Dialogue with a Jehovahs Witness on the Trinity by Dave Armstrong Part 2

Thursday, March 17, 2005


(Part Two)

11) JOHN 8:58: "Before Abraham was, I am" 
12) JOHN 10:30-33 / JOHN 10:34: "I and the Father are one" | "You are gods" 
13) JOHN 10:38 
14) JOHN 12:44-45 
15) JOHN 13:19 
16) JOHN 14:7-10 
17) JOHN 15:23 
18) JOHN 16:15 
19) JOHN 17:10-11 
20) Jesus' Use of "Father" | 
Arche ("beginning") 
21) Jesus' Use of the "Divine 'I' ": Sending Prophets | Gathering Under "Wings" 
22) Conclusions

11) JOHN 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

EGW EIMI is without significances, as it was a common phrase in Greek. For example, the blind man stated such in John 9:9, while Peter used the very same words in Acts 10:21.

Of course the lack of the implied predicate is the real issue (but the fact that John 8:24, 28 do have an implied predicate invalidates them as any proof text.)

Context is supremely important, as always. The relevant point is not that no one else ever said "I am" in other contexts, but that eternal existence was being described by the peculiar phrase: not "before x was, I was," but rather, "before x was, I am." Thus Robertson writes:

Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God. The contrast between genesthai (entrance into existence of Abraham) and eimi(timeless being) is complete . . .

(WPN, V, 158-159)

The Jews again immediately understood the import of the statement, which is why they tried to stone Jesus for blasphemy (8:59). Why would they do this if Jesus was merely saying something as innocuous as "I am Jesus"?! I don't know what an "implied predicate" means. The fact remains that no predicate exists in any of these passages (Jn 8:24,28,58).

You are here thinking in English, not Greek.

That would make perfect sense, since I don't know Greek. But Roberston, Vincent, and other Greek scholars do(which is exactly why I cite them).

Greek often drops the predicate because of implication, and so in John 8:24 and 28, while it is not in the text, this is normal Greek grammar as per the implication of such. There is no theological significance. Neither is there any eternal statement within EGW EIMI as Robertson falsely states.

You are here thinking in heretical Arian categories, not orthodox trinitarian ones. I accept what the Greek scholar Robertson says about it.

There is no temporal element in it other than that there is a present state of being. EIMI is the present tense of "to be," thus, taking the Greek construction into account; we find that Jesus was in a state of being before Abraham, though we are never told for how long before Abraham.

Just from a common-sense perspective, how is this coherent? You argue:

1. Only a present state is referred to.
2. But it also somehow refers to a time "before Abraham" (which contradicts #1).
3. So it is past and present simultaneously (????!!!!).

That's nonsense (in the literal meaning of that word). It is contradictory and incoherent, but "timeless existence" is perfectly sensible and non-contradictory. Given the manmy biblical indications of Jesus' eternal existence, that interpretation is the most reasonable one. The Bible doesn't contradict itself.

We can dismiss EGW EIMI as being a name by two simple points. First, by the fact that it was simply a standard part of the Greek language. This is evident by the fact that others used it.

They said "I am" in normal discourse, but so what? They didn't use it in the sense that Jesus did. He used it in the sense of Exodus 3:14, where God said to Moses:

I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

As usual, Jesus was claiming to be God.

And when one translates Ex 3:14 so poorly, you can definitely get that idea. The Hebrew text here reads EHYEH ASHER EHYEH. Referencing Ex 3:12 in your KJV (or any other Bible), you will find the phrase "I will be." This is properly translated from the Hebrew word EHYEH. It is not, and should not be translated as I AM, but as I WILL BE. For example, The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible:

The meaning of is obscured by the conventional translation I am who I am., which implies that God is the ground of his own existence. The Hebrew verb denotes, not abstract being, but manifestation in a definite character, or name; and its form indicates habitual manifestation in past, present, or future. Since English requires a tense, the best rendering is 'I will be as I will be.'

Further, Rabbi Jordan D. Cohen writes:

Moses perceived that the people would want to know which attribute of God they can expect to encounter; that is, what their experience of God will be, and what is going to happen to them. God's answer, then, leaves things open-ended. Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh is based on the future tense conjugation of the Hebrew verb meaning "to be." Often translated as "I Am Who I Am," the phrase is more accurately translated as "I Will Be That Which I Will Be." The people will come to know God through their unfolding experiences together.

