Continued from Who is Elohim? Part 1.
Are you ready for this?
Last post, we learned about how Elohim is used to describe human beings exhibiting supernatural, or divine, characteristics. But that is just one way that the word, “Elohim”, is used. Today, we’ll continue our exploration with this rather mind-boggling verse:
Psalms 82:1-6. Let’s break it down a little bit:
“God takes His stand in His own congregations; He judges in the midst of the rulers… I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.”
Now, mentally replace every underlined word with “Elohim”. Wow.
What is going on?
Okay, tricky, tricky, tricky Scripture. So let’s break it down. The first mention of Elohim is used as the name of God. Easy. But then, it is used again with “rulers”. What is this? First of all, let’s make a side note that this is a plural usage of the word, “Elohim”. Besides that, it’s pretty clear from the context that the author of this passage is referencing someone who is in charge and has authority to pass judgement. So judge and/or ruler is a great word to use here.
But what about the third usage of Elohim? This might seem to go two possible ways. It could be continuing the same frame of usage and the Bible is simply saying, “You are rulers…” BUT, the verse continues with “…And all of you are sons of the Most High”. Huh. Soooo…is this another way of saying, “child of God”? Then it would read, “…You are children of God. And all of you are sons of the Most High”. It seems like an unnecessary repetition. So, I’m not sure “children of God” is the best substitute. In fact, it is probably for this very level of confusion that Bible translators just left it as “god”.
But, well, full steam ahead. Let’s dig deeper. Jesus actually quotes this particular verse in John 10:34. It takes most of the chapter to understand the context, so I’ll summarize:
Starting in John 10:22, Jesus is walking in the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews basically ambush him and demand to know if He is the Christ of Old Testament prophesy. And they want a plain answer. Jesus is super unimpressed and basically says that His works testify of His identity, that He has the power to give eternal life, and He is one with the Father. This puts the Jews in an outrage and they prepare to stone Him. Jesus demands to know why. They accuse Him of the “blasphemy” of claiming to be God.
This is the answer:
“Jesus answered them, ‘Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? …believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.'” (John 10:34-38 NASB)
Wow. What to make of that? The translation is actually in the passage. In John 10:30, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews interpret this to be a claim of being God. Jesus does not correct this interpretation so it’s most likely accurate. Then, in verse 36, after He quotes “you are gods” (John 10:34), He interprets His earlier statement in John 10:30 (“…I and the Father are one”) to be “…I am the Son of God”(John 10:36), and then He continues to expand with “…the Father is in Me, and I in the Father”. (John 10:38).
Jesus is directly relating the phrase “you are gods” to being a child of God.
Now that our brains have officially spontaneously combusted, we can put the pieces together. As previously discussed; Elohim is used as a name of God. It is also used to describe human beings exhibiting divine characteristics. It is used to describe a judge or ruler. And it is used to describe children of God.
Next time, in Part 3, we will take a look at exactly what it may mean to be a “son of God” and how this relates to Elohim.