Jesus replied, “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 Scripture cannot be set aside–then what about the one whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world? How then can you accuse me of blasphemy for stating that I am the son of God? John 10:34-36
Christ said, “Ye are gods,” concerning all who the “Word of God” came to. Regardless if you think the “Word of God” is Jesus (Yehoshua) or if it’s YHWH’s Holy Spirit or Torah / Commandments, we should all agree, believers have had the “Word of God” come to them. Jesus (Yehoshua) preached “the word” to his disciples, they wrote it down, and we have YHWH’s Holy Spirit inside of us. So, basically, Christ called us “gods.” But what does that mean?
What Does “God” Mean?
“God” Does Not Mean Creator
The English definition loses a lot in translation, because today when most people think of the word “God” they think of the “Creator of the universe we live in.” But that’s not what the Hebrews believed it meant. They knew that there were many “gods,” but only one creator. They called YHWH, who created everything (Isaiah 44:24), the “God of gods.”
Deuteronomy 10:17 For YHWH, your God, is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward
You can see that they definitely believed in multiple gods that YHWH was God over. But they only believed in one creator named YHWH. So according to the Hebrews, the word “God” cannot mean “creator of the universe.”
Note: The original Hebrew and Greek was all capital letters. The practice of capitalizing letters or using small letters was left up to the translators. This means many bibles will capitalize the word as “God” when the translators believe they’re referring to YHWH, and then they will not capitalize the word “god” when they believe it’s referring to regular people or the false gods of the heathen. Most translations of the New Testament are trinitarian which resulted in the words “He” and “Word” being translated with capital letters because they believed Jesus (Yehoshua) was YHWH.
So, What Does “God” Mean?
The Hebrew words usually translated as “God” are El, Elah, Elohim. What they all have in common is the Hebrew root word “El” which means “mighty,” “powerful,” “strength,” etc. It is used to refer to how powerful (or mighty) someone or something is. Obviously the most powerful being in this world is the one who created it all. This why the creator is usually seen as synonymous with it. However, the word “El” is not just used for the creator. It’s used in many circumstances, such as:
Genesis 31:29 It is in my power (el) to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’
Deuteronomy 28:32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, while your eyes grow weary looking for them day after day, with no power (el) in your hand.
Nehemiah 5:5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power (el) to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
Psalm 36:6 Thy righteousness is like the great (el) mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: YHWH, thou preservest man and beast.
Psalm 80:10 The mountains were covered by its shade, and the mighty (el) cedars with its branches.
Ezekiel 31:11 I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the ruler (el) of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness.
Ezekiel 32:21 Mighty chiefs (el) will speak from the midst of Sheol about Egypt and her allies: “They have come down and lie with the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword.”
Micah 2:1 Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power (el) of their hand.
So, we see that the Hebrew word “El” which often gets translated as “God” is used to refer to mountains, trees, rulers, and other people who have power over something or someone else or are majestic and/or mighty.
The creator YHWH is necessarily “El” (a mighty ruler), but something or someone who’s referred to as “El” is not necessarily the creator. A logical example of this is that all dog are animals, but not all animals are dogs. YHWH is definitely “El” (a ruler and mighty), but being described as “El” doesn’t necessarily make a thing or person YHWH.
Note: It’s hard to have a clear, logical discussion with a trinitarian about whether or not Jesus (Yehoshua) is YHWH because they use the word “God” to mean so many different things, which results in the fallacy of equivocation. If you’d like to learn more about the different definitions of “God” used by a trinitarian, see this video “God, God, God, God, God & God’s God”
You cannot have a discussion on whether or not Jesus (Yehoshua) is “God,” without discussing what the term “God” means. And we can’t discuss whether or not we are “gods” if we don’t know what it means. Many mainstream Christians who read the first paragraph of this article might have already left the page thinking that this article is trying to say we’re YHWH, the creator because they don’t know what the term “God” or “Elohim” actually means.
The word Elohim is slightly different than “El.” It means “divine ones,” “rulers,” “judges,” “God-like.” It is also used to refer to man-made idols (Genesis 31:30, 35:2-4), but for the most part this is a term for powerful, authoritative, mighty beings, compared to the word “El” which is usually to refer to the might, or power that authoritative, mighty beings/things (trees, mountains, people and the creator) have.
So, in general, “El” refers to might or power (often as an adjective) and “Elohim” refers to mighty or powerful beings (often as a noun).
YHWH made Moses a “God” to Pharaoh and Aaron
In the book of Exodus YHWH makes it so Moses is like “God” to his brother Aaron and Pharaoh.
Exodus 4:14 Then YHWH’s anger burned against Moses, and He said, “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well, and he is now on his way to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth. I will help both of you to speak, and I will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you. He will be your spokesman, and it will be as if you were God (Elohim) to him.
Exodus 7:1 YHWH answered Moses, “See, I have made you like God (Elohim) to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 2 You are to speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron must declare it to Pharaoh so that he will let the Israelites go out of his land
Notice that to be “like God” to someone is connected with having words put into your mouth, and speaking as commanded.
