by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: John 10:22-38
I. Many times Jesus faced a mob set to stone him for his words.
A. In our reading, the thing which upset them was Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God.
B. They understood that this was not a light claim, but one of a direct relationship. They realized that he was claiming to be deity.
C. Jesus reproved them by quoting a passage in Psalm 82 where people are called “gods.” - John 10:33-36
D. This has caused confusion. Is Jesus saying all people are gods?
1. The Mormons claim that every person has the potential to become a god.
2. If all are gods, then what is the difference between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from the rest of mankind.
E. As is best when we are confused, we need to return to original passage and understand the quotation in its context.
II. Psalm 82
A. In two different verses (verse 1 and verse 6), the Hebrew word elohim is used to refer to humans.
1. Depending on your translation, it may appear as “gods” or “rulers” at the end of verse 1.
2. It is consistently translated “gods” in verse 6
3. Most of the time, this word is translated “God” – a reference to the Lord Almighty. A few times it is used to refer to idols and then there are few references which are obviously to people.
a. Exodus 22:9 - The only version that translates elohim as God is the American Standard Version. All others translate it as “judges.”
b. The reason is that judges speak for God - II Chronicles 19:5-6
(1) By the way, the word for judges in this passage is different from Exodus 22:9
c. Deuteronomy 1:15-17 - The leaders, the judges, deliver God’s judgments to the people.
5. We forget that most names have a meaning. The Hebrew word el means mighty. The word elohim is the plural noun form.
a. It generally refers to God, The Almighty One.
b. But it can refer to mighty people; in particular, people whom God has lent his name because they are giving judgment in the name of God.
c. When a person appears before God’s appointed judges, they are appearing before God to receive God’s judgment
d. In this sense Exodus 22:28 can be translated either as God or judges and be correct.
6. This also appears in the New Testament - I Corinthians 8:4-6 (end of verse 5)
B. Returning to Psalms 82, we find a warning to judges to take care in their judgments.
1. God has given them His name to judge the people on His behalf.
2. Yet, these judges must remember they are not the ultimate power. God stands in judgment of them.
3. The use of the word “stand” is interesting.
a. Normally judges sit and the petitioners stand before them - Exodus 18:13
b. It is a subtle reminder that God will be with the petitioners.
(1) He knows the truth. He knows their needs.
(2) When it comes between the judgment of a judge and the truth, God will side with the people – against the false judge if need be.
C. The problem is that the judges were not carrying out their duties. They showed injustice and partiality in their decisions.
1. It is not surprising. The larger the government, the increased likelihood of wicked people being in charge - Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 - A simple government is the best for people.
2. Proverbs 18:5 - Corruption of judgment is never good.
3. This is the warning given to the newly appointed judges - II Chronicles 19:6-7
D. Judges were to defend the defenseless, yet they must not tilt the balance of justice out of pity to the poor.
1. Judgment is to be fair - Leviticus 19:15
2. God defends the helpless – Psalms 10:12-18. When justice is carried out, the terror of wicked men disappears.
3. To know God is to defend the poor - Jeremiah 22:13-16
4. Yet rulers have riches and forget the poor - Jeremiah 5:26-29
5. A claim of ignorance is a poor excuse - Proverbs 24:11-12
E. What God has found is ignorance, unreasonable sinners in the place of government and so the foundations of the nation are shaken.
1. Rulers are supposed to know justice - Micah 3:1
2. Instead, over and over, wickedness is found in the place of justice - Ecclesiastes 3:16-17
3. No nation can survive when the wicked are in charge - Psalm 11:1-3
F. Hence, Psalm 82:6 is a reminder that it is God who has placed them in power
1. Solomon sat on the throne of God - I Chronicles 29:23
2. Governments are ordained by God - Romans 13:1-2
G. God has loaned them His name, to be His representative, but their office does not place them above other men. They will die just as others have.
1. Pomp does not last - Psalm 49:10-12
2. Even the mightiest fall - Ezekiel 31:10-14
H. And when we die, we must all face the great Judge - II Corinthians 5:10
1. Even rulers.
2. When we appear before God, we won’t bring anything from this world with us - I Timothy 6:7 - before God we will all be equal.
3. And God will judge - Psalm 96:11-13
III. When Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6, in John 10:34-36, his point was that God loaned His name to earthly judges, who made ruling in His name; therefore, it wasn’t improper for Jesus to also claim the name of God.
A. Unlike mere men, He had the right to the name.
B. The works He was doing proved this right.
C. Jesus was not claiming that everyone is a god.
IV. Yet, there is further understanding that we may each take away with us this day.
A. It is easy to dismiss this as just another Old Testament teaching. - Romans 15:4
B. We may look at ourselves and argue that we are not judges in our government.
C. Yet ever saint is called upon to make judgement - I Corinthians 6:1-6
1. How we judge is how we will be judged - Matthew 7:2
D. As Christians, we wear the name of God - Galatians 3:26-27
1. We represent God to the world.
E. How much greater must we make righteous judgments?
1. In Galatians 2:4-10 we see that Paul did not allow the reputation of men to influence his judgments
2. We must avoid evil. The firm foundation of the kingdom of God is the avoidance of sin - II Timothy 2:16-21
F. As the ancient rulers, we are to defend the defenseless - James 1:27
1. When we consider their needs, God will consider ours when we are in need - Psalm 41:1-3