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Who are the “other sheep” of John 10:16?

As JWs you believe that In the resurrection, those who died faithful to God are included in the ‘other sheep’ and will receive the “resurrection of the righteous” (“just” KJV) mentioned in Acts 24:15. (The Watchtower 2/15/95 p. 11 par. 12)  Those of the ‘other sheep’ who are alive today, some of whom survive through Armageddon without needing a resurrection, are referred to as the ‘great crowd’.  (The Watchtower 4/15/95 p. 31 Questions From Readers).  These views are based around the following text.

“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (Joh 10:16 NWT)

The Bible speaks of the church as Jehovah’s flock (Acts 20:29; 1 Pet 5:2).  Up until the conversion of Cornelius, the Gospel invitation had NOT been made available to the gentiles.  But that changed suddenly about AD 36.  Of the conversion of Cornelius’ household, we read in Acts 10:45, “And the faithful ones that had come with Peter who were of those circumcised were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also upon people of the nations.” NWT.

The gentile Christians could not be invited until after the 70 weeks (Dan 9:24) for Israel were completed (AD 36).  Of that final week [a day = a year], we read “And he must keep the covenant in force for the many for one week” Dan 9:27 NWT).  That covenant was Jehovah’s 70 weeks agreement with Israel.  It was in the last half of the 70th week, three and a half years after the cross, that the great work was done amongst the Jews.

Applying the “other sheep” to the new gentile converts is the evident meaning and it would take strong additional scriptural evidence to convince the honest student otherwise.  There is no direct indication in the Bible that these “other sheep” are referring only to the “Great Crowd” (true Christians who will not be part of the Little Flock.”  Another reasonable application would be to apply this to the billions of mankind that will be awakened from the dead in Paradise earth and there have an opportunity to follow Jehovah in obedience forever.  Without further compelling evidence, applying the “Other Sheep” to the “Great Crowd” is building a doctrine from a scripture taken out of context.  This reminds us of the Catholic Church misapplication of Matt 16:18 which says, “You are Peter, and on this rock-mass I will build my congregation, and the gates of Ha’des will not overpower it.” (NWT)  Based on an unsupportable misapplication of this text, the Catholic Church believes that the papacy represents an “unbroken” line of apostolic succession from Peter to the present day.

22 comments to Who are the “other sheep” of John 10:16?

  • John S.

