Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 9 September 2015; Revised 8 December 2018
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75-99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Parable of the Good Shepherd, 10:1-21
Messianic Revelation, 10:22-42
Winter A.D. 29
For the date and time of year see the background information at the beginning of the chapter 9 commentary.
Parable of the Good Shepherd
1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, the one entering not through the door into the fold of the sheep, but going up by another way, that one is a thief and a robber.
Chapter Ten continues the speech of Yeshua to the Pharisees that began in 9:41.
Truly: Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. ’amen (ah–mayn, SH–543), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The Heb. root aman means "to confirm or support." The word amēn reflects an Hebraic conviction that God’s words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). For example, in the Torah people responded with "amen" for each of the curses as they were pronounced (Deut 27:15 +11t) and on other occasions "amen" was a congregational response to a public blessing of God (1Chr 16:36; Neh 5:13; Ps 106:48). In the Synoptic narratives amēn occurs 57 times in declarative statements of Yeshua, of which 34 are unique.
According to standard versions amēn is used to introduce axiomatic statements in Kingdom instruction, parables and prophecies. Stern contends, though, that many of those occurrences follow Jewish practice and rather than introducing statements the "amen" actually affirms the sentence spoken immediately before. (Examine the context of Matt 5:18, 26; 6:2, 5, 16; 10:15, 42; 13:17; 18:18; 23:36; 24:34, 47; and 26:13). Christian interpreters may have assumed "amen" begins statements because of the arbitrary verse divisions imposed on the Greek text in the mid-16th century by Robert Stephanus (aka Robert Estienne). However, Yeshua sometimes uses "amen" to introduce a declaration (e.g., Matt 8:10; 11:11; 16:28; 17:20; 19:23; 21:21; 24:2; 25:12, 45; 26:21). Similar usage does occur in the Tanakh (1Kgs 1:36; Jer 28:6). However, Yeshua employs amēn in a different manner here.
truly: Grk. amēn is repeated. In the Besekh the double use of amēn occurs only in the Book of John (25 times). The double "amen" does occur in the Tanakh as a response to a priestly declaration (Num 5:22; Neh 8:6), as well as in the construction "amen and amen" as the appropriate affirmation of a blessing (Ps 41:13; 72:19; 89:52). However, Yeshua uses "amēn amēn" as a prefix to the statement that follows, which is without parallel in Jewish literature (Morris 169). There is no good reason not to accept the grammar as authentic and Yeshua was quite capable of being innovative. The double use of amēn reinforces the complete reliability and truthfulness of Yeshua's prophetic teaching. Moreover, the double "amen," spoken in the presence of God, asserts the character of the Messiah who is the Truth (John 14:6) and implies God's endorsement.
I say: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to you: The pronoun is plural, referring to the Pharisee audience. the one entering: Grk. eiserchomai, pres. mid. part., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. through the gate: Grk. thura, a device for opening and closing an entranceway; door, gate. Many versions have "door," but others translate as "gate," which sounds more appropriate in relation to animals.
into the fold: Grk. aulē, an enclosed open space or a dwelling place. In the LXX the term translates Heb. chatser (SH-2691), a court or courtyard of the tabernacle (Ex 27:9) or temple (1Kgs 7:12), or a courtyard of a private house (2Sam 17:18; Neh 8:16). The Hebrew word in the Tanakh for a livestock fold or pen is miklah (SH-4356; Ps 50:9; 78:70; Hab 3:17), which Delitzsch uses to translate aulē in this verse. Rienecker says the word here seems to be a yard in front of the house, surrounded by a stone wall which was probably topped with briers. Pens were constructed where the flock might be safe all the night from thieves and wild animals. They were enclosures where they had grass or provender to eat.
According to Lightfoot the pen had one larger entrance, which gave ingress and egress to the flock and shepherd; and a little gateway through which lambs could only pass one at a time to be tithed (3:351). of the sheep: pl. of Grk. probaton, sheep (whether ram, male sheep or ewe), an animal in the care of a shepherd. In Greek antiquity probaton in its widest sense denoted all four-footed animals (especially tame, domestic ones) as opposed to swimming and creeping animals. In the LXX probaton translates Heb. tson (SH-6629), a word for small livestock (sheep, goats, flock) and means primarily the sheep as a useful and gregarious animal (Gen 4:2; 30:38) (DNTT 2:412). Probaton also translates Heb. seh (SH-7716), sheep or lamb (Gen 22:7; Ex 12:3; Isa 53:7).
The term "sheep" is used figuratively in Scripture for the people of Israel, whether gathered, protected, straying or victimized (Ps 44:2; 74:1; 78:52; 79:13; 95:7; 100:3; Isa 53:6; Jer 23:1; 50:6; Ezek 34:10-31; Matt 10:6; 15:24; Mark 6:34; Rom 8:36; Heb 13:20; 1Pet 2:25), but even more particularly for the Jewish disciples of Yeshua (John 21:16-17) as in this chapter. The sheep is a ruminant mammal, exclusively herbivorous, classified as clean in the Torah suitable for sacrifice and food (Lev 22:19-30). An adult female sheep is called "ewe," an adult male "ram" and a young sheep "lamb." A sheep's wool is the most widely used animal fiber, which is removed by shearing (Gen 31:19; 38:12; 1Sam 25:7).
Sheep possess good hearing and are sensitive to noise when being handled. They have excellent peripheral vision and even see behind them without turning the head around. Sheep have poor depth perception; shadows and dips in the ground may cause sheep to baulk. In general, sheep have a tendency to move out of the dark and into well lit areas, and prefer to move uphill when disturbed. Sheep also have an excellent sense of smell with scent glands just in front of the eyes, and on the feet. Sheep are flock animals with a dominance hierarchy and are strongly gregarious. Sheep have a natural inclination to follow a leader to new pastures. Sheep do not defend territories although they do form home ranges. All sheep have a tendency to congregate close to other members of a flock, and sheep can become stressed when separated from their flock members.
During flocking, sheep have a strong tendency to follow and a leader may simply be the first individual to move. Being a prey species, the primary defense mechanism of sheep is to flee from danger. Cornered sheep may charge and butt, or threaten by hoof stamping and adopting an aggressive posture. Sheep are frequently thought of as unintelligent animals. Their flocking behavior and quickness to flee and panic can make shepherding difficult. However, scientific studies have confirmed that sheep can recognize individual human and sheep faces, and remember them for years. In addition to long-term facial recognition of individuals, sheep can also differentiate emotional states through facial characteristics. If worked with patiently, sheep may also learn their names.
It is noteworthy that Yeshua speaks only of sheep in this chapter. In his Olivet Discourse he uses the parabolic figures of sheep and goats for groups being judged (Matt 25:32-33). There are striking differences between sheep and goats including their taxonomy, general physical differences, tails, diet, general behavior, horns and relative dominance. Particularly relevant to Yeshua's parable in this chapter is that goats are quite curious and independent by nature. Sheep have a stronger flocking instinct and become very agitated if they are separated from the rest of the flock. It is easier to keep sheep inside a fence than goats. For a discussion on their differences see the article at Sheep101.
During the first century a flock of sheep would number 20 to 500. Luke 15:4 refers to 100 sheep. Sheep and goats were grazed together but separated in the evening, for the goats spent the night in the center of the pen or of the walled enclosure, where it was warmer. This practice is referred to in Matthew 25:32 (DNTT 3:565). but going up: Grk. anabainō, pres. part., to go up to a point or place that is higher than the point of origin, sometimes in the context of going up steps. Idiomatically the verb means to enter or approach. Rienecker adds "to climb over." by another way: Grk. allachothen, from another place or elsewhere. Yeshua introduces as a figure two persons who were a threat to the safety of the sheep and opposed to the will of the shepherd.
that one is a thief: Grk. kleptēs, thief, one who steals, one who violates the eighth commandment (Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19). In the LXX the noun kleptēs translates the Heb. gannab (SH-1590), which like the Greek word includes the sense of stealth (DNTT 3:377). The word first appears in Exodus 22:2 in the context of instruction on property rights. Stolen items included objects of value, animals, and men. Even when theft was motivated by need or poverty, stealing was still regarded as dishonoring to God (Prov 30:9) and deserving of punishment. The Torah set the penalty for sheep stealing as payment to the owner of four sheep for the one taken (Ex 22:1). Thievery was a pervasive problem in the ancient world (Matt 6:19; 24:43; Luke 12:33), so that Paul felt the necessity of giving this instruction to the congregation in Ephesus, "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need" (Eph 4:28 NASB; cf. 1Pet 4:15).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions and beginning verses with a conjunction, as in verse 12 below, is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of John's Hebraic writing style.
a robber: Grk. lēstēs, one who engages in forceful and illicit seizure of property; robber, bandit. The word is also used of one who engages in violent activity against the established social order; revolutionary, insurrectionist. In the LXX lēstēs occurs only a few times and translates three different words, all associated with violence: Heb. gedud, (SH-1416), raider or band of raiders (Jer 18:22; Hos 7:1); Heb. parits (SH-6530), robber, violent one (Jer 7:11); and Heb. shôded (SH-7703), plunderer, destroyer, robber (Ob 1:5). Lightfoot distinguishes the two by saying the thief takes away a man's goods when the owner is not aware of it and a robber takes property openly, publicly and by force (3:351). Robbers were a constant menace to society as Scripture attests (Job 24:1-14; Luke 10:30; 2Cor 11:26).
Two robbers would eventually be crucified with Yeshua (Matt 27:38). Just as Yeshua used "sight" and "blindness" as contrasts in chapter 9, so he uses the "thief" (who is also a robber) and "shepherd" as figurative contrasts in this chapter. Reinhartz suggests that Yeshua may have used the terms "thief" and "robber" figuratively for the Judean leadership though she is not certain of it (178). However, Yeshua addresses this teaching to Pharisees (9:41) and uses the term "robber" elsewhere to describe the chief priests in charge of the Temple (Matt 21:13).
2 "But the one entering through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
But the one entering: Grk. eiserchomai, pres. mid. part. See the previous verse. through the gate: Grk. thura. See the previous verse. is the shepherd: Grk. poimēn, one who watches over sheep, a shepherd. In the LXX poimēn translates the participle of the verb Heb. ra'ah (SH-7462), to pasture, tend, first occurring in Genesis 4:2 of Abel (DNTT 3:564). The term is used both literally in the vocational sense and figuratively of teachers and rulers (e.g., 1Kgs 22:17; Ps 78:72; Jer 2:8; 3:15; 23:1; Ezek 34:2; LXX 2Sam 24:17). Paul uses the term to describe congregational pastors (Eph 4:11). of the sheep: Grk. probaton. See the previous verse.
Stern says that shepherding was a despised occupation in Middle Eastern countries at this time (107). Such prejudice was because shepherds were thought of as thieves. The Talmud offers a strange and hypocritical standard for what may be and what may not be purchased from shepherds based on whether the items might have been stolen (B.K. 118b). Except for Genesis 46:34 which says that shepherding was loathsome to the Egyptians, there is no pejorative opinion of shepherding as a vocation in Scripture.
Some great men of the Bible, such as the patriarchs, owned great herds of livestock, principally sheep. The sheep owner frequently tended the flocks himself, such as Abel (Gen 4:2) and Jacob (Gen 30:40). More often the owner delegated the work to his children, such as Rachel (Gen 29:9), Jacob's sons (Gen 46:32; 47:3), and David (1Sam 16:19; 17:15) or relatives, such as Jacob (Gen 31:6) and Moses (Ex 3:1). In such cases the sheep have good care because the keepers have a personal interest in the well-being of the animals. Ancient flock owners also had trusted herdsmen to watch over the flocks (Gen 13:7-8; 26:20; 29:8; 38:12, 20; Ex 2:17, 19; Job 1:16). And, the Temple in Yeshua's time maintained their own flocks for sacrificial use.
The chief responsibility of the shepherd is to see that the sheep find plenty to eat and drink. The flocks are not fed in pens or folds, but, summer and winter, must depend upon foraging for food (Ps 23:2). The usual time for watering was noon, at which time the flocks are led to the watering-places (Gen 29:2-3). The shepherd would also protect the flock from threats. For this purpose he would carry a staff (Ex 4:2; Ps 23:4) and a sling of goat's hair (1Sam 17:40). Sometimes the shepherd was aided in the keeping and defending the sheep by a dog (Job 30:1). Shepherding was a full-time around-the-clock kind of job. The shepherd knew his worth because of the dependency of the flock on him for their survival (ISBE).
3 "To this one the gatekeeper opens, and the sheep hears his voice and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them.
To this one: The demonstrative pronoun alludes to the shepherd mentioned in the previous verse. the gatekeeper: Grk. thurōros, doorkeeper, gatekeeper. This person might be an undershepherd or possibly one fold served more than one flock and had an independent porter (Rienecker). In the context of his parabolic saying the gatekeeper might be an allusion to Yochanan the Immerser. opens: Grk. anoigō, to open, used of doors and objects. and the sheep: pl. of Grk. probaton. See the note on verse 1 above. hears: Grk. akouō, may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first two meanings have application here.
In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama (SH-8085), to hear, which not only means to apprehend with the ears, but also to pay attention to (listen), to accept and then to act upon what has been heard (DNTT 2:173). his voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language (1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). The word often is used in the Besekh of articulated sound from a human mouth, which may be weeping (Matt 2:18), prophetic preaching (Matt 3:3), quarreling (Matt 12:19), greeting (Luke 1:44), earnest pleading (Luke 17:13) or rejoicing (Luke 17:15; Rev 19:5-6).
In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (sound, voice, BDB 876), the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113). By the first century the rabbis had a developed view of the bat qôl (lit. "daughter of a voice"), an echo of a heavenly voice that was audible on earth and proclaimed some divine message (e.g. Matt 3:17; 17:5; John 12:28; 2Pet 1:17).
Yeshua then begins to describe the actions of the shepherd, which imply important truth about himself. and he calls: Grk. phōneō, pres., may mean (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. All these meanings could have application here. The verb is used in a variety of ways in the Besekh, but of note is its occurrence when Yeshua calls to someone needing his healing touch (Matt 20:32; Mark 10:49; Luke 8:54; John 12:17), calling to hearers to heed to point of his parables (Luke 8:8) and crying out while on the cross (Matt 27:47; Mark 15:35; Luke 23:46).
his own: Grk. idios, belonging to oneself, one's own. Idios conveys the idea of property, that is, something belonging to an individual in contrast to what is public property or belongs to another. sheep: The noun is plural. by name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. The collective name of "his own sheep" is "Israel," the name he gave to Jacob. Yeshua specifically said that he came to save "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 10:6; also Matt 15:24). He also knows the name of each disciple and called each of the Twelve by name. A curious feature of the apostolic narratives is that Yeshua often addresses individuals by name, but others rarely address him by name (only three occasions, Luke 17:13; 18:38 and 23:42). In the age to come Yeshua will give his disciples a new name known only to him and the person (Rev 2:17).
and leads them: The verb is Grk. exagō, pres., to lead or take out. The second action after getting the attention of the sheep is to move them out of the pen. The sheep do not go anywhere that the shepherd does not also go. The verb occurs 12 times in the Besekh and only here in the book of John. The verb is used of Yeshua being led to the cross (Mark 15:20), Yeshua leading his disciples to Bethany after his resurrection (Luke 24:50) and apostles being led out of prison (Acts 5:19; 16:37). The verb has a special meaning when used to describe the action of Moses leading Israel out of Egypt (Acts 7:36,40; 13:17; Heb 8:9). The shepherd leads the sheep out of the pen to go to pasture and fig. the Messiah leads Israel as Moses did. See my web article Moses and Yeshua for a comparison of their lives.
4 "When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
When: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' he has brought out: Grk. ekballō, aor. subj., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition; to put out, to send out, to bring out. The verb occurs frequently in the apostolic narratives of freeing someone from demon possession. The third action is purposeful indicating the shepherd's intention to remove the sheep from the safety of the pen in order to be nourished. The verb has some spiritual applications, including Yeshua being sent by the Spirit into the wilderness (Mark 1:12), Yeshua's call to pray for the Lord of the harvest to "send out workers into his harvest" (Matt 9:38) before sending of the Twelve on their first mission (Matt 10:1). He repeats this exhortation when he sent out the seventy on their mission (Luke 10:1-2).
