John 10:1-18

Home>>Bible Studies>>John>>John 10:1-18

These small group studies of John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

John 10:1-18 Inductive Bible Study

Verse Summary:

  1. Robbers don’t enter by the door.

  2. The true shepherd enters by the door.

  3. He knows the sheep by name and leads them.

  4. The sheep follow Him and know His voice.

  5. The sheep do not follow a stranger.

  6. They didn’t understand Jesus’ words.

  7. Jesus is the door of the sheep.

  8. There were many false Christs at that time and the sheep didn’t listen to them.

  9. Jesus is the way of salvation.

  10. The thief is selfish and seeks to destroy, but Jesus gives abundant life.

  11. Jesus is the good shepherd and gives His life for the sheep.

  12. The false Christs don’t care about the sheep, but run when they see danger.

  13. They care not for the sheep.

  14. Jesus is the good shepherd and knows His sheep, who also know Him.

  15. This knowledge is intimate and deep.

  16. Jesus had plans to bring other sheep (Gentiles) into the fold.

  17. The Father loves Jesus because He lays down His life for the sheep.

  18. Jesus laid down His life voluntarily and could take it up again.

Questions

Is Jesus speaking in a parable?

What do verses one and two mean? What is the difference between entering by the door and climbing the wall?

Is the doorkeeper significant?

How well does a shepherd know his sheep? What is the importance that the shepherd knows the sheep by name?

What is the shepherd’s responsibility in verse 3-4?

Do the sheep have any responsibility? What will a “good” sheep do? How can the sheep know who to follow?

How will a sheep react to strangers?

What is the correlation between this and how a believer should be act?

How can we know the difference between God’s voice and the voice of the “wisdom of the world”?

Why does Jesus seem to repeat many of the same things in verses 7-18?

What does it mean that He is the door of the sheep?

Who are those that came before Jesus? Is He referring to prophets? Who is He referring to? Why would He call them thieves and robbers?

Why does he say the sheep didn’t hear them if some people did follow these false Christs?

In verse 9 it says that the sheep will go “in and out”. Does that mean a person can lose their salvation? Why or why not?

What is the difference between Jesus and other false prophets/christs of that time?

What does Jesus mean that He will give abundant life? How can He give us abundant life? What about a believer’s life makes it abundant?

How did Jesus treat the sheep?

What do verses 11-13 show us about how we need to treat the people under us or that God has given to our care?

Do you think there are any “hired hands” working in the church these days?

How deep is Jesus’ knowledge of us? What kind of knowledge is it (there are different kinds of knowledge)?

How well do the true sheep know Jesus? What kind of knowledge do you think this is?

What does it mean that Jesus has “other sheep”?

Cross-references (Verse cross-referenced is in parenthesis)

Psalms 23 (1-18)

Genesis 49:24 (1-18) – A prophecy that Jacob would bring forth the Shepherd.

Micah 5:4 (1-18) – Another prophecy that the Messiah would be a Shepherd.

Isaiah 43:1 (3) – He calls the redeemed by name.

Philippians 4:3 (3) – The names of believers are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Matthew 10:30-31 (3) – The hairs of our head are numbered.

2 Timothy 2:19 (3) – The Lord knows those who are His.

2 Timothy 1:12 (4) – I know whom I have believed and am persuaded…

1 Corinthians 11:1 (4) – We should be imitators of Christ.

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (5) – The time will come when people will gather teachers to tickle their own ears.

1 John 4:5-6 (5) – The world listens to false teachers, but those who know God listen to true teaching.

1 John 4:1-3 (5) – Don’t believe everyone you hear. There are many false prophets.

John 14:6 (7) – Jesus is the Way.

Matthew 7:13 (7) – The Gate is narrow! Few are those who find it. He died and his followers disbanded.

Acts 5:36 (8) – One guy had built up a following of about 400 people.

2 Peter 2:1-3 (10) – Many false prophets will arise with destructive heresies and will mislead many. Their greed drives them to do this.

Luke 19:10 (10) – Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

1 Peter 5:4 (11-13) – Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (but there are also shepherds that he sets up over the flock).

2 Timothy 4:10 (11-13) – Demas loved the world and deserted Paul.

Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2 (11-13) – Instruction that Christian leaders are to be servant shepherds within the church.

John 11:52, 1 Peter 2:10 (16) – Other sheep are scattered abroad.

Points of discussion

Intro – In the first five verses Jesus is speaking in a parable. He uses a real life situation and possible event (though not necessarily actual) and uses it to show spiritual truth. Yet the people didn’t understand His parable so Jesus explains it to them in verses 7-18. Therefore many of the points from the first five verses are repeated in the latter verses because Jesus is explaining them in more simple terms for them to understand.

