The controversy over the Son of God (8:12–10:42) - continue

D. The Son of the Father (10:22–42)

God has assigned Jesus, his Son to be the ruler of his people, fulfilling the mission of God to the world. Jesus cares for their every need and fights on their behalf. The response of the Church is belief.

  1. Narrator’s introduction (10:22–23);
  2. First exchange: “I and the Father are one” (10:24–30);
  3. Second exchange: blasphemy or belief? (10:31–39);
  4. Narrator’s conclusion (10:40–42).


The feast Dedication or “rededication” was a ‘recent’ feast. For three years (167–164 BC) the temple had been by the installation of a pagan cult under Antiochus Epiphanes - who claimed to be the manifestation of Zeus. His name mean “God-manifest”; and the idolatrous altar - the “abomination of desolation” - had been erected on the top of the altar of Israel’s God (2 Macc. 6:1–7).

In 164 BC (some say 165 BC), the sacred site was recaptured by Judas Maccabaeus and the temple was reconsecrated in 14 December 164 BC (cf. 1 Macc 1:54–55; 4:36–59; 2 Macc. 10:1–8).

The festival of Dedication (Hanukkah) commemorating this event, may have had a prehistory as a festival of the winter solstice.

Today it is celebrated as the feast of Lights - from the custom of lighting of lamps or candles in Jewish homes to honour the occasion. Josephus, the Jewish historian explain it that the Jews could again worship God - the right to worship “shone upon us” (Ant. 12.316–25).

It was the last and greatest deliverance of Israel that the Jews had known; in their minds it was close to a second exodus.

The symbolic significance of the Feast of Dedication, a religious and national holiday, has several correspondence to Jesus (Light of the world; God-manifest). He is “set apart” - understood as sanctified just as the new altar was in the time of Maccabees (10:36). In his person not just the altar but the entire temple (and sacrificial system) is replaced and renewed (cf. 2:12–25).

Verse 23 provides more details about Jesus’ location. This portico offered cover from the “winter” cold weather. See also Acts 3:11; 5:12.

Jesus, the fulfilment of all the hopes of Israel is walking in their midst.


The Jews “surrounded” Jesus, which probably indicates to encircle Jesus with a hostile intent (cf. Ps 118:11, 22).

“How long will you take away our life/soul?” But what does it actually mean?

Majority of English translations put it as “How long will you keep us in suspense?” But there is no evidence that this phrase has such idiomatic meaning.

Others render it as “how long will you annoy [vex, trouble] us in this way”?

Then, they demand that Jesus would make it clear (openly (7:4, 13, 26) - referring to his identity.

To the Samaritan woman, the term “Messiah” (4:26) had purely religious connotations, but among the Jews it had political and military implications. Thus, their question is not much about “who” Jesus thinks he is, but about “what” Jesus plans to do. His action will determine what they must do with him.


The problem was not that he did not speak clearly, but that they did not listen. They did not listen with their hearts - so they did not believe (a heart problem, not an ear problem).

In one sense Jesus never spoke directly to the Jews about being “the Christ”.

In another sense, everything that Jesus does should make it clear to them that he is the Christ, the Son of God. All the works he does is in the Father’s name.

Two works in particular can be mentioned - the healing of the cripple at the pool of Bethesda (5:36) and the healing of the blind man (9:1–5). In a moment, he will bring Lazarus back to life (chapter 11). The restoration of health, sight, and life were all works declaring the identity of Jesus to those who were not insensitive. But, the fact that the Jewish authority cannot see it that way points to their heart problem.

Paradoxically, with each new work of Jesus, the hearts of his opponents got harden even more. Finally, it was the raising of Lazarus that made Jesus’ enemies to decide on killing him (11:53).


Jesus repeats the statement that they do not believe.

Some commentators indicate that it is not just lack of belief in Jesus but also in God. Since the Father works through the Son (10:25) and the Son makes the Father known (1:18), therefore without Jesus it is impossible to believe in true God.

As there is no connection to God without Jesus, so there is also no participation in the people of God without Jesus (cf. 10:1–21) - they do not belong to his sheep.

This is a shocking statement. Why do they not belong to his sheep? Because of their unbelief. But why do they not believe? Some point to the idea of election - namely, it is not only the disbeliever who rejects God but also God who rejects the disbeliever. But why would God do that? We are facing another mystery.


Jesus repeats what he already said (10:3–5). However, in 10:4 the stress is on the sheep knowing the shepherd, but here on the shepherd knowing the sheep.

Does it imply that Jesus does not know them, the same way they do not know him?


Jesus here declares what only he can offer to his sheep - “eternal life” (8:51–52; 11:26). This gift can never be destroyed or the sheep can never be snatch from Jesus’ hand.

Through faith - trust and baptism, they became members of the family of God, children of the second birth (1:11–13).


There is problem with the translation here because of the relative pronoun (1) “that - ὃ - neuter” or (2) “who - ὅς - masculine”.

  1. “That which” my Father has given me is greater that all things, and no one is able to take [it] out of my Father’s hands.

  2. My Father, “who” has given [them] to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to take [them] out of my Father’s hands.

The difference in meaning is important to clarify.

In reading (2), the implied object is the sheep, whom the Father has given to Jesus. The sheep are safe in the hands of both the Father and the Son (10:28). No one is powerful enough to snatch anything from the hand of the Father and the Son.

In reading (1), however, the implied object is more inclusive - aside from the sheep, it also includes everything the Father has elsewhere given to the Son - authority, judgement, and life itself (5:22–27).

