According to John 10:1-42

10  “Most truly I say to you, the one who does not enter into the sheepfold through the door but climbs in by another way, that one is a thief and a plunderer.+  But the one who enters through the door is the shepherd of the sheep.+  The doorkeeper opens to this one,+ and the sheep listen to his voice.+ He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought all his own out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.  They will by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”+  Jesus spoke this comparison to them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.  So Jesus said again: “Most truly I say to you, I am the door for the sheep.+  All those who have come in place of me are thieves and plunderers; but the sheep have not listened to them.  I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved, and that one will go in and out and find pasturage.+ 10  The thief does not come unless it is to steal and slay and destroy.+ I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. 11  I am the fine shepherd;+ the fine shepherd surrenders his life in behalf of the sheep.+ 12  The hired man, who is not a shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong, sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them— 13  because he is a hired man and does not care for the sheep. 14  I am the fine shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me,+ 15  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;+ and I surrender my life in behalf of the sheep.+ 16  “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold;+ those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.+ 17  This is why the Father loves me,+ because I surrender my life,+ so that I may receive it again. 18  No man takes it away from me, but I surrender it of my own initiative. I have authority to surrender it, and I have authority to receive it again.+ This commandment I received from my Father.” 19  A division again resulted among the Jews+ because of these words. 20  Many of them were saying: “He has a demon and is out of his mind.+ Why do you listen to him?” 21  Others said: “These are not the sayings of a demonized man. A demon cannot open blind people’s eyes, can it?” 22  At that time the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was wintertime, 23  and Jesus was walking in the temple in the colonnade of Solʹo·mon.+ 24  Then the Jews surrounded him and began to say to him: “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25  Jesus answered them: “I told you, and yet you do not believe. The works that I am doing in my Father’s name, these bear witness about me.+ 26  But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep.+ 27  My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.+ 28  I give them everlasting life,+ and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.+ 29  What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things, and no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father.+ 30  I and the Father are one.”+ 31  Once again the Jews picked up stones to stone him.+ 32  Jesus replied to them: “I displayed to you many fine works from the Father. For which of those works are you stoning me?” 33  The Jews answered him: “We are stoning you, not for a fine work, but for blasphemy;+ for you, although being a man, make yourself a god.” 34  Jesus answered them: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said: “You are gods”’?+ 35  If he called ‘gods’+ those against* whom the word of God came—and yet the scripture cannot be nullified— 36  do you say to me* whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?+ 37  If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me. 38  But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works,+ so that you may come to know and may continue knowing that the Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father.”+ 39  So they tried again to seize him, but he escaped from their reach.+ 40  And he went away again across the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first,+ and he stayed there. 41  And many people came to him and began saying: “John did not perform a single sign, but all the things John said about this man were true.”+ 42  And many put faith in him there.


Or “to.”
Or “of him.”

Study Notes

they know his voice: Repeated observations regarding shepherding in the Middle East confirm that sheep have the amazing ability to distinguish between the voice of their own shepherd and that of other shepherds or strangers. As Jesus indicated, shepherds would name each sheep, even when flocks were large. (Joh 10:3, 27) So from an early age, the sheep would hear the shepherd’s voice calling out their names as he guided and trained them. In addition, shepherds would use personalized sounds to distinguish themselves from other shepherds. They would teach the sheep to respond to different calls, or voice commands, in order to protect them from dangers or lead them to good pastures and water. Sheep can thus be said to know their shepherd’s unique voice, not only in the sense of identifying his voice as different from other voices but also in the sense of recognizing his tender care and protection for them individually and as a flock.

will by no means follow: The use of two Greek negatives with the verb emphatically expresses rejection of an idea, vividly emphasizing the permanence of Jesus’ words. In this context, the term stranger refers to someone who is not known to the sheep.

