John 10:10 means that we have an enemy who wants to destroy us and he will work behind the scenes and undercover to do just that.
Even worse, his goal is to destroy us while we are trying to live decently here on earth but ultimately, he wants to rob us of eternal life. In this verse, Jesus breaks down one of the metaphors he used in John 10:1-7.
Many people sell abundant life as having all the things. Being able to afford comfort and luxury and such.
In this study you will learn the true meaning of abundance.
Let’s dig in!
What is John 10:10 in the Bible?
John 10:10 is one of the most popular verses in Scripture. It reads:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV
What is the meaning of John 10? – The Context
John 10:10 is a continuation of John 10:9. In a previous post, I talked about the fact that Jesus was redirecting the people to himself as the door to eternal life.
On the day in question, Jesus had healed a blind man. The Pharisees were unhappy about two things. First, it was the Sabbath and in their minds, Jesus shouldn’t be performing miracles on the Sabbath.
Second, they didn’t believe that this man’s miracle was real because they had never heard of anyone being healed of blindness.
They expelled the man from the temple because he insisted that Jesus was from God.
When Jesus found out about this, He described the Pharisees as blind. Of course, as pious as they were, the Pharisees took offense to Jesus’ statement.
At this point, Jesus goes on to use the metaphors of a door and a shepherd to describe himself.
John 10:10 is related to the metaphor of the door which I explained in detail in a previous post on John 10:9.
What does John 10:10 mean?
After telling his listeners that he is the door, Jesus explains why He’s the door. Keep in mind that Jesus is comparing himself to the religious leaders of that time.
Verses 1 and 8 are connected to verse 10 so we will look at them together. Let’s read them side by side:
Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. Verse 1 niv
All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. Verse 8 niv
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Verse 10 niv
Who is the thief in John 10?
Remember that Jesus is using a metaphor. Each character or object represents someone or something in real life. Let’s identify a few before exploring who the thief is.
The door is Jesus.
The sheepfold is the body of believers.
The sheep are the beloved people of God.
Keep these details in mind as we go forward.
Two words are used in John 10:1 and 8 to refer to theft and they both imply two different behaviors with the same bad intent.
A thief is the Greek word kleptes. It means imposter and refers to the use of deception and cunning to take things.
Robbers is the Greek word leistes. It means bandit and refers to the open use of force or violence to take things.
Jesus said thieves and robbers do not use the door to try to gain access to the sheepfold. Clearly, they have interest in the sheep but their motives are less than ideal.
Their intention is “to steal, kill, and destroy”. This is why they don’t use the door.
The thieves and robbers are the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’s time. They were supposed to be nurturing shepherds to God’s flock. But, instead, they caused severe pain to God’s people.
But these religious leaders were only being used like puppets…
Read on to find out more.
Meaning of steal, kill, and destroy
In John 10:10, Jesus says the thief comes to do three things: steal, kill, destroy.
Steal is the Greek word klepto. It means to remove something secretly or stealthily.
Kill is the Greek word thyo. It means to slay, usually with the purpose of offering a sacrifice.
Destroy is the Greek word apollymi. It means to put an end to something, to ruin, to kill.
How did the religious leaders manage to accomplish all this?
Well, stole truth from the people.
Although Jesus declared that he was the door to salvation, these religious leaders were trying to point people to 10 commandments and the over 600 laws of Moses. At every turn they were trying to deny the divinity of Jesus and destroy the faith people had in Jesus.
These religious leaders were false teachers who were trying to withhold the truth from God’s flock.
They burdened the people with religious laws and human traditions instead of focusing on teaching God’s word. Ironically, these leaders weren’t even living up to these standards themselves.
Withholding truth that can set people free is the way to kill and destroy them because you hide the truth of how they can access eternal life and true abundance.
Earlier in the book of John, Jesus told some Pharisees why they were thieves:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! John 8:44-45
From this passage we see that the ultimate thief is Satan himself who was working through these unconverted spiritual leaders to destroy the lives of believers.
Beware. Be vigilant. Stay on your guard.
Satan hates us so much and wants so badly to destroy us that he will work through even religious leaders you trust and apparently very spiritual people you respect to get to you!
If he can steal the truth that Jesus is your Savior, he will have stolen your peace, joy, contentment, wisdom…
Pretty much everything that will cause you to live a life of freedom…
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s continue the study…
John 10:10 greek meaning
Jesus specifically says:
…but the sheep did not listen to them. John 10:8 ESV
In a previous post on John 10:9, I shared about the common practice among shepherds to house their sheep together at the end of the day.
All the sheep from a number of different flocks were mixed up.
With this in mind, the question is: how did this practice continue without fighting over which sheep belongs to whom?
Here’s the answer…
Each shepherd had a unique call for sheep. And the sheep? They very much knew the call of their shepherd.
In fact, they knew the voice of their shepherd so well that they would never go with a stranger who came calling.
So, there was no risk of shepherds losing their sheep because they were all mixed in together.
Jesus was using this as a metaphor.
So, when Jesus said the sheep did not listen to the thieves and robbers, he was talking about the idea that God’s people did not listen to the religious leaders of the time.
These leaders only wanted to manipulate, exploit and abuse them. The people had figured out that they were up to no good.
But oh what a difference when Jesus came. How refreshing it was to listen to real truth being spoken with such great love and without ulterior motives. And what a relief it was to watch people being set free from lives of sickness and sin.
In contrast to the religious leaders who did violence to God’s flock, Jesus came to give life.
What does it mean to have life in John 10 10?
The Greek word for life used here is zoe. It refers to both physical and spiritual life. Also, it refers to our morality.