In reading (2), the Father is “greater than all”, but in reading (1) “that which” the Father has given to the Son - his life-giving authority and power to sustain and protect the sheep - “is greater than all”.


This is indeed a powerful statement (cf. 1:1 and 5:19–23).

Jesus have already declared himself to be co-working with the Father (5:17), which was rightly interpreted as “making himself equal with God” (5:18). But, here the stress is not on the work but on the identity of the Father and the Son.


“Again” refers back to the previous attempt at stoning (8:58–59). Jesus’ statement gave them only two option: either he is a blasphemer or the Son of God, either to stone him for a blasphemy (Lev 24:16; cf. John 5:18) or believe in him.


As the stones are the hands of the Jews, Jesus calmly asks a question: what is the reason for their action?

“Good works” that Jesus performed in front of them are from the Father (cf. 5:19, 36). These two qualification proof Jesus’ identity, his unity with the Father, and also his intention and mission (3:16).


The Jews do not respond to Jesus’ works but to Jesus’ words in 10:30.

It is the explanation that Jesus offers to his works that they cannot accept (cf. 5:18, 19–23; 8:51–55).

Here, Jesus seen by them as “man”, makes himself to be God (10:30).


Jesus quotes from Ps 82:6.

They are three traditional interoperation of the term “gods” in that Psalm in early Judaism:

  1. “gods” refer to angelic powers who had authority over the nations but misused it;
  2. “gods” refers to the people of Israel at the giving of the law;
  3. “gods” refers to the judges of Israel who had been given authority over the people but failed to administer it with justice.

Jesus’ interpretation favours between option (2) and (3).

“Your law” - probably refers to the Hebrew Scriptures.


Now, Jesus explains what he understood by “gods”, namely, “those to whom the word of God came”. Thus, Jesus rules out ‘angelic figures’. But, among option (2) and (3), it has to be option (3). In the Psalm the judges of Israel were showing partiality to the wicked (Ps 82:2) - a charge present in the prophetic books.

In Ps 82, the judges of Israel were given an exalted title (“gods”) in order to reflect the significance of their position. The titles “gods” and “sons of the Most High” (Ps 82:6) is an expression of their power and authority that they received from God. But they failed the people of Israel and God. So, they will no longer exercise their position of power and authority but become an ordinary person and receive punishment - death.

Ps 82:5 echoes Prologue 1:5, 9–11. It is also applicable to the leaders of Israel trying to stone Jesus for blasphemy - they really do not know anything and walk in darkness.

John 10:1–21, presented Jesus as the true Shepherd in contrast to the failed shepherding of the Jewish authorities (chapter 9). Now, Jesus is presented as the true Judge of Israel and the only one who is deserving of the office (and title) of “god” in contrast to the failed rulers of the Jewish people.

“And the Scriptures cannot be broken” means that the Scriptures cannot be shown to be wrong or set aside when its teaching is inconvenient.


The implication of his exegesis of Psalm 82 comes out now.

cf. Jer 1:5 LXX - the same term “sanctify” is present there.

The history of the OT presents many individuals who served as God’s representatives - judges, prophets, priests, and kings. They were filled with God’s Spirit in order to accomplish a particulate task or proclaim a particular word.

Jesus makes it clear that He is ‘another’ representative of God - but unique in the sense of his identity as the Son of God. Thus, Jesus did not blaspheme - the Jewish authorities are wrong again about him and about God, whom they claim to know.

Moreover, Ps 82:8 ends with a plea, which Jesus’ perfectly fulfils.

God has risen and sent his Son to the world. As the Son of God, he is the true Judge, the ultimate representative of God, and the final mediator between humanity and God.

God sent his Son to “judge the earth” (Ps 82:8; cf. 3:16–21).


From the biblical interoperation, Jesus moves back to his works (cf. 10:25–26).


cf. 14:10–11.

The works should make it clear the unity between the Father and the Son. Jesus invites the Jews to analyse his works (again) and come to believe that he is indeed the Son of God.

“Know” is in aorist - perfective aspect referring to knowing in general ‘an act of knowing’, and “understand” is in present - imperfective aspect referring to the continuing progress in understating.


“Again” - see 7:30, and again they failed, because the time has not yet come.


Jesus left Jerusalem where the action narrated from 8:12 till 10:39 took place. It is interesting that he goes to the place where John before bore witness to him (1:19–36). Thus, it is in contrast to Jerusalem and the Jewish leadership that failed to believe in Jesus; neither John, neither Jesus and his works were able to convince the Jewish leadership that Jesus is the Son of the Father sent into the world by the Father (cf. Mk 10:27–33).


By returning to the Baptist, the reader is reminded of the message of the Baptist and exhorted to hear afresh his witness and the titles for Jesus that emerged at the Gospel’s start from the Baptist’s ministry: “Lamb of God” (1:29); “Messiah” (1:41), “Son of God” and “King of Israel” (1:48).

“Many came to him”. Where did they come from? Some indicate that those were the people who lived there and remembered Jesus and the testimony of John about Jesus.

Unlike Jesus, John did not perform any signs - notice that no mighty works were attributed to John. But, his words were remembered - despite being imprisoned and put to death - because his words bear witness to Jesus.

Now, we understand why every Gospel begins with John the Baptist. The apostles and the Evangelist never forgot the testimony of his life and words.


Short and powerful statement again.

The departure from Jerusalem and return to where the ministry began might look like a failure when in reality it had been a success. In Jerusalem, the people wanted to stone him to death for blasphemy, here many believe in him!

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