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In John 10:22, the author notes,

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.

Immediately prior to this authorial note is the parable of The Good Shepherd and His Sheep. Immediately after this note, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are not one of his flock and attempt to stone him. 10:22-23 however seem to have no relationship to or purpose in the text and seem to interrupt the flow of the text with unimportant and irrelevant detail. The text could have simply begun at v24 (albeit with a slightly modified introduction such as One day, the Jews gathered around Jesus, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”)

So, why then did the author of John include this awkward note? Does the time of year or the festival have some relationship to shepherding or sheep? Does this merely serve as some sort of structural divider for the text? Simply put, how are these two verses relevant in any way to the preceeding and/or following content?

  • @SteveTaylor After reading the chapter in question, I think this is a great question, that needed to simply be asked differently. I have edited to (hopefully) 1) better focus on a specific part of the text and limit the scope of the question from being too broad and 2) better point out the basis for this question. I am sure that most commentaries have noted and discussed the presence of these two verses and include a discussion of their purpose. – James Shewey Mar 22 '17 at 14:22
  • 1
    Thanks James - I've retracted my vote-to-close accordingly. – Steve Taylor Mar 22 '17 at 15:08
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In John 10:1-18 Jesus is describing to the Jews the sheep, the shepherd and the relationship between them. While describing this, He is also leaving trails of clues that the Jews could use to examine introspectively their thoughts and attitudes and their understanding.

John 10:1

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

John 10:2

the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name,

John 10:4

the sheep follow him: for they know his voice."

John 10:14

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."

So Jesus gives all of these examples, all of these clues so that the Jews may on their own identify their error.

Then in John 10:22-24

And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

Here we are given a glimpse as to how far away from God the Jews have wandered, (1)as the 'Feast of Dedication' which once was called the 'Feast of the Maccabees' and today is called the 'festival of lights' is not a feast sanctioned by God. This solidifies Jesus' illustrations especially in John 10:18;

No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

If John 10:22-23 simply read something to the effect of "One day, the Jews gathered around Jesus, saying, How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” we wouldn't see the sheer absurdity in their questioning. To see how far off the 'mark' they were, he tells us they "gathered around him during the 'feast of dedication'" an unsanctioned feast, not one ordained by God, a feast born in rebellion, while pretending to question Jesus' whether or not He was the Messiah.


Resource (1) Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by Marvin R Wilson

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