The Structure of the Shepherd Discourse

The Structure of the Shepherd Discourse

  1. John 10:1-5 The Paroimia

The paroimia describes the imagery of a sheepfold, with a shepherd and sheep. It seems to present a highly realistic picture of Palestinian shepherding in ancient times. It focuses first on the gate (vv. 1-2) and then on the shepherd (vv. 3-5). The shepherd called his own sheep by name, gathered them and led them out. The sheep identified his voice and followed him. They would not follow strangers.

  1. John 10:6-7a The Reaction

The listeners of Jesus did not understand the figurative language of Jesus, hence he had to repeat the paroimia in another form, by personifying the metaphors used. This section is composed of transition verses connecting the paroimia to its explanation.

  1. John 10:7b-10 The Explanation of the Door

Jesus clarified the metaphor he presented: ―I am the door of the sheep‖ (10:7c); ―I am the door‖ (10:9a). He developed the theme of the door through which the sheep enter the fold, by identifying himself as the door through whom one enters and finds salvation. He is the door that leads to abundant life (10:10).

  1. John 10:11-16 The Good Shepherd

Again, Jesus referred to himself in the metaphorical ―I am‖ saying: ―I am the good shepherd‖ (10:11a; 14a). The shepherd who entered by the door (10:12a) is the good shepherd. Jesus, the good shepherd, is the one who laid down his life for the sheep (10:11, 15). He knew his sheep (10:14) and his sheep knew him too.

In contrast, the hireling left the sheep and fled when the wolf came, since he does not care for the sheep. He is not the true shepherd (10:12).

  1. John 10:17-18 Laying Down of his Life

The paroimia concludes with Jesus showing clearly that its meaning is connected with his identity and relationships. As the good shepherd, Jesus laid down his life for the sheep on his own accord. This was a command he received from his Father.

  1. John 10:19-21

And people charged Jesus with having a demon madness The Jews were divided as a result of Jesus‘ statement. Some are against him, some for him. His foes charge that Jesus is possessed by a demon and is out of his mind.

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