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Truly, truly; The shepherd and the door

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posted on May, 29 2015 @ 05:03 PM
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” -John ch10 vv1-2

Jesus was fond of using the phrase “Truly I say to you”, but this “double” version, with the repeated AMEN, is found only in John’s gospel.
He seems to use it to mark the statements which he wants people to remember.

The chapter division masks the fact that the background of this particular statement is the healing of the blind man in ch9, and the criticism from the Pharisees which followed that healing.
These two chapters are about the work of Jesus in Jerusalem at the Feast of the Dedication.

The theme of this discourse is the contrast between the good shepherd and other kinds of shepherd.
That’s why the definition of “thief and robber” is the starting-point.
He comes in the night, of course, when the gate of the fold is firmly closed against people like himself, so he is obliged to climb over the fence.
The true shepherd of the flock comes along in the morning and is allowed through the gate. He knows all his sheep individually, and they know him. He calls them out by name, and leads them out to find the good pastures. They follow his voice, and ignore the voice of “strangers”, the shepherds of other flocks.

This theme echoes Ezekiel ch34, where the prophet is instructed to prophesy against the current shepherds of Israel. They take all the profit they can from their position, but they fail to feed the sheep or tend them, and they allow them to be scattered.
Therefore, says the Lord God, “I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out…
I myself will be the shepherd of the sheep, and I will make them lie down” –Ezekiel ch34 vv1-16
In the gospel, this allegory follows on from an exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees, where he rebukes their misleading guidance of the people;
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say ‘we see’, your guilt remains”.
The implication is that the Pharisees are coming under condemnation as thieves and robbers.

Before Jesus develops the “good shepherd” theme, he briefly takes the allegory in another direction;
“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep” –v7
He is “the door” in the sense that he is the means of access to a good relationship with God.
By that route, the sheep will “enter” the kingdom and be saved (v9).
It’s always tempting, reading that verse, to equate “the fold” with the place of salvation.
But how, then , can we take the following words about “going out and finding pasture”?
It is probably better to keep to the terms of the original image, in which the fold is only the night-time refuge of the sheep, while finding pasture outside the fold is their normal daytime activity. The point is their security in both situations.

The rest of the discourse follows the more natural continuation of the allegory, in which Jesus identifies himself as the shepherd.
This really begins in v8 and v10, though they are ostensibly part of the “door” metaphor.
“All who came before me are thieves and robbers”.
The implication is that he means people in positions of leadership.
Not just, necessarily, those who came calling themselves “messiah”.
Whoever they were, the sheep, who were waiting for Jesus alone, took no notice of them.
There is an absolute contrast between these thieves and their true shepherd, because the thief comes to take things for himself and to take life.
He “takes life” in one sense because he leads them away from the eternal life which God provides.
Jesus comes to give life, abundantly.

Then Jesus names himself as the good shepherd and presents another contrast, between himself and the “hireling” (vv11-15).
The hireling shepherd, unlike the thief and the stranger shepherd, has a legitimate function in relation to the flock.
However, he neglects his task of protecting the sheep.
When danger comes, the hireling runs away, because he loves his own life more than he loves the sheep.
The good shepherd is a more reliable protector, because he is looking after his own flock.
He knows, and is known by, his own sheep.
This relationship links with a similar relationship between Jesus himself and the Father, who know each other to the same degree.
This double relationship means that the shepherd is willing to lay down his life “on account of” [HUPER] the sheep.

Once the shepherd has given his life, he can bring in “the other sheep [the Gentiles] that are not of this fold”. As a result, there will be “one flock, one shepherd” (v16).

The conscious offering of himself is the key to the whole task.
We must not think that his life would be forcibly taken away from him by the action of men.
The event rests ultimately upon his own choice.
He tells Pilate later that the man would have held no power over him if it had not been allowed by God (ch19 v11).
Indeed, the doctrine of the Incarnation implies that the Son entered willingly into a world where he could be put to death, presumably foreseeing what would happen.
He has the power and authority [EXOUSIA] to lay down his life, and also the same power to take up his life again (to be raised from the dead) when the task has been completed.
The Father has commissioned him to do this, and loves him because he is willing to do it (vv17-18).

In this way, the Father and the Son between them have fulfilled the promise made in Ezekiel, that the Lord God would look after the flock himself.

posted on May, 29 2015 @ 05:04 PM
In the opening verses, Jesus says that the true shepherd enters through the door.
So when he calls himself “the door”, the logical conclusion might have been that other true shepherds would enter through that route.
However, that line of thought is not followed up.
The image of passage through the door is applied only to the sheep themselves.
Nothing is said that could have been construed as an endorsement of future “pastors” of the church.
In this discourse, Jesus stands alone as the one good shepherd.

