“Ye Are Gods”

- John 10:34 -

Joe R. Price

In the last year of Jesus’ life during the feast of dedication (present-day Hanukkah), unbelieving individuals confronted him and demanded of Him a plain declaration that He was the Christ (Jno. 10:22-24). Like ravenous wolves the Jewish rulers had encircled Him, ready to pounce upon their prey (v. 24).

Jesus was surrounded by unbelievers. They had seen His miraculous works and their results (the healing of the man ill for 38 years, Jno. 5:2-18; sight restored to the man born blind, Jno. 9:1-34), but still they did not believe on Him. His works and His words had provided ample proof of His claims (Jno. 5:36; 10:25). A further demonstration of His power would no doubt be casting pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6). They had made up their minds. They were looking for a reason to put Jesus to death.

Their failure to believe in Christ made it clear that they were not His sheep (Jno. 10:26). They were not His disciples. Jesus made a contrast between His sheep and the unbelieving Jewish leaders in John 10:27-28. By so doing, He specifically stated the blessings of being His sheep. His sheep hear the voice of Christ (consequently, he knows them, Jno. 10:14). They follow the words of Christ (consequently, He gives them eternal life, Jno. 10:10). As a result, they shall never perish (no one shall snatch them out of the hand of Christ).

Jesus taught that human salvation rests upon the pillars of man’s faith and God’s grace (Jno. 10:27-29; Eph. 2:8). Jesus rejected the Calvinistic doctrines of unconditional election and the perseverance of the saints. If the conditions of verse 27 are not obeyed, the blessings of verses 28-29 will not follow. As one hears and obeys the voice of Christ (the gospel) he receives the security of his soul that the Son and the Father provide. The Jewish rulers did not hear His voice nor did they follow Him. Therefore, they did not have any true confidence of salvation. Jesus said they would die in their sins because of their unbelief (cf. Jno. 8:23-24).

By claiming the power to give eternal life and to protect His sheep from danger Jesus claimed to possess the same power as the Father (vs. 28-29). This mutual protective power illustrated His unity with the Father. As Lenski observes, “To snatch them out his hand is the same as snatching them out of the Father’s hand.” So, Jesus uttered a clear and decisive statement of His divine nature when he affirmed, “I and the Father are one.” His works had proceeded out of the Father (Jno. 10:32; cf. 8:42).

To claim the same power as the Father was to claim oneness with the Father. The Jews immediately saw such a claim as blasphemous and tried to stone Jesus (Jno. 10:31). They did not misunderstand what Jesus said. They simply did not believe Him. They knew Jesus was “making (himself) God” (Jno. 10:33). Jesus declared for Himself equality (sameness) with God (cf. Jno. 5:17-18). They considered His words to be blasphemous because they had rejected the evidence -- His works -- which proved Him to be divine. They thought He was just a man. So, they charged Him with blasphemy and considered Him worthy of death (Jno. 10:33). Think of it! A man making himself God (v. 33)! Yet, the very works of Jesus showed His declaration to be true (Jno. 10:32; 5:36; 10:25, 38). He is more than just a man. He is also God (Jno. 1:1-3, 14). Had they believed His works, they would have received His words (Jno. 10:37-38).

The Jews were completely intolerant of Jesus’ claim of Godhood. Jesus continues His defense by exposing their inconsistency through an appeal to the authority of Scripture. “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 cannot be broken), say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (Jno. 10:34-36).

The Jews were willing to accept the statement from their own law that described God’s appointed judges among His people as “gods.” Jesus quoted Psalms 82:6, and it is significant to note that He says that Psalms belonged to their “law” (cf. Rom. 3:19, 10-18). Jesus stated that which his Jewish opponents conceded. Namely, that it stood written in the law (i.e., it was firmly established by the binding nature of God’s law) that God said of men, “Ye are gods” (Jno. 10:34-35). Then, Jesus affirmed the authoritative force of Scripture by saying, “the scripture cannot be broken” (Jno. 10:35). Inspired scripture cannot be deprived of its binding authority by the whims of men. All individuals are obligated to harmonize their beliefs and practices to the authority of God’s writings (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 14:37; Col. 3:17).

Not only did the Jews reject the evidence of Jesus’ works, in their charge of blasphemy they also failed to respect the authority of scripture. Psalm 82 depicts God rebuking the unjust judgments of the divinely appointed judges of Israel. The judges of Israel were God’s representatives charged with executing righteous, impartial judgments among the people (82:2-4). Because they had failed to judge righteously God would now judge them (82:1). The judges of Israel were “gods” because of their representative position of responsibility among the people. To go before the judges was to go before “God” (cf. Ex. 21:6; 22:8-9, 28), for they were charged with rendering God’s judgments among the people (Deut. 1:16-17). Even the psalmist called the unrighteous judges “gods.”

The Jews had never considered that statement from Psalms 82:6 as blasphemous. Yet now, they were charging Jesus, one who had been appointed by God (his works proved this) with blasphemy because he said, “I am the Son of God” (10:36). That which had been written in their law must be accepted by them as authoritative (“the scripture cannot be broken”). Butler observes, “How then could the Jews have the right to accuse Jesus of blasphemy when He says, ‘I am the Son of God...’ especially since all of His miraculous works indicate that He has been sanctified and sent into the world by the Father.” (Paul Butler, The Gospel Of John, College Press, p. 127).

“I and the Father are one” is equivalent to “I am the Son of God” (v. 30, 36). This was a clear declaration of deity by Jesus and the Jews took it as such (v. 33). Only in a representative sense have men ever been called “gods.” However, one has lived among us who was more than just man. Jesus was God in the flesh (Jno. 1:14; Col. 2:9). His works confirm it. His words attest to it. Thus, He has power to save & to protect our souls. Do you believe it?