Jesus and Psalm 82

Jesus and Psalm 82

The Scene

 “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.” (John 10:22-23)

 One can imagine the solitary lonely figure of Jesus strolling along Solomon’s porch on that briskly cold day in December.  What were his thoughts?  Solomon’s porch was filled with significance as it was the only lasting part of the original temple which the Babylonian’s had not destroyed.  Jesus knew that even this portion would not remain after the Roman’s siege on Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  The time was coming again when Jerusalem would be destroyed due to the hardness of their hearts.  Maybe his thoughts were on the Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah.  These were the eight days Judas Maccabeus had instituted as an annual feast to celebrate the cleansing of the temple from the pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes.  It wasn’t long after this glorious liberty from the Greeks that the high priests denigrated into politics, corruption and scandal.  Nothing had changed up until Jesus’ time.  The priesthood was still a political office where the rulers served themselves rather then the flock.  How Jesus must have longed for the day when he would reign in righteousness and peace but for now he must set his mind on achieving liberty from sins for the captives.

Suddenly, from behind, a group of Jews seeing Jesus alone (without the crowd) picked this moment for another confrontation.  They encircle him about (v. 24 - Gk. kukloo #2944) leaving no room for escape.  With what must have been a touch of vehemence they said, “How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.” (v. 24).  Jesus, exasperated, answered them, “I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.  But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  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.” (v. 25-30).

The Jews grasped at this last saying like a pack of wolves.  “Ah ha, he has made himself equal with God by saying that he is one with the Father.”  They had tried for months to trip him up in his words and here was their moment.  “What do we need with a trial?  He has plainly spoken blasphemy right in front of us.”  The Jews scampered around looking for stones so that they might stone him.

Jesus with seeming incredulity says, “Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?”  His answer was to remind them of what he had said just before that he did the works in “his Father name” (v. 25).  Did they not understand that the Father was working through him (2 Cor. 5:19)?  He could do nothing on his own (5:19) but the Father had given him this authority (5:22).  How did they not comprehend then that by saying “I and my Father are one” that he meant they were one in purpose and mind (17:20-21)?  Truly this is what he and the Father wished of everybody.

The Jews considered none of this.  While grasping onto their stones they quickly replied, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”

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 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.”

With these words the Jews became more incensed.  They rushed upon him to take him but Jesus escaped out of their hand.  This was to be the last confrontation with the Jews recorded by John until his crucifixion.

Analyzing the Argument

There was something in the words of Jesus that the Jews just didn’t quite understand.  A similar accusation had occurred in John 5:17-18,

“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

Did he affirm or disaffirm their conclusion?  In this passage and in the one we are considering the answer of Jesus to this charge is one that needs careful scrutiny. For in each case Jesus’ reply stresses how he was not equal with God.  The Jews misunderstood his words and so do most Christians today when claiming that Jesus was one in nature with the Father while on earth, i.e. a third part of the Godhead or the Trinity.

Jesus’ whole argument in John 10 beautifully rests on five words taken from Psalm 82, “I said, ye are gods”.  As is often the case, our Lord’s words at once teach the truth and condemn the guilty in one fell swoop.  Had the Jews considered the context of this Psalm they would see that they were the ones who were supposed to be the “gods” yet they had failed in their charge.  Now the Son of God was here who would perfectly manifest what it means to be one of the true “gods”.

The clue to how Jesus could say that he and “his Father are one”, that he was doing the works in his “Father’s name” and the “Father is in me, and I in him” are given in Psalm 82.  Jesus lays emphasis on this by saying that the “scripture cannot be broken” and that God “sanctified and sent him into the world” based on this principle.  So it is to the Word of God in Psalm 82 that we turn to get the full meaning and emphasis of Jesus’ relationship with the Father in this regards.

The main questions to answer are:

  1. To whom was Psalm 82 written?  In other words, who are the “gods”?
  2. How does Psalm 82 help Jesus’ argument?
  3. What is there in this Psalm that condemns the Jews?
  4. Is there any practical instruction for us?

Exposition of Psalm 82

Structure and Purpose

Hebrew poetry is beautifully organized often in double lines and parallel structures.  The following shows the poetical structure of Psalm 82.


God standeth in the congregation of the mighty;

he judgeth among the gods.



How long will ye judge unjustly,

and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

Defend the poor and fatherless:

do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Deliver the poor and needy:

rid them out of the hand 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.

It should be noted that the key to seeing this structure is based on the pronouns (i.e. “ye” and “they”).  The Psalm is in an alternating pattern.  Also, each line has its counterpart in the following line, which gives a similar meaning.  Each section can be then be summarized.


