Sunday, September 18, 2016

Psalm 82:6 - - Who Are the Gods?

"I said, 'You are gods, All of you are sons of the Most High.'"
Psalm 82:6, World English Version.

Jesus, in John 10:34-36, identifies the the sons of the Most High spoken of in Psalm 82:6 as the sons of God "to whom the Word [Logos] of God came." He adds, "and the Scripture can't be broken." Who are these "gods" who are also "sons of God" to whom the Logos of God came? Many have claimed that they were the judges of Israel. It is true that in a sense the "Word of God" came to them in that they were entrusted with teaching and judging according to the Law Covenant. But the Law was given through Moses, not the judges of Israel, so the Word of God -- as represented in the Law Covenant, came to them only indirectly. We also know that the judges of Israel are evidently called "ha Elohim" as a body in Exodus 21:6; 22:8,9,28 [See Acts 23:5]. However, the judges of Israel -- as a group -- were never called "sons of God" nor "sons of the Most High". The thought of many Bible Students is that this Psalm does have a primary or typical fulfillment in the judges of Israel, with a antitypical, final fulfillment in the spirit-begotten "sons of God". However, if applied to the judges of Israel, not all the statements of Psalmist would apply to all of them, for not all of them ruled unjustly.

What about the prophets? Do not the scriptures say that the "Word of God" came to them? (1 Kings 12:22; 1 Chronicles 7:3) However, most of the prophets were in generally faithful. The thoughts expressed in Psalm 82 do not seem to apply to them.
What about the angels? Aren't they called "sons of God"? Yes, they are. (Genesis 6:2,4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) We know that angels are called elohim elsewhere. (Psalm 8:5; compare Hebrews 2:7; and possibly Psalm 50:1 and 96:4) We know that there were angels that sinned in the days of Noah, and who did rule unjustly then. (Most of the angels, however, remained loyal to Jehovah.) Likewise the fallen angels, with Satan, do rule this world unjustly even today. Yet, we would be left wondering as to how and when the "Logos of God" came to them.

Then some claim Psalm 82 applies to the rulers of Israel in general, both judges and kings. As far as the kings of Israel are concerned, we do know that many of them are said to have done what is good in the eyes of Jehovah (Yahweh), and some did bad. Not all of them did what is bad. As a group, however, we would be left wondering in what way the "Logos of God" came to them. Additionally, as a group, they are not referred to as "sons of God."
As far as Gentile rulers, we know all have ruled unjustly, some more, some less. But did the Word of God come the Gentile rulers? Are we to think that God has called the Gentile rulers "sons of the Most High"?

Then was this Psalm prophetic of the rulers of Jesus in the days of Jesus? Certainly, the Logos of God -- Jesus -- had come to them, but the rulers in general rejected Jesus. (John 7:48) Did Jesus proclaim them "sons of God" or "sons of the Most High"? No, he called them "offspring of vipers". (Matthew 3:7; 12:34; 23:33; Luke 3:7) Yet there were those of the Jews who did repent and received Jesus, and who were made sons of God. -- John 1:12; Romans 9:8.

We believe that it is to these who received Jesus and who become "sons of God" that are spoken of in Psalm 82. Like much that is stated in the Old Testament, there is a typical application, which may not totally fit what is being said, and then there is an antitypical application, which does actually and completely fulfill what is stated. Thus while Psalm 8 may have had a typical application to the ancient judges of Israel, it does not find its complete fulfillment with them but rather with the spirit-begotten "sons of God", to whom the Logos came, was received and who were made "sons of God" and were given special power by the holy spirit. It is this class that fits every detail spoken of by Jesus and the Psalmist. These became "sons of God" through justification and by means of the holy spirit partake of the powers of the age to come, especially those who in the first century received special power through the holy spirit to perform healings, casting out demons, etc. (Matthew 10:1; Mark 6:7; Luke 6:35; 9:1; 10:19; John 1:12; 10:35; Acts 1:8; 2:41; 4:4; 17:11,13; Romans 5:1; 8:11,14; 15:18,19; 1 Corinthians 2:4,8-10; 14:36; Galatians 3:26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5,6; Hebrews 2:4; 6:5) These "sons of God" are also called to judge (Daniel 7:22; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Corinthians 6:1-4; Revelation 20:4) Many of these spirit-begotten ones are not only heirs of God or the promise (Galatians 3:29), but also become joint-heirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:17) These who receive joint-heirship are those who in this life do come to perfection of their faith and love toward God, the church and their neighbor, and suffer with Jesus, conforming to the likeness to Jesus' sacrificial death. (Philippians 3:10-14; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; Hebrews 1:6) However, there is a period of judgment of these "gods" -- when they are being judged as to their worthiness of such a high reward as "joint-heirship" with Jesus. Additonally, Jesus is anointed over his fellows, and therefore the joint-heirs with Christ are still in subjection to their head. -- Hebrews 2:9.