This is probably just as well, because the experience of the church has demonstrated how frequently the notional pastors have revealed themselves to be thieves or hirelings.
As Milton complains, writing about the funeral of the prospective pastor “Lycidas”;

“Last came, and last did go,
The Pilot of the Galilean Lake;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain
(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain).
He shook his mitred locks and stern bespake;
‘How well could I have spared for thee, young swain,
Enow of such as, for their bellies’ sake,
Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold!
Of other care they little reckoning make
Than how to scramble at the shearers’ feast
And shove away the worthy bidden guest.
Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook, or have learned aught else the least
That to the faithful herdsman’s art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped,
And when they list their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw;
The hungry sheep look up and are not fed,
But, swollen with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread;
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace and nothing said.
But that two-handed engine at the door
Stands ready to smite once and smite no more’.
Lycidas, ll108-131

(A “two-handed engine” is a sword which is too large and heavy to be lifted with one hand)

posted on May, 29 2015 @ 06:10 PM
Thank you. You truly do provide thought provoking commentaries. I hope you continue even if I seldom have much to say; it definitely isn't because I'm not reading or thinking about them.

posted on May, 29 2015 @ 06:17 PM
a reply to: ketsuko
Thank you for your support.
There are two more occasions when he makes "Truly, truly" statements, and I'm also planning to bring the whole sequence together in one place.

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 04:50 AM
To those who have proof of the next stage of their being "body death" is not seen as a curse but can be seen as a blessing (going home).

I do not look forward to the body pain that I imagine can happen when you die. But the thing that comes after it, I do look forward to. If a spark(drop) from the divine is as wonderful as it is in a human body, giving the bliss, then imagine how incredible it will be to swim and play in the ocean without a body with all the other souls.

Jesus is a good teacher in what it means to be a shepherd. Taking up the cross and doing the righteous action, walking the path.

edit on 30-5-2015 by LittleByLittle because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 04:53 AM
a reply to: LittleByLittle
I'm not sure how this relates to Jesus being the shepherd of his people.

edit on 30-5-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 04:57 AM

originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: LittleByLittle
I'm not sure how this relates to Jesus being the shepherd of his people.

A shepherd teaches the sheep to become shepherds removing blindness, increasing awareness. Walking thru the door (Yeshua) by becoming like Yeshua.

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 05:01 AM
a reply to: LittleByLittle
Doesn't quite fit the analogy, because sheep don't become shepherds.
They follow the shepherd through the door.
Or they might get carried.
Either image would fit the rest of the New Testament teaching.
They become like Jesus to the extent that Jesus is "in" them (rather than simple imitation).

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 12:29 PM
A nice read, thanks for your efforts. I could probably argue a few finer details, as to how you interpret Ch 10, but it's not important in the big picture...we're on the same page.

If I may, I'll comment on verse 16. It's tangential, but I get that way. Sorry if you think I'm going off-topic, but I think it's actually ON topic, when you see where I go. It's just my own thoughts, I'm not spouting any Church teaching. :-)

Re-read Ch.10, starting at verse 14. When you get to verse 16, completely omit it, and jump to 17 instead. Read it as verse 14,15,17, stop at 18. Read them again in that order, omit 16. Read it that way again, if necessary. What impression do you get?

It still makes sense. It still flows. it seams natural, as if that's how it was originally written. 16 could be omitted and none of this teaching would be altered. It's like it was added later, maybe in an edit, I dunno. Its just a thought I've hung on for years. Why?

"I have OTHER sheep that do not belong to this fold". (emphasis mine)

My footnotes, and as you noted also, say these "others" are Gentiles, or possible reference to "Gods dispersed children" of John 11:52, or possibly other "apostolic Christians" who were at odds with John.

Are you familiar with any OTHER ideas who these "others" are? Any other comments? Thanks for your time.

a reply to: DISRAELI

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 01:50 PM
a reply to: Ignatian
Yes, you are right about v16 interrupting the flow.
I sort-of acknowledged that in the OP, when I gave that verse its own detached paragraph.
In fact the same is true of the OP. The v16 paragraph could be omitted without being noticed.

It looks like an "afterthought", then, but that doesn't mean it came from a different person.
People do that in speech as well, add in thoughts which are tangential to their main point.

The context of the situation suggests the Gentiles.
In this conversation he is talking to the Jews, so the "other sheep" would be the non-Jews.
I think ch11 v52 means the Gentiles as well, or at least those among them who are potential "children of God". They have been "scattered" ever since Babel. That verse is exactly the same thought as v16.
The episode of the Greeks who want to talk to Jesus also shows that the relationship with the Gentiles is an important theme.

Nothing in the wording suggests the bringing back of sheep who used to be in the flock. It's more a case of "not yet". So I don't think he would be referring to former Christians or "separated brethren".
(They are "my sheep" already, as future Christians, but they don't know it yet at the time when he is speaking).

edit on 30-5-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 02:12 PM
I've heard John 10:16 referred to as The Alien Verse. If one were to believe that intelligent ET (or terrestrial) life that was not homo sapiens existed, ya know, like the ones possibly zipping around in UFOs, this is where they are mentioned in the bible.

I have seen UFOs. Quite a few times. Also, my dad circled a stationary one in his jet while a Navy pilot in the 50s. We don't know what they are. But we do know what they aren't.

The fold= the human race. And he has sheep that don't belong to this fold.

How's that for going off-topic?

