A lot has been written and even movies made showing the importance of every word and that there can be hidden meaning in every word in the Bible. At the same time many things that are not hidden are not understood or ignored. Many have been taught to ignore the Bible’s own definition for terms.
The Bible defines its own terms. When the word sheep is used for people, it is always Israelites and only Israelites.
1 Kings 22:17 “And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and Yahweh said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.”
2 Chronicles 18:16 “Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and Yahweh said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.”
Jeremiah 50:17 “Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.”
Micah 2:12 “I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.”
Matthew 10:6 “But go rather to the lost (put away and punished) sheep of the house of Israel.”
Matthew 15:24 “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost (put away and punished) sheep of the house of Israel.”
There is never any other verse of scripture that equates or adds any other non-Israelite people as sheep. After all of the above some still try to use the following to negate the scripture.
John 10:16 “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
What many forget or were never taught is that after the time of King Solomon, the nation of Israel split into two separate kingdoms or folds of sheep. The problem is that after the Northern ten tribes were divorced by God and sent into captivity, the scripture never calls them Israel, but promises that they would once again become a part of the kingdom. That is found in Hosea and shown to be fulfilled in Ephesians 2. There are today many nations of Israelites, but only one fold under Christ.
Notes: The Greek word translated lost, would be better translated as “put away and punished”.