John 10


‘Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.’ John 10:1-6

This is a continuation of the previous chapter. The chapter division is placed to cut the conversation in half. And so, we have Jesus speaking, continuing to answer the question asked in John 9:40, by a group of Pharisees.

Jesus condemns the unfaithful shepherds of Israel, they had cast out the once blind man, John 9:34, but Jesus the good shepherd had received him and helped him, John 9:35-38. The blind man had been healed and this situation with the Pharisees had arisen as a result of Jesus seeking the man after he had been thrown out of the synagogue by the Jewish authorities.

The good shepherd is now denouncing the unfaithful shepherds as did the prophets of old, Isaiah 56:9-12 / Jeremiah 23:1-4 / Jeremiah 25:34-38 / Ezekiel 34 / Zechariah 11.

The term ‘verily’, ‘I tell you the truth’, John 10:1, generally is used by Jesus to emphasise a point He was making. In this case, the sheep pen was a walled enclosure having no roof and space or gate at one end in which the sheep were kept for the night. If it were attached to a building or were near a town it would have a wooden door. Jesus was the gate or door, John 10:1.

However, some people try to prevent the owner of the sheep from having these sheep. These thieves and robbers, John 10:2, are the Pharisees and other Jews and the methods used are, as seen in the previous chapter, intimidation, bullying, threatening and removal from the synagogue, they were usurping God’s authority over them His own people.

Jesus uses both the gate and the shepherd to describe Himself. The gatekeeper would look after the sheep in the pen at night, John 10:2-3. He would lie down across the gate so if anything came to attack the sheep he would defend them.

Sometimes a gatekeeper would be hired to look after the sheep, as he did not own the sheep. He would not put his life at risk to protect them. Several flocks from an area could be kept in one pen to stay the night together.

The true shepherd would have every right to enter by the door. When the shepherd came, all the sheep belonging to him would recognise his voice and follow. Christians should recognise the voice of Jesus and follow Him, John 10:4-5.

British shepherds drive their flocks and elders and evangelists should lead the flock, 1 Peter 5:1-5. Too often they drive or drag, rather than lead by example, they are reactive rather than active. The flock ought to listen to the voice of the shepherd.

When others try to lure us away from Christ, we can see through them and cling to Christ. It’s not surprising that the Pharisees didn’t understand, they were blind to the spiritual application of Jesus’ words, John 10:6.

I AM The Gate

‘Therefore, Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:7-11


There are 16 signs recorded in John’s gospel, 8 are things which Jesus did and 8 were things which Jesus said. John is basically saying that the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are signs, selected from many other signs.

And he says these signs are selected with a purpose in mind and that purpose is that you believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be, John 20:30-31.

Here we find the fourth of seven of Jesus’ I AM’ claims, John 6:35 / John 8:12 / John 8:58 / John 10:9 / John 10:11 / John 11:25 / John 14:6 / John 15:1.

Each of His ‘I AM’ claims are claims that He is God, EGO EIMI, is the Greek equivalent of YHWH, Exodus 3:13-14 / John 5:18. He is Eternal, Psalm 135:13, and self-existent, Psalm 88:6-7.

When we come to the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus, we need to remember that Jesus was not giving Himself a Name or a title, but was asserting His Deity. In other words every ‘I AM’ reveals some aspect of His nature and purpose.

Because the Pharisees still didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, He again explained, using Himself as the gate, John 10:7 / John 10:9. All who enter by the gate are legitimate, as opposed to those who climb over the wall, John 10:1.

Thieves and robbers, John 10:8, are those who had come before claiming Messiahship were illegitimate, they were self-appointed leaders who made havoc on the flock, as they attempted to hijack the masses.

However, Jesus also includes here the Jewish hierarchy at the time, many of whom were only concerned about personal power and gain. The Sadducees were notorious for their money-making schemes, and many Pharisees were covetous, Luke 16:14 / Mark 12:40, and although many listened to these imposters, ‘the sheep,’ the true people of God did not listen them, John 10:8.

Jesus emphasizes His ‘gate-hood’, and that all who enter through Him are safe within the realm of Jesus and can move about in the world but not of the world, John 10:9. The result of the entering is eternal life, John 10:10. Jesus getting down to the ‘nitty-gritty’ of Christianity.