    I ,too,while still with the Witnesses,saw them “make a mountain out of a molehill”,by turning a certain prophecy of a major development-the entrance of Gentiles into the “one flock”, into a runaway 180 degree turn belief,that the disciples of Christ would not have to be born-again,would not get the rebirth,go to heaven,experience a death like his,have Him and the Father come to live in them thru the Holy Spirit,be taught by the spirit,comforted by it,be part of the seed of Christ (and the woman)and fulfill Gen.3;15,would not be receiving the Kingdom of Heaven,or become Holy Ones(Dan.7:14,18).As we know,the Gentiles or just all the Christians who aren’t Jewish also share all the before-mentioned rewards,so are one flock,the heirs of the Kingdom,sons of the Kingdom,Brothers of Christ.One in destiny purpose,Spirit,teaching,oneness with Christ,reward. Now pair this with the super-symbolic book of Revelation,a great crowd contrasted with 144,000.What should we do with all Jesus’ teachings about heavenly life for his followers?Where was his teaching,or prophecy, that told this all would change ,once 144,000 disciples was reached? Certainly this number would easily have been reached by the 2nd or 3rd century,as the whole Roman empire converted to Christianity,from the pantheon of gods they formerly worshipped? so also many are going along with the belief that by addressing the small group of listeners in front of him as a “little flock”,that this would limit entrance into the Kingdom to a few. How can we take such insignificant references like this and make major doctrinal changes from the simple statements the Lord has already lined out? We can do this if we view things he said with a lack of respect,while heaping reverence on the group of men who would come later as the “Great Interpretors” who would make these huge changes.The very idea that only 144,000 Jewish virgin men are going to make up the entire New Creation,a whole new race of super-like-Christ creatures who go to live in heaven as new sons of God,is Fundamentalist to the max.These symbolic terms may only mean that it is a SELECT appointment of persons having specific qualities God needs to do the specific job that needs to be done.144,000 of them,12,000 from 12 tribes may mean they are going to be organized into various tasks,for differing purposes,or even ranks.If we limit the amount of people who have been born again to the small number of 65 persons a year becoming anointed since the Lord left,it seems many of the concepts of salvation and its magnamity or kindness of God who welcomes all and is very forgiving ,is not so gracious or forgiving or generous at all,and that possibly this isn’t a free gift at all,but some reward that only goes to some race that has never existed,that is Jewish virgin men that do not sin,and have converted to Christianity.(Rev.14:1-5)Where are all those guys?They don’t exist,its symbolic.The anointed Christians as we know are all sinful men and women ,millions of them,who God has selected to be this new race of creatures who will be with Christ ,the angels ,God,Cherubs,and whoever else lives in that existence.Their main assignments we already know have to do with resurrection of possibly 150 BILLION souls back to earth to instruct,teach,correct,train,heal mentally,emotionally,and spiritually.They have a set period of time to do this,described as a 1000 years.Should we take THIS as a literal time period too,although Christ himself says the book has been delivered in…”signs”?Unfortunately,we are doing just that,and teaching everyone this literal view.Think about it for a moment,Where are all these people going to live? Sleep? Work? What about transportation for all these billions?Sewerage treatment,clean water,machinery,raw materials mining,boats and construction, schools,energy manufacture,power grids,ok,enough already.Why put such a limit or small time alotment on a job we now know will be the biggest ever yet seen of any human endeavor.Divide 100 billion into 144,000…almost 7000.If the number of humankind is 150 billion,that number becomes over 10,000.Each anointed Christian would be a priest to 10,000 people.That means working with each person they could devote about 5 weeks to each individual to get them ready for the test of eternity for their souls.(10,000 people for 1000 years).This sounds stupidly simplistic,but impractical.Why tie Jehovah’s hands with a literal interpretation of a previously described ‘symbolic'(Rev.1:1) book of prophecy.Whether the term is Great Crowd,144000,other sheep,little flock,lake of fire,city with streets of gold and pearl gates,heavenly dragons,death riders,wild beasts,lambs with 7 eyes,creatures with 4 faces with eyes all over their wings,or whatever,let’s try to look below the surface expression shall we? The truth is rarely that shallow. Just like miners,they rarely find gold scattered on the surface of the ground.Let’s reason imagine,think for a change about what has been taught as “The Truth” for the last 100 years along these lines.

    • Jacqueline

      Hi John, Isn’t it nice to be able to reason on scripture now and tell others your thoughts, without fear of reprisal. Many visit this site and read. They however do not write a comment. So persons are reading what you are saying. The toolbar at the bottom of this page reveals that to the readers as an interactive toolbar. When someone else is on with you, sign in thru one of the social networks or your email account and chatt a bit to the extreme right of the toolbar. That way you wil have an immediate conversation going. It would, I believe, if you like, John be of value to adobe connect this weekend to a convention. See Br. Peter for details. It is not for discussion however, they will cut out the chat if you write while the brothers are listening. There is a private chat however and you can chat with me or someone that you know.Take Care.

  • Vanderhoven7


    Yes, the “other sheep” are Gentile Christians who share one hope of their calling. All Christ’s sheep will “put on immortality” at the resurrection.

    1Co 15:51-54
    51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
    52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
    53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
    54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

    The nations will not be so raised however. Theirs is a resurrection to judgment during the millennial reign of Christ.

  • Bob

    My intention was not to get into a discussion on immortality. I was simply trying to state that if the sheep in verse 28 were immortal then they would be of the bride class and not of the earthly sheep of the millennial age as ResLight stated. I believe that Jesus was talking about the bride class in John 10: 16 and continued this topic in verses 28-29, one can also cross reference John 17: 6-12. Sorry I wasn’t clearer.

  • heckle&jeckle

    thank you so much peter and jacqueline i cant wait i am very happy and excited for help finding a local group

  • Bob

    If we read the scripture in complete context, we notice in vs 28 Jesus says that He gives His sheep “eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one shall snatch them out of my hands.”(NIV) To me “eternal life, and they shall never perish” means immortality. “No one shall snatch them out of my hands.” tells me that they will be with Jesus eternally. So the question is; Are the earthly sheep of the millenium immortal?