One other point is that in some Scriptures (as we will see later) servants of God can also act as shepherds. So verses 1-5 can show us how we ought to act in shepherding the flock and the marks of a true shepherd. Yet at the same time Jesus will show how He specifically fulfills this parable and can carry out it out far better than other shepherd, thus making Him THE Good Shepherd. So we will discuss both aspects, how a shepherd ought to act and how Christ Himself is the perfect example of what a shepherd ought to be.

1-2 According to Ryrie “the fold of the sheep was a walled enclosure open to the sky, with one entrance and holding several flocks.” Thus a thief or robber could climb the walls to get at the sheep. However, the real shepherd would never climb the walls to get into the fold, but would go through the door since he would be the rightful shepherd of the sheep. The interpretation of this part of the parable is a little difficult. Is the “shepherd” referred to in verse 2 a reference to Christ or to someone else? And if it is a reference to Christ, how can Christ enter through Himself? I believe that in later verses (7) Jesus explains that He is the door. False prophets/teachers (thieves and robbers) do not accept Jesus or enter through Him. They have bad motivation as thieves and robbers do and seek to mislead the flock or steal them away for their own evil reasons. Meanwhile true leaders in God’s kingdom enter through Christ. They can be “a shepherd”, but not “the shepherd”. And they can help and guide the sheep. Yet they are to be distinguished from THE good shepherd, which is Jesus.

3 – 5

Is the doorkeeper significant?

How well does a shepherd know his sheep? What is the importance that the shepherd knows the sheep by name?

What is the shepherd’s responsibility in verse 3-4?

Do the sheep have any responsibility? What will a “good” sheep do? How can the sheep know who to follow?

How will a sheep react to strangers?

What is the correlation between this and how a believer should be act?

How can we know the difference between God’s voice and the voice of the “wisdom of the world”?

Isaiah 43:1 (3) – He calls the redeemed by name.

Philippians 4:3 (3) – The names of believers are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Matthew 10:30-31 (3) – The hairs of our head are numbered.

2 Timothy 2:19 (3) – The Lord knows those who are His.

2 Timothy 1:12 (4) – I know whom I have believed and am persuaded…

1 Corinthians 11:1 (4) – We should be imitators of Christ.

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (5) – The time will come when people will gather teachers to tickle their own ears.

1 John 4:5-6 (5) – The world listens to false teachers, but those who know God listen to true teaching.

1 John 4:1-3 (5) – Don’t believe everyone you hear. There are many false prophets.

(these can be read in their appropriate places during the second part where Jesus explains the meaning)

Apparently at that time a porter would be at the door to the sheep folds and their responsibility was to open the door to the shepherds of the sheep. I’m not sure if the porter has any special significance. Ideas?

So several marks of a shepherd:

  1. (from verse 2) he enters by the door. His entrance is lawful and right. He comes in the power and name of Christ. His goal and motive is for the good of the church and following the will of God in His life.

  2. The doorkeeper opens to him.

  3. The sheep listen to him.

  4. He knows his sheep intimately and personally.

  5. He leads the sheep.

  6. (from verse 4) he is an example of the sheep.

  7. (for verse 4) the sheep follow him

What is the responsibility of the sheep?

Sheep aren’t good at many things. They are relatively dumb animals and can do little on their own. But they are good at following. They are also good at distinguishing. They can recognize the voice of their own shepherds. They will follow their own shepherd, but won’t pay any attention to others who try to lead them. Give the example of flocks walking together.

This means it is your responsibility to follow God. Being His sheep requires a commitment to follow Him and do what He says. The shepherd may lead a sheep through a dark and scary place, like the valley of the shadow of death, but the sheep have to follow the shepherd through that place. You have to be willing to put Christ first in your life. You have to be willing to put your goals and desires and plans below Christ and even sacrifice them if He asks you too. Others will come and ask you to follow them. Perhaps a girlfriend. Perhaps a parent. Perhaps a boss. Perhaps a friend. Perhaps a teacher. They will ask you to listen to their way. But who will you listen to? Will you follow them or will you follow Christ? Our life as a Christian is quite simple. But it is not that easy. We know what to do, but will we do it? I encourage whenever you face the choice to follow something else or Christ choose to follow Christ. Let’s read Psalms 23 and see what the results of following Christ will be.

We will look closer at these different characteristics as Jesus explains them in verses 7-18

6 – The people didn’t understand Jesus because He was speaking to them in parable form.

7-9 – What does it mean that He is the door of the sheep?

Who are those that came before Jesus? Is He referring to prophets? Who is He referring to? Why would He call them thieves and robbers?

Why does he say the sheep didn’t hear them if some people did follow these false Christs?

John 14:6 (7) – Jesus is the Way.