ET exists? Then Jesus is their shepherd too. The bible says so! :-)

a reply to: DISRAELI

edit on 30-5-2015 by Ignatian because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 02:25 PM
a reply to: Ignatian
If the verse meant that, then where would Jesus be promising the inclusion of the Gentiles, one of the most central developments of the New Testament?
OK, the inclusion of alien races only extends the principle of inclusion of the Gentiles, but I wouldn't be looking in the Bible for ideas which are not part of the thought-world of the Bible.

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 02:53 PM
Well, I didn't go pouring through the bible searching for proof of ET, but in my search for Truth in the "thought-world of the Bible", John 10:16 jumped off the page at me because of my personal (and my father's) experiences.

Our experiences didn't challenge our faith at all, if anything, it deepened our faith. If ET exists, it only adds to the huge, amazing beauty and variety of God's creation. That's biblical.

a reply to: DISRAELI

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 03:03 PM
a reply to: Ignatian
In studying the Bible, the key question must always be "What would the speaker/writer be intending to say?"
Looking at the context of the conversation, the obvious and straight-forward answer is;
"He is talking to a body of Jews, at a time when his mission had not been extended beyond the Jews.
So 'the sheep of this fold' would refer to the Jews, and 'other sheep' would refer to the non-Jews."

I make no comment on the status of E.T.'s and U.F.O.'s, but if we want to understand the meaning of statements in the Bible, we ought not to detach them from their contexts.

edit on 30-5-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 03:10 PM
Mathew 28:19 is where.

"Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...."

(In an apparent contradiction, earlier in Mat10:5, they're told not to go into pagan or Samaritan towns)

a reply to: DISRAELI

edit on 30-5-2015 by Ignatian because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 03:25 PM
a reply to: Ignatian
Yes, that extends the mission beyond the Jews.
How far beyond the Jews can be an open question.
But we are talking about the meaning of v16 of this chapter.

Don't take phrases and verses in isolation. Always be conscious of the context. Always be working towards an understanding of what the speaker intended to say.

It is a mistake to pick out of the Bible coded references to things which people in the Bible would not know about.
U.F.O.'s are not mentioned in the Bible for the same reason that America and electricity are not mentioned in the Bible. People were not acquainted with them.

edit on 30-5-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2015 @ 03:30 PM

originally posted by: Ignatian
"Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...."

(In an apparent contradiction, earlier in Mat10:5, they're told not to go into pagan or Samaritan towns)

Matthew ch10 is before his death and resurrection. The instruction at the end of the gospel comes after his death and resurrection, which changes everything.
The same distinction is happening in this gospel. During his lifetime, he talks to Jews.
The mission to the Gentiles explodes after the resurrection.
That's a well-known development. All the priests and commentators will explain it in the same way.

So that is my point about this verse.
He is saying "I limit myself to you Jews for the moment, but the time will come when I will be bringing in the Gentiles".

edit on 30-5-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 31 2015 @ 06:50 AM
Hindsight is 20/20, but in my opinion, Jesus' actions during His ministry, spoke loud and clear that His promise extended to all of humanity, not just Jews.

I'm no Bible scholar, but The Woman at The Well, was certainly not a Jew. Are Samaritans considered Gentile though?

In modern terms, the first "Christian evangelist", was not only a woman, but was also a non-Jew. It was the Samaritan woman at the well.

"Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in Him because of the word of the woman who testified". (Jn 4:39)

"During his lifetime", He certainly spoke to many folks who were not Jews. Romans were not Jewsish, especially a centurion.

a reply to: DISRAELI

posted on May, 31 2015 @ 07:25 AM
a reply to: Ignatian
It is more obvious retrospectively that his message was ultimately for mankind in general.
But his activity in his own lifetime was normally kept within the bounds of his own people.
As he said to the Syro-Phoenician woman "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew ch15 v24).
Exceptions to this rule were very unusual.
The Jews themselves could not grasp or even tolerate the idea that God might want to work with Gentiles. They got murderously violent against both Jesus and Paul, just for suggesting it.
The whole point of the Cornelius story in Acts is that Peter would have been reluctant even to associate with a Gentile. It took a special vision from God to convince him that preaching the gospel to Gentiles was a legitimate thing to do.

The Samaritans were not quite Gentiles.
From the Jewish point of view, they were descendants of God's people Israel who had fallen into error (by wanting to worship outside Jerusalem). They followed the Pentateuch,but not the prophets.
Hence the symbolic sequence of the expansion of the gospel in Acts.
First, the Jews only, chs 1-7.
Then the Samaritans, ch8, the half-way house between the Jews themselves and the real Gentiles.
Then even the Gentiles, from ch10 onwards.
John ch10 v16 and ch11 v52 are about the same process of expanding from the small circle of pure Jews to the rest of the world.

edit on 31-5-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 31 2015 @ 08:53 AM
Interesting, thanks for that. Praise The Lord. This helps shine a new light for me on Jn 10:16. I was not familiar with this methodic, progressive inclusion of the Gentiles. Jesus, sneaking in a line like verse 16, as a "figure of speech", was brilliant, considering the vehement opposition the Jews had for Gentiles as you've highlighted.

Same outcome through modern lenses though, ET's would simply be one more group of Gentiles. They would be sheep too, wether they know it or not.

a reply to: DISRAELI

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