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The Gospel of John: Revealing the Invisible God 

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

Chapter 10


 

 

The parable of the sheep fold

Summary of the allegory in John 10:1-18

Summary of the parable of John 10:1-18

Another confrontation with the Jews

 

Summary Highlights of Chapter 10

 

 

This book is a verse-by-verse commentary.  To go to the commentary for any particular verse in Chapter 10, please click on a number below.

 

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3

4

5

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14

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27

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29

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32

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36

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42

 

 

 

 

 

The parable of the sheep fold

 

10:1     Verily, verily, I say to you. He that enters not in by the door to the fold of the sheep, but mounts up elsewhere, he is a thief and a robber.

 

"Verily, verily," or truly, truly, is an expression unique to Jesus. Only he prefaced his remarks in that fashion.  There was one door to a fold where the sheep were kept. Both the sheep and the shepherd entered through that door. Anyone familiar with keeping sheep knew this to be true.

 

To understand what Jesus was talking about here, one must first understand that this is a parable. A parable, or allegory, is a story which has a message. The truth to be ascertained is not understood by simply analyzing the details of the story, parable, or allegory. To do so is to become lost in the details, and miss the real point.

 

Anyone who "mounts up elsewhere, is a thief and a robber."  Reinecker (p. 241) says that the sheep fold was a "yard in front of the house, surrounded by a stone wall which was probably topped by briers."  The door was visible from the house, and only a thief would come in any other way than by the door. The use of both thief and robber indicates that such a person would be intent on stealing, but might also be violent.

 

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10:2     But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

 

The person who enters properly through the door of the sheep fold is the shepherd of the sheep. Jesus had now established two truths. First, anyone who enters other than by the door is a thief. Second, the one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

 

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10:3     To him, the door-keeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.

 

Some sheep folds contained more than one flock, and in that case, a porter, or door-keeper was employed to oversee the shepherds who came for their flocks. When a shepherd came for his own sheep, the sheep heard his voice and came to him, and he would lead them out.

 

Calling "his own sheep by name," implies that every shepherd had special knowledge of his own sheep. And, "he leads them out."  The shepherd will take the sheep to where they will have food and water. This was a typical day for a shepherd of that era. The sheep were probably named after some peculiar characteristic or a distinguishing mark, much as farmers name herds of cows in this country.

 

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10:4     And when his own sheep he puts forth, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.

 

Today, at least in this country, the shepherd drives behind the sheep. But, in biblical times, the shepherd walked in front of the sheep. The sheep would follow him, because they knew his voice. The shepherd not only led his flock, he also spoke to them, and they knew his voice.

 

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10:5     But a stranger in no wise should they follow, but will flee from him, because they know not the voice of strangers.

 

The flock of sheep would not follow a stranger, because they would not recognize his voice. The stranger would have to herd the flock together to drive it, which would be a nearly impossible task. The characteristics of the sheep and the sheep fold would have been common knowledge to the Jews.

 

Jesus was still speaking to the same group of Jews and Pharisees which he had addressed concerning the healing of the blind man. Now they had all the facts of this parable.

 

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10:6     This allegory Jesus spoke to them, but they knew not what it was which he spoke to them.

 

Jesus used this allegory, or parable, as a teaching tool. The Jews were accustomed to such a manner of speech, and they would be expected to know what the meaning was. Why did they fail to understand? Because the carnal mind cannot understand spiritual truths.

 

These Jews were very religious, but they were not spiritually astute. Although Jesus had tried many times to teach them about the invisible god of whom they were unaware, they still "knew not (the absolute ouk)." They did not even have an inkling of the spiritual truth Jesus was trying to teach them.

 

Jesus was not an adversary of the Jewish community,. He made an honest, sincere effort to help them understand his mission. Although the Pharisees opposed him, Jesus always sought to demonstrate The God's attributes of love and grace to them. While he did speak the unpleasant truth to them concerning their real condition, this should never be considered as evidence of his enmity toward the Jews.

 

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10:7     Therefore, Jesus said again to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, that I am the door of the sheep.

 

The spiritual density of the Jews was very apparent to Jesus. Therefore, he tried a simple, item by item explanation of his parable.

 

"I am the door of the sheep."  This meant that there was no other way for the sheep to enter the sheep fold. The people are the sheep, and both the sheep, as well as any shepherd, would need to enter through him, Jesus, as the doorway.

 

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10:8     All whoever came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them.

 

Jesus next identified the thieves and robbers as those who "came before me."  During the several hundred years between Malachi and the coming of Jesus, many people had come claiming to be the messiah. They created quite a stir among the Jews. Many of the radicals joined forces with them, but nothing ever came of their campaigns. Those who followed them were deluded, often robbed, and sometimes beaten. These false messiahs created a lot of turmoil with the ruling Romans, who would punish the group, sometimes killing them. The true followers of Jehovah were the sheep who did not listen to them.

 

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10:9     I am the door: if anyone enter in by me, he shall be saved, and shall go in, and shall go out, and shall find pasture.

 

Jesus again repeated his statement: "I am the door." He is the only way into the kingdom of The God. No one will ever come to the Father except through him, that is, through his works.

 

"If anyone enter in by me, he shall be saved."  This is a third-class conditional sentence, which indicates the probability of the future condition. It states what will take place only if certain conditions are fulfilled. The condition is "if anyone enter in by me."  Jesus said that only those who seek the safety of the sheep fold by coming in by the door, or by me, shall be saved.

