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John 10:16 - Mormonism

Victor M. Eskew


          In John 10:16, Jesus referred to “other sheep” that He possessed.  “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:  them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”  Mormon doctrine declares that these sheep are the Nephites, a group of Jews who migrated to the North American continent around 600 B.C.  This teaching comes from a passage found in the Book of Mormon.  In it, Jesus is speaking to the Nephites and confirms that John 10:16 applies to them.  “And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said:  ‘Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd’” (3 Nephi 15:21). 

            It needs to be clearly understood that the Nephites were Jews.  In 3 Nephi 15:12, Jesus states:  “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people, who are a remnant of the house of Joseph.”  This is important because Jesus said that He had other sheep, “which are not of this fold…” (emp. mine, vme).  “This fold” refers to the Jews.  If the Nephites were Jews, He did not have them in mind when He referred to “other sheep…not of this fold.”  He had reference to a group of people who were not Jews.

            Jesus clearly had the Gentiles in mind in John 10:16.  The Jews were God’s chosen people.  However, when He chose the Jews, He did not abandon the rest of humanity.  He was deeply concerned for their salvation.  We see this in Jonah’s preaching to the Ninevites (Jonah 1:1-2; 3:1-2).  We also see it in the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Gentiles (Isa. 9:1-2; 60:1-5).

            The Law of Moses had created a wall of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles (Eph. 2:14).  This was not to be a permanent separation.  Jesus wanted the Jews to know that the Gentiles would be brought into the same fold with the Jews.  This fold would be the precious church of Christ.  “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God…That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph. 2:16, 19; 3:6).

            The Gentiles would be made part of the one fold by hearing the voice of the shepherd Jesus Christ.  In Acts 10, Peter proclaimed the gospel of Christ to the household of Cornelius.  He became the first Gentile convert, the first to be part of the one fold with the Jewish Christians.  Since then, thousands of Gentiles have been added to the body of Christ upon their obedience to the gospel.