John 10: The Good Shepherd

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 83–84


There were many shepherds in Palestine during Jesus’ time. Good shepherds were known by the faithful way they cared for and protected their sheep. A true shepherd would walk ahead of the sheep and lead them rather than drive them from behind, and many shepherds even had individual names for their sheep. Unlike someone who was simply hired to take care of the sheep, a shepherd owned his sheep, and he would risk his life for the safety of any one of them. Because sheep trusted those good shepherds, they came when they were called, but they would not follow a stranger. In John 10 you will read about how Jesus used these well-known ideas about sheep and shepherds to teach about His relationship to His followers. John 10 also tells what Jesus said to and about those who refused to accept His teachings and who tried to condemn Him.

Understanding the Scriptures

John 10

Sheepfold (v. 1)An enclosed area where sheep are kept 
Porter (v. 3)Servant who guards and opens the door 
Putteth forth (v. 4)Takes out of the sheepfold 
Parable (v. 6)Story with a meaning (see the introduction to Matthew 13, p. 22) 
Pasture (v. 9) Fields of grass (in this context the Savior was talking about the pasture of spiritual food for those who follow Him) 
More abundantly (v. 10)More fully 
Hireling (vv. 12–13)Someone who is hired to watch the sheep 
Division (v. 19)Argument, dissension 
Pluck (vv. 28–29)Steal, take 
Blasphemy (v. 33)To speak lightly, to make fun of, or to otherwise be very irreverent about sacred things 
shepherd bringing lamb to sheepfold

Sheepfold

John 10:22—Feast of the Dedication

This feast was celebrated for eight days during our month of December to remember a time in 167 B.C. when a group of Jews regained their temple from the Greeks in a war. It had been conquered and then defiled (made unholy) by the Greeks. The Jews cleansed and rededicated it. Today this feast is known as the Feast of Lights, or Hanukkah.

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study John 10.

Activity A iconDeepen Your Understanding of the Symbols

In John 10:6–18, 25–29, Jesus explained some of what He meant in the parable in verses 1–5. In His explanation, Jesus said that two different things in the parable represented Him (see vv. 7, 11). This is because they both symbolized some part of His mission.

  1. 1.

    What additional information do you learn from 2 Nephi 9:41–42 that helps you understand the symbol of Jesus as the door in the parable?

  2. 2.

    Based on what is written in John 10, how is what a good shepherd does for his sheep similar to what Jesus does for us?

  3. 3.

    Using John 10, mark each verse that teaches about and lists the identity of Jesus’ sheep.

  4. 4.

    Although Mosiah 5:10–13 does not specifically say anything about sheep, what could we learn from those verses about how those who are Jesus’ sheep compare to those who are not?

Activity B Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—John 10:16

Read 3 Nephi 15:11–24 and 16:1–3 to learn who the “other sheep” are that are referred to in John 10:16. Record it in your notebook. You may also want to write who they are in the margin of your Bible next to John 10:16.

Activity C icon“Are You the Christ?”

In John 10:22–39 we read that some of the Jews asked Jesus to specifically tell them if He was the Christ. He did not answer them directly, but they understood what He meant and wanted to kill Him for it. Perhaps that was why He did not answer them plainly.

  1. 1.

    What did Jesus say bore witness of who He is? (see vv. 25, 37–38).

  2. 2.

    What did Jesus say that provoked some of the people to want to stone Him?

  3. 3.

    How could you use this story and Jesus’ example in dealing with someone who criticizes the Church or attacks your testimony?