Psalm 82:1 (KJV): "God [Hebrew, elohim, Strong's #430] stands in the congregation of the mighty [Hebrew, el, Strong's #410]; he judges among the Gods [Hebrew, elohim, Strong's #430]." Here the first instance of ELOHIM refers to Yahweh (Jehovah), as judging in the congregation of the mighty, that is a congregation that is made up of some who are GOD -- MIGHTY. This congregation is identified in Psalm 82:6 as the sons of the Most High. Jesus approves of this by quoting Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34-36. Thus, the sons of the Most High to whom the Logos comes are identified both in the Old Testament and New Testament as gods, not they are either the only true GOD -- the ONLY who is independently MIGHTY, nor are they false gods, but they do have MIGHT as received from the ONLY TRUE MIGHT.
Additionally, we find that Jehovah, the only true God, judges by means of Jesus, as Jesus is the one whom Jehovah anointed over his fellows. (Psalm 45:6,7; Isaiah 61:1) Jehovah has given to Jesus the judgment (the authority to judge), and, thus Jehovah judges through the one whom he has ordained. (John 5:22,27,30; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:16) As Moses was made as ELOHIM [MIGHTY] to Aaron (Exodus 4:16), so Jesus -- the prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) -- is made ELOHIM to his fellows. (Psalm 45:6,7; Hebrews 1:8,9) It is to Jesus that the church must answer for judgment concerning their works in the present body. And judgment leads to a separation of rewards, for not all of the body of Christ receive the exact same reward, but each will be rewarded according to the measure of fruitage they develop. (Luke 19:12-19; Matthew 13:23; Galatians 5:22,23; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15) As we have shown from the scriptures elsewhere, some receive the highest reward of joint-heirship, but most of the body of Christ do not attain this highest reward. Thus in the body, "each will receive his own reward according to his own labor." (1 Corinthians 3:8; Acts 10:42; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:5,17; 2 Thessalonians 1:5) Thus the scriptural conclusion is that the other "elohim" -- gods as referred to Psalm 82:1,6 and John 10:34-36 -- thus refer to other mighty ones, being the spirit-begotten sons of God, of whom Jesus is the head or chief, as anointed by Jehovah.
Zion's Watch Tower Reprints 1410:3296:3338:2421:3

As the New Testament sons of God receive the holy spirit, they are anointed to be judges, and do become part of God's church. -- 1 Corinthians 6:2,3; 1 John 2:27.
Psalm 82:2: "How long will you judge unjustly (Romans 2:1; 14:10), and show partiality to the wicked?" (verse 2). In this world their judgments are often still not what they should be. (James 2:4; 1 Corinthians 3:3,4; 4:6) Here the judge, Jesus, addresses the "sons of God". Not all the NT "sons of God" fall into this category, for many, upon being begotten of the Holy Spirit, did judge wisely and justly. Most, however, did not, so Jesus appears to address especially to those who did not in this verse.
Someone has insisted that this does refer to "all" the judges spoken of in Psalm 82:1. For a parallel example, let us read James 2:4: "Haven't you shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?" If the same logic would be applied to James 2:4, we would conclude that absolutely all of those who he is addressing (James 1:1) were showing partiality and were judges with evil thoughts. Whether one views his letter as addressing the fleshly twelve tribes, the believing Jews or the entire Israel of faith (see James 5:19, where these are addressed as "brothers" who wander away from the truth.), not absolutely all of these showed partiality; not absolutely all of these were judges with evil thoughts. If it were that absolutely all were thus sinning, how could James exhort some of the brothers being addressed to convert those who wander from the truth? (James 5:19,20) Thus, we conclude that likewise the Judge of Psalm 82:1 prophetically turns attention to those of the sons of God who were doing these things, not that absolutely all the "sons of God" were thus so guilty.