 

Shall be saved is a future, indicative, passive. The passive voice indicates that the person involved is inactive in the future process of being saved. When we meet the test of "entering in by me," then our salvation is because of the door.

 

The words "by me," would be better translated as "through me," or "through my works."  Jesus, through his faithfulness unto death, purchased salvation for the entire world. That was the judicial aspect of salvation. Now, retaining that salvation, with the exception of reconciliation, requires faith and obedience.

 

The "being saved" which Jesus spoke of is not the same as most denominations teach. It is not "asking Jesus to come into your heart, and save you, so you can go to heaven."  What Jesus taught as "the salvation" involves entering the kingdom of The God in the next age, in a place of blessing. Those who "enter in by the door," are the ones who will retain that salvation, the ones who will enter the kingdom in a state of blessing.

 

"They shall go in, and shall go out, and shall find pasture." Jesus continued using the allegory (parable) of the shepherd and his sheep. He was probably referring to Psalms 23:2, which says,

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."

 

As the good shepherd, Jesus will lead his flock, and they "shall go in" and be safe from any predators, including false messiahs, priests, and teachers. They also "shall go out, and find pasture" and Jesus will nourish them.

 

One troubling aspect today is that although people seem to be hungry for the word of The God, few pastors are teaching them. Hosea 4:6 says,

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

 

Unfortunately, most pastors do not study enough to actually know anything different than their specific denominational doctrines.

 

And, when they do study, most pastors read everything through the lens of their denominational doctrines, and they are not open to the actual truth of the scriptures. They never question what the church hierarchy decrees. Consequently, their teachings are bound by the parameters of inaccurate church doctrines. As Proverbs 14:12 says,

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."

 

It soon becomes a matter of the blind leading the blind.

 

If people are to grow in the knowledge of the scriptures, they must study on their own. If they sincerely hunger after the word, they will be fed. The shepherd will see that they are nurtured in good pastures.

 

Where is the sheep fold of which Jesus is the door? Paul answered this question in Ephesians 2:18.

"For through him we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access by one spirit to the father."

 

The parenthetical words were added for clarification. Jesus is the door which allows entrance to the heavenly holy of holies, and provides access to the Father.

 

Again, it should be stated that Jesus was talking about something that was still in the future. That door was not opened until after his body was rent in death. His body was the final veil which had previously denied entrance to the Father.

 

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10:10     The thief comes not except that he may steal and may kill and may destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have [it] abundantly.

 

The thief would be anyone who was not called of The God to minister to his sheep. A thief could have three motives for coming to the sheep fold: to steal, to kill, and to destroy. May steal, is an aorist subjunctive, which is equal to the future indicative. Both speak of a future certainty.

 

So often today, TV preachers and evangelist spend a lot of time and effort begging people to send them money. Many of them have opulent life styles, living in mansions costing millions of dollars. The "sheep," on the other hand, are often poor followers, giving from their meager incomes because they have been duped to believe they are "giving to God."

 

To kill, also written as an aorist subjunctive, comes from thuoo, which means,

"to sacrifice, to kill, to slaughter, absolutely John x.10" (Thayer, p. 294).

 

Jesus was still speaking allegorically. He was not referring to a physical death, but to a spiritual death.

 

May destroy is also written as an aorist subjunctive, and is derived from apollumi. Thayer (p. 64) defines apollumi as:

"To destroy, i.e., to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, render useless, cause its emptiness to be perceived."

 

Realistically, it means to render something useless for the purpose for which it was created. Men were created to bring glory to The God. The thieves and robbers destroy people, the sheep, for this purpose. Organized religion is the worst offender in this matter, as demonstrated earlier by the discussion of the former blind man in Chapter 9.

 

"I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly."  Might have is written as an aorist subjunctive, defined earlier as equivalent to the future indicative. This is quite different from the English word might, which implies that something may or may not happen. In this case, this is something which will come to pass. There is no question here: they will have life, zooen, meaning spiritual life.

 

Jesus also came that they might have life "abundantly."  Again, might have is an aorist subjunctive; it will definitely happen. Abundantly comes from perisson, which means,

"abundance, superfluous, more than is really necessary" (Rienecker, p. 242).

 

Jesus came to reveal the nature of The God in relation to his creation. The God always supplies more than anyone needs in order to be or do what he asks of them. The God supplies all of this through his son, Jesus.

 

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10:11     I am the shepherd the good. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

 

Jesus again identified himself as the shepherd. He used the adjective, good, to describe the kind of shepherd he is. Good comes from kalos. Which means,

"of quality, in accordance w. the purpose of something, or someone: good, useful....morally good, noble, praiseworthy, contributing to salvation" (Bauer, p. 400).

 

Jesus also used the definite article, ho poimeen ho kalos, "the shepherd the good."  Both words are greatly emphasized when written in this manner. There is only one shepherd like him, and no shepherd is as good as he.

Jesus stated this for the Jews to think about, along with the other statements he made about himself.

 

Then, perhaps as he looked into his future, Jesus said, "the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." He also used this statement as a contrast to the shepherd of the next verse.

 

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10:12     But the hired servant, and [the] shepherd whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees; and the wolf seizes them and scatters the sheep.

 

"The hired servant, and the shepherd whose own the sheep are not" are the thieves and robbers discussed earlier. Jesus was speaking of those (pastors and teachers) whose only interest in the sheep was to have a job which provides income. This was in contrast to Jesus, who was called of The God to shepherd the sheep as though they were his own.

