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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

John 10

 

 

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Verses 1-9

I am the door of the sheep

John 10:1-9

In Palestine there was in each village a sheepfold, which was the common property of all the farmers. This sheepfold was protected by very high walls. When night fell, to protect their sheep from beasts and robbers, a number of different shepherds would lead their flocks to the door of the sheepfold and leave them in the care of the porter while they found lodging. The porter remained at the door until morning when the shepherds returned. The porter would then allow each shepherd to enter in and call out his own sheep. The sheep would respond to the shepherd's voice and follow him.

John 10:1. Our Lord is speaking here to the Pharisees, who had just excommunicated the healed blind man from the Jewish community. Evidently the sheepfold is Judaism and not the church, for the Lord does not lead his people ‘out of the church’ but into it. But the main thrust here is that our Lord was calling these Pharisees (who set themselves up as shepherds of the flock and guides of the people) thieves and robbers! They were not sent of God, the sheep were not theirs, and they did not come by the only door of redemption by obedience and blood, but another way, by works and ceremony and self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-4).

John 10:2. He that comes with a divine commission and by divine authority (as prophet, priest, and king), he that comes in fulfillment of the scriptures through the door of covenant mercies (elective grace, atonement and sacrifice, fulfilling all righteousness) is the true Shepherd of the sheep (Romans 3:25-26).

John 10:3. ‘To him the porter openeth.’ This intends God, the Father, whose law Christ honored, whose righteousness Christ fulfilled, whose justice Christ satisfied! The sheep hear the voice of Christ, which is no other than the gospel of grace, love, and mercy (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5; Ephesians 1:13-14). The sheep of Christ are made to hear his voice by the effectual work of the Spirit in their hearts. They are his own sheep (John 6:37-45), and he calls them by name (2 Timothy 2:19). He leads them out of Judaism, works, false religion, captivity, out from under the law as a schoolmaster, out from under the curse of the law, or out of any captivity. ‘If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’

John 10:4. When he leads his sheep out, he does not drive them nor follow after them; but he goes before them to lead them, to protect them, to show them the way, and to set an example for them. The sheep follow the shepherd in the way of life, in the will of God, exercising love, humility, self-denial, and obedience; for they love the shepherd. They know and love his voice (his word, commandments, and gospel).

John 10:5. The sheep of Christ will not hear, follow, nor support those preachers, teachers, and pastors who are strangers to his gospel. They do not approve of the doctrines of works, ceremony, and self-righteousness and will flee from it as disagreeable and dangerous. This is the reason the beggar who was healed heard Christ and rejected the counsel of the Pharisees. He was one of the Lord's sheep and knew his shepherd. He also detected that these false teachers were not of God (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).

John 10:6. Our Lord spoke this parable to these religious Pharisees; but having no knowledge of their sins, no knowledge of the righteousness of God, no knowledge of Moses' writings and the true meaning of the sacrifices and types, and not being of the sheep of Christ, they did not understand one word! (John 10:24-27.)

John 10:7. Since they did not understand the parable, by way of explanation our Lord said, ‘I am the door of the sheep.’ He is not only our shepherd, our owner, and our King, but he himself is the door to the kingdom of God! He is the door by which we come into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:19-22). Christ is God to whom the atonement is offered, he is the atonement, and he is the great high priest by whom it is offered. In the same manner, he is both the shepherd who leads and the door by which they are led out and in.

John 10:8. He does not speak here of true prophets such as Moses, the prophets, and John the Baptist, but of those false prophets and priests who were not sent of God, who denied the way of redemption, and who fed themselves and not the flock (Jeremiah 23:25-32). The true sheep of Christ did not and will not hear a false prophet nor a false gospel. The elect of God will not hear false prophets, for it is not possible for them to be totally and finally deceived.

John 10:9. Our Lord declares again, ‘I am not only the shepherd of the sheep, whose own the sheep are, but I am the door!’ He not only provided a way of redemption and a way into fellowship with the Father, he is that way! It is by Christ, in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ that we are accepted (Ephesians 1:3-7). If any man conscious of sin, emptied of self, desirous of life believes on Christ, receives Christ, and comes to Christ, he shall be eternally saved and shall find in Christ all that he needs.


