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1. Verily, verily (ajmhn, ajmhn). The formula never begins anything quite new, but connects what follows with what precedes. This discourse grows out of the assumption of the Pharisees to be the only authoritative guides of the people (ix. 24, 29). They have already been described as blind and sinful.
Sheepfold (aulhn twn probatwn). Literally, fold of the sheep. So Rev., better, because the two ideas of the flock and the fold are treated distinctly. Compare ver. 16.
Some other way (allacoqen). Literally, from some other quarter. The thief does not, like the shepherd, come from some well-known direction, as from his dwelling or from the pasture, but from an unknown quarter and by a road of his own. This from is significant, because, in the previous discourses, Jesus has laid great stress on the source from which He proceeded, and has made the difference in character between Himself and His opposers turn upon difference of origin. See viii. 23, 42, 44. In the latter part of this chapter He brings out the same thought (vv. 30, 32, 33, 36). Thief - robber (klepthv - lhsthv). For the distinction see on Mark xi. 17. There is a climax in the order of the words; one who will gain his end by craft, and, if that will not suffice, by violence.
2. The shepherd (poimhn). Better, a shepherd. It is the character rather than the person that is contemplated.
3. Porter (qurwrov). From qura, door, and wra, care. An under-shepherd, to whose charge the sheep are committed after they have been folded for the night, and who opens the door on the arrival of the shepherd in the morning.
4. Putteth forth (ekbalh). Rev., more strictly, hath put forth. Instead of leadeth out, in ver. 3. It implies a constraint; as if some of the sheep were unwilling to leave the fold. Meyer says that putteth forth pictures the manner of the leading out. He lays hold on the sheep and brings them out to the door.
His own sheep (ta idia probata). The best texts read panta, all, for probata, sheep: all his own. So Rev. Goeth before. As the Eastern shepherd always does. Having pushed them forth, he now leads them.
Follow. "It is necessary that they should be taught to follow, and not stray away into the unfenced fields of wheat which lie so temptingly on either side. The shepherd calls from time to time to remind them of his presence. They know his voice and follow on; but if a stranger call, they stop, lift up their heads in alarm, and if the call is repeated, they turn and flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers. This is not the fanciful costume of a parable; it is simple fact. I have made the experiment often" (Thomson).
6. Parable (paroimian). The word occurs but once outside of John's writings (2 Pet. ii. 22). The usual word for parable is parabolh, which is once rendered proverb in the A.V. (Luke iv. 23, changed to parable by Rev.), and which occurs nowhere in John. For the distinction see on Matt. xiii. 3.
10. The thief (o klepthv). Christ puts Himself in contrast with the meaner criminal.
I am come (hlqon). More correctly, I came. I am come would be the perfect tense.
More abundantly (perisson). Literally, may have abundance.
11. The good shepherd (o poimhn o kalov). Literally, the shepherd the good (shepherd). Kalov, though not of frequent occurrence in John, is more common than ajgaqov, good, which occurs but four times and three times out of the four in the neuter gender, a good thing, or that which is good. Kalov in John is applied to wine (ii. 10), three times to the shepherd in this chapter, and twice to works (x. 32, 33). In classical usage, originally as descriptive of outward form, beautiful; of usefulness, as a fair haven, a fair wind. Auspicious, as sacrifices. Morally beautiful, noble; hence virtue is called to kalon. The New Testament usage is similar. Outwardly fair, as the stones of the temple (Luke xxi. 5): well adapted to its purpose, as salt (Mark ix. 50): competent for an office, as deacons (1 Timothy iv. 6); a steward (1 Pet. iv. 10); a soldier (2 Tim. ii. 3): expedient, wholesome (Mark ix. 43, 45, 47): morally good, noble, as works (Matt. v. 16); conscience (Heb. xiii. 18). The phrase it is good, i.e., a good or proper thing (Rom. xiv. 21). In the Septuagint kalov is the most usual word for good as opposed to evil (Gen. ii. 17; xxiv. 50; Isa. v. 20). In Luke viii. 15, kalov and ajgaqov are found together as epithets of the heart; honest (or virtuous, noble) and good. The epithet kalov, applied here to the shepherd, points to the essential goodness as nobly realized, and appealing to admiring respect and affection. As Canon Westcott observes, "in the fulfillment of His work, the Good Shepherd claims the admiration of all that is generous in man."