Entrance into the fold of divine favour is exclusively through Jesus, John 10:9 / John 14:6. ‘He can come in and out’, John 10:9, means he who listens to Jesus will be safe and sound as he goes in and out of the pen to find his food.

The word, ‘kill’ in John 10:10, means to mutilate, rather than annihilate. The religious bodies had no real concern for the people but rather hold them in contempt, John 7:49 / Matthew 23:35. Jesus came to give them abundant life, which means ‘life to the full’, till it overflows, now as in heaven, John 10:10.

Christ the door for the sheep, if we go the next step with that, is the crucified and the risen Christ. If we define it in the strictest of terms, he is ‘the crucified to atone for our sins and resurrected Christ.’

This indeed is the gate of the sheep, it is the very gate of salvation. The teaching that one comes in without going through this gate of the sheep is a salvation teaching that makes no importance on the atonement for sin and makes no importance on the cross or the resurrection.

The teaching of self-justification and self-empowered salvation does not make the need for the atonement for sin. The teaching of the Pharisees was truly like that.

According to them, a person keeps the law and will be saved. A person will arrive at eternal life by his or her good works. If that were so, there would be no need for the atonement, would there?

Also, the heresy that would later be called Gnosticism was the same way. The religious elite who had acquired a special knowledge would be saved. Theirs was a religion of self-empowered deliverance but under a different guise. With them then, the atonement wasn’t necessary.

Or even, today some who may knock on the gates of our church or some who try to read the scriptures may have thoughts like this, ‘Good things are written in the scriptures. Won’t you become a good person if you study something good? Won’t you be saved if you become a good person?

The man called Jesus was a man of love. Let’s live by emulating the one named Jesus. Let’s live by keeping his teachings of love. Won’t I too become a person of love if I do that? By doing that, it will lead to saving others and to saving me.’

But, if one is saved by that means, the atonement for sin is no longer needed. Neither would the cross nor the resurrection be needed either. If that were true, we might just read Christ’s sermon on the Mount alone, Matthew 5-7.

But, as for Christ, Christ says, ‘He who crosses over from some other place without entering through the gate is a thief and is a robber.’ He says that the person who enters in without going through the gate does not bring true life or salvation.

Why is that? Because the Lord knows the depth of humanity’s sin and because the problem of human sin is not resolved by the law. A human being will not be saved by becoming a little bit better or by improving little by little.

So, instead of our dying, Christ died for us. ‘Once a fool always a fool to the grave.’

For us like that, Christ died, bearing our sins on his back, in our place, Christ died as a sinner. Therefore, when we believe in Christ and are joined to him, we participate in Christ’s death and we ourselves become dead. This is so that we will live the new life as persons who were once dead. Yes, indeed: We can live anew.

Baptism, as practised in the church clearly, shows this fact, Romans 6:4. Christ said, ‘I am the gate. He who enters through me will be saved.’

Coming through the gate called Christ, becoming a sheep of Christ, that is a sheep which is within Christ’s protective enclosure means believing in Christ, being dead with Christ, and becoming a person who lives the new life. That’s where salvation is. Christ has become that kind of gate. He has become the opened gate of salvation!

So, the sheep who have come through the opened gate called Christ will live by daily nourishment through the true shepherd called Christ, even until their attainment of the completion of that salvation.

I Am The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down and the authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’ John 10:11-21

In John 10:11 we see the beginning of the contrast between the Good Shepherd and the hirers. This section concentrates on Jesus as the good shepherd. He again uses one of the ‘I am’ statements that are a signature of Christ portrayed by John.


There are 16 signs recorded in John’s gospel, 8 are things which Jesus did and 8 were things which Jesus said. John is basically saying that the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are signs, selected from many other signs.

And he says these signs are selected with a purpose in mind and that purpose is that you believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be, John 20:30-31.

Here we find the fifth of seven of Jesus’ I AM’ claims, John 6:35 / John 8:12 / John 8:58 / John 10:9 / John 10:11 / John 11:25 / John 14:6 / John 15:1.

Each of His ‘I AM’ claims are claims that He is God, EGO EIMI, is the Greek equivalent of YHWH, Exodus 3:13-14 / John 5:18. He is Eternal, Psalm 135:13, and self-existent, Psalm 88:6-7.

