Yohanan Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. “Yes, indeed! I tell you, the person who doesn’t enter the sheep-pen through the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.
2. But the one who goes in through the gate is the sheep’s own shepherd.
3. This is the one the gate-keeper admits, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep, each one by name, and leads them out.
4. After taking out all that are his own, he goes on ahead of them; and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.
5. They never follow a stranger but will run away from him, because strangers’ voices are unfamiliar to them.”
6. Yeshua used this indirect manner of speaking with them, but they didn’t understand what he was talking to them about.
7. So Yeshua said to them again, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that I am the gate for the sheep.
8. All those who have come before me have been thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them.
Those who have come before me have been thieves and robbers. Compare Jeremiah 23:1-2. Ezekiel 34:1-22; also Ac 5:36-37&NN.
9. I am the gate; if someone enters through me, he will be safe and will go in and out and find pasture.
10. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure.
11. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12. The hired hand, since he isn’t a shepherd and the sheep aren’t his own, sees the wolf coming, abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf drags them off and scatters them.
13. The hired worker behaves like this because that’s all he is, a hired worker; so it doesn’t matter to him what happens to the sheep.
14. I am the good shepherd; I know my own, and my own know me —
15. just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father — and I lay down my life on behalf of the sheep.
16. Also I have other sheep which are not from this pen; I need to bring them, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
I have other sheep which are not from this pen. namely, Gentiles, whom Yeshua says he will combine with the Jews into one flock under himself, the one shepherd. Although at first he sent his talmidim only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 10:5) and spoke of his own commission in the same way (Mt 15:24), this limitation applied only to his life before resurrection, Moreover, he intimated the coming inclusion of Gentiles when he healed the Roman army officer's orderly (Mt 8:5-13) and the daughter of the woman from Cana'an (Mt 15:22-28), ministered to the woman at the well in Shomron (4:1-26), and prophesied that many would come from the east and the west to sit with the Patriarchs (Mt 8:11) and that some nations (or Gentiles; see Mt 5:46N) would be judged favorably (Mt 25:31^6&N).
This joining of non-Jews to God's people is alluded to again at 11:52 and is the major subject of the book of Acts, of Sha'ul's letters to the Romans, Galatians and Ephesians, and of the book of Revelation. The ingathering of Gentiles has begun but has not been completed. Portions of the Bible have been translated into more than 1,800 languages, but there are some 5,000 languages spoken (depending on what is defined as a language). There are believers in the Messiah and in God's Word among hundreds of peoples, but hundreds of other peoples are virtually unreached. The "other sheep" will continue to be added "until the Gentile world enters in its fullness" (Ro 11:25).
The Tanakh often has the salvation of Gentiles in view; see, for example. Genesis 12:3, 18:14, 22:18, 26:4; Isaiah 11:10, 19:6, 54:1-3, 60:1-3; Hosea 1:10; Amos 9:11; Malachi 1:11; Psalms 72, 87. Isaiah 45:23 is quoted by Sha'ul in this connection (Pp 2:10). The strongest impact of this idea on the consciousness of observant Jews comes from Zechariah 14:9. recited daily in the synagogue in the 'Aleinu prayer: "And Adonai will be king over all the earth; on that day Adonai will be one and his name one." While Zechariah 14:16-19 proves that eventually New Testament worship will be far more Jewish in character than it is now (see 7:2N). the present verse and the New Testament references given in this note show that the final form of God's chosen people includes Gentiles who have not converted to Judaism.
17. “This is why the Father loves me: because I lay down my life — in order to take it up again!
18. No one takes it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.”
18 I lay down my life.... No one takes it away from me: on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. Yeshua was neither the victim nor the perpretator of any "Passover plot" but was the fulilller of God's eternal plan that the eternal Word (1:1-2) humble himself by taking human form and dying for the sins of humanity (1:14, Pp 2:6-11). Yeshua's several predictions of his impending death for this purpose (here, 12:23-36, 13:33, 16:28; Mt 10:28, 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19; and parallel passages in Mark and Luke), as well as Tanakh passages indicating the Messiah would die and be resurrected (Isaiah 53:1-12, Psalm 16:8-11) provide ample proof.
I have the power to take it up again. It is the Father who raised up Yeshua (Ro 8:11); but according to this verse Yeshua had the power, even in death, to resurrect himself.
19. Again there was a split among the Judeans because of what he said.
20. Many of them said, “He has a demon!” and “He’s meshugga! Why do you listen to him?”
He's meshuggah, Hebrew and Yiddish equivalent of Greek mainetai ("he is out of his mind, insane, crazy, mad, not in control of himself), often used colloquially, as here, to discredit the content of what someone says because of the person's supposedly irresponsible condition.