 

When the hired servant "sees the wolf coming," he "leaves the sheep, and flees," instead of staying to protect the sheep. They will not risk their own life to save the sheep. Rather, they save their own lives at the expense of the sheep. When there is no proper shepherd, "the wolf seizes them and scatters the sheep."

 

Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, who were then the shepherds of the sheep of The God. He was referring to Jeremiah 23:1-4, which says,

"Woe be to the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the lord. Therefore thus saith the lord god of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, said the LORD."

 

The God has no regard for shepherds who do not properly care for his sheep.

 

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10:13     The hireling fleeth because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

 

The hireling has no real interest in saving the flock. He is only concerned with his own best interests. Unfortunately, this description aptly fits many pastors who purportedly shepherd the flock. Many, it seems, are more interested in fleecing the sheep, instead of caring for them.

 

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10:14     I am the good shepherd; and I know those that [are] mine, and am known of those that [are] mine.

 

Jesus contrasted himself with the hirelings. He knows those that are his. It is not just a job with him. Jesus is acquainted with each sheep under his care. Keep in mind that this is a parable, spoken before his death, which reconciled all men to The God. As a result of his death, all men became his flock.

 

Those who are his also know him as their shepherd. The acquaintance runs both ways, from the shepherd to the flock, and from the flock to the shepherd. John 15:5, iterated the same thought:

"I am the vine, ye [are] the branches. He that abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me ye are able to do nothing."

 

The "knowing" in verse 10:41 is equal to the "abiding" in verse 15:5. Jesus is indeed the good shepherd.

 

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10:15     As the father knows me, I also know the father; and my life I lay down for the sheep.

Jesus was again speaking of the close relationship which he has with his father, The God. This could also be a reference to his previous time with The God as his word, Jehovah.

 

"My life I lay down for the sheep." These words continue the allegory about being the good shepherd. Verse 10:14 emphasized that he was the good shepherd, that there was no other shepherd who was even comparable to him. Now he explained why this was true: because he lays down his life for the sheep. He was to die for the sheep, or the people of this earth.

 

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10:16     And I have other sheep which are not of this fold; those also it behooves me to bring, and my voice they will hear; and there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

 

With this statement, Jesus informed the Jews and Pharisees gathered around him that they were not the only ones for whom he would give his life. These others were "not of this fold," meaning they were not members of the Jewish religion. The fold was the place where the sheep came at night for safety. Fold must not be confused with flock. There were many folds, and the flock was scattered among those many folds.

 

"Those also it behooves me to bring, and my voice they will hear." Behooves comes from, dei, which means

"it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper" (Thayer, p. 126).

 

Dei is often translated as must. Jesus was under orders to also bring those others.

 

"My voice they will hear."  Will hear is written in the future tense. Therefore, he was speaking of the future time after his death, resurrection, and ascension, to the father.

 

In this future time, there will be "one flock, one shepherd." Jesus was speaking of the time that Paul later wrote about in II Corinthians 5:18-19.

"And all things [are] out of The God, who reconciled us to himself by Jesus chirst, and gave to us the service of reconciliation: how that god was in christ a world reconciling to himself, not reckoning to them their offences, and having put in us the word [or message] of the reconciliation." Words in brackets were added for clarification.

 

Paul also spoke of this in Ephesians 2:13-17.

"But now in christ Jesus, ye who once were afar of are become near by the blood of the christ. for he is our peace, who made both one, and the middle wall of the fence broke down, having annulled, in his flesh, the law of commandments in decrees, that the two he might create in himself into one new man, making peace; and might reconcile both in one body to The God through the cross, having slain the enmity by it; and having come, he announced the glad tidings--peace to you who [were] afar off, and to those near."

 

These two quotes from Paul should help clarify what Jesus meant when he said, "there will be one flock."

 

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10:17     On this account the father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.

 

Jesus explained that the father loved him "because I lay down my life." Love comes from agape, which is a love activated by the will, not by the emotions. It literally means "to wish the best for one."  This is the same word for love which was used in John 3:16, which stated that

"The God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son."

 

This statement is in accord with Isaiah 53:4-9.

"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of god, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the trangression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth."

 

Paul added more light about the death of Jesus in Philippians 2:6-11.

"Who subsisting in the form of a god, esteemed it not rapine to be equal with god; but emptied himself, having taken a bondman's form, having become in the likeness of men: and in figure having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death, even death of [the] cross. Wherefore The God also highly exalted him and granted to him a name which [is] above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of [beings] in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus christ [is] lord to [the] glory of god [the] father."

 

The writer of Hebrews 2:9 also expressed this about the death of Jesus:

"We see Jesus on account of the suffering of death crowned with glory and with honor; so that by [the] grace of god he might taste of death for every one."

 

Jesus did not expect to remain in the realm of death. He ended his sentence by saying, "that I may take it again," which referred to his life. He looked forward to his resurrection from a death he was willing to endure for the sins of the whole world. With his death, he would remove everything– every sin–which stood between The God and the people of this world.

 

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10:18     No one takes it from me, but I lay down it of myself. Authority I have to lay it down, and authority I have to take it again. This commandment I received from my father.

 

Jesus said that no one would take his life from him. This statement should have quieted all the arguments which have raged for centuries about who was guilty of the death of Jesus. One of the largest religious organizations on earth wrongly accused the Jews of being guilty for the death of Jesus. This accusation has fostered hatred and death for millions of Jews over many centuries. But Jesus said positively that "no one takes it from me." That should end the argument.

