Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"You are gods"

Bible Gems #2

Question: What did Jesus mean when He quoted Scripture, saying, Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods’ (John 10:34 NIV)?

Jesus quoted Ps. 82:6 in response to a charge by the Jewish leaders that He was committing blasphemy, claiming to be God, when they believed Him to be a “mere man” (v. 33). The Jews were ready to stone Jesus to death because of His claim to deity (v. 30). So we need a quick look at Psalm 82 to understand where Jesus was coming from.
Ps. 82:6 reads “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.

This line concludes a Psalm in which God is portrayed as holding a trial where He condemns the pagan “gods” of the Canaanites, and their human counterparts, for abusing the authority He has allowed them exercise (vv. 2-4). In the context of this Psalm—and in the context of history—the human rulers of the Canaanite nations often claimed deity for themselves. God’s judgment would reveal their claim on deity to be false because they would die like mere men” (v. 7)—the very phrase the Jewish leaders used of Jesus.

So— Jesus challenged His accusers to prove He was not God. First, He pointed out that God Himself referred to those He condemned in Psalm 82 as “gods” (Jn. 10:34-35). The Psalm itself goes further by saying that God called them “sons of the Most High” (Ps. 82:6). Well, Jesus argued, if those who abused God’s spiritual authority could be called “gods” and “sons of the Most High” by God Himself, why shouldn’t Jesus be able to refer to Himself as “God’s Son” (Jn. 10:36)? 

Secondly, if the argument from Scripture wasn’t enough to convince His accusers, then why not recognize that He was not a “mere man” based on the miracles He performed before their very eyes?

Jesus was a master (not surprisingly) at taking the words of His accusers and turning them back on themselves. In this case, all it took was the little reference in the accusers’ charge that Jesus was a “mere man” for Jesus to connect that phrase to Psalm 82 where God condemned those whom He had given the right to be called “gods” and “sons of the Most High,” stripped them of their authority and title, and dealt with them as “mere men.” What a challenge for us to know God’s Word so well that we can apply it instantly to any situation! And what a caution to be very careful in claiming for ourselves any spiritual role or title that might put us under the heavy hand of God’s judgment, revealing for all to see that we are only mere men!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Bible Gems #1

What is Preterism?

Preterism is the belief that all the prophecies of Scripture have already been fulfilled, and that prophecies dealing with the End Times and Christ’s Return were fulfilled around 70 AD. Preterists will cite examples from Scripture, such as Matthew 24:34 — I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened — to show that Jesus’ generation has indeed passed, so all His predictions of coming events must have passed as well. 

The Preterist interpretation, however, does not take the context of the passage into account. “This generation” refers to the generation alive at the time marked by the phrase in verse 29, “immediately after the distress (tribulation, KJV) of those days.” Jesus then goes on to predict several events which will take place “at that time” (v. 30): the sun and moon darkened, stars dislocated from their normal location, and the Son of Man returning in glory, accompanied by angels, to “gather the elect” (vv. 30-31).

As you might guess, there are those who hold to a partial Preterist view, assigning some prophecies to history while still maintaining some events (the Great White Throne Judgment and the New Jerusalem, for example) are still in the future. But Partial Preterists typically believe that most of the events described in Revelation and related passages have already occurred, describing in allegorical fashion the spiritual warfare surrounding the first century church and Christ’s ultimate victory. As with full-fledged preterists, most prophecies are not understood literally.

For an informative and engaging discussion on the issue, please go to A Friendly Response to Hank Hanegraaf's Book, The Last Disciple" by Dr. Norm Geisler, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary. Thanks! — to Bob Baker for drawing my attention to this article.