On the Gospel of John, Part 28: Wolves Cannot Be Sheep

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On the Gospel of John, Part 28: Wolves Cannot Be Sheep

Thus far in John chapter 10 we have seen Yahshua Christ proclaim for Himself to be the Good and True Shepherd who came in through the door of the sheep, and He also proclaimed for Himself to be the Door of the sheep. As we examined the relevant oracles of the Old Testament prophets concerning both the sheep and the Shepherd, it is revealed once again that Yahshua Christ is indeed Yahweh God incarnate, who had long before promised to come and to gather His Sheep for Himself, which are the scattered and lost sheep of the house of Israel, and that is the only stated purpose of the Shepherd.

We also discussed at length another aspect of the discourse of the Good Shepherd, which is the phenomenon of hirelings and wolves. The hireling may indeed be one of the sheep, who cares only for his own gain and for profit he allows wolves into the sheepfold, as we read from Isaiah chapter 56. Or perhaps, as Christ Himself had described here, the hireling flees from fear when the wolf comes. Of course, either sheep or wolves may be hirelings, but wolves are not sheep, and they did not come in through the door of the sheep. For that reason wolves cannot ever be sheep, and wolves in the sheepfold can only be thieves and robbers, outsiders who are looking to profit by devouring the sheep. We explained that the door of the sheep was the genetic line of Abraham through Jacob-Israel, as that is how Yahshua Christ and all of His sheep come into the world. Yahshua Christ also being Yahweh incarnate, the Creator of the sheep, He is also that Door. Wolves did not come through that door as they were not created by Him, but wolves here are used as a metaphor to represent corruptions of His creation – bastards, and not sons.

We found the words of Paul of Tarsus in Acts chapter 20 had made this same distinction, We also discussed how both Peter and Jude in their epistles, which explain who the wolves are, had related them to the wicked and corrupt descendants of the fallen angels who were condemned of old and who had sought to infiltrate and subvert the sheepfold of Yahweh in ancient times as well as in the Christian era. I would assert that here in John chapter 10, we have this great discourse on the Good Shepherd and the Sheep so that we could be absolutely certain of the purpose of both the Christ for His sheep, and the nature of His enemies, who are also the natural enemies of the sheep.

Discussing the chronology of this discourse, we explained that once the pericope of the woman in adultery is removed from John’s Gospel, as it was never a part of his original gospel in the first place, then the description of the chain of events remains unbroken from John 7:37 through John 10:21, and all of the events described in that section of John’s gospel took place on the “last great day” of the Feast of Tabernacles, ostensibly in the year 31 AD, six months before the Passover of the Crucifixion. But now, as we proceed with John chapter 10 and it is two months later, during the feast of dedication, it becomes evident that Yahshua Christ must have been preaching the message of the Good Shepherd throughout this entire time as He continues on that theme when He is confronted by them here once again, in the next account in this chapter. The message of the Good Shepherd was indeed a challenge to the authority of the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Temple, as Christ is also identifying them as wolves.

So as we proceed with the Gospel of John, it is now perhaps two months after the events which were described beginning from the last portion of chapter 7 up to this point in chapter 10. Some of the things which we are about to encounter, we have already discussed in relation to John’s gospel, and therefore we will have to repeat ourselves once again. That also reflects the nature of the enemies of Christ, who were obstinate in their rejection of the truth, and continually pressured Him to testify concerning Himself, ostensibly only so that they could have a charge against Him. This we also read in Matthew chapter 12: “14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.” Matthew was very likely referring to the same council which is recorded here in John chapter 11. Now, by our reckoning, it is December, or perhaps late November, in the beginning of the fourth year of Yahshua’s ministry:

22 Then there was the feast of dedication in Jerusalem – [P45 inserts “now”, the MT “and”; the text follows P66, P75, א, B, D and W] it was winter – 23 and Yahshua walked about in the temple on the porch of Solomon.

The Greek word, ἐγκαίνια, which is dedication here and which is first found in Greek literature in relation to this feast, is formed from a compound of the word καινός, which means new or fresh. The word hannukah is a Hebrew synonym found in the Old Testament as dedicating in Numbers 7:10, 11, and dedication in 7:84, 88 and elsewhere. The term ἐγκαίνια seems to have been formed in the Hellenistic period for the exclusive reason of describing this feast in Greek, as the word is wanting in earlier Greek literature. It may also have been rendered as renewal, restoration or renovation, but I chose to follow Brenton’s rendering of the word in his translation of the Septuagint, which he probably received from the King James translations of the corresponding Hebrew word.