Psalm 82:3: "Do what is right toward the poor (see Galatians 2:10; James 2:1-13) and the fatherless (James 1:27); maintain what is right for the afflicted (Galatians 6:2; Romans 15:1; James 1:27); and the destitute." -- James 2:15,16; 1 John 3:17,18.
Psalm 82:4: "Rescue the weak (Romans 14:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) and the needy; save them from the hand of the wicked." -- Romans 15:30,31; Galatians 6:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:1,2.

The thought appears to be to rescue the needy and weak of those whom God is choosing as his sons from world. Another view is that this reference is to the stronger ones of the "sons of God" to rescue those who are weaker sons of God, who get themselves entangled with the flesh and the world. -- Galatians 6:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; James 5:19,20.

Psalm 82:5: "They don't know, neither do they understand. They walk back and forth in darkness. All the foundations of the earth are shaken." Here the Psalmist appears to be describing the wicked from which the sons of God are told to deliver the needy ones. These wicked do not understand (1 Corinthians 1:8; John 1:10; 8:43); they walk about in darkness (Isaiah 50:10; 60:2; Ephesians 4:18; Revelation 12:9) as all the foundations of the earth are unstable. (Isaiah 13:13; 24:18; Hebrews 12:26; Revelation 21:1) Thus this reference appears to be made to the world -- those who are not "sons of God".

The Judge who judges the sons of God states that all the foundations of the earth are shaken. The Hebrew word used means "to totter, shake, slip". The King James Version renders this as: "all the foundations of the earth are out of course." His words mean that all the basic principles of the present social structure are distorted out of proper relationship to each other, are in confusion. Conditions have slipped from their proper course. Society for centuries has been endeavoring to serve its interests as wisely as possible, yet selfishness inherent in the entire human family since the fall affects, influences, warps and twists their judgment on every subject. As a consequence, while the world has endeavored to have matters right and just and true, while it has endeavored as a whole to regulate its affairs on lines of justice, sympathy, truth and equity, nevertheless individual selfishness and class preference have distorted the whole arrangement, until we have the conditions which prevail today.

"I have said you are Gods [elohim]; and all of you are children of the Most High [el eon, the highest], yet you will all die like men, and fall like one of the rulers." The "gods" here are not the Most High, nor are they false gods. Jesus refers to these words as spoken by "he", by which he meant that they are spoken by Jehovah. The ones being spoken to, though sons of the Most High, die and appear to men nothing more than the others. Thus in a general sense, this scripture applies to all the body of Christ, regardless of reward, for the spirit-begettal to sonship goes unnoticed by the world in general. (John 3:8; 1 John 3:1) However, if the Judge is here only addressing those of who were not faithful, as he appears to be doing in the earlier verses, then it could be that this is a reference to their failure to attain worthiness of the resurrection of Jesus, and that therefore their death leaves them on the plane of the human life, having failed to obtain that of the resurrection in a spiritual body.
With What Body Will We Be Raised?
and The Manner of the Resurrection

The author of the Studies in the Scriptures series viewed this death as the sacrificial death of the believer, which appeared to others as dying like man, but it was his belief that spirit begettal meant that one was no longer reckoned on the level of human life. (See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 5, page 68; Volume 6, page 444) Our view is that spirit begettal reckons one alive on the human plane. -- Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:46,49.