 

Who then is guilty? Jesus answered this question when he said, "I lay it down of myself." He did this because he knew it was the will of his father that he do so. He also knew he had an unlimited amount of holy spirit, provided to enable him to fulfill his father's will.

 

Then he added, "I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again." Authority comes from ekousia,

"power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; leave, or permission" (Thayer, p. 225). 

 

It is  unfortunate that the KJV translated this as "power," which is very misleading. Ekousia does not imply the means or ability to do something, but the permission to do it. Jesus was given this authority by his heavenly father. This, again, indicates that Jesus was subservient to the Father. He required permission, or authority, before acting or speaking. In the matter of his life, he had the Father's authority to lay it down, or to allow himself to be crucified.

 

Jesus also had the authority "to take it again."  Did this mean, necessarily, that he was able to bring himself back to life? No! Jesus only had permission to take his life again after The God returned it to him.

Acts 2:22-24 clearly states that it was The God who raised Jesus from the dead.

"Men, Israelites, hear these words: Jesus the Nazaraean, a man by The God set forth to you by works of power and wonders and signs, which The God wrought by him in your midst as also yourselves know: him, given up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of The God, having taken by lawless hands, having crucified ye put to death. Whom The God raised up, having loosed the throes of the death, inasmuch as it was not possible [for] him to be held by it."

 

Jesus also added, "This commandment I received from the father." Commandment comes from entoleen, which means

"an order, command, injunction" (Thayer, p. 218).

 

Jesus was not "asked" to take his life again; he was "commanded" to do so. The God gave him life again, and ordered him to receive it.

 

This verse ends the allegory and parable of the sheep-fold and the door. To help make sure the reader understands, we have summarized these verses, both as allegory and parable.

 

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Summary of the allegory in John 10:1-18

 

It will help to define both allegory and parable. In this group of scriptures, it appears that Jesus used both methods to accomplish his teaching.

A parable is a simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson. It may or may not also be an allegory.

 

An allegory is,

"the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence; also: an instance (as in a story or painting) of such expression" (Webster, p. 30).

 

Jesus used the sheep fold, the door, and the shepherd the good, in an allegorical manner.

 

Verse 10:1-8. Jesus spoke of the door to the fold, and said that the shepherd of the sheep enters by the door. He also said that those who entered in any other manner were thieves and robbers. The sheep were the followers of Jesus, and they follow him because they know his voice. The sheep will not follow any others—false christs claiming to be the messiahbecause they do not know their voices. The Jews could not understand because they did not believe Jesus was the christ, or messiah, and they were not even certain that he claimed to be the messiah. In addition, their religion had become very "law-bound," and they no longer were sensitive to the spiritual aspects for which it was originally designed. Although these points are clear to our generation, the Jews did not have the knowledge of Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

 

Verses 10:9-18. Jesus said he was the door, and that any sheep who entered by him shall be saved, and go in and out, and find pasture. This indicated that they would enter the kingdom age in a state of blessing. It also meant they would have entrance after his death to the holy of holies where they may fellowship with The God.

Jesus also said that he came that they might have life abundantly, indicating that the heavenly father provides the abundance for them to live this life to the utmost.

 

Jesus also compared himself to the hireling shepherds who cared nothing for the sheep. When danger threatened, they would desert the sheep, leaving them to be destroyed. On the other hand, Jesus said he was the good shepherd who would take care of the sheep, even laying down his life for them. This referred to his forthcoming crucifixion by which means men would be reconciled to The God.

 

He told the Jews that he had other sheep besides them, and he was equally concerned with these other sheep.

 

Lastly, Jesus spoke clearly of his death and his resurrection.

 

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Summary of the parable of John 10:1-18

 

Thayer (p. 479) defines a parable as,

"A placing of one thing by the side of another, juxtaposition; a narrative, fictitious but agreeable to the laws and usages of human life, by which either the duties of men or the things of god, particularly the nature and history of God's kingdom, are figuratively portrayed; a pithy, instructive saying, involving some likeness or comparison and having preceptive or admonitory force."

 

A parable contains another truth besides those pointed out in the comments on the allegorical side. What truth was it that Jesus portrayed by using the story of the sheep-fold and the door as a truth which ran alongside?

 

To find the answer to this question, we must return to the last conversation which Jesus had with the blind man (John 9:35-38).

"Jesus heard that they cast him out, and having found him said to him, Believest thou on the son of The God? He answered and said, Who is he, lord, that I may believe on him? And Jesus said to him, Both thou hast seen him and he who speaks with thee is he. And he said, I believe, lord: and he worshiped him."

 

Jesus used this conversation to begin his illustration of the sheep, the sheep fold, and the door of the fold. When Jesus asked the former blind man if he believed on the son of The God, he was setting forth the new beginning of the age of grace. He was also demonstrating that the Old Testament economy of law, as it was advocated by the Jews, was now null and void. He, Jesus, represented the new age, which was being introduced through his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.

 

As the door to the sheep fold, Jesus was saying that the entrance through that door was available only through faith in him as the messiah. He would also be the door into the next age, the kingdom of The God, which would require the same faith as that demonstrated by the former blind man.

 

There is no other entrance except by Jesus. The Jews to whom he spoke did not understand him. They, and the religion they promulgated, were to have been a nation of priests who went forth to the Gentiles, to tell them of the merciful god. Instead of doing this, they built up a religion of men, which did not even allow a Jew to enter the home of a Gentile.

