In John 10:9, Jesus says of himself:

I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9 NET)

What is the significance of "coming in and going out"?

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    – Ruminator
    Oct 27, 2017 at 13:36

9 Answers 9


Ken Bailey in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes has an illustration of a middle eastern house. The door is used by the family who ascend up steps into the family living area. The same door is used by the household animals, night and morning as they come into their stalls and eat from the manger scooped or built into the slightly higher level of the family room (cf the infant laid in a manger). Coming in through the door offers safety in the night, warmth and security in the house. Going out through the door is finding pasture, or doing labour during the day for animals that were engaged in work, or perhaps meeting slaughter as meat or sacrifice according to the shepherd's intention for the animal that day. The shepherd oversees the coming and going. If the word is 'gate' rather than 'door', the same analogy applies- come into the stone or wicker sheep-pen at night, go out during the day. There are seasons of night, best spent in with the shepherd. And there is daytime, the time for work under the rod and staff of the shepherd.

  • Thank you for your answer. I have Ken Bailey's book but haven’t paid much attention to it. I will take a look at it. Dec 1, 2019 at 14:36
  • @user32917 Your explanation meshes well with my understanding of the text. The "in" is the life and nourishment we find in Christ and His gospel. The "out" is the going forth to live Christ and spread His gospel in our lives. This is not a one time event but a process that must be repeated time and again.
    – Nhi
    Jul 24, 2023 at 16:18

The "sheepfold" represents the law of Moses. Those within it are the faithful Jews who were, per Paul "kept under the law":

BLB Galatians 4: 1Now I say, for as long a time as the heir is a child, he differs not from a slave, though being owner of everything. 2Instead, he is under guardians and trustees until the time appointed by his father. 3So also, we when we were children, were held in bondage under the principles of the world. 4But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, having been born of a woman, having been born under the Law, 5that He might redeem ["release"] those under the Law, so that we might receive the divine adoption as sons. 6And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7So you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, also an heir through God.

Prior to the arrival of the messiah and the gospel of the kingdom the faithful Jews were impervious to any who attempted to compromise their commitment to the law and they rightly despised them as thieves and liars.

YLT Psalm 23 1A Psalm of David. Jehovah [is] my shepherd, I do not lack, 2In pastures of tender grass He causeth me to lie down, By quiet waters He doth lead me. 3My soul He refresheth, He leadeth me in paths of righteousness, For His name’s sake, 4Also — when I walk in a valley of death-shade, I fear no evil, for Thou [art] with me, Thy rod and Thy staff — they comfort me. 5Thou arrangest before me a table, Over-against my adversaries, Thou hast anointed with oil my head, My cup is full! 6Only — goodness and kindness pursue me, All the days of my life, And my dwelling [is] in the house of Jehovah, For a length of days!

Psalm 1: 1Oh the happiness of that one, who Hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked. And in the way of sinners hath not stood, And in the seat of scorners hath not sat; 2But — in the law of Jehovah [is] his delight, And in His law he doth meditate by day and by night: 3And he hath been as a tree, Planted by rivulets of water, That giveth its fruit in its season, And its leaf doth not wither, And all that he doth he causeth to prosper. 4Not so the wicked: But — as chaff that wind driveth away! 5Therefore the wicked rise not in judgment, Nor sinners in the company of the righteous, 6For Jehovah is knowing the way of the righteous, And the way of the wicked is lost!

However, these who were faithful to Yehovah and the Guardian appointed over them recognized the messiah by his consistency with the "voice" of Yehovah and followed him out of the confines of the law and found new pastures in the gospel. This was the "coming out".

In a complementary way, those feeding on the new pasture of the gospel were also free to enter the sheepfold to graze, not to be confined:

BLB Matthew 13: 51Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they say to Him. 52And He said to them, “Because of this, every scribe having been discipled into the kingdom of the heavens is like a man, a master of a house, who puts forth out of his treasure new and old.”

Paul speaks of the same thing in a completely different figure. The temple had an area for only Jews and another for gentiles. Paul says that is not a feature of the new arrangement:

BLB Ephesians 2: 11Therefore remember that formerly you—the Gentiles in the flesh, the ones being called the uncircumcision by that being called the circumcision, made by hands in the flesh— 12that at that time you were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, not having hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you, the ones once being far off, have become near by the blood of Christ. 14For He Himself is our peace, having made both one and having broken down the barrier of the partition of hostility, 15having annulled [obviated] in His flesh the law of commandments in ordinances, so that He might create in Himself the two into one new man, making peace, 16and He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross, by it having slain the hostility.