comparison: John is the only Gospel writer to use the Greek word pa·roi·miʹa. (Joh 10:6; 16:25, 29) It is similar in meaning to the Greek word pa·ra·bo·leʹ (“illustration” or “parable”) that is common in the other Gospels but not used at all in John’s account. (See study note on Mt 13:3.) The word pa·roi·miʹa may also convey the idea of a comparison or an analogy. Peter employed the same term with regard to the “proverb” of the dog that returns to its vomit and the sow that goes back to rolling in the mire. (2Pe 2:22) The same noun is used as the title of the book of Proverbs in the Greek Septuagint.

illustrations: Or “parables.” The Greek word pa·ra·bo·leʹ, which literally means “a placing beside (together),” may be in the form of a parable, a proverb, or an illustration. Jesus often explains a thing by ‘placing it beside,’ or comparing it with, another similar thing. (Mr 4:30) His illustrations were short and usually fictitious narratives from which a moral or spiritual truth could be drawn.

fine: Or “excellent; good.” The Greek word ka·losʹ may denote that which is intrinsically good and beautiful, something of fine quality. For example, the term is used of “fine fruit”; “fine soil”; “fine pearls.” (Mt 3:10; 13:8, 45) In this context, the term is used to denote that Jesus is a fine, excellent, superb shepherd.

life: Or “soul.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. Here it refers to Jesus’ life, which he as the fine shepherd surrenders, or voluntarily gives up, for the benefit of his sheep.​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

hired man: A flock of sheep was a valuable asset, so the owner, his children, or a relative often cared for these vulnerable creatures. (Ge 29:9; 30:31; 1Sa 16:11) An owner might also hire someone to care for the sheep. However, hired men were often motivated by the wages they received rather than by loyalty to the owner or concern for the sheep. (Compare Job 7:1, 2.) In the Scriptures, shepherding is used in the figurative sense of caring for, protecting, and nourishing the sheeplike servants of God. (Ge 48:15) Spiritual shepherds in the Christian congregation must avoid the type of attitude displayed by the “hired man.” (Joh 10:13) Rather, they strive to imitate Jehovah’s example as the caring Shepherd of his people (Ps 23:1-6; 80:1; Jer 31:10; Eze 34:11-16) and the self-sacrificing love displayed by Jesus, “the fine shepherd.”​—Joh 10:11, 14; Ac 20:28, 29; 1Pe 5:2-4.

life: Or “soul.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. Here it refers to Jesus’ life, which he as the fine shepherd surrenders, or voluntarily gives up, for the benefit of his sheep.​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

life: Or “soul.”​—See study note on Joh 10:11.

bring in: Or “lead.” The Greek verb aʹgo used here can mean “to bring (in)” or “to lead,” depending on the context. One Greek manuscript dated to about 200 C.E. uses a related Greek word (sy·naʹgo) that is often rendered “to gather.” As the Fine Shepherd, Jesus gathers, guides, protects, and feeds the sheep that belong to this fold (also referred to as “little flock” at Lu 12:32) and his other sheep. These become one flock under one shepherd. This word picture emphasizes the unity that Jesus’ followers would enjoy.

listen: Here the Greek word for “listen” has the sense of “giving attention to, understanding, and acting upon.”

life: Or “soul.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. Here it refers to Jesus’ life, which he was willing to surrender, or voluntarily give up, as a sacrifice.​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