 

Jesus explained to the Jews that the new religion would come about through his death, by which he would reconcile both the Jews and the Gentiles unto The God. There will no longer be any advantage to being a Jew, since all would be equal before The God. Everyone would be judicially forgiven, and reconciled to The God. However, only a few would enter the next age in a place of blessing, and those were the ones who accept him as being the son of The God.

 

Jesus said several times that he was the shepherd the good, a reference to Old Testament scriptures which spoke of him as such. He was the one who loved the sheep enough to lay down his life for them. With the parable, or truth which ran alongside a seemingly unrelated tale, Jesus asserted that with his death, a new era, the age of grace, would be introduced. He foretold this in his conversation with the former blind man, and in the allegory of the sheep fold. The law would be annulled, and people would no longer be under law, but under grace. Praise be to The God!

 

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10:19     A division therefore again there was among the Jews, on account of these words.

 

Earlier, the Jews were divided in their opinion about who Jesus was. That is the reason for the word, again. None of them seemed to understood the allegorical aspect, nor the parabolic one, about the tale of the sheep fold. This group of Jews was having a hard time agreeing among themselves..

 

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10:20     But many of them said, He has a demon and is mad; why do ye hear him?

 

These are the same remarks made earlier (John 7:20). The Jews simply could not understand him. To them, his talk was the ranting of a man with a "demon," or one who "is mad," or out of his mind.

 

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10:21     Others said, These sayings are not [those] of one possessed by a demon. Is a demon able to open the eyes of [the] blind?

 

This verse is reminiscent of John 9:7, 9:32, and 9:33, and no further comment will be made on it here. There were apparently some in the group who were impressed with his ability to heal the blind man, as well they should have been.

 

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Another confrontation with the Jews

 

10:22     And the feast of dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter.

 

The feast of dedication lasted eight days, beginning on the 25th of December. Dedication comes from egkainia, which means,

"dedication, consecration... instituted by Judas Maccabaeus [B.C. 164] in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollutions of Antiochus Epiphanes" (Thayer, p. 165).

 

Jeremiah 10:19-22 refers to the time when the Syrians came to Jerusalem and polluted the temple.

"Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it. My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains. For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: Therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons."

 

Jeremiah spoke of the tabernacle, or temple, of his own time while foretelling the devastation which would take place when Judah was taken captive.

 

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10:23     And Jesus was walking in the temple in the porch of Solomon.

 

Porch comes from stoa, a porch with columns supporting it, which was named after King Solomon. That this porch carried the name of Solomon, indicates the reputation that still attached to his name centuries after his death.

 

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10:24     Therefore the Jews encircled him, and said to him, Until when holdest thou our soul in suspense? If thou art the christ, tell us plainly.

 

This was probably a year after Jesus had been in Jerusalem for the feast of tabernacles (see Chapter 7). In that earlier visit, the Jews sought to kill him. Here, again, "the Jews encircled him," a rather ominous sign.  They must have been tiring of the uncertainty, and asked him, "how long will you hold our soul in suspense?"  The word for soul comes from psyche, which means physical life. The phrase holdest in suspense comes from aireis, meaning to take away.  Thus, the literal translation of this verse would be, "How long do you take away our life?"

 

These Jews could not stand it any longer. They wanted to know whether or not Jesus was the christ. If thou art the christ, tell us plainly. Stop the ambiguity and tell us plainly.

 

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10:25     Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not. The works which I do in the name of the father of me, these bear witness concerning me.

 

Jesus had told them repeatedly, and showed them with his miracles that he was the messiah, but they would not believe him. Therefore, this question must have been another attempt at subterfuge. "Ye believe not." The not is the absolute ou. They had not even begun to believe.

 

"The works which I do in the name of my father" Name refers to the attributes of the Father, or everything which comes to mind when he mentioned the Father. His father was the original power which brought all of this universe into being, and Jesus claimed that it was by this name, or power, that he was able to do the miracles which he did.

 

"These bear witness concerning me." Jesus told them to give some thought to what he had done. If they would look in faith, these works would tell them that he was the messiah. Some had believed, but this group of Jews did not.

 

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10:26     But ye believe not, for ye are not of my sheep, as I said to you.

 

The word not appears twice, and both cases are the absolute no, ouk. These people absolutely have not believed, and they were absolutely not his sheep. By their unbelief, they have set themselves apart from him.

 

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10:27     My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

 

For comments on this verse, please refer to our comments on John 10:3.

 

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10:28     And I give them eternal life; and in no wise shall they perish for ever, and not anyone shall seize them out of my hand.

 

"I give them eternal life."  This does not convey any sense of chronological time, but a kairos kind of time. Eternal life has elements of the quality, or characteristics, of the life of The God, or his son, Jesus.

 

How does Jesus give them eternal life? This gift was given to everyone by means of his sacrifice unto death. Here, Jesus was speaking of eternal life in its consummation at the beginning of the next age, the kingdom of The God. That is when those who have believed that Jesus is the christ, and who have followed him, will be led in and out, and find the pasture he spoke of earlier.

 

This eternal life is also given to those who submit themselves to The God, and allow themselves to be led of holy spirit. Through this means, Jesus can live his life through them. This is what Paul meant when he wrote,

"We shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:10).

 

"And in no wise shall they perish forever, and not anyone shall seize them out of my hand."  No wise comes from ou me, a double negative used for emphasis. Ou is the absolute no, and me is the negative of possibility. Together they provide the strongest possible denial, or negative, in the Greek language.