The feast of dedication was instituted by the Maccabees after the restoration of the second temple some time after it was defiled and damaged by the Seleucid king of Syria, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, around 167 BC. His attempt to suppress the religion of Jerusalem as a part of his intent to homogenize the peoples and religions of his kingdom had sparked a rebellion led by the Hasmonean family of high priests. But even certain of the Israelites in Judaea had apparently wanted to follow after Antiochus, as we read in 1 Maccabees chapter 1: “41 Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, 42 And every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. 43 Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.” Judas, the high priest who led the rebellion against this policy, was ultimately victorious and for that he gained the nickname Maccabeus, which is a Hellenized form of a Hebrew word for hammer. The institution of this feast is described in both 1 Maccabees chapter 4 and 2 Maccabees chapter 2.

As a digression, I must state that 2 Maccabees is a different presentation of accounts from the same general historical period which is found in 1 Maccabees, made from apparently different sources and a somewhat different point of view. We do know the compiler of 1 Maccabees, which covers a period of about 40 to 45 years, but the compiler of 2 Maccabees declares himself to be a redactor of an author named Jason of Cyrene, and had written in its second chapter “ 23 All these things, I say, being declared by Jason of Cyrene in five books, we will assay to abridge in one volume.” So the compiler of 2 Maccabees revealed his source, but he himself is unidentified.

The consequences of Antiochus defiling the Temple were greater than merely causing the temple to be closed, as he had also taken over and repopulated Jerusalem itself. In 1 Maccabees chapter 1 we read where it is speaking of the subsequent actions of Antiochus: “29 And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Juda, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude, 30 And spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel. 31 And when he had taken the spoils of the city, he set it on fire, and pulled down the houses and walls thereof on every side. 32 But the women and children took they captive, and possessed the cattle. 33 Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them. 34 And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein. 35 They stored it also with armour and victuals, and when they had gathered together the spoils of Jerusalem, they laid them up there, and so they became a sore snare: 36 For it was a place to lie in wait against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to Israel. 37 Thus they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it: 38 Insomuch that the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them: whereupon the city was made an habitation of strangers, and became strange to those that were born in her; and her own children left her.”

As another digression, we may note here, that in ancient times it was the pagans who advocated both religious homogeneity and population amalgamation, wishing to turn all beasts into sheep.

This feast of dedication is also described by Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities, Book 12. The chronology which Josephus employed is tied to the beginning of the Seleucid rule of Syria, which was in 312 BC, and the system of Greek Olympiads, the 153rd Olympiad being the four year period beginning with 168 BC and the 154th being the four year period beginning with 164 BC. Note that Josephus also misinterprets the Messianic prophecy found in the 9th chapter of Daniel to refer to the Seleucid defiling of the Temple, rather than to the Roman destruction of the Temple which had happened not long before he endeavored to write this account. But it had not been 490 years from the rebuilding of the temple to the time of Antiochus IV, so Josephus began counting from Daniel’s own time rather than from the time when Daniel said the 490 years would begin. So he wrote of this feast in Book 12 of his Antiquities:

321 This desolation happened to the temple in the hundred forty and fifth year [167 BC], on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Apellaios [a month on the Macedonian calendar which seems to be close to our November], and on the hundred fifty and third Olympiad: but it was dedicated anew, on the same day, the twenty-fifth of the month of Apellaios, on the hundred and forty-eighth year [164 BC], and on the hundred and fifty-fourth Olympiad. 322 And this desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given four hundred and eight years before; for he declared that the Macedonians would stop that worship (for some time). 323 Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days; and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon: but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honoured God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. 324 Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. 325 And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that hence was the name given to that festival.

According to Josephus’ description here, where he said that Judas celebrated this feast “and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon”, it seems as if Judas was trying to introduce a more pious form of winter festival than Saturnalia or Bacchanalia, the perverse winter festivals of the Romans and Greeks. A little earlier in Antiquities Book 12, writing of a time just a short while before the rebellion against Antiochus, Josephus had described how some of the Judaeans were becoming Hellenized, and had petitioned the Syrian king for the building of a Greek gymnasium in Jerusalem, which he had granted. So perhaps we can imagine that Judas was attempting to find ways to counter such Hellenization, which was the reason for the rebellion against the Seleucids in the first place.

