Consider for example Jesus’ own words at Luke 24:46,47 (MSG): He said,
You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations -- starting from here, from Jerusalem!
Jesus indicates the time was fast approaching when there would be no class distinction in his flock, his disciples must have puzzled over how those words of their Lord were going to be fulfilled. And, what a rebuke that was to the unbelieving Jews, who refused to listen to him and accept him as their fine shepherd. For now the Messiah not only rises from the dead for the lost sheep of Israel but also for all the nations as proclaimed by Jesus in Luke 24:46,47.
So how do we as God’s Household come to the conclusion that the “Other Sheep” equate to the “Great Crowd”? (John 10:16; Rev 7:9-10, 13-14)
The Modern Origin of Our Present Understanding
How did we come to believe that the “other sheep” of John 10:16 refers only to those who will live forever on earth? The book Isaiah’s Prophecy--Light for All Mankind II, published in 2001, said the following under the heading “A Great Crowd Runs to God’s Anointed”:
Jesus’ disciples entertain one of two hopes. First, a “little flock” numbering 144,000 has been gathered—anointed Christians of both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds who are “the Israel of God” and have the hope of ruling with Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom. (Luke 12:32; Galatians 6:16; Revelation 14:1) Second, in the last days, “a great crowd” of “other sheep” have manifested themselves. These have the hope of living forever on a paradise earth. Before the outbreak of the great tribulation, this multitude—whose number is not foreordained—serve alongside the little flock, and both groups form “one flock” under “one shepherd.”—Revelation 7:9, 10; John 10:16. (ip-2 chap. 16 pp. 241-242 A Message of Hope for Downhearted Captives)
We should note here that until 1932 all baptized Jehovah’s witnesses were expected to partake of the Memorial emblems. (The name was adopted in 1931) In 1932 it was explained that there was a class of persons who were not considered Jehovah’s witnesses but had the “privilege” to associate with them and they had the hope of enjoying everlasting life on earth. They were referred to as the Jonadabs, who, it was believed, were prefigured by King Jehu’s associate Jehonadab (Jonadab). —see The Watchtower, August 15, 1934, page 249; also Proclaimers book, page 83.
Starting with the April 1, 1935 issues of The Watchtower there was this announcement:
“Again The Watchtower reminds its readers that a convention of Jehovah’s witnesses and Jonadabs will be held at Washington, D.C., beginning May 30 and ending June 3, 1935.”
The Proclaimers book states that
“the Jonadabs eagerly awaited the convention.”
At this “historic” convention Judge Rutherford explained that the “great multitude,” foretold in Revelation 7:9-17, was made up of “the modern-day Jonadabs and that these Jonadabs had to show the same degree of faithfulness to Jehovah as the anointed.” (Proclaimers book, page 84)
With the identifying of the Jonadab class we see the emergence of our class distinction, between those who have the heavenly calling and those who look forward to living on earth. It was not until the July 1, 1942 issue of The Watchtower that the Jonadabs were also considered to be Jehovah’s witnesses and the term “Jonadabs” was eventually replaced with “the other sheep.”
Why were the “Jonadabs” originally not viewed as Jehovah’s witnesses? For the same reason they were referred to as Jonadabs to begin with. Much of the understanding in those years, and right up until the 1970’s, was based on prophetic patterns or parallelism. Says The Watchtower, August 15, 1972, pages 502-504, God Readjusts the Thinking of His People:
“Another thing that has given rise to questions is the use by Jehovah’s witnesses of parallels or prophetic types, applying these to circumstances and to groups or classes of people today. Many people who read the Bible view its accounts all as simply history, but when they begin to study with Jehovah’s witnesses a readjustment of viewpoint takes place as they see that there is more to the accounts than history.”
In connection with this reasoning the explanation concerning the Jonadab class goes like this:
We are living through developments of history that parallel the situation in Jehonadab’s time ... Just as Jehu of old separated the true worshipers to be preserved from the worshipers of Baal to be executed, so the Greater Jehu today is identifying persons either for destruction or for preservation. How so? By their response to the message concerning God’s kingdom, which God is having preached “in all the inhabited earth as a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) In this way, those who reject God’s kingdom by Christ are identified as Jehovah’s enemies just as clearly as were those worshipers of Baal who put on their religious vestments.