YHWH is telling Moses that he will act like “God” over Aaron and tell Aaron what to say to Pharaoh.
YHWH Puts His Words Into His Prophets’ Mouths
The bible describes YHWH putting His Words (the “Word of God”) into His prophets’ mouths, so they can speak for Him as His representative on earth.
Isaiah 51:15 For I am YHWH, your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—YHWH of Hosts is His name. 16 I have put My words in your mouth, and covered you in the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, “You are My people.”
Commentaries debate about who YHWH is speaking to when He says He’s put His words in “your” mouth in that verse. The most likely recipient is Isaiah or Israel as a whole. They were both given the Torah to teach the people. Regardless of who the recipient of the “Word of God” here is, the point is clear when you receive the “Word of God” you are being told to say it to someone. When God puts “His Word” in you, you are supposed to be a representative of God and speak those words to someone. It’s also about acting for Him. Jesus (Yehoshua) said the works he did were not his own, but the Father in him doing the works (John 14:10). He said he didn’t speak on his own authority, but the Father told him what to say and what to do (John 12:49-50, 14:10, 5:19).
Jeremiah 1:8 “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares YHWH. 9 Then YHWH reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and said to me: “Behold, I have put My words into your mouth. 10 See, I have appointed you today over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and plant.“
All of the prophets are told what to say and what to do, and a couple of great examples are Moses and Noah. YHWH sends many saviors to save His people. And, of course, Jesus (Yehoshua) did the same thing spiritually and he never claimed to be YHWH.
Isaiah 59:20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression.” declares YHWH. 21 “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says YHWH. “My Spirit who is on you, and My words that I have put in your mouth, will not depart from your mouth, from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of your children’s children, from now on and forevermore ,” says YHWH… 60:2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but YHWH shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. 3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path
YHWH’s word is tied to His commandments, and the Torah (instructions) is a light on our path. The people who receive YHWH’s Word or Spirit have the “light of the world” in them, so they are anointed with the Holy Spirit. Because the word “Christ” (Messiah) means anointed one, they can be considered “christs” or prophets. And when they speak of these instructions they are shining the light into the darkness. The light they shine is the “Word of God” that the darkness did not comprehend (John 1:5).
For more discussion on the Word of God spoken about in John not being a person, see “The S/Word of God: YHWH’s Holy Spirit & Instructions For Life” and for more discussion on going from being like Jacob to Israel (turning from transgression) see “Wrestling with God: Turning From Jacob to Israel in Your Pineal.”
Deuteronomy 18:15 YHWH thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me (Moses); unto him ye shall hearken; 16 According to all that thou desiredst of YHWH, thy God, in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of YHWH, my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not!” 17 And YHWH said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), and will put My words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
John 12:49 I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 And I know that His command leads to eternal life. So I speak exactly what the Father has told me to say.
Jesus (Yehoshua) never claimed to be YHWH. He claimed to YHWH’s son. Israel always considered YHWH their Father. Jesus (Yehoshua) knew that the true “sons of God” were those who had heard the “Word of God.”
Jesus says everyone who the “Word of God” came to are gods. We have our Father’s seed inside when we get His Holy Spirit in us, and then we are little ‘g’ gods, representations of our Father in the world. If you sin, you are a bad representation and are profaning his name/taking His name/character in vain. But if you do righteousness, you are a good representation of Him. Messiah showed everyone what God’s nature truly was because he only did what God told him to do, and said what God told him to say.
Shaliah, the Jewish Law of Agency
When a “lord” over a group of people wants to interact with them without actually being there personally, he will send his representatives. When this lord sends his representative, that representative represents the lord. When I was in school, I was offered to go to Australia with the People to People Student Ambassador Program. We were told as ambassadors our behavior would reflect to Australia what people from the United States were like. The Australians we met may not have met many people from the US, and we were supposed to give a good representation of the US to them. If someone acted out, behaved poorly, it would make the entire United States look bad. We were not the US President, we were not the entire population, but we were representatives for them. In this same manner God has people or “angels” who represent Him.
From An Introduction to the Law of Agency by Raymond James Essoe:
This principle is common knowledge to those who have thoroughly investigated the Hebrew Bible, and to the Jews. For others, this will be an introduction to the principle. However, if one approaches the Hebrew Scriptures with presuppositions or has been “told” how to interpret them beforehand, this principle will remain undiscovered. This principle is known by the Jews in the Hebrew as Shaliah, the Jewish law of agency. A common feature of the Hebrew Scriptures is the concept (some even call it the “law”) of Jewish agency.
All Old Testament scholars and commentators recognize that in Jewish custom whenever a superior commissioned an agent to act on his behalf, the agent was regarded as the person himself. This is well expressed in The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion: Agent (Heb. Shaliah):
The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum, “a person’s agent is regarded as the person himself” (Ned. 72B; Kidd, 41b). Therefore any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principle, who therefore bears full responsibility for it with consequent complete absence of liability on the part of the agent.
