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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

John 10

 

 

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Verses 1-21

John 10:1-21. The Good Shepherd.—The first part of this chapter records Jesus' teaching on true and false leadership. In John 10:1-5 we have a close resemblance to the Synoptic parable, with one dominant idea. The true leader, wielding the authority of one sent by God, calls out the willing obedience of the led. It arises directly out of the circumstances of the case. As usual the words, "Verily, verily" introduce a new thought on what has gone before. The blind man, resisting the pressure of the usurped authority of the false leaders, who sought only their own interests, welcomes the true leader who comes by God's appointed way. The Pharisees cannot or will not see the import of His words. In John 10:7 ff. we have either further teaching of the Lord given under similar metaphors on different occasions (on the same occasion He could hardly describe Himself as both Door and Shepherd), or the author's meditation on the original parable, suggested perhaps by actual words of Jesus. In John 10:8 the thought of true and false leadership is again prominent, though the actual language seems to reflect the false Messiahs of a later period. As spoken by Jesus it could only refer to false leadership of Pharisee and Priest, or of the Maccabean or Herodian dynasties. [Cf. John 5:43. The difficult "before me" is omitted by some early and good authorities, including ℵ, Syr. Sin., and Sahidic.—A. J. G.] John 10:9 takes up the thought of John 10:7. The true disciples, who follow God's way, shall attain salvation and life. In John 10:10 the aims of the two kinds of leaders, and the consequent results when the crisis has to be faced, are contrasted. Perhaps instead of "layeth down" we should translate "risketh." It is the staking or risking His life when danger approaches, rather than its actual loss, that the metaphor seems to require and which best suits the actual circumstances. In John 10:14 the mutual understanding between Jesus and His followers is compared with the relations between Father and Son. It is based on His readiness to sacrifice Himself. And there are other sheep, beside those of the Judæan fold, who must be brought into the one flock. The author is no doubt thinking of those beyond the pale of Judaism. The Father's love is based on the Son's willingness to gain through death the wider sphere of work. The value of such a sacrifice consists in the fact that it is voluntary. Voluntary sacrifice even unto death, as the condition of full Messianic work, is the Father's command. The religious party is still divided in opinion. Some suggest demoniac possession, others point to His works as excluding such a theory.


Verses 22-42

John 10:22-42. The Feast of the Dedication.—Mg., "At that time" suggests a closer connexion with what precedes than the old reading "And." But in any case the notes of time are not precise. The Feast of the Dedication (p. 104) was instituted to commemorate the restoration (p. 607) of the Temple services in 165 by the Maccabees after its desecration for three years by Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Maccabees 4:36-59, 2 Maccabees 10:1-8, Josephus, Ant. XII. vii. 7). It lasted for eight days from December 25, and according to Josephus was called "Lights," because "this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us." According to 2 Maccabees 1:9 it was called the Tabernacles of the month Chisleu, many of the customs of Tabernacles being reproduced at it. For the Porch of Solomon, cf. Acts 3:11*. The Jews, either incited to hope by Jesus' teaching, or wishing to discredit Him with the crowd, demand a clear pronouncement of His Messianic claims. We naturally compare the reticence on this subject implied in the Synoptic story. He replies that doubt is due only to their unbelief. The "works" which the Father has enabled Him to do are adequate proof. Their unbelief shows that they are not true followers. His own sheep know and follow, and gain the life which He has to give. And the Father who gave them is greater than all; no one can seize them from Him (John 10:29). The better-attested reading of mg. is more difficult. It seems to refer to the true followers "given" to the Son, but how can they, even "as forming a unity" (Westcott), be said to be greater than all? Perhaps it should be explained as carrying on the thought of John 10:25. The power to do the works, given by God to Jesus, is almighty. And it is given, no one can grasp it for himself; cf. Philippians 2:6. In respect of these works Father and Son are one. The Father works through the Son, the Son only in the Father's power. In the words of John 10:30, as used by Jesus, there is no necessity to see any idea of metaphysical "oneness" of nature, however the author himself may have interpreted them. To the "Jews," however, the claim implied in them seemed blasphemy. They take up stones. Jesus appeals to what He has done for men. For which of such works would they stone Him? To their obvious answer (John 10:33) He replies with an argument drawn from Scripture, "your law" (cf. John 12:34, John 15:25), as the author calls Psalms 82:6. If Scripture calls men, commissioned by God to act for Him, "gods," one whom the Father has "set apart" (Jeremiah 1:5) and "sent" (Isaiah 6:8) cannot be accused of blasphemy for calling Himself God's Son. The meaning of the phrase "the word of God came" is doubtful. It may only mean the passage cited, "those referred to in Psalms 82." More probably it means "all to whom God's message came" empowering them to act for Him. What He does, as God's Messenger, is the true test of His union with the Father. Again they try to seize Him, but He escapes. Recognising His danger in Jerusalem He withdraws to Peræa, the scene of John's former baptism. Many who follow recall, in the old surroundings, John's witness to Him, supported now by "works" such as the Baptist never did. And so they come to fuller faith. The retirement to Peræa is supported by Mark 10:1, and perhaps also by Lk., who in John 13:31 ff. records incidents in Herod's dominions (? Peræa), after He has been near Jerusalem (John 10:38 ff.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on John 10:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/john-10.html. 1919.

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