"I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:7-10)

Because the disciples did not understand Jesus' parable of the sheep (John 10:1-5), Jesus is explaining it to them.

The word "gate" here is being translated from the Greek word θύρα (thyra) which typically means 'door, opening or entrance.' What is a gate, door or entrance? It is an opening which gives entrance to something inside the doorway or gate. Since the gate or door is not the destination but the entry for the destination, Jesus is saying he's not the destination.

So what is this gate or entrance in the practical context of Jesus' activities? It is Jesus’ teachings. Consider this statement:
Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me." (John 7:16)
If bring this statement into view, we can understand that the gateway that Jesus is providing to his students and disciples is the knowledge that he is giving them within his teachings. He is explaining, as confirmed by many other statements, that he is God’s messenger.

Jesus says that "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved [or kept safe]." The Greek word σῴζω (sōzō), according to Thayer's lexicon, means "to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destuction." So "kept safe" or "saved" are both applicable.

However, the focus of ecclesiastical sectarians upon "being saved" has taken the purpose and intent of Jesus' statement outside the boundary of what it actually is.

The reason is that practically every ecclesiastical minister, reverend, priest, bishop, cardinal, pope or other elected teacher from the organized ecclesiastical sects puts salvation as the primary and leading purpose for their teachings. For many, the entire assembly and process of the Sunday sermon and ceremonial rituals are centered around being "saved."

And this has naturally become the driver for most to come into their churches: the desire for salvation - purification from their sins. This is because people have been threatened: If they don't come into church and be "saved," they will "go to hell."

But did Jesus teach salvationism?

While the byproduct of following Jesus' teachings certainly has the ability to save people from the grips of our selfish, sinful lives and save us, salvationism was not Jesus' primary teaching. In fact, salvationism is also selfish.

His primary teaching was for us to come to love and serve God:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
"This is the first and greatest commandment” is very clear. "Greatest" means most important. It means primary. This means that Jesus was teaching love for God, not salvationism.

We can see this in another statement he made, for those whose focus was upon salvationism rather than following his primary instruction:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21)
This is also very clear. Why would someone be saying "Lord, Lord" to Jesus? Because they want to be "saved." They want salvation from their sins. They don't want to suffer the consequences for sinful behavior.

What is sinning, anyway? Sinning is activities based upon self interest: Selfish activity.

Notice that Jesus' statement says that "only he who does the will of my Father" will "enter the kingdom of heaven." This means activities based not upon self interest, but activities focused upon the interests of someone else: God. Doing "the will of my Father" means serving God rather than serving ourselves.

When we sin we are serving ourselves. We are doing those things intended to please me individually; or please my group, country or other self concern. Jesus, on the other hand is teaching love for God. He is teaching us to do activities intended to please the Supreme Being.

When a person loves another person, they do what pleases that person. This is what love is about.

This is not the same as sentiment. Loving someone may also include sentiment, but just having sentiment does not mean we are loving that person. So a person may cry sentimentally for Jesus and think they are loving God, but this is not necessarily the case. Jesus is talking about loving and serving "my Father in heaven."

Real love, as opposed to sentiment, is practical. When we really love someone, we work on a practical basis to do what pleases them.

This means we must know someone in order to love them. Jesus' teachings introduced those around him to God. Then he said clearly that his primary instructions were to love God and do God's will.

Then Jesus illustrated by example how a person does this. Note Jesus' prayer to God:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matt. 26:39)
Jesus is showing us how it is done. He goes to pray in private and asks God to steer him towards doing God's will rather than his own will. This illustrates that not only are we talking about two individual personalities here: Jesus and God. We are talking about one individual wanting to do what pleases another. We are talking about love. Jesus is loving God, and wanting to do God's will rather than his own will.

Just consider the extent to Jesus' wanting to do God's will. He allowed his body to be nailed onto a cross, where his physical body suffered a gruesome death. Is this not a testament for the extent to which Jesus was prepared to sacrifice his own will for doing God's will? Certainly, no one would want to suffer this kind of physical pain.

And this is precisely why understanding Jesus' crucifixion can "save" a person: By understanding the ultimate act of love for the Supreme Being: Undergoing pain and suffering on behalf of doing the will of God.

