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John 10:10 | What Did Jesus Mean by “Abundant Life”?

“Abundant life” is a phrase with a deeper meaning than you might think. Some have taken Jesus’ promise in John 10:10 to mean financial prosperity and physical health. The words Jesus spoke to His disciples are an important promise, but what did He mean when He said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10, emphasis added)? 

  • What does it mean to “prosper” and “live abundantly”?
  • What abundant blessings do we have in Jesus?

Discover the abundant life Jesus promises and more about the eternal blessings of God available to you through Jesus. 

Jesus Is the Door and the Way to Be Saved. A Thief Enters “Some Other Way.”

John 10:10 explains what a thief does: steals, kills, and destroys. At the beginning of this section of scripture, Jesus talks about how He is the true shepherd and the gate or door through which someone must enter to be saved. 

  • “‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber… And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice…. Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’”—John 10:1,4, 7-9 (emphasis added)

As a follower of Christ, you are to move throughout your day according to His voice. He is the shepherd, and you recognize His voice. Those who try to “enter in” some other way are not following His voice, but rather a lying voice—the thief’s voice. 

  • “‘You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’”—John 8:44 (emphasis added)

The enemy was a murderer from the beginning and has continued his mission of stealing, killing, and destroying. Not only does sin (originated from the enemy—1 John 3:8) cause physical death (Romans 6:23), but it also seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our dreams, passions, purpose, identity, victory, and freedom. 

Jesus is saying that He alone is the only way to eternal life—a truly abundant life. Receiving Jesus’ gift of eternal life releases joy, love, and peace abundantly in this life!

The Thief

  • A thief is greedy, gaining dishonestly. 
  • A thief takes and does not give. 
  • A thief is prideful and selfish. 
  • A thief lies. 

The thief will overpromise and underdeliver. He will make something look good only to use it against you in the future. He is a counterfeiter and a copycat. He will take something God has done and twist and distort it so it no longer fulfills its purpose. 

Jesus, the Giver of Life

  • Jesus opens the door to salvation. 
  • Jesus speaks, guides, and directs us. 
  • Jesus provides and cares for us. 
  • Jesus gives us abundant life. 

In contrast to the thief, Jesus preserves our lives and provides for us. Jesus said all who enter by Him will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The word saved in Greek is sōthēsetai, which means something is “kept safe,” “healed,” and “rescued from total destruction.” 

As we go “in and out” throughout our day, Jesus gives us what we need, unlike the thief who selfishly steals all he can. In Jesus, we are nourished and refreshed, given freedom and access to God’s spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit.  

  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”—Galatians 5:22-23

In Jesus, not only do we receive eternal life, but He gives us plenty for today to live a life of…

  • Meaning
  • Joy
  • Purpose
  • Peace
  • Love

What Do “Prosperity” and “Abundant Life” Really Mean?

As mentioned, many have taken abundant life to mean financial prosperity and physical health. While these are not bad things, they are not God’s priority for us. And they often distract us from what God says are to be our priorities. We are to seek His Kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33). 

The prosperity and health we are given are tools to help us fulfill His purpose—not the end goal. And let’s be clear, because He provides all we need according to His riches and glory (Philippians 4:19), whatever prosperity or health we have, He will use if we allow Him to. 

Prosperity

Prosperity is often misused. Biblically, it does not mean living a life of luxury but rather prospering in what God has called you to do. John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).

“You may prosper” in this verse is translated from the Greek word euodousthai, which means “to have a prosperous journey,” “to be sound.” 

Again, these words imply we must understand that God has a purpose for us and provides what we need for the journey of life. We need a sound mind and we must reject the fear that wants to attach itself to us (2 Timothy 1:7).

In Hebrew, prosper means “to triumph,” “bloom,” “grow,” and “flourish.” Again, we hear an echo in God’s Word that prosperity is tied to moving forward, trusting, and relying on Jesus for our daily needs with the intent to fulfill His purposes. And when we do this, we will understand the peace that transcends all understanding as we renew our minds in Him. 

Female member of Abundant Life team standing with arms raised during a weekend service.

Abundant Life

The word abundant in Greek is perisson, which means “to exceed a number, measure, rank, or need.” It represents over and above, more than necessary, supremely, and superadded. 

Abundant life begins the moment we receive Christ, as we are given eternal life. When we receive the Word, it is like a seed that begins to grow as it is watered in our relationship with God and as we sow into others and allow others to sow into us. 

Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

While the enemy offers shallow promises and temporary happiness, Jesus offers everlasting life and abundance. 

Uncovering the Abundant Blessings in a Broken World

Growing in Christ is a continual process. As you grow, you will encounter more and more blessings available to you, such as peace in incredibly difficult circumstances, trust when every voice around you seems to be lying, and dependence on the unshakable love of God

These trials are nothing compared to the glory that will come (Romans 8:18) and the abundant life Jesus offers today. One of the abundant life blessings we are given is to see beyond our current circumstances and into our promises. We are to set our minds on the things above (Colossians 3:2) and see that every good and perfect gift is from Him (James 1:17). And He can do above and beyond what we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

We live in a broken world. But Jesus gives us hope. He promises restoration. He promises renewal and that He is making all things—you and all of creation—new (Revelation 21:5). This is a continual process that will one day be completely fulfilled upon His second coming, but until then…

  • “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”—1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (emphasis added)

Discover more about the abundant blessings of your identity in Christ here!