In the new arrangement law must be "used lawfully" by which he means "consistent with the intent of the law":

YLT 1 Timothy 1: 4nor to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, that cause questions rather than the building up of God that is in faith: — 5And the end [purpose] of the charge [command] is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, 6from which certain, having swerved, did turn aside to vain discourse, 7willing to be teachers of law, not understanding either the things they say, nor concerning what they asseverate, 8and we have known that the law [is] good, if any one may use it lawfully; 9having known this, that for a righteous man law is not set, but for lawless and insubordinate persons, ungodly and sinners, impious and profane, parricides and matricides, men-slayers, 10whoremongers, sodomites, men-stealers, liars, perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that to sound doctrine is adverse, 11according to the good news of the glory of the blessed God, with which I was entrusted.


For the OT background for the passage showing that it is related specifically to the faithful Jews please see: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel+34%3A22-31&version=NABRE


NIV Micah 2: 12“I will surely gather all of you, Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people. 13The One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their King will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.”


The "sheepfold" represents the law of Moses. Those within it are the faithful Jews who were, per Paul "kept under the law":

BLB Galatians 4: 1- 6; In the book of Galatians, Shaul aka Paul is speaking against man made tradition of the Jews and "kept under the law" do not refer to the Torah, but to the "Torah Peh" or Oral Torah, man's tradition. The all book of Galatians is about Justification by faith vs by work

Ga 3:9 so that those who are of belief are blessed with Aḇraham, the believer. Ga 3:10 For as many as are of works of Torah (ma'aseh HaTorah) are under the curse, for it has been written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all that has been written in the book of the Torah, to do them.” Here the work of the Torah" is ma'aseh HaTorah" or justification through the Oral Torah (work), known today as the "Talmud".

The context of the book of Yochanan (John, is to let people know that Yeshua aka Jesus IS THE Mashiach, the Word that became Flesh.

reading Yochanan we need to keep in mind that the action is THE WORD. Yochanan didn't find any new "Concept" but look back to the prophet:

Es 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. Es 55:10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from the heavens, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, Es 55:11 so is My Word that goes forth from My mouth – it does not return to Me empty, but shall do what I please, and shall certainly accomplish what I sent it for.

The WORD came down (John 1:14), accomplished what he had to accomplish and went back to the Father (Acts 1:9). Now the sheep fold and the sheep.

All writers were Jews and wrote in an Hebrew mindset with its own rules. Hebrew is a concrete language and need to be undertsood in this context.

Jn 10:9 “I am the door. Whoever enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and shall go out and find pasture. THE GOOD PASTURE: Ez 34:14 “In good pasture I shall feed them, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Yisra’ĕl. They shall lie there in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Yisra’ĕl.


Jr 23:2 Therefore thus said יהוה Elohim of Yisra’ĕl against the shepherds who feed My people, “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and have not tended them. See, I am punishing you for the evil of your deeds,” declares יהוה. Jr 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!”a declares יהוה. Footnote: aJer 10:21, Jer 50:5-6, Eze 34:1-23, Zec 10:2, Mat 9:36.

Jr 50:6 “My people have been wanderinga sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.

Footnote: aOr lost, or straying, or perishing.

Ez 34:10 Thus said the Master יהוה, “See, I am against the shepherds, and shall require My flock at their hand, and shall make them cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more. And I shall deliver My flock from their mouths, and they shall no longer be food for them.”

The shepherd of Yeshua's time were the Pharisee who fed the sheep with man made traditions. Yeshua came to do the Father's work as the rigt arm of YHWH:

Ez 34:11 For thus said the Master יהוה, “See, I Myself shall search for My sheep and seek them out.


Jn 10:16 “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold – I have to bring them as well, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

Judah is ONE HOUSE and beside Judah since the split under Yeroboan there is another House: Yeshua told His disciples:

Mt 10:5 יהושע sent these twelve out, having commanded them, saying, “Do not go into the way of the nations, and do not enter a city of the Shomeronim, Mt 10:6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Yisra’ĕl.

The other sheep are not from Judah but from the House of Ysrael the northern Kingdom:

Ac 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Master, would You at this time restore the reign to Yisra’ĕl?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. Ac 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Set-apart Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Yerushalayim, and in all Yehuḏah and Shomeron, and to the end of the earth.”

