Of Sheep, Thieves, and Shepherds; Sheep Know The Truth When They Hear It

Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Joh 10:28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 

Joh 10:2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
Joh 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
Joh 10:4 When he hath put forth all his own, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Joh 10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
Joh 10:14 I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me,

“Mine own know Me” but they “know not the voice of strangers.” Strangers G245 allotrios; means another’s, that is, not one’s own; foreign, not akin, hostile: – alien, other (man’s, men’s), strange (-r). To “know” G1097, means – get a knowledge of, perceive, feel; to understand, to become acquainted with. It’s also a Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman; thus the term indicates an intimate knowledge of, or being ‘close’ to someone. This Greek term is synonymous with the Hebrew “yada” which has a rich range of meaning, including ‘care, recognition, observation, instruction; familiar friend, kinsfolk, kinsman, have respect for, understand, comprehend, and more. The idea in these passages, is that the sheep of Jesus Christ recognize his voice. They not only recognize His voice, but understand and comprehend what His will is, and do it. Obedience is the key to entering the kingdom of heaven, not prophesying, working of miracles, signs or wonders –
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
‘iniquity’ G458 anomia; without law, lawless, transgressor, unlawful, wicked. According to this definition, those who live in consistent disobedience to God’s words, are considered to be ‘lawless transgressors’ and ‘wicked.’ Transgressors won’t enter the kingdom of heaven, Jesus said. It’s a critical point, one not to be taken lightly, for Jesus always means what he says. Of course, what is meant are willful and consistent transgressors; those who make a lifestyle of reckless living, going against God’s revealed will in the Bible, not godly persons who repent when they transgress. To sum up, those who mistakenly think that they have a ticket to heaven because they speak in tongues, prophesy, cast out demons, work miracles and other mighty works, but consistently lived in disobedience to God’s words, will be sorely disappointed. Charisma, charm, intelligence, having a license to preach, being a deacon, pastor, or choir master – won’t gain you entry into the kingdom of heaven either. Obedience to God’s word, is the key to entering the kingdom of heaven. ~ Debra R. Stout © February 26, 2016
 
For a more in depth look—
Joseph Benson’s Commentary of the Old and New Testaments  John 10:1Verily, &c. — The Pharisees supported themselves in their opposition to Christ with this principle, that they were pastors of the church; and that Jesus, having no commission from them, was an intruder and an impostor, and that, therefore, the people were bound in duty to adhere to them against him. In opposition to this, Christ here describes who were the false shepherds and who were the true, leaving them to infer what they were. He introduces his discourse with, Verily, verily, I say unto you — To show, not only the certain truth, but the deep importance of what he uttered. He speaks by way of parable or similitude, taken from the customary way of managing sheep in that country. It is supposed that he was now in the outer court of the temple, near the sheep which were there exposed to sale for sacrifice, the sight of which reminded him of the language of the ancient prophets, “who often compared the teachers of their own time to shepherds, and the people to sheep. Accordingly, in describing the characters of the scribes and Pharisees, he made use of the same metaphor, showing that there are two kinds of evil shepherds, pastors, or teachers; one, who, instead of entering in by the door to lead the flock out and feed it, enter in some other way, with an intention to kill and destroy; another, who, though they may have entered in by the door, feed their flocks with the dispositions of hirelings; for when they see the wolf coming, or any danger approaching, they desert their flocks, because they love themselves only. The Pharisees plainly showed themselves to be of the former character, by excommunicating the man that had been blind, because he would not act contrary to the dictates of his reason and conscience to please them. But though they cast him out of their church, Christ received him into his, which is the true church, the spiritual enclosure, where the sheep go in and out and find pasture.” He that entereth not by the door into the sheep-fold, &c. — “I assure you, that whosoever, in any age of the church, assumed the office of a teacher, without commission from me, and without a sincere regard to the edification and salvation of men’s souls, was a thief and a robber; and in the present age, he is no better who assumes that office without my commission, and particularly without believing on me, and without intending my honour and the good of the church.” — Macknight. Add to this, those do not enter in by Christ, and indeed can have no authority from him, nor ability to become pastors of his flock, who do not first take care to secure, by faith working by love, an interest in, and union with him, or, to be found in him, not having their own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; to be in him new creatures: Philippians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17. But climbeth up some other way — Enters the sheep-fold as a pastor of Christ’s flock, without the necessary prerequisites and qualifications, without first obtaining a saving acquaintance with Christ, and genuine love to him; without being called to, and qualified for the work by him, and of consequence, without authority from him; who, influenced by unworthy motives, by a view to wealth, or honour, or ease, or a maintenance, or some secular employment or advantage, gets himself appointed a minister of Christ’s church, through the interest of rich and powerful friends and connections, or the aid of natural abilities, and mere human learning; or some endowment or accomplishment which is not connected with, and does not imply true piety, and a manifest call from the Lord Jesus; the same is a thief and a robber — In God’s account; entering the fold “to fleece and butcher, not to feed the flock; robbing Christ of his honour, and starving the souls of his people, in order to enrich himself, and aggrandize his family.” — Scott
 
