The “Fine Shepherd” and His “Other Sheep”
“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring.”—John 10:16.
1. How does the “fine shepherd” differ from a “hired man”?
A FINE shepherd differs from a hired man, who is interested in only the pay that he is to get. Jesus said: “I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep. The hired man, who is no shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong as his own, beholds the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them—because he is a hired man and does not care for the sheep.”—John 10:11-13.
2. (a) By saying that the “fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep,” to what was Jesus referring in his own experience? (b) Jesus’ surrender of his human soul served in what behalf in general?
2 Back there in the Middle East shepherding sheep out in pasture grounds had its perils. We recall how the shepherd boy David once had to kill a bear and a lion in order to save the lives of his father Jesse’s sheep. (1 Sam. 17:34-36) Jesus spoke of wolves preying upon the sheep. Driving off a wolf might bring a shepherd in danger of bodily hurt. A fine shepherd would not run away for his personal safety like a hired man but would protect the sheep against predatory beasts. A “fine shepherd” would be willing even to ‘surrender his soul in behalf of the sheep’ so as not to lose even one of them. By calling attention to this Jesus foretold his own death as a human soul in behalf of Jehovah’s “sheep.” But Jesus was willing to measure up to this characteristic of a “fine shepherd.” His heavenly Father, Jehovah God, who is the Owner of the earthly “sheep,” was willing to have his Son surrender his human soul in behalf of the “sheep” whom his Father loved so much. The human “soul” of Jesus was offered as a ransom sacrifice for buying back mankind from death, which they had inherited from sinful Adam.
3. (a) According to John 10:14, 15, Jesus compared himself to what with respect to his Father? (b) In order to share the Abrahamic promise with the “little flock,” what was Jesus willing to do?
3 A “fine shepherd” also becomes intimate with each sheep of the flock and assigns to it an individual name by which to call it to him and fondle it or care for its needs. With this trait of a Middle Eastern shepherd in mind, Jesus went on to say: “I am the fine shepherd, and I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I surrender my soul in behalf of the sheep.” (John 10:14, 15) Jesus considered himself to be a figurative “sheep.” He was the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, he is called the “Lamb” 28 times. Jesus considered himself to be pictured by the ram that the patriarch Abraham offered up in place of his son Isaac, whom Abraham had shown a readiness to offer up in sacrifice at Jehovah’s command. (Gen. 22:1-13) Isaac received and passed on to Jacob the Abrahamic promise. Like Isaac, Jesus inherited the Abrahamic promise and was willing to be sacrificed in order to share the promise with his “little flock.”
4. Did Jesus “snatch” the “little flock” out of his Father’s hand, and how did Jesus view that “flock”?
4 Plainly, then, Jesus was sincerely interested in the salvation of the “little flock” in the “sheepfold” of the Abrahamic Covenant arrangement. He prized them as a highly valuable gift from his heavenly Father. Just as he said: “What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things, and no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father.”—John 10:29.
“I HAVE OTHER SHEEP”
5. What indicates that Jesus was interested in saving more than sheeplike humans into heavenly life?
5 Even though the churches of Christendom may not think and teach so, Jesus is interested in more than just saving human creatures into heavenly life. Jesus said: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Who, now, are those “other sheep”?
6. (a) What do Christendom’s churches teach regarding “this fold” and the “other sheep”? (b) What does Jesus’ mentioning of Paradise in Luke 23:43 and his parable of the sheep and the goats indicate?
6 Churches of Christendom claim that the “fold” there spoken of by Jesus was to contain only Jewish Christians, whereas the “other sheep” are those who become Christians from among the non-Jews or Gentiles; and that both believing Jews and believing Gentiles become “one flock” under the “one shepherd” in the one spiritual fold. But this teaching disagrees with other Bible scriptures bearing on the subject. Although the apostle John does not mention it in his Gospel account, Jesus did speak of an earthly Paradise under his kingdom and he spoke of others as being “sheep” besides the “little flock” of his heavenly joint heirs. When Jesus gave his prophecy on the “sign” of his then future presence and of the conclusion of the system of things, he closed it, according to Matthew’s account, with the parable of the sheep and the goats. Those “sheep” were to be different from Christ’s spiritual “brothers,” to whom these sheeplike ones do good things.—Luke 23:43; Matt. 24:3; 25:31-46.
7. Why could John well recall Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats and appreciate the number enfolded in “this fold”?