21. Others said, “These are not the deeds of a man who is demonized — how can a demon open blind people’s eyes?”
Again a division; see 7:43&N, 9:16. On attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan, see Mt 12:31-32&N, Lk 12:8-10&N.
Yeshua changes the metaphor. He is the good shepherd (vv. 11-14); compare 21:15-17, MJ 13:20. 1 Ke 5:4; see also Ezekiel 34:23, 37:24 and Psalm 23.
22. Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter,
Chanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, in which Jews since 164 B.C.E. have celebrated the victory of the Makkabim over Antiochus IV, king of Syria. This is the earliest mention of the holiday in all literature and the only mention of it in the Bible, since the Tanakh was completed before that date (the book of Daniel contains prophecy about the event celebrated). The apocryphal books, 1, 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees, present historical and other perspectives on what happened.
Antiochus, recently defeated in Egypt, expressed his frustration by attacking Judea, ruthlessly slaughtering men, women and children, and invading the Temple. There he carried off the golden altar, menorahs and vessels: and to show his contempt for the God of Israel he sacrificed there a pig to Zeus. He forbade circumcision, observing Shabbat and keeping kosher, and commanded that only pigs be sacrificed in the Temple; he himself cooked a pig in the Temple and poured its_broth on the holy Torah scrolls and on the altar.
Syrian officers were dispatched to enforce these cruel and blasphemous decrees. One day when the Syrian officer in Modi'in commanded Mattityahu HaMakkahi (Mattathias the Maccabee or Hammer), head of a family oicohanim, to sacrifice a pig, he and his five sons killed the first Jew to comply (see Ac 6: IN) and then killed the officer and his soldiers. This was the start of a rebellion. After Mattityahu's death his son Y'hudah (Judas Maccabeus, about whom Handel wrote his oratorio so named) assembled a number of courageous Jews and led them to victory over the Syrians, first in guerilla warfare, then later in open battle. On the 25th of Kislev they rededicated the Temple and consecrated a new altar. The ner tamid ("eternal light") was relit, but there was only enough consecrated olive oil to keep it burning for one day, and it would take a week to prepare more. By a miracle of God reported in the book of 2 Maccabees the light burned for eight days, by which time a new supply had been prepared. For this reason Jews celebrate Chanukkah for eight days, starting on Kislev 25, which can fall between November 27 and December 27.
The Bible does not state when Yeshua was born, perhaps as a prophylactic against our worshipping the day instead of the One who is worthy. But it is interesting that the early believers in the Messiah apparently saw a link between Chanukkah and the birth day of the Messiah: the one is concerned with an earthly building, the other with the living Temple of God who came down from Heaven — for Yeshua himself made the comparison when he said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again" (2:19). So, since the end of the third century December 25, the Roman calendar date corresponding to Kislev 25, has been the generally accepted date for Christmas in the Western churches (the Greek Orthodox observe January 6, the Armenians January 19). In secular America both Christmas and Chanukkah become distorted. Christmas turns into a commercial extravaganza, thereby expressing the "American civil religion" of pious platitudes and meaningless customs, such as trees. Santa Claus, reindeer, and obligatory exchanges of cards and presents. At best it becomes a time for family togetherness (although a byproduct is that the suicide rate is highest then, for that is when people who miss their families or have none become most despairing), but little thought is given to God or Yeshua.
Likewise Chanukkah has become a Jewish refuge and defense against absorption into and assimilation by the Gentile majority: "We don't celebrate Christmas; we celebrate Chanukkah, because we're Jewish." Gift-giving at Chanukkah (one gift each night) is a relatively modern Jewish tradition, obviously developed in response to the older tradition of gift-giving at Christmas. Messianic Jews use Chanukkah as an occasion for re.dedication to God and his Messiah. Chanukkah is celebrated using a special Chanukkah menorah with nine lights. One uses a match to light the shammash (''servant"), and it is then employed to light one candle the first night, two the second, and so on until on the eighth night all eight lights and the shammash are burning brightly. For Messianic Jews the imagery is rich: Yeshua, the "light of the world" (8:12&N), came as a servant (Mk 10:45) to give light to everyone (1:4-5), so that we might be lights to others (Mt 5:14).
But Christmas itself is not a biblical holiday at all. If it is to be celebrated, it should be observed as a Jewish holiday; for what is more worthy of voluntary celebration than the coming of the Jewish Messiah into the world, by whom all may have the light of life? (Much material in this note is drawn from the chapter on Chanukkah in The Gospel In The Feasts Of Israel, by the Hebrew Christian, Victor Buksbazen.)
23. and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade.
Shlomo's Colonnade, also referred to at Ac 3:11, 5:12. The eastern part of the walkway surrounding the outer court of Herod's Temple, mentioned in the writings of Josephus.