When we come to the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus, we need to remember that Jesus was not giving Himself a Name or a title, but was asserting His Deity. In other words every ‘I AM’ reveals some aspect of His nature and purpose.

The word good, ‘kalos’, John 10:11, means far more than just good, but could be described as beautiful, in character and service, complete, righteous, loving, Holy, total or protector among other things. 1 Peter 3:3-4. That ‘good’ shepherd would and did, lay down His life for all with no conditions attached, John 10:11.

The dedication of the paid Pharisees is questioned. The hired hand, ‘misthotos’, John 10:12, means those who merely serve for wages. They do what they do for money, not out of those qualities described by the word good, ‘kalos’. As the gatekeeper, can lose nothing, he will not endanger his life but rather will abandon the sheep to their danger, John 10:13.

The hired hand’s attitude was shown by the religious leaders, by their treatment of the once blind man. They showed no concern for him, John 9:13-34 / 1 Peter 5:3. However as the shepherd owns everything, He will sacrifice all, John 10:11.

With Christ, we are the highest priority, with the labourer His wages. The shepherd has an intimate relationship with the sheep, He knows them all, and He recognises them all and is known and recognised by them. He knows and is known by the Father, John 10:14-15.

John 10:16 is often misunderstood by a certain religious group. We are known by the Saviour. The word ‘other’ is derived from the Greek word ‘alos’, indicating something of the same sort.

This then refers to other people of the same sort who must also be contacted and certainly the Gentiles who had not been included in God’s scheme of redemption in Judaism, Ephesians 2:13-29 / John 12:32 / Galatians 3:25-29.

Everyone will gather together making one flock, which emphasises their relationship and the need for Christian unity, John 10:16 / Ephesians 4:1.

The reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection here, John 10:17, is so remarkable that Jesus goes on, in John 10:18, to vindicate it. ‘I lay down my life’, means He would die voluntarily, Romans 5:1-9.

Notice Jesus says, ‘I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again’, John 10:18. As God/man, Jesus requires authority from the Father, His human nature demands that everything He did was with the cooperation of the Father, Phillipians 2:6-8.

But as the risen God-man, He has the power over death and Hades, Revelation 1:18. In these verses, we have seen Jesus as a remarkable teacher. He has told of facts about the very basis of Christianity, things that are now complex doctrines, and He made them clear in just a few verses.

In John 10:19-21 we see the Jews’ reaction. The words just passed, are the tail end of the incident surrounding Jesus’ healing of the blind man, John 9:1-41.

The result of all this teaching is division, ‘schisma’, John 7:43, again people don’t believe and are thus confused, John 10:19. They say ‘He is a demon and is mad, can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’ John 8:38 / John 10:20-21 / Matthew 12:22-32 / Luke 11:14-23.

These are not the sayings of one who has a demon, John 7:12 / John 9:16. The arguments used for and against Him in John 8:48, and elsewhere are again employed.

Further Conflict Over Jesus’ Claims

‘Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:22-30

The feast of dedication, John 10:22, was and indeed is a feast instituted by man rather than by God. It was an 8-day celebration beginning the 25th day of Kislev, December 25th, about two months after the feast of Tabernacles.

It commemorates the cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple after it had been defiled by the evil Antiochus Epiphanies in 168 BC. He called himself Epiphanies Theos, the glory of God but the Jews nicknamed him the donkey. He made possession of copies of the law and the act of circumcision a capital offence.

It is said he defiled the Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus on the Main altar and slaughtering pigs on the main altar and then spreading the remains about the Temple. He turned the temple rooms into a brothel. Judas Maccabees led the revolt and freed the nation from oppression.

The temple had been left unused for three years after its desecration and it was re-dedicated in 165 BC. Three years to the day by Judas Maccabees. He then decreed it to be an annual event to be remembered.

The incident is recorded in 1 Maccabees 1:59 / 1 Maccabees 4:52 / 1 Maccabees 4:59, and by the writings of Josephus. It is still celebrated today and is now called the Hanukkah festival of lights.

It’s now the winter before the spring in which Jesus is crucified and He was walking under the Colonnades as it was the rainy season, John 10:22-23. Many explanations have been given as to why Jesus is so reluctant to reveal his true identity to these people, John 10:24.