Yeshua brings the flock out of the pen to not only feed them but to increase the flock through lambing. In ancient practice the mating of sheep and birthing of lambs in regular flocks did not occur in a pen but in the field (cf. Gen 30:37-39; Ps 114:4; Isa 5:17; 40:11; Luke 2:8). all: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope; all, every. Yeshua does not leave any out. his own: Grk. idios. See the previous verse., he goes: Grk. poreuō, pres., may mean (1) to physically move from one area to another; go, make one's way; or (2) in an ethical sense regarding a manner of life; conduct oneself, live, walk (Luke 1:6). The fourth action of the shepherd is moving in a direction. ahead: Grk. emprosthen, as prep. and adv., expresses position that is in front or ahead; before, in front of. of them: The sheep do not determine their direction but the shepherd.
and the sheep: pl. of Grk. probaton. See verse 1 above. follow: Grk. akoloutheō, pres., to be in motion in sequence behind someone; follow. him because they know: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The perfect tense refers to action completed in the past with continuing results in the present. The verb is used for experiential knowledge, whether (1) to know about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with someone; (3) to understand how to do something; and (4) to remember (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395).
his voice: Grk. phōnē. See the previous verse. Shepherds would employ a peculiar guttural sound, hard to imitate, to call the flock to follow off to new feeding-grounds (ISBE). The flock can recognize the shepherd's voice because of their daily contact with him. Disciples of Yeshua, too, must spend time regularly with God to hear Him.
5 "And a stranger they will follow not, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."
And: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). a stranger: Grk. allotrios, belonging to another; foreigner, alien, hostile, stranger. In the LXX allotrios occurs frequently as a translation of Heb. nokri (SH-5231), foreign, alien, non-Israelite (Gen 31:15; Deut 14:21), and occasionally translates Heb. zar (SH-2114), another, strange, a stranger, foreign (Lev 10;1; Deut 32:16) (DNTT 1:684). The term does not refer to the "stranger" or "sojourner" (Heb. ger; Grk. prosēlutos) who joined with Israel and enjoyed certain rights within the community. Rather allotrios implies someone unsuitable and even hostile. they will follow: Grk. akoloutheō, fut. See the previous verse.
not: Grk. ou, a negative particle that makes an emphatic denial of fact. but: Grk. alla, conj. used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. will flee: Grk. pheugō, fut., to make a decisive movement away to avoid a hazard, to flee or to escape. from him, because they do not know: Grk. oida, perf. See the previous verse. the voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 3 above. of strangers: pl. of Grk. allotrios. The implication is that Jewish (and other would-be) teachers are strangers disowned by the true flock of God, whereas Yeshua is the true shepherd known and followed by the true people of God. Yeshua may have hinted at the unfitness of the priestly clan of Annas to shepherd Israel. The chief priests that controlled the Temple were corrupt in their administration (Matt 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46; John 2:16) and they had contempt for the ignorant masses (John 7:49).
6 Yeshua told them this illustration, but they understood not what he said to them.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
told: Grk. legō, aor. See the note on verse 1 above. them this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; this, this person or thing. illustration: Grk. paroimia, a communication designed to instruct by analogy, whether by (1) a pithy adage: proverb, maxim (2Pet 2:22); or (2) a relatively extended metaphor; illustration, comparison (here, John 16:25, 29). Mounce adds 'parable, similitude, figurative discourse.' In other Jewish literature the special term occurs only in Sirach and Philo where it has the meaning of a proverbial saying (BAG). The term does not occur in the Synoptic Narratives where Grk. parabolē ("parable") prevails, while parabolē does not occur in John. Morris finds no significance difference between the two Greek words, saying that they both probably reflect something of the Hebrew mashal (SH-4912, "proverb, parable") (504).
The Hebrew noun mashal derives from the verb mashal (SH-4911), meaning "to be like," and has a broad usage in the Tanakh: proverb, parable, by-word, prophetic figurative discourse, similitude, poem, and a sentence of ethical wisdom. The usage of paroimia in John has the meaning of an extended metaphor. In the Synoptic Narratives a parable is usually presented as a brief story, but Yeshua is not telling a story here. Rather he is using an analogy drawn from everyday life that also alludes to teaching of the Hebrew prophets, especially Ezekiel. Bible versions are divided between translating paroimia as "parable," "Illustration," and "figure of speech." The CJB renders the term as "indirect manner."
but: Grk. de, conj. See the note on the previous verse. they understood: Grk. ginōskō, aor., to know, but has a variety of meanings, including (1) to be in receipt of information; know, learn, find out; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend, perceive, notice, realize, conclude; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value; make acquaintance, recognize. All of these meanings have application here. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395). not: Grk. ou. See the note on the previous verse.
what: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun to indicate non-specification; something, anything. he said: Grk. laleō, impf., to make an oral statement, to speak or talk about something; say, utter. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron., i.e., the Pharisees of 9:40. John inserts this comment into his narrative on the receptivity of the audience. Tenney attributes their lack of understanding to spiritual deadness. Even with their education and knowledge of Torah they did not comprehend what Yeshua was talking about. Although the Pharisees may have known the basic facts of sheep and shepherds as Yeshua described, they probably had no personal experience with the vocation. They could only wait until Yeshua got to his point. They did not see the connection between the analogy and themselves. But, then, spiritual things must be spiritually appraised (1Cor 2:14-15).
7 Then again Yeshua said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the gate of the sheep.
Then: Grk. oun, conj., an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding; so, therefore, consequently, then; (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, then; or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative -so, then. The second application fits here. again: Grk. palin, adv. that focuses on a repetitive occurrence and means once more, again. The point of the adverb seems to be that Yeshua is repeating what he said in verse two, except now he will be more direct. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. to them: Grk. autos, 3p-plural pers. pron. Truly, truly: See verse 1 above. I say: Grk. legō, pres. to you: Grk. humin, 2p-plural pers. pron.
I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). The pronoun-verb expression occurs 47 times in the Besekh, 34 times on the lips of Yeshua, often as a conversational way of identifying himself to others (e.g., Matt 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; Acts 9:5). However, in John's book Yeshua couples egō eimi with a descriptive metaphor, known as the "Seven I Am Sayings," two of which are in this chapter. Such statements indicate that Yeshua had a firm grasp of his own identity. Stern suggests that the metaphoric expressions imply a claim even greater than being the Messiah (168). They are too similar to the God of Israel's self-revelation in the Tanakh to be accidental.
In the LXX egō eimi is predominately spoken by the God of Israel in reference to Himself, first in the name "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14; also in Isa 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; 47:8; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6). More commonly God says egō eimi kurios, for Heb. ani YHVH, "I am YHVH" 48 times (e.g., Ex 7:5; 16:12; 20:2; 29:46; Lev 11:44; 26:1; Deut 5:6; 32:39; Isa 45:8; 61:8; Jer 24:7; Ezek 28:22; 29:6). In the Hebrew text of the Tanakh God uses first person self-descriptive phrases of Himself: "I am God Almighty [Shaddai]" (Gen 17:1; 35:11); "I am your shield" (Gen 22:1); "I am your healer" (Ex 15:26); "I am the first and the last" (Isa 41:4; 44:6; 48:12); "I am YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isa 43:3); and "I am YHVH your Holy One, creator of Israel, your King" (Isa 43:15).
The present tense of "I am" may be intended to encompass more time than the moment Yeshua uttered the words and posit that his identity does not change. He is the "same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb 13:8). So, "I am" equals John's summary of "Him who is and who was and who is to come" (Rev 1:4 NASB), which echoed Yeshua's own declaration "I am the Alpha and Omega who is, who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Rev 1:8 NASB). the gate: Grk. thura. See verse 1 above. The "gate" is a word picture of the mediatorial role, of what separates that which is outside from that which is inside. of the sheep: pl. of Grk. probaton. See the not on verse 1 above. Gill adds "not of goats, dogs, or swine." The "sheep" in its figurative sense stands for Israel, yet the gate only opens for those who hear his voice (verse 16 below).
"The sudden shift of metaphor from shepherd to gate seems rather strange to us, but in reality it is not. When the sheep returned to the fold at night after a day of grazing, the shepherd stood in the doorway of the pen and inspected each one as it entered. If a sheep were scratched or wounded by thorns, the shepherd anointed it with oil to facilitate healing; if the sheep were thirsty, he gave them water. As Psalm 23:5-6 says, "You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." After all the sheep had been counted and brought into the pen, the shepherd lay down across the doorway so that no intruder--man or beast--could enter without his knowledge. The shepherd became the door. The emphatic singular pronoun "I" (egō) emphasizes that the shepherd is the sole determiner of who enters the fold and who is excluded. It parallels the later statement: 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' (John 14:16)."
8 "All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
All: Grk. pas. See verse 4 above. who: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun denoting a spatial and temporal equation, here signifying maximum inclusion; as many as, all who. came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place or 'to go' with the focus on the goal for movement. The verb is used in a fig. sense of putting oneself into a position of authority. before: Grk. pro, prep., with the genitive pronoun following indicating precedence, either (1) spatially, 'ahead, before,' (2) temporally, 'earlier than, before' or (3) in rank, before or above. me: Yeshua, but considering the "I am" of the previous verse he likely includes the revelation of himself as ADONAI in the Tanakh.
are thieves and robbers: For these classes of offenders See verse 1 above. Yeshua is not saying that every leader that ever lived in Israel was a thief or robber. Rather he means those who elevated themselves to greater authority than God intended or abused their authority and put their interests before the interests of God. The Tanakh bears witness to the corrupt leaders of Israel whom God called thieves and robbers and promised to punish (Isa 1:23; Jer 2:26; 7:4-11; 23:1-2, 30-32; Ezek 34:1-22). As a result of abuse or abandonment by leaders the people of Israel could be described at times as "sheep without a shepherd" (Num 27:17; 1Kgs 22:17; 2Chr 18:16; Ezek 34:5,8; Zech 10:2) and became as lost sheep astray from their God (Jer 50:6).
Yeshua laid similar charges against the rulers in his time (Matt 15:4-5; 23:25; Mark 11:15-17; 12:40). Yeshua's description could also apply to false messiahs (e.g., Acts 5:35-37). Lightfoot finds a parallel between this parable and God's denunciation of worthless shepherds in Zechariah 11, particularly three shepherds in verse 8 that God annihilated and Lightfoot likens to the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes (3:347). This chapter of Zechariah does have a connection to Yeshua because Zechariah prophesies the thirty pieces of silver that Judas would receive for betrayal (cf. Zech 11:13; Matt 26:14; 27:3-10), and Judas was a thief (John 12:6).
but the sheep: See verse 1 above. The term as used here probably alludes to the faithful remnant of Israel. did not hear them: The verb is akouō, aor. See verse 3 above. The sheep, which likely represents the faithful remnant of Israel, continued to obey God.
9 "I am the gate. If anyone enters in through me, he will be rescued, and will come in and go out, and will find pasture.
I am the gate: See verse 7 above. If: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. anyone enters in: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. subj. See verse 1 above. The verb depicts entry into the sheep fold. through me: i.e., the opening of the gate. he will be rescued: Grk. sōzō, fut. pass. (from saos, 'free from harm'), to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition, often in the sense of bodily harm (Matt 14:30), as well from spiritual peril (Matt 24:13). The subjunctive mood looks toward what is conceivable, not actual. In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important yasha, used in the Hiphil meaning to deliver and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, used in the Piel meaning to escape, deliver, save (e.g., 1Kgs 1:12).
The Hebrew verbs are used in relation to various external threats and bodily peril, especially enemies (DNTT 3:206). Two important principles may be noted in the Tanakh. First, deliverance may come about through men, even though possessing significant limitations (e.g., Gideon, Jdg 7:2). Second, the pious Israelite was aware of the fact that deliverance comes ultimately from God himself (Ps 18:2; 44:3). It is by His power and name that foes are vanquished and evil defeated. In the Besekh sōzō frequently refers to rescue from spiritual peril, including deliverance from God's wrath on the Day of the Lord.
and will come in: Grk. eiserchomai, fut. mid. and go out: Grk. exerchomai, fut. mid., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. The verbs "coming in" and "going out" as descriptive actions of the Body of Messiah depicts gathering from the world for worship and learning and then returning to the world to represent the Messiah. and will find: Grk. heuriskō, fut., to come upon by seeking, to find or locate that which has eluded the one seeking. pasture: Grk. nomē, the product of a pasture or grazing; fodder, pasturage. Using the right gate will assure the sheep of having their needs met no matter where they are.
10 "The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
The thief: Grk. kleptēs. See verse 1 above. Yeshua returns to the figure of the thief and describes his activity with three action verbs. The character of the thief stands in sharp contrast to the shepherd. The thief's interest in the sheep is short-term and purely selfish. His actions threaten the livelihood of the sheep owner as well as the sense of security for the community. comes: Grk. erchomai, pres. See verse 8 above. only: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." to steal: Grk. kleptō, aor. subj., to unlawfully take property belonging to another in violation of the eighth commandment (Ex 20:15). The use of kleptō emphasizes the secrecy, craftiness, and cheating involved in the act of stealing or embezzlement. Unlike the concept of robbery, kleptō normally does not imply violence. In the LXX kleptō regularly translates the Heb. ganab, which also includes the element of stealth.
We should remember that stealing is an attack on the principle of property rights which God established in the Torah. In modern times property rights are under constant attack through political philosophies such as communism, fascism and socialism. Even Christians can be seduced by the philosophy of "redistribution of wealth," which is nothing more than legalized stealing. When Yeshua used the parabolic figure of the thief he likely had the chief priests in mind, because he referred to the Temple commerce as a robbers' den (Matt 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46; cf. John 2:14-16). This charge no doubt alluded to the exorbitant profits the family of Annas, the emeritus High Priest, gained from collecting the temple tax, changing currency, and selling merchandise and sacrificial animals.
It's important to evaluate the temple commerce against a background where a working man's wage was a denarius per day (Matt 20:9-10). The half-shekel was equivalent to two denarii (Matt 17:24). The requirement for the temple tribute actually violated the Torah. According to the instructions at Mt. Sinai the half-shekel was only collected when there was a census, and only three are mentioned in the Tanakh (Ex 30:13-16; Num 1:1; 2Sam 24:1). The annual tax during the first century far exceeded the Torah rule. Given Jewish population estimates for the first century there were likely well over 1 million Jewish males who owed the tax. Yet, money-changing fees were only the beginning of the legalized extortion.
The selling of doves was an even more offensive racket (Mark 11:15). Animals could be purchased outside the temple; but any animal offered in sacrifice must be without blemish. The Sadducean inspectors could easily find reasons to reject these animals and then would direct the worshipper to the temple stalls and booths. No great harm would have been done if the prices had been the same inside as outside the temple, but a pair of doves could cost as much as 18 times more inside the temple than outside the temple (Barclay 2:245).
Josephus describes the high priest Annas as a great hoarder of money "and took away the tithes that belonged to the priests by violence, and did not refrain from beating such as would not give these tithes to them. So the other high priests acted in the like manner, as did those his servants, without any one being able to prohibit them; so that [some of the] priests, that of old were wont to be supported with those tithes, died for want of food" (Ant. XX, 9:2-4). This report is echoed in Pesachim 57a. The family of Annas was essentially a crime family and all the commercial activity in the temple made them the equivalent of millionaires in modern money. It was only God's grace that kept the ground from opening up under them as it did for Korah.
slaughter: Grk. thuō, aor. subj., to conduct ritual sacrifice, particularly in relation to Passover (Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7; 1Cor 5:7), and to slaughter for food (Matt 22:4; Luke 15:23; Acts 10:13). The verb is also used of pagan sacrifice (Acts 14:13, 18; 1Cor 10:20). In the LXX thuō renders the Heb. zabach (SH-2076), to slaughter for sacrifice (Gen 31:54; Ex 3:18; Lev 17:5; Num 22:40; Deut 12:15). As for the thief Yeshua may allude to the only mention in the Tanakh of a thief slaughtering a stolen animal (Ex 22:1), and there the word tabach (SH-2873), to slaughter or butcher for food is used (e.g., Gen 43:16; 1Sam 25:11; Prov 9:2). A thief might butcher the stolen sheep for food or sale.