Well, then, where do you stand? Is your heart upright toward God, as was Jehonadab’s? Remember, Jehonadab actually got into the chariot and rode with Jehu. He thereby publicly declared his support for the righteous executional work in which Jehu was engaged. Are you similarly in heart harmony with the executional work of Jesus Christ? Have you publicly declared that support? — w68 6/15 pp. 358-359 A Man Whose Heart Was Upright.
According to this interpretation a “prophetic parallelism” Jehu, who was anointed by Jehovah, pictures Jesus, and by extension the anointed 144,000. And Jehonadab, who was not anointed but climbed onto the chariot driven by Jehu, pictures the Jonadab class, now more popularly known as “the other sheep.” The book Isaiah’s Prophecy—Light for All Mankind II, chapter 17, pages 253-254, also says:
In 1932 a deeper understanding of the prophetic drama of King Jehu of Israel and Jehonadab, a non-Israelite supporter, indicated how these other sheep act in support of Christ’s anointed brothers—just as Jehonadab went along and supported Jehu in his destruction of Baal worship. Finally, in 1935 the other sheep living during the time of the end of this system of things were recognized as being the great crowd seen in vision by the apostle John. This was first explained at the aforementioned convention in Washington, D.C., when Joseph F. Rutherford pointed to those with an earthly hope as “the great multitude.”
As you can see from the above quotes there are no Scriptures offered, at any time, that make a distinction between “the other sheep” and those having the heavenly calling the little flock, and that would show from the term “other sheep” it is confined solely to those whose hope is to live forever on earth. The argument is based solely on “parallel or prophetic type” interpretation.
Does it really matter who the “other sheep” refers to? Very much so! Many of our teachings since 1935 have been based on the understanding of the identity of the other sheep, such as what the new covenant is; Jesus’ mediatorship; how we celebrate the Memorial; etc. By making a distinction between the “little flock” and the “other sheep” we have introduced class distinction. We pay lip service to the statement Jesus made that the two folds would become one flock, under one shepherd. How are they one flock when we teach that the “other sheep” are not included in the new covenant? How are they under the one shepherd when they are told Jesus is not their mediator? How are they one flock under the one shepherd when present at the Memorial of Christ’s death simply as onlookers? In reality, we have two flocks, the little one and a large one being presented as quite distinct. There is even suspicion towards anyone who professes to be of the little flock, unless they are at least eighty years old. Is that what Jesus was talking about? Have we not simply created two flocks instead of one from this “understanding”?
Who was Jesus Addressing as the Other Sheep?
The setting of John 10:16 is important in helping us determine the identity of the “other sheep.” Please consider the following quotes from our publications, one publication suggests Jesus was talking to his disciples, the other to the unbelieving Jews, which is correct? The book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, published in 1991, says this:
“Recently, Jesus had comforted his followers, saying: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” This little flock, which eventually numbers 144,000, comes into this new, or second, sheepfold. But Jesus goes on to observe: “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.”
”Since the “other sheep” are “not of this fold,” they must be of another fold, a third one. These last two folds, or pens of sheep, have different destinies. The “little flock” in one fold will rule with Christ in heaven, and the “other sheep” in the other fold will live on the Paradise earth. Yet, despite being in two folds, the sheep have no jealousy, nor do they feel segregated, for as Jesus says, they “become one flock” under “one shepherd.” (chap. 80 The Sheepfolds and the Shepherd)
On the other hand, the book All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial, says:
Again Jesus speaks to the Jews, this time concerning the fine shepherd, who calls his sheep by name and who surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep ‘that they might have life in abundance.’ He says: “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.” (10:10, 16) He tells the Jews that no one can snatch the sheep out of the hand of his Father, and he says that he and his Father are one. Again they seek to stone him to death. In answer to their charge of blasphemy, he reminds them that in the book of Psalms, certain mighty ones of earth are referred to as “gods,” whereas he has referred to himself as God’s Son. (Ps. 82:6) He urges them at least to believe his works.—John 10:34. (p. 196 Bible Book Number 43—John)
When you read John 10, the context clearly indicates Jesus is speaking to the non believing Jews not his disciples; please take particular note of verses 19-21. Not only did they not accept him as their fine shepherd, they also accused him of blasphemy and were “[seeking] to stone him to death.” In fact, the account tells us:
Jesus answered them: “I told YOU, and yet YOU do not believe. The works that I am doing in the name of my Father, these bear witness about me. But YOU do not believe, because YOU are none of my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:25-27)
How likely is it that Jesus would tell those, who were “none of his sheep,” who wanted to “stone him to death,” that he had “other sheep” who would have the hope of living forever on a paradise earth, and become one flock, under one shepherd with them, while they made up the “little flock” who would have a heavenly destiny, ruling with him as kings? Not likely, his message to the non believing Jews was one of loss not gain!
