New Defender's Study Bible Notes
10:1 into the sheepfold. Although Jesus did not at first call this a parable, He clearly intended it to be a symbolic use of the familiar scene of sheep tended by a shepherd, along with their sheepfold and its door. The sheep obviously represent the people of God and their sheepfold represents the place where they can rest in safety. At this time in history, the fold undoubtedly represented the covenant watchcare of God over His chosen people Israel. Then, both the shepherd and the door are said by Christ to represent Himself (John 10:7,11), as the one who leads them into the fold and by whom alone they can enter the fold. Later, John clearly called all this a “parable” (John 10:6).
10:2 the shepherd. Christ Himself, although He is the Shepherd of the sheep, also must enter the family and covenant relation of Israel to God.
10:3 the porter. In the symbology, the porter probably represents John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Shepherd—both sheep and Shepherd being symbolically admitted into God’s new covenant relationship by baptism. Thereafter, however, Jesus Himself led His sheep, both in and out.
10:6 parable. This word is usually translated as “proverb.” John never uses the standard word for “parable,” which is used fifty times elsewhere.
10:7 I am the door. Jesus here claims to be the actual “door” of the sheepfold. This is the third of the great “I am’s” of John’s gospel (also John 10:9).
10:8 thieves and robbers. Any other teachers or leaders (in the immediate context, the scribes and Pharisees, but in the broader context, any other false leaders) who profess to lead people to God are, spiritually speaking, like robbers, who would steal souls away from true saving faith, which is only to be found in Christ.
10:9 go in and out. The Lord Jesus would lead His sheep out of the small fold of the Old Testament (or “old covenant”) into the broader fold of the new covenant, centered on His church instead of on a chosen nation. In another sense, He would lead His sheep “in” for fellowship, rest and training, then “out” for service.
10:10 more abundantly. The “abundant life” does not consist in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15). Rather, it consists of an “abundance of grace” (Romans 5:17,20), an abundance of “every good work” (II Corinthians 9:8), an abundance of “consolation” (II Corinthians 1:5), an abounding “love” (I Thessalonians 3:12), an “abounding…work of the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58), and “abounding” and thankful “faith” (Colossians 2:7).
10:11 good shepherd. This is the fourth of the Lord’s “I am” claims in the Gospel of John. This also is another shadow of His coming substitutionary death—not only guiding His sheep, but also dying for them.
10:14 the good shepherd. The Greek word for “shepherd” is the same as for “pastor.” Thus Jesus was—and is—the good pastor. By extension today, a good pastor is one who leads his flock into good pasture, who knows his flock, is known by his flock, and would even give his life for his flock. Note I Peter 5:2-5 and Hebrews 13:20,21.
10:16 other sheep I have. The “other sheep” of which the Lord spoke were obviously not of the “fold” of Israel. They were Gentiles who, through His work, would soon be brought into the same fold (compare Ephesians 2:11-22).
10:18 lay it down. Note the tremendous dimensions of this claim. Jesus would not be put to death by the Jews, or the Romans, or even by Satan. He refused twelve legions of angels to save Him (Matthew 26:53). Finally, after He had finished all the sufferings He must endure for our sins, deliberately and of His own volition, Jesus dismissed His spirit (Luke 23:46) from His body. No ordinary man could ever do this.
10:18 take it again. Jesus was raised from the dead, not by some miracle worker, or by an angel, or even by His Father, but by His own power.
10:22 feast of the dedication. The “Feast of Dedication” is what is now known as Hanukkah, which occurs during the Christmas season. The events described in John 7:1–10:21 occurred during and immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), around two months earlier than those in John 10:22-39. The “Feast of the Dedication” had been observed since the days of the Maccabees, around 165 B.C., commemorating the cleansing of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes.
10:27 they follow me. The Lord resumed His use of the sheep-and-shepherd “proverb;” evidently it had made a lasting impression on His questioners, even after so long a time (see note on John 10:22). He now stressed the permanence of this relationship (see also John 5:24).
10:28 out of my hand. Not only is eternal life a present possession, but the good Shepherd assures us that no one (“any man” is actually “anyone,” including even Satan himself) could ever take it away.
10:29 my Father’s hand. Compare Psalm 37:24: “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with His hand.”
10:30 one. Such a claim, if not that of a madman (and this is unthinkable in view of the age-long influence of the incomparable teachings of Jesus), can only be understood in terms of the doctrine of the so-called “hypostatic union”—the indissoluble union of eternal God and perfect Man in the person of Jesus Christ.
10:34 written in your law. This is quoted from Psalm 82:6. The generic term “law” was often understood by the Jews to include the entire Old Testament Canon of Scripture. See the notes on Psalm 82:1,6.
10:35 scripture cannot be broken. Jesus is here basing His entire defense against the charge of blasphemy on one word, “gods” in a relatively obscure psalm, commenting that the “scripture”—that is, the “writing,” the word actually written down—cannot be broken. This constitutes a very important testimony by Christ to the plenary verbal inspiration and authority of the Bible. The reasoning of Christ is very subtle, yet powerful, relying entirely on the use of this precise word in its context.
10:36 the Son of God. In Psalm 82:1, the word “gods” is the Hebrew elohim, the usual word for “God.” There, however, it is applied to human judges to whom the Word of God had come. However, the Word had never “come” to Jesus. He Himself was the Word, whom the Father had “sent into the world.” No mere man, not even a human judge, was ever sent into the world with such a mission, yet they had been called “gods.” These human judges, or “gods,” had been rebuked for failing to dispense true justice (Psalm 82:2), so God had sent His Son into the world to accomplish true justice, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 82:8. Thus, if these fallible and unjust human judges had been called “gods” (supposedly acting in the name of the true God and Judge), then surely it was more appropriate by far for them to recognize Jesus as the Son of God.
10:41 John did no miracle. John the Baptist, though “filled with the Holy Ghost” and the greatest man ever born before Christ (Luke 1:15; Matthew 11:11), never performed a miracle! Thus, signs and wonders are never a necessary—or even desirable—accompaniment to the ministry of a true man of God, especially today, when we have the complete Bible.