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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

John 10

 

 

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Verse 1

1 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.

Ver. 1. Verily, verily, I say unto you] Amen is in Holy Scripture either prefixed to a discourse, and then it is a particle of certain and earnest asseveration, when it is doubled especially, as here: or else affixed; and then it is either of assent or assurance, or both, as in the end of the Lord’s prayer.


Verse 2

2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

Ver. 2. But he that entereth in by the door] That is, called by Christ to the office of his undershepherd. In physicis aer non faeit seipsum ignem, sed fit a superiori, saith Aquinas.

Is the shepherd of the sheep] To the which is required, that he be both learned and loving. This note ariseth out of the notation of the word here used. ( ποιμην quasi οιμην, of οις, a sheep, and μαω, to desire earnestly.)


Verse 3

3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

Ver. 3. To him the porter openeth] That is, God approveth such, and usually seals to their ministry, Jeremiah 23:22, giving them a testimonial, 2 Corinthians 3:2.


Verse 4

4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

Ver. 4. He goeth before them] According to the custom of shepherds in that country, not to drive their sheep, but to lead them, as David shows in his divine Bucolicon, Psalms 23:2.


Verse 5

5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

Ver. 5. A stranger will they not follow] For they have senses exercised to discern good and evil, Hebrews 5:14; "yea, they have a spirit of discerning," 1 Corinthians 12:10; "the mind of Christ," 1 Corinthians 2:16; and though simple to evil, yet are wise in that which is good. They are sheep, but rational; their service a reasonable service, Romans 12:1; their obedience the obedience of faith, Romans 16:26; they try before they trust, they look before they leap, and so grow to such a certainty in that truth they hold, such a plerophory of knowledge, Colossians 2:3; that it is impossible for them to be fully or finally deceived, Matthew 24:24. False and heterodox doctrines they hate, Psalms 119:104; and all such impostors as seek to buzz doubts into their heads, Romans 16:17.


Verse 6

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

Ver. 6. But they understood not] So thick brained and incapable we are, till that vail be rent, Isaiah 25:7. Those that have a blemish in their eye, the more wishly they look into anything the less they see of it, as Vives hath it. So it is here. Lusciosi, si quando oculorum aciem intendunt, minus vident. (Vives in Aug. Civ. Dei. lxxxi. 6.)


Verse 7

7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

Ver. 7. I am the door] Heaven door, so Christ is pleased to call himself, because "through him we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father," Ephesians 2:18; and, "in him we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him," Ephesians 3:12. Why our Saviour compares himself to these ordinary and obvious objects of our senses. {See Trapp on "John 15:1"}


Verse 8

8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

Ver. 8. All that ever came before me, &c.] Manes (that mad heretic) made an argument from this text against Moses and the prophets, as going before Christ. But Austin answereth, Moses and the prophets came not before Christ, but with Christ. Intruders, whether before or since our Saviour’s days, are these thieves and robbers. Ah, whoreson {a} thieves, rob God of his glory! said Dr Taylor, martyr, in a dream, of the scribes and Pharisees of his time.

{a} The son of a whore, a bastard son; but commonly used as a coarse term of reprobation, abuse, dislike, or contempt; sometimes even of jocular familiarity. ŒD


Verse 9

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Ver. 9. And shall go in and out, &c.] That is, shall live securely, and be fed daily and daintily, as David shows, Psalms 23:1-6, where he sweetly strikes upon the whole string through the whole hymn.


