My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1)“My sheep hear My voice,” . . “and I know them;”
(2)“And they follow Me” . . “and I give unto them eternal life;”
(3)“And they shall never perish” . . . “neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
By reading successively the clauses placed on the left side of the page, we trace the progress of the human act and state; by reading, in the same way, the clauses on the right side of the page, we trace the progress of the divine gift; by reading each pair in the order of the text, we see how at each stage the gift is proportioned to the faculty which can receive it.
The earlier clauses are familiar to us from the preceding discourse, but some expressions will need a word of explanation.
Eternal life.—Comp. John 10:10, where the word “eternal” is added in some readings. Here the verb is in the present, “I give (am now giving) them.” (Comp. John 3:15; John 5:24; John 6:47 et seq.). We cannot be too careful to observe that our Lord’s thoughts of “eternal life” is never of the future only. It is a development, rather than a simply future existence. We shall live eternally, because we now live spiritually in communion with the Spirit who is Eternal.
Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.—Better (comp. John 10:18), and none shall pluck them . . . The words should not be limited by the insertion of the word man. They are to be taken as including every spiritual foe; all thieves and robbers that would break into the fold; all wolves that would rend the flock; the adversary who “as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” (Comp. especially for the full thought of no separation from Christ, Romans 8:38-39.) The words “out of my hand” express alike the strength which protects, and guidance which leads, and comfort which cherishes. (See Isaiah 40:11.) Out of this hand none shall pluck. Yet we are to bear in mind that the sheep itself may wander from the shepherd’s care, and that all the fulness of these promises depends upon the human will, which is included in the first clause, “My sheep hear my voice . . . and they follow me.”John 10:27-31. My sheep hear my voice, &c. — Our Lord still alludes to the discourse he had had before this festival. As if he had said, My sheep are those who, 1st, Hear my voice by faith; 2d, Are known (that is, approved) by me as loving me; and, 3d, Follow me, keep my commandments, with a believing, loving heart. And to those who, 1st, Truly believe, (observe three promises annexed to three conditions,) I give eternal life. He does not say, I will give, but I give. For he that believeth, hath everlasting life. Those whom, 2d, I know truly to love me, shall never perish, provided they abide in my love. 3d, 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. 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. Indeed, his hearers were provoked to such a degree by what he now said, that they took up stones, and were going to kill him outright, imagining that he had spoken blasphemy.
Hear my voice - See John 10:3-4. Applied to Christians, it means that they hear and obey his commandments.
I know them - See John 10:14.They follow me - A flock follows its shepherd to pastures and streams, John 10:3. Christians not only obey Christ, but they imitate him; they go where his Spirit and providence lead them; they yield themselves to his guidance, and seek to be led by him. When Jesus was upon earth many of his disciples followed or attended him from place to place. Hence, Christians are called his followers, and in Revelation 14:4 they are described as "they that follow the Lamb."See Poole on "John 10:4". John 10:4, See Gill on John 10:16; and since therefore these Jews did not, it was a plain case they were not of his sheep:
and I know them; See Gill on John 10:14; but Christ knew not these as the elect of God, or as the Father's gift to him, and therefore they could not be his sheep:
and they follow me; both in the exercise of grace, and in the discharge of duty, and whithersoever he the good shepherd leads them; See Gill on John 10:3, See Gill on John 10:4. But now, whereas these Jews did not follow Christ, but turned their backs on him, and rejected him, it was notorious that they were none of his sheep; but both happy and safe are those persons, that are the sheep of Christ, as appears from what is next said of them.My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 10:27-28. Description of the relation of the πρόβατα to Him (comp. John 10:4; John 10:14), which brings clearly to view that the Ἰουδαῖοι cannot belong to them. Notice in John 10:27 the climactic parallelism of the two halves of the verse as far as δίδωμι αὐτοῖς (John 10:28), after which, commencing with καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλ., etc., the discourse goes on to express in a double form the inseparableness of the blessed relationship. On the emphatic polysyndeton, compare John 10:3; John 10:12.
τὰ πρόβ. τὰ ἐμά] the sheep which belong to me.
ζωὴν αἰών.] also conceived already in its temporal development, John 3:15, John 5:24, and repeatedly.
καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλ.] The negation belongs to the verb; this declaration: “they shall certainly not perish,” will be accomplished in eternity. The lost sheep, i.e. the sheep which has been separated, and wandered away from the flock (Matthew 10:6; Luke 15:4), typifies him who is separated from the protection and gracious leading of Christ, who has fallen into unbelief. Compare the following καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει, etc., where this protection and gracious leading is set forth with still more concrete tenderness by the words ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου. His hand protects, bears, cherishes, leads them. Liberty and the possibility of apostasy are not thus excluded (in answer to Augustine and the teaching of the Reformed Church); he who has fallen away is no longer a πρόβατον, but on the part of Christ everything is promised by which preserving grace is secured, and this is the ground of the Certitudo salutis.27, 28. Note the simple but very impressive coupling of the clauses by a simple ‘and’ throughout and comp. John 10:3; John 10:12 : note also the climax.John 10:27-28. Τὰ πρόβατα—ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου, the sheep—out of My hand) Three pairs of sentences, of which the several parts express both the faith of the sheep and the goodness of the Shepherd, by means of correlatives.Verses 27-30. -
(2) Christ's claim to equality of power and essence, and similarity of gracious operation with the Father. Verses 27, 28. - 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, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand. Commentators have differed as to the arrangement of these two verses - whether the six assertions should be regarded as two triplets, in the first of which the sheep of Christ are made prominent, and in the latter of which the Shepherd; thus -
(l) The sheep -
"My sheep hear my voice" (their receptivity).
"And I know them" (the Lord's response to their faith).
"And they follow me" (their active obedience).
(2) The Shepherd -
"I give them eternal life" (involving freedom from peril and death).
"They shall not perish forever."
"No one (not man or devil, wolf or hireling)
shall pluck them out of my hand."
This is not so satisfactory as the arrangement which puts this weighty saying into three couplets instead of two triplets; in which the sheep are the prominent theme of each proposition. The three couplets display the climacteric character of the wondrous rhythm and interchange of emotion between the Divine Shepherd and the sheep-
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them" = mutual recognition.
"They follow me, and I give them eternal life" = reciprocal activity.
"They shall not perish forever, and no one shall pluck them out of my hand" = an authoritative assurance, and its pledge or justification.
Christ's knowledge of the sheep corresponds with their recognition of his supreme claims; theft active trust is rewarded by his greatest gift; their indefeasible birthright is guaranteed by his limitless authority and power to protect them. It would be gross perversion of the passage to urge this indefeasible birthright on the ground of a few occasional flashes of conscious assurance and without any recognition of all the terms of the relation.
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