Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:1-10)

First clue: the Pharisees “did not realize what Jesus was trying to tell them”. The phrase follows immediately after Jesus explains that “the sheep hear” his voice. The parable splits the public before Jesus in two well defined groups: those who hear and those who hear but don’t understand; between those who Jesus “knows by name” and those he does not know:

“[…] Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-22)

Those rejected mistakenly follow “a stranger” and that stranger is someone whom Jesus does not know. Jesus is using a figure of speech, a parable to help his disciples (those who know his voice) enter into the mystery of God’s preference for the docile sheep that know the Shepherd’s voice and follow him. Of the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God it is said that “they follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Revelation 14:4) and the same principle applies to the sheep in this parable. They trust, they belong, they hear, they follow Jesus.

Protestant theologians quote John 10 often arguing that Jesus says “I am the gate” as a figure of speech and therefore when Jesus says “I am the Bread from Heaven” that should be interpreted as just another metaphor because most obviously Jesus is not in reality “a gate”. Is that a reasonable argument? Not really. If any human person says “I am a gate” it is obviously allegorical. The matter is different with Jesus who is the Logos, the force that created and moves creation.  

“For in him we live and move and have our being.” (cf. Acts 17:28) [There St. Paul is quoting the philosopher Epimenides to his Greek audience in the Areopagus. The Greeks had great insights on the nature of Logos.]

Logos is what Logos signifies and Logos signifies what Logos is. If he says “I am the gate” then He is exactly that. In the mysterious economy of Redemption we go “through Him” to our salvation. Consider John 19:37 and Zechariah 12:10 “They will look on the one they have pierced” and consider the word “piercing” which in some languages has a meaning similar to “trespass” or to “go through” in a manner similar to the English idiomatic expression “I am looking through you” just to give one example.

In my opinion, the kind of reasoning Protestantism has adopted ignores the four senses Scripture that the early Fathers of the Church defined:

Lettera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria, moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia. (The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith; the Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.)

In all truth Jesus is a gate. He choses Himself to signify a gate since only through Him and the mystery of His redeeming death on the Cross we can accede to the Kingdom of Heaven. (cf. John 14:6)

“Another important Thomistic observation on the literal sense is that “nothing necessary for faith is contained under the spiritual sense that is not openly conveyed through the literal sense elsewhere.” Thus, in his Catena Aurea, St. Thomas displays his deep erudition of the Bible by cross referencing spiritual interpretations of the Fathers he cites with the literal sense of the inspired word elsewhere in the Scriptures.” (The Four Senses of Scripture — Brother André Marie,

In this our Fourth Sunday of Easter we hear the words of St. Peter one more time:

He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day. (cf. Acts 2:14 and 36-41)

This “corrupt generation” does not hear, does not want to go through the gate that Jesus is. Those who hear Jesus, “accept his message and get baptized” go through the gate and are added to the flock, they are now part of the flock, they belong to Jesus. Those who climb the walls may physically enter the sheepfold but they do it “only to steal and slaughter and destroy” — there we have the final distinction: there is One who gives life, whose voice is recognized and who the flock can follow in faith knowing they will be led to everlasting green pastures. (cf. Psalm 23)

Hear instructions and be wise and do not neglect it. Happy is the one who listens to me watching daily at my gates, waiting besides my door. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:33-36)