24. So the Judeans surrounded him and said to him, “How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly!”
See Mt 8:4&N.
25. Yeshua answered them, “I have already told you, and you don’t trust me. The works I do in my Father’s name testify on my behalf,
The works I do... testify. Same argument as at 5:36.
26. but the reason you don’t trust is that you are not included among my sheep.
27. My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me,
28. and I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from my hands.
I give them eternal life. Contrast this story from one of the "minor tractates" appended to the Talmud:
[Once Rabbi Akiva, in order to persuade a woman to reveal certain sensitive information,] "said to her, 'My daughter, if you will tell me the answer to the question I am going to ask you. I will bring you to eternal life.' 'Swear it to me.' she said. Rabbi Akiva swore the oath with his lips but cancelled it in his heart." (Kallah 18b in some editions; Kallah 16 in The Minor Tractates of the Talmud, Soncino edition)
Akiva swore falsely in order to accomplish his own purpose, the end justifying the means. Yeshua spoke truly, because he in fact has authority (Mk 1:22&N) to grant eternal life.
29. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no one can snatch them from the Father’s hands.
30. I and the Father are one.”
I and the Father are one, the same One as in the Sh 'ma: "Adonai, our God, Adonai is One" (Deuteronomy 6:4). Yeshua's self-assertion of his own divinity is occasioned by his regard for his followers: "no one will snatch them from" Yeshua's (v. 28) or the Father's (v. 29) hands. "Ani veha'av, echad anachnu" ("1 and the Father are one"); therefore we who are in Yeshua's care have complete assurance that nothing "will be able to separate us from the love of God which comes to us through the Messiah Yeshua. our Lord" (Ro 8:31-39). See also v. 38&N.
31. Once again the Judeans picked up rocks in order to stone him.
32. Yeshua answered them, “You have seen me do many good deeds that reflect the Father’s power; for which one of these deeds are you stoning me?”
33. The Judeans replied, “We are not stoning you for any good deed, but for blasphemy — because you, who are only a man, are making yourself out to be God (Hebrew: Elohim)".
The Judeans once again picked up stones in order to stone him, as at 8:59 and for the same reason, self-identification as God, which they understood as blasphemy (v. 33). See 8:5N, 8:58-59N.
34. Yeshua answered them, “Isn’t it written in your Torah, 'I have said, “You people are Elohim'? (Psalm 82:6)
35. If he called ‘elohim’ the people to whom the word of Elohim was addressed (and the Tanakh cannot be broken),
36. then are you telling the one whom the Father set apart as holy and sent into the world, ‘You are committing blasphemy,’ just because I said, ‘I am a son of Elohim’?
Your Torah. See 8.17N, Mt 5:17&N. Here "Torah" means "Tanakh," since the passage quoted is from the Psalms, not the Pentateuch.
You people are Elohim, here Greek theoi ("gods"). But in the Hebrew text of Psalm 82 the word "elohim" may be translated "God," "gods," "judges" or "angels." Yeshua's rabbinic mode of Bible citation implies the context of the whole psalm (Mt 2:6N), which plays on these meanings:
"Elohim [God] stands in the congregation of El [God]: He judges among the elohim [judges/angels/gods]:
'How long will you judge unjustly?...
1 have said, "You are elohim [judges/angels/gods],
All of you are sons of the Most High."
Nevertheless you will die like a man
And fall like one of the princes.'
Arise, Elohim [God (the Judge)], and judge the earth,
For you will inherit all the nations." (Psalm 82:1-2,6-8)
The first and last "Elohim" mean "God," but the others should be rendered "judges," "gods" or "angels." To remind the reader to reach back through the Greek to the Hebrew wordplay I rendered theoi by its Hebrew equivalent.
Yeshua's wordplay implies a rabbinic-style kal v'chomer argument (Mt 6:30N): if humans, who do evil works as they "judge unjustly" are elohim, how much more is Yeshua, who does good works (vv. 25,32-33,37-38) Elohim; and if "all of you are sons of the Most High," how much more does the description "Son of God" apply to Yeshua.
37. “If I am not doing deeds that reflect my Father’s power, don’t trust me.
38. But if I am, then, even if you don’t trust me, trust the deeds; so that you may understand once and for all that the Father is united with me, and I am united with the Father.”
The Father is united with me and I am united with the Father. This explains v. 30; also see 17:21-23&N.
39. One more time they tried to arrest him, but he slipped out of their hands.
40. He went off again beyond the Yarden, where Yochanan had been immersing at first, and stayed there.
41. Many people came to him and said, “Yochanan performed no miracles, but everything Yochanan said about this man was true.”
42. And many people there put their trust in him.
Many... put their trust in him, as at 2:23, 7:31,8:30, 11:45, 12:11.
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