Thursday, March 5, 2015

Who are the Other Sheep?

(John 10:16) 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.

This is a proof text for those who believe that the truth of the one spiritual church which is the Body of Christ was revealed before Paul. But if the plain words in Ephesians 3 have any meaning (and of course they do, God says what He means and means what He says), we know Christ is not referring to the Body of Christ in this passage. Besides, since when is one fold with one shepherd the same thing as one body with one head? The sheep Christ is talking about in John 10 are said to be in His hand (vs.27-30). That is certainly a secure place to be, but it's even better to be His hand (1 Cor. 12:13)!

(Ephesians 3:1-12) For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, {2} If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: {3} How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, {4} Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) {5} Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; {6} That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: {7} Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. {8} Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; {9} And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: {10} To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, {11} According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: {12} In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

We may spiritually apply Jn. 10:16 to this age in light of the fact that Christ laid down His life for us (Jn. 10:14-18) and the church of God is His flock (Acts 20:28). But the doctrinal interpretation is not about us.

Christ did not say the "one fold" was a mystery. According to prophecy, the scattered sheep of Israel will be re-gathered and united as one in the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven will not be divided like Israel's kingdom was for most of its history. Because Christ came to CONFIRM the promises made to the Jewish fathers (Rom. 15:8), we know that what He said in John 10 was based on prophecy. There was only a remnant of Jews in the land during the earthly ministry of Christ. Most of them were scattered among the nations (Acts 2:5-11). Christ said that He was "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 15:24).

(Ezekiel 34:20-31) ¶ Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. {21} Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; {22} Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. {23} And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. {24} And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. {25} And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. {26} And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. {27} And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. {28} And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. {29} And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. {30} Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD. {31} And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.

(Ezekiel 37:15-28) ¶ The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, {16} Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: {17} And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. {18} ¶ And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? {19} Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. {20} ¶ And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. {21} And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: {22} And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: {23} Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. {24} And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. {25} And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. {26} Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. {27} My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. {28} And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

If Christ had Gentiles in mind in Jn. 10:16, then He was talking about the nations that will enter the kingdom, not the Body of Christ.

(Matthew 25:31-34) ¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: {32} And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: {33} And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. {34} Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

There will be a distinction between Israel and the nations in the kingdom. Israel will reign over the Gentiles! But there is neither Jew nor Gentile in the one spiritual Body of Christ. The way most Bible teachers interpret Jn. 10:16 is a classic example of anticipating revelation. They take truth that Christ revealed from heaven through the apostle Paul and read in back into the earthly ministry of Christ. Why is that so many Bible teachers just refuse to acknowledge the distinct ministry that Christ gave Paul for us in this age? They accuse us of magnifying Paul as a man but nothing could be further from the truth! Paul himself said that he was "less than the least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8). But Christ gave him an "abundance of revelations" (2 Cor. 12:7) and the grace to make them known. We seek to follow Paul even as he followed Christ because that's what the BIBLE tells us to do!

(1 Corinthians 11:1) Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

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