Verse 10

10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Ver. 10. The thief cometh not but for to steal] However so sly heretics seek to insinuate with their pithanology and feigned humility, whereby they circumvent and beguile the simple, it is deadly dealing with them. Shun their society as a serpent in your way, as poison in your food. Spondanus (the same that epitomized Baronius) gives his reader Popish poison to drink so slyly, saith one, as if he were doing somewhat else, and meant no such matter. Perniciosissimum Hildebrandinae doctrinae venenum lectoribus ebibendum, quasi aliud agens, propinat. And learned Billius observes the like of Socrates, the ecclesiastical historian, a cunning Novatian. Swenckfeldius, who held many dangerous heresies, did yet deceive many by his pressing men to a holy life, praying frequently and fervently, &c., by his stately expressions, ever in his mouth, as of illumination, revelation, deification, the inward and spiritual man. (Scultet. Annal.) Some are so cunning in their cogging the dice, as St Paul phraseth it, εν τη κυβεια, Ephesians 4:14; in the conveyance of their collusion, that, like serpents, they can sting without hissing; like cur dogs, suck your blood only with licking; and in the end kill you and cut your throats without biting. Muzzle them therefore, saith St Paul, and give them no audience. επιστομιζε, Titus 1:11; Titus 3:10. Placilla the empress, when Theodosius, senior, desired to confer with Eunomius the heretic, dissuaded her husband very earnestly; lest, being perverted by his speeches, he might fall into heresy. Anastasius II, Bishop of Rome, in the year 497, while he sought to reduce Acacius the heretic, was seduced by him. (Soremen, vii. 1.) A little leaven soon soureth the whole lump. One spoonful of vinegar will quickly tart a great deal of sweet milk, but a great deal of milk will not so soon sweeten one spoonful of vinegar. Error (saith a noble writer) is like the Jerusalem artichoke; plant it where you will, it overruns the ground and chokes the heart.


Verse 11

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Ver. 11. I am the good shepherd] So he is by an excellency, for he left his glory to seek out to himself a flock in the wilderness. "He feeds them among the lilies," Song of Solomon 2:16; gives them golden fleeces, and shepherds to keep them, after his own heart; watcheth over them night and day in his Migdal Eder, or tower of the flock, Genesis 35:21; seeks them up when lost, bears them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young, Isaiah 40:11; pulls them out of the power of the lion and the bear, punisheth such as either push with the horn or foul with the feet, Ezekiel 34:19; washeth them in his own blood, and so maketh them kings and priests to God, Revelation 1:5, &c., so that they need not fear the spiritual Assyrian, Micah 5:5.


Verse 12

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

Ver. 12. The wolf scattereth] To non-residents and other unconscionable ministers, Christ will say as once Eliab did to David, "With whom hast thou left those poor few sheep in the wilderness?" Vare, redde legiones, said Augustus, sighing. The like will this good shepherd say, judging; Pan curet oves, oviumque magistros, say many of our pluralists and idol shepherds. About Hildebrand’s time, so great was the negligence and wickedness of the clergy, that some set forth letters, as dated from the devils of hell to them; wherein they give them many thanks for the souls they had sent to hell, in such abundance as never was known before.


Verse 13

13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

Ver. 13. The hireling fleeth] Yet is not every one that fleeth to be judged a hireling presently. There is a lawful flight, as when the quarrel is personal, &c. Christ fled often when persecuted; so may we. God hath made us not as butts to be perpetually shot at; but as the marks of rovers, movable, as the wind and sun may best serve. Fuge, fuge, Brenti, cite, citius, citissime: Flee, flee, flee, Brentius, quickly, more quickly, very quickly, so friendly did a senator of Hala advise Brentius. He embraced the advice, and saved his life by it. (Melch. Adam. in Vit. Brentii.)


Verse 14

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

Ver. 14. And know my sheep] With a knowledge of approbation and delight. Verba notitiae apud Hebraeos secum trahunt affectum, Psalms 1:6.


Verse 15

15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Ver. 15. I lay down my life] Yet as man he was ζωον φιλοζωον. (Aesop, Fab.) Quis vitam non vult? Who does not want life? saith Augustine; and Quis enim vult mori? prorsus nemo, Indeed who wishes to die, absolutely no one, saith another. And, "skin after skin," or skin upon skin, "and all that a man hath will he give for his life," saith that old deceiver, truly, Job 2:4. Yet our Saviour held not his life dear for his sheep’s safety. Because he saw we should fall sore (said that angel, John Bradford) therefore he would suffer sore. Yea, if his once suffering had not been enough, he would yet once more come again. God the Father, I am sure, saith he, if the death of his Son incarnate would not serve, would himself and the Holy Ghost also become incarnate, and die for us.


