There are many metaphors in the Sacred Text of the Bible that describes the church. The church is a bride, a kingdom, and on and on the list goes. I have chosen a text that is so often misrepresented by religious people to show the “Flock” of the Lord. Paul, the apostle, told the church at Ephesus to “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Here, Inspiration calls the flock the church. Let’s look at this matter from John chapter 10 with open Bibles for further study.
This is a very encouraging chapter of scripture. It is unfortunate that we must spend so much time refuting error. I hope that we can fully appreciate this chapter of encouragement. The Calvinist finds false comfort in this chapter. They call the sheep the elect and the goats the none elect. The Jews refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God and this chapter is set in this background.
John 10:1. Think about the nation of Israel! Draw a circle in your mind. Here are the Pharisees who have taken over the nation for their own benefit. They are the dominant power and are ruling under Rome. They intended to have an earthly king. This is the physical Israel that I have often talked about.
John 10:2. “But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” There are three figures that are already in use: (1) the shepherd, (2) the door, (3) the good shepherd. All of these are distinct categories that Jesus uses. This is saying that Jesus came through the door of the Old Testament. Matthew and Luke give the lineage of Christ. This was the door through which Jesus came. The Pharisees did not want this kind of Messiah.
John 10:3. “To him the porter openeth.” Who is the porter? In studying John, we have no problem understanding this question. In Isaiah 40:3ff we have a prophecy of John the Baptist being the forerunner of Christ (read John 1:19-26).
According to John 10:3, if we can understand two or three things, we can solve some problems of what it meant to hear Him. Here is national Israel. This is the flock or the fold. In John 1:11, He came to His own and they received Him not. Those that received Him were individual sheep out of the nation of Israel. Jesus began to call them by name. If you look back at the last part of chapter one, you will see Christ calling one of them Simon. Jesus came to lead out of the nation those who would believe and follow Him. He came to lead men in the faith that Abraham had. The sheep heard His voice. Those are the ones who followed Him from the whole nation. These are the people that should have been prepared through the Old Testament for Christ. Therefore, we have two Israels, and this is what Romans 9:6 says. “All of Israel is not Israel,” Paul said. He is leading them out; they become another flock. We will see that when we get down to John 10:16 when He says, “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” We will read about a little flock that heard, believed, and followed Him. Back in chapter one we read how He spoke, and they followed Him. This will be the little or new flock that would be the Lord’s church. Look at Galatians 6:16: “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” The original sheep that formed the church came from where? National Israel, that is, those who heard and followed. Now look back at the blind man in John 9. He heard Him, followed Him, and worshipped Him. What did the Pharisees representing national Israel do? They sought to kill Him.
According to John 10:4, they knew His voice. Simon, Nathaniel, John, and others realized that Jesus was the promised Messiah out of the Old Testament. That is what it means by saying they heard His voice. The Pharisees did not believe that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament. So here is the contrast. If you do not see these two groups, you will never understand the 10th chapter of John. Look at John 10:19, and you see that there was a division among the Jews for these sayings.
What divided them? Here are the two groups. Look back to John 7:43: “So there was a division among the people because of Him.” What kind of division is taking place? Here are some who followed Him, but the bulk of the nation would not follow Him. Look at John 9:16: “This man is not of God, because He keepeth not the Sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.” Therefore, we see what was happening among the people. Some would not accept what the Pharisees were saying. In John 1:11-12, we see this developing. Thus, when we get to chapter 10, we see the division in Israel. There is the Israel of faith (those who followed Christ) and physical Israel (those who would not follow Him). The blind man heard Him, followed Him, and he would not let the Pharisees separate him from Christ, resulting in division. God did not do something special for them in some special way. To read this into these passages is wrong. They all had the same opportunity. Is God a respecter of persons? No! Has He ever been? No! Back in John 6 when Jesus began some hard teaching, some of His disciples turned and walked with Him no more. Jesus asked, “Will ye also go away? And Peter said unto Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” Here again is the division that is taking place.
John 10:5. The Pharisees became strangers. They would not believe what the scripture said about Christ. Others believed that this was the voice. John was a voice crying in the wilderness, and he introduced another Voice. Christ was thus a stranger to the Pharisees. In chapter 9, the Pharisees tried to coax the blind man to say that Jesus was a sinner, and He would not do it. It would deny the Christ that had just healed him. Jesus led this blind man out of Israel and would be one of those that would make up the church. Jesus is going to give another figure of speech.
John 10:6-7. Jesus now becomes the door by which they enter in. This is the emphasis of verse 16. In verse 8, those that came before Him were thieves and robbers. Who did this? The Pharisees! By hook and crook, they took away the truth from the most people. John the Baptist said, “who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Despite all that is said, the sheep did not hear Him.
John 10:9. This is simply pointing to the blessings that would come through His work.
John 10:10. This is exactly what the Scribes and Pharisees were doing. They did not go in, and they would not let others in. They tried to block the door, but they could not. The term “to destroy” means the ending of the Jewish system in A.D. 70.
John 10:11-12. Jesus switches the figures in this passage. The sheep belonged to God. The Pharisees tried to take over. They did not care about Christ. In contrast, Jesus says that they could have life and more abundantly, that is, those sheep that would hear and follow Him. Those that did not believe and follow Christ are lost. It is so sad that the religious world believes that national Israel is going to someday obey Him when He comes back to reign on His throne that they say will be in Jerusalem.
First Peter 2:25 says, “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Shepherd over what? The individual sheep that He would lead to the truth and finally to the cross. Let me ask: do we listen to strangers, or do we hear the voice of Christ? I need to have my ears tuned to what this book says. When someone teaches something that is not from this book, I am not going to hear his voice. Not only that, but I shall then stand with Jesus and condemn such efforts. Jesus as a Shepherd Who entered the right door. He is the door though which they enter the kingdom. Then He is the good Shepherd that would give His life for His sheep.
John 10:14. The people could have known Christ, but they would refuse to know Him.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me (John 6:44-45).
Notice that this verse states that “all” shall be taught, not just a few or may be taught.
John 10:15. As sure as the Father knows Jesus, He knows the Father, and He also knows His sheep. Now, try to separate them if you can.
John 10:16. “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold…” It is unfortunate that the King James uses the word “fold” twice in this verse. The ASV says in the last clause of this verse, “and there shall be one flock.” This is a different word than fold and this destroys the idea that there are somehow sheep out there in all the denominations. As noted earlier, the first “fold” is national Israel. The other sheep who He has, comes out of national Israel and the Gentiles. Beginning at Pentecost, there will be other sheep. Soon, there would be sheep from the Gentiles. These would form one flock, the church:
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby (Eph. 2:15-16).
You see this also in chapters 9, 10, and 11 in Romans. Paul asks who is an Israelite? The one who obeys the Lord’s commands. The Gospel was first preached to the Jews. Finally, the Gentiles were included in the church, and Paul in Acts 13 preached to both Jews and Gentiles as they were assembled together to hear. John 10:16 is literally fulfilled in the book of Acts.
John 10:17. How can He be a shepherd if he is dead? He will take up His life again. Here is a glimpse of the resurrection.
John 10:18. When Jesus died on the cross, it was no accident. It was in the fulness of the time of God. They thought they had done it, but God allowed it. The time had come that He lay down His life. Thus, we have the Shepherd, the sheep, flock or fold, the New Testament church that Christ purchased with His own blood. The church never saved anyone, but if you wish to find the saved, look for the Lord’s church.