Sunday, February 21, 2016

In Context: Thieves and Shepherds

John 10:
1  "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
2  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3  To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
5  A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."
6  This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7  So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
8  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
9  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.                                                                                                                   
(In complete context: John 8:2-10:42)

The passage cited above, when read in its proper context, is the Lord speaking to the people about the Pharisees in the presence of the Pharisees, (i.e. their religious leaders). Therefore the lifting of any verse(s) taken from the context of chapters 8-9-10 can only be understood within that greater context. 

John 10 verses 1; 8; and 10 all speak of the same subject; the ”thief ”; that is those whom the Lord refers to as “all who came before me”. He refers to Himself as both the door and the Good Shepherd. The thief/thieves are the Pharisees. They do not enter the sheep fold by the gate (through Christ) but rather seek illegal entry. They are the ones which come to steal, kill, and destroy.(It is no different today. Acts 20:28-30; Matthew 7:15-20).

It is obvious from a careful reading of the text that John 10:10 is not a reference to Satan, (though these false shepherds are most certainly satanic). John 10:10 along with John 3:16, 1 John 4:16 and a host of other singular verses are daily ripped from their context and misapplied. A thousand delusional sects have been founded upon such shoddy interpretation. The Word of God must be understood in light of itself. We cannot apply a syncretistic approach in the expounding of the scriptures. 

Reading John 8-9-10 together as a unified narrative along with Ezekiel 34 opens up a universe of revelation; wisdom and understanding.  There are both true shepherds serving under the Good Shepherd, and there are hirelings. They serve no one but themselves and their lusts. They seek to steal, kill and destroy. He comes that all who are His might have life and that in abundance.  

Ezekiel 34:
1  The word of the LORD came to me:
2  "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?
3  You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.
4  The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
5  So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts.
6  My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
7  "Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
8  As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep,
9  therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
10  Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.
11  "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.

John 10:
27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
29  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
30  I and the Father are one."                              (John 17:1-3)

Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria

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