"I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep...” (John 10:7-10)

"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)

What is the 'gate'?

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 that 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)
The gateway that Jesus is providing to his students and disciples is the knowledge he gives them within his teachings. Jesus is confirming, as he does elsewhere, that he is God’s messenger.

What does Jesus mean by 'will be saved'?

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 destruction." So "kept safe" or "saved" are both applicable.

We need to consider the parable closely, however. Those sheep that are within the pen - inside the "gate" - are safe according to the parable. They are safe because they are protected. The question is whether they will be kept safe.

Using this parable, getting to that point of being "kept safe" is the processing of becoming "saved." Being "kept safe" means to be protected. It means to be cared for. Being "saved" means being cared for and protected. 

It should be noted that this statement by Jesus contradicts the teaching presented by many sectarian institutions, who claim that only Jesus' crucifixion will save us. Jesus mentions nothing about his coming crucifixion in this statement.

Now that we understand that "the gate" is Jesus' teachings, we can know that Jesus is stating that becoming "saved" takes place upon hearing and applying Jesus' teachings.

Isn't this about love?

Being cared for - being kept safe - is the topic of love. When someone loves someone else, they care for them. They protect them. They keep them safe.

This is what Jesus is getting at. Those who accept Jesus' protection are accepting the protection of the Supreme Being. Because the Supreme Being loves us, He cares for us. He protects us.

This isn't just about the physical body. It isn't though God will protect our bodies from getting sick or at some point, dying. Every single body gets sick and every body dies at some point. These things are part of the learning facility of the physical world.

But the protection that God gives us is our spiritual path. Through the teachings of Jesus, the Supreme Being guides us and protects our spiritual self. He "keeps safe" our spiritual journey, and progress.

Whatever progress we make, the Supreme Being allows us to keep, and continue moving forward. He does that because He loves us. Each of us, like the sheep in Jesus' parable.

But didn't Jesus teach salvationism?

The focus of some sectarian teachers upon the self-centered notion of "being saved" has taken the purpose and intent of Jesus' statement outside the boundary of what it actually is.

Practically every minister, reverend, priest, bishop, cardinal, pope or other elected teacher from most organized sects has made salvation 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."

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 of sinful behavior.

What is sinning, anyway? Sinning is activities based on 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.

Is love 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 of Jesus' wanting to do God's will. He allowed his body to be nailed to a cross, where his physical body suffered a gruesome death. Is this not a testament to 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.

What about worldly love? 

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.

Or when spouses care about each other and will make sacrifices in order to please their spouse, this is love.

When someone does what is best for another person despite whether it is best for them, they usually do this because they love that person.

The only problem is what they are loving. Sure, they may be caring and loving the other person. But are they loving the physical body, or the person within? Is it physical love or is it spiritual love?

In many cases, it is both. In many cases, the person may be loving the person within as well as the physical person.

But in many other cases, the love is superficial. It is dependent upon whether the person "loves" them back. Or it may be dependent upon whether they are being sexually satisfied. Or whether the other person is around. These types of "love" are conditional.

This "worldly love" is conditional because it not only depends upon various requirements as mentioned. But it is conditional because it is related to the physical body. If each person is identifying themselves as the physical body, the "love" they give is to another physical body - making it worldly love.

As such, this type of love is temporary. It exists as long as the bodies exist. When the physical body is gone the love is gone.

What about Jesus' love? 

Each of us needs to love and be loved. Yet worldly love does not satisfy us. This is why we see so many divorces and broken families. They once declared their love for each other but the love was temporary. It was fleeting.

This doesn't mean that we cannot love in a deeper way - a spiritual love. This is the type of love that God has for us, and Jesus wants us to have for God and others.

Jesus is asking us to steer our natural love and care towards God and His children without condition.

If we fall in love with God we will then want to please God. That means we will do God's will rather than our own will. Such a scenario is being "saved." 

But being "saved" is not Jesus' central teaching. Being "saved" is the byproduct of loving God and His children - which is Jesus' central teaching.

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 we 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?

Is Jesus' statement being mistranslated?

Jesus is referring to teachers of the institutional 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.

Jesus is not referring to 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.

As for "who ever came before me," the Greek text does not indicate a basis for "ever." Jesus is referring to those institutional temple teachers who were teaching in the temples prior to his arrival, not the prophets. We can see this when 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 institutional temple 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 institutional temple teachers Jesus was describing. Many ministries of today's sectarian organizations claim that the only way to be saved is to belong to their sect. This began with the Roman government's Synod of Nicene and Nicene Creed, which guided the power-hungry early Roman Catholic Church. Other ecclesiastical sects followed in the centuries after the Roman Catholic Church's enforced domination of Christianity.

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. If people don't join their church and receive the "bathing in the blood" rituals to become "saved," they will go to hell.

This effort to scare people into becoming members enriches their coffers, which is used to pay generous salaries of priests, ministers, reverends, and other religious officials. This is precisely what Jesus was criticizing about the institutional temple teachers, as he was trying to establish a contrast between his teachings and theirs.

Still, these mistranslations cannot remove Jesus' central messages from scripture. God could not allow this. A discerning person can still understand Jesus' central message. And this was not salvationism, as salvationism is a self-centered concern.

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 love for God will not come if salvation is our primary focus and purpose.

*Here is the translation of these verses according to the Lost Gospels of Jesus:

“Very truly, I say to you, I am the gateway for the sheep. All who are appearing here before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep do not hear them. I am the gateway. If one enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out to find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come in order to give them life, so they will have it abundantly.” (John 10:7-10)