The Shepherd, the Sheepfold, and the Gatekeeper

False Teachers

I have heard the parable in John 10 often entitled “The Good Shepherd” or “I am the Good Shepherd” used for evangelism purposes.

There is a tacit evangelistic flow. Nonetheless Jesus is explicitly using this allegory to warn of false teachers leading Israel astray—What He references as a “hired hand” (v 12).

Remembering there is no chapter or verse breaks in the original Greek texts, nor are there subtitles. So if we go backward to what is designated Chapter 9 we can read John’s account of the man born blind. In the closing verses we discover who Jesus is speaking to—namely the Pharisees:

Jesus heard that they [the Pharisees] had cast him out [the healed blind man], and having found him he [Jesus] said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (vv. 35-41; italics mine).

The contrast between the Pharisees; trained in the scriptures and the perspicacious man born blind who “taught them” is clear (9: 24-34). Of course the Pharisees, being the “teachers of Israel” expected a negative answer to their query to Jesus, “are we also blind?” and that is the point. They were indeed blind.

Sin has a way of blinding us to the truth that we should be able to perceive. Teachers are held to a higher standard (see James 3: 1).

Jesus in Chapter 10 continues into His parable of the shepherd, the sheepfold, and the gatekeeper. In this analogous discourse Jesus asserts and then restates the parable to clarify his premise.

The Sheepfold

While the sheep needed tending twenty-four hours a day, the shepherd obviously could not stay awake 24-7. So pens were built and the sheep were put in the pens or sheepfolds which were guarded by a gatekeeper. Several different flocks might be If the gatekeeper did not know you, you could not gain access to the sheep.

When the shepherd came he was granted access and even though several flocks might be mixed together, the shepherd knew his sheep and the sheep recognized their master’s voice and would not follow anyone else.

The point is that “people come to God because he calls them (cf. vv. 16, 27; Rom. 8:28, 30)”[i]

Those who do not come are not called because they are not drawn (see Ephesians 1:4). Many will follow the false teachers. In this passage they are exemplified by the Pharisees.

That Jesus is speaking mainly to the Jews becomes evident in 10:14-16.

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, . . . I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also [emphasis mine], and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

Who are the sheep “not of this fold”? These are the Gentiles, those not of Hebrew extraction, but those who come by faith to Jesus and that would basically become the Church of Christ. That is not to say Jews are not part of the Church for it is the case that any man who puts their trust in Christ for eternal salvation is part of the Church.

The Messiah goes on and reiterates in the same phraseology he used before that “will hear My voice” and they will, along with the remnant, ultimately all become one flock because they are all under the Lordship of Yeshua/Messiah.

Note that I am not saying the Church replaces Israel or becomes the “new” Israel. The plain meaning of scripture does not teach that! Israel and the Church are two different entities, but in the Millennial Kingdom they will be merged realms under the polity of Jesus Christ (cf. Mt. 25:34, 46; Ezekiel 11:21; 20:34-38; Isaiah 1:19-28; 65:11-12; 66:15-16; Jeremiah 25:27-33; 30:23-24; Micah 5:9-15; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2-6,18; 4:3).

We are in the last days. Time is running short, there is nothing else need happen before Christ comes for His Church—it is imminent (John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-51; 1 Thess. 4:13-17). Therefore in our milieu we need to be ever vigilant against false teachers, pastors with their own agendas, such as Elevation in the Charlotte, NC area, and pastors who are just exegetically and hermeneutically sloppy.


[i] Walvoord, Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1983), 309.

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