Matthew 7:13 (7) – The Gate is narrow! Few are those who find it. He died and his followers disbanded.

In this section Jesus explains more about the door. Jesus is the door Himself. He is the door to what? In verse 9 he says that He is the door of salvation. Jesus is the only way that we can be saved. Acts 4:12, John 14:6. There aren’t many doors. There is only one door. In the Bible the word “sheep” stands for all the true followers of God. Jesus says that He is the door. In John 10:9 Jesus says, “I am the door, if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and find pasture.” That means Jesus is the only way by which we can follow God. He is the only way of salvation. There are not many doors to heaven. There are not multiple gods or multiple ways to God. In Acts 4:12 we learn, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus wants us to come through the door, to find the “pasture” or place of rest. But anyone who doesn’t come through this door is outside and is lost.

Do you think the door is wide? God’s love is very great so it is very easy to go in, right?

Matt 7:13-14 tells us more about this door (gate), “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The door of Jesus is narrow. It is not easy to go through because to do so we must repent of our sins and place our faith in Christ. It is much easier to follow the crowd and go the popular way. This way is so simple. It is wide and smooth and we can keep going how we like without making any changes in our life. But look at the results. The easy, wide way leads to destruction! But by going through the narrow door of Jesus we can have life, both here in this world and after we die!

There is no way to sneak into heaven. There is one rightful way in, through Christ. Anyone attempting to enter in through another way will be denied access. We will discuss more about the thieves and robbers (from verse 8) in a minute.

In verse 9 it says that the sheep will go “in and out”. Does that mean a person can lose their salvation? Why or why not?

Parables are used to make some spiritual truths easier to understand. Jesus was a master of parables and His parables have certain points that He intended us to get from them. These are generally pretty clear. Some people however, take the parables too far and try to make every little thing into something significant. When that happens the meaning of the parable is often twisted and much more meaning is added than was intended. It’s like when I give you examples. These are meant to make a main point more clear. Sure, they can be broken down and then one could say I was teaching false doctrine or something. But I’m not using a “parable” or example to teach doctrine. So the aspect of going in and out is intended to show that a person can lose their salvation. It is just something that sheep do in real life, but probably has no spiritual correlation.

The message here, enter through the door! Don’t feel like you have to go the popular way. Ask guys to give some examples of how the world does thing its way and many Christian’s follow suit without thinking it through, largely just because the world is doing that. Dating. Child-rearing. Financial prowess before marriage. Career focused. Wrong roles in marriage. Etc.

10-13 – What is the difference between Jesus and other false prophets/christs of that time?

What does Jesus mean that He will give abundant life? How can He give us abundant life? What about a believer’s life makes it abundant?

How did Jesus treat the sheep?

What do verses 11-13 show us about how we need to treat the people under us or that God has given to our care?

Do you think there are any “hired hands” working in the church these days?

How deep is Jesus’ knowledge of us? What kind of knowledge is it (there are different kinds of knowledge)?

How well do the true sheep know Jesus? What kind of knowledge do you think this is?

2 Peter 2:1-3 (10) – Many false prophets will arise with destructive heresies and will mislead many. Their greed drives them to do this.

Luke 19:10 (10) – Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

1 Peter 5:4 (11-13) – Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (but there are also shepherds that he sets up over the flock).

2 Timothy 4:10 (11-13) – Demas loved the world and deserted Paul.

Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2 (11-13) – Instruction that Christian leaders are to be servant shepherds within the church.

Read and discuss the verses about the false prophets. We need to take care who we listen to. As mentioned before there will be many people who seek to lead us astray. They may do it for selfish motivations. Or they may do it because they are not a believer and don’t know what is the right way. Even some people in the church, leaders even, teach lies and lead people astray. They often seem good and energetic and visionary. But this kind of person is out for his own interests. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Some of the are obvious like some of the television preachers that make stupid promises and ask for money. Some are not so obvious. How can we discern them? Read the following. 1 John 4:5-6 (5) – The world listens to false teachers, but those who know God listen to true teaching.

1 John 4:1-3 (5) – Don’t believe everyone you hear. There are many false prophets.

I can’t warn you guys enough. I especially want to encourage Woody and Michael since you guys will be leaving your Christian friends and fellowship to go to other places. Always evaluate what you hear through Scripture and test to see if it is Biblically accurate.

Abundant life- Jesus offers life when no one else can. The Pharisees couldn’t. The Saducees couldn’t. The Zealots couldn’t. Rome couldn’t. No one can in this world either. All kinds of things are offered. Money. Great career. Materials. Big house. Sex. Drugs. Entertainment. Happiness. What does it all bring? The offers of this world are like all those dumb emails I keep getting. They promise millions of dollars if I only send some of my personal information including bank account number, address, etc. If I actually did it all I would get is “SUCKER” and then some guy laughing as I am tricked. All of these offers sound great. Satan makes huge promises. But in the end he can’t deliver and never planned on it. Just like he told Adam and Eve that they would be like God. Actually they died. Don’t believe the promises in the world.