However, Yeshua is very deliberate in his choice of verbs here; he does not use the regular verb for kill, apokteinō. Yet, almost all versions translate the verb here as "kill." Only a few versions have "slaughter" (ISV, MRINT; TLV, VOICE). Among Jews killing the animal for sacrifice was accomplished by cutting the throat (Lev 3:2) with an extremely sharp knife (Gen 22:6) and then draining the blood into the special bowl to be poured by a priest onto the base of the altar (Ex 29:11-12; Lev 1:15). The priests would throw the parts that were forbidden to eat into the altar fire. Slaughtering an animal for food would follow a similar procedure since God had forbidden the eating (or drinking) the blood of any animal (Gen 9:4; Lev 3:17).
Ritual sacrifice was the duty of priests in the daily service at the Temple (Heb 5:1; 7:27) and so the verb "slaughter" could point to the chief priests as fulfilling the figure of the "thief." In essence they have stolen the sacrificial animals through extortion. While the verb thuō is not used in connection with Yeshua, Paul will later write that "Messiah also loved us and gave Himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God for a fragrant aroma." (Eph 5:2 TLV) and "when this One offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God" (Heb 10:12 TLV). The word "sacrifice" in those verses is Grk. thusia, which is derived from the verb thuō.
Yochanan the Immerser had prophesied that Yeshua would be a sin offering (John 1:29, 36). Since the verb thuō is used in connection with Passover, it is noteworthy that on the day of Passover, Nisan 15, in which Yeshua was crucified, the priests sacrificed two bulls, one ram and seven lambs as burnt offerings (which had an atoning effect) and one male goat as a sin offering in accordance with the legislation in Numbers 28:17-22. As a result of being crucified on Nisan 15 Paul declared that Yeshua had become our Passover sacrifice (1Cor 5:7) and sin offering (2Cor 5:21).
and destroy: Grk. apollumi, aor. subj., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX apollumi represents 38 different Hebrew words. Most frequently it translates abad (SH-7), to be lost, perish or to destroy (DNTT 1:463). The verb depicts a situation that threatens the very existence of an individual or group. In the Tanakh the word group is often used in the context of requirements for cutting off people from Israel for committing capital crimes, with stoning being the usual penalty. This verb apollumi is used of the Pharisees intent against Yeshua (Matt 12:14; Mark 3:6) and then later in the plot by the chief priests and elders to have Yeshua executed (Matt 27:30; Mark 11:18; Luke 13:33; 19:47). So, all thee verbs can be applied to the chief priests as enemies of Yeshua.
I came: Grk. erchomai, aor. Yeshua probably alludes to his incarnation. that they may have: Grk. echō, pres. subj., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. life: Grk. zōē, the state of being alive in the physical sense in contrast to being dead; life. The Besekh not only uses zōē in its normal meaning of physical existence in the presence age, but over forty times for life that continues into the next age and eternity, half of which are in the writings of John. In the LXX zōē renders Heb. chay (SH-2416, alive, living) with both literal and figurative uses. In Scripture only animals and humans are described as "living" in the literal sense. God (the Father) has life in Himself (John 5:26) and is the source of life (Gen 1:20-25). The word "life" may be shorthand for "breath of life" (Gen 2:7), because "living" is defined as that which has breath (cf. Gen 6:17).
John begins his book with the point that Yeshua as the Word had life in himself; he was not created (John 1:4). Moreover, he has the capacity to give physical life (Gen 2:7), which was manifested in the ministry of Yeshua through restoration of life to the dead (Matt 9:18-25; Luke 7:11-15; John 11:1-44), but more importantly the provision of spiritual life (John 4:14; 5:21; 6:27, 33; 10:28) to those dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). In the creation context it is no accident that Adam named his wife Chavvah (Khav-vah; unfortunately "Eve" in Christian Bibles), which means "life," because the first woman was the mother of all the living. It was the promised Seed of Chavvah (Gen 3:15) who would be the Life of the world (Lightfoot 3:239).
and may have: Grk. echō, pres. subj. it abundantly: Grk. perissos, extraordinary in number, size or quality; extraordinary, in surplus, in abundance. The adjective also makes a comparison indicating the possession of something extra, which equals an advantage. The legalistic religion of the chief priests and Pharisees could not possibly provide the kind of life of which Yeshua speaks. The abundant life is the life of God working inside the individual to not only solve the sin problem, but to give meaning and purpose to our existence.
11 "I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
I AM: Grk. egō eimi. See the note on verse 7 above. the good: Grk. kalos, adj., meeting a high standard or an exceptionally high quality; fine, good. In Greek culture kalos originally meant beautiful or noble. In the LXX kalos is used most frequently as a translation of Heb. tov (SH-2896), with the basic meanings of pleasant, agreeable or good, whether in a practical sense or a moral, ethical sense. Foremost is the use of kalos/tov as descriptive of what's pleasing to God, what He likes or what gives Him joy (DNTT 2:103). Thus, the first use of kalos for tov is when God pronounced His creation "good" (Gen 1:4,8,10,13,18,21,25,31). Kalos is also used to translate Heb. yapheh (SH-3303), fair or beautiful as a physical attribute (Gen 12:14; 29:17; 39:6; 41:2). In this context Yeshua no doubt used tov-kalos in the sense of possessing moral excellence.
shepherd: Grk. poimēn. See verse 2 above. Both adjective and noun have the definite article. Wycliffe and Moffatt offer the poor translation of "a good shepherd." Yeshua does not classify himself as one among many. The figure of the "good shepherd" occurs only here in the Bible, but in effect Yeshua conflates two ideas from the Tanakh. First, ADONAI is good (2Chr 7:3; Ezra 3:11; Ps 34:8; 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1,29; 135:3; 136:1; Jer 33:11; Lam 3:25; Nah 1:7. Second, ADONAI is depicted as a shepherd (Ps 28:9; 80:1; Eccl 12:11; Isa 40:10-11; Jer 31:10; Ezek 34:12; Mic 7:14; Zech 11:7). Jacob affirmed ADONAI as his shepherd (Gen 48:15; 49:24) as did David (Ps 23:1). Being the "good shepherd" Yeshua exceeds the expectations of a spiritual shepherd. We may note two human role models in the Tanakh:
Joshua: "Moses spoke to ADONAI saying, 16 'May ADONAI, God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the community 17 to go out and come in before them, who will lead them out and bring them out so that the people of ADONAI will not be like sheep without a shepherd.' 18 ADONAI said to Moses, 'Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the Ruach, and lay your hand on him.'" (Num 27:15-18 TLV)
David: "He [ADONAI] also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; 71 From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. 72 So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands." (Ps 78:70-72 NASB) NOTE: David becomes the figure of the Messianic King who will shepherd Israel in the age to come (Ezek 34:23; 37:24).
Yeshua then explains what makes him especially good. The good shepherd lays down: Grk. tithēmi, pres., may mean (1) to arrange for association with a site; place, put, set out, serve, lay down; or (2) to arrange for creation of role or status, make, appoint. The first meaning applies here with a nuance of the second. The use of the present tense may seem strange. In Greek the present tense can have a variety of meanings. A present tense verb may indicate action in progress, habitual practice, or action at successive intervals. However, sometimes the present tense is used to indicate an event now occurring, a past event with vividness, an anticipated future event or an action purposed. This last usage fits here.
his life: Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond mere physical function; life (inner) self, soul. In the LXX psuchē corresponds to the Heb. nephesh (SH-53-15), that which "breathes" air (Gen 1:20). Nephesh is in the "blood" (Lev 17:11; Deut 12:23), and along with the ability to move (Gen 1:21) comprise the three characteristics that make man or animal, into a living creature. (By biblical definition plants are not living.) Nephesh also represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion. In Hebrew thought a person is a soul-body. Thus, "soul" does not refer to a non-physical part of a human being, but rather to the whole person. Human beings live as "souls;" they do not have souls (e.g., Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; 1Pet 3:20).
The fact that Yeshua is the good shepherd and has "life" that can be laid down indirectly asserts his true humanity. He was "made like his brethren in all things" (Heb 2:17; cf. John 1:14; Php 2:5-8; Heb 4:15; 1Jn 1:1; 4:1-3). The vocation of shepherding involved a certain amount of jeopardy, especially guarding the flock against adversaries, thieves and wild animals (cf. Ex 2:16-19; 1Sam 17:34-35). However, no shepherd would intentionally die to deliver sheep from a threat. As Morris points out, when a shepherd did die in defense of the sheep it was an accident. He planned to live for them, not die for them. Yeshua's expression of "laying down his life" appears only in John (verses 15,17,18 below; 13:37,38; 15:13; and 1Jn 3:16). In the Synoptic Narratives Yeshua uses the expression "gives [Grk. didōmi] his life as a ransom" (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45).
The point of both expressions is that Yeshua's life was not taken from him. Moreover, he would not merely risk his life, but give it as a "ransom" or an atoning sacrifice, providing deliverance from the bondage and penalty of sin. The site, of course, will be Golgotha. Thus, the passion narratives read that he "breathed his last" (Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 20:22). Later the verb tithēmi will be used of his being laid in the tomb (Matt 27:60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53; John 19:42). for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used here fig. to mean "on behalf of." In the literal sense Yeshua would be raised above the earth to die. the sheep: pl. of Grk. probaton. See verse 1 above. The figure of "sheep" represents Israel, and even more particularly his disciples. Yeshua considered it an honor to "lay down his life" for his friends (John 15:13).
12 "And the hired man, not being a shepherd, whose sheep are not his own, sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees. And the wolf snatches and scatters them.
And: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. the hired man: Grk. misthōtos, hired hand, hired man. The noun occurs only three times in the Besekh (Mark 1:20; here and the next verse). In Greek culture the term was used of anyone who worked for wages. In the LXX misthōtos usually translates Heb. sakir (SH-7916), hired, hired servant, hired man (e.g., Ex 12:45; Lev 19:13; Deut 15:18; Job 7:2; Isa 16:14; Jer 46:21; Mal 3:5) (DNTT 3:139). The employment of hirelings for tending flocks was a common practice in the first century. not being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 7 above. a shepherd: Grk. poimēn. See verse 2 above.
Yeshua does not mean that the hired hand does not perform a shepherding function. Rather he alludes to the fact that in biblical history the shepherd was either the owner, a member of the owner's family or personal servants whose very lives belonged to the owner. whose sheep: Grk. probaton. See verse 1 above. are not his own: Grk. idios. See verse 3 above. The hired man has nothing invested in the flock. sees: Grk. theōreō, pres., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; or (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; infer, see. The verb here refers to the visual activity of the eyes.
the wolf: Grk. lukos, a wolf, a predatory carnivore. In the LXX lukos renders Heb. ze'ehb (SH-2061), wolf. While the wolf is surpassed in size by some dogs, it is the fiercest member of the dog family (Canidae). The wolf of the Middle East is large, light colored, and does not seem to hunt in packs. Like other wolves it is nocturnal. In Israel the wolf was the special enemy of sheep and goats ("Wolf," ISBE). In the Tanakh the wolf appears in a figurative sense of the enemies of Judah (Jer 5:6; Hab 1:8), and corrupt and oppressive judges (Ezek 22:27; Zeph 3:3). In addition, Jacob likened his son Benjamin to a ravening wolf (Gen 49:27). Yeshua used the figure of the wolf to describe false prophets (Matt 7:15) and enemies of his disciples (Matt 10:16; Luke 10:13; cf. Acts 20:29).
coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part. See verse 8 above. and abandons: Grk. aphiēmi, pres., let remain behind; leave, leave behind, give up, abandon. the sheep and flees: Grk. pheugō, pres., to make a decisive movement away to avoid a hazard. The verbs describing the actions of the hired man ('sees,' 'abandons,' and 'flees') are all present tense, which in its ordinary usage emphasizes starting and continuing the action until completed. The present tense is used in this verse to especially heighten the drama of the parabolic description. And the wolf snatches: Grk. harpazō, pres., to take away by seizure, to carry off by force; take away, seize. and scatters them: The verb is Grk. skorpizō, pres., cause to go in various directions; scatter, disperse. The verb does not mean the wolf is herding the sheep, but rather with the snatching of a particular sheep the rest run away from the threat.
The Mishnah lays down the legal responsibility of the hired shepherd. "A hirer must swear concerning an animal that was injured, captured [in a raid] or that perished; but must pay for loss or theft" (Baba Metzia 7:7). An interesting provision is that if one wolf attacks the flock he is required to defend the sheep, but "two wolves count as unavoidable accident" (Baba Metzia 7:8). In other words, no blame attaches to the hired man for any damage two or more wolves may cause. The Mishnah goes on to list other circumstances as examples of when the hired man is not accountable for losses to the flock. The liability of the hired man may be alleviated if he takes an oath that the loss occurred as a result of an unavoidable accident. Otherwise, he must make restitution (Baba Metzia 7:9).
13 "because he is a hired man, and does not care about the sheep.
For "hired man" see the previous verse. Yeshua identifies the chief deficiency of the hired man. He runs away because of what he is. His only interest is in his wages. Ironically, running away guarantees the loss of his wages and liability for any lost sheep if the loss could have been avoided. He does not care: Grk. melei (from melō, be an object of care or thought), pres., 'be of interest to,' be of concern to.' about the sheep: The primary concern of the hired man is his wages. He is not personally invested in the sheep. He will do his job so long as he is paid and there is no great risk to his life.
Tenney suggests that Yeshua's discourse anticipates Peter's exhortation, "Shepherd God's flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God's will; not for the money but eagerly, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock" (1Pet 5:2-3 HCSB).
14 "I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me;
I am the good shepherd: See verse 11 above. Yeshua repeats himself for effect. I know: Grk. ginōskō, pres. See verse 6 above. my own: pl. of Grk. emos, an emphatic possessive pronoun for the first person (Thayer); my, mine. The pronoun occurs 46 times in the apostolic narratives (37 in the book of John), all either on the lips of Yeshua referring to what is connected directly to him (e.g., my words, my name, my love, my disciples, my body, etc.) or in parables of what belongs to the key figure which symbolizes him. In this context the plural form can have both an individual and corporate meaning.
Being the Son of God Yeshua's knowledge is all encompassing. The knowledge of which he speaks operates on two levels. First, there is what he knows about his people and disciples as individuals. As David wrote,
"ADONAI, You searched me and know me. 2 Whenever I sit down or stand up, You know it. You discern my thinking from afar. 3 You observe my journeying and my resting and You are familiar with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, Adonai, You know all about it. 5 You hemmed me in behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." (Ps 139:1-6; cf. 2Sam 7:20)
The great "I AM" knows a person's thoughts, attitudes and intentions (Gen 20:6; 22:6; Ex 9:30; Deut 8:2; 31:21; 2Sam 7:20; 2Chr 6:30; Ps 94:11; Isa 48:4; 66:18; Jer 12:3; Ezek 11:5; Luke 16:15; John 5:42; 21:15-17; 1Cor 3:20). He knows what a person will do (Ex 3:19). He knows a person's capabilities (Ex 4:14). He knows our weaknesses and shortcomings (Isa 37:28; Hos 5:3; Amos 5:12; John 2:24-25; Gal 4:9; Rev 3:1, 15) and He knows what's good about us (Rev 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:8). Besides all this Yeshua knows the ones he has chosen (John 13:18) and Paul echoed the truth by saying "The Lord knows those who are His" (2Tim 2:19).
Second, there is the knowing in the corporate covenantal sense. Yeshua likely alludes to the promises God made to the nation of Israel.
"Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine." (Ex 19:4 NASB)
"You are to be holy to Me, for I, ADONAI, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, so that you would be Mine." (Lev 20:26 TLV)
"But now, thus says ADONAI— the One who created you, O Jacob, the One who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are Mine." (Isa 43:1 TLV)
Within this covenantal context God declared that "the Land [of Canaan] is Mine" (Lev 25:23). The Land (including the modern Judea and Samaria) does not belong to the god of the Muslims, but to the God of Israel and to the Jewish people as an eternal inheritance (Gen 17:8; Ex 23:31; Deut 1:8; Jer 33:11). God declared "all the Levites are Mine" (Num 3:12) and "all the firstborn are Mine" (Num 3:13). He knows the history of the Jewish people (John 8:37). More importantly, He knows what He plans for Israel (Jer 29:11).
Yeshua then states the reverse of his proposition. and my own: pl. of Grk. emos. know: Grk. ginōskō, pres. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. How is this possible? In the prophecy of the New Covenant God promised Israel the privilege of knowing Him on a personal level.
"No longer will each teach his neighbor or each his brother, saying: 'Know Adonai,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest." (Jer 31:34 TLV)
God also specified the means of knowing God personally, which Yeshua repeated.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them." (Ezek 36:26-27 CJB)
"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17 NASB)
In June 2014 Pope Francis created a controversy amongst Evangelicals, when he stated in his weekly address, "There are those who believe they can maintain a personal, direct and immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside the communion and the mediation of the Church. These are dangerous and harmful temptations." (Worthy News). By the "mediation of the Church" Pope Francis means the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the role of priests and others in the Church to transmit the content of the faith and the efficacy of the Eucharist for spiritual nourishment. (See the full text of his message here.) However, true faith is not a religion, but a personal relationship with Messiah Yeshua. Only he is the mediator between God and man, not the Virgin Mary and the Catholic Church.
The world does not know God nor His Son (Ex 5:2; John 1:10; 8:55; 14:16; 15:21; 1Cor 1:21; 1Th 4:5; 2Th 1:8; 1Jn 3:1), and being a descendant of Jacob is no guarantee of knowing God either (Jdg 2:10; 1Sam 2:12; Hos 5:4; Rom 9:6; Gal 4:8; Titus 1:16). The reality of knowing the Father and Yeshua on a personal level, i.e., in a personal relationship, is affirmed in other passages (Matt 11:27; John 14:7; 17:3; Php 3:10; Heb 8:11; 10:30; 1Jn 2:3, 13-14; 5:20). Indeed, the relationship is one of friendship (John 15:15).
15 "as the Father knows me, I also know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.
as: Grk. kathōs, conj., emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs about 1180 times, generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Hebrew vernacular Yeshua and the apostles would have used the word abba, as occurs in (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). The God of Israel is also father of the king as the embodiment of Israel (2Sam 7:14; Ps 89:27).
While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Unfortunately the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed removed the association with Israel and presented the Father as only the "Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9). Yeshua also spoke to his Jewish disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36). Thus, for the Body of Messiah the God of Israel becomes "our Father" (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).
knows me: The verb is Grk. ginōskō, pres. See verse 6 above. I also: Grk. kagō, formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. know the Father: Yeshua echoes the same statement made elsewhere (Matt 11:27). This knowledge is of the most intimate character. and I lay down my life for the sheep: See this clause in verse 11 above. Yeshua reasserts his mission previously stated. Combined with the preceding clause Yeshua implies that the Father knows the Son will voluntarily lay down his life. The Son knows the Father's will (Matt 26:42) and also knows that the Father will sustain him through the anticipated sufferings.
And: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. I have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 10 above. We should note that the verb is present tense, not future tense. other: Grk. allos, adj. used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other. sheep: pl. of Grk. probaton. See verse 1 above. which: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun; who, which, what, that. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. not: Grk. ou, negative particle for strong denial of fact. of: Grk. ek, prep. used with the genitive case of the noun following for introducing various aspects of separation or origin, lit. "out of, from within." this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; this. fold: Grk. aulē. See verse 1 above.
The expression "other sheep" is purposely ambiguous and occurs nowhere else in Scripture. Defining "other sheep," then, relies on defining "this fold." Besides the ethnic division of Jew and Gentile we may consider "sheep" based on their relationship to Yeshua, whether disciples or non-disciples. "This fold" could also relate to religious categories of Jews, such as those identified with the Judean form of Judaism. Finally, "this fold" could have a location meaning of the Land in which Yeshua ministered in contrast to the Diaspora.
Commentators generally assert that the "other sheep" is an expression for those not within Judaism, i.e. Gentiles (Coffman, Coke, DSB, Gill, Henry, Morris, Robertson, Stern, Tenney, Wesley). Reinhartz will only go so far as to say it "may refer to Gentile followers" (179). Clarke has "Gentiles and Samaritans" and explains his reasoning as follows.
"The word, aulē, which is here translated fold, dignifies properly a court. It is probable that our blessed Lord was now standing in what was termed the inner court, or court of the people, in the temple [verse 23 below]; and that he referred to the outer court, or court of the Gentiles, because the Gentiles who were proselytes of the gate were permitted to worship in that place; but only those who were circumcised were permitted to come into the inner court, over the entrance of which were written, in large characters of gold, these words, 'Let no uncircumcised person enter here!' Our Lord therefore might at this time have pointed out to the worshippers in that court, when he spoke these words, and the people would at once perceive that he meant the Gentiles."
Stern notes that although at first Yeshua sent his disciples only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 10:5) and spoke of his own commission in the same way (Matt 15:24), this limitation applied only to his life before resurrection. Through miraculous works Yeshua included Gentiles, such as the healing of the Roman centurion's servant (Matt 8:5-13) and the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Matt 15:22-28). Stern includes the Samaritan woman with these examples, but as I've demonstrated in chapter four the Samaritans were Jews, not Gentiles. The mission to the Gentiles was confirmed by the Lord's commission for Paul to take the Good News to the nations (Acts 9:15; 13:47; 22:21) and for Peter to take the Good News to Cornelius, the Roman centurion (Acts 10:9-10).
The assumption of the "other sheep" being only Gentiles may derive from the historical perspective of Christianity, since "sheep" is never used in a figurative sense in Scripture for Gentiles. Besides, there were already Gentiles in the fold of Judaism (proselytes). Significant is that the adjective "other" is the same adjective used in 7:12, 7:41, 9:16, 10:21 and 12:29 of Jews who were not disciples but defended Yeshua. So the "other sheep" would likely have included Jews sympathetic to him, but as yet had not declared their allegiance. Yeshua could also have been speaking of the sheep of Israel that had gone astray (Isa 53:6; Jer 50:6; Matt 18:12; Luke 15:4-7; 1Pet 2:25) and prophesies that he will bring back together all the scattered sheep (cf. Ezek 34:11-17).
The Essene Jews, Hellenistic Jews, and Samaritan Jews had all rejected worship at the Jerusalem Temple and the authority of the Judean leaders. These "other sheep" would be brought into the fold of the Messiah, especially through the ministry of the apostle Paul who was commissioned to also take the Good News to all the sons of Israel (Acts 9:15; 13:16-17, 26, 47; 28:20). It behooves: Grk. dei, impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen. me to bring: Grk. agō, aor. inf., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take.
them also: pl. of Grk. kakeinos, adv. in reference to someone or something mentioned earlier in the narrative; 'also that one' or 'even that one.' and they will hear: Grk. akouō, fut. See verse 3 above. my voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 3 above. The phrase "hear my voice" means in a literal sense that sheep recognize and respond to the voice of their shepherd. Also, in Hebrew culture "hear my voice" is an idiomatic expression implying obedience. Yeshua prophesies the result of the announcement of the Good News following Pentecost and the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples who will obey everything Yeshua commanded (Matt 28:19-20).
and there will be: Grk. ginomai, fut. mid., to transfer from one state to another, with the following applications: (1) come into being by birth or natural process; (2) exist through will or effort; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. In the LXX ginomai renders Heb. hayah (SH-1961), to fall out, to come into being, become, come to pass, to be (DNTT 1:181). one: Grk. mia, fem. of heis, the cardinal number one. flock: Grk. poimnē, flock of animals, here sheep. A few versions incorrectly translate the word as "fold" (DRA, JUB, KJV), probably influenced by the Latin Vulgate.
one: Grk. heis. This is no preposition "with" that precedes "one" in the Greek text as found in many versions. shepherd: Grk. poimēn. See verse 2 above. The idea may allude to Yeshua's admonition not to call any other person, "rabbi, father or leader" (Matt 23:8-10). In other words, Yeshua is the only authority for his flock, not any human theologian or self-appointed authority. Morris notes that the Greek expressions mia poimnē and heis poimēn constitute a play on words that cannot be reproduced in English (512). In reality this unity is not a natural unity, but one for which Yeshua will later pray (John 17:11, 21-23) and ultimately accomplished by the Holy Spirit (1Cor 12:13; Eph 2:18; 4:3-4; Php 2:2).
Yeshua may be alluding to the prophecy given to Isaiah, "ADONAI Elohim, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, 'I will gather still others to him, to those already gathered'" (Isa 56:8 TLV). God had promised Jacob that He would make the great patriarch into a company of nations (Gen 35:11; 48:4). It is on the basis of this promise that the apostle Paul describes the Body of Messiah as the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12). There is no "Christianity" in the apostolic writings and divisive theological or religious quarrels among disciples of Yeshua is sharply criticized (1Cor 1:10-13; 11:17-19; 12:24-25; 2Cor 12:20; Gal 5:20; Titus 3:9). God had intended Israel to be a light to the nations so that salvation would reach to the ends of the earth (Isa 42:6; 49:6; 51:4; 60:3) with the result that there would be one people of God.
17 "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may receive it again.
For this reason: Grk. dia tauto, lit. "through this." Several versions, as the KJV, have "therefore," but Yeshua is not stating a conclusion to a logical argument. Rather, the opening phrase expresses purpose. Other versions convey the sense of purpose with "this is why" (CEB, CJB, HCSB, MSG, NET) or "for this reason" (ESV, NASB, NRSV, RSV). the Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 15 above. loves me: The verb is Grk. agapaō, pres., which means to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so. The verb occurs 36 times in the book of John, more than twice the number in any other book of the Besekh, except 1 John where it occurs 31 times.
In the LXX agapaō translates aheb, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. There are four words in Greek for love. Besides agapaō there is eros, desire or longing between a man and woman; storgē, family affection; phileō, affection of people who are close to one another, whether inside a family or out, also care and compassion, and then love of things that one enjoys. Aheb is like the English word "love" which is used to mean all these things. The verb points to both the character of God (1Jn 4:8) and the faithfulness of God to his covenant promises. This is the only place where Yeshua mentions the love of the Father for him and in 14:31 he will state his love for the Father.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, here indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. lay down: Grk. tithēmi, pres. See verse 11 above. my life: Grk. psuchē. See verse 11 above. Yeshua's statement does not deny the reality of the conspiracy of the Sanhedrin as leading to his death (verse 39 below; Matt 26:4; John 7:30; 11:47-53). In one sense Yeshua was a victim in that the apostles later charged the Sanhedrin with unlawful killing of Yeshua (Acts 2:23; 3:13-15; 4:10; 5:28; 7:52; 13:28; 1Th 2:15). However, Yeshua's life was not taken from him in the conventional sense, but he voluntarily chose to give his life as an atoning sacrifice to bring salvation to the world (Matt 26:39; John 1:14; 3:16; Rom 5:8; Php 2:6-11; Heb 10:7-10).
The liberal Jewish-Christian Bible scholar and historian Hugh Schonfield (1901-1988) in his book "The Passover Plot" (1965) posited the thesis that Yeshua had made a conscious attempt to fulfill Messianic expectations rampant in his time, and so meticulously planned and engineered his own death and "resurrection." The book alleges that Yeshua arranged to be drugged on the cross, simulating death so that he could later be safely removed from the tomb and revived. Schonfield essentially turned away from his Messianic faith and rejected the testimony of the Jewish apostles. (See the brilliant rebuttal of Schonfield's book by Gary G. Cohen.)
that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that. I may receive: Grk. lambanō, aor. act. subj. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; to take or receive. Considering the active voice of the verb the great majority of versions translate the verb as "take." A few versions have "receive" (CEV, NEB, PHILLIPS, TEV). Mace-NT (1729) has the interesting translation of "reassume." it: Grk. autos. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 7 above. The term alludes to the fact that Yeshua received physical "life" in the incarnation, so he will have physical life a second time. The Tanakh indicated that the Messiah would die and be resurrected (Ps 16:8-11; Isa 53:1-2; Acts 13:32-35) and Yeshua prophesied several times that he would be killed and then he would rise from the dead (Matt 20:19; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 14:28; Luke 9:22; 18:33).
The translation of lambanō in most versions as "take" is misleading, because the reader might assume that Yeshua raised himself. The apostles uniformly and consistently declared that God raised Yeshua from the dead (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 37; 26:8; Rom 4:24-25; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1Cor 6:14; 15:15; 2Cor 4:14; 5:15; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1Th 1:10; 2Tim 2:8). Yeshua did not raise himself. Rather Yeshua took hold of or took possession of life that was passed to him by the Father. In addition, Yeshua's resurrection is inseparable from his crucifixion. He died in order to be raised. Paul sometimes mentions the two acts together (Rom 4:5; 6:4, 9; 8:34; 1Cor 15:4; Col 2:12). As Morris observes, "The resurrection is not simply a happening that chanced to occur, but is as necessary as the crucifixion. The crucifixion led inevitably to the resurrection" (513).
18 "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down by myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. I received this command from my Father."
No one: Grk. oudeis, adj., a noun marker used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, nobody. takes: Grk. airō, pres., may mean (1) to cause to move upward; raise up, lift; or (2) move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The antecedent is psuchē or "life" in the previous verse. from: Grk. apo, prep. that variously signifies departure; forth, from, away from. me: Grk. egō. Yeshua adversaries could take his body and lift it on to a cross, but they could not take his life. Yeshua could have healed himself on the cross, so he voluntarily let go of his life.
but I lay it down: Grk. tithēmi, pres. See verse 11 above. by myself: Grk. emautou, reflexive first person pronoun; myself. I have: Grk. echō. See verse 10 above. authority: Grk. exousia, the right to speak or act in a situation without looking or waiting for approval; authority, right, jurisdiction. BAG, Mounce and Thayer identify a second meaning as ability to do something, capability, might, power, which proceeds from having authority. Some versions translate the word as "power" (ASV, CJB, CEV, KJV, MRINT, MW, NKJV, NRSV, RSV), but some have "the right" (CEB, ERV, HCSB, MSG, NCV, TEV) and others have "authority" (ESV, GW, LEB, NASB, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLT, OJB, TLV). to lay it down: Grk. tithēmi, aor. inf. and I have: Grk. echō. authority: Grk. exousia. The present tense of the verb "have" (both times) indicates that the authority was already in Yeshua's possession.
to receive it: Grk. lambanō, aor. inf. See the previous verse. again: Grk. palin, adv. See the previous verse. I received: Grk. lambanō, aor. this command: Grk. entolē, a directive for action, command, order or instruction. In the LXX entolē, occurs 244 times (46 times without a Hebrew equivalent). The noun is concentrated in the Torah, especially in Deuteronomy. In the majority of passages entolē renders Heb. mitsvah, (e.g., Ex 20:6; Ps 119:6), 159 times. A mitsvah is divine instruction intended for obedience and often associated with a good deed or charitable works with the promise of blessing for obedience. Mitsvah is derived from the verb tsava, command or charge, which is used for the instruction of a father to a son (1Sam 17:20), a farmer to his laborers (Ruth 2:9) and a king to his servants (2Sam 21:14) (TWOT 2:757).
from my Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 15 above. Only in late Jewish apocryphal writings is God called the Father of the pious Jew as an individual (Sir 23:1, 4; Tob 13:4; Wsd 2:16; 14:3; 3Macc 5:7). Even though God prophesied through Jeremiah that Israel would call God "My Father" (Jer 3:19), Yeshua is the only individual in Scripture to do so. There are 44 verses in the apostolic narratives in which Yeshua refers to the God of Israel as "My Father," more than half of which are in John. Yet, Yeshua's use of "Father" in this personal sense was predicted. God informed David,
"When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASB)
In a Messianic psalm Ethan the Ezrahite prophesied that the son of David would declare, "You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation" (Ps 89:26). Yeshua's usage of My Father, then, is perfectly in accord with prophecy.
