Joh 10:30-38 I and the Father are one.” (31) The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. (32) Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” (33) The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (34) Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? (35) If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— (36) do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (37) If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; (38) but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
When I came across the given verses, I was pretty intrigued. I mean, it’s not a common thing to run into some sort of scripture that seems to infer that humans are gods. This was rather different, so I wanted to do some digging. I also wanted to look at what exactly this reference meant to the Jews. I actually found that the scripture that Jesus is referring to is Ps. 82:6.
Psa 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
Upon further observation I found that this passage of scripture and Ps. 82:6 are often used by Mormons to say that we will all be gods. (http://www.mrm.org/john-10-34) Now, I’m not a Mormon so one may call me biased, but I believe this verse is using present tense verbs. Therefore, I’m not really going to follow that line of thought, but it is out there for anyone who desires to do some looking. When I kept on looking to see what Jesus reference was and what it meant to the Jews, I found that it was really quite simple. However, to start with I’m going to examine the Greek “gods” and the Hebrew “gods” used in each respective verse.
The Greek word for “gods” that Jesus is quoted using in John 10:34 is “theos”. (Strong’s G2316) Strong’s definition of that word is split up into literal and figurative meaning. The literal meaning is, “A deity, the supreme Divinity”, and the figurative meaning is, “Magistrate.” The Thayer definition is, “A god, a general name for deities; the Godhead trinity; representatives of God; magistrates and judges”. As you can see, there are several different meanings for the word “theos” used there, so in order to narrow down the choices it is expedient to look at the Hebrew word.
The Hebrew word for “gods” in Psalms 82:6 is “’ĕlôhı̂ym” (Strong’s H430) which is pronounced “el-o-heem’” Strong’s here defines this word as a plural form of the word that means “deity” or “God”. Strong’s also makes it known that in some cases that this word is used in reference to “magistrates”. This is still rather ambiguous; therefore, a closer look at the context of Psalms 82:6 is needed.
Psa 82:1-8 A Psalm of Asaph. God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: (2) “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. (3) Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. (4) Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (5) They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. (6) I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; (7) nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” (8) Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
When looking at the chapter as a whole, I’m still thinking, “what?” I mean, God has taken his place in the midst of gods. What gods? Is the Bible being out of character here? When I started searching some sources, what I learned was that this chapter is widely regarded as a chapter referring to magistrates and judges specifically. (http://biblehub.com/psalms/82-6.htm) (http://www.gotquestions.org/you-are-gods.html) (http://www.mrm.org/john-10-34) I really liked the way that Barnes and Clarke put it in their commentaries.
Barnes: “The Septuagint renders it, In the synagogue of the gods. So also the Latin Vulgate. The reference, however, is undoubtedly to magistrates, and the idea is, that they were to be regarded as representatives of God; as acting in his name; and as those, therefore, to whom, in a subordinate sense, the name gods might be given.” (Albert Barne’s Notes on the Bible; Ps. 82:1)
Clarke: “The Court of King’s Bench is properly the place where the king presides, and where he is supposed to be always present. But the kings of England seldom make their appearance there. King James I sometimes attended: at such times it might be said, “The king is in the king’s court.” I believe the case above to be similar.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible; Ps. 82:1)
However, even if this chapter is using the word “gods” to refer to magistrates, doesn’t that also mean that Jesus was referring to magistrates and not gods? Or in other words, was Jesus even making a case for himself to refer to himself as the Son of God? Honestly, at first it seems to me that Jesus is being facetious and using the Pharisees lack of knowledge to make them even more foolish. This could be the case, but probably not.
However unapparent this scripture is to me on the outside layer, I do feel confident in what I can conclude this verse meant to the Jews. To the Jews, the reference to Psalms 82 was a reference to a chapter on magistrates. Don’t stop there though, you have to consider what a magistrate or judge to a Jew was. A magistrate or judge was one that bore the responsibility of judging on earth those that erred from God’s Law. Therefore, when Jesus refers to this chapter, he was referring to mortal men that are given a god-like title for their role as a judge on earth. Moreover, these men are given this title because their duty is to carry out the will of God. Still, the question remains, “how was Jesus defending himself?”
The fact of the matter is, the only way to understand is to observe what Jesus said while keeping in mind both what he had been saying and what he had been doing. One question that I pondered about doing my blog on was the idea of Jesus as a judge. This idea of Jesus as judge is so repetitive (yet also confusing when looking at them all together) throughout John that you can’t help but think about it when looking at Jesus’ reference. What I think that Jesus is saying is that he can call himself the son of God, he can all himself God because he is the judge.
(Side note: some verses sound like Jesus is saying that he isn’t the judge and his Father is the judge, and then others sound like he is the judge and the Father isn’t. When putting it all together, it appears that perhaps Jesus was saying that they are one, so neither one is judge alone. I’m not concrete on this, but it is a reasonable gesture after a short search.)
Joh 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Therefore, since Jesus is saying that he is judge, and judges are called gods by God; Jesus has all the authority he needs to call himself one with the Father. Moreover, Jesus (in John 10:34-38) is basically saying, “God called those people gods and the word came to him. I can call myself God because I am the word.”
Furthermore, Jesus’ actions should have been proof enough to those around him that he was capable of calling himself one with the Father. “Our Lord appeals to their conviction (also his) that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, which cannot “be broken.” If God could say of mere men, “You are gods,” then it cannot be blasphemy when one who has been clearly revealed to be more than a mere man says “I and the Father are one”” (http://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=196)
Bearing all this in mind, one can come to a few conclusions on Jesus’ quote of Psalms 82. First off, Jesus saying this was keeping with the theme of judgment because Psalms 82 is in reference to judges and magistrates. Secondly, what this quote meant to the Jews was simply that magistrates and judges were called gods. Thirdly, Jesus is saying that because he has done greater works than those Old Testament judges, they should have no problem with Jesus calling himself one with the father if God. Lastly, Jesus is once again schooling some Pharisees and Jews in the Law.
I just thought this was funny….