We can see small glimpses of love all around us. When parents love their children they will make many sacrifices in order to care for them. Instead of going out with their friends they will stay at home and take care of their children. They will save money for their college tuition. They will read bedtime stories to them. They are doing these things because they care about their children.

When someone does what is best for another person despite whether it is best for them, they usually do this because they love and care for that person. Jesus is simply asking us to steer that love and care towards God.

And yes, if we fall in love with God and do God's will rather than our own will we will certainly be "saved." But this is not Jesus' central teaching. Being "saved" is the byproduct.

We can know it is the byproduct because in order to love someone and do someone else's will, we have to forego our own will. If follow Jesus' instructions, our will and focus will be on pleasing God, not on ourselves and our own salvation. Seeking our own salvation is a selfish concern. It is a concern for someone who wants to not suffer the consequences of their sinful activity. So wanting salvation is diametrically opposed to Jesus' teachings. This is why Jesus said, after Matt. 7:21 (quoted above):
"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:22-23)
So not only will those whose concern is their own salvation, (saying "Lord, Lord") not be entering the kingdom of God (as stated in Matt. 7:21 above), but those who have performed miracles and prophesized in Jesus' name - and hence also preached salvation in Jesus' name, will also be rejected by Jesus. He is calling them "evildoers." He says, "away from me." He wants no part of them.

Why? Because they did not follow or teach Jesus' primary instruction: To love and serve God.

Notice that the statement by Jesus says, "All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them." Does this include the prophets like Moses, Abraham, David and so on who came before Jesus too? Certainly not. Why would Jesus quote Moses in his primary instruction (Deut. 6:5) if he thought that?

This is a slight mistranslation of Jesus' statement. Jesus is referring to those ecclesiastical teachers of the Jewish temple that have been teaching those people before he arrived on the scene. The Greek word πᾶς (pas), which has been translated to "all" can mean, according to the Greek lexicon as "everyone" when spoken about individuals, or it can mean "some of all types" when it is spoken collectively. In this case, Jesus is obviously not going to mean John the Baptist, his teacher, along with Moses, Abraham, Job, Solomon, Samuel, David and all the other loving servants of God in this category. Thus the later meaning of πᾶς must be applied.

And as for "who ever came before me," the Greek text does not indicate a basis for "ever." Jesus is referring to those ecclesiastical Jewish teachers who were teaching in the temples prior to his arrival, not the prophets. We can see this in the fact that he says "the sheep did not listen to them." Moses, Abraham, David, Samuel and others had thousands, and even millions of followers over the years who heard from them and followed them. Their "sheep" certainly did "listen to them."

But those elected Jewish official priests were not being followed. They had to threaten and coerce their assembly to come into the temples. If people didn't abide by their authority, they would have them beat and imprisoned, just as they had Jesus arrested, imprisoned, beat and crucified, because Jesus was not following their authority.

Rather - and ironically - this mistranslation of "all who ever came before me" is driven by precisely the same seeking of power and authority of those ecclesiastic Jewish teachers Jesus was describing. The ecclesiastical ministries of today's sectarian organizations each claim that coming to their churches is the only way to be saved. This began with the Roman government's Synod of Nicene and Nicene Creed, which guided the power-hungry early Roman Catholic Church and those various organized ecclesiastical sects that sprung up from it over a thousand years later.

The intent has been to control people by twisting the translation and interpretation of the scriptures to give their organization the exclusive means to people's salvation. Their intent was to indicate that if people don't join their church and receive the "bathing in the blood" rituals to become "saved," then they will go to hell. And this very intent to scare people into attending their masses also so happens to enrich their coffers to pay the generous salaries of their priests, ministers and reverends, as well as other church officials. This is precisely what Jesus was criticizing about the Jewish teachers, as he was trying to establish a contrast between his teachings and theirs.

But these mistranslators could not remove Jesus' central messages from scripture. God could not allow this. A discerning person can still see clearly what Jesus' central message was. And it was not salvationism. Jesus' central message was that we come to love and serve God, and not be concerned about our own salvation. This is why he says "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Having "life" means loving and serving God. This is the destination.

Our salvation will come automatically if we come to love and serve God, but the converse is not true. Love for God will not come if salvation is our focus and purpose.


(For a more appropriate translation of Jesus' statement, see the Devotional Translation of the Gospel of John Chapter Ten - translated from the original Greek texts without ecclesiastical sectarian influence.)