John 10:34-37

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by untangled, Jan 22, 2005.

  1. untangled

    untangled
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    In the general discussions area I posted a thread entitled "Working with a Mormon". This had lead me to examine in more detail a particular Mormon belief; that of godhood.

    In John 10 the pharisees were trying to debate with Jesus. They wanted to stone Him for blasphemy. Jesus said in John 10:34 - 36 "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came, and the scripture could not be broken: Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world; Thou blasphemest; because I am the Son of God?"

    Now a mormon aquiantance stated that Jesus said we are gods. This probably is the scripture in which he is talking about. I told him that was a severe mistranslation on his (all the mormon's) part. Remembering that, I went back to Psalm 82:6 the scripture in which Jesus was referring.

    I am not a greek scholar so I do not know what it says straight from greek but is the greek word used "elohim"? Can that be translated as "mighty ones"?

    From my understanding that was a title given by men to rulers and judges in the east and was culturally acceptable to some to have the honorary title. Is this correct? Anyone know of any other scripture that goes with Psalm 82:6 and John 10? I would like to get the historical picture as well.

    In Christ,

    Brooks
     
  2. Marcia

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    This is not really answering your question, but I wanted to comment. The Jn. 10 and Ps. 82 passages you refer to are also used by New Agers to say we are gods. The problem is that God is rebuking the judges in Ps. 82 for not representing His justice on earth, as they were supposed to do.

    Yes, I've read and heard that "gods" does refer to judges and they were called that, since they were supposed to represent God's justice.

    You can tell the Mormon this was a rebuke from God -- not a statement that they were gods like God, but that they were judges representing God. And God said they would die like men. Well, God doesn't die (though I know Mormons think God was once a man). I've had to respond to this quite a few times.

    Hopefully someone else more learned can come along and give you a scholarly response to help you with this Mormon. [​IMG]

    Meanwhile, here's this:
     
  3. untangled

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    Hey Marcia,

    Thanks for the reply. I always appreciate Christian input. I was sure Christ was rebuking them, but did not know the exact historical context as to what was being said. There are many people that misinterpret scripture at times but to be so far fetched is plain sad. Thanks for the article and the good input. I appreciate it. Over the years I have been looking deeper into scripture. It is important to me to be able to "give reason" for my beliefs.

    In Christ,

    Brooks
     
  4. Charles Meadows

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    I agree with Marcia here.

    "Elohim" is a Hebrew word meaning "god". It often refers to God, but can refer to pagan "gods" and even human leaders at times.

    In this verse Jesus is basically saying the law referred to the Israelite judges as gods - how much more fitting that He himself (who really IS God) be called so.
     
  5. untangled

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I know that elohim is translated as "god(s)" but in one of my commentaries it stated that some translate it as mighty ones as well.

    In Christ,

    Brooks
     
  6. Watchman

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    Good responses here, the key is that word "Elohim". Look at it this way: Another word for God is "Lord". So, does that make make all of those in Britain's House of Lord's having attained Deity?
    No, deity is not implied for the rulers of Britain, nor Israel, Mormons or anyone else.
     
  7. untangled

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    Hey Watchman,

    I know that Christ was not saying anything to the fact that we can be gods. I just didn't know if the term is ever used besides identifying gods. When I saw it roughly translated as "mighty ones" it got my attention.

    In Christ,

    Brooks
     
  8. Marcia

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    You're welcome! [​IMG]

    Good for you! [​IMG]
     
  9. rjprince

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    The point of John 10:34-35 seems to be that if men are called “gods” by David, how can the Pharisees be so intent on stoning Jesus for performing miracles? The passage in no way supports the false Mormon teaching that “as God is now, we may become; as we are now, God once was”.

    Yes, the HEBREW word elohim is used to refer to judges and angels on a few rare occasions in Scripture. Moses was said to be a “god” to both Aaron and Pharaoh (Exod 4:16; 7:1). And of course, in the passage that Jesus referenced, as you noted, it seems to be a reference to the authority and power of civil authorities. We also have “sons of God” (ben elohim) in Genesis 6:2. Yet, the most common use of the word in the OT would be limited to God and is translated as “God, god, or GOD” 2592 times out of 2606 occurrences.

    Of the alternative translations used by the KJV translators, yes, “mighty” is used two times in the KJV. I would suspect, but I am not sure that the NAS or NIV would probably use this translation more frequently to avoid confusion.

