John 10 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of John 10)

Verse 3

[3] To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

To him the door keeper openeth — Christ is considered as the shepherd, John 10:11. As the door in the first and following verses. And as it is not unworthy of Christ to be styled the door, by which both the sheep and the true pastor enter, so neither is it unworthy of God the Father to be styled the door keeper. See Acts 14:27; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8; Acts 16:14.

And the sheep hear his voice — The circumstances that follow, exactly agree with the customs of the ancient eastern shepherds. They called their sheep by name, went before them and the sheep followed them. So real Christians hear, listen to, understand, and obey the voice of the shepherd whom Christ hath sent. And he counteth them his own, dearer than any friend or brother: calleth, advises, directs each by name, and leadeth them out, in the paths of righteousness, beside the waters of comfort.

Verse 4

[4] And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

He goeth before them — In all the ways of God, teaching them in every point, by example as well as by precept; and the sheep follow him - They tread in his steps: for they know his voice - Having the witness in themselves that his words are the wisdom and the power of God. Reader, art thou a shepherd of souls? Then answer to God. Is it thus with thee and thy flock?

Verse 5

[5] And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

They will not follow a stranger — One whom Christ hath not sent, who doth not answer the preceding description. Him they will not follow - And who can constrain them to it? But will flee from him - As from the plague.

For they know not the voice of strangers — They cannot relish it; it is harsh and grating to them. They find nothing of God therein.

Verse 6

[6] This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

They — The Pharisees, to whom our Lord more immediately spake, as appears from the close of the foregoing chapter.

Verse 7

[7] Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

I am the door — Christ is both the Door and the Shepherd, and all things.

Verse 8

[8] All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

Whosoever are come — Independently of me, assuming any part of my character, pretending, like your elders and rabbis, to a power over the consciences of men, attempting to make laws in the Church, and to teach their own traditions as the way of salvation: all those prophets and expounders of God's word, that enter not by the door of the sheepfold, but run before I have sent them by my Spirit. Our Lord seems in particular to speak of those that had undertaken this office since he began his ministry, are thieves - Stealing temporal profit to themselves, and robbers - Plundering and murdering the sheep.

Verse 9

[9] I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

If any one — As a sheep, enter in by me - Through faith, he shall be safe - From the wolf, and from those murdering shepherds.

And shall go in and out — Shall continually attend on the shepherds whom I have sent; and shall find pasture - Food for his soul in all circumstances.

Verse 10

[10] The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy — That is, nothing else can be the consequence of a shepherd's coming, who does not enter in by me.

Verse 12

[12] But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

But the hireling — It is not the bare receiving hire, which denominates a man a hireling: (for the labourer is worthy of his hire; Jesus Christ himself being the Judge: yea, and the Lord hath ordained, that they who preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel:) but the loving hire: the loving the hire more than the work: the working for the sake of the hire. He is a hireling, who would not work, were it not for the hire; to whom this is the great (if not only) motive of working. O God! If a man who works only for hire is such a wretch, a mere thief and a robber, what is he who continually takes the hire, and yet does not work at all? The wolf - signifies any enemy who, by force or fraud, attacks the Christian's faith, liberty, or life.

So the wolf seizeth and scattereth the flock — He seizeth some, and scattereth the rest; the two ways of hurting the flock of Christ.

Verse 13

[13] The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

The hireling fleeth because he is a hireling — Because he loves the hire, not the sheep.

Verse 14

[14] I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

I know my sheep — With a tender regard and special care: and am known of mine - With a holy confidence and affection.

Verse 15

[15] As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father — With such a knowledge as implies an inexpressible union: and I lay down my life - Speaking of the present time. For his whole life was only a going unto death.

Verse 16

[16] And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

I have also other sheep — Which he foreknew; which are not of this fold - Not of the Jewish Church or nation, but Gentiles.

I must bring them likewise — Into my Church, the general assembly of those whose names are written in heaven.

And there shall be one flock — (Not one fold, a plain false print) no corrupt or divided flocks remaining.

