Who Are The ‘gods’ Mentioned In Psalm 82:6?


‘I said, you are gods’. Psalm 82:6

The Old Testament passage, in the Hebrew text, reads, ‘I Myself said you are gods,’ and it is important to notice that the pronoun, is emphatic. The stress should be placed on the ‘I Myself’ because the speaker is God and He is addressing those whom He calls the ‘elohim’. That word is used very frequently in the Old Testament, and, although it is used in a special way, as the first of the three primary names of Deity, it is also used in a more general sense. The other two names are Adonai and Yahweh.

‘Elohim’ in Creation

We first encounter it in Genesis chapter 1, when God’s action in Creation is described. You will find it used 27 times in the 31 verses of that chapter, and it is used because its root meaning is that of ‘strength’, ‘power’, ‘might’ or ‘authority’. The word, itself does not imply deity, yet it is a very fitting title when used of the Almighty in His creative activity, ‘Yahweh Elohim’ is the Strong One.

So, the answer to the question ‘who are the gods? is that because the root meaning of the word is ‘might’ or ‘power’, the ‘elohim’ to whom God speaks in the psalm, are Judges.

They are ‘mighty ones’ who are to be recognised as His representatives, His agents, because they have been appointed, in accordance with His law to execute judgment among His people, Israel.

Into this category of ‘gods’ were placed not only the judges but also the priests and prophets, because they also had a divinely appointed ministry.

The Lord’s use of ‘Elohim’

It is interesting to note that, in John 10:33-36, the Lord Jesus uses this passage in a discussion with the Jews, knowing that they would have no problem accepting this use of the term ‘Elohim’ and would see the strength of the argument he was making because they knew that their Rabbis taught that the word was applied by their Law to men who had been called and appointed by God to undertake special service.

The Lord’s argument runs like this, the Father Himself called certain people ‘elohim’ when He called them to undertake certain duties among the people. In the exercise of their ministry, they represented Him and acted with His authority. They were, therefore, called, ‘the elohim’, ‘the mighty ones’.

Do you, then, call the One whom the Father actually and directly sanctified, consecrated, set apart and sent into the world, a blasphemer, because I said that ‘I am ‘the’ son of God’? Since the Jews accepted that God had called certain of His servants ‘gods’, they had no reason for accusing Jesus of blasphemy when he called himself ‘son of God’.

I think we should also notice that in this passage the emphasis should not be placed on the word ‘the’ because the argument is not about the Lord’s uniqueness as ‘the only begotten’ Son, but about the fact that His relationship with God is that of son-ship, and not merely that of servant-hood, no matter how elevated that service might be. In fact, the definite article is not used in the original text.

But, compare Hebrews 1:13.

‘To which of the angels, angelon: messengers, said He at any time, ‘You are my son?’

This distinction between Christ and all previous servants of God is brought out most clearly in Hebrews 3:1-6. Moses, whom the Jews regarded as God’s greatest servant, is declared to have been faithful ‘as a servant’ in God’s house; that is, among God’s people. And the people to whom the Lord was speaking would certainly regard Moses as being among the ‘elohim’.

Yet, even though the service of this great man of God was of the very highest kind so that he is described by the word ‘therapon’, a word for servant which indicates one who renders service voluntarily as distinct from ‘doulos’, the word that indicates a bond-servant, there remains a world of difference between Moses and Jesus. In God’s house, Moses was faithful as a servant. But Christ as a son. Hebrews 3:6.

A Deeper Significance

I must also point out that this confrontation between the Lord and the Jews has a significance which goes far beyond this discussion about the ‘elohim’, the ‘gods’. At a much deeper level, it concerns his deity. We are told that the Jews took up stones to stone him, accusing him of blasphemy because, they said, ‘You, make yourself God’.

During that particular discussion, Jesus, hadn’t, at that point, explicitly claimed to be the Son of God, but he had most certainly implied it when he said, ‘I and the Father ore one’, John 10:30, and the Jews had certainly understood what he claimed.

It’s astonishing, then, that there are so-called religious leaders living today, almost two thousand years later, who presume to declare that Jesus never claimed to be Deity, when the Jews with whom he discussed face to face during his personal ministry, had enough intelligence to understand that this is exactly what he claimed!



"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."