"Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came - and the Scripture cannot be broken - 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'? (John 10:34-36)
Why is Jesus talking about 'gods'?
The Pharisees and priests of the temple were threatening to stone Jesus. When he asked why they wanted to stone him when he had done so many good works, they responded with:
"We are not stoning you for any good work," they replied, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." (John 10:33)
Actually, in this context, the word "gods" would not be the appropriate translation* of the Greek phrase, θεοί ἐστε. This would more appropriately be translated to "to be divine" or "to be godly."
To translate this to "gods" would not make any sense, because they were accusing Jesus of claiming to be the Supreme Being. So Jesus' reply talking about the "gods" is nonsensical.
Rather, by Jesus saying that don't the scriptures talk about being divine or godly - would give Jesus' response the logic that he was responding with.
This translation error is also mirrored in the verse that Jesus is quoting from the Psalms.
What is Jesus quoting?The word "Law" here is being translated* from the Greek word νόμος (nomos). "Law" may be a good secular translation but what Jesus is referring to is something called "Mosaic law." Strictly speaking, Mosaic law is the application of Moses' teachings in the form of rules and regulations.
Yet Moses' teachings are available in the Old Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures, which included the Five Books of Torah along with related texts. We find here that Jesus is quoting from the Five Books of Torah here. More specifically, Jesus is quoting from the Psalms.
Here is the Psalm that Jesus is quoting from:
A psalm of Asaph. God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the "gods":
"How long will you [fn] defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
"The 'gods' know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
"I said, 'You are "gods"; you are all sons of the Most High.'
But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler."
Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance. (Psalm 82:1-8)
What about 'son' and 'sons'?
According to the translation, in John 10:35 Jesus refers to himself as "God's son". He also references Psalm 82:6, which is translated to "sons of the Most High" - meaning sons of God.
The key to this is understanding the Greek and Hebrew words being translated* to "son" and "sons."
In John 10:36, the word "son" is translated* from the Greek word υἱός (huios).
According to the lexicon, this word only means "son" - "in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)." This means a biological son. Certainly, the context of these passages is not the physical body or a physical father-mother/son relationship.
According to Thayer's lexicon, the word υἱός (huios) can also be "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower - of teachers - i.e. pupils."
The word also can mean, "one who is connected with or belongs to a thing by any kind of close relationship." And, "instructed in evangelical truth and devotedly obedient to it;" and, "one to whom anything belongs," and, "those to whom the prophetic and covenant promises belong."
Then there is this significant definition in Thayer's lexicon:
"The Jews called the Messiah υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ pre-eminently, as the supreme representative of God"All of these mean that terms that could be translated from the Greek word υἱός (huios) - depending upon the context, would include: follower, devotee, subject, servant, representative.
The translation to representative is consistent with follower or devotee because a representative is performing service on behalf of whom they follow. This describes Jesus as he acted on behalf of God. Jesus confirmed his position as God's representative throughout his teachings, with statements such as:
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me." (Matt. 10:40)The concept that some teachers have claimed - of God begetting an exclusive son - is not supported by Scripture. We can see this reality from David's reference to "sons" in Psalm 82:6 above. [The Hebrew word for "sons" also translates in this context to devoted followers or loving servants]:
'... you are all [devoted followers or loving servants] of the Most High.'Would God (the Controller of all creation) somehow be limited in His ability to beget children? Most men can theoretically beget tens if not hundreds of children in their lifetime. And we are saying that God can only beget one person? Is God now impotent? This is simply illogical.
Furthermore, we see from scripture and general observation that no one is forced to become a loving servant of God. We can each freely make this decision. We can also refuse to accept God, and even deny God's very existence. Now that is freedom.
Is this consistent with Scripture?This also contradicts the use of υἱός (or huios) elsewhere in scripture. Consider other translations from the Greek word υἱός (huios) in Jesus' statements in the Bible (NIV):
"But the subjects [υἱός (huios)] of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12)
"The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people [υἱός (huios)] of the kingdom." (Matt. 13:38)
“Say to Daughter [υἱός (huios)] Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” (Matt. 21:5)
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child [υἱός (huios)] of hell as you are." (Matt. 23:15)
“How can the guests [υἱός (huios)] of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them." (Mark 2:19)
"Truly I tell you, people [υἱός (huios)] can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter" (Mark 3:28)
"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children [υἱός (huios)] of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." (Luke 6:35)
"Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers [υἱός (huios)] drive them out? So then, they will be your judges." (Luke 11:19)
“The people [υἱός (huios)] of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children [υἱός (huios)] of the resurrection." (Luke 20:34-36)We can see from the above that the Greek word υἱός (huios) is being translated to subjects of the kingdom; people of the kingdom; daughter of Zion; child of hell; guests (actually better translated to servants) of the bridegroom; children of the Most High; followers; and children of this age.