Commentary: Introduction





Commentary on the “gods”






Commentary: Final plea

It is important to study the structure and context of the Psalm to ascertain whom it is talking about.  Typically there are four suggestions as to who are the “gods”.

  1. The gods of the heathen nations
  2. Fallen angels
  3. The rulers of the heathen nations
  4. The rulers of Israel

The first three can be ruled out by simply looking again at the statement of Jesus in John 10:35 about this Psalm, “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came…”  Who else but the nation of Israel had the word of God?  It cannot be referring to heathen gods.  Neither can it be angels since they were the messengers of the word (Heb. 2:2).  Possibly it could be rulers of heathen nations but a more natural reading of the context is to reference the “gods” of Psalm 82 as the judges of Israel.  As we shall see there are a host of references to back up that God himself is referring to the judges of Israel as “gods”.

Verse 1


God standeth in the congregation of the mighty;

he judgeth among the gods.

The first word “God” and the last word of this verse “gods” are the same Hebrew word “elohim” which has the meaning of mighty ones (plural).  The word “elohim” is the most frequent word translated in scripture as “God” yet it has also been translated as “angels” or “judges”.  Here is an example of a verse where the word “elohim” has been translated as “judges”.

“If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges (Heb. elohim), to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods. For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges (Heb. elohim); and whom the judges (Heb. elohim) shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.”  (Exodus 22:8-9)

Thus it can be seen that the context must determine the proper translation of the word “elohim”.

Another word used in reference to God is “el” (the singular version of “elohim”) and this word is translated in Psalm 82:1 as “mighty”. This is the word that speaks of the one true and eternal God that our minds think of when we use the word “God”. With these different terms in mind a more proper translation of this verse reads,


The judges stand in the congregation of God,

he [God] judges among the judges.

The verse is then seen to be introverted rather then in parallel.


The judges
















The judges

The aspect of the judges “standing” in the congregation denotes a place appointed.  The person standing was the one with authority.  The Lord is the final one to stand and judge his people if the rulers do not take it upon themselves to judge in a righteous manner.  Isaiah uses the same word (standeth) in Isa. 3:13,

“The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.”

The context of Isaiah 3:1-15 has a markedly similar tone as Psalm 82. The condemnation is also against the rulers and princes for their lack of godly judgment. Although Isaiah does not use the word “elohim” in reference to the judges his language is clear enough for us to draw strong parallels for the meaning of Psalm 82.

The judges of Israel were to be in the place of God in their decisions. To reflect this there was an immense amount of power given to the priests and the judges in the Law of Moses.

“If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; 9And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: 10And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: 11According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 12And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.  13And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.” (Deut. 17:8-13, cp. Judges 2:17-18)

Yet this authority did not give them license to judge in any manner they saw fit.

“Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.  20That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Deut. 16:18-20)

Each one of the judges’ rulings in court would be a reflection on God himself.  If they ruled with human bias and took bribes then the Lord’s name would be blasphemed.  If they ruled with righteousness then the grace and truth of God was established to His glory.  Therefore in the end the judgment was completely God’s even though man handed it down.

“And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. 17Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.” (Deut. 1:16-17)

“And he [Jehoshaphat] set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, 6And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.  7Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.” (2 Chron. 19:5-7)

Verses 2-4


How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

“How long will ye judge unjustly?” indicates that the process had been going on for quite some time and was continuing.  Any consideration of the Psalm must take into account that this was happening and is best applied to the judges of Israel as the “gods” indicated.

The terms “accept the persons”, “the poor”, “fatherless” and “needy” are all key terms used throughout the Bible for instruction and condemnation of the leaders of Israel.  The following verses indicate this special phrasing used for the judges (and ultimately all the people) to follow the command of God.

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.” (Lev. 19:15, see also vs. 33-37)

“Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.” (Ex. 23:6)

“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge” (Deut. 24:17)

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted  .  . . Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Prov. 31:4-5,9; see also Prov. 18:5)

“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. . . Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” (Isa. 1:17, 23)

“Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. . .  Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD.” (Jer. 22:3, 15-16)

It was the neglect of these classes of people that was the folly of the leaders, as the responsible representatives of God, and eventually it would be to their condemnation.

“They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.  Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jer. 5:28).

“Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.” (Luke 20:46-47)

The plain fact is that these men were to be God’s representatives on earth ruling in a matter that would reflect his judgements.  God is very concerned for these “lower” classes and is intimately aware of their situation.  There is no way in which he would allow these men to pervert His judgment for ever.

