John 10 is another of the great soteriological passages in Scripture that has encouraged God’s people down through the ages. The Good Shepherd, the perfect Savior who gives His life for His sheep, and who promises the unity of the Godhead itself as surety of the completion of that work—all these themes scream “sovereignty” and, in the constant battle against the pull of human nature to intrude itself upon the glory of God, form the foundation of “Calvinism.” The intimate relationship between the “sheep” and the Shepherd is clearly in reference to the Savior and the saved, God and His elect. Just consider some of the clear teachings in John 10 regarding this fact: Jesus calls His sheep; they know His voice; they can differentiate between His voice and the voice of a charlatan; those sheep who go in and out by Him, the door, will be saved; He came that they, His sheep, would have life, and have it abundantly. He lays down His life “for,” in behalf of, the sheep. He calls the sheep of his flock “His own.” He knows His own, and the relationship is reciprocal: His own know Him. He speaks of gathering the Jews and Gentiles (His “other sheep”) together into this one fold. Jesus said to Jews (Old Covenant members) that they were specifically not of His flock. His sheep, instead, in contrast to, the Jews, hear His voice; they follow Him, and He knows them. This is the group, then, to whom Jesus gives eternal life and all the promises of these words:
John 10:27-30 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.”
Once again, simply allowing the text to speak and following the flow of the words and the thought communicates a clear and compelling truth—one Paul Owen misses yet again. Instead of deriving the identity of the sheep from the text and the fact that they are saved, they have intimate, reciprocal knowledge of Christ, eternal life, and will never be lost, Owen imports his own assumed meanings from Old Testament passages and his general theological system (something Calvin did not do in this text, I may note). The sheep become a mixed flock once again, the promises of Christ the Perfect Savior become general hopes and wishes, dependent, in their final analysis, upon “covenant works of faithfulness.” The connections he draws to OT passages in Ezekiel may fascinate some: but when your erudition muddles the text and corrupts its message, you need to leave your erudition behind and get out of the way of the text of Scripture.