the Festival of Dedication: The Hebrew name of this festival is Hanukkah (chanuk·kahʹ), meaning “Inauguration; Dedication.” It was held for eight days, beginning on the 25th day of the month of Chislev, close to the winter solstice, (see study note on wintertime in this verse and App. B15) to commemorate the rededication of Jerusalem’s temple in 165 B.C.E. Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes had shown his contempt for Jehovah, the God of the Jews, by desecrating His temple. For example, he built an altar on top of the great altar, where formerly the daily burnt offering had been presented. On Chislev 25, 168 B.C.E., to defile Jehovah’s temple completely, Antiochus sacrificed swine on the altar and had the broth from its flesh sprinkled all over the temple. He burned the temple gates, pulled down the priests’ chambers, and carried away the golden altar, the table of showbread, and the golden lampstand. He then rededicated Jehovah’s temple to the pagan god Zeus of Olympus. Two years later, Judas Maccabaeus recaptured the city and the temple. After the temple was cleansed, the rededication took place on Chislev 25, 165 B.C.E., exactly three years after Antiochus had made his disgusting sacrifice on the altar to Zeus. The daily burnt offerings to Jehovah were then resumed. There is no direct statement in the inspired Scriptures indicating that Jehovah gave Judas Maccabaeus victory and directed him to restore the temple. However, Jehovah had used men of foreign nations, such as Cyrus of Persia, to carry out certain purposes as regards His worship. (Isa 45:1) It is reasonable to conclude, then, that Jehovah might use a man of his dedicated people to accomplish His will. The Scriptures show that the temple had to be standing and operating in order for the prophecies regarding the Messiah, his ministry, and his sacrifice to be fulfilled. Also, the Levitical sacrifices were to be offered until the time when the Messiah would present the greater sacrifice, his life in behalf of mankind. (Da 9:27; Joh 2:17; Heb 9:11-14) Christ’s followers were not commanded to observe the Festival of Dedication. (Col 2:16, 17) However, there is no record that Jesus or his disciples condemned the celebrating of this festival.

wintertime: Referring to the last winter of Jesus’ ministry, in 32 C.E. The Festival of Dedication was in the month of Chislev, the ninth month, corresponding to November/December. In 32 C.E., the first day of the festival, Chislev 25, fell in the middle of December. (See App. B15.) It was common knowledge among the Jews that this festival occurred during wintertime. So the mention of wintertime may have been to emphasize the state of the weather as a reason for Jesus’ choice of a sheltered place for his teaching, in “the colonnade of Solomon.” (Joh 10:23) This location offered protection from the strong E wind in the winter.​—See App. B11.

keep us: Or “keep our souls.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. In some contexts, it can be used as the equivalent of a personal pronoun. Other examples of this usage in the Christian Greek Scriptures are Mt 12:18; 26:38; and Heb 10:38, where “my psy·kheʹ (soul)” can be rendered “I.”​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things: For this phrase, there are slightly different readings in Greek manuscripts and translations into other languages. Some manuscripts have a reading that can be rendered: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all others,” but many scholars consider that the main text rendering was likely the original reading.

one: Or “at unity.” Jesus prayed that just as he and his Father are “one,” demonstrating cooperation and unity of thought, so his true followers would be “one” in working together for the same purpose. The thoughts expressed in this prayer echo Jesus’ words recorded at Joh 10:30. There he states that he and the Father “are one” in connection with their dealings with his disciples, his “sheep,” who are given to him by the Father. (Joh 10:25-30; 17:2, 9) The Greek word here rendered “one” is in the neuter gender (denoting “one thing”), not in the masculine gender (denoting “one person”).​—See study note on Joh 10:30.

one: Or “at unity.” Jesus prayed that his true followers would be “one,” unitedly working together for the same purpose, just as he and his Father are “one,” demonstrating cooperation and unity of thought. (Joh 17:22) At 1Co 3:6-9, Paul describes this type of unity among Christian ministers as they work with one another and with God.​—See 1Co 3:8 and study notes on Joh 10:30; 17:11.

one: Or “at unity.” Jesus’ comment here shows that he and his Father are unified in protecting sheeplike ones and leading them to everlasting life. Such shepherding is a joint task of the Father and the Son. They are equally concerned about the sheep, not allowing anyone to snatch them out of their hand. (Joh 10:27-29; compare Eze 34:23, 24.) In John’s Gospel, the unity in fellowship, will, and purpose between the Father and the Son is often mentioned. The Greek word here rendered “one” is, not in the masculine gender (denoting “one person”), but in the neuter gender (denoting “one thing”), supporting the thought that Jesus and his Father are “one” in action and cooperation, not in person. (Joh 5:19; 14:9, 23) That Jesus referred, not to an equality of godship, but to a oneness of purpose and action is confirmed by comparing the words recorded here with his prayer recorded in John chapter 17. (Joh 10:25-29; 17:2, 9-11) This is especially evident when he prays that his followers “may be one just as we are one.” (Joh 17:11) So the kind of oneness referred to in chapter 10 as well as in chapter 17 would be the same.​—See study notes on Joh 17:11, 21; 1Co 3:8.

