What did Jesus mean by his words “you are gods”?

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’?”  (John 10:34).

Jesus Himself explains that the word “gods” here refer to the leaders of the law by adding, “He called them gods, to whom the word of God came and the Scripture cannot be broken…” (John 10:35). Thus, Jesus here leaves no doubt as to what He meant by His word “gods.”

Jesus was making this statement in response to the Jews who were accusing Him of blasphemy.  He answered them saying, if the Scriptures called the Israelites leaders “gods,” how could the Jews accuse Him of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God? Sadly, the hate that the religious leaders had for Jesus blinded their eyes and in their darkness they rejected the gift of God.

In John 10:34, Jesus is quoting Ps. 82:6. This psalm is an arraignment of unjust judges, spoken of as “gods” who are bearing sway over Israel. This Psalm was written at a time when there was much that was unjust and corrupt in the administration of justice.

Further, rabbinical tradition applied the term “gods” to those who received the law: “The Israelites accepted the Torah only so that the Angel of Death should have no dominion over them “I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes” (Ps. 82:6, 7) (Talmud ‘Abodah Zarah 5a, Soncino ed., p. 21).

There is also a similar reference in the Bible to where the word “god” means ruler over, “And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet” (Exodus 7:1). As a representative of the God of heaven and earth Moses was superior to Pharaoh. He was to be to Pharaoh as “a god,” with authority and power to command obedience.

Jesus was God in an altogether different sense from that given in Ps. 82:6. Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:1-3) and the Creator of all that is (Colossians 1:16). The miracles that Jesus performed were designed to provide the necessary basis of faith. Furthermore, the character of Jesus was wholly consistent with that of the Father.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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