As another digression, it is also apparent with his association of this event with the 70-weeks prophecy in Daniel chapter 9, that Flavius Josephus could twist the words of prophecy for his own convenient interpretation. Or perhaps, since he was a trained Pharisee, he was merely repeating something which he was taught previously, and which he may have thought made perfect sense, without going back to reevaluate the interpretation after the Romans destroyed the temple completely in 70 AD. There is every reason to believe that Josephus had written Antiquities after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, since he himself professed to writing it after he had finished his account of the war with the Romans. While I believe he was an authentic Levite, as he also attested, Josephus was still a Jew in the religious sense of the word, and if he proclaimed that the Romans had fulfilled Daniel chapter 9, he would have had to renounce his religion and declare for Christ to be the Messiah.

But in parts of his writing Josephus did come close to doing that, and perhaps he had not taken the time to consider all of the implications. I believe that the testimony of Christ in Antiquities Book 18 is authentic, where it is written that “63 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Judaeans and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ.” To his credit, in another part of Antiquities, in Book 10, he did mention the Romans in connection with Daniel chapter 9 where he wrote: “276 And indeed it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel's vision, and what he wrote many years before they came to pass. In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them.” So the mind of Josephus was divided concerning Daniel and the destruction of Jerusalem.

We must also make the observation, that simply because Yahshua Christ is found on Solomon’s porch during the time of the Feast of Dedication does not mean that He was advocating the observance of this feast which had been declared by men, which is a claim, or sometimes even a criticism, that I have read in diverse places. The Good Shepherd would seek out His sheep wherever they wandered, and ostensibly, many Judaeans gathered at the temple in celebration of this feast although it was not required, and of course it was not even mentioned, in the laws of the Old Covenant. So continuing with John chapter 10, as Christ is on Solomon’s porch:

24 Then the Judaeans surrounded Him and said to Him: “How long do You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, speak to us openly!”

Where it says “How long do You keep us in suspense” the literal meaning is “Until when do you hold our breath?” But He had already told them in several ways that He is the Messiah, as it is recorded in John in chapters 5 through 10, and they continued to reject Him as they could neither understand nor accept what He had told them. For example, in John chapter 5 Christ spoke to them in a way by which He described Himself as the Son of the 2nd Psalm, which is the Messiah, and they rejected Him. He asserted that all judgment was given to Him, and that He had the power to “make live whom He wishes”. In another example, upon His speaking in John chapter 7, and His claims to have the true doctrine of God, many of the people believed that He was the Christ, and He made the assertion that any who believed in Him, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”. That saying evokes several prophecies that are found in Isaiah, and a statement from Jeremiah chapter 17 where Yahweh had referred to Himself as “the fountain of living waters”. Later, in John chapter 8, Christ testified that the Father had sent Him, He foretold of His impending crucifixion, and He asserted for Himself to be the Son who had come to set the children of God at liberty. This correlates with a prophecy which He had cited in reference to Himself at another time, where it is recorded that He was in Nazareth in Luke chapter 4, and reading from Isaiah He said that God had “sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound”. Doing that He was a quoting from a Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah chapter 61. So in all of these ways and more, Christ did speak to them openly, but they continually rejected Him. Therefore, continuing with John, He answered them in that very manner:

25 Yahshua replied to them [P66, א and D want “to them”]: “I have spoken to you and you do not believe [B has ‘you have not believed’; D ‘you do not believe Me’]! The works which I do in the name of My Father, these things testify concerning Me.

As we had also explained, Christ having been sent by God cannot call on the testimony of men in order to prove that fact. So He called on the testimony of the things which He was able to do as His proof, that He was sent by God because He was able to do those things, and those who opposed Him would not believe that testimony. In John chapter 5 Christ had made a man to walk who had been lame for 38 years, and the Judaeans despised Him for it. Then in John chapter 9, Christ had healed a man who was blind from birth, and after much inquiry to see if it was true, once again they despised Him for that. Yet Yahweh the Father had testified of these things in the words of Isaiah, for example in chapter 35 where it says: “4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.”

There are accounts in the other gospels, such as in Matthew chapters 9 and 12 and Mark chapter 9, where Christ had healed the dumb so they could speak. So all of these prophesied miracles testified that Christ was indeed Yahweh come to save His people.