 

There is no possibility that those who hear his voice and follow Jesus, "shall perish forever."  Forever comes from the Greek eis tov aioona, or, into the age. This refers to the next age, the kingdom of The God, when Jesus will rule.

 

"No one shall seize them out of my hand."  Jesus pictured them as being held in his hand. Again, the absolute no was used. They are under the protection of his authority as the son of The God, and there is no power on this earth that is able to seize them from his protection.

 

It is unfortunate that apoloontai was translated as perish. Thayer (p. 64) defines it as

"to destroy, put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin...contextually, by one's conduct to cause another to lose eternal salvation."

 

Being lost does not mean "going to hell" as so often preached. It means not entering the next age in a place of blessing. Being "lost" means being out of the right way of faith. Such a person is perishing insofar as entering the kingdom of The God.

 

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10:29     My father, who has given [them] to me is greater than all, and no one is able to seize [them] out of the hand of my father.

 

It was the Father who had the power to keep any of his sheep from being seized out of his hand. Jesus again emphasized the majesty of his father over himself. He clearly stated that it was his father "who has given them to me." Jesus had no authority of his own, only what his father gave to him.

 

"My father is greater than all."  Greater is defined by Thayer (p. 395) as,

"predicated of rank, as belonging to persons, eminent for ability, virtue, authority, power as god, and sacred personages."

 

All comes from pantoon, and in the context here, would seem to be limited to people. However, it could also be translated as things, which would therefore include anyone, as well as anything else, created by him.

 

"No one is able to seize them out of the hand of my father."  Jesus was not claiming that "my hand" and "his hand" were one and the same. But, he was again referring to his submission to the Father's authority. Any power he might have comes from the authority of his father.

 

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10:30     I and the father are one.

 

Those who support the idea of the trinity love to quote this verse as conclusive proof that Jesus is the same as The God. But, it is only by removing this verse from its context that it can be misinterpreted that way. If it is examined in context, then the perceived meaning is very different indeed from what the illogical trinitarians claim.

 

In context, Jesus said that he and The God had a unity of purpose, not a unity of identity. First he said that no one can seize anyone out of his hand, and no one is able to seize anyone out of the Father's hand. Then, he followed up with the remark that "I and the father are one."  Both he and the Father are agreed in their purpose for humanity.

 

In a study such as this one, it is usually preferable to comment upon scriptures in order. In this case, however, an exception is called for. John 17:11 says.

"And I am no longer in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy father, keep them in thy name whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we [are]."

 

If Jesus and the Father are one person, then according to this verse, all of those for whom Jesus prayed are also one person. No! Jesus was praying that after he ascended to the Father, they might also be one in purpose.

 

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10:31     The Jews therefore took up stones again that they might stone him.

 

One other time the Jews had taken up stones to cast at Jesus (see the comments on John 8:59).

 

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10:32     Jesus answered them, Many good works I shewed you from my father; because of which of them do ye stone me?

 

Jesus, by answering them in this manner, emphasized "the good works from my father."  These Jews should have known that Jesus was the I Am, or Jehovah. But, they were not interested in exercising faith; they wanted to rid themselves of this man who constantly pointed out their need.

 

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10:33     The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we do not stone thee, but for blasphemy, and because thou being a man, makest thyself a god.

 

The Jews were not preparing to stone him for a good work, but for blasphemy. They were a part of the group who seemed to take advantage of his miracles, and enjoy them. That is, until they observed that the common people were coming to faith in him as the messiah. This was too much! They believed that now they had the legal excuse—blasphemy—necessary to get rid of Jesus. Thayer (p. 102) defines blasphemy as follows:

"Specifically of those who by contemptuous speech intentionally come short of the reverence due to God or to sacred things."

 

These Jews believed that Jesus had spoken blasphemy because "thou being a man, makest thyself a god."  At least they recognized Jesus as being a man, not some kind of a mixture, or god-man, as preached today. They saw Jesus for what he really was: a human. What they did not recognize was that Jesus was operating under holy spirit without measure, which assured that he spoke and did only those things that The God told him. They did not understand this although Jesus had repeatedly told them.

 

"You makest thyself a god."  There is no definite article in front of the word god. Hence, it is any god, not necessarily Jehovah, who was the god of Israel. In fact, they were mistaken in this matter, because he was indeed their god who had become flesh.

 

The doctrine of the trinity, which preaches that Jesus is the invisible god of the heavens, is also off the mark. He was Jehovah become flesh, but he never claimed to be the invisible god. He is now a glorified man who has been returned to his office of Jehovah, and he presently sits at the right hand of The God.

 

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10:34     Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? And the scriptures can not be broken.

 

A search of the KJV reveals that there are no verses translated into these exact words: "I said ye are gods."  When Jesus, or the apostles, quoted a scripture, they often did not quote it exactly, but gave the essence of its meaning as they perceived it to be.

 

Exodus 7:1 seems to be the nearest to what Jesus referred to.

"And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet."

 

Here, Moses is said to be a god to Pharaoh, or, he is the one who will have dominion, or the rule over him, and tell Pharaoh what to do.

 

If we accept this scripture in context, insofar as the meaning of a god is concerned, then what are humans to be gods over? Again, a quote from the Old Testament provides the answer.  Just before man was created,

"And god said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So god created man in his own image, in the image of god created he him: male and female created he him." (Genesis 1:26-27).

