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What is He doing?

October 12, 2005

Whenever the NT quotes from the OT, it can be a tricky thing.  Gotta take the context of the OT passage into consideration, cause you know the NT speaker/author did.  With that in mind:

John 10

31The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."

Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?  If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?  If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father."

Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.

The OT passage that Jesus quotes here is Psalm 82:6.  Look at that psalm:

Psalm 82

A Psalm of Asaph.

      God takes His stand in His own congregation;
         He judges in the midst of the rulers.
      How long will you judge unjustly
         And show partiality to the wicked? Selah.
      Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
         Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
      Rescue the weak and needy;
         Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
      They do not know nor do they understand;
         They walk about in darkness;
         All the foundations of the earth are shaken.
      6I 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."
      Arise, O God, judge the earth!
         For it is You who possesses all the nations.

K.  Let me think this through.  Asaph is talking to rulers who are acting and ruling unjustly, asking them to judge rightly by taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves.  And then he says that they are gods using the infamous OT word ‘elohim’ (check this out), which can be used to indicate high ruling status, not necessarily diety.  But then the word that Jesus uses is ‘theos’ (in both verse 34 and 35), which is almost exclusively used of deity in the NT.  So, that totally throws me.

But as Jesus says, the issue boils down to: if unjust rulers who were given the Word of God can be called ‘gods,’ then why do the Pharisees accuse the One sent from the Father (being sent is a huge theme in John) of blasphemy when He says "I am the Son of God"?

I find curious the words that get used in all of this.  I just looked up "gods" in the Psalms and it turns out that the KVJ translates Psalm 82:1 with ‘gods’.  For Psalm 82:1 the NAS (cited above) uses ‘rulers’.  The Hebrew word there is ‘elohim’.  But then later in verse 6, the NAS uses ‘gods’ for the same Hebrew word, even though it would seem the meaning is the same (since Asaph seems to be talking about/to the same people).  So did the NAS translate verse 6 as ‘gods’ because the KJV did?  That doesn’t make sense because the KJV uses ‘gods’ in verse 1.  And it doesn’t appear that the Septuagint uses any form of ‘theos’.  So maybe the NAS uses ‘gods’ in Psalm 82:6 because John 10:34 and 10:35 use ‘theos.’  But then why did the NT use ‘theos’?  I don’t know.  It all seems so… curious.  I don’t know what to make of all of this.

I just think there is more to Jesus citing Psalm 82 than making a logical argument (though it’s a great one 🙂 ).  Me thinks the Savior might have been comparing the Pharisees to the unjust rulers that Asaph was talking to.  What do you think?

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