Updated: Jan 2
By Luke Lancaster
John 10:28-29 says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 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."
Some will take with beautiful passage of God’s loving protection and see in it the grace of eternal security, that we are protected from ever losing our salvation. Let’s look at the context. John 10:1-11 is about false shepherds (thieves and robbers) not showing love and care for the sheep, which is probably a reference to the Pharisees’ poor shepherding of the Jews, compared to Christ and His loving shepherding of the sheep. This context shows us the protection that Jesus offers His sheep, that He defends us from the dangers of the world. Problem is, Christians can still refuse the protection of the shepherd. Sometimes sheep flee the fold (Lk 15:4), causing the shepherd to have to seek out that lost sheep.
Lutheran Commentator R. L. H. Lenski said of this passage, “However weak the sheep are, under Jesus they are perfectly safe. Yet a believer may after all be lost (15:6). Our certainty of eternal salvation is not absolute. While no foe of ours is able to snatch us from our shepherd’s hand, we ourselves may turn from him and may perish willfully of our own accord.”
Anglican Commentator B. F. Westcott said, “…we must carefully distinguish between the certainty of God’s promises and His infinite power on the one hand, and the weakness and variableness of man’s will on the other…We cannot be protected against ourselves in spite of ourselves.” God tries to protect us by offering us grace, but we have the option obey or not.