Verse 16

16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Ver. 16. And other sheep I have] viz. The elect Gentiles, whose conversion to Christ was, among other types, not obscurely foreshadowed, Leviticus 19:23-25, as some divines think. The first three years in Canaan the Israelites were to cast away the fruits of the trees, as uncircumcised. So our Saviour planted the gospel in that land for the first three years of his public ministry. But the uncircumcisions are cast away; that is, to the uncircumcised Gentiles the doctrine of Christ is not declared by general and public preaching. The fruit of the fourth year was consecrated to God: that is, Christ in the fourth year from his baptism laid down his life for his sheep, rose again, ascended, and sent his Holy Spirit; whereby his apostles and others were consecrated as the firstfruits of the promised land. But in the fifth year, the fruit of the gospel planted by Christ began to be common, when the same doctrine was not shut up in the strait bounds of Judaea, or walls of the temple, but was made known (and shall be more and more) to all nations, for the obedience of faith, Romans 16:26.

There shall be one fold] Of Jews and Gentiles. The full and final restoration of the Jews will happen in the year 1650, as some have calculated out of Daniel 12:11. I wait and wish it.


Verse 17

17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

Ver. 17. Therefore doth my Father love me, because] This "because" is nota consecutionis, non causae, know from its consequences not from it cause, saith Beza.

I lay down my life] I do it even now; for he suffered many a little death all his life long, and at length the cursed death of the cross.

That I might take it again] For Christ’s being life essential, swallows up death in victory, as the fire swallows up the fuel, as Moses’ serpent swallowed up the sorcerers’ serpents, &c.


Verse 18

18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Ver. 18. I lay it down of myself] A necessity there was of our Saviour’s death, but it was a necessity of immutability (because God had decreed it, Acts 2:23), not of coaction. He died willingly. Therefore, when he gave up the ghost, he cried with a loud voice, which shows that his life was not then spent; he might have retained it longer if he would; and thereupon the centurion concludes him to be the Son of God.


Verse 19

19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.

Ver. 19. There was a division therefore, &c.] This our Saviour foresaw, and yet forbears not. God’s truth must be spoken, however it be taken. Men, be they pleased or displeased, God must be obeyed, and his whole will declared. If men refuse to receive it, we must turn them over to God, with a non convertentur, obstinate sinner, and then let him alone with them.


Verse 20

20 And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?

Ver. 20. He hath a devil, and is mad] It was a wonder if the heavens did not sweat, the earth melt, and hell gape at the hearing of these horrid blasphemies. Tigers rage at the fragrance of sweet spices; so did these monsters at our Saviour’s sweet sermons.


Verse 21

21 Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

Ver. 21. These are not the words, &c.] Wisdom is ever justified of her children. They fitly argue from his oracles and miracles, both which this evangelist doth more largely relate, purposely to prove our Saviour’s Divinity, and is therefore styled "John the Divine."


Verse 22

22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

Ver. 22. The feast of the dedication] viz. Of the temple newly purged from the pollutions of Antiochus, that little antichrist. εγκαινια, initialia, sive renovalia. So when the Christian temple, the Church, was purged from the Popish abominations (called the tramplings of the Gentiles, Revelation 11:2), by those two witnesses, that is, by Luther and other heroical reformers, there was great joy among God’s people. And in the year 1617, as the pope proclaimed a jubilee for the peace of Italy and Austria, &c., so the reformed Churches in Germany did the same, for God’s mercy in restoring to them the gospel, just a hundred years before: for in the year 1517, Luther began to decry the pope’s indulgences. (Bucholcer.) In like sort, at the same time, when the Greeks were busy in their Olympic games, the prophet Isaiah saw that glorious vision of God in his majesty, Isaiah 6:1-2 (as the divine chronologer observes it), singing with seraphims, that sweetest trisagion, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts." The new Jerusalem, which signifies the state of the Church in this world (saith Rev. Dr Sibbs), when it shall be refined to the utmost, is all of fine gold and precious stones, &c., to show the excellence of reformation; which golden times are yet to come, and will prove very festival.


Verse 23

23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.

