flock out of the αὐλή to pasturage. Tholuck: “Since the Old Testament and the New Testament kingdom of God is but ONE kingdom, the latter being merely an outgrowth of the former, the Gentiles’ reception into it is pictured as a leading unto Zion (Is. 2:3; Zech. 14:17), by Paul as a grafting into the trunk of the good olive-tree and, similarly, in this passage as a reception into the αὐλή of Israel.” See, against this view, the note to John 10:16. In connection with the unity of the Old and the New Testament kingdom of God, we must, however, not overlook the antithesis between the typical Old Testament theocracy and the real New Testament kingdom of heaven. See Dan. 7:14. The latter does not issue from the former, but the former goes before the latter shadow-wise. Christ is the principle of the kingdom of heaven; He is, therefore, also the principle of the unity of the two flocks, Rom. 11:25. Inner relation to Christ being the grand point here, this promise has been fulfilled from the beginning of Christianity (one church); but, hence, it must also receive at last its perfect fulfilment in appearance. [Christ is, as Bengel remarks on εἶζ ποιμήν always the one Shepherd by right, but He is to become so (γενήσεται) more and more in fact. So it may be said, the unity of Christ’s flock exists virtually from the beginning and need not be created, but must be progressively realized and manifested in the world. The unity of the church, like its catholicity and holiness, are in a steady process of growth towards perfection. “It has not yet appeared what we shall be.” The nearer Christians draw to Christ, the more they will be united to each other. It is a shallow exegesis to say that this word of Christ was completely fulfilled in the union of Jewish and Gentile believers in the apostolic church. It was indeed fulfilled then; comp. Eph. 2:11–22, which is a good commentary on the passage; but it is also in ever-expanding fulfilment, and, like His sacerdotal prayer for the unity of all believers, it reaches as a precious promise far beyond the present to the gathering in of the fulness of the Gentiles and such a glorious unity and harmony of believers as the world has never seen yet. Meyer says correctly: “The fulfilment of the sentence began with the apostolic conversion of the Gentiles; but it progresses and will only be complete with Rom. 11:25 f.”—P. S.]
John 10:17. On this account doth the Father love me.—The freedom of Christ’s self-sacrifice, John 10:17 and 18. Various conceptions. 1. Διὰ τοῦτο—ὅτι significatively refers to the following: “By this doth the love of my Father appear, that I lay down My life only to take it again” (Bucer, Stier). This view may seem to be upheld by the fact that the love of the Father precedes the work of redemption, and is manifest in the exaltation of Christ. But the love which from eternity has flowed from Father to Son, the love modified by their Trinitarian relation, does not exclude a love to the God-Man, called forth by His historic accomplishment of the work of redemption, and by His moral conduct on earth. Comp. John 8:29; Phil. 2:9. Hence 2. Meyer: Διὰ τοῦτο—ὅτι is to be understood as in all passages in John (John 5:16, 18; 8:47; 12:18, 39; 1 John 3:1): on this account, because namely,—so that διὰ τοῦτο refers to the words preceding, and ὄτι introduces an exposition of διὰ τοῦτο. Consequently: “therefore, on account of this my pastoral relation of which I have been speaking (down to John 10:16), doth My Father love Me, because namely, I (εγώ with the emphasis of self-appointment, see John 10:18) lay down My life,” etc. Manifestly, the whole thought is contained in John 10:15 and 16 also, for the resurrection of Christ must of course precede the taking possession of the “other sheep” from the heathen-world.
Even the conclusion, in order that I may take it again (ἵνα πάλιν λάβω αὐτήν), is variously understood. 1. It denotes the simple consequence of the sacrifice of Christ expressed in the preceding clause (Theod. of Mopsuest., and many others); 2. it indicates the condition (hac lege ut, Calvin, De Wette); 3. the subjective purpose of Christ: because thus only could be fulfilled the ultimate design of the pastoral office John 10:16 (Stier, Meyer); 4. the divine appointment of the aim; namely, in order to take it again, in accordance with the purpose of God, 1 Cor. 1:14; 7:29; Rom. 8:17. This taking again, also, is comprehended in the divine ἐντολὴ τοῦ πατρός, John 10:18. Tholuck. Since the obedience of Christ is here represented as the object of the love of God, ἵνα must undoubtedly be understood as referring to the purpose of Christ; this purpose, however, is not merely subjective, but corresponds with the ἐντολή of the Father, which again, is an ἐντολή of personal life; this has not without reason, been urged by Calvin and De Wette.
The sense then is this: therefore doth My Father love Me, because I, dying, render a sacrificial obedience whose principle and motive is infinite trust in the resurrection of My personal life in the fellowship of His absolute personality; because I do not die despairingly, with the idea of annihilation, but in the assurance that I shall thus obtain the full revelation of life; or because I fall into the ground like a grain of wheat, in order to bear much fruit. In this victorious reliance on the new life in death contained in His sacrifice, Christ is the delight of the Father, as, in a similar spirit, the Christian is well-pleasing to God in Christ (see Is. 53:12; Luke 2:14; Matt. 3:17; John 17:5; John 12:28; John 17:1). “If the Father love the Son for this reason, this love contains also His love to the world, in the sense of John 3:16. Calvin: amorem unigenito debitum ad nos velut ad finalem causam refert.” Tholuck.
John 10:18. No one taketh it from me.—As on many other occasions Christ has here, by the solemn asseveration of His voluntary self-sacrifice, precluded any misconstruction of His death, as if He had succumbed to the hostile power of the world involuntarily and contrary to His expectations.29—I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. Different interpretations of ἐξουσία.
1. Ancient dogmatical opinion: the power of the Son of God, the power of the divine nature to render the human nature quiescent in death, and to rouse it again. Tholuck: “Like John 14:13 a dictum probans for the non posse mori of the Redeemer (Quenstädt, III. p. 420, also according to Beck, Christl. Lehrwissenschaft, 2. p. 513 and 517). But it is not the intrinsic, physical necessity of death that is denied, but the compulsive force of circumstances, as οὐδείς shows. Nothing is meant but what is contained in Matt. 26:53. Comp. John 14:30. Mortality, as also Luther rightly acknowledges, is to be imputed to Christ, inasmuch as He took upon Himself sin-infected [?] humanity; see my [Tholuck’s] Commentary on Romans 6:9.”
2. Meyer: “The authorization, in the first place of His self-sacrifice and secondly of His re-assumption of life, resting in the divine ἐντολή.” Probably a not altogether correct resumption of the views of Lücke and De Wette.
3. Lücke: “If the Father have given to the Son to have life in Himself (John 5:26), He has also given Him power to take it again. If that power be essentially a moral one, so too is this. But holy, moral power is at the same time always a power over nature. Forasmuch as Christ freely died as the Holy One, He likewise had power over death, but as a power in which the power of the Father is always present as absolute cause.”—There, however, the definite distinction: in Himself, John 5:26, is not adhered to.
4. Tholuck: “The human πνεῦμα of Christ did not die; His self-activity, gaining still greater freedom by His death, penetrates the bodily organ and admits it to the process of spiritualization; thus, according to John 5, Christ proceeds in the case of believers. Again, in John 2:19 it is the Son who effects His own resurrection.”
5. A separation of the divine and the human nature is unseasonable here. It was in His divine-human nature that Christ had life, as the principle of immortality and revivification, in Himself, i.e., in personal principial independence, though it was communicated by the Father. In this life-power, as the Man of spirit from heaven (1 Cor. 15:45), He could pass immediately, by transformation, from the first earthly form of existence into the second heavenly one. But He also had power to let His pure and holy body assume the death-form of natural humanity (not by a quiescence of its immortality, but by suffering the natural conditions of death, by humbling Himself as a man even to die as men do). He might die, but He could not see corruption; for He had power to take His life again, i.e., to cause the transformatory energy reposing in His spirit, now modified into a resurrective energy, to operate within His organism from which life had been expelled. This fact is a re-animation on the part of the Father, since the physical conditions of life, the omnipresent healing powers of God in nature, forthwith meet the spirit returning to life; it is a spontaneous resurrection, because, at the actual life-call of the Father, Christ from the other world performs the wonder of His self-quickening. [Comp. John 9:19; 11:25, ἐγώ εἱμι ἡ ἀνάστασις; 1 Pet. 3:19, ζωοποιῃθεὶς πνεύματι.]
This commandment, i.e., this known, universal law of life. Christ never has but one law of life, for holy life is perfect simplicity. This ἐντολή is the voice of God in unison with His situation and His consciousness. It has a peculiar form for each moment, John 12:49. Here, however, He has sketched it in respect of its ground-plan. It is the fundamental plan foretokened in the leading of all Old Testament saints through suffering to glory and reflected in the lives of all the faithful. This ἐντολή has reference not merely to dying (Chrysostom), nor is it to be understood simply as a promise of new life (many of the ancients); it embraces both considerations, their indissoluble connexion being precisely the main point.
John 10:19–21. There was a division therefore again. —The definite presentation of the characteristic features of Christ's redemptive work again occasions a division among the Jews, John 10:19–21; a division which is to be regarded as the final and most serious one, the foretoken of approaching separations. Be it observed that this division occurs among the “Jews” (not in the ὄχλος), i.e., among the Pharisaic hearers with whom the Lord’s last discussion was, John 9:40. Πάλιν refers to John 9:16.
The last words of Christ had indeed the effect of embittering and hardening the majority still more. They now advance the opinion: He hath a demon, etc.; still they dare not say it to His face. They propose, however, to treat Him as a madman and pay no more attention to Him. On the other hand, the friendly minority seem to be intimidated in this instance also. It is patent that they are themselves impressed by the words of Jesus (“these words are not the words,” etc.); but the only argument that they think will tell upon their adversaries is: Can a demon open the eyes of the blind? Meyer: The miracle seemed to them too great to have been performed by such agency, although it results from Matt. 12:24, that in former times even beneficent miracles may have been ascribed to demons. That passage, however, does not present a view prevalent among the Jews; it merely demonstrates that the spirit of blasphemy ventured to put an evil construction upon all the miracles of Jesus.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Symbolism of the Theocracy, the Church and the Christian Pastorate. Christ the Door of the Fold, i.e., the fundamental condition of a true pastoral life for all time.
A. FIRST PARABLE: His relation to the shepherds: He is the principle, the spirit and the goal of the pastoral office. They are either real shepherds, or, with the appearance of shepherds, thieves and murderers. a. Characteristics of genuine shepherds: In respect of their relation to Christ, to the porter, to the sheep. (They know the sheep; the sheep know them. They lead them out of the fold to the pasture, from forms into life.) b. Characteristics of false shepherds: In relation to Christ, to the porter, to the sheep. Pseudo-Christianity in the broader sense of the term: (1) Before the appearance of Christ. (2) After the appearance of Christ.
B. SECOND PARABLE: His relation to the sheep (to which the shepherds also belong). He the Good Shepherd, the Arch-Shepherd. Property of the Good Shepherd. Antithesis: the hireling and the wolf. False shepherds in collusion with declared enemies. Pseudo-Christianity in its transition to Anti-Christianity.
C. THIRD PARABLE: Christ the Head-Shepherd. The other sheep and their union with the sheep of the fold. The end: One Shepherd and One Flock. The condition: the sacrificial death of Jesus. The freedom of His self-sacrifice. The three periods of the divine pastoral office on earth; a. Christ the spirit and root of the pastoral office. Applied pre-eminently to the Old Testament time. b. Christ the Arch-Shepherd. Appearance, life and work of Jesus. c. Christ the Head-Shepherd. The New Testament Church.
2. The dechristianized official life. How the thief gradually branches out into the hireling and the wolf. The thief and the robber. The render and scatterer. How he neither knows, nor will know, any door of the fold, either for ingress or egress. How he at last vanishes from the scene, and there is but One Shepherd, One Flock. When the right motive is absent, there are always false motives (egotistical worldly ones); where the true means of entrance are not, there are always false ones (simony in the fullest sense); where true pastoral labor is not, a destructive influence over the flock invariably takes its place.
3. Christ the Door of the Fold or Old Testament Theocracy: (1) For protection from without during the night-time, (2) for removal to the pasture in the New Testament morning.
4. Church-life at the core a personal relation: (1) The Shepherd and the favorite sheep and the sheep in general; (2) the sheep which understand His call,—which at least know Him by the tone of His voice.
5. Decisive mark of the true shepherd: Love to the sheep, faithfulness, devotion to them unto death. The death of the Arch-Shepherd, the preservation of the sheep.
6. The end: One Shepherd, One Flock.
7. The mystery of the resurrective power in the dying Christ.
8. The opinion of enemies touching the shepherd’s call of the Lord. The disagreement between friends and enemies progressing towards separation.—See, moreover, in reference to particular details,—for example the doctrine of excommunication—the above Exegetical Notes.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Trial of the excommunication or ban-decree of the Pharisees on the part of the Lord—Trial of the spiritual administration of office by the symbol of pastoral life.—Earthly pastoral affairs an image of spiritual pastoral affairs.—The three parables of Christ concerning the marks of genuine shepherds: 1. They are called through the pastoral spirit of Christ (by Him, in Him, to Him); 2, they are themselves sheep in Him, the Arch-shepherd; 3, they rejoice at the union of the divided flock, the scattered sheep.—Christ’s conception of the pastoral office.
The first parable, or Christ the Door of the fold. 1. What the passing by imports: a, denial of the door; b, an arbitrary climbing in; c, denial of the sheep; d, stealing, strangling, destroying. 2. What the going in through the door imports; a. recognition of the door and the porter; b, a calling of the sheep; c, a leading of them out to the pasture; d, the proving one’s self to be a shepherd in the pasture also.—The voice of the shepherd and the voice of the stranger—What Christ understands by the voice of the pastor.—The door to the church and the door to the hearts (to the fold and to the sheep) one.—The cordial understanding between shepherd and flock.
The second parable, or Christ the Good Shepherd. 1. His pastoral aim, John 10:10; 2. His pastoral mind, John 10:11; 3. His pastoral zeal. He removes the hireling, opposes the wolf, John 10:12, 13; 4. His pastoral joy, John 10:14, 15.—The hireling and the wolf in the flock of Christ: 1. In respect of their contrast; 2. in respect of their connection.—The sheep are His: 1. By original nature; 2. by divine appointment; 3. by virtue of His self-sacrificing fidelity.—The Good Shepherd knows His own: 1. By their attraction to Him; 2. by their tractableness.
The third parable: “And other sheep I have.” 1. Sheep without a fold, without pasture, without shepherds, and yet His sheep, or the wonders of gratia præveniens. 2. Attested as sheep; a, by His destination to die for them and to be exalted to glory in order to lead them; b, by the fact that they know His voice; c, by their becoming under Him, the Shepherd, One Flock with the former sheep.—“And there shall be one flock, one Shepherd.”—The death of the faithful Shepherd, the revelation of the divine pastoral fields; 1. The sign of true shepherds and true sheep; 2, the salvation of the flock; 3, their union under the one Shepherd’s staff of Christ.—The word of Christ: One Shepherd, one flock; 1. How it has already been invisibly fulfilled; 2. how its fulfilment shall one day be fully visible; 3. how it is continually being fulfilled more and more in great signs.—The One Shepherd is Christ alone, as believers alone constitute the One Flock.—The freedom in the self-sacrifice of Christ: l. As a power of love; 2, as a power of life; 3, as a power of hope.—The mark of genuine, pious submission to God unto death, is the hope of resurrection.—True joyfulness in sacrifice is always at the same time an assurance of resurrection.—The death of Christ the consummation of the good-will of God to mankind in Him.—The death of Christ the unique great deed, 1 John 4:9.—The communion of God a kingdom of personal life.—How the word of Christ concerning His faithfulness as a Shepherd itself severs the true members of His flock from His enemies (the prelude to the final future separation of sheep and goats).