The Jews, who were the lost sheep of the house of Israel and whom he was addressing on this occasion, did not exercise faith in him. They did not believe him, listen to him nor accept him as their fine shepherd. So Jesus told them: “YOU do not believe, because YOU are none of my sheep.” Yet, he says the “other sheep” who were not of this fold, whom he would bring, they would listen to his voice, and they would accept him as their shepherd.
The Jews as God’s Sheep
When Jesus sent forth his twelve apostle on a preaching tour he instructed them:
“Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter into a Samaritan city; but, instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6)
Jesus said as much to a Phoenician woman:
“I was not sent forth to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
But, in contrast to the Jews, who as a whole did not believe in Jesus, this Gentile woman did exercise faith in him. Look how her humble attitude is in stark contrast to that of the Jews. The account about her tells us:
And, look! a Phoenician woman from those regions came out and cried aloud, saying: “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter is badly demonized.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. So his disciples came up and began to request him: “Send her away; because she keeps crying out after us.” In answer he said: “I was not sent forth to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” When the woman came she began doing obeisance to him, saying: “Lord, help me!” In answer he said: “It is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to little dogs.” She said: “Yes, Lord; but really the little dogs do eat of the crumbs falling from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said in reply to her: “O woman, great is your faith; let it happen to you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour on. (Matthew 15:22-28)
In contrast to the Jews, the lost sheep of Israel, who wanted to stone Jesus to death for blasphemy, this Gentile woman “began doing obeisance to [Jesus],” calling him “Lord, Son of David.” Yes, she had “great faith,” as Jesus noted.
There was another occasion when a Gentile put the Jews to shame by his faith in Jesus. Concerning this man, an army officer, it says,
“Jesus became amazed and said to those following him: “I tell YOU the truth, With no one in Israel have I found so great a faith.”
You can read the account in Matthew 8:5-13.
Concerning the “other sheep” Jesus had said that “those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice.” When did he begin to bring these other sheep into his fold as one flock, was it to be 2000 years after his resurrection in 1935? To find the answer consider Matthew 28:19,20:
“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded YOU. And, look! I am with YOU all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”
This command was made by Jesus just after his resurrection and before he ascended to heaven, well before the proclaimed year of 1935 by Joseph F. Rutherford.
How strange his words must have sounded to his Jewish disciples, for as Peter said later to the Gentile Cornelius:
“YOU well know how unlawful it is for a Jew to join himself to or approach a man of another race; and yet God has shown me I should call no man defiled or unclean. Hence I came, really without objection, when I was sent for.”
Peter was “sent for” by an angel because it was the time for Jesus’ words concerning the “other sheep” to begin fulfillment, “those also I must bring.” Therefore he told Cornelius:
“God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:28,29,34,35)
We should understand one important fact at this point: Jehovah had always intended to turn his attention to the nations. It was not dependant on whether or not his own people remained faithful. As the apostle Paul writes,
“Now the Scripture, seeing in advance that God would declare people of the nations righteous due to faith, declared the good news beforehand to Abraham, namely: “By means of you all the nations will be blessed.” —Galatians 3:8
Paul - an Apostle to the Nations
Even before Peter was sent to Cornelius Jesus chose a special apostle to help “bring in” those of the nations. The account in Acts says concerning Saul, who became the apostle Paul,
“But the Lord said to [Ananias]: ‘Be on your way, because this man is a chosen vessel to me to bear my name to the nations as well as to kings and the sons of Israel.’”
Here, Jesus mentions the two folds which would become one flock under him as the one shepherd, “the nations” and “the sons of Israel.” Paul was chosen to become an apostle to the nations. (Acts 9:15; Romans 11:13)
Remember that the Jews, whom Jesus had spoken to on the occasion when he mentioned the “other sheep,” had not listened to him and even charged him with blasphemy. Would Paul have greater success with the Jews? Take the example of what happened in Antioch. The Bible tells us,
“When the Jews got sight of the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began blasphemously contradicting the things being spoken by Paul. And so, talking with boldness, Paul and Barnabas said: “It was necessary for the word of God to be spoken first to YOU
(the Jews - this fold).