Thus the only appropriate meaning to this word υἱός (huios) relates to being a follower, a devoted servant, a subject or representative.
What is Jesus really calling himself?Jesus is calling himself a devoted servant of God - a follower of God - a loving servant of God and because God specifically sent Jesus, God's representative.
"I am God's son" should thus be "I am God's representative."Jesus also was not saying that he was the only "son" - loving servant of God. Nor were his followers. Consider these statements:
[Jesus speaking] “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons [servants] of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
...Adam, the son [servant] of God. (Luke 3:38)
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [servants] of God." (Matt. 6:9)
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons [servants] of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons [servants] of God. (Romans 8:14)
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons [servants] of God. (Romans 8:19)The word "sons" in David's Psalm is translated from the Hebrew word בֵּן (ben), which also can also mean 'son, male child,' as well as 'children' 'people' or 'members' (as in 'followers'). In the context of David's Psalm, it would be most appropriate to refer to them as God's devoted followers or servants, just as υἱός indicates - ultimately loving servants or devoted followers of the Supreme Being.
In the Old Testament we also find multiple "sons of God" among the Old Testament, translated from בֵּן:
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons [servants] of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (Genesis 6:1-2)
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days — and also afterward — when the sons [servants] of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. (Genesis 6:4)
Now there was a day when the sons [servants] of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. (Job 1:6)
Again there was a day when the sons [servants] of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1)
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons [servants] of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)Certainly, in some verses, the Hebrew בֵּן and the Greek υἱός refer to physical sons in many verses. But in the specific verses discussed here, we can conclude that the translation to "son(s) of God" derived from υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ in Greek and הָֽאָדָם כִּי טֹבֹת in Hebrew within the context of what is being spoken of regarding these relationships with God in both the Old and New Testaments are mistranslations.
The English word "son" applies to a relationship that exists between the physical body of a male child to the parents of their physical body. The relationship that exists between God and those of His children that serve Him is a spiritual one.
Aren't we all God's children?We can certainly translate all these to "children" because God created each of us. But the scriptures are clearly pointing to a distinction between those God created and those who choose to dedicate their lives to the Supreme Being. This means being a "devoted follower" or "loving servant" rather than simply a child of God.
We are all God's dependents in that we all depend on God - even if we don't admit it. But in our pure spiritual state, we have the choice to love and serve God. We are never forced. Even still, this is our natural position. We are innately God's loving servants and playmates.
With God's grace, someone who re-develops this innate relationship and accepts their position as God's dependent, follower, and servant becomes elevated to a state of loving servant of God.
So when David calls the "gods" dependents or servants of God, he is reminding them that ultimately they are subservient to God. They may temporarily be occupying higher positions within the universe, but they ultimately were created – as we all were – to be God’s loving servants.
The Nephilim referred to in Genesis 6 were dedicated followers of the Supreme Being. They were exalted because of their dedication to God. While some have interpreted the description of the Nephilim as being that they were physically large - we must understand this reference is to their great devotion.
Does the Bible teach the existence of gods?Again, these translations* to "gods" in these contexts not only don't make any sense: They also conflict with the very premise that was taught by the Prophets.
“You shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:3)The phrase "before me" uses the Hebrew word עַל (`al) which means "above" - so "before" is someone of a misnomer.
What does Jesus mean by 'the Father set apart'?Jesus describes this difference with the phrase "set apart as His very own," which is being translated from the Greek word ἁγιάζω (hagiazō), which means 'to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow' or 'to separate from profane things and dedicate to God' according to the lexicon.
In other words, we are talking about a relationship between God and Jesus: A loving relationship. This is confirmed by the phrase "and sent into the world."
Let's use an example. Let's say that the king of a country wants to communicate with another country. So he sends to the other country's government an emissary - a representative. Who would the king send? Just anyone? No. The king would send someone he trusted.
This same situation is being explained by Jesus. God personally sent Jesus into the physical world to represent Him. This is because Jesus and God enjoy a special personal relationship: A relationship of love and loving service. Jesus is God's dedicated loving servant. So God dispatched Jesus. This makes Jesus the Representative of God.
And what did the Supreme Being dispatch Jesus to do? To bring us home. The Supreme Being wants us back. He wants us to return to Him. The Supreme Being is a loving person. He cares about each of us.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement according to the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
“Is it not written in your Scriptures, ‘I said, you are divine’? If he called them divine, to whom the wisdom of God came – and the Scripture cannot be broken. Do you say of him who the Creator has empowered and sent into the material world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Representative of God?’" (John 10:34-36)