STARKE: The church (Theocracy) resembles a sheep-pen (a fold): 1. Unity of the sheep; 2. goats among them, hypocrites; 3. protection from cold, thieves, robbers; 4. of mean appearance; 5. in wildernesses yet fruitful places, (or rather in solitary but grassy pastures). Considered significant of separation from the world; riches of the Word of God, etc., (Ezek. 34:1; Jer. 23:1; Matt. 9:36; Is. 40:11; 1:23; Hos. 6:9, etc.)—ZEISIUS: The mask must finally be torn away from unfaithful shepherds, wicked teachers.—The door of faith, of the mouth, of heaven, etc. All such doors must be opened to us by the Holy Ghost.—Shepherds and sheep are together; preachers must not sunder themselves from their hearers.—CANSTEIN: In all ages a true though invisible church has existed, which has not listened to seducers, but has followed Christ only.—QUESNEL: We never know better what is meant by good shepherds and hirelings, than in times of persecution.—Men may flee not only in body, but also in spirit.—False prophets called dumb dogs, Is. 56:10; Ezek. 13:5,—who, as shepherds, assume a very bold front, and yet flee when they should stand.—ZEISIUS: O gracious, cordial and blessed acquaintance of Christ and believers!—Who would count his life too dear when the honor and will of Christ demands it? Christ affords all men at all times, and in all places, an opportunity of becoming sheep of His flock.
BRAUNE: Ps. 78:72; Ezek.34.—A hireling gradually becomes a thief and a murderer because he has not a shepherd’s heart.—GOSSNER: Where do the thieves climb in? How do they enter upon the office of teachers, into the churches? Ambition and avarice, etc.—The harmony existing between Christ and the Holy Ghost.—They flee from him (the sheep from the stranger). They do not in addition, however, use violence towards him.—Hence the world’s lamentations over the obscurity of the Bible: The porter does hot open to them because they are not sheep. But why do the simple understand? Because they are sheep.
HEUBNER: “He that entereth not in at the door.” General import: He who does not enter upon his work as a teacher in the open way, pointed out by God Himself. Special import: He who fails to enter upon the office of a teacher through the Messiah whom God has ordained, with faith in Him, in His strength and in fellowship with Him,—“But climbeth in some other way.” The general meaning of this is: He who seeks to gain access to the people and to obtain office and authority with them by unlawful means, without inward calling and with carnal views.—A soul-murderer is far more horrible than a body-murderer.—False preaching, wolf's preaching, as Luther calls it.—Poor fools, who seek to press into hearts by their strength, art or clamor.—Sheep, souls who already feel drawn to the Saviour, soon obtain a right discernment.—He calleth His sheep by name. In this see the special care of souls.—One’s life is more edifying than one’s doctrine.
John 10:6. How many thousands of hirelings have read this text without noticing how it touches them.—On the first pericope, John 10:1–11: Comparison of false teachers and Christ.—How shall Christians learn to distinguish misleaders from true leaders?—The Good Shepherd. Love will run some risk.—The wolf. The devil and men resembling Satan.—An evil spirit has supplanted the old public spirit of faith.—The extent of the love of Christ.—Such a great, wide-embracing heart is proof of the wide-embracing spirit.—If we grow more like Jesus our hearts also expand.—In Christ is the centrum unitatis of the churches.—On the second pericope, John 10:11–21 (Misericordias): The mutual fidelity of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and His flock.
John 10:18. The death of Jesus a voluntary self-surrender.
SCHLEIERMACHER: Those who are able to promote the outward prosperity of men should make use of this excellent gift; but they should neither believe themselves nor persuade others that they thereby give men the right and the true.—(Faithful following of Jesus:) The bond of faithfulness which has held the little troop of believers together through all seasons of disgrace and persecution.—MARHEINEKE: The invisible rule of Christ over all human souls.—HÖPFNER: What relation does the Reformation sustain to the promise of the Lord: There shall be one flock and One Shepherd?—BURK: The acquaintanceship between Christ and believers.—RAUTENBERG: The dispersion of the flock of Christ.—ARNDT: The Good Shepherd knows His sheep: 1, By their faith; 2, by the Holy Ghost; 3, by the renewal of their lives; 4, by prayer.—FLOREY:In the pastoral office of the Lord the glory of His divine love is revealed.—AHLFELD: The Good Shepherd and His flock.
[CRAVEN: Christ, the author and finisher of our faith: 1. the shepherd who seeks the unfolded sheep and guides them (John 10:16); 2. through Himself, the door; 3, to Himself, the governing, nourishing and protecting Shepherd.—Christ the door, denoting—1, His authority to admit and shut out; 2. His sacrifice, Heb. 10:19, 20.
John 10:19–21. The division occasioned by the revelation of unpleasant or mysterious truth. Unbelief ignores miracles because of difficulties; faith ignores difficulties because of miracles.—From CHRYSOSTOM: John 10:1. The Scriptures the door; they 1. admit to knowledge of God; 2. protect the sheep; 3, shut out wolves; 4, bar entrance to heretics.—(Our Lord calls Himself the door, John 10:7; He is the door as He introduces us to the Father, but the Scriptures are a manifestation of Christ, and in certain respects they are what He is.—E. R. C.)—Some other way (John 10:1), the commandments and traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees.—From AUGUSTINE: Christ a lowly door—he who enters through Him must be lowly, the proud climb up some other way.
John 10:3. He leadeth them out, implies that He looses the chains of their sins that they may follow Him.
John 10:6. Our Lord: 1. feeds by plain words; 2. exercises by obscure.
John 10:5, 8. The times (before and after the advent) different; the faith, the same.
John 10:8. By going in, i.e., by faith, they have life; by going out, i.e, by death, they have life more abundantly.
John 10:7, 9. How does He enter by Himself? We enter by the door because we preach Christ, He preaches Himself.
John 10:11. The good Shepherd; 1. not because He gave His life, but 2. because He gave His life for the sheep, 1 Cor. 13:3.
John 10:18. He shows His natural death was the consequence; 1. not of sin in Him, but 2. of His own will, as to the (1) why, (2) when, (3) how.—From THEOPHYLACT: John 10:3. The Holy Spirit the porter, by whom; 1. the Scriptures are unlocked; 2. the truth revealed.
John 10:10. The thief is the devil, who 1. steals by wicked thoughts; 2. kills by the assent of the mind to them; 3. destroys by acts.
John 10:14. The good Shepherd knows His sheep (and is known by them.—E. R. C), because He is so attractive to them.—From GREGORY: John 10:9. Shall go in, i.e., to faith; shall go out, i.e., to sight; find pasture, i.e., in eternal fulness.
John 10:11. He, 1. did what He bade; 2. set the example of what He commanded.
John 10:12, 13. An hireling holds the place of a shepherd, but 1. seeks not the gain of the sheep; 2. pants after the good things of earth; 3. rejoices in the pride of station. The hireling flees; 1. not by changing place, but 2. by withholding consolation. The hireling does not face danger, lest he should lose what he loves. Whether one be a shepherd or an hireling cannot be told for certain except in time of trial.
John 10:15. By my love for my sheep, I show how much I love my Father.—From ALCUIN: John 10:18. The Word does not receive a commandment by word, but contains in Himself all His Father’s commandments.—From MELANCHTHON: John 10:4. A picture of a true pastor; he shall 1. be saved himself; 2. go into intimate communion with God; 3. go forth furnished with gifts and be useful in the church; 4. find food and refreshment for his own soul.—From MUSCULUS: John 10:9. Our Lord does not say; 1. if any learned, or righteous, or noble, or rich, or Jewish man, but 2. if any man.
John 10:12. Churches cannot keep together without (faithful) pastors, the wolf scattereth them.—From M. HENRY: The similitude is borrowed from the custom of the country; similitudes should be taken from those things which are familiar, that the things of God be not clouded by that which should clear them.—The industry of the wicked to do mischief should sham us out of slothfulness and cowardice in the service of God (John 10:1).—The rightful owner enters in by the door as one having authority (John 10:2).—Good men have the good qualities of sheep; 1. harmless, 2. meek, 3. patient, 4. useful, 5. tractable to the Shepherd, 6. sociable, 7. much used in sacrifice.—The good Shepherd 1. knows His own sheep, 2. calls each one by name, 3. marks them, 4. leads them out to pasture, 5. makes them feed and rest, 6. speaks comfortably to them, 7. guards them, 8. guides them by going before.—Christ’s explication of the parable; whatever difficulties there may be in the sayings of Jesus, we shall find Him willing to explain, if we be willing to understand; one scripture expounds another.—Though it may be a solecism in rhetoric to make the same person to be both the door and the shepherd, it is no solecism in divinity to make Christ have His authority from Himself—Himself to enter by His own blood into the holy place.—Christ the door, 1. a door shut, to keep out thieves and robbers, 2. a door open, for passage and communication—(1) by Him we have our first admission into the flock, (2) by Him we go in and out in religious conversation, (3) by Him God visits and communicates with the church, (4) by Him we are at last admitted into heaven.—The mischievous design of the thief; the gracious design of the shepherd—(1) to give life to the sheep, (2) to give His life for the sheep.—A description of bad shepherds—1. then bad principles (as hirelings), (1) the wealth of the world their chief good, (2) the work of their place the least of their care; 2. their bad practices the effect of bad principles, (1) they desert the flock when danger threatens, (2)(they rob when in apparent safety. E. R. C.)—The acquaintance of Christ with those hereafter to be of His flock (John 10:16); Observe 1. the eye Christ had to the Gentiles, 2. the purposes of His grace concerning them (“them also I must bring”): (a) the necessity of their case required it, (4) the necessity of His own engagements required it; 3. The blessed effect of His purpose, (a) they shall hear my voice—not only shall my voice be heard among them but by them, (b) there shall be one fold (flock) and one Shepherd—Jews and Gentiles (all classes) being united to Christ, unite in Him.—Christ takes off the offence of the cross by four considerations (John 10:17, 18), the laying down of His life was 1. in order to His receiving it again, 2. the condition of His exaltation—therefore doth My Father love Me, 3. voluntary, 4. by order and appointment of the Father.—Better that men should be divided about the doctrine of Christ than united in the service of sin (John 10:19).—From BURKITT: He calleth His own sheep by name (John 10:5)—this denotes, 1. a special love He bears them, 2. a special care He has over them, 3. a particular acquaintance with them.—He goeth before them (John 10:4), He treads out those steps which they take in their way towards heaven.—He does not say all that were sent before Me, but all that came before Me (John 10:8)—The properties of a good shepherd—1. to know all his flock, 2. to take care of them, 3. to lay down his life for them, 4. to take care for increasing his fold (John 10:16).—From BESSER: John 10:14, Am known of Mine; a rebuke of those doubters who in voluntary humility refuse to be sure of their salvation.—From STIER: I. Concerning the true and false shepherd generally in order to a transition to Christ himself, who is in the fullest sense the Shepherd: 1. the fundamental difference, i.e. the entering in to the fold through the right door (John 10:1, 2); 2. the difference as to result, the true shepherd, (1) is admitted by the porter, (2) is acknowledged by the sheep, (3) leads them out going before, (4) they follow—the stranger, they (1) follow not, (2) flee from (John 10:3–5). II. The medium of transition concerning Christ as the door: 1. to the sheep for all under-shepherds (John 10:7, 8), 2. more comprehensively, of the shepherds and the sheep (John 10:9). III. The true and good shepherd in the sole and supreme sense, 1. in contrast with the enemy and his servants, with (1) the thief (John 10:10), (2) the hireling and the wolf (John 10:11–13), 3. independently (John 10:14–18).
John 10:3. Preaching is the calling of individuals, and finds its consummation in the special care of souls; the leading out requires the going before of the shepherd in life and example.
John 10:14. My sheep—mine, a plain indication that there are false sheep [?goats rather according to Scripture language] as well as false shepherds.—From RYLE: The use of a parable to convey indirectly a severe rebuke. John 10:2. If we would know the value of a man’s ministry we must ask—Where is the door? does he bring forward Christ and give him His rightful place?
John 10:3. The character of a true shepherd shown, 1. the porter knows by his manner of approach that he is a friend, 2. the sheep recognize his voice, 8. he calls each sheep by its own name, 4. he leads the sheep out. to pasture.
John 10:4, 5. A spiritual instinct in believers which generally enables them to distinguish between true and false teaching, 1 John 2:20.
John 10:6. They understood not; if Christ was not understood, His ministers cannot wonder that they are often misunderstood.
John 10:9. Go in and out is a Hebraism, 1. implying a habit of using a dwelling as a home, 2. expressing the habitual and happy intercourse of a believer with Christ.
John 10:11–13. The great secret of a useful and Christ-Like ministry is to love men’s souls; he that is a minister merely to get a living, or to have an honorable position, is the hireling of the verses. The true pastor’s first care is for his sheep; the false pastor’s first thought is for Himself.
John 10:14. Christ knows all His believing people; He knows 1. their names, 2. their families, 3. their dwelling—places, 4. circumstances, 5. private history, 6. experience, 7. trials.
John 10:16. One flock (ποίμνη not αὑλὴ); there is only “One holy Catholic Church,” but there are many various visible churches.—From BARNES John 10:1, 2. The only way of entering the Church is by the Lord Jesus, i.e. by, 1. believing on him, 2. obeying His commandments.
John 10:10. Life—more abundantly; they shall have, 1. not merely life, i.e. bare existence, but 2. all those superadded things which are needful to make life blessed and happy (both here and hereafter. E. R. C.)
John 10:21. The preaching of Jesus always produced effect—it made [bitter enemies, or decided friends. Not the fault of the gospel that there are divisions, but of the unbelief and mad passions of men.—From OWEN: John 10:5. The blessings promised are twofold, 1. perfect safety (shall go in and out), 2. abundance of pasturage.
John 10:15. I lay down My life; the consequence and illustration of His love.
John 10:18. The fact that Christ’s death was voluntary shows that it was necessary.—From WEBSTER and WILKINSON: John 10:9. There is no door between the soul and Christ.
John 10:16. Eph. 2:11–22 a perfect commentary on the passage.]
John 10:3.—Φωνεῖ, in accordance with A. B. D. L. [X., Sin., Lachm., Tischend., Alf], etc., instead of καλεῖ [text. rec.]. The former verb better corresponds with the figure. The sheep, as sheep, are not influenced by an understanding of the call, but by its warm, accustomed tone.
