John 10:22-30


There is an interval of about two months between verses 21 and 22. Some think Jesus spent this time in Perea. Others think He went back to Galilee. Still others think He was in seclusion in Jerusalem. The first is perhaps the best explanation. The situation between Jesus and the Jews during His last visit, from John chapter 7 through John 10:21, had become highly strained.

John 10:22 Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,

Feast of Dedication is also call "Hanukkah" and "Festival of Light." It was instituted by Judas Maccabaeus in 167 B.C. in commemoration of the cleansing and rededication of the Temple after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes.

John 10:23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade.

Jesus was making Himself available to the people at the feast. The portico of Solomon was a remnant of the old temple which Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed in 588 B.C.

John 10:24 The Jews gathered around him, saying,  "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

The Jews surrounded Jesus in a hostile fashion. Evidently He was in an enclosed place. The question they ask is a lie, as Jesus clearly indicates. This is followed by a fact or particular condition. The meaning: "If (as you maintain) you are the Messiah, etc." The "if" clause clearly says what He maintained. They knew better. But deliberate unbelief is irrational. "Tell us plainly" could be translated "tell us without ambiguity."

John 10:25 Jesus answered,  "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me,

"I have told you." Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah but only after she was believing, John 4:26. There is no record that He told the hostile Jews that He was the Messiah. Very likely He did not because their conception of the word was a false one. But as to Jesus' word: "I did tell you" look at John 5:14-47; John 6:28-29; John 6:35; John 6:51-65; John 7:37-39; John 8:12-20; John 8:28-29; John 8:42; John 8:56-58 and John 10:7-18.

And He had proved it by healing the paralytic, chapter 5, and the man born blind, chapter 9. He is referring especially to these two miracles. His words plainly show that these miracles proved Him to be the Messiah. And they knew it, had the evidence, but would not believe.

"In my Father's name" refers to the very nature of the personality whom it designates, that partakes of his qualities and powers, in this case, Jesus. The name of God belongs to His manward, human, side, the side of revelation.

John 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

Ylvisaker: They believed neither His words nor His works. He reminds them incidentally of the occurrences at the feat of the Tabernacles in the month of October. On that occasion, John 10:1-21, He had given a description of His true sheep, and has thus -- indirectly -- indicated that they did not belong in this category.
Lenski: The sense is 'Since you are not my sheep you do not believe' and not 'Since you are not my sheep you cannot believe.'

Hendriksen's Reformed view of predestination comes out here, and it is good for us to be able to identify this erroneous position.

Hendriksen: No one can ever charge God with injustice for having left some to perish, while he chose others out of this mass of corruption to be his own.

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

These verses refer to the Doctrine of Election, which the Formula of Concord in the Solid Declaration references five times. (Tappert pp. 617, 618, 620-621, 624, 631). It is the true Lutheran Scriptural doctrine.

Stoeckhardt: Christ's sheep, the elect, hear His voice, believe and follow His Words. That is the effective result of election. The fact that they hear the voice of Christ is a sure sign of their election. Our Confession, the Formula of Concord,  quotes this saying of Jesus with the remark: 'Thus the elect are noted and described in John 10: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me. And I give them everlasting life and they shall never perish. To His elect, believing children the Lord gives everlasting life. Yea, for them everlasting life is certain and sure. Those whom God from the beginning has chosen can never be lost. And no one will snatch them from My hand.'

Verse 27 speaks of the relationship of sheep and Shepherd in time. They hear His voice and follow Him. He knows them intimately and that "knowing' them is from eternity, election.

Now in verse 28, as a result of their election by grace in Christ, Christ gives them everlasting life. They will absolutely not perish and no one, not even Satan, will seize them from His power. The assurance of everlasting life isabsolute.

In verse 29 we read of the Father who gave Christ the sheep from eternity. We can rest in that because the Father is greater than all, be that human foe or Satan. And, again, on one will snatch these sheep from the Father's power, thus making Christ and the Father equal. The saving power of Jesus and the Father are identical, thus proving that Jesus is truly God.

Jesus is telling the Jews that their refusal to follow Him results in rejection of eternal life. And therefore they must face eternal perdition and they have no protection from the devil snatching them.

John 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.

The Father is greater and mightier than all foes, be that Satan or human foes. I am what I now am, a believer in Christ Jesus, only because of the Father's gracious gift to the Son from all eternity. Look at Romans 8:35. Because of this eternal, gracious election in Christ, no foe can harm me.

Stoeckhardt and Kretzmann: The Lord here gives us a guarantee against ourselves, against our own weakness and doubt.

What a passage! But the Jews are rejecting all of this.

John 10:30 I and the Father are one." 

Fahling: St. Augustine remarks that the word ONE refutes Arianism, which denies the unity of essence, the homoousion, and the plural ARE  disproves Sabellianism, which denies the distinct persons of the Trinity.

The unity of the will and work of Father and Son is based on the identical essence of both.

Lenski: The two persons are not mingled, for Jesus clearly distinguishes between "I" and "the Father"; but these two, while they are two in person, are "one," a unit substance, or, as we prefer, a unit in essence.

This is a sedes doctrinae, a main passage, on the divinity of Jesus.

On verses 27-28 we add this interesting item from Fahling: "There is a triplet of double parallelism in the ascending climax:"

My sheep hear My voice
And I know them
And they follow Me
And I give unto them eternal life
And they shall never perish
And no one shall pluck them out of my hands.

Verse 31 clearly shows that the Jews' understanding of Jesus' Words was not that of the Arians. The blind Jews saw far more in Jesus' Words than the anti-Trinitarians see today. By the way, this was the second time that they wanted to stone Him to death. Look at John 8:59.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series C Luke-John, Festival Season Sundays Gospel Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1979, pp. 69-71. Used with permission.

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