1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Without a doubt John 10:10 is one of the most misinterpreted and wrongly taught scriptures in all the Bible.This passage is not referring to Satan as is commonly preached in modern evangelical churches, especially by the prosperity preachers. John 10 is a continuation of the events which began in chapter 9. Jesus is speaking both to, and of, the pharisees. This is the overall context;chapters 9 and 10 go together.
John chapter 10 contains three references by the Lord to the "thief".
Looking at 10:1,the thief is a MAN who sneaks into the sheep pen by another way other than through the door/gate. That man is declared to be a thief and a robber.
The gate is guarded by the gatekeeper. The gate keeper opens the way to the true shepherd alone, and the sheep will only follow the voice of the true shepherd (verses 2 and 3). The gatekeeper and the flock give recognition to the true shepherd only. This then leads to the conclusion that the thief is not the shepherd of these sheep and indeed never was.
In 10:8,the Lord declares that ALL who came before Him are thieves and robbers.
By His using the plural form,especially the use of the word "all", Jesus is now revealing that this is not restricted to merely one man, but that there were, and are many thieves and robbers. In fact he says all that came before Him ar thieves and robbers. Fortunately the sheep did not listen to them.
Verse 10 gets to the heart of the matter. The one who is a thief seeks only to plunder, murder, and pillage. Thieves desire the acquisition of everything they can get their hands on,wealth,fame,power over others, etc etc. They will wreak destruction and all forms of havoc to obtain their goal.
The words of Christ stand in stark opposition to these men;
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."The true shepherd is the life giver. He leads the sheep to good pastures. (Psalm 23) The thieves seek only to gather the sheep to themselves. Recall that this monologue began immediately after the healing of the man blind from birth. The pharisees did everything they could to dismiss and detract from the miraculous restoration of sight to this man, and most especially the declaration of belief unto salvation by this man. (John 9:35-38)
The thief never speaks the truth of the Word which leads to Christ the true and good shepherd.
(John 5:39-40;Ezekiel 34)Since the thief does not speak the truth of the Word,he does not speak with the voice of the true shepherd. This is why the sheep do not follow them as they (the sheep) do not recognize them as having proceeded from the Lord, nor pointing the way to the Lord. The Lord's sheep recognize the shepherd who speaks with the Lord's voice.
The primary point here is that the reference to the thief in this chapter is dealing with a completely different issue other than confrontation with Satan. In fact, such a trite interpretation actually "dumbs down" what the Lord would reveal to us.
Soli Deo Gloria