This is the testimony of the Father, that the Messiah, the Savior of Israel, would indeed make the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk. Yahshua, by doing these things, had all the proof He needed that He was the Christ. The Jews who rejected Him, seeing these very things yet not having fearful hearts, had proven that they were never the people whom Yahweh was addressing through the prophet in the first place, that they were never the children of Israel for whom the words in Isaiah were written. So Christ now attests to them that same thing where He exclaims:

26 But you do not believe, because you are not My sheep!

The 3rd century papyrus P66 has a longer version of this verse: “But you do not believe, because you are not My sheep, just as I have said to you, because” and the sentence would continue with the text of verse 27. The 5th century Codices Alexandrinus (A), Bezae (D) and the Majority Text have “But you do not believe, because you are not My sheep, just as I have said to you!” That explains the reading of the King James Version.

Of course, Yahshua had already denied in John chapter 8 that His adversaries were children of God, and that they were true children of Abraham, and therefore they could not have been His sheep. Here He plainly states that they were not His sheep, and that is why they did not believe Him. He came for the “lost sheep”, but these men He neither tried nor expected to convert. He only testified against them to their faces and before all the people.

This verse alone demonstrates the fact that all of the so-called Orthodox and Catholic churches are actually founded upon a fraud. Historically, the churches have taught the the Jews are not the sheep of Christ because they did not believe Him. But here Christ Himself attests the exact opposite of church teaching, that they did not believe Him because they were not His sheep. His words mean that they were not His sheep in the first place, and that is why they did not believe Him.

Yahshua Christ was not trying to convert His enemies. Rather, He was reproving them and making an example of them, as they had no chance nor opportunity for repentance. So Paul wrote of Christ in Colossians chapter 2 that “15… having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” They did not believe Him because they were not His people in the first place. Because they were not His people, He did not come for them, and they claiming to be Judaeans while they were actually a synagogue of satan had no choice but to reject Him. Even if they accepted Him, they would put themselves out of His kingdom as they were not His sheep. For that reason He said, in Matthew chapter 11, “12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Beginning with John the Baptist, the Kingdom of Heaven was being proclaimed and the enemies of Christ, who are indeed violent, sought by force to claim it for themselves. Today’s Jews are their direct descendants.

We have very often discussed the history of Judaea in the period between the Old and New Covenants. Judas Maccabeus seems to have been a true patriot of Judah, but evidently his patriotism was far from perfect, as we shall see. After he broke the yoke of the Syrians, destroying several of their armies, we read in Josephus’ Antiquities, Book 12 that “ 327 When these things were over, the nations around the Judaeans were very uneasy at the revival of their power, and rose up together, and killed many of them, as gaining advantage over them by laying snares for them, and making secret conspiracies against them. Judas made perpetual expeditions against these men, and endeavoured to restrain them from those incursions, and to prevent the mischiefs they did to the Judaeans. 328 So he attacked the Idumeans, the posterity of Esau, at Akrabatene, and slew a great many of them, and took their spoils. He also shut up the sons of Baanites, that laid wait for the Judaeans; and he besieged them closely, and burnt their towers, and killed the men [that were in them]. 329 After this, he went from there in haste against the Ammonites, who had a great and a numerous army, of which Timothy was the commander. And when he had subdued them, he seized on the city of Jazer, and took their wives and their children captives, and burnt the city, and then returned into Judea.” A little later, after a major military setback, we read “353 But Judas and his brethren did not stop fighting with the Idumeans, but pressed upon them on all sides, and took from them the city of Hebron, and demolished all its fortifications, and set all its towers on fire, and burnt the country of the foreigners, and the city of Marissa. They came also to Ashdod, and took it, and laid it waste, and took away a great deal of the spoils and prey that were in it, and returned to Judea.”

All of this happened up until around 160 BC, and reflected the policy of the early Maccabees to destroy and drive out all of the alien peoples that had moved into the land of ancient Israel left vacant by the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. But perhaps Judas should not have opened the door of the sheepfold by bringing in women and children from among the wolves, where Josephus said that upon conquering the Ammonites, he “took their wives and their children captives”. So Judas had turned his back on Ezra. In Ezra chapter 9 we read:

1 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. 3 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Of course, it states in the law, in Deuteronomy chapter 23, that “3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever.” So Judas also turned away from the law, and contrary to the process of homogenerity begun by Antiochus under paganism, he evidently sought his own under what we can only call Judaism, as the true Old Covenant faith would not have accepted his taking of the Ammonite women and children. Perhaps that opened the door for the subsequent change of policy.