John 10:4.—Τὰ ἴδια πάντα a more expressive reading than the received text, in accordance with B. D. L. X. [Sin.], etc., Lachmann, Tischendorf. [Alford: The text. rec. reads καί at the beginning, andτὰ ἴδια πρόβατα, his own sheep, mechanically changing πάντα into πρόβατα—P. S.]
John 10:5.—In accordance with vastly preponderant authorities, A. B. D., etc., ἄκολουθήσ ο υσιν instead of θήσ ω σιν [The usual conjunct, was substituted for the indicat. and is sustained by Cod. Sin., which in this case agrees with the text. rec.—P. S.]
John 10:7.—[The text. rec. inserts αὐτοῖς with D. against preponderating testimony, πάλιν is better supported, but omitted by אּ* Tischend, ed. viii., reads simply εἶπεν οὖν ὁ ̓Ιησοῦς, Alf. retains πάλιν.—P. S.]
John 10:8.—Πάντες is wanting in D., etc., on account of the difficulty of the passage, and πρὸ ἐμοῦ in E. F. and some others, because the passage could be turned against the Old Testament by the Gnostics. See De Wette on the passage. [Tischendorf, ed. 8, omits πρὸ ἐμοῦ in accordance with א.* E. F. G., etc.; Alt, Westcott and Hort retain it, and explain its omission, with De Wette, Meyer and Lange, from the fear of the Gnostic and Manichæan misuse of the passage against the O. T. On the different translations of πρὸ ἐμοῦ—before me, instead of me, without regard to me, etc.—see the EXEG.—P. S.]
John 10:11.—[τίθησιν, layeth down, is preferred by Tischend., Alt, W. and H. to δίδωσιν, giveth.—P. S.]
John 10:12.—[The last τὰ πρόβατα is omitted by א. B. D. L., Tischend., W. and H., bracketed by Lachm., Alf, defended. by Meyer and Lange, who regards it as “indispensable for the expression of the idea that the wolf is Indeed able to make individual sheep his prey, but not the flock as a whole which he can only scatter.”—P. S.]
John 10:13.—The words: ὁ δὲ μισθωτὸς φεύγει, the hireling fleeth, might appear to be a superfluous repetition or might be omitted; on this account they are wanting in B. D. L. Sin. (Tischendorf). They however serve as an introduction to the characterization of the hireling.
John 10:14.—Instead of γινώσκομαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐμῶν [text, rec], B. D. L. [Cod. Sin.], etc., read γινώσκουσιν με τα ἔμά. So Lachmann, Tischendorf. Meyer justly remarks (following De Wette): This active turn is in conformation to the following.
John 10:18.—[Lange renders ἐντολήν rather freely: Lebensgesetz, law of life; Noyes: charge.—P. S.]
Comp. Chr. Fr. Fritzsche: Commentatio de Tens janua ovium, eodemque pastore. In Fritzschiorum Opuscula. [Voretzsch: Dissert. de Joh. 10. Altenb., 1838].
[Comp. also the description of eastern shepherd life in Dr. Thomson’s The Land and the Book (New York, 1859), vol. 1., p. 301 ff., which tends to confirm and illustrate many particulars in this parable]
[Similar brief parabolic allegories we find also in the Synoptists, Matt. 9:37, 38; 24:4–45 Luke 15: 4, 5; 17:7–9. John never uses, παραβολή, which occurs nearly fifty times in the Synoptists and twice in the Hebrews, but παροιμία four times, viz., 10:6 (parable in the E. V.); 16:25, 29 [rendered proverbs]. Literally, παροιμία [from παρά and οἶμος way, course] means a by-word, an out of the way discourse, hence a figurative, enigmatic, pregnant speech, a dark saying [in opposition to, παῤῥησίᾳ λαλεῖν]; then also, and, like tho Hebrew maschal, a sententious maxim, proverb or also parable in the usual sense.—P. S.]
[Dr. Lange resolves it into three parables, by dividing the second act into two (John 10:16). Christ the Shepherd in relation to the sheep, and Christ the Arch-shepherd of Jews and Gentile3. Godet, less appropriately: First Parable: the shepherd (in general), 1–6; Second Par.: the door, 7–10; Third Par.: the Good Shepherd, 11–18.—P. S.]
[Augustine, Lampe, and Meyer correctly confine the sheep to the elect, or the true believer. Alford: “The sheep throughout this parable are not the mingled multitude of good and bad; but the real sheep, the faithful, who are, what all in the fold should be. The false sheep (the goats rather, Matt. 25:32) do not appear; for it is not the character of the flock, but that of the shepherd, and the relation between him and the sheep, which is here prominent.”—P. S.]
That is the community of believers in the church; while the church as an organized institution (the theocracy in the Old, the visible church in the New economy), is represented by the fold, the αὐλὴ τῶν προβάτων. See below.—P. S.]
[Meyer quotes in illustration Ignatius Ad. Philad. c. 9, where Christ is called θύρα τοῦ πατρός, and Pastor Hermæ Sim. ix.12, to which may be added 3:9: “As no one can enter into a city but by its gate, so no one can enter into the kingdom of God but by the name of the Son of God.” The reference of the door to Christ is settled by the text itself (John 10:7) and should not be disputed, as Melanchthon says: “Ipse textus addit imagini interpretationem qua contenti simus.”—P. S.]
[Comp. John 10:8, where the same persons are meant by κλέπται καὶ λησταί, viz., the anti-messianic (Jewish) and anti-christian hierarchy, especially the Pharisees and their successors in the Christian church. In the Synoptists Christ speaks of them with equal severity; comp. Matt. 23:13; Mark 12:33–40; Luke 12:2.—P. S.]
[Alford agrees with Lange and Stier in referring the θυρωρός especially to the Holy Spirit. In the parallel passages, however, which he quotes, Acts 14:27 (how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles); 1 Cor. 16:9 (no agent mentioned); 2 Cor. 2:12; Col. 4:3 (that God would open into us a door), there is no specific reference to the Holy Spirit, except in Acts 13:2, which ho omits. Godet understands the porter of John the Baptist (comp. 1:7, but this would confine the parable to the. Old Testament theocracy, while it is equally applicable to the Christian church. Webster and Wilkinson: θυρωρός, as in Mark 13:34, signifies a minister, one who has charge of the house of God.—P. S.]
[κατ’ ὄνομα, distributively, each by its own name, not simply ὀνομαστί, or ὀνόματι, or ἐπ’ ὀνόματος. It denotes Christ’s individual interest in each soul. On the eastern custom to name sheep, individually, as we give names to horses and dogs, see the quotation in the next note.—P. S.]
[In favor of this interpretation may be quoted the following remarks from Dr. W. W. Thomson, The Land and the Book (N. Y., 1859), vol. I., p. 302: “Some sheep always keep near the shepherd, and are his special favorites. Each of them has a name, to which it answers joyfully, and the kind shepherd is ever distributing to such choice portions which he gathers for that purpose. These are the contented, happy ones. They are in no danger of getting lost or into mischief, nor do wild beasts or thieves come near them. The great body, however, are mere worldlings, intent upon their own pleasures or selfish interests. They run from bush to bush, searching for variety or delicacies, and only now and then lift their heads to see where the shepherd is, or rather, where the general flock is, lest they get so far away as to occasion remark in their little community, or rebuke from their keeper. Others again are restless and discontented, jumping into every body’s field, climbing into bushes, and even into leaning, trees, whence they often fall and break their limbs. These cost the good shepherd incessant trouble. Then there are others incurably reckless, who stray far away, and are often utterly lost.”—P. S.]
[So also Alford: ἀλλότριος is not the shepherd of another section of the flock, but an alien: the λῃστής of John 10:1.—P. S.]
[And the anti-Jewish Gnostics and Manichæans, who used this passage as an argument against the Old Testament.—P. S.]
[So also Bengel (who presses εἰσί as indicating living opponents) and Lücke. Dean Alford likewise takes πρό in the sense of time, but includes in those false predecessors all the followers of the devil (comp. 8:44), who was the first thief that clomb into God’s fold. His was the first attempt to lead human nature before Christ came. Wordsworth lays the stress on ἦλθον, came (i.e., in their own name), as opposed to being sent; but such a distinction is artificial and is set aside by the fact that Christ says of Himself ἐγὼ ἦλθον, John 10:10. Still others limit πάντες to false Messiahs and false prophets before Christ.—P. S.]
[Καλός, fair, beautiful, often in the moral sense, good, comp. the Attic καλὸς ἀγαθός in opposition to πονηρός, κακὀς. Here it is almost identical with ἀληθινός, genuine, as set over against the imperfect, the inadequate; the model shepherd. Comp. 1:9; 6:32; 15:1 (I am the true, genuine, ideal Vine).—P. S.]
[In the East the shepherds are well armed to defend their flock against fierce wolves, leopards, and panthers who prowl about the wild wadies and frequently attack the sheep in the very presence of the shepherd. And when the thief and the robber come, the faithful shepherd has often to risk his life for the flock. Dr. Thomson says (I. 302); “I have seen more than one case in which he had literally to lay it down in the contest.”—P. S.]
[Alford: “The μία ποίμνη is remarkable—not μία αὐλή, as characteristically, but erroneously rendered in the E. V.: not one fold, but one flock; no one exclusive enclosure of an outward church,—but one flock, all knowing the one shepherd and known of Him.” The Ε. V. followed the Vulgate (ovile), Cranmer’s and the Geneva Bible.—P. S.]
[Of a union of all men ὤσπερ ἀλέλης συννόμα νόμῳ κοινῷ σνυτρεφομἐνης. A stoic dream that can only be realized by Christianity,—P. S.]
[Olshausen: “John 10:18 shows that neither a compulsory decree of the Father, nor the power of the Evil One occasioned the death of the Son, but that it resulted only from the inward impulse of the love of Christ…. This view sets aside many objections derived from the argument that God, as love, could not deliver the Son to death. The death of Christ is the pure effluence of boundless love, which thus displays its very essence in the sublimest form.”—P. S.]
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.FOURTH SECTION
The separation between the friends and foes of Christ, the children of light and the children of darkness
ANTITHESIS BETWEEN THE UNBELIEVERS IN JUDEA, WHO WISH TO KILL THELORD, AND THE BELIEVERS IN PEREA, AMONG WHOM HE FINDS REFUGE. THE FEAST OF THEDEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE. THE FINAL CONFLICT BETWEEN THE FALSE MESSIANIC HOPE ANDTHE TRUE MESSIANIC WORK; FOLLOWED SPEEDILY BY THE STONING. THE TRUE AND THE FALSEDEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE. CHRIST THE SON OF GOD. THE ACTUAL REALIZATION OF THE DIVINEAND MESSIANIC FORMS OF THE OLD COVENANT
22And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication [Then the feast of the dedication 23occurred at Jerusalem], and [omit and] it [It] was winter [,]. And Jesus walked [was walking, περιεπάτει] in the temple in Solomon’s porch. 24Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt [agitate our souls, hold our minds in suspense]? If thou be [art] the Christ, tell us plainly [frankly]. 25Jesus answered them, I told you [spoke to you], and ye believed [believe]30 not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they [these] bear 26witness of me. But [Nevertheless] ye believe not, because [for, γάρ] ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.31 27My sheep hear [heed] my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man [and no one shall] pluck [tear] them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me [who hath given them to me], is greater [something greater, μεῖζον] than all,32 and no man [no one] is able to pluck [tear] them 30[anything (at all) ] out of my Father’s hand. I and my [the] Father are one [Ἐγὼ χαὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν].
31Then the Jews [The Jews therefore] took up stones again to [in order to, ἵνα] stone him. 32Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my [the] Father; for which of those [these] works do ye stone me ? 33The Jews answered him, saying, [omit saying].33 For a good work we stone thee not; [,] but for blasphemy; and because that [omit that] thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 34Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law,’ I said, Ye are gods?’ (Ps. 82:6). 35If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken [made void], 36Say ye of him, whom the Father hath [omit hath] sanctified, and sent into the world, ‘ Thou blasphemest;’ because I said, I am the 37Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38But if I do [them], though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe [understand],34 that the Father is in me, and I in him [in the Father].35
39Therefore they sought again to take [seize] him; but [and] he escaped [passed out, went forth, ἐξῆλθεν] out of their hand, 40And went away again beyond [the] Jordan into [to] the place where John at first baptized [was baptizing]; and there he abode. 41And many resorted [came] unto him, and said, John did no miracle [John indeed wrought no sign]: but all things that John spake [said] of this man were true. 42And many believed on [in] him there.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[Lücke introduces this Discourse at the Feast of Dedication, John 10:22–42, with the remark: “The conflict thickens, the issue looms up with certainty, the great hour approaches swiftly.” The section is remarkable for one of the strongest assertions of Jesus concerning His dynamic and essential oneness with, and personal distinction from, God the Father, John 10:30.—P. S.]
John 10:22. The feast of the dedication of the temple.—Christ, after His appearance at the Feast of Tabernacles, returned to Galilee (Leben Jesu, vol. II. p. 1004), in order to prepare the great body of His disciples for the last decisive journey to Jerusalem. The proof of this is given above. According to the testimony of the Synoptists, Jesus was followed at his final departure from Galilee by great multitudes that accompanied him through Peræa, whereas the greatest secrecy had been observed on the occasion of His journey to the Feast of Tabernacles.36 The charge of “harmonistic hypothesis,” made against this assumption, is utterly without weight; πάλιν, John 10:40, assuredly has reference to the presupposition that Jesus had before sojourned in Peræa. Tholuck alleges, in opposition to the view of Paulus, Ebrard, P. Lange and Neander, that the feast of the dedication of the temple might be celebrated out of Jerusalem; it, however, by no means follows that it must be celebrated out of that city. The evangelical history is made to exhibit a strange anomaly by the supposition that Jesus passed two entire months (between the Feast of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication of the Temple) in Jerusalem, without leaving any traces or reminiscences of His stay. This journey to the Feast of the Dedication may be regarded as an episode in the journey to the last Passover,—the latter journey being begun with full decision of purpose as openly and at as early a period as possible.
The Feast of the Dedication of the Temple was by no means so insignificant; it must, from its nature, draw the Israelite, and hence the Lord individually to the temple, so long as He had not come to a positive rupture with the temple. It was the feast of renovation (חֲנֻכָּה, ἐγκαίνια) instituted by Judas Maccabæus (1 Macc. 4:36; 2 Macc. 10:6; Joseph. Antiqu. X. 7, 6 [XII. 7, 7]) in commemoration of the purification and fresh dedication of the temple after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes; it was the type of the Christian festival of church dedication (which is also called ἐγκαίνια). The celebration lasted eight days, commencing with the 25th of the month Kislev (the middle of December); its jubilant pageantry resembled that of the Feast of Tabernacles; there was especially a general illumination of the city, and hence the feast was also called τὰ ψῶτα, while from its fundamental idea it derived the name of ἡμέραι ἐγκαινιαμοῦ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου.