Verses 10-18

I am the good shepherd

John 10:10-18

John 10:10. The Lord refers again to the false prophets who, without a call from God, thrust themselves into the sheepfold. They have not the glory of God nor the good of the sheep in mind, but they serve themselves to the ruin of men's souls (Zechariah 11:16-17). ‘I am come not to destroy but to save my sheep. I am come that they might have spiritual life and eternal life; not that they might only barely live and escape hell, but through my sacrifice, obedience, and mercy they might have ALL spiritual blessings and an abundance of grace’ (Colossians 2:9-10).

John 10:11. Christ is the good shepherd (‘none good but God’). Christ is the Shepherd of the Father's appointing, calling, and sending, to whom and upon whom the salvation and care of all the chosen sheep was committed (Isaiah 40:9-11). The good shepherd gave his life for the redemption of his sheep. He gave himself freely and voluntarily as a ransom for them that they might be delivered from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 1:3). His death was not in vain but was effectual to the salvation of all the elect. Not one for whom he died shall perish, but all shall hear the gospel and believe (Acts 13:48; John 6:37-39; Romans 8:34-39).

John 10:12. The hireling is one who works for wages or hire. He does not own the sheep nor love the sheep; but he does what he does for advantage, wages, or reward. He has no other motive than what will profit him. The wolf here is trouble, trial, danger of any sort, or any enemy of the sheep. Not having any concern for the sheep, the hireling will flee and the sheep will be scattered (not devoured, for the sheep can never perish, John 10:29).

John 10:13. ‘The hireling flees because he is a hireling.’ A man does what he does because of what he is! When trial and testing time comes, a man reveals what he is by what he does. Character is revealed by conduct in the crises of life. When does the hireling flee? When trouble comes! You might never have known his true character without the trial (Acts 20:28-30). The hireling cares not for the sheep, only for himself and his wages.

John 10:14. Our shepherd (Psalms 23:1) is the good shepherd – good in his holiness, good in his mercy, good in his word, and good in his full provision. He is the great shepherd, the chief shepherd, who knows his sheep! He knows them in that they are his and he calls them by name. He knows them in that they are one in union and body. He knows them in that he loves them with a perfect and eternal love. He lays down his life for the redemption of his sheep, and for no other has he laid down his life. ‘My sheep know me.’ They know him with a specia1, spiritual, and saving knowledge, having had him revealed to them by the Spirit and the word. They know him in that they love him and approve of him as their shepherd, having committed all to him (2 Timothy 1:12).

John 10:15. This verse is in connection with John 10:14, and the sense is that the mutual knowledge and union of Christ and his sheep are like that which his Father and he have with each other (John 17:21-23). As the Father knows the Son and as the Son knows the Father, so Christ knows the sheep and his sheep know him. The word ‘know’ here (as frequently in scripture) signifies love and approval. ‘I lay down my life FOR,’ not only in behalf of, but in the stead of my sheep. We live only because he died (Romans 5:6-8; Isaiah 53:4-6).

John 10:16. Our Lord refers here to the Gentiles, who belonged not to the Jewish state, laws, and government. This is what John is saying in 1 John 2:2, that Christ is not only a propitiation for the sheep among the Jews but also for the sheep among other nations who will hear his voice and believe. The Father gave him a people from every tribe, nation, and kindred. He is their shepherd, having loved them and bore their sins. With the elect of Israel they shall hear his gospel, and Jew and Gentile shall be one fold and one shepherd (Ephesians 2:11-16; Romans 2:28-29).

John 10:17. Christ is speaking here as the mediator, as the servant, and ‘mine elect.’ As the eternal Son, he is loved from all eternity (Proverbs 8:30). But the Father also loved him as the obedient servant (Matthew 3:17). The laying down of his life was the supreme act of obedience to the Father's will (Philippians 2:5-11). He gave his life with the view that he might take it again. This he did by raising himself from the dead, by which he was declared to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4). He made full satisfaction to the justice of God for his people and rose again for their justification. He entered heaven as our forerunner (Hebrews 6:20) and ever lives to intercede for us.