Since YOU are thrusting it away from YOU and do not judge yourselves worthy of everlasting life, look! we turn to the nations
(the Gentiles - other sheep).
In fact, Jehovah has laid commandment upon us in these words, ‘I have appointed you as a light of nations, for you to be a salvation to the extremity of the earth.” (Acts 13:45-47)
Also, those in Rome responded similarly. Luke tells us,
“They now arranged for a day with him, and they came in greater numbers to him in his lodging place. And he explained the matter to them by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God and by using persuasion with them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. And some began to believe the things said; others would not believe. So, because they were at disagreement with one another, they began to depart, while Paul made this one comment: “The holy spirit aptly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to YOUR forefathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “By hearing, YOU will hear but by no means understand; and, looking, YOU will look but by no means see. For the heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, and they have shut their eyes; that they should never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn back, and I should heal them.”’ Therefore let it be known to YOU that this, the means by which God saves, has been sent out to the nations; they will certainly listen to it.” (Acts 28:23-28)
Do not Paul’s words ring harmoniously with Jesus words of John 10:16
“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.”
Yes, as Jesus had foretold, whereas his own people rejected him as their fine shepherd, the “other sheep” would listen to his voice and follow him. (John 10:16,27) And they did!
“When those of the nations heard this, they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.” —Acts 13:48.
Jesus had mentioned the “other sheep” in connection with identifying himself as the fine shepherd and surrendering his soul on behalf of his sheep. He said,
“I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep. The hired man, who is no shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong as his own, beholds the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them— because he is a hired man and does not care for the sheep. I am the fine shepherd, and I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I surrender my soul in behalf of the sheep.” —John 10:11-15
The sheep Jesus surrenders his soul in behalf of includes people of all the nations who exercise faith in him. As already mentioned, the apostle Paul had said, quoting from Isaiah 49:6,
“I have appointed you as a light of nations, for you to be a salvation to the extremity of the earth.”
Also, the apostle John writes,
“And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.” (1 John 2:2; 1 Corinthians 15:3)
Since Jesus included the “other sheep” for whom he would surrender his life in behalf of, they would include the nations and not just the natural Jews.
Paul, as Saul, had previously been a zealous Pharisee and a violent persecutor of Jewish Christians. Now he became just as zealous in his preaching to the nations. Concerning the book of Romans that he wrote, the book All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial says:
“With Romans we begin the 14 books of the Bible that the holy spirit inspired this former Pharisee, now a faithful servant of God, to write. By the time he wrote Romans, Paul had already completed two long preaching tours and was well along on the third. He had written five other inspired letters: First and Second Thessalonians, Galatians, and First and Second Corinthians. Yet it seems appropriate that in our modern Bibles, Romans precedes the others, since it discusses at length the new equality between Jews and non-Jews, the two classes to whom Paul preached. It explains a turning point in God’s dealings with his people and shows that the inspired Hebrew Scriptures had long foretold that the good news would be proclaimed also to the non-Jews.
Paul, using Tertius as secretary, laces rapid argument and an astounding number of Hebrew Scripture quotations into one of the most forceful books of the Christian Greek Scriptures. With remarkable beauty of language, he discusses the problems that arose when first-century Christian congregations were composed of both Jews and Greeks. Did Jews have priority because of being Abraham’s descendants? Did mature Christians, exercising their liberty from the Mosaic Law, have the right to stumble weaker Jewish brothers who still held to ancient customs? In this letter Paul firmly established that Jews and non-Jews are equal before God and that men are declared righteous, not through the Mosaic Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ and by God’s undeserved kindness. — si pp. 205-206 Bible Book Number 45—Romans (bold added)
Does the evidence not show that the Jews and non-Jews, the Gentiles, really became one flock under one shepherd, that there was no longer any distinction between the two and that they were “equal before God?” Is that not what Jesus said would be the case?