Psalm 82:8: "Arise, God, judge the earth, For you inherit all of the nations." After examining the Hebrew, we find that in Psalm 82:6 and Psalm 82:8, we have the same form of "HaElohim"; this leads us to conclude that "HaElohim" in Psalm 82:8 is referring to the same "gods' of Psalm 82:6, which we believe is applicable to all the sons of the Most High, regardless what level of reward they receive in the Kingdom. We believe that the Psalmist here is quoting Jehovah as stating this to another who referred to as ELOHIM. Regarding this verse, P. L. Read states: "The noun elohim must here be translated in the singular (God) for the reason that it is the subject of three verbs, 'arise,' 'judge' and 'inherit,' all of which are in the singular. The fact that the verb forms are in the singular rules out as ungrammatical any interpretation which gives elohim in this verse the plural meaning which it does in fact have in verses 1 and 6." This overlooks that if Yahweh was addressing "HaElohim" as a class as a unit, that it would call for singular verbs in connection with the group. However, if "HaElohim" refers to one person, we should realize God Almighty does not inherit the nations, as the whole earth already belongs to him. (Deuteronomy 10:14; 19:5; Psalm 24:1; 50:12) Jesus does inherit dominion over all nations, which is given to him by his God and Father. (Daniel 7:14; Psalms 2:6-8; 110:1,2; Matthew 11:27; 28:18; Luke 10:22; John 3:35; 5:22-27; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 3:22) Certainly, as in verse one, ELOHIM could apply to the Mighty Power that Jehovah has given to Jesus, and thus Jehovah could be addressing Jesus with the entreaty to "Arise", to stand up, to take possession of his inheritance. However, the saints also inherit this dominion with Jesus. (Daniel 7:22,27; Luke 22:29,30) Thus, if this is applied to the saints as well, it would be as a singular body, as the judges of Israel are so addressed in Exodus 21:6; 22:8,9,28 (See Acts 23:5), the reference could be to both Jesus and his body, to arise and inherit the promises of the kingdom.

We have to conclude that Jesus was speaking of the sons of the Most High in the sense of might, mighty ones, and certainly not as being the Almighty Jehovah, nor as being "false gods". ELOHIM as a plural intensive is applied to Jehovah in intensified sense, as in MIGHTIER or MIGHTIEST. Jehovah is certainly the MIGHTIEST, since He, being the ONLY source of all MIGHT, is MIGHTIER than any others to whom he gives MIGHT. If the "elohim" referred to in Psalm 82:6 were false gods (are even the angels), as some have claimed, then Jesus' appeal to this scripture in John 10:34 would have been meaningless. It should be noted that the Jews were angry with our Lord Jesus, not because he called himself Jehovah or intimated any usurpation of the Father's place, honors or prerogatives, but simply because he called himself the Son of God (John 10:36) and referred to Jehovah God as his Father. When the Jewish leaders were about to stone him, Jesus stated to them: "I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?" (John 10:31,32; see also John 10:25) Jesus stated the truth here, and showed exactly why they wished to stone him, that is, because he did the works of the only true God. Their false accusation was: "We don't stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God." (John 10:33) We need to note that included in this false accusation was that he was a "man", that is, a common, ordinary, sinful man, claiming to be God. (Even from the standpoint of trinitarians, this is a false accusation, because, according to our trinitarian neighbors, it was not as a man that Jesus is God, but rather in his alleged "God-Nature" that existed side-by-side with his "human-nature".) The answer they gave was that in calling himself the Son of God he was affecting to be superior to them and to others of mankind, and affecting a relationship with the God Almighty, which they termed blasphemy, because they said it was either claiming to be Jehovah, or perhaps a god perhaps to Jehovah.

But knowing that the Scriptures fully sanctioned such a title as the Son of God (John 10:36), Jesus referred them to the passage in Psalm 82:6. Our Lord's logical suggestion is that if God himself through the prophet Asaph gave the title of "gods" thus to human beings, to the followers of Christ, to the Church of this Gospel age, why should it be considered blasphemous that the special Son of God, whom the Father had specially set apart and sent into the world as his representative should be called the Son of God? His persecutors were unable to answer him, nor can any logical objection be found to our Redeemer's words. He was indeed pre-eminently the representative of Jehovah and pre-eminently he was Jehovah's Son.

Related RL Studies

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