" I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." (John 10:16-18)

Jesus is continuing to utilize his parable of the sheep to indicate his directive, his purpose and his relationship with the Supreme Being. What does it mean?

Unfortunately, critical parts of this verse has been mistranslated and misconstrued.

"I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen" - "other" translated from the Greek word ἄλλος (allos) - clearly indicates that Jesus is involved with multiple missions in different locations. By "not of this sheep pen" - οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ or "not of this" - Jesus is referring to other locations.

Certainly Jesus taught and had followers in other towns and villages. But the scriptures also indicate he traveled elsewhere after his physical body was persecuted:
"He was put to death in the body but made alive by the spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:18-19)
This statement confirms that indeed Jesus' physical body was murdered, but the spiritual person of Jesus was not.

Who are these "spirits in prison"? While many translators will refer to this as people living in hell (or "hades"), it certainly indicates that Jesus indeed was teaching to those in another dimension.

But we must take up the notion that Jesus went to a place called hell, while we are somehow not in hell ourselves. What is hell? Is hell not a place of suffering? A place of imprisonment? What about those who currently suffer from starvation right here on this planet? What about those who are raped and beaten by militants and terrorists? About about those who are in jail for making political statements? Are these people not in hell?

The entire physical dimension is hell. This is the place where those who want to be away from God dwell. Jesus ascended to God after his physical body died because he returned to the spiritual world after his physical body was beaten and gruesomely tortured to death by a combination of evil government officials and high priests. Certainly, we can define this planet as hell too.

It is clear by the verses above that Jesus reached out to various peoples in his attempt to bring us back to our eternal relationship with the Supreme Being.

"There shall be one flock and one shepherd." Does this mean that Jesus is saying he is the only teacher ever? Certainly not. In many other statements, such as the "greatest commandment," (see below - also taught by Moses, Deut. 6:5), Jesus is teaching the very same teachings that Moses, David, Samuel and other prophets taught before him to love and serve God. Why would he now say he was the only teacher?

Jesus is not indicating that he is the only shepherd. He is indicating that the Supreme Being is the only shepherd. How do we know this?

"This command I received from my Father." This clearly indicates that Jesus is not on his own here. He is following the instructions of his Father, God. Jesus is serving God, in other words. He is God's loving servant. Anyone who is following a command from someone else is that person's servant.

This means that Jesus' activities are representing God's will. Jesus is not acting alone here. He is working in conjunction with God's command. Therefore, the Supreme Being is the ultimate shepherd.

Now the Greek word τίθημι (tithēmi) is being translated to "lay down," interpreted by many ecclesiastical sectarian teachers as referring to Jesus' dying for our sins. Yet this is not exactly true. τίθημι can mean to 'lay' or 'put down,' but this does not refer to dying. τίθημι also means 'to set, fix, establish' or 'set forth,' or 'ordain.' This refers to commitment, not death. "Laying down to die" is an English colloquialism. This is not what Jesus is discussing.

What is being established or committed here is not Jesus' physical body. Consider this statement:
"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again."
"My life" here is translated from the Greek ψυχή (psychē), which refers to "the vital force which animates the body,' 'a living being,' 'a living soul" according to the lexicon. It does not refer to the physical body. It was Jesus' physical body that was murdered by the Romans and high priests, not his ψυχή or spiritual self.

Thus we cannot accept that Jesus is talking about laying down his physical body, or dying, in this discussion. Jesus is talking about here is committing his life.

Jesus is saying that because he is committing his life to God and to helping God's children, God loves him. This is called a relationship. When a person commits themselves to another and their cause, they do that because they care about the person. And the other person usually responds in kind. This is love.

"No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." What does this mean? Because the translators have not understood that Jesus is not referring to the physical body (because they do not understand the difference between the temporary physical body and the eternal spiritual person) they have mucked up this verse. The correct way to say this would be:
"The reason my Father loves me is that I have committed my life - only to regain my life. No one forces me to commit my life, but I commit myself voluntarily. I can give myself or not, but I choose to give myself."
What about the "authority" from the previous translation? Authority is being translated from the Greek ἐξουσία (exousia). The very first meaning according to the lexicon is 'power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases.'

And finally, "This command I have received from my Father." The word "command" is being translated from the Greek ἐντολή (entolē). According to the lexicon, this can be 'an order, command, charge, precept,' or an 'injunction.'

So Jesus is saying that he has chosen to serve God. He has chosen to give his life to God and God's service. But he is also saying that God gave him this freedom. God has sanctioned this choice. This also infers that God also sanctions what Jesus is doing, because he has given his life.

Jesus has given his life to the Supreme Being, and is serving God. Jesus has a personal relationship with God. He knows what pleases God and he is doing what pleases God. What pleases the Supreme Being? To help Him bring us home. Jesus knows that the Supreme Being wants us back. God wants us to return to our original loving relationship with Him. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
“‘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)


(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.)