The Church: The Figure of the Flock


One of the great chapters of the Bible is John chapter 10. It pre – sents the Lord Jesus Christ as the Shepherd in a five-fold light: He is the true Shepherd, vv. 1-6; the good Shepherd, vv. 7-11; the only Shepherd, vv. 12-16; the obedient Shep herd, vv. 17-18; and the faithful Shepherd, vv. 19-42. Still further, as the Head of the church, He is not only the good Shepherd but also the great Shepherd, Heb. 13. 20, and the chief Shepherd, 1 Pet. 5. 4.

Fold and Flock

The words of John chapter 10 verse 16 serve as the key to the entire chapter. The Lord Jesus said, ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd’. It should be noted that the word for ‘fold’ is translated ‘flock’ everywhere else in the New Testament, as it should be at the close of verse 16. At the beginning of verse 16, an en tirely different word is used, which is correctly rendered ‘fold’ – ‘other sheep I have which are not of this fold’.

The Saviour came into the world especially on behalf of Israel, but in this text He spoke of ‘other sheep’. These ‘other sheep’ were the Gentiles who would believe on Him. They were not of Israel’s fold, but His heart of love embrac ed them as well. The Lord spoke these words in anticipation of the church, wherein believing Jews and Gentiles would become one flock, with Christ as the Shepherd over the flock. Referring to John chapter 10 verse 16, HARRY A. IRONSIDE commented, ‘You see, Judaism was a fold, a circumference without a cent re, but Christianity is a flock, where we have a centre with out a circumference. We have no wall about us, but we are gathered about Him, our good Shepherd’.1


There is a deep practical lesson in the word ‘other’ which tells us of our Saviour’s love. In a desert place near Capernaum the people virtually pleaded with the Lord to stay, but He said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent’, Luke 4. 43. Here, in John chapter 10 verse 16, He spoke of ‘other sheep’, while in Matt hew chapter 27 verse 42 the chief priests spoke the truth when they mockingly said of Christ on the cross, ‘He saved others

To think Jesus died for me
Upon the cross of Calvary
Should move my selfish heart to pray,
‘For others, Lord, I’ll live each day.’


As a result of Christ’s focus on others, the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles has been broken down. Through faith in Christ we are one flock, one new man, and one body, John 10. 16; Eph. 2. 14-18.

1 Harry A. Ironside, Addresses on the Gospel of John, p. 424.


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