John 10:2-5. He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd, &c. — “This mode of speaking, with us, conveys the notion that the shepherd is the only person who enters by the door; yet the door-keeper, and the sheep themselves, enter also the same way. The original expression is manifestly intended to denote the constant, not the peculiar, use which the shepherd makes of the door, as opposed to the constant use of thieves and robbers, to force their entrance by breaking or climbing over the fence. The comparison is made, not to the folds used by the common people in remote parts of the country, but to those belonging to the rich in the neighbourhood of a populous city, where the walls and other fences need to be stronger, and the entrance more carefully kept, on account of the greater danger from thieves.” — Campbell. To him the porter openeth — As the shepherd will always choose to enter in by that which is the regular appointed way, so, as soon as he approaches, the door-keeper opens the fold; that is, God in his providence, and by the influence of his Spirit, makes way for such a one to exercise his ministry among his people, and gives success to it. For as it is not unworthy of Christ to be styled the door, by which both the sheep and the true pastors enter, so neither is it unworthy of God the Father to be styled the door-keeper. See Acts 14:27; and Acts 16:14; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8. It was supposed by Sir Isaac Newton, that as the words were spoken near the temple, where sheep were kept in folds to be sold for sacrifices, Christ here alludes to what was peculiar in those folds; that as they were kept locked, they not only excluded the thief, but the shepherd, till the door-keeper opened them. “But I cannot think,” says Dr. Doddridge, “whatever occasion Christ might take from the sight of sheep to represent his people under that image, and himself as a shepherd, he would describe them like sheep shut up in a pen to be sold for sacrifice: nor does the shepherd’s leading them out, &c., agree with this circumstance. In countries where there were so many savage beasts, it might be ordinarily necessary to have the folds better secured than among us; and the chief shepherd might often leave a servant to watch them while thus shut up, and come himself to lead them out to pasture in the morning.” And the sheep hear his voice — The people of God, knowing him to be a true pastor, hearken unto him. All the circumstances here mentioned exactly agree with the customs of the ancient eastern shepherds. They called their sheep by name, went before them, and the sheep followed them. So real Christians hear, attend to, understand, and obey the voice of a shepherd whom Christ hath sent: and he counteth them his own, dearer than any friend or brother; calleth them by name — That is, instructs, advises, directs, encourages each by name, and leadeth them out in the paths of righteousness, beside the waters of comfort. And when he putteth forth his own sheep — Leads them out into the pastures of the ordinances, invites them to the enjoyment of the privileges, and urges them to the practice of the duties of true Christianity; he goeth before them — In all these particulars, and in all the ways of God, teaching them in every point by example, as well as by precept; and the sheep follow him — They tread in his steps; for they know his voice — Having the witness in themselves, that his words are the truth, the wisdom, and the power of God. Reader, art thou a shepherd of souls? Then answer to God: is it thus with thee and thy flock? And a stranger will they not follow — One whom Christ hath not sent, who does not answer the preceding description. Him they will not follow; and who can constrain them to it? But will flee from him — As from the plague. For they know not the voice of strangers — They cannot relish it. It is harsh and grating to them. They find nothing of God therein. In other words, as sheep will not follow a strange shepherd, so the people of God will not hearken to false teachers, or to such as do not declare, plainly, fully, and with a divine unction, the very word of the truth of the gospel: but will avoid them, for they can easily distinguish them from the true messengers of God by their fruits, that is, by their doctrine and practice, and the inefficacy of their preaching to convert, sanctify, and save the souls of men.
http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/view.cgi?bk=42&ch=10

‘All We Need Is Love,’ But What Kind?

all_you_need_is_love_205438We hear a lot about love, ‘love is all we need,’ a line from a popular Beetle’s song that became quite popular in American culture back in the 60’s and 70’s. But what kind of love were they referring to? There’s more than one. ‘Eros,’ from the Greek language meaning desire and longing, where we get the term ‘erotica’ from, is the sensual kind of love based on physical attraction and is sexual love between a man and a woman. It’s primarily selfish and self-gratifying. What the pop culture means whenever it uses the term ‘love,’ is typically the sentimental, shallow, sensual, and self-seeking kind. It’s not the kind of love that can endure hardship, suffering, persecution, oppression, or that keeps commitments because it’s based so much on feelings which can be fickle. ‘The basic idea in eros is getting something for yourself. While it may involve a genuine feeling for someone else, that feeling is kindled by the attractiveness of that person and by the excitement, pleasure, and satisfaction which we believe that person will afford us. Eros poses as love for another but is actually love for oneself. It says, “I love you because you make me happy.” Its foundation is some characteristic in the other person that pleases us, such as beauty, charm, warmth, kindness, or talent. If that characteristic is taken away there is nothing left, and it dies. This kind of love looks primarily for what it can get. It may give a little, but the motive is usually to get something in return for what it gives. If it fails to get what it wants, it may turn to resentment, bitterness, or hatred.’ [https://bible.org/seriespage/5-i-m-love]