“For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:  He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.  Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10:17-18)

“LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:  To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.” (Psa. 10:17-18)

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.” (Psa. 68:6)

“I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.” (Psa. 140:12)

“If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.” (Ecc. 5:8)

We cannot be apathetic to the needs of the poor and afflicted.  What was expected of the judges of Israel is also expected of us.  The responsibility to manifest God was not just for the leaders or judges of Israel but is a personal instruction for anyone in Christ.  The disciple is to strive to have the same mind as Christ, to try and make the same decisions in life, and to treat people in the same matter no matter who they are.  Essentially then to emulate the mind of Christ is to emulate the mind of God.  This is the heart of God manifestation.  So as not to lose the practical insights for us James also exhorts us to have the same judgement as God would have.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

Obviously James is drawing reference to many of those places in the Old Testament that tell us that God Himself is a lover of the fatherless and the widows.  Therefore, the heart of pure religion, our service to him, is to manifest his qualities in judgment and care.  James continues this theme on into chapter 2 where he discusses the case of the stranger which has markedly similar tones to the condemnation of the judges of Israel in the Old Testament.

 “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;  And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:  Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?  But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?  Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?  If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:  But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:1-10)

These verses then in Psalm 82 that speak of the affliction of the poor and needy provide not only practical insights for our lives but also serve to confirm that the “gods” referred to are human beings.  Jesus’ use of the Psalm both condemns the rulers of his day for similar crimes and establishes that when Jesus is referred to as God it is in reference to oneness of purpose and not as to the same nature.

Back in Psalm 82, verse 4 ends with the phrase “rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”  The word “rid” is the Hebrew “natsal” (#5337) and has various meanings such as to “pluck, snatch away, defend, deliver, preserve, rescue.”  Jesus makes use of this allusion in his arguments when he says in John 10:28-29,

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

The inference then is that, unlike the wicked, Jesus is righteous just like his Father.  Here then is the basis of Jesus’ equality with God in that he judges the same way that God judges.  His “hand” or his actions in judgment are the same as God’s.  God and Jesus can very easily deliver the sheep from the hand of the wicked (Psa. 71:4; 97:10; 140:4) yet the reverse would never be the case.  These judges had not heeded the warnings in the law but had aligned their hand with the wicked.

“Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.  2Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:  3Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.” (Exodus 23:1-3)

Verse 5-6


They know not, neither will they understand;

they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. 

At the heart of true God manifestation is knowledge.  It is a sad commentary upon society (ecclesial or secular) that when the rulers have lost the truth the followers are not far behind.  This is why in James the teachers are warned about a double condemnation (James 3:1).  This is why teachers and judges must take their cause very seriously.  Haphazard doctrine and judgements must be avoided when we realize that what we are saying and doing is on behalf of God.  Without the zeal to know God and continue in studies of his ways we will be held responsible as Hosea cried,

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. . . . (6)  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. . . . (9)  And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.” (Hosea 4:1)

This passage in Hosea shows us that everybody is to play an active role in maintaining the integrity of God’s truth.  We cannot leave it up to the prominent speakers or to the ruling board in our church.  Each one of us as spiritual kings and priests (1 Pet. 2:9) must take head to the exhortation in Psalm 82.

The first line of this verse provides the literal the second the symbolical.  Walking in darkness is a common Biblical term for the ways of the wicked (Prov. 2:13ff, 4:17-19).  It is interesting that Jesus frequently uses this figure through out His ministry (John 3:19; 7:24; 8:12-15; 9:5; 11:10; 12:35-36,46).  In John 8:12-16 it seems as if Jesus’ thoughts were before directed to Psalm 82 as he brought together the subjects of darkness and judgement.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. {13} The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. {14} Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. {15} Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. {16} And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.”

The seriousness of the subject is heightened when the Psalmist says, “all the foundations of the earth are out of course.”  The phrase “foundations of the earth” has a very definite application to the physical earth in scripture (Job 38:4, Psa. 104:5) yet it also bears a moral character as well as evidenced in Psalm 11:2-3,

“For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. {3} If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

God has inexorably brought the physical together with the moral.  As the fall of man in the beginning affected the natural order of things so too God talks of the future sins of man culminating in the utter destruction of the earth (Isa. 24:16-23).  The reverse can also be true as the establishment of the kingdom and the God’s righteous rule on earth will bring a great abundance in the earth.

The primary meaning here though is that “the foundations of the earth” refer to God’s established way and the righteous who manifest His name.  When that way is threatened and wicked men reign then the “foundations” or “pillars” of the earth are said to be shaken.  The words “out of course” can mean “to waiver, slip, shake, be moved or fall.”  It is then in the power of God’s hand to shake the heavens and earth and to establish his righteous rule so that the foundations might be sure again.  The Psalmist puts this wonderfully in 96:10 and 13,

Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. . . (13)  Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.”

Hannah in her song compares the righteous rule of God’s chosen to the pillars of the earth.

