Calvinism Errs in Concluding John 10:16 Refers to the Pre-saved Unconditionally Elect

John 10:16

I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

John 10:25–29

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.

26 “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.

27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

I maintain that Calvinists’ similar interpretation of these verses in John 10 compared to John 6 (vs. 37, 44, 65 in particular) fails to support their belief in unconditional election and irresistible grace. Consider the following. Here, we are told that some do not believe, so Jesus answered them, saying, I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep (vs. 25–26). Note first, one cannot take the statement “you do not believe” to mean you cannot believe. If it said cannot (as a categorical impossibility that could be understood to characterize the nonelect), it might be used to support Calvinism, but as it is, it is more reflective of Extensivism.[1]

Of those who do not believe, Jesus said you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, which means they reject the teaching of God’s drawing revelation through the prophets and Christ, whereas if they would have learned from God’s revelation through the prophets, by which he draws everyone, they would have come (John 6:45). To reject God’s revelation is to reject Christ because he said these testify of Me. Therefore, while they can become a part of his flock, as everyone who believes does, they are not now, nor ever will be, as long as they reject God’s drawing. “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me” (John 6:45, emphasis added).

Jesus describes those whom He is addressing as those who do not believe because they are not of My sheep (vs. 26, 27). In contrast, the ones he calls My sheep, he says, they hear My voice, I know them, and they follow me. None of which can be said of a person prior to actual and complete experiential and ontological salvation because they are described as ones who do not believe” (vs. 25–26).

Nevertheless, some Calvinists assert that those Christ refers to in John 10:16 as his other sheep refer to the eternally predestined and unconditionally elected who have not yet been saved, many of whom have not been born. For example, William Hendricksen insists, “Not all the sheep belong to the fold of Israel. The good shepherd also has other sheep. He has them even now because they have been given to him by the Father in the decree of predestination from eternity (6:37, 39; 17:6, 24). That is also the reason why even before they are gathered out they can be called his sheep[2] (italics in original). Robert Jamieson comments, “They shall hear my voiceThis is not the language of mere foresight that they would believe, but the expression of a purpose to draw them to Himself by an inward and efficacious call, which would infallibly issue in their spontaneous accession to Him[3] (embolden and italics in original).

Contrastingly, John Chrysostom declared, “Again, the word ‘must,’ here used, doth not express necessity, but is declaratory of something which will certainly come to pass. As though he had said, ‘Why marvel ye if these shall follow Me, and if My sheep shall hear My voice? When ye shall see others also following Me and hearing My voice, then shall ye be astonished more.'”[4] When considering these two perspectives, keep in mind, in spite of strong opinions, a person cannot disbelieve in Christ as their shepherd and believe in Christ as their shepherd simultaneously, which is what Calvinism requires by its imposition of predestination and unconditional election upon those whom Christ calls My sheep being his other sheep.

That impossible state of affairs theoretically exists in Calvinism’s eternal monergistically elect system but does not exist in Scripture or Extensivism’s perspective in which God knows those who later will freely exercise libertarian freedom and believe unto salvation because he is omniscient. In John 10:16, Christ can speak with absolute certainty without Calvinism’s decretive necessity because he knows everything and cannot be mistaken about anything; therefore, it is his perfection that calls for the word must (resulting from the certainty of his omniscience), not Calvinism’s decretive and deterministic belief. This difference means Extensivism does not suffer from the same contradictory conflicts as Calvinism in our explanation of who Christ’s other sheep are.

Moreover, this impossible state of affairs in which one believes and does not believe in the same sense at the same time cannot be allayed by some creative linguistical maneuver (as saying the word is used in a different way, sense, degree, or time frame); nor, can it be resolved by seeking to distance these two mutually exclusive actualities (believing and not-believing) so that they appear at different points along the speculative continuum from an eternal monergistic, unconditional election to an individual’s experiential exercise of saving faith in time and space that transforms a person from a lost person under the wrath of God (John 3:18; Eph 2:1–3) to a follower of Christ.

