Who are the other sheep mentioned in John 10:16

Who are the other sheep mentioned in John 10:16                                     By Jack Kettler

“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

Whom would these other sheep be? One large religion that is headquartered in the Rocky Mountains uses this passage from John as a proof text to advance an agenda. Since this group does not use legitimate Biblical exegesis, their theory does not warrant interaction.

As will be seen, there is nothing secretive about the identity of these other sheep. Throughout the Scriptures, the identity and salvation of these other sheep are anticipated. 

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers provides a standard exposition of the text:
“(16) And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold. — The words recall to the mind a question which the Jews had asked at this very feast, “Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” (John 7:35). They asked it in the bitterness of scorn. He asserts that among the Gentiles—who are not of the Jewish fold—He already possesses sheep; just as He says to Paul concerning Corinth, “I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:10). The Old Testament prophets had foretold this coming of the Gentiles, as e.g. Isaiah 52:13 et seq.; Isaiah 53:10 et seq.; Micah 4:2; and it is present to our Lord’s mind here as the result of His laying down His life for the sheep. (Comp. Notes on John 11:52; John 12:32.)

Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice. – The bringing in of the Gentiles was in the Divine counsel part of the Messianic work which He must therefore needs do. It would result from His being lifted up that all men should be drawn unto Him, and would be accomplished in the mission-work of the Church. These scattered sheep shall hear His voice, for the conscience which knows the voice of God is the heritage of all men; they shall hear it, as the words seem to imply, while the sheep now in the fold refuse to follow it. (Comp. Notes on Matthew 8:11 and Romans 11:17.)

And there shall be one-fold, and one shepherd. — Better, there shall become one flock, and one shepherd. The word here rendered “fold,” is quite distinct from that which occurs in John 10:1, and in the earlier clause of this verse. It should be, beyond all doubt, rendered “flock”; but the reader may prove this for himself by comparing the only other passages where it is found in the New Testament—Matthew 26:31; Luke 2:8; 1Corinthians 9:7 (twice). In each of these passages we have “flock”; but here our version has followed the Vulgate and the Great Bible in giving “fold,” whereas both Tyndale and Coverdale had rightly given “flock.” But even “flock” and “shepherd” fail to catch the expressiveness of the Greek, where the words are closely allied, and of nearly the same sound, “There shall be one poimne and one poimèn.” Luther’s German can exactly render the verse. “Und Ich habe noch andere Schafe, die sind nicht aus diesem Stalle. Und dieselben muss Ich herführen, und sie werden meine Stimme hören, und wird eine Herde und ein Hirte werden.”

It is not uniformity which is promised, but unity. The distinction is not merely one of words, but upon it depends a wide and important truth. It is not unity of fold which is regarded as the future of the Church, but unity of flock. There will be many folds, in many nations, in many ages, in many climes. But for all Christians there will be one true Shepherd who layeth down His life for the sheep, and all these differing folds shall, through living unity with Him, make one vast flock.” (1)

Biblically passages that foretell from an Old Testament predictive point of view or clarify from the New Testament point of view, John 10:16:

“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:18)

“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before You.” (Psalm 22:27)

“All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and they shall glorify Your name.” (Psalm 86:9)

“The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” (Isaiah 9:2)

“He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

“Thus, declares the Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: I will gather to them still others besides those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:8)

“Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:3)

“And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14)

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hosea 2:23)

“All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” (Acts 10:45)

“Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.” (Acts 11:1)

“When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)

“Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” (Acts 28:28)

“Even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Romans 9:24)

“In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14)

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:4)

Using the interpretive rule that the Scriptures and the best interpreter of Scripture, the Biblical student can easily see what has been foretold and the glorious fulfillment of God saving the Gentiles.   

The Apostle Paul explains this:

“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6)

For the reader’s added benefit, two additional commentary entries will be consulted.