At Jerusalem.—Even if there was a general observance of the feast throughout the country, its centre was of course the temple.37
It was winter (-weather).—As this remark is designed as an explanation of what follows, it is not to be regarded (with Lücke [Meyer, Alford]) as merely denoting the wintry season, in order thus to explain [to Greek readers] why Jesus walked in a porch of the temple, particularly as the temple was ordinarily the constant resort of Jesus when He was in Jerusalem. The raw wintry weather is at the same time indicated (Matt. 16:3, Clericus, Lampe), very probably in explanation of the circumstance that Jesus was, for the instant not encircled and protected by the customary throngs of faithful followers, when the Jews suddenly surrounded Him.38
John 10:23. In Solomon’s porch [arcade, colonnade].—The στοὰ Σολομῶνος (Acts 3:11) was according to tradition incorporated into the new temple buildings as a venerable remnant of the temple of Solomon (Josephus Antiqu. XX. 9, 7). It was situated on the eastern side of the temple-porch (στοὰ ἀνατολική in Josephus). Exegetes direct attention to the trace of eye-witness-ship in this remark (comp. John 8:20).39
[In the same place the apostles afterwards wrought miracles and proclaimed the gospel of Christ, Acts 3:11; 5:12. Large portions of massive masonry, evidently belonging to the early ages of the temple, are still found on the temple area. Dr. Robinson (Researches, Am. ed., 1856, vol. Ι. p. 289), after describing these ruins, says: “The former temple was destroyed by fire, which would not affect these foundations; nor is it probable that a feeble colony of returning exiles could have accomplished works like these. There seems, therefore, little room for hesitation in referring them back to the days of Solomon, or rather of his successors, who, according to Josephus, built up here immense walls, ‘immovable for all time’ (ἀκινήτους τῷ παντὶ ξρόνῳ, Antiq. XV. 11, 3). Ages upon ages have since rolled away, yet these foundations still endure, and are immovable as at the beginning. Nor is there aught in the present physical condition of these remains, to prevent them from continuing so long as the world shall last. It was the temple of the living God; and, like the everlasting hills on which it stood, its foundations were laid for all time.”—P. S.]
John 10:24. Then came the Jews around him [lit. gathered around him in a circle, ἐκύκλωσαναὐτόν].—It is manifest that Jesus is at this time destitute of adherents,—a situation of which the hostile Jews promptly take advantage.40 He finds Himself unawares encircled by them. He must, however, have had His reasons for permitting the arrival of this moment. Here again are things spoken, by which their most secret thoughts are laid bare and exposed to the illumination of the word of Christ. As a matter of course, these Jews are Pharisees; the position assumed by them and Jesus’ answer to them, John 10:26, prove that they are likewise members of the Sanhedrin.
How long dost thou agitate our soul? [Ἕως πότε τὴν ψυχὴν ἡμῶν αἴρεις;]—Not: how long dost Thou take possession of our hearts, but, how long dost Thou raise us up, excite us, how long dost Thou hold our souls in suspense? See the illustrations from the Classics and Josephus in Meyer. [In Josephus ψυχὴν αἴρειν means to uplift the soul, to raise the courage (Antiq. III. 2, 3; III. 5, 1), but it has also the more general sense to excite the soul (= μετεωρίζειν), which in this case was done by Messianic expectations.—P. S.]
If thou art the Christ.—The usual explanation, that they design from the first hypocritically to draw from Him some expression whereupon they may ground His condemnation, leaves unnoticed the ardent longing of the Jews for a temporal Messiah after their own heart,—a longing which occupies a conspicuous place in the gospel history. Hypocrisy certainly is at work, but only inasmuch as they have a presentiment that He will not answer their chiliastic cravings. There is then a visionary longing as well as a fanatical irony in their question (comp. chap. 8) The feast of the dedication was the festival of Judas Maccabæus who had driven the heathenish Syrians out of Jerusalem. On that day did the Jews wish more ardently than ever that a new Maccabee or Hammerer might arise and beat down the Romans.
John 10:25. I have spoken to you.—The εἰπον ὑμῖν must not be translated: I have told you so. For that would be an unmistakable affirmative, and would at once present to them the alternative either of paying Him homage as the Messiah, or of seizing and trying Him as a false prophet. The εἷπον might indeed be considered to have a positive reference to the foregoing εἰπὲ ἡμῖν παῤῥησίᾳ: “I have (plainly) told you, but,” etc.41 Christ subsequently, however, Sets forth His desire to be first acknowledged by them in the works that He does in the Father’s name (not in the official Messianic name). Therefore we read: “I have spoken to you—and ye believe not—: the works,” etc.,—i.e. I have given you a token of what I am. This answer is not really evasive, for it is Christ’s will to be known as the Messiah by what He is to them, and not by their Messianic idea in what He is. According to Meyer Jesus had already told them many times that He was the Messiah, though not so directly as He had told the Samaritan woman. But the tragical part of this history and the proof of how far a would-be orthodox theology may depart from the living word of God, is contained in the very fact that it was necessary for Him to lock up His Messianic name from them in His own heart, until the moment (Matt. 26:64) when their fanatical Messianic conception condemns Him to the cross.
John 10:26. For ye are not of my sheep.—A statement of the reason of their unbelief. Ye do not recognize Me in My word and work, and, not knowing Me, ye do not subordinate yourselves to Me and trust in My guidance; on the contrary, ye desire a Messiah, that he may be the subservient tool of your passions.—As I said unto you.—The omission (see the TEXT. NOTES) was probably occasioned by the fact that no verbal declaration to this effect is to be found. Such a declaration is, however, conveyed in intention by the parables of the Good Shepherd, John 10. Hence we must not with Euthymius and others refer these words to the subsequent discourse of Jesus. And so much the less, since entirely new considerations are therein presented to us: 1. that the sheep follow the Shepherd, 2. that He gives His sheep eternal life, etc. Neither can any importance be attached to the doubts of Strauss and others concerning the probability of the assumption that Jesus is reminding His hearers of a parabolical discourse uttered by Him two months before; and Meyer justly observes that it was not characteristic of Jesus to repeat His more lengthy discourses.
John 10:27–29. My sheep hoar my voice, etc.—Bengel: “Tria sententiarum paria, quorum singula et ovium fidem et pastoris bonitatem exprimunt per correlata.” But we apprehend the three correlative members somewhat differently, always placing the Shepherd before the sheep. In advance, however, comes the saying which embraces the whole: the sheep that are Mine, they hear My voice [τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἐμὰ τῆς φωνῆς γου ἀκούουσιν]. The unfolding of this personal connection: a. I know them [κἀγὼ γινώσκω αὐτά]: and they follow Me [καῖ ἀκολουθοῦσίν μοι]; b. I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish [κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα]; c. none shall tear them out of My handοὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου]: the Father gave them to Me, and He is greater than all: none can tear them out of the Father’s hand.
In this arrangement of the propositions, Christ is the Shepherd, the principle of the relationship; with His personal conduct the conduct and relationship of the flock correspond. The first proposition (a) declares the foundation and condition of salvation; the second proposition (b) declares the blessing, internally and externally considered: because Christ gives them eternal life, they shall never perish in the terrors of eternity, death and judgment. The third proposition (c) is descriptive of the absolute protection which they enjoy. It has reference to the former word concerning the wolf. Exegesis, however, should not overlook the fact that the Jews at that time beheld the wolf in the Roman power which threatened destruction to their nation. If, then, Jesus means to say that the spiritual safety of believers, as the Church of Christ, should be secured in His hand, so too He says that in the hand of the Father who is exalted above every power of this world, they should at the same time be preserved from destructive oppression on the part of the Roman temporal power. Therefore, what the Jews in carnal and fanatical excitement sought in vain in their Messiah, they should really and truly find in Christ.
According to Augustine and Calvin, Christ’s words declare the doctrine of the grace of final perseverance; Tholuck agrees, but insists upon the condition which Augustinian and Calvinistic divines imply, that the marks of a true sheep must be discoverable in them that are kept, and that according to 1 John 2:19, the apostate is regarded as not really belonging to the Church, because of his failure to comply with the condition of walking in the light. Meyer, on the other hand, remarks in accordance with the Lutheran belief, that the possibility of falling away is not excluded by the words of Christ. What is excluded is, above all things, the confounding of different stages: he who is awakened may fall away as an awakened man; he who is sealed is sealed. A dispute upon this subject, without distinction of the different stages, is a battle of words.42
John 10:30. I and the Father are one.—This grand saying of Jesus serves primarily as a proof of the preceding statement; hence its primary signification is: land the Father are one in the work of salvation. The heart of the Shepherd corresponds with the nature of the sheep, which nature the Father created by His gratia præveniens. The Shepherd’s call of grace corresponds with the divine vocation in them. His eternal life that He puts into their hearts, corresponds with the destiny prepared for them by God,—that they shall never perish. His spiritual preservation corresponds with the historical preservation ordained by God: the triumphant church of Christ, is the triumphant Kingdom of God. But this soteriological oneness of Father and Son in work and government is at the same time expressive of their ontological oneness in power and substance. This saying, therefore, has not a mere soteriological reference to the oneness of the hand or the oneness in power, as set forth in this syllogism: (a) No man can pluck them out of My Father’s hand; (b) I and My Father are one; (c) consequently no man can pluck them out of My hand. (Chrysostom, Calvin, and others, Lücke). It is rather the unity of the whole parallel, “ the co-operation of Father and Son in the whole economy of salvation.” Tholuck after Tertullian and others; comp. 1 Cor. 3:8. “In the Arian controversies Alexander, Athanasius and many others made use of this passage against the Arians as a dictum probans, declaring it to mean the unitas naturæ of the Logos and the Father, while the Arians on the other hand held that it signified the consensus voluntatis. The interpretation of the Socinians, who regarded it as signifying the unitas voluntatis et potestatis, was not indeed rejected by the representatives of the Church, but the latter considered the unitas naturæ to be implied by the unitas potentiæ. See Gerhard I. p. 252, Lyser and others. Even Calvin—although on this account accused by Hunnius of a scelus—brought forward this argument. The point treated of by this saying is, in fact, not the Trinitarian relationship, but the relation of the Incarnate One to the Father.” Tholuck. Meyer is also of this opinion.43 In upholding this view, however, they overlook these facts: 1. That the economical Trinity [of revelation] points back to the ontological Trinity [of essence]; 2. that the Jews apprehend this expression ontologically, and hence accuse Christ of blasphemy against God; 3. that Christ does not correct their ontologicai conception of His meaning, but favors it, and in conclusion, as they fully believe, confirms it, John 10:38.
[The neuter ἕν denotes, according to the connection and for the purpose of the argument, unity of will and power, which rests on the unity of essence or nature; for power is one of the divine attributes which are not outside of the divine essence, but constitute it. Even if we confine ἕν to dynamic unity, we have hero one of the strongest arguments for the strict divinity of Christ. It is implied even more in ἐσμεν than in ἕν. No creature could possibly thus associate himself in one common plural with God Almighty without shocking blasphemy or downright madness. In this brief sentence we have, as Augustine and Bengel observe, a refutation both of Arianism and Sabellianism; ἕν refutes the former by asserting the dynamic (and, by implication, the essential) unity of the Father and the Son, Ἐγώ καὶ ὁ πατήρ and ἐσμεν refute the latter by asserting the personal distinction. Sabellianism would require the masculine εἶς instead of the neuter, and this would be inconsistent with ἐσμεν and the self-conscious Ἐγώ.44—P. S.]
John 10:31. Took up stones again.—Again as John 8:59 and for a similar cause. The arrival of the decisive turning point in their wavering mood is again induced by Christ’s asseveration concerning His divine nature. They have no use for such a Messiah who contradicts their consciousness, that has become unitarian.—They have already caught up stones and raised them high in air (ἐβάστασαν); nevertheless the word of Jesus fetters their arm. It is the counteraction of the might of His Spirit; no doubt assisted, however, by the want of a literal formula, upon the strength of which they might securely bring Him to trial. His words are everywhere peculiar to Himself, the Man of the Spirit, and they are forever in doubt as to whether they have rightly understood Him. But the matter with which they think they can reproach Him, they subsequently declare.
John 10:32. Many good works have I shewed you from my Father.—Jesus answers them; that is, He replies to their sign-language. He has thoroughly understood them in their malice, but designates them as incomprehensible, in accordance with their own consciences to which He appeals.Καλὰ ἔργα, 1. Works of love: Baumg.-Crusius; 2. præclara opera, excellent works: Meyer; 3. irreproachable works: Luthardt. Special importance attaches to the ἔργον itself. The ἔργον ἐκ τοῦ πατρός is a miracle. Similarly, the ἔδειξα without doubt contains the idea of sign-giving. Καλόν is indicative of moral beauty, beneficence.—For which of these works do ye stone me? The ironicalness of this expression is unmistakable and invites an elucidation of biblical irony in general (comp. 2 Cor. 12:13. A principal passage is Ps. 2). At the foundation, however, of this ironical speech lies the deeper meaning that He, in all His words and works, is but the representative of the Father; so that their every assault upon Him is a declaration of war against God Himself. Furthermore these words seem to assume 1. that capital punishment should not be inflicted on account of a word; 2. that it should be inflicted on account of a work, only inasmuch as that work is proved to be deserving of death. Execution should be preceded by a regular trial. Above all things we should fix our eyes upon the sublime composure of Jesus as manifested by His ironical speech in this condition of affairs.
John 10:33. For blasphemy, and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God.—It is questioned whether the following καὶ ὄτι σύ, etc., is simply an explanation; according to Meyer: “For blasphemy and that because.” The καί would then be superfluous. They reproach Him with two things: first, that He places God on a par with Himself—and this they call blasphemy; secondly, that He makes Himself God—and in this they think they recognize the false prophet; although both ideas undoubtedly play into each other.
John 10:34. Is it not written in your law, I said ye are gods?—In your law (see John 8:17), a reference to Ps. 82:6. According to Tholuck and Ewald the psalm does not refer to angels or foreign princes but to unjust theocratic judges. אֱלחִֹים, Ex. 21:6; 22:28 (comp. 2 Chron. 19:5–7). “Moses uses it in a collective sense—Sept. to τὸ κριτήριον τοῦ θεοῦ; here in the Psalm it is a personal appellation of individuals; in parallel with θεοί is υἱοὶ ὑψίστου” Tholuck.—I said, εἶπα Ewald explains this: I thought ye were. Tholuck thinks it has reference to the institution of Moses; according to the subsequent explanation of the Lord, the expression refers to the fact that the λόγος τοῦ came to them,—that they were called to their office by the word of God. Full of meaning, then, is the idea of Cyril who considers the passage as significant of the λόγος ἄσαρκος; and that of Theodor-Mopsuest. (and Olshausen) who take it to mean the word of God’s revelations to the judges. In opposition to this Tholuck remarks that revelations were attributed only to the. Law-giver as judge. This latter view is, however, contrary to the Old Testament: every judge in the time of the judges was called by a λόγος θεοῦ, David and Solomon were so called and every royal or priestly Mashiach was assumed to have received such a call, inasmuch as he did at least receive it through the typical anointing. A principal consideration is this: the theocratical callings came by the Angel of the Lord, i.e., by Christ in the Old Testament, the λόγος ἄσαρκος, and hence those who were called received the name of Elohim.
