The Mission of Messiah

6. Jesus the light of life, 8:12-10:42

v] The Good Shepherd, 10:1-21

b) Jesus is the good shepherd


In 10:1-6 Jesus describes what Carson calls "observations on sheep-farming." This is followed by two applications of the paroimia, "figure of speech": In v7-10 Jesus applies the illustration to himself - "I am the gate for the sheep .... whoever enters through me will be saved." Now, in v11-18, Jesus explains that he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, so creating a world-wide flock. The Jewish authorities respond to Jesus' words by suggesting that he has a demon, but others remember how the blind man received his sight and so are not so easily swayed by this charge, v19-21.


Jesus is the suffering servant who gives his life for the life of his followers, and in so doing creates a community in union with God.


i] Context: See 9:1-41.


ii] Structure: Jesus is the Good Shepherd:

Jesus claims to be Israel's suffering servant / shepherd, v11-18:

"A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep", v11:

The good shepherd is contrasted with the hired hand, v12-13;

"A hired hand does not care for the sheep."

The good shepherd unites believers with the living God, v14-18:

"There will be one flock, one shepherd."

A divided opinion, v19-21


iii] Interpretation: See 10:1-10.

Having observed the situation where the blind man responds in faith to Jesus, rather than to Israel's religious authorities, a response that prompts persecution, Jesus paints the picture of a shepherd who has rightful access to his flock - a flock which follows him. A thief (the religious authorities, heartless false shepherds, cf., Ezk.34) has no legitimate claim to the flock. Jesus is both the gate / door of the sheepfold, the only way to salvation, and the good shepherd of the sheep, the one who saves his sheep even to the giving of his life.


In the second application of the parable, v11-18, Jesus first aligns the shepherd with himself - he is a kaloV, "good" shepherd, in the sense of fit for service, v11. Then he makes the point that unlike the misqwtoV, "hireling", Israel's false shepherds (Ezk.24), Jesus is a shepherd fit for his task because he is willing to lay down his life for his flock, v12-13.

Jesus goes on to explain the depth of the relationship he has with his flock, a "knowing" comparable with God the Father's "knowing" of Jesus. The word ginwskw, "to know", used of the intimate union that exists between a husband and wife, best describes the union between the Father and the Son, and the Son and his flock, v14-15. This flock is not just made up of the children of Israel; it is a world-wide flock that consists of all who, in faith, hear the call of the shepherd - they too will be gathered into the fold, v16. The world-wide flock of believers is created by the shepherd in the laying down his life and taking it up again (his dying and rising) - a voluntary act in line with God's will, v17-18.

Jesus' word's prompt division among those who hear him. Some run with the theory that he is demon possessed and so now mad, but others think that his words and deeds are not those of a madman, v19-21.


iv] Textual Issues:

Some commentators have argued that there has been textual displacement at this point in the gospel, possibly with the reversal of two pages, v19-29 with v1-18, cf., Bultman. This seemingly smooths out the narrative, but the narrative works well enough as is. Jesus has just engaged in a long and exhausting debate with Israel's religious authorities over his healing of the man born blind, cf., chapter 9. Now in chapter 10 we see it played out from another angle. The religious authorities are like hired hands, "blind guides", caring little for the man born blind, a man who now clings to the good shepherd. In chapter 9 we see Jesus, the good shepherd, extend pastoral care for the sheep who have no shepherd. As far as Dodd is concerned, "there is no other place where the discourse about true and false shepherds could be so fitly introduced."


v] Sources:

J. Derrett has argued in Studia Theologica, 1973, that v7-18 is an editorial expansion of v1-6, an original parable of Jesus (J.A.T. Robinson argues that v1-6 is the distillation of two original parables). Of course, v7-18 is an expansion of the parable, but that doesn't make it is an editorial expansion. Carson classifies the argument as "speculative".


vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 10:11

Jesus is a good shepherd, v11-21: i] Jesus claims to be Israel's suffering servant / shepherd, v11-18. a) Jesus, a good shepherd, is contrasted with a hired hand, v11-13. In an "I AM" declaration Jesus announces that he is a shepherd who gives his life for his sheep - he saves them v11. In a second "I AM" declaration, v14, Jesus announced that he is a shepherd who knows his sheep - he enters into a relationship with them.

egw eimi "I am" - i am. Emphatic "I am" statement again, although not as pronounced given the presence of the predicate "good shepherd"; See 8:24.

oJ kaloV adj. "[the] good [shepherd" - the good [the shepherd]. Attributive adjective limiting the predicate nominative "the shepherd" - if the article is generic, then "a shepherd." "Possibly "model", Brown, "genuine", Beasley-Murray, "real", Marsh, "true", Kostenberger, but a moral sense is possible, "dedicated / devoted."; "noble", "worthy", Carson. The sense "true" has much going for it in that Jesus the true shepherd is contrasted with the unfaithful shepherds who lead the sheep astray. There remains the possibility that "beautiful", in the sense of attractive, is intended, so Temple, but this is more likely an unrealistic description of a profession that is anything but beautiful. Maybe Hunter is on the mark with "fit for service."