Stern comments that on the basis of verses 17 and 18 Yeshua had the power, even in death, to resurrect himself. However, this interpretation contradicts the apostolic testimony. The first cause of resurrection is an agent who is alive. No dead person ever raised another dead person, much less himself. The idea of Yeshua's resurrection resulting from a command of the Father may seem strange, yet it was Yeshua's command that brought Lazarus from the tomb (John 11:43). Since the verb "received" is aorist tense Yeshua could be implying the command was received before creation since he was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8; cf. Heb 4:3; 1Pet 1:18-20).
19 A division arose again among the Judean authorities because of these words.
A division: Grk. schisma, something that is in parts through force, such as tearing fabric, but used here figuratively of differing viewpoints. This is the third time John speaks of division (7:43; 9:16). arose: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., i.e., came into being. See the note on verse 16 above. again: Grk. palin, adv. See the note on verse 7 above. among: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, and may be rendered "in, on, at, among, within, with, because of, or by means of" as appropriate to the context (DM 105). Here the preposition serves to specify the arena in which division arose.
the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun, translated in most versions as "Jews," is used in the book of John as a shorthand term to identify a particular group within the biological descendants of Jacob and adherents to the Judean religion. In this verse John uses the term as he does frequently in the Book for those in positions of power in Judea, namely members of the Sanhedrin. John reported on the division among the leaders in the previous chapter over the matter of the healing of the man born blind. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19.
because of: Grk. dia, prep. The root meaning of dia is two, but in composition it normally means through or between (DM 101). With the accusative case of the noun following the meaning is "because of" signifying a causal function. these words: pl. of Grk. logos, vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar (SH-1697), which has a similar range of meaning: saying, speech, word, message, report, tidings, discourse, story, command, advice, counsel, promise, thing, or matter, whether of men or God (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). John alludes to the parabolic teaching of Yeshua immediately preceding.
20 And many of them were saying, "He has a demon, and is raving! Why are you listening to him?"
And: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. many: Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here as an adj. indicating a high degree in number. of them: i.e., the Judean authorities. The number likely included all the chief priests, some 15 to 20 persons, plus a large number of the Pharisee elders. were saying: Grk. legō, impf. See the note on verse 1 above. He has: Grk. echō. See the note on verse 10 above. a demon: Grk. daimonion refers to a deity or transcendent being of lesser or subordinate rank. In the Besekh the term only has a negative connotation of an evil spirit hostile toward man and God. Daimonion was historically derived from daiomai, to divide or apportion and may be connected with the idea of the god of the dead as a divider of corpses (DNTT 1:450). The terms "demon" and "unclean spirit" are essentially synonymous in Scripture (Luke 9:42). Neither term refers to a ghost or a spirit of a dead person.
Demons are subordinate to Satan and are his angels (Mark 3:22-23) and while active in the world, they are destined for judgment (Matt 8:29; 25:41). Worship in false religions brings people into contact with demons that are the true reality behind the pagan deities (Lev 17:7; Deut 32:17; 2Chr 11:15; Ps 106:37; 1Cor 10:20f; Rev 9:20). In the LXX daimonion occurs only in Isaiah 34:14 for Heb. sa'iyr (SH-8163, 'satyr, demon,') and in Isa 65:11 for Heb. gad (SH-1409, 'fortune, or 'god of fortune'). The related term daimōn ('demon') occurs in Isaiah 13:21 for Heb. sa'iyr. The Tanakh has two other words for evil spirits: Heb. shedim (SH-7700, "demons" Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37), and lilith (SH-3917, 'female night demon,' Isa 34:14). Scripture is silent on the origin of demons, but they are likely the angels who followed Satan and were cast down to earth (Rev 12:9; cf. Jude 1:6).
Demons might be considered the foot soldiers in Satan's army. According to the cases reported in the apostolic narratives they have the power to cause great harm. Jewish scribes were steeped in belief in demons and had many names for them, such as powerful ones, harmers, destroyers, attackers, satyrs, and evil spirits. According to Jewish belief in the first century demons ascend from beneath the earth (cf. 1Sam 28:13) and fill the world. They have access to heaven, and though they belong to Satan's kingdom, God gives them authority to inflict punishments on sinners. Their power began in the time of Enosh (Gen 4:26), but will end in the days of the Messiah. Their main goal is to lead men into sin. They are the cause of some, but not all diseases, and they can also kill (DNTT 1:451). The criticism of Yeshua's adversary misstates reality because in demon-possession the demon "has" the person.
One might want to temper the harsh slander on the basis that Jewish leaders often hurled epithets against those who did not agree with their traditions or teaching. It was common for the School of Hillel to refer to the School of Shammai as "the synagogue of Satan" (Moseley 96). Gruber notes the Talmudic anecdote of R. Dosa b. Harkinas of Beit Hillel, who called his younger brother of Beit Shammai, "the first-born of Satan" (Yebamot 16a) (MW-Notes 158). However, this is not the first time this slander has been hurled at Yeshua (also in John 7:20). The anecdote repeats the occasions in the Synoptic passages in which some Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem accused Yeshua of having a demon and casting out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of demons (Matt 9:34; 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15). Ironically, these same people also accused Yochanan the Immerser of "having" a demon (Matt 11:18; Luke 7:33).
and is raving: Grk. mainomai, pres. mid., utter in a manner suggesting derangement; to rave, be delirious. BAG has "be out of one's mind and as a result has no control over oneself. Mounce has "be disordered in mind." The word is a verb describing behavior, but many versions translate it as an adjective describing an attribute, such as "is mad," "is insane," "is out of his mind," or "is crazy." The Complete Jewish Bible and the Orthodox Jewish Bible have meshuggah, the Hebrew and Yiddish equivalent of Greek mainomai, often used colloquially, as here, to discredit the content of what someone says because of the person’s supposedly irresponsible condition.
Why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. are you listening: Grk. akouō, pres. See verse 3 above. "Listening" implies giving credence to. to him: According to Jewish tradition people were not to listen to one possessed by a demon (Rienecker). If these leaders truly believed Yeshua was demon-possessed they could have called on exorcists to deliver him (cf. Acts 19:13). And, if Yeshua was truly insane the leaders should have just ignored him. If Yeshua wasn't the Messiah and Son of God, then he had to be insane, and insanity was not a punishable offense under the Torah. The critics are simply resorting to vile slander in an attempt to discredit his message while ignoring its application to them.
21 Others said, "These are not the words of one demonized. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
Others: Grk. allos, adj. See the note on verse 16 above. Significant is that this is the same adjective used in 7:12, 7:41, 9:16 and 12:29 of people who were not disciples but defended Yeshua, as well in verse 16 above to speak of "other sheep." said: Grk. legō, impf. See the note on verse 1 above. These: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, this. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. not: Grk. ou, negative particle. See the note on verse 5 above. the words: pl. of Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In secular Greek works rhēma referred to a statement, discourse or explanation. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch and prophetic writings for the Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing." Thus, rhēma, standing for dabar, can mean both (a) a word or vocalized utterance as well as (b) a matter, event, or case in the sense of the result of things said or done (DNTT 3:1119f). The reference to "these words" is to the teaching contained above in verses 9:39—10:18.
of one demonized: Grk. daimonizomai, pres. mid. part., to experience inward control by a hostile spirit. BAG and Mounce define the verb as possessed by a demon. The verb occurs 13 times, only in the apostolic histories of Yeshua's ministry and only here in the book of John. The demon's control over a person is emphasized in various stories by Yeshua's command to "come out" (Mark 1:25; 5:8) or the description of "casting out" (Mark 1:34). HELPS suggests the verb properly means "demonized," since the demon not only makes the person an abode but terrorizes or afflicts the person in a variety of cruel ways. Afflictions caused by demons included severe diseases, either bodily or mental (such as paralysis, blindness, deafness, loss of speech, epilepsy, melancholy, insanity, etc.). However, in the histories of Yeshua's ministry daimonizomai is not an idiom for a psychiatric disorder. There were many cases of these same diseases healed by Yeshua that were not caused by a demon. For the symptoms of extreme demon affliction see my commentary on Mark 5:1-13).
Can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able. a demon: Grk. daimonion. See the previous verse. open: Grk. anoigō, aor. inf., to open, used of doors and objects. The verb is used in a figurative sense of restoring sight. the eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; eyes. of the blind: Grk. tuphlos, adj., inability to see; blind. The rhetorical question refers back to the healing in chapter nine of the man born blind and the division between the Judean leaders over the matter. Questioning a demon's ability is an appeal to historical evidence similar to the former blind man's statement in 9:32. The two angels God sent to Sodom struck residents with sudden blindness (Gen 19:11) and God revealed to Moses that He causes blindness (Ex 4:11). Elisha also caused blindness in his enemies at the command of God (2Kgs 6:18). But demons? There is no evidence that they can cause blindness.
The many mentions of demon-possessed people in the apostolic narratives indicate a Satanic invasion coincidental with the revelation of the Messiah. In these stories Yeshua never blames the individual for being afflicted with a demon. They were victims, not offenders. There is NO evidence that the demonic oppression resulted from personal misconduct. The demonic activity was unprecedented in Israelite history, and the evidence indicates that the victims were random targets. Many scholars attribute the accounts of demons to ancient superstition and it is true that ancient people attributed some misfortune and suffering to unseen spirits. After all, they had the story of Job and a few other accounts in the Tanakh of adversarial spirit activity (Jdg 9:23; 1Sam 16:14-16, 23; 18:10; 19:9; 1Kgs 22:21-24). However, the apostles clearly present all the stories of demon-afflicted people as true life accounts. Yeshua did not cast out superstitions, but actual demons.
According to Scripture the disciple of Yeshua has three basic enemies: the world (Jas 4:4; 1Jn 2:16), the flesh (human weakness and desire, Matt 26:41; Jas 1:14) and the devil (1Pet 5:8). Demon possession is still a reality, though some people want to deny their existence. Conversely, some people are too quick to blame demons for behavioral or psychological maladies. Satan does get the blame for many problems that are simply the result of human desires and weaknesses. Don't forget that even though Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the Serpent, God held the couple accountable for their choices. Unfortunately, the Serpent is still working to destroy God's people and to hinder the work of God around the world. For guidance for ministering to those struggling with spiritual battles see my web article Victory in Spiritual Warfare.
The Festival of Dedication: Grk. enkainia, a renewal, dedication; the feast of rededication, a descriptive title for the Festival of Hanukkah. The name of the festival comes from the Hebrew word Chanukkah (SH-2598), which means dedication or consecration. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. There is no mention of Hanukkah in the Tanakh and thus no Torah instruction concerning its celebration. The story of Hanukkah, along with its laws and customs, is entirely missing in the Mishnah, apart from several passing references: Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh Hashanah 1:3, Ta'anit 2:10, Sukkah 46a; Megillah 4:5, 4:6; 3b, 29b, 30b, and 31a, Moed Katan 3:7, 27b; and Bava Kama 6:8. The requirement to keep the festival of Hanukkah came by priestly declaration after defeat of the Syrian forces of Antiochus Epiphanes (c. 215-164 B.C.).
The festival commemorates the purification and restoration of the temple by the Maccabees in 165 B.C. (1Macc. 4:36-59; 2Macc. 10:1-9). The celebration of Hanukkah was patterned after Sukkot which had not been observed after the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. In the first century the festival was called "Lights," but not because of the later Talmudic story (probably invented) of the menorah miracle (Shab. 21b). Josephus says, "I suppose the reason [for the name] was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival" (Ant. XII, 7:7).
took place: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid.; to come into being. See verse 16 above. The verb emphasizes the state of existence of the festival. at that time: Grk. tote, demonstrative temporal adv., which may be used of a time that is later or past; then; or which may focus on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. Hanukkah is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, and normally occurring in the month of December. In A.D. 29 (Heb. Cal. 3790) this day was Monday, December 19, on the Roman calendar. Hanukkah is significant because without the Maccabean victory there would have been no Jewish people, thus no Messiah and no salvation.
in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 19 above. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim, which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). What a precious name is Jerusalem! The city is situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea, is renowned as the capital of all Israel, afterwards of the Kingdom of Judah and the seat of central worship in the temple. The name of God’s holy city occurs 13 times in this Book. At the time of the Exodus the city was inhabited by the Jebusites (Josh 15:8), but then captured by the tribe of Judah (Jdg 1:8).
The city was first named in connection with David (1Sam 17:54). Later the city was taken possession of by David as King (2Sam 5:6) and became known as the City of David. By the end of David's reign the city had expanded to cover seven mountains: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Neil 289). Jeremias estimated the resident population of the city in the time of Yochanan the Immerser at about twenty-five to thirty thousand (252). For the faithful Jew the city of Jerusalem represented all that was dear in the covenant relationship with God. David spoke of the importance of Jerusalem along with his heartfelt prayer for the city.
"Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem— 3 Jerusalem, built as a city joined together. 4 There the tribes go up, the tribes of ADONAI —as a testimony to Israel— to praise the Name of ADONAI. 5 For there thrones for judgment are set up, the thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem— May those who love you be at peace! 7 May there be shalom within your walls— quietness within your palaces. 8 For the sake of my brothers and friends, I now say: 'Shalom be within you.' 9 For the sake of the House of ADONAI our God, I will seek your good." (Ps 122:2-9 TLV)
Another psalmist expressed his affection thus,
"If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I cease to remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my chief joy." (Ps 137:5-6 TLV).
The festival of Hanukkah was not a pilgrim festival and not regulated by the Sanhedrin, but was nevertheless observed in the Temple in Jerusalem at that time. Family celebrations of Hanukkah in individual homes did not commence until after the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 ("Hanukkah," HBD).
it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 7 above. winter: Grk. cheimōn, stormy weather or winter as a season. In the LXX of the Tanakh cheimōn occurs only three times to render Heb. geshem (SH-1653), a period of rain (Ezra 10:9; Job 37:6; SS 2:11). The first mention of seasons in the Bible is Genesis 8:22, "seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter" (NASB). Seasons were not determined astronomically but agriculturally. The harvesting seasons were Nisan (April) for barley, Sivan (June) for wheat, and Tishri (September) for fruits. Although there are words translated as "Spring" and "Autumn" in the Bible, as well as the Apocrypha (e.g., 4Ezra 7:41), the land of Israel only knew two real seasons, "days of sunshine" and "days of rain." Winter was the time for rain, sometimes a lot of rain.
The "first rains and the latter rains" were of great importance and significant blessing (Lev 26:3-5; Deut 11:13-14). The first (autumn) rains began in the middle of November (Heshvan, or Kislev) (Deut 11:14, Jer 5:24). These were succeeded by the heavy and continuous winter rains, and, finally, by the spring showers in the month of Nisan (Joel 2:23; Ta'anit 6a).
23 and Yeshua was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.
and Yeshua: The One whose name means salvation, the Messiah and King of the Jews. See the note on verse 6 above. was walking: Grk. peripateō, impf., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk; fig. to engage in a course of behavior. In the LXX peripateō is found in only 33 passages, of which more than half come from Wisdom literature, and renders Heb. halak (to go, come or walk), which is used fig. of how one conducts oneself in life (cf. Deut 30:16; 1Kgs 11:38; Ps 1:1; 15:2) (DNTT 3:943). in the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary, temple. When used of the temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire temple complex with all its courts in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary proper where priests offered sacrifices. For a description of the temple complex and its construction see my comment on Mark 11:11. See an illustration here.
in the portico: Grk. stoa, an ambulatory consisting of a roof supported by columns placed at regular intervals, portico. Some versions have "porch," which is misleading since a porch is strictly an exterior structure forming a covered approach to the entrance of a building. of Solomon: Grk. Solomōn, a transliteration of Heb. Shelômôh ("His peace"), the tenth son of David and the second son of Bathsheba (2Sam 12:24). He succeeded David to the throne and reigned forty years about 1000 B.C. Solomon is remembered most for his wisdom, his extensive building program, his immense wealth generated through trade and his many wives. Solomon was credited with composing 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs (1Kgs 4:32). Three books in the Tanakh are attributed to him: Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes, as well as Psalm 72 and 127. His wisdom was even sought out by the visit of the Queen of Sheba (1Kgs 10:1).