And one shepherd — Who laid down his life for the sheep, and will leave no hireling among them. The unity both of the flock and the shepherd shall he completed in its season. The shepherd shall bring all into one flock: and the whole flock shall hear the one shepherd.

Verse 17

[17] Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

I lay down my life that I may take it again — I cheerfully die to expiate the sins of men, to the end I may rise again for their justification.

Verse 18

[18] No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

I lay it down of myself — By my own free act and deed.

I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again — I have an original power and right of myself, both to lay it down as a ransom, and to take it again, after full satisfaction is made, for the sins of the whole world.

This commission have I received of my Father — Which I readily execute. He chiefly spoke of the Father, before his suffering: of his own glory, after it. Our Lord's receiving this commission as mediator is not to be considered as the ground of his power to lay down and resume his life. For this he had in him self, as having an original right to dispose thereof, antecedent to the Father's commission. But this commission was the reason why he thus used his power in laying down his life. He did it in obedience to his Father.

Verse 21

[21] Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

These are not the words — The word in the original takes in actions too.

Verse 22

[22] And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

It was the feast of the dedication — Instituted by Judas Maccabeus, 1 Macc. iv, 59, when he purged and dedicated the altar and temple after they had been polluted. So our Lord observed festivals even of human appointment. Is it not, at least, innocent for us to do the same?

Verse 23

[23] And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.

In Solomon's portico — Josephus informs us, that when Solomon built the temple, he filled up a part of the adjacent valley, and built a portico over it toward the east. This was a noble structure, supported by a wall four hundred cubits high: and continued even to the time of Albinus and Agrippa, which was several years after the death of Christ.

Verse 26

[26] But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

Ye do not believe, because ye are not of my sheep — Because ye do not, will not follow me: because ye are proud, unholy, lovers of praise, lovers of the world, lovers of pleasure, not of God. 27, 28, 29. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, etc.-Our Lord still alludes to the discourse he had before this festival. As if he had said, My sheep are they who, 1. Hear my voice by faith; 2. Are known (that is, approved) by me, as loving me; and 3. Follow me, keep my commandments, with a believing, loving heart. And to those who, 1. Truly believe (observe three promises annexed to three conditions) I give eternal life. He does not say, I will, but I give. For he that believeth hath everlasting life. Those whom, 2. I know truly to love me, shall never perish, provided they abide in my love. 3. Those who follow me, neither men nor devils can pluck out of my hand. My Father who hath, by an unchangeable decree, given me all that believe, love, and obey, is greater than all in heaven or earth, and none is able to pluck them out of his hand.

Verse 28

[28] And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

See note ... "Joh 10:27"

Verse 29

[29] My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

See note ... "Joh 10:27"

Verse 30

[30] I and my Father are one.

I and the Father are one — Not by consent of will only, but by unity of power, and consequently of nature.

Are — This word confutes Sabellius, proving the plurality of persons: one - This word confutes Arius, proving the unity of nature in God. Never did any prophet before, from the beginning of the world, use any one expression of himself, which could possibly be so interpreted as this and other expressions were, by all that heard our Lord speak. Therefore if he was not God he must have been the vilest of men.

Verse 34

[34] Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

Psalms 82:6.

Verse 35

[35] If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

If he (God) called them gods unto whom the word of God came, (that is, to whom God was then speaking,) and the Scripture cannot be broken - That is, nothing which is written therein can be censured or rejected.

Verse 36

[36] Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world — This sanctification (whereby he is essentially the Holy One of God) is mentioned as prior to his mission, and together with it implies, Christ was God in the highest sense, infinitely superior to that wherein those judges were so called.

Verse 38

[38] But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

That ye may know and believe — In some a more exact knowledge precedes, in others it follows faith. I am in the Father and the Father in me.

I and the Father are one — These two sentences illustrate each other.

Verse 40

[40] And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.

To the desert place where John baptized, and gave so honourable a testimony of him.

Verse 41

[41] And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.

John did no miracle — An honour reserved for him, whose forerunner he was.

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