What kind of life does God want you to live.

But Jesus offers true life. Not only does he offer life, an offer which only liars in the world can offer, but He offers ABUNDANT life. God wants us to have meaningful, purposeful, joyous lives. As we read in Psalms 23, through Him our cup will be running over. If we follow Christ we have a real purpose to live for. Our life has great meaning! Everything we do is important. Even more, we can be filled with joy in everything we do knowing that we are doing the will of God and serving Him. Marriage doesn’t have to be continuous fighting for position and battles of will. It can be a delightful and satisfying relationship in Christ. Parenting doesn’t have to be filled with fear wondering if our kids can pass the test and hoping they out-compete the rest of the kids. It can be filled with joy as we teach our kids God’s Word and see them grow in Him. Working in a company doesn’t have to be stressful wondering if we will get that promotion. It can be satisfying as we are a light for Christ in the workplace. Even playing games like basketball or ping pong can be more fun as we can combine fellowship or witnessing and enjoy the outdoors that God has created as well as our own bodies. Living life with or without Christ in some ways can be compared to a person who badly needs glasses. Without glasses everything is dim and confusing. Once he puts on the glasses everything becomes clear and takes on new shapes that were never seen before. Everything is brighter and happier. It is the same with a believer. If we follow Christ in our life everything becomes more clear, happier, and brighter. Our life is not half empty or half full, but overflowing and abundant! Serve Christ and follow Him and you can taste this kind of life!

Jesus gave His life for the sheep. Hired hands selfishly care for themselves. Discuss this and how it relates to servants in the church.

14-15 The relationship between the shepherd and the sheep

As a good shepherd knows the sheep, Jesus knows us. Shepherds actually sometimes give names to the individual sheep and then calls them by name. Jesus also knows our names and the very number of hairs on our head. This knowledge isn’t only a factual knowledge, it is a relationship. Jesus says that He knows us like He knows the Father. That is a deep, personal, intimate knowledge! This is a very exciting thing. Jesus is not a distant hero, one that we can look up to, but has no connection to our lives. He is willing to have a personal and deep relationship with us. Because of His knowledge of us He is also able to help in all of our weaknesses and difficulties. He knows exactly what we need when we need it. But it is also a scary thing! He knows everything we do and think. We have no secrets from Him. He knows those who are truly His and those who are faking. He knows those who desire to live for Him and those who live for themselves. So we need to have a healthy fear of God and let this drive us to obedience. Because of His knowledge/relationship of us we should have faith and take comfort in Him, knowing He will protect us and we should also revere Him and strive to do what’s right since He knows our heart.

This knowledge is not only something the shepherd has, but the sheep also know the shepherd. All of the true followers of Christ will know Him. Again this is not only a factual knowledge and being able to list off a bunch of details about Jesus. It is a personal relationship with Him, a knowledge that comes through experience. Would you say that you know Michael Jordan? Of course not. You know of him. You have heard of him. Big fans can even list off all his accomplishments. But we don’t really know him. However, some people do know him, his friends and family. There are many people that “know” Jesus in the same way we know Michael Jordan. But how do you know Jesus? Do you know Him just as an impressive figure that did what what what? Or do you know Him as a friend and a Savior? We need to guard against thinking head knowledge is going to get us anywhere.

16-17 Jesus planned to save the Gentiles –

What does it mean that Jesus has “other sheep”?

John 11:52, 1 Peter 2:10 (16) – Other sheep are scattered abroad.

It was always part of God’s plan to reach the Gentiles. Here Jesus mentions it. The church is one, Jew and Gentile, with one shepherd.

18 He voluntarily gave His life – Jesus wasn’t compelled to give His life for us. I have heard some people say before that it was Jesus’ duty. Well, it was His own choice. No “individual, group, or government had the power to kill Christ.” (Ryrie) He did it of His own initiative. That is very great love.

Main Points –

He is the door. Implications? We should enter through the narrow gate rather than the wide and popular and smooth way that the world has to offer

He is the good shepherd. We must follow Him and listen to His voice and not follow any other person or leader, even if they seem good.

He knows His sheep deeply, personally, and intimately. He has a relationship with them. Therefore we should have faith in Him and take comfort in Him, but also have a healthy fear of Him that drives us to do right.

His sheep know Him. We should examine our relationship with God to see if it is just head knowledge or if we are really friends with Him. It isn’t enough just to know the facts about God.

Study John 10:31-11:44

Email