Within thirty years the policies of Judas changed, and under one of his own relations and successors, John Hyrcanus, and later and to an even greater extent under Alexander Janneus, we begin to read how all of these people of the other nations in Judaea were no longer driven out or killed, but were instead being compelled to convert to Judaism. The books of the Maccabees record the ascension of Hyrcanus to the position of high priest, and that is where they end, before recording his deeds. We last described those deeds at length in the opening presentation of our commentary on the prophecy of Malachi, titled The Prophet of Christian Zionism.

In his Antiquities, Book 13, Flavius Josephus explained that from about 129 BC, the Edomites and other peoples in Judaea were eventually all brought into subjection by the Maccabees, and that they were all converted to Judaism, after which they were known and accepted as Judaeans, or Jews. After this, around 40 BC, Herod the Edomite had become king after bribing the Romans and siding with them in their war against the last of the Maccabees, and in turn he appointed all of his own family members and Edomite countrymen into all the positions of both the civil and ecclesiastical government. Various members of the family of Herod continued under the Romans to rule Judaea and some of the surrounding areas at least until 70 AD. From that time, the Sadducees occupied the office of high priest, and the Pharisees, the only opposition party with any voice in government, generally complied and conspired with them. So Strabo, the early first century Greek geographer, in Book 16 of his Geography had attested that the Idumaeans were “mixed up” with the Judaeans, and that they “shared in the same customs with them”, just like Josephus had also written in much greater detail in his Antiquities.

Because they were mostly Edomites, and not Israelites, Yahshua Christ acknowledged in John chapter 8 that His adversaries were Abraham’s seed, yet He denied that they were from God. Esau had married Canaanite women, from which were born the race of the Edomites. Judah also married a Canaanite woman, the “daughter of a strange god” as she is called in Malachi chapter 2, but Yahweh had mercy on Judah and there were legitimate children born to Judah who inherited the blessings that belonged to him. Yahweh had no mercy on Esau, and Esau never had any legitimate offspring, so his descendants were rejected as Yahweh declared “Jacob I loved, and Esau I hated”, and where Paul explained in Romans chapter 9 that there were both Edomites and Israelites in Judaea, vessels of destruction and vessels of mercy, he had also quoted that very passage from the opening chapter of Malachi. Doing that, he also explained that not all of those in Israel were of Israel, and he prayed only for his “kinsmen according to the flesh”, for the true Israelites in Israel.

So it is fully evident in history that Edomites were in control of Judaea at the time of Christ, and when He is confronted by these men, who were thought to be Judaeans, He says to them “But you do not believe, because you are not My sheep!” The historical narrative and its implications make obvious the correct interpretation that His adversaries were of the seed of Esau, and not of Jacob. Not being Israelites, they were never His sheep to begin with. They were thieves and robbers who entered into the sheepfold by another way, but not by the door of the sheep. Being at least in part descended from the seed of Canaan, they also fit the description of Jude as “… certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is not without purpose that in John chapter 8, where we see that His adversaries are of the seed of Abraham, but not true children of Abraham, they are identified as the children of the devil. In the Revelation, in both chapters 2 and 3, Yahshua Christ refers to them “which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan”, even calling them liars for their claim. The only way to understand this situation appropriately is to acknowledge the history of the period leading up to His ministry, that His adversaries were Edomites, and the Edomites were never His people. As Paul said in Hebrews chapter 12, “8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Chastisement is punishment for the sake of correction. The adversaries of Christ could never be corrected. No matter how He had spoken to them, they did not believe Him because they were not His sheep. They were bastards, and not sons, being Edomites and Canaanites rather than Israelites.

The churches are entirely dishonest when they claim that these people are not His sheep because they did not believe Him, but He says they did not believe Him because they were not His sheep. Until a man desires to believe the Scriptures, rather than believing the corrupted churches, he will forever be blind to the truth. The interpretation of this verse should be a basic litmus test for all so-called pastors and churches. If they read it in the opposite manner than what it says, they too may as well be synagogues of satan, as they are being controlled by the doctrines of devils. They actually despise the truth.

Now that Christ has told His enemies that they are not His sheep, He begins to speak of the sheep themselves:

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me, 28 and I give to them eternal life and they are not lost forever and one shall not snatch them from My hand.

As He had announced, where it is recorded in Matthew chapter 15, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Those “lost sheep” are described in various Psalms, in Jeremiah chapter 50, and in Ezekiel chapter 34 as the ancient children of Israel scattered in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, as well as in earlier migrations of the people into Europe and the Mediterranean basin. But there are also sheep in Judaea, the remnant of true Israelites and not Edomites or other converts, and it is they to whom Paul referred when he prayed for his “kinsmen according to the flesh”. That is only one way that we see how to determine the identity of the sheep, but the meaning is clear.