The “Other Sheep” Foretold in Prophecy
Jehovah had foretold through his prophets that he would turn his attention to the nations, who would comprise the “other sheep” of John 10:16. The account in Acts relates:
After they quit speaking, James answered, saying: “Men, brothers, hear me. Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After these things I shall return and rebuild the booth of David that is fallen down; and I shall rebuild its ruins and erect it again, in order that those who remain of the men may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things, known from of old.’” (Acts 15:13-18; Amos 9:11,12)
Here we have “those who remain of the men” (of the Jews) together with “people of all the nations,” (the other sheep), who would all be called by Jehovah’s name, in the “one flock” under the “one shepherd,” our Lord Jesus.
Here are some prophecies concerning the “other sheep” that Jesus would have been familiar with:
Psalm 22:27: “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn back to Jehovah. And all the families of the nations will bow down before you.”
Psalm 47:8: “God has become king over the nations. God himself has taken his seat upon his holy throne.”
Psalm 86:9: “All the nations whom you have made will themselves come, And they will bow down before you, O Jehovah, And will give glory to your name.”
Isaiah 2:2: “And it must occur in the final part of the days [that] the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it all the nations must stream.”
Isaiah 11:10: “And it must occur in that day that there will be the root of Jesse that will be standing up as a signal for the peoples. To him even the nations will turn inquiringly, and his resting-place must become glorious.”
Zephaniah 2:11: “Jehovah will be fear-inspiring against them; for he will certainly emaciate all the gods of the earth, and people will bow down to him, each one from his place, all the islands of the nations.”
Haggai 2:7: “‘And I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ Jehovah of armies has said.”
Zechariah 8:23. “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘It will be in those days that ten men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will actually take hold of the skirt of a man who is a Jew, saying: “We will go with YOU people, for we have heard [that] God is with YOU people.”’”
Isaiah 49:6: And he proceeded to say: “It has been more than a trivial matter for you to become my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back even the safeguarded ones of Israel; I also have given you for a light of the nations, that my salvation may come to be to the extremity of the earth.”
And at Galatians 3:8 Paul draws attention to the fact that God always had the nations in mind when he made the covenant with Abraham:
“Now the Scripture, seeing in advance that God would declare people of the nations righteous due to faith, declared the good news beforehand to Abraham, namely: “By means of you all the nations will be blessed.”’
Consider the above scripture of Isaiah 49:6, the one Paul was quoting to the Jews. Who is the foretold “servant” spoken of there?
The Watchtower of December 15, 1998, on page 19 says this:
“In further fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jehovah gave his “servant” Jesus as “a light of the nations, that [God’s] salvation may come to be to the extremity of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6, 8.)”
The Watchtower identifies Jesus as that servant who would be the one to not only “raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back even the safeguarded ones of Israel,” but would also be “a light of the nations, that [God’s] salvation may come to be to the extremity of the earth.” Is that not exactly what Jesus said he would do at John 10:16? Does Isaiah 49:6 not foretell the bringing in of the “other sheep?” (compare also Isaiah 42:1- 4,6,7; Matthew 12:18-21) That is why he commissioned his Jewish disciples to make disciples of people of all the nations. It is to these prophecies, besides many others, that Jesus was referring when he said,
“I have other sheep
which are not of this fold
(the Jewish fold);
those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.”
Developments within three and a half years of his death and resurrection prove that.
The “Other Sheep” and the Heavenly Calling
Cornelius was the first Gentile, the first one of the “other sheep,” to be invited for the heavenly calling. He was the first of the wild branches to be grafted into the domestic olive tree. (Romans 11:13-24) Hence, some of the “other sheep” are among those who will rule with Christ in his heavenly kingdom.
The scripture in Ephesians 2:11-18 cannot make the relationship of the “other sheep” and its fulfillment any clearer. This is how Paul, the apostle to the nations, sums it up:
“Therefore keep bearing in mind that formerly YOU were people of the nations as to flesh; “uncircumcision” YOU were called by that which is called “circumcision” made in the flesh with hands — that YOU were at that particular time without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise, and YOU had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in union with Christ Jesus YOU who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ. For he is our peace, he who made the two parties one and destroyed the wall in between that fenced them off. By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, that he might create the two peoples in union with himself into one new man and make peace; and that he might fully reconcile both peoples in one body to God through the torture stake, because he had killed off the enmity by means of himself. And he came and declared the good news of peace to YOU, the ones far off, and peace to those near, because through him we, both peoples, have the approach to the Father by one spirit.”