Ver. 23. And Jesus walked in the temple] Taking the opportunity of that public meeting to do good, as the bee is abroad as soon as the sun ariseth. The Greeks were great walkers, as the Stoics in their porch, &c. But the Turks wonder to see a man walk to and fro, and usually ask him whether he be out of his way, or out of his wits? (Biddulph.) Pliny said to his nephew, when he saw him walk out some hours without studying, Poteras has horas non perdere.

In Solomon’s porch] So the Jews called that porch (for honour’s sake) which they built again after the Captivity; and which, together with the whole temple, was beautified by Herod the Great, to curry favour with the people, which yet would not be, for they hated him extremely. Partim ambitione ductus, partita Iudaeorum benevolentiam captans. (Bez. Annot. in John 1:20)


Verse 24

24 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.

Ver. 24. How long dost thou make us to doubt?] They lay the blame upon him as if (Heraclitus-like) he were a dark doctor; when themselves were blind, and did shut the windows lest the light should come in unto them. God’s ministers must look for the like measure. Howbeit God darkens their doctrine sometimes (as he dealt by Ezekiel) for the sins of the people.


Verse 25

25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

Ver. 25. I told you, and ye believed not] q.d. Your malice lies in the way, that neither mine oracles nor miracles can work upon your hearts. Therefore also Christ enlargeth them with a double unbelief: Ye believe not, saith he; and again, Ye believe not: this is the damning sin against the gospel; yea, this some will have to be that sin against the Holy Ghost, for which there is no pardon.


Verse 26

26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

Ver. 26. Ye believe not, because ye are not, &c.] Reprobates cannot believe, yea, they cannot but resist the external offers of God’s grace. The word, sacraments, and all God’s common temporal favours, are, in respect of external participation, communicated to them by way of concomitancy only, because they are intermixed with the elect.


Verse 27

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Ver. 27. My sheep hear my voice] Buxtorf in his "Tiberius" noteth, that the Jeremiah 21:7; consisteth of 42 words and of a 160 letters. I am not at leisure to count the words and letters of this and the following verses; but it is easy to observe in them those five links of that golden chain of God’s grace in our salvation: "my sheep," there is election; "hear my voice," there is vocation; "and I know them," there is justification; "and they follow me," there is sanctification; "and I give unto them eternal life," there is glorification.


Verse 28

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Ver. 28. They shall never perish] This is the good Shepherd’s promise: is he now as good as his word, if he suffer his sheep to wander and perish, whom by promise he was tied so to keep, as that they should not wander, as they are naturally apt to do, to their destruction? Pastor oves spondet se absolute servaturum, nunquid liberabit fidem? Prideaux.


Verse 29

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

Ver. 29. No man is able to pluck them] Impostors seek to thrust us from God, Deuteronomy 13:5, and to drag disciples after them, with such violence, as if they would pluck them limb meal (as the word αποσπαν signifies, Acts 20:30), so to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect, Matthew 24:24. A thing is said to be possible, vel respectu Dei, vel respectu rei, either to honour God or to honour a thing. True grace, in itself considered, is easily separable from him that hath it, who, left to himself also, would soon lose it. But with respect to God, by whose power the saints are kept (as in a strong guard or garrison, φρουρουμενοι, 1 Peter 1:5), through faith unto salvation, it is impossible that any of his should finally miscarry.


Verse 30

30 I and my Father are one.

Ver. 30. I and my Father are one] Both for nature or essence, and for one consent, both in willing and working. Out of the harbour of Goodwin’s Sands the pilot cannot make forth, they say, without sinking in those sands, unless he so steer his ship, that he bring two steeples, which stand off, so even in his sight, that they may seem to be but one. So is it here.


Verse 31

31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

Ver. 31. Then the Jews took up stones] This is the world’s wages to faithful ministers. Many conceit discharge of their duty without persecution; they would pull a rose without pricks. Non decet, ut sub capite spinis coronato vivant membra in deliciis. (Zanchius.)