The great commission is to bring the "good news" to the House of Ysrael scattered in the four corner of the earth among the nations. Unfortunately the "Church" has not understood the message and since Constantine, try to make another gospel "one save always save", through grace by faith, which is a corrupted concept.

Here the sheeps are: Judah AND the House of Ysrael his companion. All stranger joining them are welcome and will be part of Ysrael.

Lc 1:30 And the messenger said to her, “Do not be afraid, Miryam, for you have found favour with Elohim. Lc 1:31 “And see, you shall conceive in your womb, and shall give birth to a Son, and call His Name יהושע. Lc 1:32 “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And יהוה Elohim shall give Him the throne of His father Dawiḏ. Lc 1:33 “And He shall reign over the house of Ya῾aqoḇ forever, and there shall be no end to His reign.”

The House of Ya'aqob is the 12 tribes coming from the 12 sons of Ya'aqob.


The expression “going in and going out” was a Hebrew expression. Take into account that Jesus most likely did not say this in Greek but Hebrew (Judaica) or Aramaic it would follow that He was referring to its Hebrew meaning.

The term appears in multiples places in the OT but most significant is Solomon’s claim of not knowing how to go in and out. In fact he gets it backwards.

“And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.” ‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭3:7

Clearly he wasn’t referring to entering and exiting chambers. He was referring to something far more important that in context of his prayer meant representation on behalf of all the nation.

But his father David did know how to go in and go out as did Joshua and Moses and others.

“Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,' but now the Lord declares: 'Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭2:30‬ ‭

The going in and going out meant entering into God’s presence, most of the time for military purposes, but not only. It meant first taking care of the spiritual realm and then having fulfillment in the natural realm.

It meant entering into God’s presence before a battle in the physical and winning in the spiritual. And then going out and succeeding in the natural because the battle was won in the spiritual.

Hence Jesus says He is the door that allows one to enter into God’s presence (Hebrew 4:16) and THEN find pastures.

It’s a reference to acceptable, effective and successful prayer


It is an idiom that was familiar to the OT Hebrews meaning their way of daily living as the saved in and through Christ.

Strong's NT 1525:εἰσέρχομαι, and Thayer's Lexicon under 1a:

" the phrase ἐισέρχεσθαι καί ἐξέρχεσθαι, to go in and out, (the Hebrew וְצֵאת בּוא or reversed וּבוא צֵאת, usually denotes one's whole mode of living and acting, Deuteronomy 28:6; 1 Samuel 29:6, etc.;..... figuratively, of moral pursuits unimpeded by difficulties, John 10:9. " Source: here

The sheepfold in John 10:1 is the kingdom of God, the door (vs. 2) to the kingdom is Christ (John 14:6). Christ is the shepherd that leads the sheep into the kingdom (vs. 3). The sheep are those who listen to Christ and follow Him (vs. 4). The sheep will not listen to strangers, those deceivers/liars or false prophets, but will flee from the strangers / deceivers (vs. 5).

That the door is Christ can only infer the entry into the kingdom, and there is no other door to God's kingdom but Christ. No stranger has entry, and there is no other path, no other way but through Christ. Therefore, the sheepfold in this parable is the kingdom of God.

The shepherd being Christ, the subject of the parable is those who follow Christ, those who listen to His voice. So, the going in and out idiom refers to the way they live their lives in Christ, and that they are at home in the kingdom.

Excerpt from the Pulpit Commentary on vs. 9:

" "Salvation" here spoken of refers primarily to deliverance from dangers, protection from the ravenous wolves without the fold, and from false shepherds within. "Go in and out" is a phrase frequently used "to denote the free use of an abode by one who is at home in the house" (Deuteronomy 28:6; Deuteronomy 31:2; Acts 1:21). " Source: here

Excerpt from Benson Commentary:

"...and shall go in and out — Under my care and guidance, and that of the shepherds whom I have sent, whose instructive voice he shall hear, and whose holy example he shall follow; and shall find pasture — Food for his soul in all circumstances:" Ibid.

Excerpt from Barne's Notes on the Bible:

"Shall go in and out ... - This is language applied, commonly to flocks. It meant that he shall be well supplied, and defended, and led "beside the still waters of salvation." " Ibid.

And this excerpt from the Expositor's Greek NT:

"...To “go out and in” is the common O.T. expression to denote the free activity of daily life, Jeremiah 37:4, Psalm 121:8, Deuteronomy 28:6." Ibid.