For us to understand the meaning of this scripture portion, we need to understand why Jesus said this.
We have to go back to the very beginning.
Adam and Eve were created perfect, both physically and spiritually. God told them that the moment they sinned they would die. When they sinned, the consequence took effect.
Obviously, they didn’t drop dead instantly. Death was a process. They began to die slowly through the process of aging. But they also began to die spiritually too.
With each generation since Adam and Eve, we have become more and more spiritually weak. No matter how much we desire to do the right thing, it’s downright hard to actually do the right thing.
It’s our spiritual death that has caused all the cruelty and wickedness in the world.
Because of our spiritual death, we are prone to live without purpose, without fulfillment, without joy. And even worse, we live in the moment without respect for our eternal future.
Truth is: we are dead people walking around. We are destined to eternal death.
even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. Ephesians 2:5 NLT
Sin has completely ruined our quality of life and has suppressed our desire to do good, to be happy and to experience peace and wholeness.
The life that Jesus gives is one of spiritual restoration. It’s more than being physically alive. It’s more so about being spiritually alive.
With it comes the desire to make moral decisions and do good. With that comes joy, wholeness, purpose and peace.
If you read about John 10:9, you will find a connection here. Jesus said that those who enter Him, the door, will experience a peaceful life.
In contrast to the religious leaders who didn’t care if God’s flock flourished or perished spiritually, Jesus came to point people back to the source of true life.
Jesus came to offer us the opportunity to live a vibrant, active, God-centered life free from sin and death.
And this life is eternal.
Eternal life isn’t just for after death or Jesus’s second coming.
It begins now. Right here. On earth. Once we’ve accepted Jesus.
What does it mean to have an abundant life John 10:10
Quite often this portion of the verse is used to support the idea that God wants us to have lots of money.
Well, that’s not a perfectly wrong way to interpret it but that’s not the true meaning of the text.
If you have been following the context, you have seen that the life Jesus gives us is one of spiritual freedom.
So, what then is abundant life?
The Greek word for abundance in this verse is perissos. It means superabundant in quantity or superior in quality. Other words for it are: over and above, excessive, and overflowing.
Don’t forget, we are talking here about a life in Christ.
God’s first priority will always be to save our souls. Whatever we need for that to happen, God will pour it into our lives so we can thrive spiritually.
Abundance is about having the spiritual resources you need to live a Spirit-filled life.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life (zoe) through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3 NIV
God doesn’t want us to walk around just barely getting by in our relationship with Him. He wants us to be on fire. He wants us to be saturated. He wants us bubbling.
Remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well?
but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life (zoe). John 4:14 NIV
Abundance is not about the accumulation of material things.
Abundance is a spiritual state.
Abundance is not about doing; it’s about becoming and attaining a certain spiritual level in Christ.
God wants us to be so solidly grounded in Him, that no matter the season of life we find ourselves in, we can still maintain our trust in Him.
Abundance is like Job who lost everything but still worshiped God.
Abundance is being in prison like Paul and Silas but carrying on with praise and worship as though they were at the Ritz.
Abundance is like Steven being stoned to death but praying for his enemies.
Abundance is the widow of Zarephath giving away her last meal by faith.
You could have not a single dime in the back or a penny to your name and still live a life overflowing with abundance.
If abundance was about material things and money, then the rich would never become miserable to the point of self-destruction.
But a life lived through a rich relationship with God has more than anyone else on this planet.
And as we experience the Spirit-filled life that God truly desires for us, other blessings begin to pour into our lives as well.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV
The material things we desire, want, and need will flow into our lives as we our needs arise and as we are led by God.
Still abundance does not guarantee comfort and material things.
H2 Lessons from the meaning of John 10:10
Ask for spiritual eyes to evaluate your church leader
All pastors and church leaders are not created equal. Unfortunately in our churches today, we have many shepherds who do not know Jesus.
As a result, they “steal, kill, and destroy”.
Be careful of those who preach abundance as material possessions instead of the spiritual state God desires for us.
Be careful of church leaders who do not have or encourage regular Bible study so that God’s flock can be fed outside of the sermon on weekends.
Be wary of feel-good sermons that only inspire and encourage but never call out sin, teach righteousness or challenge your faith to grow in Jesus and nothing else.
Dig deeper into the Word. Find out for yourself what a godly leader should look like. Avoid being led astray. Don’t follow blindly. Follow based on the Word of God.
Seek true abundance
Does God want us to be financially prosperous?
But John 10:10 isn’t a verse about that.
As I said before, abundance is a spiritual state.
It’s knowing you are a sinner saved by grace through faith and being humbled by that truth.
It’s living a spirit-led life in which God has a say in the decisions you make.
It’s living a life alive with purpose and filled with goals that make God’s heart happy.
It’s living a life of balance in which you aren’t working yourself to death to acquire material things.
It’s being so spiritually grounded that the thought of losing everything you have worked for does not make you nervous or cause you to freak out.
It’s being so content and at peace that people marvel at your confidence in God.
Abundance is your life in view of eternity, knowing that this life is temporary and there are bigger and better things to come.
Final words on the meaning of John 10:10
I hope this study was eye-opening and refreshing for you as it was for me. Guard your heart from lies.
Train your ears to hear God so that you will be able to spot false teachings. God is always ready to snatch you up and give you an abundant life.
Popular presentations of abundance will make you feel like abundance is something you should pursue.
That’s a lie. You already have abundance through Jesus. No amount of money or real estate can buy that, my friend.
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy Scriptures
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy KJV
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy NKJV
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy NLT
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.