He did eventually to the woman at the well, John 4:1-26, but this was only after a long discussion and after he had revealed the spiritual nature of His calling.

In John 10:24 they ask a question, ‘how long will you keep us in suspense?’ No doubt the question was intended to again seek a reason to accuse Jesus. The implication is that He hadn’t been explicit in His claims, or said in so many words that He was the Messiah.

The real answer to the question was irrelevant to the questioners. They already considered Him an imposter and nothing would change the collective mind. They were still missing the point of all He had said and done.

He had previously revealed the spiritual nature of the task. But what He had revealed didn’t fit in with their preconceived ideas of what the Messiah was like.

They had expected that the Christ would overthrow Roman rule, set up the throne of David in Jerusalem, and bring national and material wealth to the nation of Israel. He had never claimed to be an earthly King, He wasn’t that kind of Messiah and so He was rejected, John 6:15 / John 6:66.

Nevertheless, Jesus says that he had told them plainly! John 10:25. By His words, John 5:17-49, by His works John 10:25, testify to the truth of His claim.

He’s pointing to the works that He had done in Jerusalem, the cleansing of the temple, John 2:13-22, the healing of the lame man at Bethsaida, John 5:1-18, the healing of the man born blind, John 9:1-12. Each work had been accompanied by the claim to be the Son of God, John 2:16 / John 5:23 / John 10:9.

He tells them ‘you are not of MY sheep’, John 10:26. His critics didn’t believe because they didn’t recognise Him as the shepherd and therefore didn’t heed His voice. He has reverted to his previous teaching in John 10:1-18, He is the door and they refuse to enter. they refuse to follow Him.

His sheep would recognise and obey His voice, John 10:3-5. They were listening to their father, they were children of the devil, John 8:14. Characteristics of Christ’s sheep, they hear, listen, John 10:27 / Matthew 7:24, they follow me, John 10:27 / John 8:31 / John 15:4.

The consequence of hearing and following Jesus is eternal life, John 10:28, a present possession, John 3:36 / John 5:24 / John 6:47. They shall never perish, John 10:28, John 3:16 / Matthew 24:46.

Notice the double security His sheep have, ‘no one will snatch them out of my hand, or my Father’s hand’, John 10:28-29. No external power can remove the divine handclasp of one who listens to Jesus and walks in obedience to Him. Romans 8:31-39.

Notice that Jesus says, that ‘I and the Father are one, John 10:30. This speaks of the deity of Jesus, it means that the Father and the Son are equal in nature, in essence, John 17:11 / John 17:21 / Philippians 2:8-9.

William Barclay, says the following.

‘To see what God is like, we must look at Jesus. He perfectly represents God to men in a form which they can see and know and understand.’


Psalm 22. The suffering shepherd.
Psalm 23. The good shepherd, the Lord.
Psalm 24. The shepherd king, the one who is able.

Kings were supposed to shepherd the people. The Shepherd King is the Messiah. The staff and rod are mentioned and Judah has the lion’s sceptre and staff, Genesis 49:49.

In those days, the head, the staff which stands for authority was planted or placed in-between his feet whilst legs were crossed. The rod stood for justice, Judah would become the King.

1. Foretold in Old Testament prophecy is the promise of a Shepherd.

It would be glad tidings for the cities of Judah, Isaiah 40:9-11. He would gather Israel as a shepherd does his flock, Jeremiah 31:10. He would feed them, a type of David, who would be his ancestor, Ezekiel 34:23.

2. Revealed in the New Testament is that Jesus is that Shepherd.

He is the Good Shepherd, who will bring other sheep into His fold! John 10:1-16. He is the Chief Shepherd, who has other shepherds watching His flock! 1 Peter 5:4. He is the Great Shepherd, who through His blood makes us complete! Hebrews 13:20.

3. The motif of a shepherd is revealing.

It pictures the blessings enjoyed by those who follow Jesus and it should remind us of the duties we have as His sheep.


He gave his life for us. He laid down His life for His sheep, as foretold in the Old Testament, Zechariah 13:7 / Matthew 26:31. As Jesus told His disciples He would do, John 10:11 / John 10:15. Thus, He is able to offer eternal life to His sheep, John 10:28 / 1 John 5:11-13.