Here Christ attests that His sheep are not lost forever, and that ultimately, nobody will be able to take them away from Him. He gives to them eternal life, and ostensibly, there is no means by which they could lose that life, even if they remain lost, because once they do hear His voice, they shall follow Him. This is the ultimate meaning of the Word of Yahweh found in Isaiah chapter 45, words which were directed to the children of Israel in the places of their captivity:

17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. 18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. 19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. 20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. 21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. 23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. 25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

In that same manner Christ continues:

29 My [א has ‘The’] Father who gave them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from the hand of the [A, D, W and the MT have ‘My’; the text follows P66, P75, א and B] Father!

The Wisdom of Solomon explains the image of God bestowed upon the Adamic man:

2: 23 For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. 24 Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it. 3 :1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. 2 In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, 3 And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. 4 For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality.

Through envy of the devil, the envy described of Eve in Genesis chapter 3, death came into the world, so Paul of Tarsus explains in Romans chapter 5:

12 For this reason, just as by one man sin entered into the Society, and by that sin death, and in that manner death has passed to all men, on account that all have sinned: 13 (for until the law sin was in the Society; but sin was not accounted, there not being law; 14 but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned resembling the transgression of Adam, who is an image of the future. 15 But should not, as was the transgression, in that manner also be the favor? Indeed if in the transgression of one many die, much greater is the favor of Yahweh, and the gift in favor, which is of the one man Yahshua Christ, in which many have great advantage. 16 And not then by one having sinned is the gift? Indeed the fact is that judgment of a single one is for condemnation, but the favor is from many transgressions into a judgment of acquittal. 17 For if in the transgression of one, death has taken reign through that one, much more is the advantage of the favor, and the gift of justice they are receiving, in life they will reign through the one, Yahshua Christ.) 18 So then, as that one transgression is for all men for a sentence of condemnation, in this manner then through one decision of judgment for all men is for a judgment of life. 19 Therefore even as through the disobedience of one man the many were set down as sinners, in this manner then through the obedience of One the many will be established as righteous.

The righteous are not those who have not sinned, as it says in Solomon that they were punished, and in Romans that all men have sinned. Rather, the righteous are those whom Yahweh has deemed righteous, those whom He had created to be immortal in the first place. As the apostle John explained in chapter 3 of his first epistle, the devil sinned from the beginning, and “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” If all Adamic men are not immortal, if any of them are going to be lost, then Christ has failed to destroy the works of the Devil. But John continued in his epistle by saying “9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God”, as Paul had also explained in Romans chapter 4, “6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

If one’s seed remains in him, if one is truly a son, and not a bastard, then Yahweh will not impute to them their sin, as John also said in his first epistle, in chapter 2: “1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…” Those who are not His sheep have no advocate, and the wolves cannot be sheep.

Now He concludes:

30 I and the [W has ‘My’] Father are One!”

Here Yahshua Christ makes the unequivocal statement that He is indeed one and the same with Yahweh, the Father. Later in John’s gospel, Philip asks Him “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” He responds by saying: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” For this reason, Paul said in Colossians chapter 2: “9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” For this same reason, once Thomas realized that Christ had been resurrected, he exclaimed “My Lord and my God.” It was at that point that Thomas realized that Yahshua was indeed the promised Messiah, which according to Isaiah is Yahweh Himself come as the Savior of Israel.

The Jews rejected His exclamation, that “I and the Father are One”, and reacted accordingly:

31 Again [P45 wants “Again”; P66, A and the MT have “Then again”; D has “Then”; the text follows א, B and W] the Judaeans took up stones that they would stone Him.

This is the second time that John records the desire of the Jews to stone Christ, the first being at the end of His discourse with them in the temple, where He identified them as the children of the devil in John chapter 8.

Even though Yahshua Christ is Yahweh incarnate, being a man He never attributed His works to Himself, but always attributed them to the Father:

32 Yahshua replied to them: “Many good [W wants ‘good’] works have I shown you from of the [P66, A, W and the MT have ‘My”; the text follows P45, א, B and D] Father. Of those [P66 has ‘Therefore of those’; W only ‘Therefore’], because of what sort of work do you stone Me?”

