The Other Sheep of John 10:16
by Matt Allen
via The Jackson Drive Reporter, Sept. 6, 2009.
John 10:16 has served as a major claim for the legitimacy of Mormon teaching for many years. Upon reading the passage of Scripture -- by itself -- it first appears that they (Mormons) could have a point. "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." Does John 10:16 point toward people living in the Americas some 1500 to 1800 years after Christ? A look at the context of John 10:16 is essential in answering the above question.
Beginning in John 9:3, Jesus healed a blind man. Jesus made clay, placed the clay on the eyes of the blind man, and commanded him to wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7). As one continues through John 9, he will find that the Pharisees cast the man healed by Christ out of the synagogue when he announced his belief in Christ. Jesus got word of the excommunication in John 9:35-41. Beginning in John 10:3, Jesus recites a parable showing that He was about to form His church comprised of Jews and Gentiles.
Shepherding was a common occupation in the days of Christ. God's appointed one, the Messiah was pictured in prophecy as the Shepherd of His flock (Isaiah 40:31). Jesus mentioned shepherds and their sheep in much of His teaching (Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:3-7; 12:32; John 21:15-17). The Good Shepherd, Jesus, found the blind man in John 9:35 and introduced him to the true fold. In John 10:6, John tells us that those who heard him speak the parable in John 10:3-5 did not understand. Beginning in verse 7 and continuing through verse 8 Jesus explained the parable to them.
Sheepfolds were mostly walled, unroofed enclosures. Each morning, a shepherd would take his sheep out the the sheepfold to lead them out to pasture. The only entrance to the sheepfold was through a heavily fortified door, which keep wolves and other predators out of the structure. In John 10:7, Christ said He was the door of the sheep. Both sheep and shepherds must come into the flock through Christ (John 14:6). As one continues through Christ's explanation he will see that Christ cares for those who are His own. He would be willing to lay down His life for His sheep (John 10:10-11).
In John 10:12-13, Christ indicated the Jewish leaders at that time as being merely "hireling shepherds." They were only interested in protecting their social and financial status. There was absolutely no desire on their part to act in the best interests of the people. They were in danger of being cursed by God (Zechariah 11:37). In John 10:14-15, Christ refers to Himself as the good Shepherd. The sheep in His flock have confidence or trust in Him. They know that all He does is for their good. He knows them intimately that He sees they require the sacrifice of His life to be delivered from sin. The result of His laying down His life for the sheep is that the flock might increase in size (John 10:16). The sacrifice of His life was not just for the Jews (who were already in the fold), but for all who will be drawn to Christ and desire to become part of His flock. The Gentiles would be introduced into His fold. Daniel King has said, "Israel's place -- in the scheme of things was ultimately to be a "light to the nations" (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 56:8)."
Christ intended that men of all races and peoples should come into the one fold and follow Him as the one Shepherd. This would be a fact that would not be fully understood by the apostles and Jews until after His death. One might remember how Peter had to be convinced of God's acceptance of the Gentiles by a series of dreams in Acts 10. Paul said that the gospel was for the Jew first and also the Greek (Romans 1:16). Christ said, "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11).
Just before His ascension Chirst commanded the apostles to preach the gospel to every person -- not just the Jews (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). No where does the context point to the American Indans -- much less the Mormons who would live some 1500 - 1800 years after Christ. One would have to have a total disregard for the context by insisting that this could refer to anyone other than the Gentiles. Let us thank God that salvation has come to all men -- through Christ. Indeed the gospel is for all, the Jew first and the Greek! Paul wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith, unto faith, as it si written, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:16-17).