The first chapter of John’s gospel records a group of Priests and Levites sent on a, “fact-finding mission,” to determine the identity and mission of John the Baptist.  These Priests and Levites, who came from Jerusalem, were commissioned by the Pharisaic faction of Jerusalem’s ruling elite. They publicly demanded that John provide them with his credentials. In rapid-fire succession, they asked, “Are you Christ? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?”

In a later Jesus-related event, (Jn. 10:24) the Judean authorities admonished Jesus to tell them (emphasis on “them”) clearly if he was the Messiah.

First, John believed that his authority was based on God’s approval. No approval from the Judean authorities was therefore required. Later in John’s Gospel, the author will present these Jerusalem authorities as the evil Shepherds of Israel prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel. (Ezek. 34:1-16) The author will further show Jesus to be the Good Shepherd of Israel who will govern Israel in their stead. 

Second, John launched the charge of “not-knowing,” at these authorities.  This would become a repetitive theme in the entire Gospel, resulting in a fully developed court case against Israel’s formal leadership. This, in turn, would show Jesus to be the Good Shepherd of Israel (again).

John challenged the delegation: “You’ve come to me because you’ve been sent from the official shepherds of Israel. Isn’t it interesting that neither you, nor those who sent you, know about the One who is coming after me? He is so much greater than I am. You have not seen anything yet”.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. The question posed in Jn 10:24 is most probably rooted in the Feast of Dedication/Hanukkah. There existed a Messianic expectation connected to this feast.
  2. I am struggling with the word evil because of replacement theology. The word evil meant the natural man without the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel says the LORD is against the power of the evil shepherds. Power and Spirit seem like different words. Perhaps I am confused about Christ as Priest (Intercessor) and Christ as LORD (Spirit).
    • To understand the evil shepherds, I need to understand what a good shepherd is. A hired hand meant a man had no sons. Jesus is the Son of God. A hired hand drives the flock (with force and harshness). This is not the same as the sheep hearing the shepherds voice (being lead). I guess what confuses me about evil shepherds is Paul’s words “I want to do good, evil is right there with me”.

      + More answers (1)
    • Hi Kat, in the Hebrew mindset, evil is simply doing what is not the will of Yah in Torah. The ancient path of righteousness is known only as we walk with Yah in accordance to Torah. To stray from this ancient path is to be evil and crooked. To follow it is to be upright. The Good Shepherd knows the way because He is the Way and anyone who listens (hear & obey) will follow Him.
    • Kat, Is replacement a theology? Is it not a theory? The Lord said He is a good shepherd who laid down his life for His sheep who are believers. I could bring it to God in prayers & the Lord Jesus after I ask Him into my life (later into my heart & I would have done it long ago if I knew better) to be your Savior & Master. Grace to you,

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  3. With great respect Dr. Eli: because they always put Jesus as "Jesus Jew" and you never use Jesus Christ, or Jesus the Messiah. Would I like an answer?
    • Y'Shua is a Jew who kept the Jewish Feasts and Festivals and practiced Judaism and was born in Beit Lechem .Many gentiles believe He established Christianity .The is false doctrine .Y'Shua was not born in Rome and He is not a Gentile and neither were His Talmidim and Emissaries gentiles.
  4. You mention "govern"- now that's a thought-and-a-half. To think that Jesus and John weren't Jewish is ludicrous. To understand why Jesus was crucified is now more understandable. So: is the word to "govern" in need of analysis?
  5. Educated people in prominent positions don’t like their authority being questioned; this’s why the Priests and Levites responded like this, today is no different. When we come forward in public life and stand up making statements for truth and righteousness against public perceptions, there is always an attempt to bring us down. The response is usually similar; What would you know? Where’s you info come from? Who do you represent? But let’s remember; “The Lord doesn’t choose The qualified, He qualifies the chosen.” The wisdom of the world is foolishness in Gods sight (1Corinthians 1:18-31). Thank you Dr Eli.
  6. I'm learning by just reading the comments of the participants. Thanks Doctor Eli. I am not enrolling in your program. But, I will be reading what are posyed here.
    • I'm glad you are enjoying the posts, Exu, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Consider it an investment to enroll and really dig in.
    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including Leviticus and The New Testament and Jewish Insights Into Scriptures I. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!
  7. When is the Computer dictionary going to add the word 'led'? Being led is different to the metal 'lead.' By the way, Kat., eastern shepherds do lead their sheep; unlike we in the west who drive them. A bad shepherd is a hired hand, who runs for cover when danger emerges. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, for he did not run but lay down his life for all we, who are His sheep. I think Paul refers to his old 'man', his old nature that tries to rear its ugly head. But Paul's new 'man,' conquers it, with God's help.
  8. Shalom. John is telling the delgation that neither them nor the one who sent them knows about the one one coming after him. They surely know that a Maschiach is expected to come sometime; so, John must be saying that they do not know that Yeshua is the promised Machiach (Messiah). So the authorities did not want anyone teaching what they have not approved. Some things never change.
  9. Your statement that: "These Priests and Levites, who came from Jerusalem, were commissioned by the Pharisaic faction of Jerusalem’s ruling elite" assumes something that is not justified by the text. The text in no way implies that the Pharisees were participants in this mission. The Pharisees shouldn't be confused with the Priests and Levites with whom they had significant disagreements.
    In Addition, the Greek text states that "the Ioudaios (Strongs G2543) sent priests and Levites .." It is regrettable that our translations make no distinction between the Ioudaios and the term "Jews" that is used in the gospel of John.
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