Heresy in John 10
The title alone of this study will no doubt offend many. I will state at the onset of this article that I didn’t carelessly select this title. Allow me to clearly state that after diligent study of the tenth chapter of John I firmly believe the modern versions are teaching heresies in this chapter. I will keep this particular study to one passage of scripture but will also refer my readers to my article on John 10:29 as another example of heresy in John 10. If you doubt whereof I speak regarding the heresies of John 10 please read and consider the following study.
The example of heresy in many modern versions I wish to draw
your attention to is found in John 10:14-15. Here we read the familiar words, “I
am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my
life for the sheep.” This is the reading of our Authorized Version (AV) and the
Traditional Greek reading as well. The phrase I want
to draw particular attention to is kai ginwskw
ta ema kai ginwskomai upo twn emwn (and know my sheep, and am known of
mine.). What I would like to do in this first part is concentrate on the Greek
of this verse and then we shall see how this affects the English. Finally, we
will examine several popular English translations and reveal the heresy being
propagated in these versions. As you will see this is certainly not a new
heresy but a very ancient one---once again being fostered upon the
As pointed out above the phrase I wish to look more closely at is “and know my sheep, and am known of mine”. I have given the Traditional Greek reading above so I will now give the corrupt reading of the Westcott/Hort type text--kai ginwskw ta ema kai ginwskousi me ta ema. While the first clause is identical the second clause is noticeably different whether you know Greek or not. The Traditional reading has been cast aside in favor of the Alexandrian reading based upon the testimony of 5 uncial manuscripts, viz. Aleph B D L W. The Alexandrian reading also receives support from the Latin. It is this minority reading that is followed by the greater part of the modern versions. I will note in passing that every other ms., both uncial and cursive, testifies to the reading of our Authorized Version.
While a seemingly subtle change, it does great damage to the actual words of our Saviour and it destroys the truth He was stating. Jesus is here pointing out that there exists between Himself and those that are His a certain knowledge. He goes on in v.15 to describe the knowledge that exists between the Father and the Son in language that leaves no doubt that the knowledge is identical on either side. This is not so of His language in the first clause. John Burgon comments, “He is careful to distinguish between the knowledge which subsists between the creature and the Creator by slightly varying the expression.” This distinction is lost in the wording of the Alexandrian texts. The Westcott/Hort type Greek texts replace ginwskomai (Pres. Passive Ind.- 1st singular) (i.e. I am being known) with ginwskousi (Pres. Active Ind.- 3rd person) (i.e. they are knowing). Thus destroying the sense of what Jesus was saying. Consider the wording of a few modern versions in comparison to our AV.
NIV- 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--
15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep.
NRSV- 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.
NASV-"I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
ESV-I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
It is clear from these few examples that the distinction has been completely lost in the modern versions. In these versions they place the knowledge between the sheep and “the good shepherd” on the same level as the knowledge between the Father and the Son. This is simply not the case and is based in the heretical teachings of Manes (AD 261). Manes carried the depravation one step further by inverting the order of the words in his own reproduction of the Gospel of John. Mane’s copy read, ginwskei me ta ema, kai ginwskw ta ema and so making it look like the knowledge has it’s origin within man. Basil, on writing of this verse as the Manichaean heretics read it, referred to it as blasphemous. I find the reading of the modern versions little less than this myself. If you will notice carefully the punctuation of the modern versions you will perhaps better understand what I’m saying. For example the NRSV says in part, “and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and etc.” Instead of the full stop (period) after ‘me’ they have a comma, thus linking the knowledge between the Father and Son as the same exact knowledge between the Shepherd and the sheep.
I have certainly not stumbled upon something new. The great early church writer John Chrysostom wrote in very lucid words regarding this matter. Chrysostom comments,
Then because He said above “And the sheep hear his voice, and follow him,” lest any should say, “What then is this to those who believe not?” hear what He addeth “And I know My sheep, and am known of Mine.”
As Paul declared when he said, “God hath not rejected His people whom
He foreknew” (Romans 11:2); and Moses, “The Lord knew those that
were His” (2 Timothy 2:19; comp. Numbers 16:5); “those,” He saith, “I
mean, whom He foreknew.” Then that thou mayest not deem the measure
of knowledge to be equal, hear how He setteth the matter right by adding,
“I know My sheep, and am known of Mine.” But the knowledge is not
equal. “Where is it equal?” In the case of the Father and Me, for there, “As
the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father.” Had He not wished
to prove this, why should He have added that expression? Because He often ranked Himself among the many, therefore, lest any one should deem that He knew as a man knoweth, He added, “As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father.” “I know Him as exactly as He knoweth Me.” Wherefore He said, “No man knoweth the Son save the Father, nor the Father save the Son” (Luke 10:22), speaking of a distinct kind of
knowledge, and such as no other can possess. (John Chrysostom, The Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homily 60)
I will close here with a few words from Dean Burgon, “It is a point which really admits of no rational doubt: for does any one suppose that if St. John had written ‘Mine own know Me,’ 996 MSS. out of 1000 at the end of 1,800 years would exhibit, ‘I am known of Mine’?” Selah!