7 The apostle John was acquainted with that parable, for he and his brother James and also Peter and Andrew were the ones who promoted Jesus’ prophecy by asking him privately about the “sign,” and John heard that prophecy in full. (Mark 13:3, 4) So when he recorded Jesus’ words about the “other sheep” he could well have called to mind Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats. He was the aged apostle who was given the Revelation that disclosed that the 12 tribes of spiritual Israel would contain only 144,000 members. So he knew that the “sheepfold” containing the “little flock” would enfold only a limited number of all those saved.
8. To what does the apostle Paul liken the 12 tribes of spiritual Israel in connection with a tree, and, in a typical way, what did the main parts of that “tree” picture?
8 In Romans chapter 11, the apostle Paul likens those 12 tribes of spiritual Israel to the branches in a tame olive tree. The root of that symbolic olive tree was prefigured by the patriarch Abraham, the forefather of the nation of Israel according to the flesh. The trunk of the tree pictured therefore the succeeding patriarchs, Isaac, Jacob and the 12 patriarchal heads of the 12 tribes of natural Israel. (Acts 7:8) The branches growing out from this trunk pictured the Jewish members of the 12 tribes of natural, circumcised Israel. Naturally these were heirs of the Abrahamic promise as to the “seed” by means of whom all families and nations of the earth would bless themselves toward attaining everlasting life. For that reason the natural circumcised Jews were the first ones in line to have the opportunity to make up that ‘seed of Abraham.’
9. As to their nature, what were those symbolic “branches,” and who, therefore, was the real “root,” and who the tree trunk?
9 Now we know that that “seed” is a spiritual seed, a seed that is begotten by Jehovah God to be his spiritual sons. He was the real “root” of that spiritual olive tree. His Son, Jesus Christ, was the principal and essential member of that “seed” of the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God, and so Jesus Christ was pictured by the trunk of this symbolic olive tree. Accordingly, the “branches” in such a tree would picture the faithful disciples who become joint heirs with him as minor members of the spiritual ‘seed of Abraham.’ Well, now, were the “branches” an unlimited number?
10. How, in Romans 11:11-32, does Paul show that there would be only a limited number of “branches” in that symbolic olive tree?
10 The apostle Paul shows that there would be only a limited number of “branches” in that spiritual olive tree. How so? Because he points out that when one of the natural branches was broken off, the tree would not grow there another natural branch. Instead, a branch from a wild olive tree would be inserted in its place. So this transplanted wild olive branch would not increase the number of branches in the tree. The number of branches in the trunk of that tree would stay the same. Thus, when natural circumcised Jews were broken off from that spiritual tree because of unbelievingly rejecting Jesus Christ as the Principal Seed of the Greater Abraham, then non-Jews or Gentiles were engrafted in the places of those cut-off natural “branches.”—Rom. 11:11-32.
11. How, in Galatians 3:26-29, does Paul show that those in the fold of spiritual Israel are not to be classified as Jews and Gentiles?
11 Properly, then, those branches in that Abrahamic Covenant tree are not to be considered as natural Jews and foreign Gentiles. They are all to be considered as spiritual Israelites. The apostle Paul is the one that makes that very point. After discussing the Abrahamic promise and the seed of Abraham, he goes on to say: “You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”—Gal. 3:8, 16, 26-29.
12-14. (a) In Galatians 4:21-31, to whose spiritual motherhood of them does Paul point the Galatian Christians? (b) Hence, does Paul lay stress on any Jewish element in the “little flock” inside “this fold”?
12 The apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians about the years 50-52 C.E. This was at least 17 years after Jehovah had nailed the Law covenant to the tree on which his Son Jesus Christ was impaled. Yet there were some Christians in the congregations of Galatia that wanted to go into slavery to the Law of that Law covenant mediated by Moses at Mount Sinai in Arabia. In this they wanted to go along with the anti-Christian Jews who clung to earthly Jerusalem and the material temple built there by King Herod the Great who tried to have the young child Jesus killed. That Jerusalem had been foreshadowed by Hagar, the slave woman of Abraham and was like a mother to the Jews who still wanted to keep in bondage to the Mosaic law rather than accept Jesus Christ as the Greater Moses. Consequently, with respect to this, Paul wrote:
13 “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. . . . Now we, brothers, are children belonging to the promise the same as Isaac was. . . . Wherefore, brothers, we are children, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman. For such freedom Christ set us free. Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.”—Gal. 4:21 through 5:1.
14 Isaac, the son of Abraham, was not a Jew or an Israelite. He, as the son of Abraham’s free woman Sarah, was the father of Jacob, who was given the name Israel and who became the father of Judah. Christians who belong to the “little flock” in “this fold” of the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ are like Isaac in being heirs of the Abrahamic promise. Heavenly Jerusalem is their spiritual mother, prefigured by Sarah the mother of Isaac the Hebrew, not a Jew.
