In John 10, Jesus confronts the Jews who are upset about his claiming to be God’s Son. He quotes a psalm that calls people “gods” because the word of God came to them. A friend of mine believes that Jesus is saying that everybody is a god, “so don’t be upset about me. I’m just like you. We’re all gods.” What’s a good answer for this? - Dana

No need to be taken in by your friend’s fallacious reasoning. The “gods” of Psalm 82 are often thought to be human beings in positions of leadership. As we read Psalm 82 in context, we see that the Lord is expressing his indignation against wicked rulers. They do not champion the cause of the poor.

In the Bible, “gods” normally means “false gods,” the objects of idolatry (Genesis 31:19). But in this passage, it may specify (political) “rulers.” Despite their arrogance, they will die “like every other ruler.” The word “other” implies that they themselves are rulers. As Jesus said in John 10:34-35, “…‘Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are gods”? If he called them “gods,” to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken…,’” these are those to whom the word of God came, in other words, human beings.

Human beings are not God. Grasping this point—and accepting it—has been mankind’s perennial struggle since Eden (Genesis 3). Our natural will is towards personal autonomy, as though we were the center of the universe. I hope your friend, who seems influenced by New Age thinking, will appreciate it, and not just grab at straws of support for erroneous theology.

However, another possibility is that Jesus has not interpreted Ps 82 as referring to mere human beings at all, but rather the divine council -- a common theme in ancient Israelite and Canaanite religion. See the intriguing article by Michael S. Heider. Click here.