  • If the sheepfold is the kingdom of God, do you see Jesus saying that he is bringing "liberty" such that one may enter and exit the kingdom of God at will? Maybe Sundays in and the rest of the time out? And who are the sheep that are "not of this fold"?
    – Ruminator
    Sep 16, 2017 at 22:01
  • It does not mean going to and from the kingdom. It means going about your daily life while you are in the kingdom. The kingdom came without observation (Luke 17:20) and is in our midst (Luke 17:21). We are in Christ, who have been baptized (immersed) into Christ were resurrected a new creature and added to the kingdom of God. We do not leave it when we go about our daily lives. Our lives are to be governed by Christ every moment of every day. We live in His kingdom now even in this mortal life, & receive eternal life in heaven when we pass to the next life.
    – Gina
    Sep 17, 2017 at 0:28
  • please explain who the "other sheep" are that are "not of this fold". Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 17, 2017 at 2:01
  • This question seems off topic. But, Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24). The other sheep not of the fold / flock of Israel were those of the nations (gentiles). He did preach to the Samaritan woman at the well, and the Caananite woman received help when He went into Tyre & Sidon (Matt. 15:21-28). Cornelius, of the Italian band was called a righteous man before Peter was sent to him. Contrary to what the Jews....
    – Gina
    Sep 17, 2017 at 8:18
  • cont'd... believed, God never abandoned every one else outside of Israel. There were always the faithful of other nations as the system of patriarchy was running side by side with the covenant He made with Israel. (Acts 18:10) It was always God's plan to make reconciliation for all mankind, so that all men could come back to Him. Of the two He has now made one, in Christ. He was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
    – Gina
    Sep 17, 2017 at 8:24

Focusing on verse 9 of John chapter 10, Jesus says "shall go in and out, and find pasture".

What if in the "go in and come out" Jesus was referring to going in and out of the heavenly realm? So much is written about the Kingdom of heaven, or "of God" in the gospels that I feel the association as well should not be overlooked. Jesus taught us to pray "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Further, we are taught by Jesus to "seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness."

The Apostle Paul was caught up to the heavenly realm by vision or dream as well as John the revelator and others. Since our primary directive is to reveal, build up and expand God's Kingdom here on earth in preparation of Jesus' return, how are we to do this without our own experiences and first hand knowledge?

Any answers that can expound on this would be most helpful in the true meaning of our great Shepherd's role.

  • If you have a new question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button. Include a link to this question if it helps provide context. - From Review
    – agarza
    Jul 23, 2023 at 17:10

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


And shall go in and out, and find pasture. — The fold will ever be open to him who enters by the Door. He will have perfect freedom to enter, whenever storm or danger or night approaches. He will lead out and find pasture for his flock. In the devotion of his service, and in communion with God, he will daily have an increasing knowledge of truths new and old, and the truths which he learns he will give as food for the souls of men.

Parts of this commentary fit most closely with how I've come to see the verse. When Paul was Given Food in divine communication, Jesus then provided the 'pasture of lost sheep' for him to Feed others.

There's a saying, "You have to give it away to keep it." (Parable of the talents?) In my experience, it's like I must share what I've learned with others, so that I will have room to receive more.

  • What might the sheep pen represent? And who are the sheep that are "not of this fold"?
    – Ruminator
    Sep 16, 2017 at 22:02
  • Sheepfolds - an interesting link: kingdom777.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/the-sheepfolds . I try to visualize "The Kingdom is Within" - so, one pen is in the skull/Mind (when divinely connected), and the other is the outer Church? Who are the sheep 'not of this fold'? Dunno. Ishmael? Wimmin? Benjamin?
    – tblue
    Sep 17, 2017 at 5:45
  • That is an interesting link in that it has a more accurate view of the sheepfolds than do the other clever folk here but it is then inexplicably mixed with astrology which has nothing to do with the message of Jesus.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:12
  • Star lore provides keys to understanding the Bible. If you should ever reconsider, here are some archive.org books that I find beneficial, (along with Norse and Greek mythology). archive.org/details/starloreofallage00olco archive.org/details/witnessofthestar00bulluoft books.google.com/books/about/…
    – tblue
    Sep 17, 2017 at 14:30
  • Do you think that Jesus was into astrology or are you just trading on his fame?
    – Ruminator
    Sep 17, 2017 at 14:33

I would translate John 10:9 like this:

I, myself, am the gate. If someone should enter through me, he will be saved. Then he will come and go of his own accord, and find pasture.