tiqhsin (tiqhmi) pres. "lays down" - [the good shepherd] lays down, places [the life of him]. As Novakovic notes, the phrase "lays down one's life" is a characteristically Johannine expression. Probably the Hebrew idea of "hand over", imaging messiah's self-sacrifice, Zech.12:10, 13:7-9. Possibly "risk life"; "willing to die for the sheep", TEV; but the sense here is surely "give up", not "risk"; "the Good Shepherd gives up his life for his sheep", CEV.

uJper + gen. "for" - for, on behalf of [the sheep]. Probably here expressing benefit, advantage; "for the benefit of", but possibly representation, "on behalf of", suggesting sacrifice, or even substitution, "in the place of", cf., Harris, Prepositions. The shepherd acts to defend his sheep at the cost of his life.


Given the drift of chapter 9, "the hired hand" equates with Israel's religious leaders - they do nothing for the welfare of the flock, whereas the good shepherd gives his life for the flock.

oJ ... w}n (eimi) pres. part. "-" - the one being [a hired laborer and not a shepherd]. The NIV, as with many translations, links the article oJ with misqwtoV, "a hired laborer, but as Novakovic notes, we have a participial sandwich created by the article and the participle w}n, so as ESV, "He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd."

misqwtoV (oV) "hired hand" - hireling, hired laborer. The substantival adjective serves as a predicate nominative. A person "whose interest is in what he is paid for doing his job rather than in the job itself", Morris; "the man who is working only for pay", Barclay.

ouk "not" - not [a shepherd of which is not his own sheep]. The use of the negation ouk with a participle is unusual; mh would be expected. Moulton suggests that it is possibly used to emphasize the negative; "the laborer is certainly no shepherd."

qewrei (qewrew) pres. "so when he sees" - sees [the wolf]. Main verb; "He who is a hired hand ...... sees ...."

ercomenon (ercomai) pres. part. "coming" - coming [and leaves the sheep and flees]. The participle serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "wolf" standing in a double accusative construction, and asserting a fact about the object.

aJrpazei (aJrpazw) pres. "attacks" - [and the wolf] snatches away, seizes [them]. An action which is quick and violent, as of a wild animal attacking and carrying off its prey.

skopizei (skopizw) pres. "scatters it" - [and] scatters [them]. "The wolf will attack the flock and send them flying", Phillips.


oJ de misqwtoV feugei "the man runs away" - the hired worker runs away. Not found in most manuscripts, but it provides for the obvious ellipsis at the beginning of this verse, picking up from "he abandons the sheep and runs away", v12, so "He flees because ..." Barclay is probably right by suggesting that "the wolf seizes and scatters", v12, serves as a parenthetical statement, so: He "leaves the sheep and runs away when he sees the wolf coming - and the wolf savages the sheep and scatters them - because he cares for nothing but his pay."

oJti "because" - because [he is a hired man]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why "the hired hand" qeugei, "flees" (v12), because he cares nothing for the flock.

ou melei (melw) + dat. "cares nothing" - [and] it does not care for, matter to. Possibly a rhetorical question, "what does he care for the sheep?", Berkeley, but the negation would suggest a positive answer. "He cares for himself and his wages, not for the sheep", Barrett.

autw/ "-" - him. Dative of direct object after to verb melei, "it is no concern to him" = "he is not concerned."

peri + gen. "for [the sheep]" - about [the sheep]. Expressing reference / respect; "about, with reference to, concerning."


b) As a good shepherd Jesus unites believers with the living God, v14-18. A good shepherd knows his flock and the flock knows him, cf., v4. Note that v14-15 is one sentence. We are given the second reason why Jesus is a good shepherd (he knows his sheep / is in a relationship with them), this is qualified by what the NIV presents as a parenthesis (the knowing is similar to the relationship between the Father and the Son), and then the first reason why Jesus is a good shepherd is repeated (he gives his life for the sheep / saves them).

egw eimi "I am [the good shepherd]" - i am [the shepherd the good]. Another "I am" pronouncement, cf., 8:24. Here with the predicate nominative "good shepherd." The article is possibly generic, so "a good shepherd", referring back to the illustration; when it comes to shepherds, Jesus is a good shepherd, "an ideal shepherd", Lindars.

ginwskw pres. "I know" - [and] i know. The Hebrew background to this word carries the idea of "knowing", as a man "knows" a woman in marriage; it is a relationship centered word rather than an intellectual one. Jesus is speaking here of a mutual recognition which is intimate. The relationship is based on the self-giving of the good shepherd, on the laying down of his life for the sheep, ie., it is other-person centered - it expresses a mutual / reciprocal "intimate acquaintance with", TH.

ta ema adj. "my sheep" - the my = mine [and mine know me]. The possessive adjective serves as a substantive, accusative direct object of the verb "to know." Obviously "mine" = "my sheep"; "I know my own and my own know me", RJB.