John 10:18. No man takes Christ's life from him by force without his willing it and consenting to it. Pilate, the Jews, and the Gentiles nailed him to a cross but not without his voluntary surrender (Acts 2:23; Acts 4:26-28). ‘This is the covenant my Father gave me to fulfill, the work he gave me to do. He sent me into the world to redeem my sheep,’ and the accomplishment of it required his death. He died not as a martyr, or a reformer, or a victim, but as a divine, ordained substitute. He died the appointed death at the appointed time for an appointed people (Isaiah 53:10-12).


Verses 19-29

My sheep hear my voice and follow me

John 10:19-29

John 10:19. The real offense is in the gospel (Galatians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 1:23). It was not his works but his words that caused the division among the Jews (John 10:30-33). It was his claim to Deity, to being the Christ, to being the Redeemer of whom Moses wrote and to whom Abraham looked, of laying down his life for the sheep and taking it up again, of fulfilling all the ceremonies, types, and scriptures of the Old Testament, of being the Bread of Life, the door to communion with God. The Jews knew what he was saying and were filled with wrath (John 7:43; John 9:16).

John 10:20. It was a notion among the Jews that insanity or madness was from the devil. Therefore they said, ‘He has a demon and is insane,’ What a sad commentary on the condition of natural men, even religious men, that they should call the Son of God, truth incarnate, a devil! (Romans 8:7.)

John 10:21. ‘Many’ of them thought him insane, but there were ‘some’ even among these Pharisees (a minority) who recognized that he neither spoke nor acted like a demoniac. ‘No madman can talk in such a spiritual and divine way,’ they said, ‘And certainly no demoniac ever opened the eyes of the blind’ (John 7:45-46).

John 10:22-23. Many writers say that this particular feast was one appointed by Judas Maccabaeus to commemorate the purification of the temple from the idolatries of Antiochus about 165 B.C. It was observed in the month of December for eight days. The mention of ‘winter’ is the main clue. Our Lord walked on Solomon's porch (Acts 3:11; Acts 5:12).

John 10:24. The disciples believed him to be the Christ (John 6:69). He revealed himself to the Samaritan woman and to the blind beggar (John 4:26; John 9:37) as the Christ, and many of the people thought him to be the Christ because of what he had done and said (John 4:42; John 7:40-43). Now these Jewish leaders come and say, ‘If you are the Christ, declare it to us freely, openly, and in exact words.’ They said this not because they thought he was the Christ nor for their own information, but rather that they might to go the Romans and in his own words declare him to be an enemy to Caesar and the expected King of the Jews.

John 10:25. Our Lord had told them that he was the Son of man (John 5:27), that he was the one of whom Moses wrote (John 5:46), that he was the Living Bread (John 6:51), that Abraham rejoiced to see his day (John 8:56), and that the scriptures were written about him (John 5:39). His mighty works were clear witnesses of his Deity and total power over everything (John 5:36; John 3:2). Compare Isaiah 35:4-6.

John 10:26. They were not his sheep (his elect) given him by the Father or they would have come to him (John 6:37-39). They were not chosen of the Father, predestinated to sonship, and ordained to eternal life or they would have believed on him (Acts 13:48). A man does not believe to become one of the Lord's sheep; he believes because he is one of the Lord's sheep! Faith (as repentance and every saving grace) is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 2:4; Acts 5:31; Acts 11:18; Philippians 1:29).

John 10:27. ‘As I said unto you before (John 10:3-5), my sheep hear my voice.’ His elect, his sheep, will hear his voice in the gospel, not only with the ear but with the heart. They hear because a sovereign God gives them spiritual life and the capacity to hear (Proverbs 20:12; Matthew 13:15-17). ‘I know them.’ Each of his sheep is known to Christ by a special knowledge of approbation, acceptance, and love. As the Father's gift to Him, he prizes them highly, affectionately, and personally. The vast crowd of the non-elect he ‘never knew’ (Matthew 7:23). ‘And they follow me.’ That is, they believe Him, love Him, cast their lot with Him, and go with him wherever he leads (2 Timothy 1:12).

John 10:28. Because of covenant mercies (whereby they were given to him by the Father and he became their surety), because of his obedience in all things (whereby they received a perfect righteousness, Romans 5:19), because of his death, resurrection, and intercession (whereby they were justified before God in such a way that God's justice and character were honored, Romans 3:23-26), he gives his sheep eternal life (1 John 5:11-12). They shall never (now or eternally) perish; and no man, demon, power, nor force can separate them from that union with him (Romans 8:35-39).