The grand temple constructed in Jerusalem was based on plans by his father David (1Kgs 6:38; 1Chr 28:11-18), who told Solomon that the plans came from ADONAI (1Chr 28:19). The construction of the temple is detailed in 1Kings 5—8. David had wanted to build a temple for ADONAI but God revealed that his son would be the one to have that honor (2Sam 7:13; 1Kgs 8:17-20; Acts 7:46-47). The portico of Solomon originally provided a border for the temple complex. At the time Herod rebuilt the temple only the eastern wall of that border still stood. Josephus makes mention of the colonnaded area, which he calls a "cloister."
"Now this temple, as I have already said, was built upon a strong hill. At first the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the altar, for the ground about it was very uneven, and like a precipice; but when king Solomon, who was the person that built the temple, had built a wall to it on its east side, there was then added one cloister founded on a bank cast up for it, and on the other parts the holy house stood naked." (Wars V, 5:1)
"This hill was walled all round, and in compass four furlongs, [the distance of] each angle containing in length a furlong: but within this wall, and on the very top of all, there ran another wall of stone also, having, on the east quarter, a double cloister, of the same length with the wall; in the midst of which was the temple itself. This cloister looked to the gates of the temple; and it had been adorned by many kings in former times; and round about the entire temple were fixed the spoils taken from barbarous nations; all these had been dedicated to the temple by Herod, with the addition of those he had taken from the Arabians.” (Ant. XV, 11:3;)
Herod had the portico incorporated into the redesign of the temple. It is mentioned again in Acts 3:11; 5:12, and apparently was the place where the scribes normally held their schools (Morris). In one respect the choice to walk in the portico of Solomon during Hanukkah was a divine appointment and an acted out parable. Yeshua is walking in a structure built by Solomon based on plans prepared by David who received them from ADONAI who is Yeshua (John 8:58). A year previously scribes and Pharisees had demanded a sign from Yeshua. He told them the only sign they would receive was the sign of Jonah. He went on to tell them,
"The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here" (Matt 12:42 NASB).
John's narrative also informs us that Yeshua observed Hanukkah in accordance with Jewish law and custom, even though it is not mandated by the Torah. In terms of the New Covenant, Hanukkah represents the light of Messiah burning brightly in our hearts. It is fitting for believers to honor Messiah with thanksgiving for deliverance from sin and dedicating our lives anew to the Lord. Christians could reclaim the spiritual meaning of Christmas by celebrating Hanukkah instead of the national holiday, which has been completely secularized in modern culture.
24 Then the Judean authorities surrounded him and said to him, "Until when will you hold our soul? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."
Then: Grk. oun, an inferential conj. See verse 7 above. the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 19 above. The delegation probably consisted of chief priests and Pharisees. surrounded: Grk. kukloō, aor., to adopt a position that is around; surround, encircle. and said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 1 above. Until: Grk. heōs, prep., a temporal marker of limitation, here of time; till, until, as far as. when: Grk. pote, conj., a disjunctive particle related to time; when, at what time. The combination of heōs pote = "how long?" will you hold: Grk. airō, lit. "to raise or lift." See verse 18 above.
our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. personal pronoun. soul: Grk. psuchē. See verse 11 above. The verbal question is idiomatic of "how long will you keep raising our expectations without satisfaction." A number of versions translate the question as "how long will you keep us in suspense" (CJB, ESV, GW, HCSB, NASB, NET, NIV, NLT TEV). MIRNT takes a different approach with the question phrased as "How much longer will you provoke us to anger?" but this seems hardly appropriate. In any event, the question does not reflect sincere seeking, but is designed to manipulate him into saying something with which to charge him.
If: Grk. ei, a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. you are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. the Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word.
The title Mashiach means 'anointed one' or 'poured on.' Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term among Jews in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. For an expanded discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1.
tell: Grk. legō. us plainly: Grk. parrēsia, may mean (1) of plain and direct speech; plain speech or adverbially 'plainly, openly;' (2) freeness in speech, as opposed to being under constraint to watch one's words; straightforwardness, candor, unguardedness; or (3) openness to the public, here of seeking to be in the public eye for recognition. This is the same word that Yeshua's brothers used before Sukkot to urge a public declaration (John 7:4). Yeshua could have replied, "I’m here in the temple on Hanukkah. What does that tell you? You should cleanse your altars and dedicate the temple of your life to Me."
25 Yeshua answered them, "I told you, and you are not trusting. The works that I do in the name of my Father, these testify about me.
I told you: In one respect Yeshua had told them plainly many times. They just weren't listening. and you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The identification takes in the entire group to whom Yeshua is speaking. are not: Grk. ou, particle of strong negation. trusting: Grk. pisteuō, pres., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. The Hebrew concept of believing is not an intellectual agreement with a philosophical proposition or a formal creed.
A verb describes action of the person and the present tense stresses a continuing attitude and behavior. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman (SH-539), which means to confirm or support, as well as to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). In the Hebrew concept believing, trusting and being faithful are inseparable (cf. Matt 7:21; Heb 11:6). Again Yeshua accused his adversaries of unbelief as he had on previous occasions (John 5:38, 47; 6:36; 8:45), a serious character flaw in ancient Israel (Rom 3:2-3; 11:20; Heb 3:11-19).
The works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed. In John's narrative "works" is a major theme with the word occurring 25 times, often on the lips of Yeshua, and referring either to evil actions of men, good actions of men or the missional actions of God and Yeshua in the form of revelation, miracles, signs, and sacrifice, the ultimate good works.
that I do: Grk. poieō, pres., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. Both meanings can have application to the signs and miracles that Yeshua performed. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. Poieō also renders the special word bara (SH-1254), 'shape, fashion, create,' used of God's creative deeds (first in Gen 1:1).
in the name: Grk. onoma. See the note on verse 3 above. In Hebrew literature it carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. Doing something "in the name" implies authority or permission for the action and representative of the one giving authority. of my Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 18 above. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, this. testify: Grk. martureō, pres., to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. The verb points not to relating opinion or hearsay, but what is objective truth. about me: i.e., about Yeshua's identity as Messiah and Son of God.
26 "But you are not trusting, because you are not of my sheep.
But: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 5 above. you are not trusting: Grk. pisteuō, pres. Yeshua repeats the clause verbatim from the previous verse. because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 17 above. you are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. not of: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 16 above. my: Grk. emos, possessive pronoun of the first person, my, mine. See verse 14 above. The pronoun denotes ownership. sheep: pl. of Grk. probaton. See the note on verse 1 above. Yeshua defines "my sheep" by alluding to his statement in verse 14 above that his sheep know him and then in this verse he adds the element of trusting faithfulness. Since these Pharisees are not "my sheep" they have the potential of becoming "other sheep." The mention of "my sheep" also alludes to the Maccabees who chose to be faithful to the God of Israel and reject the Hellenistic syncretism imposed by the Syrians.
27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
My: Grk. emos, possessive pron. of the first person. sheep: Grk. probaton. See verse 1 above. Yeshua refers to the flock belonging to the Messiah. hear: Grk. akouō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 3 above. The present tense denotes continual activity. The verb describes the collective activity of the flock. my: Grk. egō, pron. of the first person, used here for emphasis. voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 3 above. The noun is fig. here of Yeshua's communication via his teaching. and I: Grk. kagō. See verse 15 above. know: Grk. ginōskō, pres. See verse 6 above. them: pl. of Grk. auto, neut. pers. pron. and: Grk. kai, conj. they follow: Grk. akoloutheō, pres. See verse 4 above. me: Grk. egō. Yeshua repeats and conflates previous statements above to summarize the three-fold character of "my sheep" — they hear, they listen, they know and they obey by following.
28 "and I give them eternal life, and by no means they should perish into the age, and never will anyone snatch them out of my hand.
and I: Grk. kagō. See verse 15 above. give: Grk. didōmi, pres., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). The third circumstance applies here. A gift by nature means something unearned. Giving is not the same as paying wages. Yeshua does not give because he owes anyone. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun of the third person, i.e., "his sheep." It's noteworthy that Yeshua possesses the authority to give the goal of salvation.
eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj., can mean (1) relating to a period of time extending far into the past; long ages ago; (2) relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal; or (3) relating to a period of unending duration; permanent, lasting. In the LXX aiōnios occurs about 150 times to render Heb. olam, "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time," the first being in Genesis 9:12 (DNTT 3:827). In the Tanakh olam is used for ancient time (Gen 49:26), and indefinite futurity, which may equate to a man's lifetime (Deut 15:17), but more often to the everlasting nature of God (Gen 21:33), His laws (Ps 119:89), His promises (Isa 40:8) and His covenant (Gen 9:16; 17:7; Ex 31:16; 2Sam 23:5). Lastly, olam encompasses existence after death and into eternity (Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 12:2-3).
life: Grk. zōē, alive in contrast with being dead. "Eternal life" is the ultimate prize and the quality of life manifested in glory, honor and immortality. Both the Pharisees and Essenes embraced the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and resurrection (Josephus, Wars II, 8:11, 14). Reward and punishment would begin after death and the souls of the righteous would enter heavenly blessedness, while the souls of the ungodly are punished in Hadēs in the depths of the earth. This separation is clearly presented in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22-26). Eternal life, however, is not just eternal existence, but sharing in the life of God. For that reason Yeshua taught that the abundant life, the best kind of life possible, begins now (Matt 10:39; John 6:35, 63; 10:10). It doesn't wait until after one dies.
This giving could refer to resurrection life on the last day or the spiritual life that is made possible by Yeshua's atoning death, perhaps both. and: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. by no means: Grk. ou mē, a combination of negative particles to strongly contradict a supposition. they should perish: Grk. apollumi, aor. mid. subj. See verse 10 above. Interpreters should give attention to the fact that the verb is in the subjunctive mood, which is the mood of mild contingency or probability. The subjunctive looks toward what is conceivable or potential. into: Grk. eis, prep., focus on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, toward.
the age: Grk. aiōn may mean (1) a long period of time and in reference to the future a period with no apparent end; eternity; or (2) a segment of extended time determined by qualifiers as present or future; age. The prepositional phrase "into the age" means the age to come, the Messianic Age. The great majority of Bible versions resort to a less literal translation of the clause as "they will never [perish, die, be lost]." A few versions include a translation of aiōn. The AMP has "they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages." GNC has "To all eternity they shall not perish." Marshall has" by no means they perish unto the age." The LITV has "they shall never perish to the age" and YLT has "they shall not perish to the age." In the LXX aiōn occurs over 450 times and also renders Heb. olam, first in Genesis 3:22.
and: Grk. kai. never: Grk. ou, a particle o strong negation. will anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, someone, anyone. snatch: Grk. harpazō, fut. See verse 12 above. Yeshua alludes back his description of a wolf snatching sheep, so the potential snatching is done by an enemy. Of interest is that Paul uses this verb to describe the Rapture (1Th 4:17). them out of: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 16 above. my hand: Grk. cheir, the limb of the hand, used fig. of authority or control. By extension "my hand" could also be a euphemism for "my flock." Since Yeshua is ADONAI (John 8:58), then the expression of "my hand" may allude the Hebraic anthropomorphism "hand of ADONAI," denoting omnipotent power and divine inspiration, a frequent expression in the Tanakh (Ex 9:3; Deut 2:15; Josh 4:24; 1Sam 5:6; 1Kgs 18:46; Job 12:9; Ps 118:15-16; Isa 41:20; Ezek 1:3). Sometimes he is referred to as the "right hand" of God (Ps 18:35; 20:6; 48:10; 60:5; 63:8; 77:10; 78:54; 89:13; Isa 41:10; 48:13; 62:8).
Many Christians treat this verse as a proof-text of eternal security, once saved always saved, although Yeshua does not actually say this. Elements of this verse would actually argue against such an assumption. First, the subjunctive mood of "perish" expresses what should happen, not what will happen. As Peter says, God does not want any to perish (2Pet 3:9), but the reality is that many will perish. We only need to consider the history of Israel. They were given a covenant with precious guarantees, but rebellion resulted in being cut off from the favor of God. Second, the absolute guarantee of never perishing results from entrance into the Messianic age, not from being born again in the present age. Anything can happen before then. He that "endures to the end" will be saved (Matt 10:22; 24:13). Third, Yeshua only keeps sheep in his hand. What if one of the sheep decides to change into a goat? We know what happens to them (Matt 25:31-33, 41).
29 "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the hand of the Father.
My Father: See verse 18 above. who has given: Grk. didōmi, perf. See the previous verse. them to me, is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. greater: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great. than all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 4 above. No one: Grk. oudeis, adj., a powerful negating word that rules out by definition, and leaves no exceptions. is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See verse 21 above. to snatch: Grk. harpazō, pres. inf. See the previous verse. them out of: Grk. ek. the hand: Grk. cheir. See the previous verse. of the Father: "the hand of the Father" is an Hebraic anthropomorphism denoting divine power, inspiration and provision, corresponding to "the hand of God" in the Tanakh (1Sam 5:11; 2Ch 30:12; Job 19:21; Eccl 2:24; 9:1). Yeshua's reference to "his hand" (verse 28) is also the Father's hand. This promise alludes to the Hanukkah story in that nothing can threaten the security of Yeshua's followers as the Syrians threatened the existence of Israel.
I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. and the Father: Grk. patēr. See the note on verse 15 above. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. one: Grk. heis, adj., the cardinal number one, with these uses: (1) in contrast with more than one; (2) emphatically, one and the same; (3) someone, equivalent to a personal pronoun; or (4) first in a series, as days of the week (BAG). The second usage applies here. In the LXX heis renders Heb. echad (SH-259), which has the same applications. The Hebrew concept emphasizes singularity and uniqueness. Nevertheless, echad also conveys compound unity. "One flesh" is the joining of male and female bodies (Gen 2:24). When Israelites acted in unity they were described as echad (Jdg 20:8; 2Sam 11:7). There is also the echad of a cluster of grapes (Num 13:23). Thus, echad incorporates the idea of a plurality in unity.
Yeshua's simple statement describes a profound mystery. Stern comments that Yeshua echoes the Shema: "Sh'ma, Yisra'el! ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad [Hear, Israel! ADONAI, our God, ADONAI is One]" (Deut 6:4 CJB). Tenney notes that "I and the Father" preserves their separate individuality while the neuter "one" asserts unity of nature or equality. Paul employs a similar description when he says "he who plants and he who waters are one" (1Cor 3:8 NASB). The mystery is compounded when we consider the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah that describe the expected son as Father and ADONAI (Heb. YHVH, who is Yeshua, John 8:58) as Father:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6 HNV)
"For You are our Father— even if Abraham would not know us or Israel not recognize us. You, ADONAI, are our Father, our Redeemer— from everlasting is Your Name." (Isa 63:16 TLV)
Yeshua did not teach that he was a separate god from the Father, but that their unity makes them inseparable. In fact, God is called "The One" periodically in the Tanakh (e.g. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 44:24; 45:7; 49:7; Hos 11:7; Amos 9:5-6; Zech 14:9). The Jewish apostles also employ this euphemism (John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 12:45; 15:21; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6; Jas 5:20). However, God's oneness does not deny His many "faces" and indeed the Tanakh reveals God to be complex whose nature is beyond human comprehension. Thus, Isaiah can speak of "The One" as God and yet not the Father, The One who would be despised (Isa 49:7). The enigma remains, though, of how God can be one and yet be Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Doesn’t that make God three beings?