John 10:35. If he called them gods.—Conclusion: a minori ad majus. In what respect: 1. from those blameworthy judges and their lofty title—to Christ (Bengel, Lücke); 2. from those who derived their dignity from the Mosaic institution, to Him whom God hath sanctified (Gerhard, Tholuck); 3. from those to whom the λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ did but come, to Him whom God sanctified and sent into the world, i.e., whom He has actually made His λόγος to the world; the Logos-nature of Christ is here implied though not expressed (Cyril, etc.). This last we hold to be the only correct conception, the only one satisfactory to the Old Testament Christology.
[Alford: “The argument is a minori ad majus. If in any sense they could be called gods,—how I much more properly He, whom, etc. They were only officially so called, onlyλεγόμενοι θεοί—but He, the only One, sealed and hallowed by the Father, and sent into the world (the aorists refer to the time of the Incarnation), is essentially θεός, inasmuch as He is υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. The deeper aim of this argument is, to show them that the idea of man and God being one, was not alien from their Old Testament spirit, but set forth there in types and shadows of Him, the real God-Man.”—P. S.]
And the Scripture cannot be broken; λυθῆναι, Matt. 5:19; John 5:18; 7:23. Be made invalid, subverted. Meyer: “The auctoritas normativa et judicialis of the Scripture cannot be done away with. Note here the idea of the unity of the Scriptures.” This practical sense of the Scripture certainly prevails here, although it is founded upon the inspiration of the sacred writings. (Gaussen, Stier). Inspiration is undoubtedly modifiable, though not by the distinction of important and “unimportant” words.
[Webster and Wilkinson: “This remark proves that the terms in which God made His revelation to man were regarded by our Lord as Divinely inspired; that the form as well as the substance of Scripture is given by inspiration of God, for His argument here is founded upon the mode of expression adopted by the sacred writers.” Godet: “ The expression shows the boundless confidence with which the Scripture word inspired Jesus.”—P. S.]
John 10:35. Whom the Father hath sanctified, etc.—Interpretations: 1. Melanchthon and others: the unctio with divine gifts and attributes; 2. Tholuck: consecration to the Messianic office, one with the σφραγίζειν, John 6:27, etc. (?). The meaning, in accordance with the idea of sanctification, is as follows: He has taken Him out from the world in order to appropriate Him to the world; i.e., He has made Him the God-Man, the now Man, the wonder of the new life, and has also accredited Him to you by His sinlessness and miraculous works. This is spoken in antithesis to the typical sanctification, or consecration to office, enjoyed by the Old Testament judges or messiahs. They were consecrated by men, by means of outward anointing or calling; He is consecrated by the Father, by the anointing of the Spirit and the attestation of works. This circumstance, then, contains the strongest intimation that He is in truth the Messiah, and at the same time furnishes the most conclusive evidence that He is no typical Messiah, but the real Messiah.
I am the Son of God.—Christ’s reasoning receives additional force from the antithesis between the real dignities and the titles. In respect of the dignities He proceeds a minori ad majus; in respect of the title a majors ad minus (gods, Son of God),—i.e., at least according to the literal expression as apprehended by them. This expression is also an explanation of the words: I and My Father are one. The conclusion, John 10:38, proves that the υἱὸς might, in accordance with rationalistic interpretation, be primarily understood as a mere official name.
John 10:37. If I do not the works.—The works of Christ are the Father’s works as new works, creative works, such as He can do only in oneness with the Father, John 9:3.—Believe me not.—A conditional absolution from belief; at once real and ironical.
John 10:38. And ye believe not me (might not—are not able to believe).—Distinction of a gradation in faith. They cannot, perchance, soar up to the direct view of His personality. This flight of faith is not allotted to every one. But they are able and are morally bound to set foot upon the first step of faith: to recognize the divinity of His mission by His works. Hence they will derive the knowledge that Christ stands in the closest communion with God, and thus a higher belief in His personality will be produced in them. There would hardly be an immediate knowledge on their part of His divine personality; and this also is unfavorable to the reading quoted above and recommended by Meyer [see TEXT. NOTES].
That the Father is in me.—This is not the full import of that oneness with the Father, declared by Christ, John 10:30, but the living manifestation of it in His works; if they would not harden themselves, they would be in a condition believingly to take knowledge of that revelation, and their further progress in faith would be assured. In a sense, then, the περιχώρησις essentialis is but intimated here.45 Christ in His character as the Redeemer is in the Father by submersion, contemplation, by the seeing of His works; the Father is in Christ by revelation, appearance, co-operation in the works of Christ.
John 10:39. Again to take him.—(See John 8:30, 32). This denotes a milder ebullition of their rage in comparison with their previous attempt to stone Him. The apparently obscurer and more indefinite saying of Christ seemed to demand a preliminary trial.
And he escaped out of their hands.—“Something in this of a miraculous nature (a rendering of Himself invisible), although assumed by many ancient exegetes and still by Baumg.-Crusius and Luthardt, is not intimated by John.” Meyer. But John has just shown that Christ was able so to impress His enemies as to render them powerless.
John 10:40. Again beyond the Jordan.—Peræa. See Note on John 10:22. In thus doing He has not given up the people, but He withdraws into a region of greater susceptibility. He was still bound to the last trial, as to whether the dynamical power of His friends would overcome that of His enemies or succumb to it, when the whole nation should be assembled at the Paschal Feast. He remained in that place from the time of the feast of the dedication until His journey to Bethany.
John 10:41. And many resorted unto him.—Bengel: Fructus posthumus officii Johannis. But we must not overlook the fact that Christ had before sojourned in Peræa and worked there.—John did no miracle.—Nevertheless he is attested by Christ. Himself in what he said of Him. And thus his testimony to Christ lives again and continues working to the furtherance of faith.
STARKE: The different dedications of the Jewish temple: 1. Under Solomon, 1 Kings 8:2; 2. under Hezekiah, 2 Chron. 29:17, 19; 3. by Zerubbabel, Ezra 6:16; 4. by Judas Maccabæus, 1 Macc. 4:41; 2 Macc. 5:1; 5. in the time of Herod. Joseph. Antiqu. xv.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See the EXEG. NOTES John 10:24–30 and John 10:34.
2. The longing of the Jews for a Messiah in its relation to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, to John 6:15, and to similar moments in the evangelical history.
3. The temptation of Christ by the Jews, in connection with the temptation, John 8:1–11, and the temptation in the history of the Passion.
4. Christ here also evades their Messianic idea in order, on the other hand, to establish His own.—The life of Christ the ideal realization of Maccabæan heroism and of the new Dedication of the Temple.
5. The sheep of Christ, or the germs of the New Testament biblical doctrine of election, predestination and vocation, Rom. 8:29.
6. “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30). The soteriological foreground, the ontological background of this word. The distinction of Person: We; the oneness of substance: One.
[Comp. the EXEG. NOTES.—Wordsworth in loc.: “We are one. Listen to both words ‘are’ and ‘one’. The word ‘ are’ delivers you from the heresy of Sabellius; the word ‘one’ (‘unum’) delivers you from that of Arius. (Aug.). Sail thou in the midst, between the Scylla of the one and the Charybdis of the other. Christians framed a new word, ‘Homoousion Patris (consubstantial with the Father), against the impiety of Arianism; but they did not coin a new thing by a new word. For the doctrine of the Homoousion is contained in our Lord’s own words,—‘I and My Father are one’—‘unum,’ one substance (Aug. Tract, xcvii. See also Aug. Serm. 139). And there were Christians in fact, before the name ‘Christians,’ was given to believers at Antioch. (Acts 11:26). The same remark applies to the words ‘Trinity,’ θεοτόκος, and some others; against which exceptions have been made by some in modern times. It has been objected by Socinians and others, that these words of Christ do not signify oneness of substance, because our Lord used a similar expression when speaking of His disciples, in His prayer,—ἵνα πάντες ἔν ὦσιν, καθὼς σὺ, πάτερ, ἐν ἐμοὶ, κἀγὼ ἑν σοὶ, ἴνα καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἡμῖν ἕν ὦσιν, 17:21; comp. John 10:22, 23. That language of Christ does indeed prove that the Father and the Son are not the same person; and so it is valid against the Sabellian heresy. But it does not show that they are not consubstantial. It is a comparison; and things compared are not identical. It contains a prayer, that all believers may be one in heart and will, as the Persons of the Trinity are; that by virtue of Christ’s Incarnation, by which He became Emmanuel,—God with us, God manifest in the flesh, or, as He there expresses it, ἐγὼ ἐν αὐτοῖς (17:23, 26)—they may be united in the One Godhead. Indeed that language proves the consubstantiality of the Three Persons. Men are not different natures from each other; they are all of one blood (Acts 17:26), of one substance,—being all from Adam and Eve. If the Son is inferior in nature to the Father, and different in substance from Him, the comparison could not have been made. The consubstantiality of all men, with a diversity of persons in each individual, and their union in God, is an apt illustration, as far as human things can be, of the true doctrine of the One Nature and Plurality of Persons in the Godhead.”—OWEN: “Some refer this unity to one of purpose merely. But the context refers to power, as the attribute of the Father specially referred to. This shows that unity of power, rather than unity of purpose, is here predicated of the Father and Son. But a oneness of power—which with God is omnipotent power—involves the idea of a unity of being or essence, and shows that the Father and Son are essentially one. But even if a unity of will and purpose only is meant in the unity here spoken of, does not an absolute oneness in this respect presuppose essential unity? In either case, whether unity of power or purpose be intended, the passage teaches most clearly an essential unity of the Father and Son. The manifest design of the declaration is to prevent any misconception, which arises from the fact, that the sheep are spoken of as being in the hand of both the Father and the Son. The question might arise, how, at one and the same time, they could be in the hand of two distinct beings, each so powerful that none could pluck them from their hand. The answer, simple, concise, and unmistakable, is that these Persons are one and the same in essence; and that so united are they in their essential being, that whoever claims the protection and care of one, has an equal demand, upon that of the other. Hence there was nothing strange in the assertion, that the sheep were in His hand, and also in that of his Father. That this is the great argument of the passage, seems too plain to be for a moment questioned. To claim that a mere unity of will and purpose, aside from an essential unity of being, meets the requisitions of this declaration, when considered in relation to the context so clear and well defined, is as absurd as to say that two persons may have distinct and personal possession of a thing at one and the same time, merely because there exists between them a unity of will and purpose. That essential unity is here intended is clear, not only, as we have shown, from the scope of the passage, which requires something more than oneness of purpose, but also from the following context, and especially John 10:33, where the mutual indwelling of the Father and Son is expressly declared, in terms which admit of no other interpretation, than as referring to the mysterious and ineffable union taught so clearly in the passage before us. The numeral one is the Greek neuter, the idea of essence and not of personality being predominant. Had the masculine form been employed, it would have been I and My Father are one person, which would involve an untruth and an absurdity.”—P. S.]
7. The authority of Holy Scripture. Be it observed that Christ by His quotation also reminded the unjust judges who stood opposed to Him of the threat in the Psalm cited: ye shall die.
8. Foretokens of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ in the Old Testament. Whom the Father hath sanctified, i.e., really consecrated by the anointing of the Spirit (after Ps. 2), in antithesis to the typical consecrations under the Old Covenant.
9. The majestic escapes and flights of Christ.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The Jewish dedication of the temple: 1. In respect of its noble destination, 2. in respect of its degeneracy, 3. in respect of its terrible end in our text.—The degeneration of Christian church dedications. Its gradation: 1. The church is glorified more than Christ its Lord; 2. the festival is more a cause of rejoicing than the church; 3. attempts are finally made to cast out the Lord as the disturber of this joy.—Nevertheless, church dedication, as the birth-day feast of individual congregations of the Reformation, has the qualities of a delightful festival.—Christ suddenly surrounded by enemies in Solomon’s porch: provocative of a query as to the whereabouts of His friends.—Hindrances of Christians from the public assembling around the Lord, a measure of their fervor and faithfulness: 1. Wind and weather; 2. amusements; 3. contagious example.—Enemies around! The ever fresh experience of the always victorious Christ.—How long dost thou make us to doubt? or the wicked, temptations ambiguity of the Jews’ question: 1. The old and fading desire that He might become a Christ in their sense; 2. the ver new and over higher blazing enmity unto death.—Christ’s presence of mind at the moment when He sees Himself surrounded by enemies: 1. In His cautious and yet decided reply to their question, John 10:25–28; 2. in the calm and triumphant answer and throat, John 10:31, 32; 3. in the profound and yet clear response to their charge of heresy, John 10:34–38; 4. in the majestic answer in deed to their attempt, John 10:39, 40.—The import of Christ’s answer, John 10:25 ff.: I am not a Christ in your sense, but the Christ in the name of the Father.—They do not know the Shepherd because they are not His sheep.—The word of Christ concerning His sheep a presentation of their cordial reciprocal conduct: 1. He is their Shepherd; they hear His voice; 2. He knows them; they follow Him; 3. He gives them eternal life; they do not” perish; 4. He keeps them securely in His hand; they rest safely through Him in the Father’s hand.—The great word of Christ: I and the Father are one—how it holds good: 1. Of His work of redemption in the life of His people and in the world; 2. of His redemptive impulse and His consciousness; 3. of His divine essence in the eternity of God.—” Ye are gods,” or the presages in the Old Testament of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ.—” The Scripture cannot be broken.” In particular not in its testimony to Christ. Christ sanctified by the Father; this, to a comprehender of the Old Testament, presented the following meaning: consecrated and anointed by the Holy Ghost as the real Messiah, in accordance with Ps. 2; Is. 61:1.
The fearful contradictions in the conduct of fanatical passion: 1. First flattering, hypocritical questions, then murderous threats and assaults; 2. first the stoning, then the accusation; 3. first the charge of blasphemy, then the proposal of investigation (wished to take Him).—The charge of blasphemy brought against the Lord by the Jews, on account of the holy revelation of His divine consciousness of being one with the Father.
The three great vouchers for the divinity of Christ: 1. The Scriptures; 2. His works; 3. the direct impression of His personality.—The separation between the friends and enemies of Christ.
The retreat of Christ into Peræa a prelude to the flight of the Christians into Peræa before the destruction of Jerusalem.—Peræa, or the mountain sanctuaries of the Church of Christ (in the Piedmontese mountains, the mountains of Bohemia, the Cevennes, the Scottish hills, the mountains of Switzerland.—But principally in spiritual hill-countries, or in a popular life in which the heights of spirituality and the depths of simplicity and humility are united).—The believers of Peræa, or how John’s work revives, glorified, in the work of Christ.—The flights of Christ lay the foundation for the refuge of sinners.
STARKE: Nova. Bibl. Tub.: Church dedication an old but abused custom.—ZEISIUS: A Christian can, in pursuance of his Saviour’s example, with a good conscience observe those festivals which, though instituted by men, have a single aim to the glory of God and the edification of the Church.—QUESNEL: The walks of our Saviour are not idle ones, etc.—The concourse of many men even to a holy place is not invariably an indication of zeal for learning.—As Christ proved by His work that He is the Messiah and Son of God, so shouldest thou prove by thy works that thou art a Christian and a child of God.—ZEISIUS: Believers may be entirely certain of the divine favor and of their salvation in this world and the next, Rom. 8:31–39.—CRAMER: Steadfastness in the faith does not rest in human strength, but we are by the grace of God preserved unto salvation.—The hand of the Father is God’s omnipotence.—Ibid.: The Father is one Person, the Son is another, and yet Father and Son are not divided but are one in substance. See the mystery of the Holy Trinity.—Holy Scripture is the sword wherewith we may strike our adversaries.—On John 10:35. Magistrates are indued by God Himself with a lofty title; hence they must not be despised, but honored.—MAJUS: Christ goes from one place to another with His Gospel.—Ibid.: Yet truth triumphs finally.—ZEISIUS: Godly meditation upon the strange and wonderful things that formerly came to pass in this or that place, may be a powerful incentive to repentance and faith.
