I Said, You Are Gods

Wow, here is one that will knock your socks off… What did Jesus mean in saying men were gods (John 10:34-36)?

What has been popularly termed the “little god controversy” originated with Word of Faith pastors and teachers.

  1. The basic idea behind the controversy is that humans are actually divine, created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) not only in having a soul, having dominion over the earth, or living in relationship with others, but by being of the same “spiritual class” as God Himself.
  2. Evangelicals say this concept as misguided at best, or heretical and cultic at worst.

Take a look at this brief documentary style video on this “little gods” heresy. You’ll be surprised at who teaches this doctrine.

The main tenant of Word of Faith is that, when we ask something of God in faith, He is compelled to fill the request. As “little gods,” our words have much power. It is interesting that we put ourselves into the role of creator, speaking words and that destiny coming into existence. Joel Osteen promotes this concept of speaking your destiny into reality.

  1. This error is taught by some television evangelists, and its roots in Pentecostalism have made it more common in Charismatic churches.
  2. The Word of Faith movement has a number of popular monikers including “name-it-claim-it,” “prosperity theology” and “health and wealth gospel.”

The basis for the “little gods” claim is found in two Scripture passages. Psalm 82:6 reads, “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’” Jesus quotes this psalm in John 10:34, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I have said you are gods’?” However, both of these passages include explanations in the immediate context which clearly do not indicate human divinity.

  1. Psalm 82:6 is followed by a warning that “you will all die like mere men, you will fall like every other ruler” (Psalm 82:7).
  2. The reference is to mortal men who represent God’s authority in the world—kings, judges, and magistrates.

Psalm 82 is a warning to unjust leaders who consider themselves “gods” (Psalm 82:1) yet who “know nothing,” who “walk about in darkness” (Psalm 82:5).

  1. Jesus used this passage in response to those who accused Him of blasphemy.
  2. Essentially, Jesus asked why, when human rulers were called gods, “the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world” (John 10:36) was blaspheming by claiming to be God’s Son.

Claiming divinity for Christians is unsupportable, especially taking the rest of the Bible into account.

  1. God is God alone (Isaiah 37:16). We have never been God, we are not God now, and we never will be God.
  2. Jesus was fully God and fully man (a combination called the hypostatic union).
  3. If the “little gods” hypothesis is accepted, it imputes to Jesus a lesser divinity of some kind; He became a “little god” like us.
  4. John said that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14), but this does not indicate “a lesser divinity.”
  5. Jesus took on human flesh and blood in order to die for our sins (Hebrews 2:14), yet He retained His full position in the Godhead. God created us with a spirit, but that spirit does not hold divine qualities.

Here is something from John MacArthur on the doctrine of Joel Osteen. It’s pretty eye-opening, but not surprising if you read anything Osteen writes.

Here is some teaching from Warren Wiersbe on Psalm 82:

The throne in heaven (Psalm 82:1–4). The Lord stands as Judge and indicts the human judges for their failure to defend the poor and needy and condemn the wicked. Their partiality made a farce out of the legal system God ordained for Israel (Leviticus 19:15; Proverbs 24:23–25). What does He think of our judicial system today?

The foundations on earth (Psalm 82:5). The foundations for peace and order in society are righteousness and justice (Psalm 89:14; 97:2). Whether in the home, church, or government, abandoning righteousness and justice makes the very foundations tremble (Psalm 11:3) and brings darkness where there should be light.

The graves under the earth (Psalm 82:6–8). The human judges are called “gods” because the Hebrew word elohim means “mighty ones.” (It is also one of the names for God.) Leadership is a serious thing, for leaders stand in the place of God and will one day answer to Him. The selfish judges may have their days of pleasure, but one day they will die, and then what? The judges will be judged righteously by the Judge of all the earth, and there will be no escape.

The Judge (Psalm 82:1)

  1. Since God is the Lawgiver, God is the Judge.
  2. He presides over the congregation of Israel and the judges of the nation.
  3. There is no seat, bench, or jury box, God needs no one to tell him the facts.
  4. He will execute judgment since he knows what is going on.
  5. The gods – (Psalm 82:1, 6) are not the false gods of the heathens, nor holy angels (for they cannot die).
  6. These gods are people who have been given the awesome responsibility of representing the Lord on the earth, interpreting and applying his law.
  7. Jesus’ quotes verse 6 (John 10:34-36) telling the religious leaders that he has the responsibility of representing the
  8. Lord on the earth and seek to execute justice by applying the law correctly.

