WHY DID JESUS CALL MEN “GODS” IN JOHN 10:34? CAN MEN REALLY BE “GODS?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
In John 10:34, the Lord Jesus Christ made a very strange statement: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” Was Jesus Christ saying that mere mortal men can literally be gods or God? Let us search the Scriptures, especially the context, for the answer, and not speculate on the basis of church tradition.
In the context, Jesus stated, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (verses 29,30). Christ said His Father was “greater than all,” and then He equated Himself with His Father—“I and my Father are one.” Jesus claimed to be equal to God the Father, and this infuriated the Jews. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (verse 31).
“Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (verses 32,33). Then comes Jesus’s mysterious answer in John 10:34: “Jesus answered them, 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 hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”
If we search the Old Testament Scriptures, we learn that Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6 (“Ye are gods”). But, how does this relate to the situation in John chapter 10? Why does the Bible call men “gods” here?
It is helpful to read Psalm 82 at this point: “ God standeth among the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.  How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah [Rest/Pause].  Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the land of the wicked.  They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.  But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.”
Israel’s leaders, whom God ordained to lead the nation in His ways, are perverted and cruel. They were “gods” in the sense that God wanted to utilize their position of leadership to take care of His people, Israel. God ordained Israel’s leaders to educate the nation in light of His Word, to rule His people with godliness and honesty. Israel was a theocracy—God ruled her through kings, prophets, priests, judges, et cetera. Nevertheless, Psalm 82 says these leaders are ungodly and cruel. They are not fulfilling God’s will, they are not executing proper judgment in Israel, and they are not ruling Israel as God would rule her. They preferred to abuse their authority. They are not fulfilling God’s will; they are not executing righteous judgment in Israel. Thus, God will have to come and personally rule Israel and accomplish His will without those leaders: “Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations” (Psalm 82:8). This parallels the situation in John chapter 10. Israel’s leaders, and even the common Jews, are still wicked. As in Psalm 82, so in Christ’s day, Israel’s leaders and even the common Jews who claimed to be following JEHOVAH, were doing anything and everything but. They were wicked, despite their privileged position as God’s chosen earthly people.
Remember, man is not equal to God, for the creature is inferior to his Creator. There is one God (1 Corinthians 8:4-6), and all of creation is nothing in His sight (Isaiah 40:12-31). Thus, obviously, Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34 are utilizing the word “gods” idiomatically. Here, the literal sense—that men are actually gods—is nonsense. It must be a “play on words.”
In John chapter 10, Jesus Christ basically said that He can be rightly called “the Son of God,” and His working with God the Father verified His claim (He healed the blind man in chapter 9). These Jews, however, merely claim to be of God—they do not do His will like God’s children do (John 1:12). Jesus Christ asked, “ Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?  If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.  But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:36-38). The (convicted) Jews understood Him… they tried to physically grab Jesus, but He escaped (verse 39)!
In summary of John 10:34, our Lord Jesus Christ was forcing His audience to remember the contents of Psalm 82 by quoting one of its verses.
By quoting verse 6, “Ye are gods,” He equated His audience in John chapter 10 with the evil and unbelieving rulers of Israel of centuries past. They were all antagonistic against God’s will (in Psalm 82, instead of ruling as God would, they rule Israel in wickedness; in John chapter 10, they reject God the Son and want to kill Him). Jesus’ audience knew they were wicked!
Psalm 82:7 said, “Ye are gods… but ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Jesus reminded His audience that their punishment was coming!
Also, Psalm 82:8—“Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations”—was in their minds. They were not accomplishing God’s will, so God (Jesus Christ) would have to perform His will without them (John 10:36-38). Jesus’ audience knew their God had arrived!
By quoting Psalm 82, Jesus reaffirmed His deity and confirmed their unbelief! The Jews understood what Jesus said: they were so irritated and convicted that they unsuccessfully re-attempted to physically seize Him (John 10:39). Behold the wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!