John 10

33The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

34Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

Why does Jesus mention to the people that are stoning him, that they are Gods?

Does that bring them up to the same level as Him (Christ)?

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    In the passage your looking at a small g is used not a capital G for God – user3361 Oct 25 '12 at 0:29
  • As an interesting side note (not relevant to mainstream Christianity): In the Mormon church they cite this verse in support of their contention that ordinary human beings can ascend to a godlike status. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Nov 12 '13 at 19:18
  • @Chris which Mormon scripture are you referencing? – BozoJoe Dec 10 '13 at 8:35
  • @BozoJoe - Upon reflection, I should have said "I've heard Mormons cite this verse..." etc. However, please see this link en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exaltation_%28LDS_Church%29 . – Chris Sunami supports Monica Dec 11 '13 at 4:07
  • @ChrisSunami i would rather use it to support the doctrine that our spirits are literal children of God, as Psalm 82 seems, to me at least, go more in that direction. And to be honest, this interpretation also makes more sense in the context of Christ using it to defend his claim that he is the Son of God. – kutschkem Dec 11 '13 at 18:01

Here is one of those times where context helps quite a bit.

John 10:33-36 (NIV)

 33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

Emphasis mine, of course. The part in bold made me think that these were prophets, but let's check the reference to be sure.

Psalm 82 (NIV)
A psalm of Asaph.
 1 God presides in the great assembly;
   he renders judgment among the “gods”:
 2 “How long will you defend the unjust
   and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;
   uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
   deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
 5 “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
   They walk about in darkness;
   all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
 6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”;
   you are all sons of the Most High.’
7 But you will die like mere mortals;
   you will fall like every other ruler.”
 8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
   for all the nations are your inheritance.

Huh, this passage seems to be talking about judges, not prophets. However, remember that in ancient Israel, judges and prophets were often the same people1.

Now the question becomes: why call these people "gods"? One readily apparent reason is that God is the great Judge, hence these judges are gods in that sense. Another, less clear and more speculative reason, has to do with them being prophets. Taking parts of two verses and putting them near each other...

John 10:35b - to whom the word of God came

Psalm 82:6b - you are all sons of the Most High

...it would seem like they are related by God's Spirit somehow. An analogue can be found in the New Testament with regards to Christians being brothers and sisters in Christ.

Hebrews 2:11 (NIV)
11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

Romans 8:29 (NIV)
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Similarly, God's prophets could be called "gods" due to their association with the Holy Spirit.

1 If someone could point me to a source for this, I'd greatly appreciate it.

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    I think the modern interpretation in the NIV (with the quotes around 'gods') comes from our Christian perspective. The quotes probably weren't in the original text, and the Jewish religious leaders of the day might have thought the scripture was serious, and not as sarcastic as it really was. So here comes Jesus, and he's saying, "if you're okay with being called "gods", then what's your issue with the true son of God calling himself God's son?" Incidentally, the first disciples were called "little Christs", though they were not Christs in true form. They were followers. – David Morton Mar 13 '12 at 18:23
  • @Starman: thank you for all the references and explanations. Perhaps he is just calling them rulers and judges. I also have to agree David's answer sounds likely too. My interpretation was that he was trying to point out to them that God lives inside of them too...For example "yes I have been set aside by God for a very specific purpose but you also have God in you too! Don't you know that!?" As a side question I'm curious as to know how you referenced those specific passages or how do you know those are linked to this? – Greg McNulty Mar 13 '12 at 19:03
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    So, in Psalm 82, the reference is to the pantheon of other gods, as those around Israel would have understood it. While the Jews were monotheistic, their neighbors weren't. They believed in a whole host of god-like equals, but their gods were no more powerful than powerful men. So, the psalmist says as much in verse 5, and says to the Israelites in vs 6 that you humans are as powerful as their gods. Even so, you are mortal (vs 7) and are inferior to the true God who reigns above all. – Affable Geek Mar 13 '12 at 20:31

It's a reference to Psalm 82 6-7 [NASB]:

I said, "You are gods,

And all of you are sons of the Most High

"Nevertheless you will die like men

And fall like any one of the princes."

It's not refering to literal godhood, but the position of judges (Psalms 82:2), so it does not refer to literal godhood (personal opinion follows) but rather probably to the right to rule and execute judgements.

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    hmmm, interesting, if that is indeed what his statement means, it doesn't make much sense from the flow of the conversation...thank you. – Greg McNulty Mar 13 '12 at 1:22
  • @Greg McNulty, it makes perfect sense. It is a classic kal vachomer argument. The judges are elohim by office. How much more than should he be called elohim who is the Father's only-begotten son of God, who is not elohim merely by office (like the judges), but is elohim by nature. – user900 Dec 8 '12 at 17:09

In referencing John 10:34 at least I would look at several other translations of that verse in the process too...

John 10:34 References

KJV (King James Version) Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

AMP (Amplified Bible) 34 Jesus answered, Is it not written in your Law, I said, You are gods?

CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) 34 Yeshua answered them, “Isn’t it written in your Torah, ‘I have said, “You people are Elohim’ ”?[b] b: Psalm 82:6

(ERV) Easy-to-Read Version 34 Jesus answered, “It is written in your law that God said, ‘I said you are gods.’ [d] Psalm 82:6

(CEV) Contemporary English Version In your Scriptures doesn’t God say, “You are gods”?

Or at least read these different bible versions, especially the CJB one from John 10:34-36.

Note: I'm not trying to answer answers here, but I am just pointing out that maybe looking at scripture from different bibles could help out with what was said in the article in some way.

  • Welcome to C.SE! When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. As it stands, this answer really could use some interpretation - You've provided good data, but haven't drawn a conclusion from them. (Usually, we have the opposite problem, so kudos.) I like your approach, but you need to finish it off! – Affable Geek Nov 12 '13 at 18:25
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    Reading multiple translations is general advice and you haven't said anything that really helps for this specific question. Can you add a bit more about what looking at these translations shows? – curiousdannii Jan 7 '15 at 4:53

What I love so much about Jesus is He never backed down from His position and would often times leave His challengers scratching their heads. To understand what He is saying, one has to pause and read it very slowly. Then focus your attention on the first part which says “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said ..." emphasis on "I have said ... ." Well, how could Jesus have said anything in the law that was written hundreds perhaps thousands of years before that time unless He is God? So, what I believe Jesus is saying here, clearly, is that He Himself is God and His Word is the written law, with Moses as the lawgiver and writer of the first five books of the Bible, in particular, Genesis 1, where God said let us make man in our image. Now since His Word is the law, who can challenge Him on what He said in the law?

In my opinion, this is an intellectual admonishment, or beat down, for anyone who would challenge what the Lord has done or said at any time, especially before their time. Remember Job's verbal admonishment from God when He said, paraphrased, 'Where were you Job when I created the earth...Behemoth ... and the Leviathon?.. . Gird up your loins Job and answer Me like a man. Where were you Job?... .' Job's admonishment was a long one and lasted from Job chapter 38 through chapter 41.

  • Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? – David Stratton Dec 10 '13 at 12:33
  • @ann-slate: thanks for the answer. my question to that is how do we know the "I have said" was not changed in translations. Can we really base all this belief in one possible translated emphasis? – Greg McNulty Dec 11 '13 at 20:38

I think the emphasis shouldn't be on the "ye are gods" part, but on "you are all sons of the Most High." Because on Psalms that is what gives meaning to the text. We are ALL sons of the Most High, including Jesus. Now becoming a Son of Man is a different thing and can only come through being born of water and spirit.


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