    The alternative translations and their frequency are as follows – judge 5, goddess 2, great 2, mighty 2, angels 1, exceeding 1, and godly 1.

    Hope this helps a little.
     
  10. untangled

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    Thanks RJ,

    I thought that was the case. Seems mormons and new agers always look for a little chance to make a false doctrine. Lately I have been extremely interested in getting familiar with Greek gramar. When I get to campus at SEBTS I will try to enroll in the languages. I must admit it will be hard to carry those in a full load but the benefits are many.

    In Christ,

    Brooks
     
  11. rjprince

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    The hardest labor is but for a few years, but the benefits are for a lifetime. I say "hardest" labor, because coming up with a correct understanding of a passage is always work. But it is the work to which God has called us!
     
  12. IveyLeaguer

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    I have a different interpretation:

    I should point out, as a Biblicist, that this interpretation is not polytheistic or New Age, though I had to rule out that sort of thing, and certainly is, in no way, a case for the Mormon 'man to God' belief. Nor would it seem to weaken the Biblical case against the Mormon view. I know little about Mormons and nothing about their scripture, but as far as the OP question I wonder if this interpretation (which I believe to be correct) would not be more effective with Mormons than using an apologetic which includes interpreting the elohim in Psalm 82 as 'men'. It is pure speculation but, if I were a studied Mormon, I doubt I could respect that argument, given well known facts like RJPrince pointed out above.

    I believe the elohim in Psalm 82:1b and 6a, and bene 'elyon in 6b, refer to divine, created beings, not men. These elohim were charged with carrying out assignments and various tasks for the God the Father Almighty and are the same elohim referred to in Psalm 86:8 ["Among the gods (elohim) there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works."] and other places. Further, they are not mere angels but divine beings of a higher rank and status. I believe this to be consistent with what the ancient Hebrews commonly believed and by the time of the Pharisees was still understood.

    Jesus had recently told the Jews that "you are of your father, the devil", and "before Abraham was, I am" and avoided a potential stoning. He had just given sight to the blind beggar in John 9, a great, incredulous, shocking miracle, numbing and infuriating the Jews who then launched an investigation of it (I love the beggar's one-liner when the Pharisees command him, saying, "give God the praise - we know this man is a sinner", and the beggar says "whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."). So the Jews, now shaken, believe they have to do something and (the next day, I'm guessing) approach and surround Jesus on Soloman's porch, and ask Him point blank to tell them He is the Christ (apparently setting Him up). Jesus said (in paraphrase), "I've told you, and the works I do in the Father's name point to it, but you don't believe me", and when they again picked up rocks to stone him, Jesus again pointed to the divine works. The Jews said "not for works, but blasphemy because, being a man, you make yourself God."

    So in John 10:34-38, Jesus, having already pronounced Himself equal with God the Father, is saying (in paraphrase) "look, you should remember that your own scripture clearly shows there are elohim other than Yahweh, as in Psalm 82 - 'gods', 'sons of the Most High' - which you affirm. And if there are many 'sons of God', how can you accuse me, whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world to carry out His perfect will (assignment), of blasphemy because I say that I am the Son of God?" Jesus was not contrasting Himself to mortals to claim Deity because it wasn't necessary. Nor was He claiming He deserved a title shared by mere, mortal men, rather He was saying He deserved a title superior even to the 'gods' of Psalm 82, the elohim. Because of this, I think one could argue that He used the Psalm to make a powerful argument to the Jews for His absolute Deity, and that they understood Him perfectly, then promptly ordered Him arrested.

    I also think a strong argument could be made that the Lord would not have used Psalm 82 in that situation had the elohim there referred to 'men'. There is no necessity to use 'men' as the comparative to make the case of absolute Deity, as many translators have apparently assumed. He didn't have to say "I can call myself a god if other men are called 'gods'. If anything that would weaken, if not negate, His claim since He had most recently told them "before Abraham was, I am."

    I think Psalm 82 is one example where the ESV does a really nice, and very courageous, job of translation:

    English Standard Version:
    Psalm 82

    1. ... 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!

    [ January 24, 2005, 08:08 PM: Message edited by: IveyLeaguer ]
     
  13. untangled

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    Thanks for the reply Ivyleaguer.

    I was not trying to say translated as men, but a title bestowed upon men.

