The Gospel of John: I said, you are gods.

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—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’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 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.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.” (John 10:34-39).

There are several portions within John’s Gospel that may not be as familiar to believers as other portions. Most Christians are familiar with John 3 and perhaps even the chapters pertaining to the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). But within John, there is a section which may be obscure to many within the church. It has to do with Jesus’ response to the religious leaders in John 10 and His statement to them that “you are gods.” What does this phrase mean?

The phrase is taken from Psalm 82:6 which indicates to us that Jesus held a high view of the Old Testament Scriptures. Psalm 82:1-7 says, God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah! Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “Quoted from Ps. 82:6 where God calls some unjust judges “gods” and pronounces calamity against them. Jesus’ argument is that this psalm proves that the word “god” can be legitimately used to refer to others than God himself. His reasoning is that if there are others whom God can address as “god” or “sons of the Most High,” why then should the Jews object to Jesus’ statement that he is “the Son of God” (John 10:36)?”

Even this biblical argument would not dissuade the religious leaders from trying once again to arrest Jesus. Jesus, however, escaped from their hands (cf. 5:13; 8:59; 12:36). No explanation is given by John as to how Jesus escaped.

Pastor Burk Parsons concludes, “Civil authorities have been given the right to bear the sword by God Himself (Rom. 13:1–7), so they have a kind of “divine” authority that has been delegated to them. We know, however, that earthly judges often fail to do justice. Christ, on the other hand, possesses divine authority inherently according to His divine nature. He never fails to do justice, and we trust Him knowing that where earthly justice fails in this life, divine justice will prevail in the next.”

Soli deo Gloria!

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