Giveth his life (thn yuchn autou tiqhsin). The phrase is peculiar to John, occurring in the Gospel and First Epistle. It is explained in two ways: either (1) as laying down as a pledge, paying as a price, according to the classical usage of the word tiqhmi. So Demosthenes, to pay interest or the alien tax. Or (2) according to John xiii. 4, as laying aside his life like a garment. The latter seems preferable. Tiqhmi, in the sense of to pay down a price, does not occur in the New Testament, unless this phrase, to lay down the life, be so explained. 34 In John xiii. 4, layeth aside His garments (tidhsi ta imatia) is followed, in ver. 12, by had taken His garments (elabe ta imatia). So, in this chapter, giveth (tidhsin) His life (ver. 11), and I lay down (tidhmi) my life (vv. 17, 18), are followed by labein "to take it again." The phrases thn yuchn He laid down His life, and tav yucav qeinai to lay down our lives, occur in 1 John iii. 16. The verb is used in the sense of laying aside in the classics, as to lay aside war, shields, etc. Compare Matt. xx. 28, dounai thn yuchn, to give His life.
For the sheep (uper). On behalf of.
"But not so much, that did not give me fear A lion's aspect which appeared to me.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
And a she wolf, that with all hungerings Seemed to be laden in her meagerness, And many folk has caused to live forlorn! She brought upon me so much heaviness, With the affright that from her aspect came, That I the hope relinquished of the height." "Inferno," i., 44 54.
Westcott cites Augustine on this word: fuga animi timor est, the flight of the mind is cowardice; with which again compare Dante:
"So did my soul, that still was fleeing onward, Turn itself back," etc.
"Inferno," i., 25.
Leaveth (afihsi). See on iv. 3.
Catcheth (arpazei). Better, as Rev., snatcheth; though catch is doubtless used by the A.V. in its earlier and stronger sense, from the low Latin caciare, to chase, corrupted from captare, to snatch or lay hold of. Compare the Italian cacciare, to hunt. The same word is used at ver. 28, of plucking out of Christ's hand. See on Matt. xi. 12.
The sheep. The best texts omit. Read, as Rev., scattereth them.
13. The hireling fleeth. The best texts omit. Read, as Rev., supplying he fleeth.
14. Am known of mine (ginwskomai upo twn emwn). The best texts read, ginwskousi me ta ejma, mine own know me. So Rev. 15. As the Father knoweth me. Connect these words with the previous sentence: mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me, etc.
"But when we came upon that neighboring coast, We saw upon its verge beside the sea A cave high-vaulted, overbrowed with shrubs Of laurel. There much cattle lay at rest, Both sheep and goats. Around it was a court (aulh), A high enclosure of hewn stone." "Odyssey," ix., 181-186.
Dr. Thomson says: "The low building on the hill-side which we have just passed, with arches in front, and its enclosure protected by a rubble wall and thorny hedge, is a sheepfold or marah.... The marahs are generally built in a valley, or on the sunny side of a hill, where they are sheltered from the winter winds. In ordinary weather the sheep and goats are gathered at night into the enclosed yard; but when the nights are cold and stormy the flocks are shut up in the marah. The sharp thorn-bushes on the top of the wall that surrounds the yard are a defense which the prowling wolf will rarely attempt to scale. The leopard and panther of this country, however, when pressed with hunger, will sometimes overleap this thorny hedge, and with one bound land amongst the frightened fold" ("Central Palestine and Phoenicia," p. 591). Compare Homer:
"As a lion who has leaped Into a fold - and he who guards the flock Has wounded but not slain him - feels his rage Waked by the blow; - the affrighted shepherd then Ventures not near, but hides within the stalls.
And the forsaken sheep are put to flight, And huddling, slain in heaps, till o'er the fence The savage bounds into the fields again." "Iliad," v., 136-142.
Bring (agagein). Better, lead, as Rev., in margin. Compare ver. 3, leadeth them out. The idea is not bringing them together (as sunagagh, xi. 52), or conducting them to one place, but assuming the guidance.
There shall be (genhsetai). More correctly, shall come to be. Some editors read genhsontai, they shall become.