 

Dominion comes from the verb form of the noun domain. The word kingdom is a short combination of the two words, king and domain. The image in which man was created was that of dominion, or rule. Just as Jehovah gave Moses the rule, or dominion, over Pharaoh, thus man was given dominion, or rule, over the earth and its creatures. This is the image of God in which man was made.

 

"And the scriptures cannot be broken."  Cannot is composed of the two Greek words, ou, the absolute no, and dunatai, a word for power. Thus, there is no power which can break the scriptures. Break, in the Greek, is a form of the word, luoo, which usually means to loose. But, here it has the meaning of setting it aside, or nullifying it. Thus Jesus told the Jews that what he had stated about men being gods cannot be broken because it is scripture.

 

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10:35-36     If them he called gods, to whom the word of The God came, (and the scriptures cannot be broken), do ye say [of him] whom the father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am a son of The God?

 

Jesus continued his argument that he had not blasphemed. Sanctified does not mean to be saintly or behave morally, as some churches claim. Sanctified comes from hagaizoo, which means,

"to set apart, to sanctify, to consecrate" (Rienecker, p. 243).

 

The very basic meaning of this word is to set apart.

 

The God set apart Jesus and sent him into the world. The God's purpose in having Jesus become his word in the flesh, was to reveal The God's very existence, and to bring glory to The God. Whatever else Jesus accomplished was only secondary to this major purpose.

 

"Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am a son of The God."  Jesus did not claim to be the son of The God, or the messiah, or the king of Israel. There is no definite article with son; therefore, this must be translated as a son. There is a definite article with god which identifies The God to whom Jesus refers. Would the Jews accept the reasons Jesus gave to indicate that he was not blaspheming?

 

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10:37     If I do not the works of my father, believe not me.

 

Jesus again appealed to the "works of my father."  Note carefully, Jesus said that the works he did were not his own, but those of "my father."  He told the Jews, If you do not believe me, at least see that what I do are the works of my father.

 

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10:38     But if I do, even if ye believe not me, the works believe, that ye may perceive and may believe that the father [is] in me, and I in him.

 

But if I do, the works of my father, "even if ye believe not me, believe the works."  Jesus constantly begged, even pleaded with these Jews to believe either what he told them, or to believe the works which they had seen him do. He tried cajoling them to show at least a modicum of faith.

 

He wanted them to "believe that the father [is] in me, and I in him."  When Jesus said, "the father is in me, and I in him," he was speaking about the closeness of their relationship. The Jews, however, believed neither his words nor his works, and therefore they detested his statement.

 

In a similar vein, Paul used the term "in christ" to illustrate two different concepts of its meanings. The first concept would be the judicial aspect, whereby all were considered to be with him when he died for the sins of all humanity. The second concept would be the experiential aspect, the close relationship anyone maintained with him as their lord, and thereby kept their position as being in christ.

 

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10:39     Therefore they sought again to take him, and he went forth out of their hand.

 

The Jews considered that his statement was clearly blasphemous. They sought to take him to put him to death, but he went forth out of their hands. Again, his hour had not yet come. The time of his death was set by his heavenly father, and nothing could change that timing.

 

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10:40     And [he] departed again beyond the Jordan, to the place where John was first baptizing; and he abode there.

 

This would be a pleasant change for Jesus. He left a hostile environment, and returned "beyond the Jordan," to the place where his ministry began. This was where "John was first baptizing."  This was also where Jesus had received the fullness of holy spirit after his water baptism.

 

We might note here that some people erroneously interpret the arrival of holy spirit upon Jesus at his baptism. They teach that no one can receive holy spirit unless they are baptized. According to what they say, holy spirit will be given only at a person's baptism. However, holy spirit was poured out upon all flesh on the day of Pentecost.

 

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10:41     And many came to him, and said, John indeed did no sign; but all whatsoever John said concerning this [man], were true.

 

This was a much more friendly place. These people were favorably inclined toward Jesus. John had foretold that Jesus would be the person who would do many things to prove he "came from The God."  The Jews here seemed to understand the truth of what John had told them about Jesus.

 

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10:42     And many believed there on him.

 

What a difference this group was compared to the Jews who had tried to kill him.

 

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Summary Highlights of Chapter 10

 

# A parable, or allegory, is a story which has a message. The truth to be

     ascertained is not understood by simply analyzing the details of the

     story, parable, or allegory. To do so is to become lost in the details, and

     miss the real point.

 

# The shepherd not only led his flock, he also spoke to them, and they

     knew his voice. The sheep would follow him, because they knew his

     voice. The sheep would not follow a stranger, because they would not

     recognize his voice.

 

# The carnal mind cannot understand spiritual truths.  Although these

     Jews were very religious, they were not spiritually astute.

 

#  Jesus was not an adversary of the Jewish community.  He made an

     honest, sincere effort to help them understand his mission. Although

     the Pharisees opposed him, Jesus always sought to demonstrate The

     God's attributes of love and grace to them. While he did speak the

     unpleasant truth to them concerning their real condition, this should

     never be considered as evidence of his enmity toward the Jews.

 

#  Jesus is the only way into the kingdom of The God. No one will ever

     come to the Father except through him, that is, through his works.

     Jesus said that only those who seek the safety of the sheep fold by\

     coming in by the door, or by me, shall be saved. When we meet the

     test of "entering in by me," then our salvation is because of the door.

 

#  Jesus purchased salvation for the entire world. That was the judicial

     aspect of salvation. Now, retaining that salvation requires faith and

     obedience.