    In Christ,

    Brooks
     
  14. IveyLeaguer

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    Brooks,

    The thing to note, as regards your question, is how the interpretation of elohim as 'divine beings', if correct, applies to Mormon, New Age, and apologetics in general. At this point, with few objections remaining, I'm 95% convinced the translation is correct. I think you're intuition was right when 'mighty ones' got your attention. It was a similar 'intuition' that got me to study out the elohim question in Psalm 82 because it is critical to Genesis 6 and other passages and has foundational value to what is happening today in within professed Christianity, the cults, and most critically, eschatology.

    The bottom line is the accepted interpretation of 'judges', 'rulers', or even 'mighty warriors' in Psalm 82 is thought, in large part, to be a result of certain translators and others who, with every good intention but often lacking modern evidence, were theologically trying to 'protect' God from polytheism and other implications. The elohim reference to Moses is easily explained, for example. It also seems to be accepted that anyone in ancient Palestine who heard the phrase "sons of the Most High" (82:6) would instantly understand it to mean 'divine beings'. I have found the translation 'divine beings' causes other scriptural dominoes to fall into place and adds depth to others, which (to me) strengthens the interpretation. Any layer of added truth should enforce it all, I would think.

    Like your question here, for example. For New Agers and Mormons, not only does it strengthen the Christian apologetic, but it completely strips them of John 10 and Psalm 82 by taking man out of the equation. It makes sense to wonder how Satan has used the mistaken translation to advance occult ideas. I don't know what other evidence Mormon and New Age apologists have to lean on, maybe some of the others will help us there. But surely losing Psalm 82 and John 10 to the Christians would have to hurt.
     
  15. Marcia

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    Well, that is certainly an interesting theory. I would have to think about that. So you're saying "divine beings" are not angels?

    I don't know about Mormons, but New Agers would then likely say that these 'divine beings' were spiritually evolved/advanced masters. New Age already has a concept of humans who have advanced spiritually and are in other realms/dimensions from where they guide humans (such as spirit guides, the Masters, and others). In Buddhism, there is something similar -- the bodhisattvas -- who are humans who have been enlightened to the point that they can guide humans. They basically end up being almost deities in some forms of Buddhism.

    Of course, the New Age uses so much in the Bible that it takes out of context, that it would take a book just to point all that out. :rolleyes:
     
  16. IveyLeaguer

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    No, they're 'divine servants' and I would call them angels, but not of ordinary rank or status. They are members of a 'divine assembly' (HCSB) or 'divine council' (ESV) referred to Psalm 82:1 and in a handful of other places in scripture. It's clear they are subject to Yahweh.
     
  17. tfisher1

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    Appreciate your insight on this Ivyleager...there was some topics posted on the "Nephalim" and such a few months ago...
    I think its a very interesting topic (Sons of God), ie: ANGELS) and seems to bring, at least to me, a better understanding of the old testament and several passages in the new testament. I know some people think its just too "weird" or "out of this world", although could it be any more weird than a chariot of fire coming down from heaven to lift Elijah, or many other miracles??

    Todd
     
  18. IveyLeaguer

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    Thanks, Todd, I guess the spiritual world is weird to some extent. I agree with you, this study has really opened up the OT and greatly enhanced my understanding of Ephesians 6 and spiritual warfare, which is how I got into it in the first place. An unexpected bonus has been an enhanced understanding of the whole of scripture, human history, God's Plan, current events such as error and apostasy in the church, eschatology, and more.

    It's another topic but, if you haven't already, check out Deuteronomy 32:8 which should be translated "sons of God", not "children of Israel" or "sons of Israel", and see how it opens everything up (the ESV translates it "sons of God" and the NET Bible translates it "heavenly assembly", with a very nice overview in the notes).


    A Disclaimer:

    Having said this much, I feel led to warn that this is a topic that MUST be kept within the bounds of scripture, and thoroughly tested by scripture. Some of the scholars who have researched this use extrabiblical sources such as Ugaritic (Canaanite) text, books of the Apocrypha, material from the Dead Sea Scrolls, even Near East mythology to provide depth to their arguments. Because of that, the subject should be prayerfully explored with caution, discernment, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as with any study of scripture. It is ancient but not well charted territory, and because of its nature should probably be put on the shelf by less experienced Christians. Without being overly dramatic, the spiritual world is real, can be dangerous, and should always be respected.
     

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