The nature of the devil is to hate a man and seek to kill him for reason of his good deeds. This we read in Job chapter 1: “1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Later in the chapter, where Yahweh upholds Job as an example of piety, Satan immediately slanders him and takes a cause against him. Here Christ has done nothing but good, and His adversaries, who are indeed of the synagogue of Satan, did nothing but seek a cause by which to convict and kill Him. So here they believe they have such a cause:

33 The Judaeans replied to Him [D and the MT insert “saying”]: “We do not stone You on account of a good work but on account of blasphemy, and because You being a man make Yourself a god!”

The 3rd century papyrus P66 has a definite article, which would cause us to read “You being a man make Yourself as God!” But that reading seems to conflict with the verses which follow.

The Judaeans could not lawfully stone Him at all on account of the Romans, as Judaea was a province and under Roman law its rulers had no authority to execute for capital offenses without the approval of the Roman governor of the province. However Josephus in his histories illustrates more than one occasion where they acted out of rage, took the law into their own hands, and sometimes had to answer to the Romans for it afterwards. Judaea was often on the edge of revolt during the decades following the death of the first Herod.

Now Christ answers them according to the words of their own accusation, and not according to what He had said for which reason they made their accusation, and doing that He catches them in a contradiction:

34 Yahshua replied [P66 and D insert “and said”, in different words; the text follows P75, א, A and the MT, and also P45, B and W which vary slightly] to them: “Is it not written in your [P45, א and D have ‘the’] law that ‘I have said, Ye are gods’?

This is a quote from Psalm 81:6, as it is in the Septuagint, or 82:6 in the versions which are based on the Masoretic Text. The Greek underlying this quote as it is recorded here in John is identical with that of the corresponding verse in the Septuagint. The full verse in Brenton’s Septuagint reads similar to the King James Version: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you children of the Most High.”

In the past I have read a contention that the word elohim in the Hebrew of Psalm 82:6 should have been rendered as judges, rather than as gods. In Hebrew it is true that the word can bear either meaning. However here Yahshua Christ interprets the word as it is in the Septuagint, as θεοί, which is gods, and that cannot be confused for judges in Greek. We cannot imagine that Christ Himself did not know the meaning of the 82nd Psalm. So Christ continues His answer explaining that same thing:

35 If He spoke of them as gods to whom the Word of Yahweh had come [P45 wants ‘to whom the word of God had come’], and the writing [P45 has only ‘and it’] is not able to be broken,

The 82nd Psalm is a psalm of Asaph, a prophet of the captivity. Here it is, from the King James Version:

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty [Hebrew “of God”]; he judgeth among the gods. 2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. 3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. 5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

What we have here in John chapters 7, 8 and 10 is the fulfillment of this very Psalm, which we must recognize as a prophecy. The words of Christ here must have been intended to call our attention to this Psalm as we can then see its fulfillment.

Where it says in the King James Version “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty” the Hebrew reads “God standeth in the congregation of God”, and I cannot explain the departure. Then it says “he judgeth among the gods.” This is what Christ has done throughout His discourse in these chapters. While not passing judgment Himself, He spoke in a way by which the goats can be distinguished from the sheep. The sheep are the children of God, calling them gods reflects their eternal nature, and then He rebukes them for accepting the persons of the wicked. So He asks “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?” Where it says “they know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness”, it is identifying the wicked as Jude and Peter also had, as angels chained in darkness. Among their descendants were Kenites, Canaanites, and Edomites, and therefore these Edomites could not believe Christ, as they were not His sheep.

This is what the children of Israel had been doing for centuries, accepting the persons of the wicked into their congregations, as we read in Psalm 74: “4 Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs.” The subsequent verses describe some of the things that the righteous should have been doing, and the consequences of their failure to have done so, ostensibly because there were always wolves among the sheep. Then because they have failed, finally the Psalm illustrates their punishment, and issues a prayer for God Himself to bring judgment upon the nations, which shall happen at the advent of Christ.

Verse 36 continues the question begun in verse 35, which we shall repeat: “If He spoke of them as gods to whom the Word of Yahweh had come, and the writing is not able to be broken,”

36 He whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the Society, you tell that ‘You blaspheme’, because I said I am a son of Yahweh [or God]?