GERLACH: He and the Father are not εἶς, one Person, but ἕν, one divine Being.—LISCO: Since He (the Father) is greater, mightier than all, than all hostile powers, Christ’s friends are safe under the protection and guidance of the Almighty, nay, safe under the protection of both (Father and Son).—It is only malefactors that are usually persecuted; why then do ye persecute Me, who have conferred only benefits upon you?—BRAUNE: He believes the works, who through them experiences suggestions and presentiments of the divine in Jesus; he believes Jesus, who knows that God is truly in Him.—GOSSNER: If Thou be Christ, tell us plainly.—Ye are not of My sheep: ye are in the Church, but not of the Church.—I know My sheep. The whole world may judge them as it will; He knows what to think of them.—My sheep follow Me. It is the magnet of love, that draws and drives, voluntarily on both sides.—ETERNAL LIFE.—Who can resist the hand of the Almighty or despoil it of anything? How sweetly and securely, then, may we repose in His hand!—The salvation of the chosen sheep of Christ stands firm, for 1. they belong to Christ, from whom no violence can ravish anything; 2. they are the gift of the Father, a gift of infinite love, presented by Him to His Son; 3. they are an irrevocable gift that can never be taken back; 4. they are the gift of a Father who is mightier and greater than all creatures.—To their stony reply He makes a right loving rejoinder.—As they caught up stones, He once more laid hold of their hearts.—Can it be wondered at, that the holiest truths we preach are railed at as errors and fanaticism, when Jesus Christ Himself was treated as a blasphemer because He spake the truth?—On John 10:37. A ghostly-man must be ghostly-minded, a Christian must have the mind of Christ, a child of God must be godly-minded; they must lead lives spiritual, Christian, and worthy of God, or make no professions so to live.—He escaped out of their hands, but they shall not escape Him.—He stays as long as He can,—until they begin stoning Him, until He finds everything walled up and petrified.
HEUBNER: The Church is permitted [within proper limits] to institute festivals in commemoration of great benefits from the Lord (Festival of the Reformation; Days of Prayer and Humiliation, of Thanksgiving).
John 10:23. He who here walked in a porch was more than all the Peripatetics and Stoics.—Jesus reveals Himself only to still and deep souls.—Many scoff at the figure: “Sheep, Flock of Jesus.” O were they but sensible of the warmth and tenderness of that love which chose the figure!—A believer must lose his faith in Jesus before he can be torn away from Him.—The enemy can disperse and scatter outward societies but not the confederation of hearts.
John 10:33. They themselves were the blasphemers.
John 10:41. John did no miracles. In this very thing Jesus was to have the preeminence over John.
John 10:42. Thus John’s preaching is working even to this day.
SCHLEIERMACHER: Art thou the Christ? No doubt they said as did others: Never man did such miracles before, etc.; but because they found in Him no food for their carnal natures, no encouragement for their lust of outward distinctions among men, their souls were kept in suspense: they wavered and fluctuated between faith and unbelief,—nothing firm took form in them. Hence they demanded only the letter and hoped for good from it. (All their fanatical claims, however, were attached to the letter; they held that if Jesus were the Messiah, He must be a Messiah in their sense of the term, opposed as that sense was to the divine Word).—But why did the Redeemer keep from them this trifling gift of the letter? In the first place, He would permit nothing to turn Him from the path on which He had once entered; secondly, the time was approaching when (at a formal trial) the Lord should hear this same question from those who, as the spiritual superiors of the people, deriving their superiority from the gradual conformation of time, had a right to demand of Him the decisive letter. So for that occasion He reserved it. Then that letter, being in the right place, also possessed the highest fulness of spirit and life.
[CRAVEN: From CHRYSOSTOM: John 10:30. I and My Father are one; this is added that we may not suppose that the Father protects while He is too weak to do so.
John 10:34, 35. Our Lord did not correct the Jews as if they misunderstood His speech, but confirmed and defended it in the very sense in which they had taken it.
John 10:39, 40. Christ after discoursing on some high truth commonly retired immediately, to give time to the fury of the people to abate.—From AUGUSTINE: John 10:27–29. Of these sheep, 1. the wolf robbeth none, 2. the thief taketh none, 3. the robber killeth none.
John 10:30. We are one; what He is, that am I, in respect of essence, not of relation.
John 10:34, 35. If men by partaking of the word of God are made gods, much more is the Word, of which they partake, God.—From THEOPHYLACT: John 10:41. Our Lord often brings His people into solitary places, thus ridding them of the society of the unbelieving, for their furtherance in the faith.—Christ departs from Jerusalem, i.e., the Jewish people, and goes to a place where are springs of water, i.e., the Gentile church [?].—From ALCUIN: They follow Me—1. here, by walking in gentleness and innocence, 2. hereafter, by entering into the joys of eternal life.—From ZELLER: John 10:27. Hear My voice; one may hear the words of the Lord without submitting to His voice; the voice of the Lord is the spiritually quickening influence of His words upon the heart.—From BURKITT: John 10:24. The subtlety of Christ’s enemies, expressing earnest desire for information that they might entrap.
John 10:25. The wisdom and caution of Jesus: He, 1. (refuses a direct answer, E. R. C.), 2. refers to His miracles.
John 10:26. The true cause of infidelity, 1. not obscurity of doctrine, but 2. not having the properties of Christ’s sheep.
John 10:27. All Christ’s sheep follow Him in His, 1. doctrine, 2. example.
John 10:28. Eternal life is, 1. the portion of Christ’s sheep, 2. the gift of Christ, 3. now given to the sheep, in (1) purchase, (2) promise, (3) first fruits.
John 10:32. Such was the perfect innocence of Christ that He dared appeal to the consciences of His most inveterate adversaries.—From HENRY: If Wisdom’s sayings appear doubtful, the fault is not in the object, but in the eye.
John 10:24, 25. The Jews pretended that they only doubted, Christ declared that they did not believe; skepticism in religion is no better than infidelity.
John 10:26. Ye are not of My sheep, i.e., ye are not 1. disposed to be My followers, 2. designed to be My followers.
John 10:27–29. Jesus described concerning His sheep, their—1. gracious disposition, they (1) hear His voice, (2) follow Him; 2. happy state, He (1) takes cognizance of them, (2) has provided happiness for them (a) eternal life, (b) freely bestowed, (3) has undertaken for their security and preservation.
John 10:37. Christ does not require a blind and implicit faith, nor an assent to His divine mission further than He gave proof of it.
John 10:39. The flight of Jesus, 1. not an inglorious retreat, but 2. a glorious retirement. He escaped, 1. not because He was afraid to suffer, but 2. because His hour was not come, John 8:30.
John 10:40. Though persecutors may drive Christ and His gospel out of their city, they cannot drive Him or it out of the world.
John 10:41. The result of John’s ministry after his death; the success of the word preached not confined to the life of the preacher.
John 10:42. Where the preaching of repentance has had success, there the preaching of gospel-grace is most likely to be prosperous.—From BARNES: John 10:29. It is implied that God will so control all other beings and things as that they shall be safe.
John 10:28, 29. We are taught concerning Christians that—1. they are given by the Father to Christ, 2. Christ gives to them eternal life, i.e., (1) procures by His death and intercession, and (2) imparts by His Spirit, that religion which results in eternal life, 3. both the Father and the Son are pledged to keep them, 4. there is no power in man or devil to defeat Christ’s purpose.
John 10:39–42. The opposition of the wicked resulted in the increased success of the cause they persecuted.—From RYLE: John 10:26. “My sheep” indicates the close connection between Christ and believers; they are His, 1. by gift from the Father, 2. by purchase, 3. by choice and calling, 4. by their own consent.—Believers are called sheep, because they are, 1. helpless and dependent on their Shepherd, 2. harmless, 3. foolish and liable to go astray [?].
John 10:27. Christ knows His people with, 1. approbation, 2. interest, 3. affection.
John 10:28. Christ, 1. often withholds worldly prosperity, 2. never fails to give eternal life, i.e., (1) grace, (2) peace, (3) glory.
John 10:35. The high honor Christ puts on the Scriptures.
John 10:37, 38. The importance Christ attached to His miracles.]
John 10:25.—[Tischend., Alf., etc., read οὐ πιστεὐετε instead of οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε.—P. S.]
John 10:20.—Καθὼς εἶπον ὑμῖν probably erroneously considered a superfluous addition, on which account it is wanting in Codd., B. K. L., etc. [It is wanting also in Cod. Sin., omitted by Tischend., bracketed by Alford.—P. S.]
John 10:29.—[The received text reads: ὁ πατήρ μου ὃς δέδεκέ μοι, μείζων ἐστιν, the Father who hath given (them) to me is greater than all; but the best authorities omit μου, and read ὅ for ὅς, and μεῖζον for μείζων. Tert.: Pater quod mihi dedit, majus est omnibus. So Tischendorf: ὁ πατὴρ ὁ δεδωκέν μοι πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν, that which the Father hath given me is greater than all. But this gives no good sense. The neuter μεῖζον was no doubt the original reading, but as transcribers did not understand it as belonging to πατήρ, they changed ὅς into the neuter. Restoring ὅς, we get the sense: “The Father (or, My Father, if we retain μου) who hath given (them) to me, is something greater (a greater power) than, all.” On the different readings see the apparatus in Tischend., ed. 8.—P. S.]
John 10:33.—λέγοντες must be dropped in accordance with preponderant authorities. [λέγοντες is omitted in Sin., A. B. K. L., etc.; it occurs in D. e.g. H., etc.]
John 10:38.—Meyer, in company with Lachmann and Tischendorf [Alford], prefers the reading: ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ γινώσκητε [learn and know, or, know and understand], in accordance with B. L. X., supposing the γινώσκητε, on account of a failure to comprehend it, to have been changed into πιστεύστεύσητε [believe]. But manifestly the lect. recepta might at an earlier period have appeared strange to minds of the Alexandrian school. Yet its sense, notwithstanding the objections raised against it, is rich and pertinent.
John 10:38.—Instead of ἐν αὐτῷ, B. D. L. [Sin.], etc., most versions, etc., read ἐν τῷ πατρί.
[The same view a new visit to Jerusalem to taken by Neander, Ebrard, Luthardt, Godet, Alford; while Meyer, Wieseler, Hengstenberg, Ewald and Owen assume that Jesus during the two months intervening between the feast of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication remained at or in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. The words ἐν τοῖς ̔Ιερουσ. favor Dr. Lange’s view and seem to indicate a previous absences from the city.—P. S.)
[The temple was soon to be profaned again and to be destroyed by the Romans. But Christ raised His own body, and with it the indestructible temple of the true worship of God. Hooker and Wordsworth infer from the feasts of Dedication and of Purim the lawfulness of appointing religious festivals by human authority.—P. S.]
[Wordsworth has a long note here on the supposed spiritual signification of this remark (χειμὼν ἦν) and the inner sympathy between the world of nature and the world of grace. But it is imposition rather than exposition.—P. S.]
[So Meyer: “The indication of this specific locality belongs to the traces of eye-witness-ship (Augenzeugenschaft), which impressed such events indelibly upon the memory of the author.” But he objects to the far-fetched view of Thiersch and Luthardt, that by walking in Solomon’s porch Christ intended symbolically to set forth the unity of the O. and N. covenant.—P. S.]
[“How grateful,” says Bengel, “would their approach have been to the Saviour, had they approached in faith.”—P. S.]
[So most commentators, referring to such passages as 5:19; 8:36, 56, 58; 10:1, etc. Yet He did not expressly and directly reveal His Messiahship to the people, as He did to the Samaritan woman and to the blind man; the chief proof was His Messianic works, v. 36, and here.—P. S.]
[John 10:27–29 characterize the true sheep of Christ with a glorious promise as to their future, and draw a clear line of demarcation between His true disciples and the unbelieving and persecuting Jews, as well as all that are merely nominal Christians. 1. Subjective marks: (a) “They hear My voice;” the receptive side, faith, (b) “They follow Me;” the active side, love, obedience. 2. Objective marks: (a) “I know them;” this knowledge implies recognition of the sheep by Christ and corresponds to their faith. (b) I give unto them eternal life (δίδωμι, even now in this world). This life is eternal both intensively and extensively, and implies (aa) “that they shall never perish;” lit. “they shall not at all,” in wise οὐ μή, double negation) “perish for ever “(εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα); (bb) that “no one” (no wolf, no robber, no hireling, no enemy) “can tear them out of the hand,” (i.e. the possession and protecting power of Christ; for to tear them out of His hand Would be to tear them out of the hand of His Father, who is greater (μεῖζον, neuter, something greater, a greater power) than all (πάντων) the enemies and opposing forces, singly or combined; since Christ and the Father are one in power because they are one in essence (John 10:30), Reduced to a syllogism the argument is this: No one can tear My sheep from, the hand of My Father, God Almighty; I and My Father are one; consequently no one can tear them out of My hand. This is the strongest possible assurance of the faithfulness of Christ to His chosen followers and a protection on His part that will prevail over all opposition, including the devil and his host. We have no right to weaken the language by arbitrary insertions and qualifications in the interest of a particular system of theology or sect. It will not do for instance to exempt sin from the opposing forces (πάντων), for, as Hengstenberg in loc. well remarks, this would deprive Christ’s promise of its chief weight and comfort, since we require first of all a guarantee against ourselves; sin being our greatest enemy.—There is therefore a kind of election which implies the grace of perseverance to the end and which can in no way be defeated. This is taught not only here, but also in John 4:14; 6:37, 39, 40, 44, 45; 17:2, 9, 10; 1 John 2:19; 3:9; 5:18; Rom. 8:28–39; Eph. 1:4 ff. 13, 14; 2 Tim. 2:13, 19; 1 Cor. 1:8, 9, etc. On the other hand the Scriptures are full of exhortation and warning addressed to believers against the danger of unfaithfulness and apostasy (Heb. 6:4 ff.; 10:35; Gal. 5:4, etc.), which are strengthened by not a few examples (Adam and Eve, David, Solomon, Peter, etc.) The apparent contradiction between these passages involves the great problem of the relation of God’s sovereignty to man’s freedom, which we are unable fully to solve theoretically in our present limited state of knowledge. Practically there is no serious difficulty among true Christians, who are all agreed that their ultimate salvation depends entirely on the power and grace of God, and implies faithful perseverance on their part. Looking to Christ, we are perfectly safe, looking to ourselves, we are surrounded by danger. Genuine faith and trust in God always implies distrust in ourselves, but controls and overrules it by constant prayer and watchfulness. Paul puts both together, Phil. 2:12, 13: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Pious Lutherans and Methodists pray like Calvinists, as if all depended on God, and pious Calvinists work like Arminians, as if all depended on themselves. Theologically at war, they are devotionally agreed, and, forgetting the doctrinal antagonisms of their great hymnists in the days of their flesh, they unite all over the world in singing the hymns of Paul Gerhardt and Tersteegen, Toplady and Wesley, as if they had been of one creed. I discussed the question here involved more at length in my treatise on the Sin against the Holy Ghost (Halle, 1841) pp. 103–125. Alford and Wordsworth, perhaps from aversion to Calvinism, do not enter into an exegesis of this passage. Owen in loc. says: “The doctrine of the saints’ perseverance in holiness is here most expressly taught. If one of the elect should finally perish, it would not only falsify the declaration here made by Christ, but would be a violation of the compact between the Father and the Son (see 6:37), and contrary to the expressly declared will of the Father (6:39, 40). Yet this great truth, which so illustrates the sovereign mercy of God through Jesus Christ, and which is the only sure foundation upon which the believer rests his hope of eternal life, must not be abused to justify any laxity of effort on his part to make his calling and election sure, by a life of prayer and holy living, such as becometh the disciples of Christ.”—P. S.]