“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them. {9} He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. {10} The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.” (1 Sam 2:8-10)

Psalm 75 also speaks about these pillars in connection with righteous judgment.

“When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly. {3} The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah. {4} I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn: {5} Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. {6} For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. {7} But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Psa 75:2-7)

Under the New Testament the believers become the new Israel and therefore they become the foundation and pillars of God’s earth.  The security and firmness of the foundation depends upon its members to be steadfast in the faith and to judge with righteous judgment.  A knowledge and understanding of first principles must be clear against doctrines that would destroy the faith of some and become a cancer.  Against this background Paul encourages Timothy about the sure foundation of God.

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Tim 2:19)

The foundation is based on Christ as the cornerstone and his apostles as the foundation.  The building then is made up of the believers who must adhere to the line of judgment and the plumb line of righteousness.  In our society we are the only ones who can stand for the truth and cry for holiness.  When the church, or ecclesia, becomes corrupt then the only hope for true holiness in the world is gone.

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15)

Verse 6-7


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.

From the context and cross-references of the previous verses we can now clearly see that the “gods” and the “children of the most High” are references for human Israelites.  Thus Jesus in John 10:35 is using as the basis of his argument this divine principle that all were to show forth the righteous judgments of God.

 “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? {35} If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; {36} 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?” (John 10:34-36).

Jesus then is stressing that his oneness with the Father is based on the same principles of the judges of Israel found in Psalm 82.  That oneness was based on moral qualities and not on nature.  Jesus by his very works showed this oneness and how completely he manifested God’s qualities.

The Israelites were to be a complete nation of priests (Ex. 19:6) by using righteous judgment (Ex. 23:1-2; Deut. 16:18-20) and thus be one with their God.  We then on the basis of Jesus words realize that we too must be seeking a oneness with the Father in terms of moral qualities.  The seal of this interpretation is found in John 17:20-22,

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; {21} That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. {22} And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:”

This is life eternal (John 17:3).  To abuse this basic tenet of God manifestation then is to throw away life eternal and to “die like men, and fall like one of the princes”.  The Psalmist has no regard for the position of men.  If they do not manifest God then they shall utterly perish.  Our position in life may cloud our judgments with pride and self-reliance.  It is a danger common to all men.  Psalm 146 pleads with us to not rely on social status but rely on the God of heaven and earth.  Notice again the judgment for the same classes of people that are mentioned in Psalm 82.

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. {2} While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. {3} Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. {4} His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. {5} Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: {6} Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever: {7} Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners: {8} The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous: {9} The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down. {10} The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.”

Verse 8


Arise, O God, judge the earth:

for thou shalt inherit all nations.

The Hebrew word for God is again “elohim”.  From the previous usages of “elohim” in this Psalm it would be fair to ask if this refers to God, Christ or the judges (i.e. the future immortalized Saints)?  The answer may not be as simple as it seems for an argument can be made for all three.  In all actuality they should not be distinguished and separated.  This is actually the beautiful harmony of God manifestation that all of these beings are brought into one purpose (refer again to John 17:20-22), God manifested through His Son and His perfected believers, the Saints.

The argument for all three is based on the phrase “inherit all nations” for it is used in reference to God, Christ and the Saints.


“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. {28} For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations.” (Psa 22:27-28)

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev 11:15)


“I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. {8} Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” (Psa 2:7-8)

The Saints

“But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” (Dan 7:18, see also v. 27)

“[The Lamb] hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:10)

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Rev 20:6)


Our primary consideration of Psalm 82 has been to ascertain to whom it is speaking and how Jesus used it in his arguments found in John 10:22-39.  Without a doubt the Psalm is talking about the judges of Israel and how they were to be as God in their judgments over Israel.  If the Jews realized the context of Jesus’ quote then they would have been cut to the heart realizing the implications that they were the ones condemned because of their unjust judgment.

Jesus then in making reference to this establishes the basis for his “oneness” with the Father.  The Jews had misunderstood him to be making himself equal with God and the Trinitarians mistake him for talking about his being one in nature with the Father but both points of view are wrong.  Jesus was simply stating that his judgments and works were perfectly in accord with the Father and therefore “he and his Father were one” in purpose and moral quality.  Based upon this strong evidence other passages that are often misunderstood in terms of Jesus’ nature or pre-existence need to be re-examined.

The practical implications of such doctrine cannot be avoided either.  The call is for all believers to be “as gods”.  That is, we need to realize the divine call in our judgments and our doings to perfectly manifest the qualities of our Heavenly Father and have the mind of Christ.  Lord willing, by his grace, that oneness will be made complete when we reign with God and His Christ in the kingdom to come.