The Truth... What is it?

John 10:16

"I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."

It is said that the vast majority of Biblical Scholars believe that the 'other sheep' were, in fact, the Gentiles.

It is said that attempts by some branches of Christianity are made to prove that the "main fold" in John 10:16 consisted of the Jew and Gentiles with Luke 2:27-32:

"27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

With the above verse, those branches may be  prepping listeners to believe that Christ was commissioned to preach to the Jews and the Gentiles during his lifetime.

They might state that, "His (Christ's) Apostles continued his work of preaching the gospel to the Jews first, then later to the Gentiles." This passage is misleading.

The blanket statement they use can easily infer that Christ was sent to receive both the Jew and Gentile giving us one flock during His lifetime. If that were the case, they would be able to argue that the 'other sheep' is another group of people to be named at a later date. They might even argue that it is their own, modern church. This not true.

To clarify: Christ was commissioned to preach to ONLY the Jews during his lifetime. Only until after His death, was the Kingdom opened to the Gentiles. Look at the passage below:

                                                           Matthew 15:21-28

"And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.' But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she is crying after us.' He answered, 'I WAS SENT ONLY TO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.' But she came and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, help me.' And He answered, 'It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.' She said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed instantly."

via his sermon 8/14/2011, Pastor Tim Bupp makes interesting commentary: Comparing the woman to a "dog", was Jesus having an "off" day...lost His "cool"? No! He was using a question to get at the true intent of the QUESTIONER'S (woman) question. In the minds of the Canaanites, the Jews were terrorists; and they considered dogs to be the lowest of the low. Jesus is creative and wanted to get her emotions out and is not the least bit concerned about "bad taste", being "offensive", or being "politically correct". As an artist squeezes paint tubes, Jesus squeezes her to "mix the pigment" and get her to (1) reveal her true intention and to (2) realize who she is in God's creation. Jesus often used unrefined approaches & unrefined human situations to teach. Pablo Picasso, the renowned artist is said to have declared, "Good taste [and refinement] is the enemy of creativity". She stands before this sworn enemy of her ancestors and exclaims, "Son of David!" in awe and not in disgust. Jesus wants to us EACH OF US...even this former steel mill worker. The unrefined may be the exact tools to squeeze, rough edges and all, in order to paint one of life's beautiful "paintings"!]

Christ's mission is clear. He tells us himself. He says that He "WAS SENT ONLY TO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL." He was not sent to receive the Gentiles during his earthly ministry!

The above information about Christ's earthly ministry is key in understanding who the 'other sheep' truly are. So who is Christ referring to when He mentions the "other Sheep" in John 10:16? In John 10:16, he is clarifying his role as Shepherd of the Jews. He then goes on and tells His disciples of his FUTURE plans for his "other sheep", the Gentiles.

Christ was not the during-His-earthly-life Light, and did not preach to the Gentiles. But his ongoing life, sayings, and deeds will be used as "A LIGHT FOR REVELATION TO THE GENTILES" as echoed with Simeon's statement in Luke 2:27-32:

"Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 A LIGHT FOR REVELATION TO THE GENTILES and for glory to your people Israel.'"

Christ's earthly deeds gave the Apostles the ability to effectively preach the Gospel to the 'other sheep'. The Gentiles heard and were received into the Church. These events clearly took place after the death of Christ. By the Gentiles assimilating with the Christian Jews, the prophecy of one flock and one shepherd in John 10:16 was fulfilled.

To fortify this claim, lets look at more supporting Biblical proof texts that paint a story of two separate folds:

The Gentiles were considered heathens during the life of Christ. In no way were they considered part of God's Kingdom during that time. These two groups of people were truly of different folds. Look at the following verses to support this claim:

Matt 10:5-6:  "These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: 'Do not go among the GENTILES or enter any town of the Samaritans.  Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel."

Matt 18:17: "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a GENTILE and a tax collector."

Acts 10:28: "He said to them: 'You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a GENTILE or visit him....'"

The Bible is clear on what the early Jewish Christians (all of the very early Christians were Jews) thought of the Gentiles. They were to be avoided. Even Jesus commands the Apostles to tend only to the lost sheep of Israel and not to go to the Gentiles and Samaritans. Jesus, in the fullness of time, would reveal the future salvation plan for the Gentiles. Those plans are precisely prophesied in John 10:16.

Matthew 28:18-20 does strongly imply that He's telling the disciples to now take The Way to the world & make disciples of all nations [HERE].

Only until the Holy Spirit commanded Peter to share the Word of God to the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-48..."Peter's vision"), which took place AFTER the death of Christ, was it then that the Kingdom of God was opened to them because they then recognized & accepted & willed to act. The following verses show that point to be true:

Acts 13:46-48: "Then Paul and Barnabas answered them (the challenging Jews) boldly: 'We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the GENTILES. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed [the Elect] for eternal life believed.'"

Acts 14:27: "On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the GENTILES."

Acts 15:7: "After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: 'Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the GENTILES might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.'"

The above verses indicate that the Gentiles began to be admitted to the Kingdom AFTER Christ's death...AFTER He made his statement of 'other sheep' in John 10:16. Hence, the other sheep are the Gentiles.

Ephesians 3:6:  "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."

The Jews and Gentiles had now become one fold with one Shepherd as Christ had prophesied.

Summarizing the above; the Scriptural references show that:

  1. The Gentiles were not of Christ's fold when He was alive. (Matt10:5-6, Acts 10:28)
  2. Jesus explicitly commanded the Apostles to minister to the Jews and forego any contact with the Gentiles. (Matt 10:5-6)
  3. Jesus was sent only to the Jews. (Matt 15:21-28)
  4. The Gentiles were considered not of the Jewish Fold. (Acts 10:28)
  5. The Kingdom of God was opened to the Gentiles after the death of Christ. (Acts 13,14,15)
  6. The prophecy of bringing other sheep into the fold is fulfilled (Eph 3:6)

Looking at it in its proper chronological order, all the evidence points to the Gentiles as being the other sheep in John 10:16.


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(posted 18 May 2003...adapted from HERE; latest additions 18 November)