Nowhere do Yeshua and the apostles say that God is three. The Hebrew echad does mean singularity and uniqueness. When applied to God echad means that the God of Israel is the only God there is (Isa 45:5). The gods of other religions are the result of Satan's deception and man's imagination. And, as such He alone is to be worshipped. Nevertheless, echad also conveys compound unity. The Torah says there is "one" statute for the Israelite and for the alien (Num 15:15), which means all the commandments God gave to Israel function as a unity. When Israelites acted in unity they were described as echad (Jdg 20:8; 2Sam 11:7). There are many other such examples in the Tanakh. Thus, echad incorporates the idea of a plurality in unity, and in reference to God a very complex unity.
In Genesis 1:1 Elohim ("God," plural of El) created the heavens and the earth. Elohim is a plural noun and the very nature of the universe attests to plurality in the Creator. The universe is a compound unity of time, space, and matter, each of which also consist of three parts. Time has three principal aspects: past, present, and future, all at the same time. Space has three basic dimensions or directions: north-south, east-west, and up-down. Nothing exists in one or two dimensions. Matter consists of energy, motion and phenomena at the same time. (For a detailed explanation of the triunity of the universe see Dr. Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Ch. 2.) However, time, space and matter can all be divided into sub-categories, illustrating that their nature is just as complex as the Creator.
A mathematical equation that represents the nature of God is not 1+1+1=1, but 1x1x1=1. (In this multiplication formula inserting more "ones" does not change the result.) Such is the mystery of God. In Genesis 1:26 the Creator says, "Let us make man in our image,” and man is also a plurality in unity (body, soul & spirit), as mentioned in the very next verse after the one in which God is declared to be one (Deut 6:5; cf. 1Th 5:23). As indicated above God has revealed Himself with more than one "face" in Scripture. Genesis 1:2 mentions the Ruakh (Spirit) of Elohim as moving over the ball of water that would become the earth. Three men visited Abraham, shared a meal and conversed, and one of them is identified as YHVH (Gen 18:1-14, 17).
Jacob wrestled with a man he called Elohim (Gen 32:30). Isaiah 48:16 uses three different terms to speak of the divine: "From the first I have not spoken in secret, from the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord [Heb. Adonai] GOD [Heb. YHVH] has sent Me, and His Spirit [Heb. Ruakh]" (NASB). Yeshua will later say in his high priestly prayer, "You, Father, are in me and I in You" (John 17:21). So, Yeshua in typical Jewish manner emphasizes the mystery of the echad or oneness of the God of Israel who is compound in nature.
31 Therefore the Judean authorities took up stones again to stone him.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 7 above. the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 19 above. took up: Grk. bastazō, aor., may mean (1) to take up something from a position, lift with the hands; (2) sustain a burden, bear, carry; or (3) remove from a position, carry away. The first or second meanings could apply and Bible versions reflect these two choices. As Tenney points out its not likely that there were any loose stones in the paved courtyard of Solomon's Colonnade that could have been picked up. However, not far off the temple was still under construction, so they could have retrieved stones without difficulty.
stones: pl. of Grk. lithos was a generic word for stone of various types, whether construction materials, millstones, grave stones, precious stones, tablets or small rocks. again: Grk. palin. See verse 7 above. The described action also took place in 8:59. to stone him: Grk. lithazō, aor. subj., to inflict harm or punishment by hitting with stones. The first mention of stoning in the Bible is in reference to the Egyptians (Ex 8:26). Moses worried that the Israelites would stone him in their discontent (Ex 17:4), but the first stoning among the Israelites was of a man who violated the Sabbath (Num 15:32-36). The preferred means of execution in the Torah was stoning (Ex 21:28; Lev 20:27; 24:14, 16, 23; Num 15:35; Deut 13:10; 17:5; 21:21; 22:21, 24), but some cases warranted shooting with arrows (Ex 19:13), burning (Lev 20:14) and hanging (Deut 21:22).
The Mishnah specified four modes of capital punishment: stoning, burning, slaying with the sword and strangulation (Sanh. 7:1). Stoning was the punishment prescribed for blasphemy in the Torah (Lev 24:16), and the opponents of Yeshua were preparing for just such an execution. Many modern people consider capital punishment to be cruel, but God does not. Banishing capital punishment, especially for murder, only promotes injustice. See my web article The Biblical Basis for the Death Penalty.
32 Yeshua answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of those works do you stone me?"
Yeshua: See verse 6 above. answered them: The verb is Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772).
I have shown: Grk. deiknumi, aor., may mean to show (1) so as to be observed by another, point out, make known; or (2) or so as to be understood by another, explain, demonstrate. you many good: Grk. kalos, meeting a high standard, fine or good. works: pl. of Grk. ergon. See verse 25 above. Yeshua probably refers to his signs and miracles, although his teaching about the intent of Torah commandments would qualify as a good work. from the Father: See verse 15 above. For which of those works do you stone me: Grk. lithazō, pres. See the previous verse. The present tense of the verb means "preparing to stone." The question could be considered as baiting his opponents.
33 The Judean authorities answered him, "We do not stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself a god."
The Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 19 above. answered him: The verb is Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See the previous verse. We do not stone: Grk. lithazō, pres. See verse 31 above. you for a good work: See the previous verse. but for blasphemy: Grk. blasphēmia means slander, defamation, blasphemy or abusive speech, and in the Besekh is sometimes directed at men and sometimes at God. The Talmud lists refraining from blasphemy as one of the seven commandments given to Noah so that it was binding on all mankind (Sanh. 56a). In Leviticus 24:15 blasphemy is defined as "cursing" God, that is, treating His name with contempt or dishonor.
Speech is considered blasphemy when it is against transcendent powers. The Mishnah says of blasphemy against God that it was only considered an offence if the divine name of God was uttered at the same time (Sanh. 7:7; Makk. 3:15; Ker. 1:1). Stoning is the penalty for blasphemy (Lev 24:16; Sanh. 7:5). because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, here indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. you, being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 7 above. a man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5; 1Sam 15:29); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24; Job 1:1) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564).
make: Grk. poieō, pres. See verse 25 above. The verb is used her in the sense of 'regard,' 'consider' or 'assume.' yourself: Grk. seautou, reflexive pronoun of the second person. a god: Grk. theos, without the definite article. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and certainly not spirit as described in Scripture (John 4:24). In the LXX theos primarily renders the general names of God: El, Eloah and Elohim, but also YHVH (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos. The only God in existence is the God who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9).
However, theos is also used in the LXX to translate Heb. Eloah-Elohim over 250 times for deities represented by idols (e.g., Gen 31:30; Ex 12:12; 32:8; 2Kgs 1:3). Only two versions translate the noun here as "a god" (Mace-NT and NEB). The Judean authorities state the problem as unbelieving Jews have expressed it throughout history. Speaking in Hebrew they likely used Eloah, but they could not in their wildest imagination have meant "you make yourself the Creator of the Universe." Rather, their proposition is one of equivalency, because they preface the statement with "you are only a man." In so doing the historical record affirms that Yeshua was indeed fully human, which rebuts the heresy of Docetism embraced by Gnostics in later centuries. Reinhartz, an unbelieving Jewish scholar says,
"It is difficult to know, however, what exactly constituted blasphemy in the late first century. The context suggests, however, that Jesus' utterances, here, and elsewhere (e.g., 5:17) are seen by the Johannine Jews as a violation of monotheism, that is, of the fundamental belief in the one, unique God of Israel." (179)
The adversaries may have justified to themselves that that the Mishnah standard was satisfied by Yeshua saying the prohibited "I am" (Heb. ani-hu, John 8:58), plus identifying himself with Daniel's heavenly Son of Man (Mashiach ben Ananim, "son of the clouds," Sanh. 96b; John 5:27; 6:27, 53; 8:28; 9:35). However, their actions to stone Yeshua without trial would transgress the Torah. Moreover, why bring up a charge of blasphemy when they called him insane (verse 20 above)? Why take a lunatic seriously?
34 Yeshua answered them, "Is not it written in your Torah, 'I said, you are Elohim?'
Yeshua answered them: See verse 32 above. Is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. not: Grk. ou, negative particle. it written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. The phrase "it is written" is the standard formula in the apostolic narratives and letters for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, normally followed by a quote from the Tanakh. Christian theologies have different theories of biblical inspiration but for Yeshua and the apostles it was a simple matter that God spoke and man wrote (e.g., Ex 17:14; 20:1; 24:4; 34:27-28; Num 33:2; 36:5; Deut 30:10; Jer 36:4; Matt 4:4; Mark 12:26; 2Pet 1:20-21).
in your Torah: Grk. nomos may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The usage of nomos in the Besekh has a much deeper meaning. In the LXX nomos translates torah, but torah does not mean simply "law" or "laws" as the English word conveys. Torah means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" and comes from the root yarah, which means to throw, to shoot (as in arrows), or to cast (as in lots) (BDB 435f). In the Tanakh torah not only refers to commandments, statutes and ordinances decreed by God and given to Moses, but also custom or manners of man, e.g. direction given by priests (Deut 24:8; 33:10). Torah sets forth the way a person is meant to live in an ethical and moral way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God.
In normal Jewish usage in the first century the term Torah could mean the commandments given to Israel at Sinai and Moab (Matt 12:5; John 8:5) or the entire Pentateuch, especially when used in combination with "the Prophets" (Matt 22:40; John 1:45). Yeshua used the term as a synonym for Scripture elsewhere (Matt 5:18; John 12:34; 15:25). Yeshua and his apostles constantly emphasized the continuing authority of the Torah and all of the Tanakh for life (Rom 15:4; 2Tim 3:16-17).
Yeshua does not mean to distinguish himself from the Pharisees by saying "your" Torah. Rather, the Torah is authoritative Scripture for all Jews, as they themselves have already claimed (8:5). So, Yeshua employs sarcasm, meaning "You accept Scripture as binding on you, right? Therefore, since it is your Scripture, you should heed it, right?" The Judean leaders have frequently tried to trap Yeshua, but here he employs his own trap that deserves an answer. Yeshua then quotes from Psalm 82:6, written by Asaph, a Levite and music director under David and Solomon (1Chr 16:1-7).
I said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. you are Elohim: pl. of Grk. theos. See the previous verse. Yeshua quotes from Psalm 82:6 where the LXX uses theos to translate Heb. Elohim (SH-430), which is the plural intensive form of Eloah (SH-433). Elohim is the generic word in the Tanakh for the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe. The word is also used in a large number of verses for a heathen deity (2Kgs 17:31; 2Chr 32:15; Dan 11:37; Hab 1:11). However, in Psalm 82:6 Elohim is used in a parallelism with "sons of the Most High." This very unique usage of Elohim is acceptable since man is the very image and glory of God (Gen 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; Ps 8:5-8; 1Cor 11:7).
The fact that Yeshua quoted a line from Psalm 82 is more significant than it appears on the surface. In accordance with Jewish practice the citation of a verse would imply the surrounding context, in this case the entire psalm.
"1 God [Elohim] takes His stand in His [El] own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers [elohim].
"2 How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. 3 Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. 5 They do not know nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I said, 'You are gods [elohim], and all of you are sons of the Most High [Elyon]. 7 Nevertheless you will die like men and fall like any one of the princes.'
8 Arise, O God [Elohim] judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations." (NASB)
In quoting this psalm Yeshua not only defends his actions but confronts the sin of his accusers and challenges them to fulfill their mandate for justice.
35 "If He called them Elohim, to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture is not able to be broken,
If: Grk. ei, conj. Yeshua mimics his adversaries who used the term in verse 25 above. He called: Grk. legō, aor. The verb means to express something in words. them: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun; i.e., the ancient Israelites. Elohim: Grk. theos. See the previous verse. to whom the Word: Grk. logos. See verse 19 above. of God: Grk. theos. came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 16 above. Yeshua employs his own parallelism and in so doing affirms the divine inspiration of Psalm 82, which is appropriate since Asaph prophesied for ADONAI (1Chr 25:2). The expression "Word of God" functions as a kind of double entendre. The Tanakh represents the very words of God spoken to select men (John 3:34). In addition, the story of the Tanakh began with the Word, the divine Logos, who is Yeshua (Gen 1:1; John 1:1).
and the Scripture: Grk. graphē, writing, and in the Jewish context meaning the sacred Hebrew Bible (24 books) referred to by the acronym Tanakh, corresponding to the Protestant Old Testament (39 books) and its translation into Greek, the Septuagint. The term "Scripture," which occurs over 50 times in the Besekh, summarizes the body of literature containing God's inspired, infallible, inerrant words penned by over 25 writers, from Moses to Malachi. The Tanakh reveals God's nature, His plan for a Messianic Savior and salvation, and His plan for holy and righteous living. This is the only Bible Yeshua and the apostles knew and as Scripture they upheld its authority over the traditions of men.
The formation of the Bible is a subject of many scholarly works. The traditional (and correct) viewpoint is that the practice of writing can be dated from antiquity. Content was based on contemporaneous records of the Hebrew people and divine dictation. The authors were the significant leaders or prophets of Israel (cf. Eph 2:20). Books were therefore in written form early, certainly within the lifetimes of the prophets credited with authorship, and the Holy Spirit superintended the whole process (2Tim 3:16; 2Pet 1:21).
Liberal scholars, relying on evolutionist assumptions, minimize, if not deny, supernaturalism and prophecy and attribute the formation of the Tanakh to a variety of causes, including dependence on surrounding pagan customs, dependence on literary works of other cultures, oral tradition for centuries, and anonymous sources, yet unremembered in Judaism. The final written form supposedly appeared in the time of Ezra and only reflects Jewish religious belief. The alternative would appear to be choosing between divinely inspired leaders of Israel’s history or a secret rabbinic publishing mill that cranked out the books and passed them off as God’s word. This repugnant distortion of truth deserves the condemnation of Paul (Gal 1:8-9).
is not: Grk. ou, particle of strong negation. able: Grk. dunamai, pres. pass. See verse 21 above. to be broken: Grk. luō, aor. pass. inf., has a range of meaning from (1) loose or untie bonds; (2) set free, loose, untie a person or animal; (3) break up into its component parts, destroy, tear down; to (4) destroy, bring to an end, abolish, do away with. When used of commandments, laws or statements luō has the meaning of repeal, annul or abolish (BAG 485). In the LXX luō is used to translate 7 different Heb. verbs with various nuances of the Greek meanings (DNTT 3:177). The Tanakh cannot be annulled by any decision of man. The Word of our God stands forever (Ps 33:11; Isa 40:8).
Modern liberal scholars go to great lengths to ignore the evidence concerning the formation of the Tanakh, and thereby invalidate the original Hebrew authorship and divine inspiration of Scripture. Such minimizing actually reflects Supersessionist theology, which still pervades Christianity. If you believe that God rejected Israel and canceled the Old Covenant with its commandments, then the sacred writings of the rejected people must also be diminished.
Considering that the word "Scriptures" refers to the Tanakh, what do Yeshua and the apostles say about it?
• The Tanakh represents the power of God (Matt 22:29).
• The Tanakh prophesied the coming of the Messiah, including his death, burial and resurrection (Luke 24:27, 44; John 1:45; 5:39; Acts 8:35; 18:28; Rom 1:2).
• The Tanakh was written for our instruction to give us encouragement and hope (Rom 15:4).
• The Tanakh is to be read in congregation gatherings for exhortation and teaching (1Tim 4:13).
• The Tanakh is inspired of God (2Tim 3:16; 2Pet 1:20-21).
• The Tanakh provides the best instruction for training disciples to produce righteousness and correct errant behavior (2Tim 3:16).
The Tanakh is a very unique work. It provides the account of special creation and a continuous historical record from the first man. The Tanakh offers a purpose for history that God is working out through His people. The Tanakh sets forth the highest ethical and moral standards that stand in sharp contrast with the values of the culture. The Tanakh offers detailed prophecies of events to come, the accuracy of which is unparalleled in the history of mankind. Then, the Tanakh, being inspired of God, has the spiritual power to change people. The Tanakh is vitally important since it is divine revelation entrusted to Israel for communication to the world. The apostolic writings cannot be understood without the Tanakh.
