What does John 10 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
Chapter 10 continues uninterrupted from the end of chapter 9. In fact, all of chapters 7, 8, 9, and the first half of chapter 10 occur in a fairly continuous timeline. At the end of chapter 9, Jesus was debating those who objected to His giving sight to a man born blind (John 9). As this chapter opens, Jesus is still speaking to those critics and attempting to explain truth to them.

Jesus lays out three analogies in the first half of this chapter. These are all centered on shepherding, a topic with which His audience would have been very familiar. These teachings are all separate. They carry slightly different symbolism and slightly different implications. Along the way, Jesus also makes the third and fourth of seven "I am" statements found in this gospel, where He stakes a claim to divinity. This chapter makes clear, yet often-disputed statements, about doctrinal questions such as salvation through means other than Jesus, if salvation can be lost, and whether the Bible contains errors.

First, Jesus points out that sheep only listen to the voice of their own particular shepherd. They won't listen to a stranger. Spiritually, this explains why men like the scribes and Pharisees don't accept Jesus: they are not part of "His" flock. In prior discussions, Jesus noted that these men are, ultimately, subjects of the Devil (John 8:42–47). They don't listen to the voice of God because they are part of some other flock. Unsurprisingly, Jesus' detractors don't get the point (John 10:1–6).

The second analogy is relatively brief, but it carries enormous implications. Sheep pens of that era were constructed with high walls and a single narrow opening. This was the only legitimate means of entry or exit—a point Jesus also noted in the first analogy. To control access, the gatekeeper would stand or lay across the opening: he would physically serve as the door. Jesus claims to have that same role, spiritually: He is "the Door," the one and only means by which sheep can enter the pen and find rescue from harm. This is the third of seven times in the gospel of John where Jesus uses the unique phrasing echoing the statement made by God in Exodus 3:14. The world, like sheep, can be divided into only two groups: those "in" and those "out," as defined by "the Door," which is Christ alone (John 10:7–9).

Finally, Jesus refers to Himself as the "Good Shepherd," as a contrast to the false religious leaders of Israel. He especially notes His willingness to die for the sake of the flock. Hired hands, as employees, only care for sheep until faced with personal risk. When in danger, they tend to run away. Unlike those false leaders, Jesus is willing to sacrifice Himself to save those He protects. In this comparison, Jesus once again uses the "I am" phrasing. This is the fourth time in the gospel of John where He highlights that theme. His statement also makes a clear, emphatic claim that those who are saved by faith in Jesus are saved permanently, and cannot be lost by any means (John 10:10–18).

As expected (Matthew 10:34–36), these teachings cause further argument. Eternal security, the exclusivity of Jesus, and so forth are points of sharp disagreement between Christianity and the world still today. Among the crowd listening to Jesus, some dismiss Jesus as insane, preferring their own traditions over the evidence of miracles. Others properly recognize Jesus as proven, by signs that can only be divine. We are not told how the debate ends (John 10:19–21).

John's gospel then jumps ahead several months, to the Feast of Dedication. This is not a mandatory feast, but Jesus chooses to attend. This is the celebration modern people know best as Hanukkah. While in Jerusalem, Jesus is cornered by an angry mob of religious leaders, in an enclosed part of the temple grounds. They challenge Jesus to repeat His teachings and then they attempt to stone Him. In response, Jesus points out that His words are in line with Scripture. And, He notes that His miracles ought to influence how these men respond. In so doing, Jesus also makes a clear statement about the perfection of the Bible; this is the doctrine of inerrancy. Those appeals fall on deaf ears, again, and Jesus has to make an unspecified escape (John 10:22–39).

After this, Jesus leaves the region controlled by Jerusalem's religious leaders, returning to Perea, where John the Baptist once preached. The people there are much more receptive, thanks to John, and many believe (John 10:40–42).

All of this sets the stage for Jesus' most spectacular miracle: the raising of Lazarus, described in chapter 11. After this, Jesus returns to Jerusalem in the triumphal entry, and His last public statements before His arrest and crucifixion, seen in chapter 12.
Verse Context:
John 10:1–21 continues directly from Jesus' encounter with local religious leaders, after giving sight to a man born blind (John 9). Jesus' references here to shepherds and shepherding are pointed barbs at these hypocritical, self-serving figures. In this section, Jesus actually creates three separate metaphors; these are not meant to be understood as a single analogy. The first comes in verses 1 through 6, the second in verses 7 through 9, and the third in verses 10 through 18. In doing so, Jesus explains how He differs from the corrupt leaders He confronts. He also delivers His third and fourth ''I am'' statements, out of seven in this gospel.
John 10:22–42 happens a few months after the controversy described in chapter 9 through the first half of chapter 10. Here, Jesus is cornered, in an overt threat, by the same religious leaders He has been castigating for years. He echoes the metaphors of sheep and shepherd He employed after giving sight to a blind man. Jesus points out that His teachings and miracles are all consistent with predictions of the Messiah, but these men refuse to accept Him. This culminates in another attempt on Jesus' life, which He somehow avoids. This represents the last time Jesus will publicly teach prior to His crucifixion.
Chapter Summary:
This passage continues Jesus' discussion with the religious leaders of Jerusalem, seen in chapter 9. Jesus lays out three separate analogies about His ministry, using the concept of sheep and shepherds. In those statements, Jesus explains why some people refuse to accept Him, declares Himself the only means of salvation, and again predicts His sacrificial death. This leads to controversy. Later, Jesus is cornered by a mob in the temple grounds. They once again try to stone Him as He repeats His divine claims, but He escapes in some way not fully described by the text. After this, Jesus leaves the area and returns to the region where John the Baptist had once preached.
Chapter Context:
Starting in chapter 7, the gospel of John describes Jesus' preaching at the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem. Through chapters 7 and 8, He debates with critics and attempts to explain spiritual truths. On the way out of the city, Jesus gives sight to a man born blind, as shown in chapter 9. That begins an extended debate which continues in this chapter. Jesus gives analogies of His mission using shepherding as a theme. Months later, He repeats those ideas when cornered by an aggressive mob in the temple. This sets the stage for His grandest miracle, the raising of Lazarus, seen in chapter 11.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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