The "knowing" between the shepherd and his flock is analogous to that of the Father and the Son. This relationship is achieved by those who "listen to my voice", presumably in the sense of believe / have faith in Jesus, v16.

kaqwV "just as" - just as, as , in like manner [the father knows me]. Comparative. The knowing that exists between the shepherd and the sheep is of the same sort, can be likened to, the knowing that exists between the Father and the Son. Morris feels a close parallel should not be drawn between the "knowing" of the shepherd and the sheep and of the Son and the Father. If the "knowing" is knowledge, of course not, but if it is a "reciprocal intimate acquaintance" then it is a reasonable comparison. The reticence translators have with this comparison can be observed in their punctuation. Many end v14 with a full stop. So, we are best to follow Barclay's lead, as NIV: "I know my sheep, and they know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father."

kagw "and I" - and i [know the father]. Crasis, kai + egw = "and I". Possibly introducing the apodosis of a comparative construction, kaqwV ....... kagw = "Just as the Father knows me, so also / even so I know the Father."

kai "and" - and [the life of me]. Coordinative. Jesus is a good shepherd because he knows his sheep "and" he gives his life for them.

tiqhmi pres. "I lay down" - i lay down. More explicit than in v11. Here Jesus says he sacrifices his life.

thn yuchn (h) "[my] life" - The word can certainly mean "physical life", but also extends to "soul", "being".

uJper "for [the sheep]" - Expressing representation / benefit; "on behalf of, for the sake of"; See v11.


This verse presents as a parenthesis, although we may have expected de instead of kai to introduce it. The point made so far is that Jesus is a good shepherd because he gives his life for his flock / saves them, and because he knows them / develops a relationship with them. In a parenthetical statement the flock is defined, namely, Jewish believers + Gentile believers = one flock under God. Then, in v17, we pick up again where Jesus left off in v15: "I lay down my life for the sheep ............... "and so therefore (v17) the Father loves me ......"

a[lla adj. "other [sheep]" - [and i have] other [sheep]. Presumably Gentiles are intended, Isa.56:8. The flock is made of the shepherd's "own" sheep and "other" sheep.

ek "of [this sheep pen]" - [which are not] from. Presumably source / origin is intended, "from", but possibly standing in for a partitive genitive.

thV aulhV (h) "sheep pen" - [this] courtyard, enclosure = sheepfold. A walled enclosure either to enclose human activity or to protect livestock* "The whole historic Israel", Ridderbos.

agagein (agw) aor. inf. "I must bring" - [it is necessary me] to drive, lead, bring. The infinitive serves as the subject of dei, "is necessary". Expressing compulsion.

kakeina "them also" - those also. Conjoined crasis, kai + ekeina, "and that person" = "them also."

thV fwnhV (h) gen. "[will listen to my] voice" - [and they will hear] the voice [of me]. Genitive of direct object after the verb akouw, "to hear."

genhsontai (ginomai) "there shall be" - there will be. Variant "they will be", or better, "they will become", has equal weight, although the point is simple enough, there will be one flock in Christ.

eiJV poimhn "[one flock and] one shepherd" - [one flock], one shepherd. Nominative standing in apposition to the predicate nominative "one flock." Note the use of Greek alliteration; "one herd, one Herder", Berkeley. The intention may be "one flock with one shepherd."


Picking up from v15, "I lay down my life for the sheep", Jesus infers that dia touto, "therefore the Father loves me." He then restates the cause, oJti, "because I lay down my life", and adds iJna + subj, " in order that I may I take it up again" (ref., the resurrection). By adding the resurrection to the cross we are reminded that "the cross is more about life than death", Klink.

dia touto + acc. "the reason" - because of, on account of = therefore. This construction is inferential rather than causal, drawing a logical conclusion, "therefore"; see above. Here it is often treated as causal providing a forward referencing reason; "for this reason (dia touto), namely because (oJti) I lay down my life, the Father loves me." Inferential seems best: "Therefore the Father does indeed love me and this because I am laying down my life."

agapa/ (agapaw) pres. "loves" - [the father] loves [me]. The present tense is durative. It is most unlikely that the Father's love for the Son is based on one act of obedience. "Jesus death is the will of God for him. And because he is in perfect harmony with the will of God, he goes forward to that death. Thus, the Father's love is the recognition from the Father's side of the perfect community between them in this matter", Morris.