The Judges (Psalm 82:2-7)

  1. These judges did not live out Micah 6:8.
    1. Did not act justly (Psalm 82:2)
    2. Did not love mercy (Psalm 82:3-4)
    3. They walked in defiance of God’s will (Psalm 82:5)
  2. YOU in Psalm 82:2 is plural, indicating the guilty judges: taking bribes, failing to care for orphans and widows.
    1. They are to uphold the law
    2. They are not to show partiality.

The Judgment (Psalm 82:6-8)

  1. These people were in high offices and were considered gods. Gods were the judges who acted on God’s behalf.
  2. Moses would be as a god (Exodus 7:1) I will make you as God to Pharaoh.
  3. Jesus quotes this verse…
    1. To defend his claim to be the Son of God.
    2. That he was set apart by the Father and sent to earth.
    3. In spite of titles and offices, all these gods (judges) would die off, like any other human and pay the price for their sins.
    4. When God comes to judge the earth, no one will escape and his sentence will be just.

So, does the Bible ever claim divinity for Christians? (1 John 3:2, 1 John 4:1, Romans 6:5, 2 Timothy 4:3, Isaiah 37:16, 2 Peter 2:1)

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Meaning of “Son of God”

There are a number of terms that are used throughout the gospels, which can be a bit confusing if we are unfamiliar with them. The most basic question is, “Who is Jesus?” Well, Jesus is the Savior, Lord, Messiah, Christ, Deliverer, Son of David, God, Son of God, Son of Man. Did Jesus claim to be God? Is the divinity of Jesus biblical?

Significance of the term, “Son of God”

  • The Son is separate from the Father.
  • The Son is the heir and not the servant of the Father.
  • The Son has the same nature as the Father.

In Regard to Deity

  1. The Jews recognized absolute deity in the phrase, John 5:17-18, 10:33 (Matthew 26:63-66, Luke 22:66-71).
  2. The Son is ascribed deity in Hebrews 1:8-9.
  3. Son of God vs. Son of Man: two designations in the NT, but emphasized his two natures, human and divine.
  4. Jesus claims unity with the Father, John 10:30.
  5. The Son claims equal authority with the Father, John 5:19-21, 25-26, doing the same things (raising the dead, life in themselves).
  6. The Son claims equal honor with the Father, John 5:23.
  7. The Son is also the Creator, Hebrews 1:2.
  8. The Son is the exact representation and image of the Father, his likeness, Hebrews 1:3.
  9. The “only begotten” Son indicates his unique divine nature, John 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9.
  10. In contrast, believers are begotten of God (John 1:13, 1 John 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 4, 18) and sons of God (Romans 8:14, Galatians 3:26).
  11. Doubting Thomas saw undeniable evidence of Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:24-29) and declared “My Lord and my God.”

SUMMARY on the two top titles for Jesus:

The description “Son of Man” was a Messianic title. Jesus is the One who was given dominion and glory and a kingdom. When Jesus used this phrase, He was assigning the Son of Man prophecy to Himself (Daniel 7:13-14). The Jews of that era would have been familiar with the phrase and to whom it referred. Jesus was proclaiming Himself as the Messiah.

Concerning the use of “Son of God,” Jewish leaders clearly understood what Jesus meant by using the phrase “Son of God.” To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. The Son of God is “of God” and declares himself to be equal with God.

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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The Seven Signs in John

John wrote a theological gospel, emphasizing the divinity of Jesus Christ more than the other gospel writers. Interestingly, he does not use the word “miracle” to describe miracles in his book, but rather he uses the word “signs.” Signs are events that point to a greater spiritual truth. The signs were miracles that pointed to something (or someone) greater, the significance of the miracle.

The 7 Signs Prove His Deity

  1. Power over chemical processes of nature, John 2:1-11 (turning water into wine). Manifesting his glory is another way to say they got a glimpse of his deity.
  2. Power over distance, John 4:46-54 (healing a nobleman’s son).
  3. Power over the ravages of time, John 5:1-10 (healing the lame man at Bethesda).
  4. Power to sufficiently supply or meet human needs, John 6:1-15 (feeding the 5000).
  5. Power over the forces of nature, John 6:16-21 (walking on the water).
  6. Power to change human destiny or misfortune, John 9:1-12 (healing the man born blind).
  7. Power over man’s last and relentless enemy, death, John 11:1-45 (raising Lazarus).

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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