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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

John 10

 

 

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Verses 1-42


The Good Shepherd. The Feast of the Dedication

1-18. Allegories of the Fold and of the Good Shepherd. This chapter continues Christ's discourse to His Pharisaic disciples begun at John 9:39. His words take the form of an allegory which is intended partly to rebuke the Pharisees, partly to comfort the blind man, and partly to instruct the Church as to the duties of Christian pastors. The blind man, unjustly expelled from the fold of Judaism by false shepherds (the Pharisees), finds refuge in the flock of the True Shepherd, i.e. in the Christian Church, the mild discipline of which is contrasted with the cruel severity of the synagogue. The allegory is based entirely on OT. figures: see Psalms 23 Ezekiel 34 Jeremiah 23:1-4; Zechariah 11:4-17.

1. The thieves and robbers mentioned here are primarily the Pharisees who have unjustly excommunicated the blind man, and secondarily and prophetically false pastors in the Christian Church. Christ is the rightful owner of the flock, and those who would exercise the office of shepherd must 'enter by the door,' i.e. receive their authority from Him, and exercise it in His spirit. This the Pharisees have not done. 2. To understand the imagery, it must be remembered that Eastern folds are large open enclosures into which several flocks are driven at the approach of night. There is only one door, which a single shepherd guards, while the others go home to rest. In the morning the shepherds return, are recognised by the doorkeeper, call their flocks round them, and lead them forth to pasture.

3. By name] A beautiful picture of pastoral converse. The true pastor knows every member of his congregation individually.

4. Goeth before them] The false pastor, loving popularity, follows his flock. The true pastor leads them. He leads them, (1) by his teaching. He gives his people not what they want, but what they ought to want; (2) by his good example, his holy life being an ensample to the flock (1 Peter 5:3).

7. I am the door of the sheep] i.e. 'I alone can endue pastors and teachers with spiritual authority over the flock of God.' In John 10:9 Christ calls Himself 'the door' in a wider sense.

8. 'All who have taught Israel from the cessation of prophecy to My own coming have been false and unauthorised teachers.' Our Lord is alluding, of course, not to the OT. prophets, but to the scribes who had dominated the religious life of Israel for 400 years, but whose teaching had nevertheless been rejected by many spiritually-minded men, e.g. by the author of the book of Jonah, who earnestly protested against it, and by many of the later Psalmists, whose writings breathe a spirit the very opposite of that of the scribes and Pharisees.

9. I am the door] 'Through faith in Me both shepherds and sheep enter into the Kingdom of God, and find all their spiritual needs supplied.' Pasture] i.e. the means of grace.

11. The good shepherd] The Gk. signifies the Perfect or Ideal Shepherd. This beautiful figure is often found in the OT. applied to Jehovah (Psalms 23, 80 Isaiah 40:11); only in Ezekiel does it become a title of the Messiah (Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24). Giveth (RV 'layeth down') his life for the sheep] Another distinct prophecy of His death. Eastern shepherds are always armed, and are sometimes killed in defending their flocks against the wolves, leopards, and panthers, which infest the wilderness (Genesis 31:39; 1 Samuel 17:34). The expression 'layeth down his life' is peculiar to St. John (see John 13:37).

12. Seeth the wolf coming.. and fleeth] The wolf (Satan) may come in various ways, as an open persecution, as a popular heresy, as a tendency to lax morality. The hireling shepherd is the cowardly compromiser who gives way to, instead of resisting, the evil tendencies of his age.

14, 15. RV 'I know mine own, and mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father.'

16. The Gentiles also are God's children. The gospel is for them also, and Jew and Gentile shall form one Church under one shepherd (Christ).

One fold] RV 'one flock.'

17. As usual in this Gospel, the death and resurrection of Christ are united in one idea.

18. Christ's death is the result, neither of a compulsory decree of the Father, nor of the power of the Evil One, but of a voluntary impulse springing from Christ's love for lost mankind.

22-39. Jesus at the Feast of the Dedication. As there is no statement that Jesus went up to Jerusalem, it is fair to infer that Jesus spent the two months between the Feast of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication in or near Jerusalem. Less probable is the view that these months were spent in Galilee, Samaria, and Peræa, and that the mission of the Seventy, and many other incidents recorded in Luke 9:51 to Luke 19:27, belong to this period.

22. The Feast of the Dedication (lit. 'the Renewal') was instituted by Judas Maccabæus, 164 b.c., to commemorate the purification of the Temple, which had been profaned by the idolatrous king Antiochus Epiphanes. It was held on the 25th of Kislev (about the middle of December), and on account of the brilliant illuminations was also called 'the Lights.'

23. Porch] i.e. portico, or, cloister. This portico was on the E. side of the Temple buildings, and, according to Josephus, was a portion of Solomon's Temple, which had been left standing by Nebuchadnezzar.

25. I told you] viz. in those discourses in which I claimed to be the Son of God (John 5:17-47; John 7:14-39; John 8:12-59), and the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18). These were Messianic titles.

26. As I said unto you] see John 10:1.

28. No power of the world or of Satan can pluck believers out of Christ's hand; only their own unfaithfulness to grace received can do this.

29. The Father is superior to all hostile powers, and therefore believers can never be lost through the power of the enemy. There is another reading, 'That which the Father hath given unto me is greater than all' (so RM). This means that believers, through grace, are superior to all their enemies, and can never be lost except through their own fault.

30. I and my Father (RV 'the Father') are one] lit. 'one thing,' i.e. one essence or substance. The Greek indicates that the Father and the Son are two Persons but one God.

31. Again] see John 8:59.

34-36. If the fallible and sinful judges of Israel were rightly called 'gods,' much more may I, who am one with the Father and free from sin, claim the title of 'the Son of God.'

34. Your law] i.e. the OT., which you acknowledge. 'The Law' not infrequently stands for the whole OT.: see John 12:34; John 15:25; 1 Corinthians 14:21. The quotation here is from Psalms 82:6. Gods] Judges, as God's representatives, are several times called 'gods' in the OT. (Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7-8, Exodus 22:28 cp. also 1 Samuel 28:13).

35. The word of God 'came' to the judges when He appointed them to their office.

36. Sanctified] consecrated to the office of Messiah and Redeemer of the world.

38. The Father is in me] A commentary upon John 10:30. Human personality differs from divine personality. Human persons exclude one another. The Divine Persons mutually contain, pervade, and include one another. They are absolutely one in knowledge, sympathy, will, and act.

40-42. The Peræan ministry. These vv. cover a period of about three months, which is generally spoken of as the Peræan ministry (see Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1, and cp. Luke 9:51). Its chief incidents were the mission of the Seventy (Luke 10:1), the question of divorce (Matthew 19:3), the blessing of little children (Mark 10:13), the question of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17), and Christ's message to Herod Antipas (Luke 13:31). The whole section, Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:34, appears to belong to this period, but many of the incidents are not chronologically arranged.

40. The place was Bethany beyond Jordan, John 1:28.

41. The remark that John did no miracle shows that there was little inclination at this period to invest popular teachers with miraculous powers.

42. Although John was dead, his influence was still strong in this district, and the people were ready to believe that He to whom John had borne witness was the true Messiah.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on John 10:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/john-10.html. 1909.

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