After accessing the parallel passages, Matthew Poole’s Commentary provides additional insight on John’s text:
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; our Saviour meaneth the Gentiles, who belonged not to the Jewish state and church, so were not under the same laws and government; for, 1Jo 2:2, he was not only a propitiation for the sins of the Jews, but for the sins of the whole world: he calleth those sheep, because the Lord knew who were his from eternity; and they were sheep in the counsels of God, and they were suddenly to be made his sheep by calling, the gospel being soon to be preached to all nations.

Then also (saith he) I must bring in; it is so written in God’s book, the promises and prophecies to that purpose must be fulfilled. They shall not only hear the voice and sound of my gospel, though going out of Zion, yet not terminated in Zion; but they shall embrace, receive, and believe that joyful sound.

And there shall be one-fold, and one shepherd; and there shall be but one church; as I am one Shepherd, so there shall be but one flock of sheep; one body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, as there is one God and Father of all, as the apostle speaketh, Ephesians 4:4-6.” (2)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible will provide a helpful concluding commentary:

And other sheep I have

Not distinct from those for whom he laid down his life, but from those who were under the Old Testament dispensation, and who heard not the thieves and robbers that were before Christ, ( John 10:8 ) ; others besides the lost sheep of the house of Israel, or the elect among the Jews, to whom Christ was sent; and by whom are meant the chosen of God among the Gentiles, who were sheep, though not called and folded, for the reasons given: (See Gill on John 10:3). These, though uncalled, belonged to Christ; he had an interest in them, they were given him by his Father; he had them in his hands, and upon his heart; his eye was upon them, and they were under his notice, inspection, and care:

which are not of this fold,

of the Jewish nation and church, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise; were as sheep going astray, and were scattered about in the several parts of the world; and were to be redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation:

them also I must bring;

out of the wilderness of the world, from among the men of it, their former sinful compassions, from the folds of sin and Satan, and the pastures of their own righteousness; to himself, and into his Father’s presence, to his house and ordinances, to a good fold and green pastures, and at last to his heavenly kingdom and glory: and there was a necessity of doing all this, partly on account of his Father’s will and pleasure, his purposes and decrees, who had resolved upon it; and partly on account of his own engagements, who had obliged himself to do it; as well as because of the case and condition of these sheep, who otherwise must have eternally perished:

and they shall hear my voice;

in the Gospel, not only externally, but internally; which is owing to his powerful and efficacious grace, who quickens them, and causes them to hear and live; unstops their deaf ears, and gives them ears to hear; and opens their hearts, to attend to his word, and gives them an understanding of it. The Arabic version reads this in connection with the preceding clause, thus, “and I must bring them also to hear my voice”; as well as the rest of the sheep among the Jews, and therefore the Gospel was sent among them:

and there shall be one-fold, [and] one shepherd;

one church state, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles; the middle wall of partition being broke down, these two coalesce in one, become one new man, and members of one and the same body; for though there may be several visible Gospel churches, yet there is but one kind of church state, and one general assembly and church of the firstborn, one family to which they all belong; for what reasons a church is comparable to a fold, (See Gill on John 10:1). And over this fold, or flock, there is but one shepherd, Jesus Christ; who is the rightful proprietor, and whose own the sheep are; and who knows how to feed them, and does take care of them; though there are many under shepherds, whom he employs in feeding them; in the original text the copulative “and” is wanting, and the words stand thus, “one fold, one shepherd”; which not only expresses a peculiar elegance, but answers the proverb delivered in the same form; and to which agree the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, which render them, “and there”, or “they shall be one fold of one shepherd”; or one flock which belongs to one shepherd only; see ( Ezekiel 34:23 ) ( 37:24 ).” (3) (bolding emphasis mine)

In closing:

In the Scriptures, sheep are depicted as necessary to the ancient Hebrews as livestock. Sheep are also depicted in Scripture as figuratively referring to God’s people.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)

These sheep include both Jew and Gentiles.

“For He Himself is our peace and our bond of unity. He who made both groups — [Jews and Gentiles]—into one body and broke down the barrier, the dividing wall [of spiritual antagonism between us].” (Ephesians 2:14 The Amplified Bible)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

Notes:

1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, John, Vol.17, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 46.

2.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, John, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 333.

3.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, John, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 356-357.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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