This is a state of transition in which every unconditionally elected person (pre-salvation lost elect person) must transition to become one of Christ’s sheep. This impossible state would at least, have to exist simultaneously at the instance of transition from a state of lostness to a state of salvation, which precludes other sheep (John 10:16) from referring to Calvinism’s unconditional elect. This state of the elect lost being Christ’s other sheep also requires them to be characterized as Christ did, meaning they exist as described as My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27) before the transforming work of salvation and the Holy Spirit (John 3:3–7; 2 Cor 5:17; Col 1:13–14; Titus 3:5;1 Pet 1:23), and while they disbelieve, existing in a state of sinfulness in spiritual darkness under wrath (John 3:18; Eph 2:1-3) which demonstrates the absurdity of such a dual relationship to Christ.

In reality, this transitional state of a simultaneous dual relationship to Christ most assuredly happens between the time Calvinism’s elect are born as lost sinners and (at least at some point) under God’s wrath (John 3:18; Eph 2:1–3) and continues until they, in an existential moment of faith, actually become a believer in the claims and person of Christ and, in an undeniably knowable way, enter his fold; at which precise point in time they cease to be under the wrath of God and are saved from his judgment.

Consequently, at a minimum, sometime between birth and salvation, the elect, like everyone else, are in their sin and under the wrath of God and cannot be characterized as Christ describes his sheep; therefore, for the eternal unconditionally elect to be whom Christ speaks of in John 10:16, according to Calvinism, they must enter into the unbiblical and impossible state of simultaneously being lost, unregenerated, and without faith in Christ, and being his sheep because of their faith; such state exists only in Calvinism’s need to prop up the delicate system of Calvinism, but not in objective biblical reality.

When someone claims those who are born and live under the wrath of God (John 3:18; Eph 2:1–3) are Christ’s sheep, such a claim effectively makes these two mutually exclusive states appear to be a harmonious state instead of what they are, a negating contradiction.[5]. The proposed congruity exists only in the inventive theology of some Calvinists. Believing in Christ, his claims and works, and not believing in Christ, his claims and works, are mutually exclusive; therefore, the belief that a person can be a believer in Christ (part of his flock) and not a believer in Christ (yet a part of his flock) simultaneously is the obvious quintessence of contradictions and incoherence and no amount of Calvinism’s circuitous nuances can metamorphose such into a congruency, except in the desires of a person already committed to the tenants of Calvinism.

Christ does have other sheep: those who believe that are not of the Old Covenant Jews but are Gentiles who are already believers like Rahab, and Jews and Gentiles in the New Testament era who will come to him by believing the revelation from God about him, the gospel, and claims of Scripture. Jesus will bring them [in] in the same manner as those who are presently his sheep: by their faith in him and the resistible drawing of the Father and Son through love (John 6:44; 12:32) and the Scripture (John 6:45).

Jesus said to Paul, “But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:16–18).

Paul was sent to the Gentiles “to open their eyes” with the light of the gospel of Christ (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:35–36, 46), and while they have the light, “they may turn from darkness to light” (Acts 26:18; John 3:21; 8:12; 12:35–36, 46; 2 Cor 4:6; Eph 5:8), “from the dominion of Satan to God” (Col 1:12–13; 1 Pet 2:9). The reason God sent Christ and his gospel to the world is so that the world “may turn from darkness to light . . . and receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18, emphasis added).

These lost people, including you and me, before salvation, are given the opportunity to leave the kingdom of Satan and our sin and become part of Christ’s flock, and we do so by faith. Sanctified is the word sanctify from the word saint, holy. To be sanctified, as used here, is to be made holy by salvation. It is to be set apart unto God (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor 1:2; Jude 1:1), and by this means set apart from Satan and become one of Christ’s sheep. All who believe in Christ become a part of one flock (John 10:16) because they all become one of his sheep the same way: by believing in him (John 6:27).

Christ’s assuredness of those he must bring [in] who will hear and who will come (John 10:16) is due to his omniscience and not because of his determined plan to create an unmentioned conjectural hybrid federation of God-hating, lost, unrighteous attacking enemies of God (Rom 3:10) who are spiritually dead followers of Satan (Eph 2:1–2) and under the wrath of God (John 3:18; Eph 2:3); who are also for a period of time simultaneously one of his sheep of whom he says, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27). Such a monstrous idea conflicts with Christ’s lucid explanation that the separation between being in Christ’s flock and not being counted among his sheep is determined by one’s belief or disbelief in Christ (John 10:26), which is the same truth found in John 6:26ff, and throughout the New Testament. To not be a sheep simply means the person has not existentially placed his trust in God’s revelation about Christ and his works. That is the opposite of what it means to be a sheep in the flock of Christ, which is to believe in God’s revelation about Christ and his works. Everything less than trusting Jesus describes those who are not Christ’s sheep.

