Life Abundantly

This is going somewhat slower than I anticipated.  Between the holiday, the grout-cleaning-and-sealing project that took much longer than expected, and the fact that I really wanted to do a quality study on this verse, I'm much later than I wanted to be.  I'm not sure yet if I'll try double-posting or just carry on from here and finish in August.  Stay tuned.

 Day 3: John 10:10

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (ESV)

Key Thoughts


  • Jesus brings life
  • Not just life, but abundant life
  • Jesus is no thief; no false prophet

One of the reasons this verse took so long is because it is an integral part of a much longer passage - John 9:39-10:21.  And even this speech is set up in the entirety of chapter 9 in the miracle of Jesus restoring sight, the effrontery (to the Pharisees) of doing so on the Sabbath, and the expulsion of the formerly-blind man from the temple because he would not denounce Jesus as a sinner.  Jesus then starts chapter 10 with a parable of sheep, shepherds and thieves.  He associates himself variously as the sheepgate (10:9) through which pass only those who have the Master's blessing and as the shepherd himself (10:11, 14).  This does make the parable more confusing to assimilate, as it seems to say that Jesus enters the sheep pen by way of himself, which begs the question: is this some sort of profound statement on the nature of the Trinity, or am I just over-analyzing a parable which isn't meant to have a one-to-one allegorical relationship with the truth anyway?

However, Jesus does clearly set up a foil to the gate and the shepherd in the person of the thief.  The thief climbs into the pen and circumvents the door (10:1); he will not be followed willingly by the sheep (10:5, 8); and he does so solely for his own good or the negative good of others (10:10).  As he started the parable by rebuking the blindness of the Pharisees (9:41), it seems logical that the "thief" in this case also refers to the Pharisees and other false prophets, but I suppose it could also be a more general reference to the devil and all those who are prompted by him.  Regardless, Jesus is using the metaphor to illustrate his unique love for us and complete trustworthiness in the face of danger (10:11-12).

Key Verse

In the whole extended passage, not one verse seems more appropriate than the one suggested for the study.  I was checking out different translations, and I rather liked the Orthodox Jewish Bible:

"The ganav does not come except in order that he may steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have Chayyim (Life) and that they may have it more abundantly."
When I was looking into the word "ganav," Strong's concordance did not define it any more elaborately than, "a thief."  The actual Greek word for "thief" in this passage has not much greater detail, though it has a metaphorical relationship with false teachers.  But I found a monograph differentiating between different Hebrew words for thief, and according to it, "ganav" was traditionally used for those who had more fear of people than of God - in other words, it was a person who devalued the opinion of God more than the opinions of those around him.  Now, these verse were not originally in Hebrew, of course, but I always find it fascinating to check out other languages, as they can be more nuanced than English in some places.


How should my life become a proper response to this passage?

There are two basic appropriate responses to this passage.  The first is to seek after that abundant life that Jesus promises by trusting Him and following His lead.  But the other (this occurred to me when I was reflecting on the word "ganav," and thus I justify what is otherwise a rather irrelevant linguistic digression) is that I must guard against falseness and "thievery" in my own spirit.  Pride is a constant struggle for me, and because of this I am often tempted to elevate myself and thus diminish God - which seem to me to be substantial character traits of the ganav false teacher.

Read ahead!  Next verse: Romans 3:23


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