John 10:29. There is no stronger passage to be found in the word of God guaranteeing the absolute security of every child of God. They are his sheep, they follow Him, they have eternal life, they are in the hand of Christ, the Father gave them to Christ (John 6:37; John 17:2; John 17:6; John 17:9; John 17:11-12; John 17:24), and they are in the Father's hand. The sheep of Christ have a double security; they are in the hand of Christ, and they are in the hand of the Father. To suggest that any of his sheep could be finally lost is to blaspheme the Lord God himself.


Verses 30-42

I and my father are one

John 10:30-42

John 10:30. Our Lord is speaking here of the security of his sheep and the impossibility of anyone or anything separating even one of them from him or out of his hand and the Father's hand, because, he says, ‘I and my Father are one!’ They are one not only in purpose and will, but in nature, essence, power, and perfection (John 14:9; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 1:8).

John 10:31. As they had in John 8:59, the enraged Jews took up stones to cast at him. What he had said they considered to be blasphemy and were violently angry (Luke 4:28-29).

John 10:32. Our Lord was saying, ‘I have done no harm to any of you. I have caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk, which are all works of mercy and benevolence. For which of these works do you want to stone me?’ In other words, ‘What is there in my life or my works that would make you want to kill me?’

John 10:33. Actually, his works did anger them, and they even tried to discredit them; for it was his works, which bore the strongest witness of his deity (John 5:36; Matthew 11:4-6). His works were too marvelous and too open to be denied or contradicted. But the thing they hated and resented most was his saying that God was his Father and that he and the Father were one; therefore, he must be God in human flesh! They understood exactly what he was saying, that though he was born of woman and made in the likeness of sinful flesh, yet he is very God of very God (John 1:1-3; Matthew 1:21-23).

John 10:34. Is it not written in the scriptures (Psalms 82:6) concerning Jewish magistrates who have been given power and authority and represent God in the government of nations, kingdoms, and individuals, ‘Ye are gods’?

John 10:35-36. If the Psalmist called men ‘gods’ and ‘sons of the highest’ which received a divine commission to administer justice in the name of God to the people (as Moses was to Pharaoh, as David was to Israel and her enemies, and as Joseph was in Egypt), surely it cannot be blasphemy to Jesus Christ to assert himself to be the Son of God, who existed as a divine person from all eternity, who was set apart by the Father to the office of prophet, priest, and king, and who in the fullness of time was sent into the world to be the author of eternal redemption to the sons of men!

John 10:37. Again the Saviour appeals to his works to testify concerning his divine mission and power. These works he calls ‘the works of my Father.’ If I do not works which no man ever did, if I do not works that only God can do, if I do not works consistent with and in fulfillment of the scriptures, if I do not works which relate to the Father's will and purpose to redeem sinners consistent with his law and justice, then you have no right or reason to believe me.

John 10:38. But if I do such works as can be done only by God, then, though you find it difficult to believe my claims to being the Son of God, at least consider the works that I have done! He who does the works that only God can do must be God! This is the way for you to know, be persuaded, and believe that the Father is in me and I am in the Father, by his mighty power and divine working through me! Nicodemus started at this point. ‘We know you come from God; no man can do the things you do except God be with him.’ Once that is established, go on from there; don't allow human wisdom, tradition, and unbelief to turn you from him (John 6:66-69).

John 10:39-40. They sought to take him again in order to bring him before the Sanhedrin and try him for blasphemy; but he escaped out of their hands as he had done before, not through fear of them or of death, but because his time was not yet come; and he had other work to do and words to say before he suffered, died, and rose again. It was yet three months until he would die on the cross; and he journeyed beyond Jordan to Bethabara, where he was baptized of John and where John bore witness of him (John 1:28).

John 10:41-42. John the Baptist did no miracles, perhaps so that when Christ came of whom John testified, his glory in working miracles might be more clear and evident. The people of this area said, ‘We honored, respected, and admired John; yet he never did those things which Jesus Christ has done. All things which John spake of this man are true.’ And many believed on him there. Through the words, which he spoke, the miracles he did, and by comparing the things John said of him from the scriptures, many believed.

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on John 10:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/john-10.html. 2013.

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