It is to them, the Ephesians, who “were people of the nations . . . without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise,” that Paul writes, “and he raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in union with Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6) Therefore, it is clear that the “other sheep,” people of the nations, are among those who are seated with the natural Jewish apostles and disciples in the heavenly places; for Christ reconciled both folds of peoples in one body to God, thus making them one flock under one shepherd.
Break down of John 10:16 verse by verse with verifying scriptures:
And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold
“YOU were people of the nations as to flesh;. . .without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise” (Ephesians 2:11,12)
those also I must bring
“this man is a chosen vessel to me to bear my name to the nations” (Acts 9:15)
“Now I speak to YOU who are people of the nations. Forasmuch as I am, in reality, an apostle to the nations” (Romans 11:13)
“But now in union with Christ Jesus YOU who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)
and they will listen to my voice
“When those of the nations heard this, they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.” (Acts 13:48)
“the means by which God saves, has been sent out to the nations; they will certainly listen to it.” (Acts 28:28)
and they will become one flock, one shepherd
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for YOU are all one [person] in union with Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for there is the same Lord over all, who is rich to all those calling upon him.” (Romans 10:12)
“By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, that he might create the two peoples in union with himself into one new man and make peace; and that he might fully reconcile both peoples in one body to God . . . through him we, both peoples, have the approach to the Father by one spirit “ (Ephesians 2:15,16,18)
Jesus is the shepherd of this one flock
“Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus, equip YOU with every good thing to do his will, performing in us through Jesus Christ that which is well-pleasing in his sight. . .” (Hebrews 13:20)
“For YOU were like sheep, going astray; but now YOU have returned to the shepherd and overseer of YOUR souls.” (1 Peter 2:25)
“because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. . . .” (Rev. 7:17)
The scriptures nowhere indicate that Jesus was making a distinction between two hopes or destinies when he referred to the “other sheep.” There are no parallel scriptures to support that conclusion, such as there are concerning having its fulfillment in connection with the Gentiles, people of the nations. As already mentioned, in view of who he was addressing, that would have been unreasonable. Rather than differentiating between the two hopes, as we do, the scriptures speak of the “one hope,” just as there is only “one body ... one spirit ... one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all,” and we might add “one flock.” (Ephesians 4:4,5)
The “one hope” we all share is that “Christ died for us [and we] have been declared righteous now by his blood ... saved through him from wrath” and have become “reconciled to God through the death of his Son, ... and shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10) As Paul writes:
“For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
The one hope, the one good news we preach, is as Jesus said at John 3:16, that
“God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”
How Jehovah will go about blessing “everyone exercising faith in him,” and how all creation “will be set free from enslavement to corruption,” is just a detail, not a separate hope. (Romans 8:19-22)
Part of that detail is that Jehovah has chosen a limited number, a little flock, “joint heirs with Christ,” to rule with his Son in his kingdom, the “administration” by means of which he will “gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” (Luke 12:32; Romans 8:17; Ephesians 1:10) He started the choosing with the twelve apostles, who were Jews, and continued to add to them, so that at Pentecost there were 120 who received the outpouring of the holy spirit. Three and a half years later the first one of “the other sheep,” Cornelius, was added to that number, and Jehovah no longer made a distinction between the Jews and people of the nations. They had become one flock, as Jesus had promised. That God would turn his attention to the nations should not have been a surprise to the Jews, for God’s promise to Abraham included blessings for “all nations.” (Genesis 22:18)
The identity of the “Other Sheep” is critical in understanding their relationship with Jesus and Jehovah, as they recognize that Jesus is their mediator, and they are declared righteous on account of their faith in the ransom sacrifice. These ones are also included in the New Covenant, and are not merely observers. They are reconciled to Jehovah God as his sons and daughters. (Rom. 5:6-11; Mal. 3:17,18; 2 Cor. 6:18; Gal. 3:26)
Although some of the “other sheep” have been chosen by God to rule with his Son in his heavenly kingdom, the vast majority will share in transforming this earth into the paradise God meant it to be, along with God’s original sheep, the Jews. Among them will be the faithful men and women of old that Paul partially lists in Hebrews chapter 11.
He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations--starting from here, from Jerusalem!” ―Luke 24:46,47 (MSG)