Verse 32

32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

Ver. 32. From my Father] i.e. Eius authoritate fretus. (Beza.) All our works must be done in God, and for God; then they are of the right stamp, and carry heaven in them, Hebrews 6:9. Besides that, they are unanswerable syllogisms, invincible demonstrations, to confute and convert even pagans, saith Chrysostom.


Verse 33

33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Ver. 33. But for blasphemy] These were holy persecutors, in pretence at least. So Maximinian thought the blood of Christians would be an acceptable sacrifice to his gods. Christianum sanguinem Diis victimam esse gravissimam. (Tertul.) So Francis II of France and Philip II of Spain held the same opinion of the Lutherans in their dominions. Zeal without knowledge is like mettle in a blind horse.


Verse 34

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

Ver. 34. In your law] So he calls it, to show that there was no necessity on his part to prove what he delivered by any Scripture, since he was to be believed on his bare word, αυτοπιστος; but for their sakes only he did it.


Verse 35

35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

Ver. 35. Unto whom the word of God came] That have their authority from God, whose substitutes and viceregents princes are, and of whom they have their patent. With what face then can the schoolmen defend Thomas Aquinas in that paradox, Dominium et praelatio introducta sunt ex iure humane? God and the bringing in for preference are from man’s law?


Verse 36

36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

Ver. 36. Hath sanctified and sent] Sanctified, that is, anointed, and that in both his natures, as whole Christ. For his anointing imported, 1. His consecration or ordination to the office of a Mediator, and so the Godhead also was anointed. 2. Qualification or effusion of fulness of graces; as the holy oil was compounded of divers spices, so the manhood, and that without measure, as far as a finite nature was capable of.


Verse 37

37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

Ver. 37. If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not] Thus said Christ, but so saith not Christ’s vicar, as the pope will needlessly be called, His placita pleasing must be obeyed, not examined; and though by his evil example he draw thousands to hell, none must mute, or say so much as, What doest thou?


Verse 38

38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

Ver. 38. But if I do, though ye, &c.] q.d. Stumble not at the meanness of my person, condition, followers, &c. When it was sometimes disputed among the Romans in the council, using to deify great men, whether Christ, having done many wonderful works, should be received into the number of the gods? it was at length concluded (saith the historian) quod non deberet recipi inter Deos, pro eo quod non haberet cultores, propter hoc quod paupertatem praedicaret et eligeret, quam mundus contemnit.


Verse 39

39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,

Ver. 39. Therefore they sought again to take him] They could not answer his arguments, they turn them therefore to a course of violence, wherein they doubted not but to be too hard for him. Thus they dealt with Ridley and Latimer at Oxford; thus with other martyrs, who yet overcame them by the blood of the Lamb, yea, were more than conquerors, Romans 8:37. A fagot will make you recant, saith the Bishop to Mr Hawks, martyr. No, no, said he, a point for your fagot; you shall do no more, and your master to help you, than God permits you. In the year 1166, the synod at Oxford burned in the foreheads, and afterwards banished out of the realm, thirty Dutch doctors that taught here the right use of wedlock and the sacraments. (Alsted. Chronol.)


Verse 40

40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.

Ver. 40. And went again beyond Jordan] The farther from Jerusalem the safer. Jerusalem was then as Rome is now, the saints’ slaughterhouse. Roma radix omnium malorum. Rome is the root of all evils.

Into the place where John first baptized] As well for his own comfort (for there he had heard at first from heaven, "This is my beloved Son," &c.) as for the people’s conversion and confirmation, who there called to mind John’s testimony of Jesus, and believed.


Verse 41

41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.

Ver. 41. John did no miracle] Lest he should be mistaken for the Messiah. But how got he then so much credit? By his mortified conversation especially. "Holy and reverend is God’s name," saith the Psalmist; therefore reverend, because holy. Holiness hath honour in the consciences of the very worst.

But all things that John spake] The word works not sometimes, till many years after it hath been preached, as here; and as they say of the elephant, that she goes with young thirteen years after she hath conceived.


Verse 42

42 And many believed on him there.

Ver. 42. And many believed on him there] Place is no prejudice to the powerful operation of the word, when by the Spirit it is made prolific and generative.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 10:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-10.html. 1865-1868.

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