One fold (mia poimnh). The A.V. entirely ignores the distinction between aujlh, fold, and poimnh, flock. The latter word is found Matthew xxvi. 31; Luke ii. 8; 1 Cor. ix. 7, and always distinctly meaning a flock, as does also the diminutive poimnion, little flock (Luke xii. 32; 1 Pet. v. 2, etc.). Render, as Rev., one flock, one shepherd. So Tyndale's Version of the New Testament. Compare Ezek. xxxiv. 23. We are not, however, to say with Treneh ("A.V. of the New Testament"), that the Jew and the Gentile are the two folds which Christ will gather into a single flock. The heathen are not conceived as a fold, but as a dispersion. See vii. 35; xi. 52; and, as Meyer observes, "the thought of a divine leading of the heathen does not correspond at all to the figure of fold, of which the conception of theocratic fellowship constitutes an essential feature." So Bengel. "He says, other sheep, not another fold, for they were scattered abroad in the world." When Jesus speaks of the other sheep who are not from this fold, the emphasis is on fold, not on this. Compare Rom. xi. 17 sqq. Nor, moreover, does Jesus mean that the Gentiles are to be incorporated into the Jewish fold, but that the unity of the two is to consist in their common relation to Himself. "The unity of the Church does not spring out of the extension of the old kingdom, but is the spiritual antitype of that earthly figure. Nothing is said of one fold under the new dispensation" (Westcott). It will readily be seen that the incorrect rendering fostered by the carelessness or the mistake of some of the Western fathers, and by the Vulgate, which renders both words by ovile, fold, has been in the interest of Romish claims.
18. Taketh away (airei). Some texts read hren, took away. According to this reading the word would point back to the work of Jesus as conceived and accomplished in the eternal counsel of God, where His sacrifice of Himself was not exacted, but was His own spontaneous offering in harmony with the Father's will.
I lay it down of myself. Wyc., I put it from myself.
Power (exousian). Rev., in margin, right. See on i. 12.
Commandment (entolhn). See on Jas. ii. 8.
19. There was a division (scisma egeneto). Rev., more correctly, there arose. The word scisma, division, from scizw, to cleave, describes a fact which continually recurs in John's narrative. See vi. 52, 60, 66; vii. 12, 25 sqq.; viii. 22; ix. 16, 17; x. 19, 24, 41; xi. 37 sqq.; xii. 19, 29, 42; xvi. 18, 19. Words (logouv). Or, discourses.
21. That hath a devil (daimonizomenou). Literally, of one demonized. Rev., one possessed with a devil.
Can a devil (mh dunatai). Surely a demon cannot.
22. Feast of the dedication (egkainia). Only here in the New Testament. The word signifies renewal, from kainov, new, fresh.
Josephus calls it fwta, lights. It was instituted by Judas Maccabaeus (B.C. 164), in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollutions of Antiochus Epiphanes. The victorious Jews, says Dean Stanley, "entered and found the scene of havoc which the Syrian occupation had left. The corridors of the priests' chambers, which encircled the temple, were torn down; the gates were in ashes, the altar was disfigured, and the whole platform was overgrown as if with a mountain jungle or forest glade. It was a heartrending spectacle. Their first impulse was to cast themselves headlong on the pavement, and blow the loud horns which accompanied all mournful as well as all joyful occasions - the tocsin as well as the chimes of the nation. Then, whilst the foreign garrison was kept at bay, the warriors first began the elaborate process of cleansing the polluted place.... For the interior of the temple everything had to be refurnished afresh - vessels, candlesticks and incense-altar, and tables and curtains. At last all was completed, and on the 25th of Chisleu (middle of December), the same day that, three years before, the profanation had occurred, the temple was rededicated.... What most lived in the recollection of the time was that the perpetual light blazed again. The golden candlestick was no longer to be had. Its place was taken by an iron chandelier, cased in wood" ("Jewish Church," pt. iii., 345, 346). According to tradition, the oil was found to have been desecrated, and only one flagon of pure oil, sealed with the High-Priest's signet, was found, sufficient to feed the candlestick for a single day. But by a miracle the flagon was replenished during eight days, until a fresh supply could be procured. The festival lasted for eight days. Lights mere kindled, not only in the temple, but in every home. Pious householders lighted a lamp for every inmate of the home, and the most zealous added a light every night for every individual, so that if a house with ten inmates began with ten lights, it would end with eighty. The Jews assembled in the temple, or in the synagogues of the places where they resided, bearing branches of palm, and singing psalms of praise. No fast or mourning, on account of any calamity or bereavement, was permitted to commence during the festival.