But what of the LXX? Here it reads EGW EIMI hO WN. In this rendering, God is not claiming to be the I AM, but he is claiming to be the hO WN (THE BEING). Thus, Brenton properly renders Ex 3:14 LXX as, "And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING has sent me to you." Jesus never once identifies himself as "THE BEING," and we can thus be certain that John 8:58 is in no way a reference to Ex 3:14.

You quote a Jewish rabbi; I will quote the great convert from Judaism: Alfred Edersheim, from his Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah:

He had spoken of Abraham seeing His day; they took it of His seeing Abraham's day, and challenged its possibility. Whether or not they intended thus to elicit an avowal of His claim to eternal duration, and hence to Divinity, it was not time any longer to forbear the full statement, and, with Divine emphasis, He spake the words which could not be mistaken: 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM.'

It was as if they had only waited for this. Furiously they rushed from the Porch into the Court of the Gentiles, with symbolic significance, even in this, to pick up stones, and to cast them at Him . . . It had been the first plain disclosure and avowal of His Divinity . . .

(Vol. 2, Chapter 8: http://www.piney.com/EdLifeVol2Desc08.html )

Second, in 8:58, but the use as a proper name simply does not fit. Let us consider:

Before Abraham came into existence, Dave.
Before Abraham came into existence, Steve.

Do these make sense? No.

Those names do not denote pure existence. "Dave" (as I should know) means "beloved." So that sentence makes no sense. But if a timeless being calls Himself "I am," as God did in the burning bush (precisely using the phrase as a name) and as Jesus did, it makes perfect sense, because the logical and relational contrast is between "before a certain being began, I existed. I am (I always was and always will be; I was never not existing)."

There is nothing within the verb EIMI that denotes eternal existence though. There is no linguistic basis for such a statement, only theology. It simply is the present tense of "to be." Nothing more, nothing less. EGW EIMI does not state "I always was and always will be; I was never not existing." That is simply a priori assumption placed on the text.

If EGW EIMI is a proper name, it is functioning exactly as Dave and Steve do in these two accounts, and this is completely ungrammatical, so we know this perspective to be invalid.

Rather, your logic is invalid, because it would also rule out "Jehovah" (that is, YHWH, as the Jews referred to God) using "I am" as a name for Himself. We know that this happened; therefore it is possible.

Jehovah does not ever use "I am" as a name for himself though. Rather, he uses EHYEH ASHER EHYEH, or EGW EIMI hO WN. Never EGW EIMI. You are removing historical context of the tetragrammaton and the divine name usage of the Hebrew text all together in your above comment.

Does it somehow denote eternal existence though? Well taking EIMI to its root form, we simply get ES, which means "to be." In effect, EIMI is showing a state of being. In this case, a present state of being. Now, PRIN is an adverb showing him in a prior state, that is "before Abraham," and more specifically before his coming into existence. So, he is a state of being before Abraham. That is all that is stated by this. A specific time limit is not placed, it could be eternity or it could be one hour. It does not say.

Then Jesus should have said "I was" (which would denote existence prior to Abraham, but not necessarily eternal existence. Instead, He used "I am" -- which implies eternal existence since it is a present tense applied to a distant past, and because God the Father used it, and we both agree that He is eternal. Greek lexicons agree (as always) with the orthodox trinitarian interpretation:

. . . ego eimi as a self-designation of Jesus in Jn. 8:58 (cf. 8:24; 13:19) stands in contrast to the genesthai applied to Abraham. Jesus thus claims eternity. As he is equal to the Father (5:18 ff.), what is ascribed to the Father is attributed to him, too (cf. Is. 43:10 LXX). The context and the ego formulation are both Jewish. The point is not Jesus' self-identification as the Messiah ("I am he") but his supratemporal being.

(Kittel, TDNT, 207)

Likewise, Marvin Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946; originally 1887; vol. 2 of 4, 181; hereafter "WSN") states:

Jesus' life was from and to eternity. Hence the formula for absolute, timeless existence, I am (ego eimi).

The Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan: 1961; originally 1864; hereafter "JFB") states:

The words rendered "was" and "am" are quite different. The one clause means, 'Abraham was brought into being'; the other, 'I exist.' The statement therefore is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did (as Arians affirm is the meaning), but that He never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; in other words, existed before creation, or eternally (as ch. 1:1).

(p. 1047)

Nobody is saying that the verse indicates Christ coming into being. Rather, the truth of the matter is that there is nothing implied for the amount of prior existence. It could be a month, a year, eternity. It does not say! You can quote these commentaries, but not one of these deal with the fact of the construction. John 8:58 is an established example of the Present of Past Action idiom (PPA). A number of Greek grammars can be referenced on this fact. As long as you continue to think of it as English, you will continue to make these errors because you ignore the Greek idiom. In this particular case, PRIN is setting the EGW EIMI in the past. That is, Jesus was in a state of being (EIMI) prior to Abraham. That is the only thing stated here. Nothing more.