As we had explained discussing a similar charge in John chapter 5, where Christ referred to God as His Father, we read: “18 Then for this reason still more the Judaeans sought to kill Him, because not only did He break the Sabbath, but also said that Yahweh is His own Father, making Himself equal with Yahweh.” Commenting on this passage we stated in part that “the Pharisees seem to be judging Christ not from an Old Testament perspective, but from a Roman perspective. In Roman law, a man without male issue adopted a fellow Roman as a son, thereby making him his heir. In this manner the adopted man was acknowledged as the equal and heir of the father, as much as an adult son taking over the family business would be the equal and heir of his own father.” We also noted their hypocrisy where in John chapter 8 they themselves claimed that God was their father, and that claim Christ had denied them.

37 If I do not do the works of My Father, you should not believe Me.

Of course, He had done the works of His Father, as He had done the very things which were written in the prophets that the Messiah or Savior of Israel would do. Although many of those things, such as the opening of the eyes of the blind, had a greater meaning which Christ would ultimately fulfill through His gospel, He also fulfilled them by a literal interpretation through His miracles.

38 But if I do, even if in Me you would not [P66 has ‘you shall not’; א, A and W ‘you do not’; D ‘you desire not to’; the text follows P45, P75 and B] believe, you should believe in the works, that you must know [W has ‘recognize’] and understand [א, A and the MT have ‘and believe’; D wants ‘and understand’; the text follows P45, P66, P75 and B. The words for ‘know’ and ‘understand’ are both forms of the same Greek word, γινώσκω (Strong's # 1097)] that the Father is with Me and I with the Father!”

As he had in earlier chapters of John, here also Christ challenges His adversaries on the basis of His works, as to whether or not they were from God and testified for Him. So even if they did not accept His person, they should accept that what He had done was indeed from God. However He must have known that they would not accept that, not only because they were not His sheep, but because He also knew that they would ultimately kill Him, and when they would kill Him. So because it was not yet His time, He did not let them have Him:

39 Therefore [P75 and B want “Therefore”; P45 has “Then”; D has “And”; the text follows P66, א, A and W] they again [P45, א and D want "again"] sought to seize Him, yet He got away from their hand.

As we read in John chapter 7 where Christ would not enter Jerusalem openly to attend the feast of Tabernacles, He had told His disciples “for my time is not yet full come.” This also proves, as He had said earlier here in John chapter 10, that “I lay down my life for the sheep” and “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” He could escape them any time He chose to do so, as we see both here and at the end of John chapter 8 where we read “59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” Here at the beginning of the account, the Judaeans had surrounded Him on Solomon’s porch, and He got away in spite of that, although it is not stated how He did so. But when His time did come, at the Passover midway through the fourth year of His ministry, He gave Himself over to them, not attempting to escape from them because that was the point in time when he was to lay down His life, that He may take it up again. Now He leaves Jerusalem, and the next time He returns will be nearly six months later, at His triumphant march through the gates of the city as it is recorded in John chapter 12, and in all of the other three gospels.

40 And He departed again [P66 wants "again"] across the Jordan to the place [א wants "to the place"] where Iohannes was first immersing and He abode there.

As we also discussed at length in the earlier chapters of our commentary on this Gospel, in relation to John chapter 3, this account here helps to establish that the place beyond Jordan where John had baptized was across the Jordan from Jerusalem, and not near the Sea of Galilee, as many commentators suggest.

41 And many came to Him and said that [א and D want "that"] “Indeed Iohannes made not one sign, but all whatever Iohannes [W has 'he'] said concerning this man was true!”

Of course this is in reference to the testimony which John had given of Yahshua, as it is recorded in chapters 1 and 3 of this Gospel. Now, in John chapter 11 we have the account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In John chapter 12 there is the account of the triumphal entry of Christ through the gates of Jerusalem, and it is six days before the Passover upon which He is crucified. So the balance of the Gospel of John from this point covers a period of one week up to His crucifixion, and then just a few of the events which occurred after His resurrection.

Then John chapter 13 opens with the statement: “1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” Christ came only for the sheep, He loved only the sheep, and wolves cannot be sheep. So we read the final verse of John chapter 10:

42 And many there [P45 wants “there”] believed in Him.

These were His sheep, true Israelites in Judaea who heard His voice, and evidently they would ultimately follow Him, becoming Christians after His resurrection. But those who rejected Him were meant to reject Him, otherwise He could not have foretold of His own impending death. They had rejected Him because they were not His sheep, and they are the ancestors of the Jews of today. How long shall it be, that Christians “judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?” Those angels chained in darkness, and awaiting the judgment of the great day.

This concludes our commentary on John chapter 10.

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