23. Solomon's porch. A covered colonnade on the eastern side of the outer court of the temple. According to Josephus it was a relic of Solomon's days, which had remained intact in the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar.
24. Make us to doubt (thn yuchn hmwn aireiv). Literally, lift up our soul. Excite us and inflame our hopes. Rev., hold us in suspense.
Plainly (parrhsia). See on vii. 13.
26. As I said unto you. The best texts omit.
27. My sheep (ta probata ta ema). Literally, the sheep, those that are mine. A characteristic form of expression with John. Compare iii. 29; v. 30; xiv. 15, etc.
Shall pluck (arpasei). See on ver. 12. Compare can pluck, ver. 29. Here Jesus speaks of the fact; there of the possibility. Rev., snatch. Wyc., ravish.
29. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all (oJ pathr mou ov dedwke moi, meizwn pantwn ejstin). There is considerable confusion here about the reading. Westcott and Hort and Tischendorf read oJ pathr mou (Tischendorf rejects mou) o dedwken moi pantwn meizon ejstin. That which the Father (or my Father) hath given me is greater than all. Rev. gives this in the margin. For gave, render hath given.
31. Took up - again (ebastasan - palin). Again refers to viii. 59. It seems as though a different verb is purposely chosen here (compare hran took up, in viii. 59), since the interview took place in Solomon's porch, where stones would not be at hand. The verb here may mean to take up. So Ajax says:
Its more usual meaning in the New Testament, however, is to bear or carry. So of the cross (John xix. 17; Luke xiv. 27). Here it might very properly be rendered brought, perhaps from the works which were then going on at the temple. See further on xii. 6.
32. Good works (kala). Beautiful, noble works, adapted to call forth admiration and respect. Compare Mark xiv. 6, and see on ver. 11.
For which of these works (dia poion autwn ergon). Literally, for what kind of a work of these. This qualitative force of poion is not to be lost sight of, though it is impossible to render it accurately without paraphrasing. Jesus does not mean, as the A.V. and Rev. imply, "for which one of these works," but "what is the character of that particular work among all these for which you stone me?" The me, closing the sentence, is emphatic.
33. Saying. Omit.
34. Is it not written (ouk estin gegrammenon). More strictly, does it not stand written.
35. The Scripture (h grafh). The passage of scripture. See on ii. 22; v. 47.
Broken (luqhnai). Literally, loosened. Wyc., undone. The word is characteristic of John. He uses it of the destruction of the temple (ii. 19); the breaking of the Sabbath (v. 18); the violation of the law (vii. 23); the destruction of Satan's works (1 John iii. 8), besides elsewhere in the physical sense.
36. Sanctified (hgiasen). Better, as Rev., in margin, consecrated. The fundamental idea of the word is separation and consecration to the service of Deity. See note on Acts xxvi. 10, on the kindred adjective agiov, holy or consecrated.
The Son of God. There is no article. Its absence directs us to the character rather than to the person of Jesus. The judges, to whom the quotation in ver. 35 refers, were called gods, as being representatives of God. See Exod. xxi. 6; xxii. 8, where the word rendered judges is elohim, gods. In Exod. xxii. 28, gods appears in the A.V. 35 Jesus' course of reasoning is, if these judges could be called gods, how do I blaspheme in calling myself Son of God, since the Father has consecrated me and sent me on a special mission to the world?
37. Believe me (pisteuete moi). Notice believe, with the simple dative; believe me, not on me. It is a question of faith in His testimony, not in His person. See on i. 12.
38. In Him. The best texts read ejn tw patri, in the Father.
39. Again. Pointing back to vii. 30, 32, 44, where the word piasai, to seize, is found.
Escaped out of (exhlqen ek). Rev., literally, went forth out of. The phrase occurs only here.
40. Beyond Jordan (peran tou Iordanou). Into the region called Peroea, from peran, beyond. It was on the east side of the river, and was the ancient possession of Gad and Reuben. It corresponds, in an enlarged sense, to the region round about Jordan (Matt. iii. 5; Luke iii. 3). Compare Matt. xix. 1; Mark x. 1.