Calvinism’s commitment to micro-determinism, which they superimpose on Scriptures that actually teach the opposite, causes them to employ wrenched and convoluted interpretations of otherwise straightforward Scripture, thereby taking the exoteric (for everyone) Scripture and transmogrifying it into an esoteric message (an exclusive cryptic message for theoretical Calvinists sophisticates). In so doing, they paint an ersatz portrait of the God of Scripture. Here, their serious error is in thinking people can be referred to as sheep while simultaneously being separated from God by their sin and under the wrath of God (John 3:18; Eph 2:1–3), which the unconditionally elect would have to be at some point if this referred to them being included as his other sheep.

The antecedent to them that Jesus gives eternal security and life to (John 10:28, 29) are those whom he just described as My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (vs. 27). None of which the preborn elect, nor the born yet saved elect can do. Accordingly, the passage makes it clear Jesus is not referencing an imaginary nonrepresentational hybridized confederation created by Calvinism, being saved and lost at the same time. Such creations arise from Calvinism and not from the words of Jesus, God’s Holy Word, but only from Calvinism’s need to provide support for their weak and fragile theological system. The delicate nature of Calvinism is evident in that its sustainability is reliant on such creations as these hybrid people, the good faith offer, Calvinistically-generated mysteries, two calls, two wills, regeneration prior to faith, and insupportably narrow definitions of keywords, and more; all of which are illustrative of Calvinism’s frail and unbiblical system.

God’s salvific love for the lost who will be saved by faith and become one of his sheep is one of the ever-present themes in the New Testament (Matt 11:28; John 1:29; 6:27, 33, 51; 3:16; 12:35–36; Titus 2:11; Rev 22:17); it is for us and them that Christ prayed (John 17:20–21). God’s salvific love for the lost is seen in John 3:16 since the world means the world of humanity and not merely the Calvinist elect. John includes Christ dying for the sins of believers and the sins of the world (1 John 2:2), all lost people, of whom many will by faith become sheep in Christ’s one flock.

By God’s grace salvation plan, anyone can be saved by believing in Jesus, which everyone can do because Jesus removed the barriers between mankind and God (John 1:29; 2 Cor 5:14–21) so that now the only thing that continues to keep man from being reconciled to God is disbelief (John 10:25) for which the available antidote is belief (John 6:29, 35, 40). Also, God took the sin problem away that separated all mankind from God (John 1:29). All that keeps a person from being a sheep in Christ’s flock is choosing not to believe in him (John 1:29; 10:25–29; 2 Cor 5:15, 19).

[1] Specifically, Extensivism believes man and woman were created in the image of God with otherwise choice, and God’s salvation plan is comprehensive, involving an all-inclusive, unconditional offer of salvation and eternal security of the believer, reception of which is conditioned upon grace-enabled faith rather than an exclusive plan involving a limited actual offer of salvation to only the unconditionally elected, or any plan that, in any way, conditions salvation upon merely a humanly-generated faith.

Extensivism may have some things in common with Calvinism, Arminianism, or Molinism but does not rely upon any of them. Similarities do not equal sameness. Extensivism seeks only to present a comprehensive, consistent system of soteriology that is reflective of the warp and woof of Scripture. It may have shared beliefs with other systems of soteriology, but Extensivism neither relies upon nor seeks to be consistent with them.

Generally, I use Extensivism as a positive instead of the negative phrase non-Calvinism.

[2] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 113.

[3] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 147.

[4] John Chrysostom, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Gospel of St. John,” in Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of St. John and Epistle to the Hebrews, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. G. T. Stupart, vol. 14, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 217.

[5] A negating contradiction negates the simultaneous existence of the other, and, therefore, this is not a mere paradox nor a mere mystery to the human mind.

Ronnie W. Rogers