Offering security to those who continue to believe. Such that none can snatch them from the hand of God. Though one can fall from God’s hand through neglect, Hebrews 3:12-15 / Revelation 2:10, He now cares for us.

Having called us through the Gospel, John 10:3 / 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. Having gathered us into His one-fold, even Gentiles! John 10:16 / Ephesians 2:11-22.

As our Good Shepherd, He knows us, John 10:14 / John 10:27 / 2 Timothy 2:19. He feeds us, John 10:9 / Psalm 23:1-2. He guides us, John 10:3-4 / Psalm 23:3. He cherishes us tenderly, Isaiah 40:11 / Ephesians 5:25-29.

He protects and preserves, Jeremiah 31:10 / John 10:28-29 / Jude 28-29. Wonderful are the blessings of Jesus our Shepherd! Such blessings are prefigured in that most beautiful of psalms, Psalms 23.


Heed his voice. His sheep hear His voice, John 10:2-3. His sheep follow Him, for they know His voice, John 10:4. Thus Jesus expects His sheep to heed His voice. As proclaimed during His earthly ministry, Luke 6:46. As stated in the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20.

Which we do today by heeding the words of His apostles, to receive them is to receive Him, John 13:20, thus the early church continued steadfastly in their doctrine, Acts 2:42, for they taught the commandments of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 14:37.

Hold to his flock. There is one flock or one body, John 10:16 / Ephesians 4:4. We should strive to maintain the unity of that flock for which Jesus prayed, John 17:20-23, for which Jesus died, Ephesians 2:13-16.

The Chief Shepherd has shepherds to guide His flock, they are the elders in a local congregation, 1 Peter 5:1-4 and their duty is to oversee and pastor the flock, Acts 20:17 / Acts 20:28 / 1 Peter 5:1-3.

Jesus expects His sheep to respect His shepherds to submit to their oversight, make their duty a joyful one, Hebrews 13:17 and esteem them highly in love, being at peace, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. Wonderful are the promises for those who follow ‘Jesus Our Shepherd’, Revelation 7:13-17.

“Again, his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again, they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.’ John 10:31-39

After declaring that He and the father are one, John 10:30, Jesus’ opponents pick up stone to stone Him, Leviticus 24:16, obviously because they understood that Jesus was claiming to be God, John 10:33.

Bruce, in his commentary, says the following concerning the works Jesus showed them, John 10:32.

‘All his works were done by the Father’s direction, John 5:19; they were ‘good works’ (erge kala, ‘beautiful works’) not only because they were acts of obedience to the Father but also because they were acts of blessing to men.’

Bruce, in his commentary, says the following concerning, Jesus’ response to the Jews, John 10:34.

‘Jesus rebuts their charge of blasphemy by means of an argument from scripture, of a kind with which they themselves were quite familiar. His question would have made an interesting issue for a rabbinical debate.’

Jesus reminds them of the scripture which told them they are gods, John 10:32. This isn’t to be understood in terms of them being gods, rather in terms of being judges, Psalm 82:6 / Exodus 21:6 / Exodus 22:8-9.

Morris, in his commentary, says the following, concerning John 10:35.

‘It means that Scripture cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous.’

Jesus basically asking them in John 10:35-36, if God gave these unjust judges the title ‘gods’, why did they consider it blasphemy when He calls Himself, the ‘Son of God’ in light of His testimony and His works?

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning John 10:37-38.

‘Having vanquished his foes with the argument from Psalms 82:6, Jesus at once returned to his constant theme of oneness and equality with God, although in such terms as to avoid the legal charge they wanted to make. Jesus’ return again and again, as in John 10:32, to the subject of his mighty works was a reiteration of the irrefutable argument proving his oneness with God, John 10:30.’

Once again the Jews tried to seize Jesus, but Jesus, once again escaped, John 8:59 / John 10:39.

‘Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place, many believed in Jesus.’ John 10:40-42

Jesus now goes back to the place beyond the Jordan where John baptised in his early days, John 1:28 / John 6:22 / Matthew 19:1. While He was there many people came to Him, they acknowledge that John didn’t perform any signs and confessed that everything John said about Jesus was true, John 10:41.

Despite all the opposition from the Jews, many people came to believe in Jesus, John 10:42.

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