36 do you say of him whom the Father set apart and sent into the world, 'You blaspheme,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God?'
do you say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. of him whom the Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 15 above. set apart: Grk. hagiazō, aor. (derived from hagios, "holy"), to set apart into the realm of the sacred; set apart, dedicate, purify. BAG has when used of persons (1) to consecrate, dedicate, sanctify, (2) to treat as holy or to reverence or (3) purify. In the LXX the hagiazō renders Heb. qadash (SH-6942), to be set apart or consecrated. The Hebrew verb is used of (1) places, such as temple and houses; (2) calendar events, such as festivals and Shabbat; (3) persons, such as priests; and (4) objects, such as the sacred bread and vessels (BDB 872). For Yeshua to be set apart (or "sanctified" as in many versions) is not the same as for his disciples. His being set apart has to do with his mission.
and sent: Grk. apostellō, aor., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translated Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). into the world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the Besekh and other Jewish literature, including (1) the orderly universe; (2) the sum total of all beings above the animal level; (3) the earth as the place of habitation of mankind; (4) the world as mankind; (5) the world as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, and cares; and (6) everything of mankind that opposes God and is depraved of character (BAG).
In the LXX kosmos is used to render a variety of words. Kosmos occurs some ten times for words meaning ornaments, jewelry or decorations and five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). The meaning of kosmos as "the world of mankind" is only found in Apocryphal writings (Wsd., 2nd Macc., 4th Macc.). A number of passages in the Besekh use "world" to refer to the nations outside the land of Israel (Matt 24:14; Luke 12:30; John 14:22). However, the term is used in some passages of the Jewish world (John 3:17; 6:14, 33; 12:19, 47; 14:19; 16:28; 17:6). Since Yeshua's mission was to bring redemption to Israel (Matt 15:24; Luke 1:68), then the "world" in this passage has the immediate meaning of the land of Israel in which Yeshua lived and ministered.
You blaspheme: Grk. blasphēmeō, to cause damage to reputation by arrogant speech or action; slander, revile, malign, vilify, defame. because I said: Grk. legō, aor. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as Yeshua is referred to as the son of David and Abraham (Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Th 2:3), and this too applies here.
of God: Grk. theos. See verse 33 above. The title "Son of God" occurs 42 times in the Besekh in reference to Yeshua. He constantly referred to God as his Father. There is no equivocation in Paul's writings that Yeshua is the image of the invisible God (2Cor 4:4; Php 2:5-7; Col 2:9; Heb 1:2-3). Therefore, Christianity has traditionally restricted the meaning of the title "Son of God" to deity, the second person of the triune Godhead. Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that before the advent of Christianity "Son of God' had a very human meaning.
Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1; 18:13) and by extension applied to all righteous Israelites (Ps 82:6; Sir. 4:10; Wsd. 2:13; Pss. Sol. 13:9; Jub. 1:24-25; Rom 9:4; 2Cor 6:18). The disciples of Yeshua would later be described as "sons of God" (Matt 5:9, 45; Rom 8:14-15, 19, 23; 9:26; Gal 3:26; 4:6-7; Eph 1:5; Heb 12:7-8). As a Jewish scholar Reinhartz views Yeshua's answer to mean that it is God who has consecrated him as God's son and this is consistent with the biblical and Second Temple idea that certain people such as Jeremiah (Jer 1:5), the priests (2Chr 26:18) or Moses (Sirach 45:4) are chosen to do God's work (180). Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense (2Sam 7:12-14; Ps 2:6-7, 11-12; 89:26-30; Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6).
For Jews during this time "Son of God" was used as a title for a human descendant of King David, the Messiah, who would establish the promised Kingdom (Luke 1:32), and confirmed by the religious leaders at Yeshua's trial (Matt 26:63; Mark 14:61; Luke 22:67, 70). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority (Leman 95). The angel announced to Miriam,
"Behold, you will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you shall call His name Yeshua. 32 He will be great and will be called Ben-Elyon. Adonai Elohim will give Him the throne of David, His father. 33 He shall reign over the house of Jacob for all eternity, and His kingdom will be without end." (Luke 1:31-33 TLV)
Zechariah similarly declared,
"Blessed be Adonai, God of Israel, for He has looked after His people and brought them redemption. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David." (Luke 1:68-69 TLV)
So, "Son of God" is the old title for the King of Israel of the House of David and Messiah of Israel, just as Yochanan the Immerser announced (John 1:34). Nathanael made the meaning of Son of God clear when he declared to Yeshua, "You are Ben-Elohim! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49 TLV). Martha likewise spoke to Yeshua, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, Ben-Elohim who has come into the world." (John 11:27 TLV).
37 "If I do not the works of my Father, then believe me not.
If: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 24 above. I do: Grk. poieō, pres. See verse 25 above. not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. the works: pl. of Grk. ergon. See verse 25 above. Yeshua refers to his miracles, signs and teachings. of my Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 15 above. then believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. See verse 25 above. me: Grk. egō. not: Grk. mē, negative particle. Yeshua presents an iron-clad logical argument. If they truly evaluated his works they would have to believe in him. The slander of his adversaries that he is either of Satan or insane cannot explain his miraculous works. Satan would never do anything good for anyone and an insane person would not be able to do what Yeshua did. In reality the reason for their unbelief was simple hatred.
38 "If however I do them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works; so that you may know and might continue to know that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
If: Grk. ei, conj. however: Grk.de, conj. I do them: Grk. poieō, pres., to accomplish something. See the note on verse 25 above. even if: Grk. kan, adv., a contingency particle setting the stage for consideration of additional possibility; and if, also if, even if. you believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. subj., believe or trust. See the note on verse 25 above. me: Grk. egō. not: Grk. mē, neg. particle. believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. imp. the works: See the note on verse 25 above. Yeshua appeals to his adversaries to set aside their prejudice for a few minutes and exercise some common sense. "I know you don't like me, but if anyone else performed the same works what would you say of the works?" so that: Grk. hina, prep. See the note on verse 17 above.
you may know: Grk. ginōskō, aor. subj. See the note on verse 6 above. The aorist tense indicates "may come to know" (Rienecker). and understand: Grk. ginōskō, pres. subj., lit. "and keep on knowing" (Morris). MRINT has "and be certain." that: Grk. hoti, conj. See the note on verse 17 above. the Father: Grk. patēr. See the note on verse 15 above. is in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 19 above. me: Grk. egō. and I: Grk. kagō, conj. See verse 16 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the Father: Grk. patēr. The phrasing of the final clause attempts to simplify with the preposition "in" (lit. "within") the great mystery of the echad or oneness of the triune God. The preposition denotes both the intimacy of a close relationship as well as singularity of purpose (verse 30 above). Yeshua and the Father are alike in terms of character and mission.
39 So they sought again to seize him, and he went out of their hand.
So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj. used to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then.' they sought: Grk. zēteō, impf., to search for a way to satisfy an interest or desire; sought, looked for. The verb indicates more than mere interest, but an actual attempt. Their interest was to kill him. again: Grk. palin, adv. that focuses on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. to seize him: The verb is Grk. piazō, aor. inf., which may mean (1) take firm hold of; grasp; or (2) take under control; seize, arrest. The second meaning applies here. John alludes to an earlier attempt (7:30).
and he went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. of their hand: Grk. cheir. See verse 28 above. The term is used here fig. of the ruler's control. The description of Yeshua eluding arrest is comparable to the account in 8:59 of him being hidden from his enemies and escaping the city.
40 And he went away again across the Jordan to the place where Yochanan had been immersing at first, and he stayed there.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he went away: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 7 above. Morris suggests the translation of "back," since Yeshua returned to early scenes of his ministry. across: Grk. peran, adv., on the other side, which would be toward the east. the Jordan: Grk. Iordanēs (Heb. Yarden, "the descender"). This important river runs through a deep valley known as the Jordan Rift. It begins in the mountains of Syria, flows into the Sea of Galilee, which is 212 meters below sea level and after about 70 miles finally empties into the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the face of the earth, 400 meters below sea level. Several tributaries flow into the Jordan emptying almost as much water as the Jordan itself. The deltas of these streams were ideal for cultivation. Many cities of antiquity were built close to the place where the tributaries and the Jordan met.
The Jordan River and Jordan Valley played an important role in a number of memorable events in biblical history. In the Tanakh the river is mentioned in the stories of the separation of Abram and Lot (Gen 13:11), Jacob wrestling with the angel of ADONAI at the ford of the Jabbok (Gen 32:22-26), and Israel crossing the river "on dry ground" under the leadership of Joshua (Josh 3:15-17). During the period of the judges and the early monarchy, the Jordan was a strong line of defense, not to be easily forded. In the later monarchy the Jordan River is featured in the miracles of Elijah (a place for hiding, 1Kgs 17:3; dividing it, 2Kgs 2:8) and Elisha (dividing it, 2Kgs 2:14; healing of Naaman, 2Kgs 5:10-14). The essential story of Messiah begins at the Jordan River with the immersion ministry of Yochanan (Luke 3:1-18).
to the place: Grk. topos, a spatial area, here of an unspecified geographical terrain; place. where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where. Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan ("John" in Christian Bibles) and means "the Lord is gracious,” an apt description of the one who would prepare the way of the Messiah (Stern 15). Yochanan, the only son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was a cousin (degree unknown) of Yeshua, born in Hebron just six months before Yeshua (cf. Luke 1:26, 36, 56-57). The commencement of Yochanan's ministry probably occurred in the autumn of A.D. 26 (Santala 125). Because of his immersing ministry Yochanan is given the title "the Immerser" ("the Baptist" in Christian Bibles), occurring 15 times in the Synoptic Narratives, but never in John. See my commentary on John 1:6 for more background information on Yochanan.
had been immersing: Grk. baptizō, pres. part., means to dip, soak, or immerse completely into a liquid. The use of the present tense may seem strange for this reference, but the present tense is sometimes used to portray a past event with vividness. The verb baptizō is derived from baptō (immerse or plunge) and means that what is dipped takes on qualities of what it has been dipped in—such as cloth in dye or leather in tanning solution. In the LXX baptō translates the Heb. taval (to dip completely) 13 times. Baptizō occurs only four times in the LXX: in Isaiah 21:4; 2 Kings 5:14 (re: Naaman); Sirach 34:25; and Judith 12:7. While baptizō in the Isaiah passage speaks of being overwhelmed by a vision, the other three passages report incidents of self-immersion in water (DNTT 1:144).
The active voice of the verb "immersing" in this verse does not mean that someone personally put his hands on the immersion candidates and shoved them under the water as occurs in Christian practice. Jewish immersion was (and is) self-immersion, and for modesty sake gender-specific (cf. Acts 8:12). That is, men were not present when women immersed and vice versa. And, no one was allowed to touch the one immersing. No one needed to put the penitent under for it to be valid. Rather, this phrase depicts Yochanan superintending the immersion of all those who came and expressed repentance. As an attending witness he would insure that each person completely immersed himself.
In all likelihood several people would be immersing at the same time. In one fascinating piece of evidence, there is an ancient drawing from a Roman catacomb which depicts Yochanan and Yeshua at Yeshua's immersion. Yochanan is standing on the bank of the Jordan River extending a hand to Yeshua assisting him from the water (R. Steven Notley, John's Baptism of Repentance, Jerusalem Perspective Online, 2004; also Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism).
at first: Grk. prōtos. The basic idea has to do with 'beforeness.' The term is used in two ways: (1) having primary position in a temporal sequence; first, earlier, earliest; and (2) standing out in significance or importance; first, most prominent, most important, first of all. The first meaning fits best here. The location John mentions likely alludes to Bethany ("Bethabara," KJV) somewhere in the territory of Perea where Yeshua met Yochanan in 1:28-29. Yochanan conducted his ministry in different locations, and this Bethany may have been the starting point before moving to "Aenon near Salim" (3:23).
and he stayed: Grk. menō, aor., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. In the LXX menō translates 15 different Hebrew words, the most common being amad ('stand, remain') and qum (stand, arise). The verb stresses constancy (DNTT 3:224). there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. According to Santala's timeline (121) it was while Yeshua was in Bethany of Perea that he performed the actions described in Luke 14:1—17:10. He healed a man with dropsy, dined at the home of a Pharisee and told the parables about the dinner guests, the great banquet, the cost of discipleship, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, the unrighteous steward and the rich man and Lazarus.
41 And many came to him and said that "Yochanan indeed performed no sign, but everything that Yochanan said about this man was true."
And: Grk. kai, conj. many: pl. of Grk. polus. See verse 20 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. to him and said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance; say, tell, declare. that: Grk. hoti, prep., that, since, because; but it may introduce direct discourse as here. These visitors proceed to offer a concise eulogy. Yochanan: See the previous verse. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. performed: Grk. poieō, aor., to do something. See verse 25 above.
no: Grk. oudeis, adj. used for strong negation. sign: Grk. sēmeion usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Num 17:25; Deut 4:34; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8; Josh 4:6). The statement that Yochanan performed no miracle is not meant to diminish his ministry. The most important work of a biblical prophet was proclaiming the message of God.
but: Grk. de, conj. everything: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope; all, every. that: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun, lit. "how many." Yochanan said: Grk. legō, aor. about: Grk,. peri, prep., concerning. this man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one." was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 7 above. true: Grk. alēthēs, unconcealed, and so 'true.' The adjective could be translated as real, genuine, trustworthy, straightforward or honest. There is a saying in the Talmud that "the seal of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, is truth" (Yoma 69b). Yeshua himself will later declare "I am the Truth" (John 14:6). The recorded words of Yochanan about Yeshua are quite few:
"As for me, I immerse you with water. But One is coming who is mightier than I am; I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandals! He will immerse you in the Ruach ha-Kodesh and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with inextinguishable fire." (Luke 3:16-17 TLV)
"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who has become above me, because he was before me." (John 1:29-30 mine)
"A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear witness to me, that I said, I am not the Messiah, but, that I am sent before him. 29 He who has the bride is a bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices with joy because of the voice of the bridegroom: therefore, my joy has been made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:27-30 mine)
The testimony about Yochanan probably alludes to his last recorded words, since the first two declarations about Yeshua had yet to be fulfilled. The visitors could also be referring to other statements of Yochanan made that were not recorded.
42 And many believed in him there.
And: Grk. kai, conj. many: pl. of Grk. polus. See the previous verse. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 25 above. This description means that the people accepted Yochanan's word that Yeshua was the Messiah. in: Grk. eis, prep. lit. "into." him there: Grk. ekei. See verse 40 above. The location reference is to the territory of Perea. Morris points out that the word may contain an implied contrast with Judea. In the place where one might have thought Yeshua would be welcomed men tried to stone him. Now in despised Perea men believed in him. This concise statement also illustrates an important reality. The act of trusting in Yeshua has a place of origin that makes the experience all the more concrete and real. "It was there that I settled the question" (to quote a gospel song "I Have Settled the Question," #399 Sing to the Lord, Lillenas Pub. Co., 1993).
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews. Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series. Revised Ed., 16 Vols. The Westminster Press, 1975-76.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762-1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Coffman: James Burton Coffman (1905-2006), Commentaries on the Bible. Online.
Coke: Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation of the Greek text into biblical Hebrew.)
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
DSB: Henry Morris, Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. [KJV with explanatory notes by Dr. Henry Morris.]
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HBD: Holman Bible Dictionary. ed. Trent C. Butler. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
HELPS: The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. eds. Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Henry: Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on the Whole Bible (1706). Unabridged Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 1991. Online.
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Edited by James Orr. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Online, 2011.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Leman: Derek Leman, A New Look at the Old Testament. Mt. Olive Press, 2006.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
MW-Notes: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Pub. House, 1976.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Tenney: Merrill C. Tenney, John, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TLV: Messianic Jewish Family Bible: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society (2014). Online.
TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.
Wesley: John Wesley (1703-1791), Notes on the Bible. Wesleyan Heritage Publishing, 2009. Online.
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