Another, more altruistic kind of ‘love’ considers other people as being equally entitled to the world’s resources. This kind of love requires some giving and sharing, even some selflessness. ‘Phileo’ is a brotherly type of love from the Greek term which means to ‘like’ or ‘befriend.’ Philia, the next higher level of love, relates to the soul rather than to the body. It touches the human personality—the intellect, the emotions, and the will. It involves a mutual sharing. We choose friends because of the pleasure we derive from being with them. There are personal qualities in them that we appreciate, intellectual and cultural interests that we share, and mutual self-expression that we find satisfying. We derive something enjoyable from the relationship, but we are also willing to give our fair share. This giving is not free from selfish motivation, but the selfishness is largely obscured by a sense of togetherness. Philia is a higher level of love than eros in that “our” happiness is involved rather than merely “my” happiness. Philia is love’s halfway mark—give a little, get a little; a fifty-fifty proposition. [https://bible.org/seriespage/5-i-m-love]

There exists yet another kind of love, the kind Jesus displayed during His earthly ministry, and which is taught in the Bible as the kind of love Christians ought to exhibit. ‘Agape,’ is a perfect or mature kind of love that doesn’t rely upon feelings; it’s a choice or an act of your will. With agape, you choose to love despite your feelings. Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the types of love. It does not seek pleasure for itself, but instead delights in giving. It is not kindled by the merit or worth of its object, but originates in its own God-given nature. Agape keeps on loving even when its object is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, or completely unworthy. It desires only the good of the one loved. It lives to make the loved one happy, whatever the personal cost or sacrifice. It doesn’t give fifty percent and expect fifty percent in return. It gives one hundred percent and expects nothing in return!  [https://bible.org/seriespage/5-i-m-love] *For definitions of the three types, see the Footnotes.

Feelings are vacillating and don’t always lead us to do what’s best for our fellow man. Perfect love, the God-kind of love, doesn’t depend upon soulish feelings, but upon principles like selflessness, treating others as you want to be treated, caring for the poor and orphans, the disenfranchised of the world, and your neighbors, whoever they may be. Jesus taught these principles during His ministry, which were written down in the books of the New Testament. To get a full understanding of love in the Bible, you have to read all of it, for there are many examples given of how to love with godly love within its pages. Here are a few examples from the Holy Bible on ‘phileo’ and ‘agape’ love —-

Mat 5:42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Mat 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Mat 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
Mat 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Mat 22:39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Joh 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Joh 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Rom 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 12:9 Let love be genuine.
Rom 13:9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Rom 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

This passage sums it up nicely I think —-

1Co 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
1Co 13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1Co 13:3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1Co 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
1Co 13:5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
1Co 13:6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
1Co 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1Co 13:8 Love never ends.
Col 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Col 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Col 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

So, where does your Love-meter point? Does it point to the God-kind of love, to the brotherly kind, or to the lustful, sensual kind which seeks only to fulfill its own needs? With all the hatred, prejudice, murder, wars, and greed, in the world today, there’s a huge vacuum of the God-kind of love. It would seem reasonable to take personal inventory of our daily words and actions to see what kind of love is being displayed in our lives, and then take whatever steps are necessary to cultivate God’s kind of love in our hearts. One way to do this is to meditate, chew and digest the parts of God’s Word which teach us what godly love is and how to truly love ourselves and others, and let them go down deep into our psyches. When done regularly and consistently, meditating on God’s words will transform you; a process called, “renewing your mind” –

Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Eph 4:22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
Eph 4:23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
Col 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

To love as God loves is a goal to aim for, even though we often fall short of it. Without the Holy Spirit residing within us, it’s really difficult to love with totally pure motives, which is why everyone needs to be ‘born again’ – John 3:3-8.

God sees deeply into our souls and knows our motives. He cares about everyone, small and great, rich and poor, strong and weak. What we think, feel, say, and do – matters very much to Him. May it matter to us as well.

Debra R. Stout, February 13, 2016

Footnotes:

eros, 1: the Greek god of erotic love — compare cupid 2: the sum of life-preserving instincts that are manifested as impulses to gratify basic needs, as sublimated impulses, and as impulses to protect and preserve the body and mind — compare death instinct 3a : love conceived by Plato as a fundamental creative impulse having a sensual element [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

phileō G5368 φιλέω  From G5384; to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while G25 is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as G2309 and G1014, or as G2372 and G3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specifically to kiss (as a mark of tenderness): – kiss, love.

agapē G26 ἀγάπη
Thayer Definition:
1) brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence
2) love feasts
agapaō 1) to love dearly