oJti "that" - because [i lay down the life of me]. Here introducing a causal clause; "the Father loves me because I lay down my life", AV, "and this because I am laying down my life", Cassirer. The subtly of this causal clause is often lost in translation: "The obedience of Jesus in laying down his life is an act of love, and for this reason it is perfectly satisfying to the Father", Lindars.

iJna + subj. "only to take" - that [i may take it again]. Probably serving to introduce a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that", Barrett, Kostenberber, Klink, Thompson, Westcott. For John, Jesus' death, resurrection and exaltation is a unified saving work. "He dies in order to rise, and by his rising to proceed toward his ultimate glorification and the pouring out of the Spirit so that others, too, might live", Carson. "I lay down my life in order to take it up again", NJB. None-the-less a consecutive clause expressing result should not be discounted, "with the result that"; "I lay down my life, and as a consequence I receive it again", so Harris, Bultmann, Ridderbos.


John concludes by reminding us that "Christ's death (like his coming into the world) was entirely voluntary, an uncoerced act of divine grace (cf., 19:11; also Matt.26:53). It was not the involuntary martyrdom of a helpless victim, but a divinely willed act of salvation (John 3:16)", Richardson.

airei (airw) pres. "[no one] takes" - [no one] takes. The aorist variant reading, hren, found in P45, B, ..., although the more difficult reading, is preferred by Barrett and Brown. Discussion related to the difficultly of accepting a past action, "took away", is unnecessary since the aorist primarily expresses a perfective aspect (punctiliar action). Here the aorist may be classified as a futuristic aorist. "The statement is in keeping with the evangelist's consistent effort to portray Jesus being in charge throughout the events surrounding the crucifixion", Kostenberger.

authn pro. "it" - it. A little clearer if we spell out "it", "no one takes my life from me", CEV.

ap (apo) + gen. "from [me]" - away from [me]. Expressing separation; "away from."

all (alla) "but" - Strong adversative in a counterpoint construction, "no one ..... but ....."

ap emautou "of my own accord" - [i lay it down] from myself. Jesus allows / voluntarily permits the action taken against him; "of my own freewill", TEV, etc.

exousian (a) "[I have] authority" - [i have] power, authority. The sense "authority / right" is better than "power", or "I can", Brown. Jesus' claim to have the authority to rise again sits beside the claim that the Father raises Jesus from the dead. Obviously, both are true.

qeinai (tiqhmi) inf. "to lay [it] down" - to place, lay down [it and i have authority to receive it again]. As with labein, "to receive", the infinitive is epexegetic explaining / clarifying the "authority." The mention here of laying down his life and taking it up again does not imply a careless disregard for all that is necessarily involved in such an act. The action is under the authority and will of the Father and is both horrific and cosmic.

thn entolhn (h) "[This] command" - [this] command. The first of a series of commands / instructions either from the Father or from Jesus.

elabon (lambanw) aor. "I received" - i received. Rendered in the active voice improves the sense, "just as my Father commanded me to do", CEV.

para + gen. "from [my Father]" - from beside [the father of me]. Spacial, expressing source, "from beside."


ii] A divided opinion, v19-21. "His words do not strike them as being those of someone possessed; moreover, they recall that Jesus had opened the eyes of the man born blind. A demon, which, according to their conception, causes illnesses, cannot perform such a healing deed", Schnackenburg.

en + dat. "-" - [there was again a division] in [the jews]. Local, expressing space, here with the sense "among"; "These words caused a further cleavage of opinion among the Jews", Barclay.

dia + acc. "-" - because of [these words]. Here causal; "due to his teachings", Berkeley.


ek + gen. "[many] of [them]" - [but/and many] from [them were saying]. Here serving as a partitive genitive, so "many of them."

mainetai (mainomai) pres. "raving mad" - [he has a demon and] he is mad. The word can be used of insanity, but often in the sense of insane-like, so "to rave, to talk like a madman", Zerwick. In the first century, insanity is equated with demon possession and so rather than "a demon-possessed madman", Barclay, "he is insane and raving."

autou gen. pro. "[why listen] to him?" - [why do you hear] him? Genitive of direct object after the verb "to hear."


daimonizomenou (daimonizomai) gen. mid./pas. part. "of a man possessed by a demon" - [others said these words are not the words] of being demon-possessed. Although anarthrous, the participle is usually treated as a substantive, "of one being demon-possessed." The genitive is adjectival, possessive, expressing a derivative characteristic, limiting an assumed ta hJrhmata, "the words"; "these teachings / sayings are not those of a person who is demon-possessed / insane."

mh "[Can]" - not. This negation is used to introduce a question expecting a negative answer; "Surely not ......"

anoixai (anoigw) aor. inf. "[a demon] open" - [a demon possessed person is able] to open. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be able."

tuflwn gen. adj. "[the eyes] of the blind?" - [eyes] of blind. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being possessive.; "the eyes belonging to a blind person."


John Introduction.



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