15, 16. In John 10:16-18, does Jesus say that he must bring the “other sheep” into one “fold” in order to have “one shepherd”?
15 After discussing the “sheepfold” that contains the members of the composite ‘seed of Abraham,’ Jesus strikes out in another direction when he proceeds to say: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I surrender my soul, in order that I may receive it again. No man has taken it away from me, but I surrender it of my own initiative. I have authority to surrender it, and I have authority to receive it again. The commandment on this I received from my Father.”—John 10:16-18.
16 We notice that Jesus does not say that he “must bring” those “other sheep” into “this fold.” Rather, he says that “they will become one flock,” because there will be just the “one shepherd.”
17. What may be argued from the fact that Jesus moves smoothly and uninterruptedly from considering “this fold” to speaking of “other sheep,” but is this necessarily true?
17 Well, because Jesus passes so smoothly from considering “this fold” to introducing the “other sheep,” the reader might tend to think that the two actions follow each other in short order, without any great gap of time, certainly not centuries of time. Also, that for such a reason Jesus must be referring to bringing into “this fold” the non-Jewish peoples, the Gentiles, according to the history of the expansion of the Christian congregation in the days of the apostles. So it might be concluded that Jesus was not here making a long-range prophecy of something far distant in time. But such a conclusion is not necessarily the right one. It does not differentiate between “this fold” and “one flock.”—Compare Revelation 7:8, 9.
18. Was Jesus able to make a long-range prophecy, and upon what prior thing must the blessing of all families of the earth wait?
18 Jesus was gifted with prophetic vision and so was able to give his parable of the sheep and the goats although it was to come true 1,900 years later. He was the basic member of the promised ‘seed of Abraham’ and was therefore highly interested in the salvation of all the families and nations of mankind by blessing themselves for eternity by means of that seed. Such a blessing had to wait upon the completing of that composite ‘seed of Abraham’ of 144,000 members under him. That was to involve 19 centuries of time, as the facts of history show. True, those blessing themselves would be sheeplike ones of all families and nations, but they would be “other sheep,” because they did not belong to “this fold” of heirs of the Abrahamic promise. So they could not be spiritual Israelites, but, relatively speaking, they were Gentiles.
19 Quite in line with this is the fact that, after the apostle John saw the sealing of the 12 tribes of spiritual Israel, as described in Revelation 7:1-8, he saw the vision of the numberless “great crowd” of those who are not spiritual Israelites and who are therefore “other sheep.” They were seen standing before the divine throne and were saying: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” These are said to survive the “great tribulation,” and they take up the rendering of sacred service to Jehovah God in his temple day and night. The “fine shepherd” gives these “other sheep” loving care, for we read: “The Lamb . . . will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life.”—Rev. 7:9-17.
20. When and where did the fulfillment of the vision of the “great crowd” start taking place, and with what demonstration?
20 In agreement with that order of things as set out in Revelation, chapter 7, it was in the spring of the year 1935, 20 years into the “conclusion of the system of things” that began in 1914, that the explanation of the Revelation vision of the “great crowd” was given. This occurred on May 31, 1935, at the convention in the capital city of the United States of America. On that occasion J. F. Rutherford, the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, delivered his lecture on the subject “The Great Multitude,” and explained how it was, not a secondary heavenly class, but an earthly class, the “other sheep” of the “fine shepherd.” This information was later published in the columns of the Watchtower magazine. Then indeed the “fine shepherd” began to bring his “other sheep” and they began listening to his voice and following him, for on the next day after that explanation of Revelation 7:9-15 there were 840 that symbolized their dedication to God through Christ by water baptism. The majority of these professed to be of the “great multitude” of Christ’s “other sheep.”—AV.
21. (a) So, besides the “little flock,” for whom else did the “fine shepherd” surrender his soul? (b) How did this shepherd receive his soul again, and in expression of whose love?
21 The “fine shepherd” surrendered his “soul” also for these “other sheep” who do not belong to the “fold” of the heirs of the Abrahamic promise. The apostle John, who was one of the Abrahamic “seed” class, wrote: “He [Jesus Christ] is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.” (1 John 2:1, 2) Jehovah God, the heavenly Father, loved his Son for doing this. In heart appreciation of this Jesus, the “fine shepherd,” said before those who hated him among the Jews: “This is why the Father loves me, because I surrender my soul, in order that I may receive it again.” (John 10:17) The Father displayed his love for the self-sacrificing “fine shepherd” by raising him from the dead on the third day. In this way the Son of God received his “soul,” or being, again, but on a heavenly plane of life.