are one: Or “have one purpose.” Paul here describes the unity among Christian ministers as they work with one another and with God. (1Co 3:9) The Greek word here rendered “one” is in the neuter gender (denoting “one thing”), not in the masculine gender (denoting “one person”). So Paul is referring to being “one” in the sense of being united in action and cooperation.​—See study notes on Joh 10:30; 17:11, 21, where the Greek word for “one” is used in a similar way.

in your Law: Here referring to the entire Hebrew Scriptures, not just to the Law of Moses. The quote that follows is taken from Ps 82:6. “Law” is used in the same sense at Joh 12:34; 15:25.

gods: Or “godlike ones.” Jesus here quotes from Ps 82:6, where the Hebrew word ʼelo·himʹ (gods) is used of men, human judges in Israel. They were “gods” in their capacity as representatives of and spokesmen for God. Similarly, Moses was told that he was to “serve as God” to Aaron and to Pharaoh.​—Ex 4:16, ftn; 7:1, ftn.

in union with: Lit., “in.” In this context, the Greek preposition en is used to show close association. This use of the preposition is especially noteworthy in the writings of John and Paul. (Ga 1:22; 3:28; Eph 2:13, 15; 6:1) At 1Jo 3:24 and 4:13, 15, it describes a Christian’s relationship to God. Further supporting the rendering “in union with” is the way the preposition is used at Joh 17:20-23, where it occurs five times.



A sheepfold was an enclosure designed to protect sheep from thieves and predatory animals. Shepherds kept their flocks in the safety of a sheepfold during the night. In Bible times, sheepfolds were roofless structures of different shapes and sizes, often with stone walls and only one opening. (Nu 32:16; 1Sa 24:3; Zep 2:6) John speaks of entering a sheepfold “through the door,” which was guarded by a “doorkeeper.” (Joh 10:1, 3) In a community sheepfold, more than one flock might spend the night, and the doorkeeper would keep watch to protect the sheep. In the morning, the doorkeeper would open the door for the shepherds. Each shepherd would collect his flock by calling out to the sheep, and his sheep would recognize the voice of their shepherd and respond. (Joh 10:3-5) Jesus referred to this practice to illustrate the way he cared for his disciples.—Joh 10:7-14.


The wolves of Israel are primarily nighttime predators. (Hab 1:8) Wolves are fierce, voracious, bold, and greedy, frequently killing more sheep than they can eat or drag away. In the Bible, animals and their characteristics and habits are often applied in a figurative sense, picturing both desirable and undesirable traits. For example, in Jacob’s deathbed prophecy, the tribe of Benjamin is described figuratively as a fighter like a wolf (Canis lupus). (Ge 49:27) But in most occurrences, the wolf is used to picture such undesirable qualities as ferocity, greed, viciousness, and craftiness. Those compared to wolves include false prophets (Mt 7:15), vicious opposers of the Christian ministry (Mt 10:16; Lu 10:3), and false teachers who would endanger the Christian congregation from within (Ac 20:29, 30). Shepherds were well-aware of the danger posed by wolves. Jesus spoke of “the hired man” who “sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees.” Unlike the hired man, who “does not care for the sheep,” Jesus is “the fine shepherd,” who surrendered “his life in behalf of the sheep.”—Joh 10:11-13.

Solomon’s Colonnade
Solomon’s Colonnade

This 3-D animation shows one possibility of what Solomon’s Colonnade may have looked like. Located on the east side of the outer courtyard of the first-century temple in Jerusalem, Solomon’s Colonnade was a spacious, covered passageway. The Bible mentions this location three times by name. John states that on one occasion when Jesus walked through this colonnade, a group of Jews surrounded him, demanding that he tell them if he was the Christ. (Joh 10:22-24) Later, an amazed crowd gathered at Solomon’s Colonnade to hear Peter explain how he had cured a man who was crippled from birth. (Ac 3:1-7, 11) And early Christians met publicly in Solomon’s Colonnade.—Ac 5:12, 13; see Glossary, “Solomon’s Colonnade.”