[Meyer understands ἕν ἐσμεν of the dynamic union, or union of power, and rejects both the Arian and Socinian interpretation of moral union, and the orthodox interpretation of essential union, but ho admits that, especially in the theological system of John, the essential union, the homoousia, though not required hero for the argument, is the presupposed basis of the dynamic union. See p. 409 f. (5th ed.)—P. S.]
[The best commentators (with the exception of Calvin who understands the passage de consensu cum Patre), support the interpretation given in the text, as the following quotations from different ages and churches will show. Euthymius Zigabenus: ἕν κατα δύναμιν, ἤγουν ταὐτοδύναμοι; εἰ δὲ έ̔ν κατὰ δύναμιν, ἕν αρα καὶ κατὰ τὴν θεότητα καὶ οὐσίαν καὶ φύσιν. Bengel: “Unum sumus non solum voluntatis consensu, sad unitate potentiæ, adeoque naturæ. Nam omnipotentia est attributum naturale.” Godet (II. 307): “Ce pluriel ‘NOUS SOMMES,’ ne serait-il pas un blasphéme dans la bouche d ‘une crtature? Le minislre d’ état qui se permit un jour de dire: Le roi et moi, nous … provoqua le rire de tout le Parlement; que mériterait la créature qui oserait dire: ‘Moi et Dieu nous.’…” Alford: “One in essence primarily, but therefore also one in working, and power and in will. This certainly is implied in the words, and so the Jews understood them, John 10:33.” Comp. also the long notes of Webster and Wilkinson, and Wordsworth in loc.—Two objections are raised against the orthodox interpretation: (1) The reply of Jesus, John 10:34–36; but this is evidently an argumentum a fortiori. See below. (2) The passages, John 18:11, 21, where Christ applies the same language to the unity of believers among themselves and with Him: “that they may be one as we,” and “that they also in us may be one.” But the imperfection of the copy does not prove the imperfection of the original; and then the union of believers with Christ is really more than a moral union, it is a vital union, a community of life.godet (II. p. 307): “ L’ union de Jésus et des fidéles n ‘est point un simple accord de volonté, c ’est une action consubstantielle. L’incarnation a fondé entre Jésus et nous un rapport de nature tellement complet, qu’il embrasse notre personalité tout entiére, physique et morale.” Compare also Hengstenberg in loc.—P. S.]
[The patristic and scholastic terms περιχώρησις (from περιχωρέω, to circulate, to go about), ἐνύπαρξις, inexistentia, inhavitatio, intercommunio, circumincessio (also circuminsessio), are intended to express the reciprocal indwelling and vital communion to the Persons of the Trinity. The doctrine is based upon such passages as: “I am in the Father and the Father in Me;” “The Father that dwelleth in Me,” John 14:10, 11.—P. S.]
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.IV
HOW CHRIST PUTTETH THOMAS’ UNBELIEF TO SHAME, AND CHANGETH THE DOUBTING DISCIPLE INTO THE MOST JOYFUL CONFESSOR
(John 20:24–31, is the pericope for St. Thomas’ Day).
24But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see [I see, ἴδω] in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print25 of the nails, and thrust [put] my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, [Jesus cometh, ἔρχεται], the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [put] it into 28 my side; and be [become, γίνου]26 not faithless, but believing. And Thomas27 an swered and said unto him, My Lord and my God [!] 29Jesus saith unto him, Thomas [omit Thomas]28 because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The second appearance of Christ, on the first Sunday after the resurrection-day, in the midst of the disciples, at Jerusalem, is entirely in accordance with the festival circumstances. The Easter-Sunday was the third day of the paschal celebration. The next Friday, therefore, was the eighth. The disciples were not permitted to set out on their homeward journey on the Sabbath. On Sunday they either would not, or could not, set out, because this had now become their feast-day, and Thomas was not yet pacified (Leben Jesu II., p. 1704). It was probably the evening before their departure for Galilee, whither, as the place where all His disciples should see Him again, Christ had at first ordered the apostles. See Comm. on Matthew, chap. 28.
John 20:24. But Thomas, one of the twelve. [θωμᾶς δὲ εἶς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα, ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος].—See John 11:16; John 14:5; Matt. chap. 10. His absence from the circle of disciples on the first Easter Sunday gives rise to the inference that he was wandering about, solitary and gloomy.
John 20:25. But he said unto them, etc. [ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς. Ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων, καὶ βάλω τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τύπον29 τῶν ἥλων, καὶ βάλω μου τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω]. We must distinguish between the strong expression of Thomas, and his thought itself. The testimony of his fellow-disciples does not suffice for him; he must first see the Risen One with his own eyes, and by touch convince himself of His corporality, and of the identity of that corporeality with the Crucified One, before he can believe. On the fact that nothing, therefore, can be deduced from the expression of Thomas militating against the nailing down of the feet of the Crucified One, comp. Tholuck, p. 442.
[Thomas has a place among the apostles, inferior indeed to John and Peter, yet an important one. He represents, within the Church, the principle: intellectus præcedit fidem, which is not necessarily incompatible with the higher principle: fides præcedit intellectum. He represents honest, earnest, inquiring, truth-loving skepticism, or that rationalism which anxiously craves tangible evidence, and embraces it with joy when presented. This is essentially distinct from the worldly, frivolous skepticism of indifference or hostility to truth, which ignores or opposes the truth in spite of evidence. The former wants knowledge in order to faith, the latter knowledge without or against faith. The inquiring spirit of Thomas, having a moral motive and a spiritual aim, is a wholesome, propelling principle in the Church, and indispensable in scientific theology; it dispels prejudice, ignorance and superstition, and promotes knowledge and intelligence. Yet, practically and spiritually, it is defective as compared with the childlike spirit of faith with which alone we can enter the kingdom of heaven, and hence it is gently rebuked by our Lord. For salvation we must go to Christ, not as reasoning logicians, or learned theologians, or pleading lawyers, or calculating merchants, but as the child goes to the mother’s bosom, as heart goes to heart, and love to love—with unbounded confidence and trust. Faith is the true mother of true knowledge in divine things, and even in philosophy, which starts in love of wisdom, and consequently implies its existence. It is only in a very qualified sense, in matters of historical inquiry and philosophic and scientific research, that doubt may be called the father of knowledge, according to the principle of Cartesius: De omnibus dubitandum est.—P. S.]
John 20:26. And after eight days [μεθ̓ ἡμέρας ὀκτώ].—That the disciples already attribute a particular importance to Sunday, is evidenced by the numeric completeness of their assembly.
[This is the beginning of the history of the Lord’s Day, which to this day has never suffered a single interruption in Christian lands, except for a brief period of madness in France during the reign of terror. Sunday is here pointed out by our Lord Himself and honored by His special presence as the day of religion, and public worship, and so it will remain to the end of time. God’s Word and God’s Day are inseparable companions, and the pillars of God’s Church.—P. S.]
That Thomas is an unbeliever willing to believe, his presence at this time seems to prove. Manifestly, the same place is meant as that in which they were eight days before. They were within again, in the same house. “Olshausen erroneously makes Galilee the scene of the appearance” (Meyer). “To celebrate the Resurrection-day” (Luthardt). Meyer: "There is nothing to indicate this.” It seems at least to be indicated by the fact that they were still tarrying in Jerusalem on this day, and probably waiting for the Lord.
John 20:27. Therefore saith He to Thomas [εἶτα λέγει τῷ θωμᾷ].—Immediately after the peace-greeting Christ turns to Thomas, for it is with him that He has now to do, since he, in his doubting spirit, is a hindrance to the whole Church. Christ’s acquaintance with Thomas state of mind and singular demand is not to be referred to a mediate knowledge on the part of Christ (through the disciples, Lücke); it is the fruit of an immediate knowledge.—Reach hither thy finger, etc. [φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὦδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράυ μου].—A triumphant challenge which, with loving irony, accedes to his demand, in order to the infusing of a salutary shame into him who made it and who is now obliged to recognize the identity of personality by higher marks,—especially by the Lord’s knowledge of the deplorable state of his soul, and by His voice. Bengel: Si Pharisæus ita dixisset: “nisi videro,” etc., nil impetrasset; sed discipulo pridem probato nil non datur.
[The Lord is silent about the print of the nails, which would have recalled the malice of His crurifiers, and points simply to the wounds as the abiding monument of His dying love to Thomas and to all. The words “Reach hither thy hand and put it into My side,” seem to imply that the wound in His side was as large as a man’s hand. Some infer also that His resurrection-body was bloodless. Wordsworth: “The wounds which Satan inflicted in malice and scorn on our Lord’s crucified Body, have been converted by His controlling power and wisdom into proofs of His Resurrection, and marks of His personal identity. They have become indelible evidences of His power, graven, as it were, with an iron pen on the Rock of Ages, to be read by the eyes of Angels and men for eternity; and they remain for ever, as glorious trophies of His victory over death and sin, and over Satan himself.”—P. S.]
And become not faithless [καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος, ἀλλὰ πιστός],—γίνου not: be not faithless, Meyer. He had not been faithless hitherto, but he was in danger of becoming so.30 Tholuck: “Religious belief which demands the support of sensuous perception runs the risk of making an entire loss of faith.” Nevertheless, the sincere heart that needs and craves belief, receives even in the hour of temptation the right signs which transport it beyond the danger that threatens it. Such was the experience of Thomas. His faith was saved; the great sign of Christ’s appearance quickly made the sickly plant burst forth into fairest bloom.
John 20:28. My Lord and my God! [ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου! An address of Thomas to Christ (the nom. with the art. for the vocative, as often in the New Testament; compare Christ’s address to His Father, Mark 15:34: ὁ θεός μου, ὁ θεός μου. The highest apostolic confession of faith in the Lordship and Divinity of Christ,—an echo of the beginning of this Gospel: “The Word was God,” 1:1, and an anticipation of its close, 20:30, 31. Thomas, says Augustine, behold and touched Christ as Man, and confessed Him to be God, whom he did not see nor touch.—P. S.]—Weakening interpretation of Theodore of Mopsuestia: “Quasi pro miraculo factodeum, collaudat.” Alleging the expression to be addressed admiringly to God. Similarly the Socinians and Paulas [and Unitarians]. Against this view we cite 1. εἶπεν αὐτῷ [to Jesus, not to God], 2. the reference of the words: ὁ κύριός μου to Christ. Erasmus: Agnovit Christus, utique repulsurus, si falso dictus fuisset Deus.31 The excitement of feeling in which Thomas utters the adoring word in glorification of Christ, does not lessen the definiteness of his acknowledgment of Christ’s divinity; it detracts merely from the definiteness of his dogmatical conception of it.
Ver.29. Thou believest[“Οτι ἑώρακάς με πεπίστενκας]—According to Lachmann and Meyer, [Ewald], πεπίστευκας, should be read as a question. Lücke objects against this view: It infuses into the words a tone of doubt as to the faith of Thomas. The doubt might indeed be expressive of this thought: Thinkest thou now that thou didst believe because thou hast seen Me outwardly? Seeing did but help thy faith to be born. However, Jesus designs not merely to recognize the faith of Thomas (as He did the faith of the disciples, John 16:31), but also to institute a contrast between the road travelled by his faith and the faith of others. Thou believest. The Perfect; properly, thou hast believed [πεπίστευκας], hast become believing—a believer.—Blessed are [μακάριοι]—properly they that saw not, and believed; [or, who never saw, and yet became believers, οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες, και πιστεύσαντες],—Meyer: The Aorists indicate, not habitude (Lücke), but those who have believed [have become believers without first having viewed] from the time the μακαριότης is predicated of them.32 The saying is so constructed as 1.to intimate a peculiar praise of the other disciples who first believed, as well as to touch them, likewise, in its blame; 2. it, however, does not exclude Thomas (from this blessedness) inasmuch as he too commenced to believe before he had seen ;33 it establishes 3. a general rule destined for the beatification of the believing Church of a later period; at bottom, however, it is 4. generally declarative of the innermost essence of faith. Tholuck discovers a distinction of a degree of faith higher than that supported by sensuous perception: “That faith, namely, which, supported by the Word and the inner demonstrative power of the Word, believes, as St. Paul has it, παρ’ ἐλπίδα ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι, Rom. 4:18; comp. John 4:48.” There might be question of a higher way of faith; but the degree of faith attained by Thomas should certainly not be designated as a lower one. Baur seeks to contra-distinguish faith resting upon external events and that faith which is abstractly certain of what it holds; according to this view, Christ called blessed the quasi-faith of modern spiritualists, who claim that they are satisfied with mere abstract religious ideas and are able to do without those facts in which the ideas have been realized! Christianity, however, is the indissoluble synthesis of idea and fact, and an idea belief which pretends to discredit the belief in facts is a kind of platonizing mythologism, wherever it may start up with grand mien in these days. Meyer more correctly distinguishes belief in something which has occurred, with and without one’s own sensuous perception. Christ did not reject that belief which seeks and finds confirmation in the way of doubt and investigation; neither, therefore, did He reject the corresponding way of belief; He did, however, point out the danger of that way, in which it is possible for doubt to separate itself from a trust in spiritual experience, and, in consequence of the impulse alter sensuous experience, to turn into unbelief and apostasy.
[Alford: “Wonderful indeed, and rich in blessing for us who have not seen Him, is this, the closing word of the Gospel. For these words cannot apply to the remaining Ten: they, like Thomas, had seen and believed.” Stier: “All the appearances of the forty days were mere preparations for the believing without seeing.” 1 Pet. 1:8, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The character of Thomas, and its import for the Church. See the citations of the EXEG. NOTE on John 20:24 [and my note on John 20:25.—P. S.]
2. The correct element in Thomas’ expectation: That the body of the Risen One would of necessity be indubitably recognizable by the stigmata of the Crucified One.
3. The doubt of Thomas: (1) wherein allied to unbelief ; (2) wherein distinct from the same. Thomas comes into the congregation of the believing disciples.
4. The manifestation of Christ for Thomas. The confession of Thomas. The ascription of blessedness to those who see not and yet believe. See EXEG. NOTE to John 20:29.