 

# What Jesus taught as "the salvation" involves entering the kingdom of

     The God in the next age, in a place of blessing. Those who "enter in by

     the door," are the ones who will retain that salvation, the ones who will

     enter the kingdom in a state of blessing.

 

# One troubling aspect today is that although people seem to be hungry

     for the word of The God, few pastors are teaching them. Most pastors

     do not study enough to actually know anything different than their

     specific denominational doctrines. And, when they do study, most

     pastors read everything through the lens of their denominational

     doctrines, and they are not open to the actual truth of the scriptures.

     They never question what the church hierarchy decrees. Consequently,

     their teachings are bound by the parameters of inaccurate church

     doctrines. It soon becomes a matter of the blind leading the blind.

 

#  If people are to grow in the knowledge of the scriptures, they must

     study on their own. If they sincerely hunger after the word, they will be

     fed.

 

#  Jesus is the door which allows entrance to the heavenly holy of holies,

     and provides access to the Father. That door was opened when he died.

     His body was the final veil which had previously denied entrance to the

     Father.

 

# Men were created to bring glory to The God. The thieves and robbers

     destroy people, the sheep, for this purpose. Organized religion is the

     worst offender in this matter, as demonstrated by the discussion of the

     former blind man in Chapter 9.

 

# The God has no regard for shepherds who do not properly care for his

     sheep. Many, it seems, are more interested in fleecing the sheep,

     instead of caring for them.

 

#  Jesus is acquainted with each sheep under his care. Keep in mind that

     this is a parable, spoken before his death, which reconciled all men to

     The God. As a result of his death, all men became his flock.

 

#  Jesus informed the Jews and Pharisees gathered around him that they

     were not the only ones for whom he would give his life. These others

     were "not of this fold," meaning they were not members of the Jewish

     religion. He told the Jews that he had other sheep besides them, and he

     was equally concerned with these other sheep.

 

#  Jesus said that no one would take his life from him. This statement

     should have quieted all the arguments which have raged for centuries

     about who was guilty of the death of Jesus. Who then is guilty? Jesus

     answered this question when he said, "I lay it down of myself."

 

#  Jesus said he was the door, and that any sheep who entered by him

     shall be saved, and go in and out, and find pasture. This indicated that

     they would enter the kingdom age in a state of blessing. It also meant

     they would have entrance after his death to the holy of holies where

     they may fellowship with The God.

 

# When Jesus asked the former blind man if he believed on the son of The

     God, he was setting forth the new beginning of the age of grace. He

     was also demonstrating that the Old Testament economy of law, as it

     was advocated by the Jews, was now null and void. He, Jesus,

     represented the new age, which was being introduced through his

     death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.

 

# As the door to the sheep fold, Jesus was saying that the entrance

     through that door was available only through faith in him as the

     messiah. He would also be the door into the next age, the kingdom of

     The God, which would require the same faith as that demonstrated by

     the former blind man.

 

#  Jesus explained to the Jews that through his death he would reconcile

     both the Jews and the Gentiles unto The God. There will no longer be

     any advantage to being a Jew, since all would be equal before The God.

     Everyone would be judicially forgiven, and reconciled to The God.

     However, only a few would enter the next age in a place of blessing,

     and those were the ones who accept him as being the son of The God.

 

#  Jesus asserted that with his death, a new era, the age of grace, would be

     introduced. He foretold this in his conversation with the former blind

     man, and in the allegory of the sheep fold. The law would be annulled,

     and people would no longer be under law, but under grace. Praise be

     to The God!

 

#  Jesus had told them repeatedly, and showed them with his miracles

     that he was the messiah, but they would not believe him. 

 

#  Jesus told them to give some thought to what he had done. If they

     would look in faith, these works would tell them that he was the

     messiah.

 

# Being lost does not mean "going to hell" as so often preached. It means

     not entering the next age in a place of blessing. Being "lost" means

     being out of the right way of faith. Such a person is perishing insofar as

     entering the kingdom of The God.

 

# Those who support the idea of the trinity love to quote this verse (10:30)

     as conclusive proof that Jesus is the same as The God. But, it is only by

     removing this verse from its context that it can be misinterpreted that

     way. If it is examined in context, then the perceived meaning is very

     different indeed from what the illogical trinitarians claim. In context,

     Jesus said that he and The God had a unity of purpose, not a unity of

     identity.

 

# These Jews saw Jesus for what he really was: a human. What they did

     not recognize was that Jesus was operating under holy spirit without

     measure, which assured that he spoke and did only those things that

     The God told him. They did not understand this although Jesus had

     repeatedly told them.

 

#  Jesus was Jehovah become flesh, but he never claimed to be the

     invisible god. He is now a glorified man who has been returned to his

     office of Jehovah, and he presently sits at the right hand of The God.

 

# The image in which man was created was that of dominion, or rule. Just

     as Jehovah gave Moses the rule, or dominion, over Pharaoh, thus man

     was given dominion, or rule, over the earth and its creatures. This is the

     image of God in which man was made.

 

# The God set apart Jesus and sent him into the world. The God's purpose

     in having Jesus become his word in the flesh, was to reveal The God's

     very existence, and to bring glory to The God. Whatever else Jesus

     accomplished was only secondary to this major purpose.

 

#   Jesus told the Jews, If you do not believe me, at least see that what I do

     are the works of my father. He constantly begged, even pleaded with

     these Jews to believe either what he told them, or to believe the works

     which they had seen him do. The Jews, however, believed neither his

     words nor his works, and therefore they detested his statement.

 

 

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September 2009