Lectionary Year A
April 21, 2002
John 10:1-10

Step II: Disposition


(JW)The genre of this passage seems to be a parable. Jesus is using things that would be common to his audience to explain spiritual things. In verses 1-5, Jesus tells the parable. In verse 6, it says that they do not understand. So, in verses 7-10, Jesus explains the parable to them. This passage also contains one of John's great "I am" statements. Jesus says, "I am the gate."
By verse 11, Jesus is saying, "I am the good shepherd."

(JC) This pericope is most likely an allegory rather than a parable. This means that all the details of the story are significant and have meaning. Thus, Jesus is both the door, and the shepherd of the sheep.

(RR)The genre for John 10:1-10 has been the topic of debate with little agreement among scholars as to how the text says what it says. Most of the debate centers on whether the pericope is a parable, allegory, both parable and allegory, neither a parable nor an allegory, but is a riddle. This is due to the use of the word paroimian by the evangelist to describe the figure of speech used by Jesus to describe the difference between the stranger and the shepherd and the way that each enters the sheep pen. paroimian is interpreted as meaning a proverb, or something that has hidden meaning. Traditionally in the Synoptic Gospels, parabolh was used as the Greek word for parable.
I believe that it is important to remember that the Gospel of John was written approximately 30 to 40 years after the other gospels and is probably based on a type of Kerygma or verbal tradition that was used in writing the others. It is possible that the evangelist who wrote John used paroimian to express the analogy, contrasting and figurative comparison (a form of a parable) of the good and bad shepherd that appears in this pericope.
This same figurative comparison, a type of parable, is used to establish God as the shepherd and Jesus as God incarnate who is the shepherd of the sheep. It is here that we also see the use of a type of parable contrasting the Pharasees and Jews to the bad shepherd, the stranger whose voice the sheep do not recognize. There is controversy dialogue and discourse directed at the Pharasees and Jews who have rejected a blind man whose sight was restored through a miracle.
The discourse that follows is a revelation that Jesus is the Gate through which we enter Salvation, but as gate for the sheep, is also the Shepherd we follow in getting to and through the Gate.

B. Personal Interaction

(JW)The biggest question for me is how Jesus can be "the gate" and "the good shepherd" in the same parable. It is easier to say that Jesus is the good shepherd than the gate. But, when he becomes both, this is confusing.
Who is Jesus referring to when he says, "All who came before me are thieves and bandits"? Is he referring to the scribes and Pharisees?
Who are the sheep that did not listen to these people? Are they the true followers of Christ who had no religious interest at all prior to the coming of Christ?
Where does Jesus the gate lead to? How can a follower come in to Jesus fold and go out of Jesus fold.. and then still find safe pasture?
What kinds of things would come to mind to the people when Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly"?

The "they" in verse 10 puzzles me. Who are the "they?" The sheep, the thieves and the robbers, the thieves and the robbers and the sheep? I guess, here we have the old question of "apokatastasis"- -will all be saved by God's abundant, life-giving grace, or will it only be the ones whom the shepherd calls by name?

(RR)Questions, Personal Interaction and Organization

1. Who is Jesus? Who is the shepherd? Step III and IV
2. Is verse 10 referring to Salvation? How do we get there? IV and V
3. What does Jesus mean when he says that he is the gate and the gate of the sheep? What are we to do? Step III, IV and V
4. What is the importance of the sound of the shepherd's voice, and why does he call the sheep by name? II, IV, and V
5. Is the thief and robber one person or two different types of people? Who is Jesus talking about as being thieves and robbers? III,IV, and V
6. Does the statement in verse 8 mean that all the Old Testament prophets including Abraham and Moses are thieves and robbers? Who is Jesus talking about here? Step IV and V
7. What is the job of the gatekeeper and who does this person represent? III


I think that my priority here falls on the last phrase of this passage: "I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly." An examination of what Jesus meant by this would be necessary. I think that many people don't live abundantly, at least spiritually, and that Jesus is the way to have spiritual abundance. This is a great and mysterious offer of life through Jesus Christ, worthy of study and proclamation.

| Return to gospel listings | Return to epistle listings |
| Return to Old Testament listings | Return to Psalm listings |
| User response form |