Please feel free to check out his article for more information, references, and examples such as Jesus (Yehoshua) being given authority to rule by YHWH just as Joseph was given authority to rule by Pharaoh. The main point here is that the “shaliaḥ” can speak for the person sending them as if they were that lord.
So, the President of the US can send the Vice President to speak for him or sit in for him at a meeting, and it would be like the President was there speaking or attending. This is why the “angel of YHWH” was able to say he was “YHWH” without actually being YHWH.
Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of YHWH appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” 4 When YHWH saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”…13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
Acts 7:30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
The word “angel” means messenger. We know YHWH is not an angel, because angels are messengers for YHWH. He can either speak directly (without angels) or use angels (or shaliahs) to represent Him and speak for Him. This is why an angel can use what some call the “divine name,” because as a shaliah, in the Hebrew culture, you can speak as if you are the person you are representing.
Another example, in today’s terms, would be an owner of a business who hires a manager to speak for them and solve matters for them while they’re not around. Now, that doesn’t mean the chosen “shaliaḥ,” or manager in this case, will do what the “lord,” or business owner asked them to do perfectly. In the same way, YHWH put mankind on this earth to be a representation of him, or an image (or form) of God in the world, and, in general, mankind has failed at being a good representation of God.
But Jesus (Yehoshua) only spoke what the Father told him to say and only did what the Father told him to do, and did works through him. so when people saw Jesus (Yehoshua) they actually saw the image of the Father. He was the spittin’ image of his dad, so he could say, “When you see me, you see the Father.” We, too, are children of the Father, and when we follow Father’s Holy Spirit (or “seed’) and get pure as He is pure, when people see us, they will see the Father in us. We are supposed to be children of the Most High.
Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Psalm 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
The Gods of the Most High Are Apostles
According to Wikipedia, the term “shaliah” is “a comparable Hebrew term of the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apostolos, whence the English “apostle”).” And on their apostle page, ” An apostle (/əˈpɒsəl/), in its most literal sense, is an emissary, from Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), literally ‘one who is sent off’…the purpose of such sending off is usually to convey a message, and thus ‘messenger’ is a common alternative translation; other common translations include ‘ambassador’ and ‘envoy’.”
We were sent out to preach the good news that we are no longer stuck being slaves to sin. We are supposed to be emptying ourselves of our own fleshy desires and doing our Father’s will and speaking for Him, and giving Him a good representation in this world. We are supposed to be apostles, shaliahs, ambassadors, etc for God. We are supposed to be His messengers. The word “angel” means messenger, and sometimes (if not all) refers to mankind in the bible.
During Christ’s parable about separating the sheep and goats based on their works, he says that people who don’t take care of the needy get thrown into the lake of fire.
Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the age-long fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink
We know that the “devil” is another name for “satan” according to Revelation 12:9 and “satan” means adversary. The adversary “satan” accuses believers like a prosecutor before YHWH. See Job 1:9-11, and Job 2: 4-5 for the adversary suggesting ways in which perhaps Job will sin. The adversary loses this case there, but many Christians are sinning today. Because of their sin, the adversary still accuses them before YHWH. Only when we stop sinning can he stop accusing us of any wrong doing.
So, who are his “angels,” or messengers? The people who like to falsely accuse us. Jesus (Yehoshua) said we’re blessed when we’re treated unfairly, but the people who do the will of the adversary will have to still go through the lake of fire. This is something to keep in mind, are we doing our Father’s will, walking in agape love, or are we doing the adversary’s will and accusing others?
Did The Serpent Lie?
Mainstream Christians tend to think that the serpent was tempting us with becoming gods.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which YHWH God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, “Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked, if having your eyes opened and knowing good from evil makes you a “god” then the serpent didn’t lie about that.
Genesis 3:22 And YHWH God said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:” 23 Therefore YHWH God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Even YHWH agrees, mankind had become like the “gods” in that they now knew good and evil and He said if they eat from the tree of life they will live forever, but if they don’t, they’ll die. The serpent said they wouldn’t “surely” die, which could be considered to be true, because there was a way in which they might not have died for certain, ie. eating from the tree of life means they wouldn’t have surely died. So the serpent didn’t lie to them, but he tempted through subtlety, knowing full-well that YHWH wouldn’t allow them to eat from the tree of life after disobedience. We have to go through the flaming sword to get to the tree of life in order to live forever, and that may very well be connected to the Lake of Fire purification.
An interesting connection to that option of life (tree of life) versus death (tree of knowledge of good and evil’s fruit) is found in Deuteronomy 30.
Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, as well as death and disaster. 16 For I am commanding you today to love YHWH your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and increase, and YHWH your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them 18 I declare to you today that you will surely die; you shall not prolong your days in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.
The serpent was subtle and tempting, but wasn’t a liar. He twists YHWH’s words.