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1. He that entereth not by the door - By Christ. He is the only lawful entrance. Into the sheepfold - The Church. He is a thief and a robber - In God's account. Such were all those teachers, to whom our Lord had just been speaking.
3. To him the door keeper openeth - Christ is considered as the shepherd, ver. 11. As the door in the first and following verses. And as it is not unworthy of Christ to be styled the door, by which both the sheep and the true pastor enter, so neither is it unworthy of God the Father to be styled the door keeper. See Acts xiv, 27; Colossians iv, 3; Rev. iii, 8; Acts xvi, 14. And the sheep hear his voice - The circumstances that follow, exactly agree with the customs of the ancient eastern shepherds. They called their sheep by name, went before them and the sheep followed them. So real Christians hear, listen to, understand, and obey the voice of the shepherd whom Christ hath sent. And he counteth them his own, dearer than any friend or brother: calleth, advises, directs each by name, and leadeth them out, in the paths of righteousness, beside the waters of comfort.
4. He goeth before them - In all the ways of God, teaching them in every point, by example as well as by precept; and the sheep follow him - They tread in his steps: for they know his voice - Having the witness in themselves that his words are the wisdom and the power of God. Reader, art thou a shepherd of souls? Then answer to God. Is it thus with thee and thy flock?
5. They will not follow a stranger - One whom Christ hath not sent, who doth not answer the preceding description. Him they will not follow - And who can constrain them to it? But will flee from him - As from the plague. For they know not the voice of strangers - They cannot relish it; it is harsh and grating to them. They find nothing of God therein.
6. They - The Pharisees, to whom our Lord more immediately spake, as appears from the close of the foregoing chapter.
7. I am the door - Christ is both the Door and the Shepherd, and all things.
8. Whosoever are come - Independently of me, assuming any part of my character, pretending, like your elders and rabbis, to a power over the consciences of men, attempting to make laws in the Church, and to teach their own traditions as the way of salvation: all those prophets and expounders of God's word, that enter not by the door of the sheepfold, but run before I have sent them by my Spirit. Our Lord seems in particular to speak of those that had undertaken this office since he began his ministry, are thieves -Stealing temporal profit to themselves, and robbers - Plundering and murdering the sheep.
9. If any one - As a sheep, enter in by me - Through faith, he shall be safe - From the wolf, and from those murdering shepherds. And shall go in and out - Shall continually attend on the shepherds whom I have sent; and shall find pasture - Food for his soul in all circumstances.
10. The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy - That is, nothing else can be the consequence of a shepherd's coming, who does not enter in by me.
12. But the hireling - It is not the bare receiving hire, which denominates a man a hireling: (for the labourer is worthy of his hire; Jesus Christ himself being the Judge: yea, and the Lord hath ordained, that they who preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel:) but the loving hire: the loving the hire more than the work: the working for the sake of the hire. He is a hireling, who would not work, were it not for the hire; to whom this is the great (if not only) motive of working. O God! If a man who works only for hire is such a wretch, a mere thief and a robber, what is he who continually takes the hire, and yet does not work at all? The wolf - signifies any enemy who, by force or fraud, attacks the Christian's faith, liberty, or life. So the wolf seizeth and scattereth the flock - He seizeth some, and scattereth the rest; the two ways of hurting the flock of Christ.
13. The hireling fleeth because he is a hireling - Because he loves the hire, not the sheep.
14. I know my sheep - With a tender regard and special care: and am known of mine - With a holy confidence and affection.
15. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father - With such a knowledge as implies an inexpressible union: and I lay down my life - Speaking of the present time. For his whole life was only a going unto death.
16. I have also other sheep - Which he foreknew; which are not of this fold - Not of the Jewish Church or nation, but Gentiles. I must bring them likewise - Into my Church, the general assembly of those whose names are written in heaven. And there shall be one flock - (Not one fold, a plain false print) no corrupt or divided flocks remaining. And one shepherd - Who laid down his life for the sheep, and will leave no hireling among them. The unity both of the flock and the shepherd shall be completed in its season. The shepherd shall bring all into one flock: and the whole flock shall hear the one shepherd.
17. I lay down my life that I may take it again - I cheerfully die to expiate the sins of men, to the end I may rise again for their justification.
18. I lay it down of myself - By my own free act and deed. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again - I have an original power and right of myself, both to lay it down as a ransom, and to take it again, after full satisfaction is made, for the sins of the whole world. This commission have I received of my Father - Which I readily execute. He chiefly spoke of the Father, before his suffering: of his own glory, after it. Our Lord's receiving this commission as mediator is not to be considered as the ground of his power to lay down and resume his life. For this he had in himself, as having an original right to dispose thereof, antecedent to the Father's commission. But this commission was the reason why he thus used his power in laying down his life. He did it in obedience to his Father.
21. These are not the words - The word in the original takes in actions too.
22. It was the feast of the dedication - Instituted by Judas Maccabeus, 1 Macc. iv, 59, when he purged and dedicated the altar and temple after they had been polluted. So our Lord observed festivals even of human appointment. Is it not, at least, innocent for us to do the same?
23. In Solomon's portico - Josephus informs us, that when Solomon built the temple, he filled up a part of the adjacent valley, and built a portico over it toward the east. This was a noble structure, supported by a wall four hundred cubits high: and continued even to the time of Albinus and Agrippa, which was several years after the death of Christ.
26. Ye do not believe, because ye are not of my sheep - Because ye do not, will not follow me: because ye are proud, unholy, lovers of praise, lovers of the world, lovers of pleasure, not of God.
27, 28, 29. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, &c.- Our Lord still alludes to the discourse he had before this festival. As if he had said, My sheep are they who,
1. Hear my voice by faith;
2. Are known (that is, approved) by me, as loving me; and
3. Follow me, keep my commandments, with a believing, loving heart. And to those who,
1. Truly believe (observe three promises annexed to three conditions) I give eternal life. He does not say, I will, but I give. For he that believeth hath everlasting life. Those whom,
2. I know truly to love me, shall never perish, provided they abide in my love.
3. Those who follow me, neither men nor devils can pluck out of my hand. My Father who hath, by an unchangeable decree, given me all that believe, love, and obey, is greater than all in heaven or earth, and none is able to pluck them out of his hand.
30. I and the Father are one - Not by consent of will only, but by unity of power, and consequently of nature. Are - This word confutes Sabellius, proving the plurality of persons: one - This word confutes Arius, proving the unity of nature in God. Never did any prophet before, from the beginning of the world, use any one expression of himself, which could possibly be so interpreted as this and other expressions were, by all that heard our Lord speak. Therefore if he was not God he must have been the vilest of men.
34. Psalm lxxxii, 6.
35. If he (God) called them gods unto whom the word of God came, (that is, to whom God was then speaking,) and the Scripture cannot be broken - That is, nothing which is written therein can be censured or rejected.
36. Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world - This sanctification (whereby he is essentially the Holy One of God) is mentioned as prior to his mission, and together with it implies, Christ was God in the highest sense, infinitely superior to that wherein those Judges were so called.
38. That ye may know and believe - In some a more exact knowledge precedes, in others it follows faith. I am in the Father and the Father in me. I and the Father are one - These two sentences illustrate each other.
40. To the desert place where John baptized, and gave so honourable a testimony of him.
41. John did no miracle - An honour reserved for him, whose forerunner he was.
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