Answers to Common Questions

Did Jesus advocate that man could become God in John 10:34?

Jesus answered a group of Jews and said, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods'?" (John 10:34). Does this mean that humans can become God? New Agers cite this verse to support their doctrine of the deity of man. Mormons also cite it to support their view that humans can become gods.

There are many reasons this text should not be used to support such an idea.

First, such an interpretation is contrary to the overall context. Jesus in this passage is not speaking to pantheists (who believe that God is everything and everything is God) or polytheists (who believe in many gods). Rather, He is addressing strict Jewish monotheists who believe that only the Creator of the universe is God. So, His statement should not be wrenched out of this monotheistic context and given a pantheistic or polytheistic twist.

Second, in context Jesus is alluding to Psalm 82 where human judges are called "gods," and His reasoning communicates the following idea: "If God even called human judges 'gods' (with a small 'g'), then how much more is it appropriate that I call myself the Son of God." Keep in mind that Christ had just pronounced Himself one with the Father saying, "I and My Father are one" (10:30). The Jews wanted to stone Him because they thought Christ was blaspheming, making Himself out to be equal with God (vv. 3133). Jesus responded by quoting Psalm 82:6 (a verse dealing with human judges) which says, "I said, you are gods." So, Jesus reasoned, if human judges could be called "gods" (with a small 'g'), then why can't the Son of God be called "God."

Third, these judges were "gods" in the sense that they stood in God place, judging over life and death matters. They were not called "gods" because they were actually divine beings. Indeed, the text Jesus cites (Ps. 82) also goes on to say that these judges were "mere men" and would "die" (v. 7).

Fourth, it is possible, as many scholars believe, that when the psalmist Asaph said "You are gods" of the unjust judges in Psalm 82, he was speaking in irony. He indicated to these judges (who had apparently become unjust in their dealings with men), "I have called you 'gods,' but in fact you will die like the men that you really are." If this is so, then when Jesus alluded to this psalm in John 10, He was saying that what the Israelite judges were called in irony and in judgment, He is in reality.

In any event, it is clear that Jesus in this passage was giving a defense for His own deity, not for the deification of man. 

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Complete Book of Bible Answers: Answers to the Tough Questions