22. Despite attempts upon his life, why had no man taken Jesus human soul away from him, up till his saying the words recorded at John 10:18?
22 Up to the time that Jesus spoke about the “other sheep” attempts had been made to take the life of this “fine shepherd.” But never did he do anything deserving of death at the hands of men. This explains why he said: “No man has taken it away from me, but I surrender it of my own initiative. I have authority to surrender it, and I have authority to receive it again. The commandment on this I received from my Father.”—John 10:18.
23. When did Jesus surrender his human soul of his own initiative, and why?
23 A few months later the proof of this statement was furnished. On the night of his being betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane, when his disciple Peter tried to protect him with a sword, Jesus said: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels? In that case, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must take place this way?” (Matt. 26:53, 54) Thus, after letting his apostles flee from his side, Jesus surrendered himself of his own initiative to the crowds that came to arrest him and make a final attempt to have him put to death. In doing this Jesus was not throwing away his life.
24. What full authority regarding his soul had Jesus received from his Father, and how did the final attempt to block his exercising that authority fail?
24 Jesus had the authority from his heavenly Father to take this course, but it was left to his own free will to do so. His authority to receive his soul again by a resurrection depended upon his willing self-surrender. Because he did surrender his soul to death, his heavenly Father clothed him with the authority to receive it again from the only One who could raise him from the dead. No power in heaven or on earth could block this authority for Jesus to receive his “soul,” or life, again. Hence, the governor’s seal that was put upon the large stone that closed the entry to the tomb in which he was buried after dying on the tree, and also the soldier guard that was stationed at the tomb to prevent his disciples from stealing the dead body, failed to block Jesus in exercising his God-given authority on the third day.—Matt. 27:62 through 28:15.
25. Since Jesus did not forfeit his human life by disobedience to God, how did it become available for him to use for mankind?
25 Really, Jesus was under his heavenly Father’s command to do all of this. So, on the third day of his death, Jehovah God issued the command for his obedient Son to arise from the dead and receive life again, in the spirit realm with his heavenly Father. Since he had not forfeited his human life by disobedience to God, he also received the right and title to perfect human life that he might present them to Jehovah God in his heavenly temple and make propitiation for the sin of the whole world.
26. (a) Thus the way was opened for all the families of the earth to do what? (b) When, notably, did the “great crowd” of Jesus’ “other sheep” start to bless themselves?
26 Thus the way was opened for all the families and nations of the world to “bless themselves” by means of the Chief One of ‘Abraham’s seed.’ (Gen. 12:1-3; 22:15-18) The “great crowd” of the “other sheep” of the Fine Shepherd began to “bless themselves” by means of him when they dedicated themselves to Jehovah God through him and symbolized this dedication by water baptism. Then they listened to the voice of the Fine Shepherd and followed him, together with the anointed remnant of the Abrahamic seed. This start took place notably at the Washington (D.C.) convention of 1935. Since then the anointed remnant have welcomed all the “other sheep” and, just as Jesus foretold, there has come to be “one flock” under the “one shepherd.”
27. Who else besides the “great crowd” that survives the “great tribulation” will become part of the Fine Shepherd’s “other sheep,” and when?
27 During the millennial reign of the “one shepherd,” the enthroned Jesus Christ, all the redeemed dead of mankind will be raised from their sleep of death and will have the opportunity to “bless themselves” by becoming part of the Fine Shepherd’s “other sheep.” This will include the former “doorkeeper” of the “sheepfold” representing the Abrahamic Covenant arrangement, namely, John the Baptizer. (John 10:1-3) Jesus will lead the obedient ones to “fountains of waters of life.” The “great crowd” of those who survive the coming “great tribulation” will be a blessing to the resurrected billions that these may avail themselves of the “fountains of waters of life.” (Rev. 7:9-17) All the sheeplike ones will be able to join the “great crowd” in saying: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”—Rev. 7:10; 20:11-14.
[Diagram on page 26]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Jehovah’s Arrangement for His “Sheep”
(1) The “fine shepherd”: Jesus Christ, who surrenders his soul for the “sheep”
(2) “The doorkeeper”: John the Baptizer, who introduces the “shepherd” to the “sheep”
(3) “The sheepfold”: The Kingdom fold of the Abrahamic Covenant arrangement
(4) The “sheep” in this fold: The “little flock,” from Jews and Gentiles
(5) “The door of the sheep”: Jesus
(6) The “stranger,” “thief,” “the hired man”: Apostates and false shepherds
(7) The “other sheep”: The “great crowd” and others who inherit the Kingdom’s earthly realm
(See also “The Watchtower” of May 15, 1946, pages 147-158)