5. On the eighth day, or the repeated sanction of Sunday.
[6. Mary Magdalene and Thomas. Wordsworth :“From the two examples of Mary Magdalene and St. Thomas respectively, as described by St. John in this chapter, we learn two several duties to Christ, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. The case of Mary Magdalene (5:17) was very different from that of St. Thomas. She acknowledged His bodily Resurrection, and clung with joy to His human Body risen from the grave, and was satisfied with His visible presence, and wished to retain that. She had yet to learn—and we by her—to see Him that is invisible; to touch Him by faith; to ascend to Him with heart and mind, and to cling to the hem of the garment of Him our great High Priest in heaven, and adore Him as God. Therefore our Lord said to her, ‘Touch me not, for I am not ascended; touch me by faith. That is the touch, which I require; that is the touch, by which I am to be held, and by which you may have My Presence with you.’ But St. Thomas would not believe that He was risen indeed; or, if risen, that He was risen in the same human body as that which he wore before, and at His crucifixion. This was, what he was to learn, and we by him, faith in our Lord’s Resurrection; faith in our own future Resurrection; faith in the identity of our own bodies to rise hereafter. Therefore Christ, who had said ‘Touch Me not’ to Mary, said ‘Touch Me’ to St. Thomas. Thus we are taught the true faith in His Divinity, Humanity and Personality, by His providential and gracious correction of the too material yearnings of a woman’s love, of the too spiritual doubts of an Apostle’s fears.”—P. S.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
THOMAS. His nature. His sin. His worth. His salvation. His Easter-festival. His confession. His example.—The Thomas-souls in the Church of disciples: 1. How they are a detention to the Church; 2. how they are worthy of its indulgence and clemency; 3. how they finally conduce to its confirmation in the faith.—The order of Christianity: 1 First believing without seeing; 2. then seeing in order to become perfect in believing.—Christ the Master, also Thomas’ Master.—Also the Master of Thomas-natures.—The certainty of Christ’s resurrection is mighty enough to shame every sincere doubter.—The difference betwixt solitude and solitude: 1. A solitude of Magdalene, who first saw the Lord (pure grief, constant seeking). 2. A solitude of Thomas who saw Him last (gloomy, repining and brooding).—Thomas’ doubt converted into a blessing to the faith of Christendom.—Thomas the character-portrait of honest doubters. 1. He holds fast the possibility of belief; 2. he put himself in the way of attaining belief.
STARKE: ZEISIUS: How perilous it is to forsake the assemblies of the saints! therefore doth the Apostle exhort: Let us not forsake, etc., Heb. 10:25.—It is a blessed hour when, whilst men are fooling away the time with the world, Jesus doth please to come unto us, Matt. 25:10.—It is one of the duties of Christians gladly to guide others to Christ while themselves resorting to Him, 2 Cor. 11:2.—OSIANDER: Those who are filled with spiritual joy, desire to make others sharers in the same, Phil. 2:18, 28.—CANSTEIN: It is a transcendent grace of God, that He makes so much allowance for the manner of speech of the weak and tempted, Job 38:1 f.—Ibid: Mark, on Sunday Christ did several times appear unto the Apostles, on Sunday the disciples were assembled together; and so the first day in the week has been from that time consecrate, as the Lord’s Day, in memory of the resurrection of Christ and the ensuing outpouring of the Holy Ghost, Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev.1:10.—Jesus in the midst, all the disciples round about Him: one has as much part in Him as another, 1 Tim. 2:4.—CANSTEIN: God exercises the most watchful care over the weak and tempted, and is most eager to help them, Luke 24:15.
GERLACH: He who pinneth faith to bodily sight, to the earthly and visible, doth himself expose it to change, since all things visible are temporal, and only the invisible is eternal, 2 Cor. 4:18.—And so every faith that still hath need of sight, that still hath need of sensuous helps and props, cometh short of being a saving faith.
BRAUNE: Thomas is just such a witness of the resurrection as we could desire.—Pope Leo the Great (440–401) was right in saying, with reference to the doubting of the disciples, and to that of Thomas in particular, that they doubted to the end that we might not need to doubt.—The disciples likewise believed not in the beginning; believed not on the strength of the tidings brought by the others; they believed not for joy. Thomas believed not—could not, would not, believe, for sorrow. Love for the Lord was the ground of that joy and of this sorrow,—not godless love of the world.—Thomas, doubtless, suffered many pangs in his faithless melancholy beside the comforted disciples—pangs inflicted upon him by his self-willed demand for proof. Doubts as to the legitimacy of his demand, as well as in regard to the statement of the disciples, augmented his grief.—Then entered Jesus with His familiar: Peace be with you! That is the salutation of the Risen One now and always. The greeting is for all, but for one, in particular: Jesus approaches Thomas, etc. Of so much importance does the Redeemer count the solitary individual who still believes not, though all the others are already believing.—Jesus does not censure inquiry, examination, investigation; He only reprehends the arbitrary and stubborn demand for proof, such as Thomas put forth.—He does not want credulity or thoughtless superstition, but neither does He like self-willed unbelief; He desires a faith that reposes upon the word of life and the idea of that truth which makes the spirit free.—Happy are all they in whose heart and life unbelief is but a passing shadow, driven away by the pursuing breath of the Spirit!
GOSSNER: When these words were so positively heard: “No man can live that seeth God,” intercourse with God was very difficult. Enoch held close intercourse with God before the deluge, but forasmuch as he carried it to a greater extent than was possible for men, God took him, that he might come unto the true enjoyment of communion with Him. All this was different now,—all purely spiritual things became palpable in the forty days after Easter. Shadow gave place to substance. “Feel Me and see,” etc.—The doors are bolted unto the world when the Lord visiteth His people.—The Saviour will let none of His people be lost. He waits for the slow, who come eight days behindhand with their faith. Yet the reprimand that He administered to Thomas, shows that He does not approve of the weakness and hardness of belief which mingled in the demand of that disciple; and it is at the same time an intimation to the effect that his hardness of belief might easily have degenerated into perfect unbelief.
HEUBNER: When a man is not found in the fellowship of the faithful, much good is speedily let slip. When a man mingles in the society of the wicked, much is speedily corrupted. Be not unbelieving, etc. This command manifestly presupposes that the exercise or non-exercise of faith is dependent upon a man’s will.—Faith built on seeing is little worth. For this reason, however, no demand is here made for blind faith. There is a difference between skepticism and the spirit of examination.—“From the beginning God hath instructed His people by faith, but we are continually deviating further and further from this way of faith; wise men labor with all their strength to the end that not faith but knowledge may have the mastery in the case of every truth contained in the Holy Scriptures.” (BENGEL.)
[CRAVEN: From AUGUSTINE: John 20:27. He might, had He pleased, have wiped all spot and trace of wound from His glorified body; but He had reasons for retaining them. He showed them to Thomas, who would not believe except he saw and touched, and He will show them to His enemies, to convict them.——From CHRYSOSTOM: John 20:25. As to believe directly, and any how, is the mark of too easy a mind, so is too much inquiring of a gross one: and this is Thomas’ fault.
John 20:27. Consider the mercy of the Lord, how for the sake of one soul, He exhibits His wounds. But he did not appear to him (Thomas) immediately, but waited till the eighth day, in order that the admonition being given in the presence of the disciples might kindle in him greater desire, and strengthen his faith for the future.
John 20:27. Note how that before they receive the Holy Ghost faith wavers, but afterward is firm.
John 20:29. If any one then says. Would that I had lived in those times, and seen Christ doing miracles! let him reflect, Blessed are they that, have not seen, and yet have believed.——From GREGORY: John 20:24, 25. It was not an accident that that particular disciple was not present. The Divine mercy ordained that a doubting disciple should, by feeling in his Master the wounds of the flesh, heal in us the wounds of unbelief. The unbelief of Thomas is more profitable to our faith than the belief of the other disciples ; the touch by which he is brought to believe, confirming our minds in belief beyond all question. [He causeth not only the wrath of enemies, but the weakness and errors of believers, to serve Him.—E. R. C]——From THEOPHYLACT: John 20:28. He who had been before unbelieving, after touching the body showed himself the best divine; for he asserted the twofold nature and one Person of Christ; by saying My Lord, the human nature; by saying, My God, the divine; and by joining them both, confessed that one and the same Person was Lord and God. [The skeptic convinced is often the firmest and most intelligent believer.—E. R. C]
[From BURKITT: John 20:24. We know not what we lose, when we absent ourselves from the assembly of God’s people. Such views of a crucified, raised Jesus may be communicated to others, as would have confirmed our faith and established our joy, had we been present.
John 20:25. How strangely rooted unbelief is in the hearts of holy men, insomuch that they desire the objects of faith should fall under the view of their senses.
John 20:28. The convincing condescension of Christ turns unbelief into a rapture of holy admiration and humble adoration.
John 20:29. By how much our faith stands in less need of the external evidence of sense, the stronger and the more acceptable it is, provided what we believe be revealed in the word of God.
[From M. HENRY: John 20:24. Absenters for a time must not be condemned as apostates forever; Thomas is not Judas.
John 20:25. We have seen the Lord; The disciples of Christ should endeavor to build up one another in their most holy faith, both by repeating what they have heard, to those that were absent, that they may hear it at second hand; as also by communicating what they have experienced.
John 20:26. A very melancholy week, we have reason to think, Thomas had of it, drooping, and in suspense, while the other disciples were full of joy; and it was owing to himself and his own folly: he that slips one tide, must stay a good while for another.—Thomas with them; When we have lost one opportunity, we should give the more earnest heed to lay hold on the next, that we may recover our losses. It is a good sign if such a loss whet our desires, and a bad sign if it cool them.—Observe, Christ did not appear to Thomas, for his satisfaction, till He found him in society with the rest of His disciples.—Peace be unto you; This was no vain repetition, but significant of the abundant and assured peace which Christ gives, and of the continuance of His blessings upon His people, for they fail not, but are new every morning, new every meeting. [The soul that hath heard its Saviour once speak Peace to it, craveth again and yet again, the comfortable word.—E. M.]
John 20:27. There is not an unbelieving word in our tongues, no, nor thought in our minds, at any time, but it is known to the Lord Jesus, Ps. 78:21.—For the confirmation of our faith, He hath instituted an ordinance on purpose to keep His death in remembrance, and in that ordinance, wherein we show the Lord’s death, we are called, as it were, to put our finger into the print of the nails.
John 20:28. In faith there must be the consent of the will to gospel-terms as well as the assent of the understanding to gospel-truths.—My; This is the vital act of faith, He is mine, Cant. 2:16.
John 20:29. Christ owns Thomas as a believer. Sound and sincere believers, though they be slow and weak, shall be graciously accepted of the Lord Jesus.—“One proselyte is more acceptable to God than all the thousands of Israel that stood before Mt. Sinai; for they saw and received the law, but a proselyte sees not, and yet receives it.” (A Rabbi quoted by LIGHTFOOT).
From SCOTT: John 20:24–29. Unbelief is the source of almost all our sins and disquietudes. We all have too much copied the example of Thomas’ incredulity, by refusing to believe the word of God, and rely on His help, even when our experience of His care has been abundant; and we are often apt to demand such proof of His truths, and of His will, as we have no right to expect.
[From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 20:25. It must have been a gaping and a ghastly wound,—that wound in our Saviour’s side,—that St. Thomas should have proposed to “thrust his hand” therein!
John 20:26. But when He thus appeared for the second time, we may be well assured that He designed more than the removal of unbelief from the mind of a single disciple. He vouchsafed this appearance for the sake of confirming the faith of all the others,—and of ourselves.
John 20:27. Having “convinced” the disciple, He proceeds to “rebuke” him,—which now He may do with good effect; whereas before, rebuke would have been fruitless.
John 20:28. “Minds of every natural complexion are called to the exercise of Christian faith. The principle of faith,—the disposition to receive the word of God as such, to embrace and to walk by it,—is not indeed the gift of nature, but of grace; but its operation in each individual mind is modified by that mind’s peculiar cast or temperament; and to every class of mind there are sufficient motives presented for the willing and saved.” (Dr. W. H. MILL.)
John 20:29. The blessedness of faith without the evidence of sense,—this it is of which our Lord here assures us; and of this, St. John (concerning whom it is expressly related that “he saw and believed”), St. Peter, St. Thomas and all the rest, were perforce destitute. “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed: who, against the things of sense, the temptations of the world and Satan, against the perplexities of the natural mind, the misgivings of a fearful, and the lacerations of a wounded, heart, have opposed a firm faith in facts remote in Time, but indelible and eternal in effect.” (Dr. W. H. MILL.)
[From BARNES: John 20:25. Many are like Thomas. Many now are unwilling to believe because they do not see the Lord Jesus, and with just as little reason as Thomas had.——From JACOBUS: John 20:24. Observe 1. How much is often lost by absence from a single social meeting; 2. This is often excused on the ground of divers hindrances, but is commonly traceable to the want of a lively piety; 3. Such absentees often miss the Saviour’s appearing, and His wonderful communications of the Holy Spirit.——From OWEN: John 20:29. If any are disposed to regard it as an inferior privilege, to accept this truth (of the resurrection) through faith rather than sight, this great utterance of Jesus should fully correct such an erroneous view.]
John 20:25 — Lachmann, in accordance with Cod. A., etc., Origen, Vulgate, reads here τόπον instead of τύπον. Meyer supposes the τύπον of the Recepta to be a mechanical repetition. But the reading τόπον can also have arisen from exegetical grounds. It weakens the solemnity of the expression. [Tischendorf, ed. 8, reads είς τὸν τόπον τῶν ή́λων into the place of the nails,” but Alford, Westcott and Hon, like Lange, retain τύπον, print.—P. S.]
John 20:27.—[Thomas was doubtful, hut not unbelieving; he was anxious and ready to believe, and only waiting for tangible evidence. See Exes.—P. S.]
John 20:28 —The καί before ἀπεκρίθη, the ὁ before Θωμᾶς are not firmly established.
John 20:29.—Θωμα, which the text. rec. inserts after ἑώρακάς με, is omitted by A. B. C. D. X, Tischend., Alt, Westcott.—P. S.]
[Tischendorf reads τόπον, place. Grotius says: τύπος, videtur τόπος impletur.—P. S.]
[So also Wordsworth: “Remark γίνου: Do not become unbelieving. Thomas was doubtful, not unbelieving. Our Lord warns us, through him, that if we miss opportunities of having our scruples removed, if we close our eyes to the evidences lie gives us of truth, our doubts will be hardened into unbelief.”—P. S.]
[So also Meyer, Alford, and the best exegetes generally. The Sociaian view is worse than absurd, it turns an. act of adoration into an irrelevant and profane exclamation unrebuked by the Lord! There is no instance of such profane use of the name of God in exclamations.—P. S.]
[Alford: “The aorists, as often in such sentences (see Luke 1:45) indicate the present state of those spoken of, grounded in the past.”—P. S.]
[And inasmuch as the other apostles also first saw before they believed. Bengel: “Non negatur beatitudo Thomæ, sed rara et lauta prædicatur sors eorum, qui citra visum credunt, nam etiam cæteri apostoli, cum vidissent, demum credidere.”—P. S.]