Details: enter image description here

The two Greek words εἰσελεύσεται and ἐξελεύσεται are parsed Future/Indicative mood/Middle voice, so they are not translatable into English without some assistance. According to Corey Keating:

  1. The indicative mood is a statement of fact or an actual occurrence from the writer's or speaker's perspective.

    Hence the past tense of the gloss in the details above.

  2. The Greek middle voice shows the subject acting in his own interest or on his own behalf, or participating in the results of the verbal action.

So, Jesus is saying this because it is what he does himself, freely of his own accord, and he is instructing his disciples that the same is true for them 1. For this reason I have inserted "of his own accord" to better translate the mood and voice of the Greek.

Matthew records Jesus as also saying:

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
-- Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV)

The "coming in" and "going out" is the means by which Jesus was sustained in his ministry, and the reason his disciples were sustained in their mission. Of course, this knowledge will not be easy to digest by everyone, as is much of what Jesus had to say on spiritual matters.

The "pasture" Jesus speaks of is not in the world, but is the spiritual food that sustained him:

30Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. 31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
32But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
33Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
34Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
-- John 4:30-34 (KJV)

The "will of the Father" is not found in the world.


  1. And also anyone else who decides to come to Father through Jesus, as they had done.
  • What do you understand "saved" to mean in this context? I understand it to be speaking of "being safe" not "saved from sin". If you agree please clarify in your post. If not, please indicate why this pastoral image relates to justification. I think rather than "be saved" it should read "be safe". Thanks. biblehub.com/greek/4982.htm
    – Ruminator
    Sep 16, 2017 at 0:40
  • When you say "being safe", being safe from what?
    – enegue
    Sep 16, 2017 at 0:43
  • Please see this passage: biblegateway.com/passage/…
    – Ruminator
    Sep 16, 2017 at 0:46
  • It was a simple question, and you should be able to give me a simple answer.
    – enegue
    Sep 16, 2017 at 0:53
  • Simple questions don't necessarily have simple answers. Well, they have simple answers but they aren't necessarily correct. In this case to understand the intent of Jesus' words it is necessary to recognize the allusion. If that is too complicated for you then I'm afraid I can't help you. That's how the scriptures work. This has a couple of more verses: biblegateway.com/passage/…
    – Ruminator
    Sep 16, 2017 at 1:03

The Door

I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9 NET)

There is a single door (Jesus) by which one may choose to enter. If this door is used, then one will come in and go (back) out (through the same door).

If pasture had been outside the door, one would not have to come in to find it. Therefore, the "pasture" is found only after one chose to come in. Jesus is speaking about is the process of rebirth; not through a mother's womb as Nicodemus asked (John 3:4) but only through Jesus, "if anyone enters through Me, , he will be saved..."

There is one way (one door) by which one comes to the Father:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

There is one way to gain entrance to God's family:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12 ESV)

The imagery of a single entrance by which one enters and leaves recalls the tabernacle of Moses with its three entrances, one to the main tent, one to the Holy Place, and one to the Most Holy Place:

enter image description here

In each case there is a single door. One must come in and go out by the same door. Yet, upon leaving, one may find pasture. What was initially lacking "outside" is found because one encountered the LORD "inside."

The Pasture
"Pasture" is [νομή] and there are two ways it can be understood. The Old Testament meaning would be similar to the Simeonites seeking and finding the right place for their flocks:

where they found rich, good pasture, and the land was very broad, quiet, and peaceful, for the former inhabitants there belonged to Ham. (1 Chronicles 4:40 ESV)

This pasture was both quiet and peaceful, because of the former inhabitants. The New Testament pasture is different:

be diligent to present thyself approved to God -- a workman irreproachable, rightly dividing the word of the truth; and the profane vain talkings stand aloof from, for to more impiety they will advance, and their word as a gangrene will have pasture, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus, who concerning the truth did swerve, saying the rising again to have already been, and do overthrow the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:15-18 YLT)

The only other use of νομή is in the second letter where Timothy is warned he will see the false teaching about the resurrection has found "pasture" and is spreading like gangrene. Unlike the Old Testament where the pasture is peaceful and quiet, the New Testament pasture is a place where the Christian must be diligent worker as the worldly pasture is both a place of rest (i.e. the community of believers) and a place where one must work (i.e. those who do not believe). That is to say, unlike the OLD Testament, the "former" inhabitants are hostile to the Gospel.


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