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Bob – The Apostal Paul speaks of the brethren (the Annointed Little Flock, the sheep) who seek for glory, honor and immortality, but in Timothy Paul explains that only Jesus has immortlaity (at that time, other than Jehovah). I beleive that the world of mankind on Paradise earth will have everlasting life, but immortality is quite a step even above that. See this interesting chapter on Immortality for more. This is what I beleive the early Watchtower correctly taught.
      Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 5, on Immortality

      • Jacqueline

        Bob, hello. The way I have been able to harmonize scriptures on everlasting life vs immortality is. Immortality means life within oneself. Jesus can live without being dependent on Jehovah. Self sustaining like Jehovah is self sustaining. This shows the uniqueness of the Bride class, as they will be immortal.
        Angels are not self sustaining they can be killed like the demons will be.
        Humans will be in God’s hand at all times and no one is more powerful than him to snatch them. But the second type of death (Jehovah’s right) will always exist.
        Any that choose to be like Adam will not be allowed to disturb peace anymore. It will have been proven. So if all were immortal on earth, we would not have that security of ones rebelling being put away. Just my little reasoning, that has helped me. Jacqueline

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Bob – Jacqueline made a great point. She was probably thinking of John 5:26 which says, “For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself:” Then John 6:53 says, “… Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves.” (RVIC) So only Jehovah had this immortality, “life in himself.” He gave it to Jesus. And now all we who both eat his flesh and drink his blood (fully baptized into Christ and receive the crown) will receive this immortality (“life in yourself”) as well.

  • Magdalena

    I my self believe many are called out including Israel after the flesh .
    I believe they are talked about in Rev12:17.

  • Magdalena

    Great point ResLight

    You say : Many Bible Students do apply the “other sheep” to the Gentile converts; I also considered this, but after closely examining the Greek terminiology used in John 10:16, and the context, I concluded that the “other sheep” are the “sheep” of the millennial age, those who not now recognize Jesus, including Israel after the flesh. (John 1:10; 12:47,48) Brother Russell also came to this conclusion, although he did allow for applying it to the Gentiles believers of this age. There are some aspects of his conclusions, however, that I do not fully agree with.

    Me to !


  • Merely wanna input on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the subject matter is rattling wonderful : D.

  • Many Bible Students do apply the “other sheep” to the Gentile converts; I also considered this, but after closely examining the Greek terminiology used in John 10:16, and the context, I concluded that the “other sheep” are the “sheep” of the millennial age, those who not now recognize Jesus, including Israel after the flesh. (John 1:10; 12:47,48) Brother Russell also came to this conclusion, although he did allow for applying it to the Gentiles believers of this age. There are some aspects of his conclusions, however, that I do not fully agree with.

    These other sheep will include all of mankind who, during the Millennial Kingdom, will be glad to avail themselves of the great provision the Lord has made for them in his plan. R5694:1, 5490:6, 4940:6, 4157:5, 3528:3, 2442:1, 1919:1, 1648:2, 1374:5, 655:1; NS272:6.

    These other sheep are particularly mentioned by our Master in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matt. 25:31-46. R4784:6, 3528:3, 2606:6, 701:2; NS181:5, 272:6.

    While this may be particularly applicable to the sheep of the next age, it may not be amiss to apply it now to those who are received from amongst the Gentiles. R4732:6

    Not of this fold — Not of the Little Flock of this Gospel age. R3268:3

    They will be of a different nature from the flock which the Lord is selecting during this Gospel age. R5694:1, 5491:1

    He has not yet begun to bring the other sheep; he is still taking the flock he first started to call, namely, spiritual Israel. NS412:2

    One fold — In the Revised Version and Diaglott: “one flock.” R4159:1

    Illustrating unity and indivisibility. R81:2*
    “Of whom the whole family both in heaven and in earth is named.” (Eph. 3:15) R2673:6

    The two flocks will come back into harmony with God, but the one flock will be of the heavenly fold while the other flock will be of the earthly fold. NS412:6; R4732:6

    Eventually all of God’s creatures on various planes of being shall be recognized as one family of God. R3268:6

    The flock will be one, but the sheep will be of various natures on various planes of being. R4159:4, 4940:6

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