Regarding this, there are a variety of alternative translations to this verse. For example, C.B. Williams renders this as "I existed before Abraham was born."

An eternal being would exist before Abraham; correct . . . but "am" and "existed" are not exactly synonyms.

Yes, in Greek they could be considered synonyms. The initial definition provided by Thayer is actually "to exist." Liddell-Scott and many other provide "to exist" as well, so lexically, they are very much synonyms. But that said, yes an eternal being would exist before Abraham, as would angels, who are not eternal.

On this verse, the Lockman foundation, the people behind the NASB, have stated regarding the footnote stating "I have been" as an alternate translation from the 1970 edition, that "The translation "I have been" was originally given simply as a smoother, more grammatically correct (in English) rendering…"

So that said, John 8:58 simply proves Jesus' prior existence, nothing more.

The fact remains that "I am" is the overwhelming choice of Greek scholars. I have found 30 translations which use it: KJV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, ASV, NIV, NEB, REB, NAB, TEV, MLB, NKJV, CEV, Phillips, Amplified, Jerusalem, Confraternity, Rotherham, Barclay, Weymouth, Wuest, Douay, Darby, Knox, Geneva, Montgomery, Norlie, Jay Green Interlinear, Bible in Basic English, Young's Literal Translation.

It is hardly the "overwhelming choice" that you make it out to be.

It certainly is among the most-used and most well-known Bible translations. Your list below contains scarcelyany of those. And there is a reason for that. The "I am" rendering is indeed the best. It's relevant to see what the majority of scholars think about that point (that's why, after all, you and I have both been citing scholars all through this dialogue. Their opinions mean something).

You note the NASB as one translation that does it, but do not forget the 1970 ed. footnote renders it as "I have been." Further, here are just some of the translations with alternate renderings:

New American Standard Bible (NASB) (margin 1960-1973 editions): Or, "I have been."
The Living New Testament: "The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."
The 20th Century New Testament: "before Abraham existed I was."
The New Testament, An American Translation Goodspeed: "I tell you I existed before Abraham was born."
The Complete Bible, An American Translation Goodspeed: "I tell you I existed before Abraham was born."
New Believers Bible, New Living Translation: "I existed before Abraham was even born."
The New Testament, C. B. Williams: "I solemnly say to you, I existed before Abraham was born."
The Book, New Testament: The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."
The Living Bible: "I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."
The Four Gospels, Lattimore: "Truly, truly I tell you, I am from before Abraham was born."
The New Testament, From the Peshitta Text, Lamsa: "Before Abraham was born, I was."
An American Translation, In The Language of Today, Beck: "I was before Abraham."
New Testament Contemporary English Version: "I tell you.that even before Abraham was, I was, and I am."
The Living Scriptures (Messianic Version): "I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."
The Unvarnished New Testament: "Before Abraham was born, I have already been."
The New Testament, Klist & Lilly: "I am here-and I was before Abraham."
The New Testament in the Language of the People, Williams: "I existed before Abraham was born."
The New Testament, Noyes: "From before Abraham was, I have been."
A Translation of the Four Gospels, Lewis: "Before Abraham was, I have been."
The Syriac New Testament, Murdock: "Before Abraham existed I was."
The Curetonian Version of the Four Gospels, Burkitt: "Before Abraham came to be, I was."
The Old Georgian Version of the Gospel of John, Blake & Briere: "Before Abraham came to be, I was."
Nouvum Testamentum AEthiopice, Platt, Lepzip: "Before Abraham was born, I was."
The New Testament Or Rather the New Covenant, Sharpe: "I was before Abraham was born."
The 20th Century New Testament 1904: "Before Abraham existed I was already what I am."
The New Testament, Stage: "Before Abraham came to be, I was."
The Coptic Version the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Horner: "Before Abraham became, I, I am being."
The Documents of the New Testament, Wade: "Before Abraham came into being, I have existed."
The New Testament in Hebrew, Delitzsh: Before Abraham was, I have been."
The New Testament in Hebrew, Salkinson & Ginsberg: "I have been when there had as yet been no Abraham."
The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Swan: "I existed before Abraham was born."
The New Testament (in German) Pfaefflin: "Before there was an Abraham, I was already there."
The Authentic New Testament, Schonfield: "I existed before Abraham was born."
Biblia Sagdrada, Roman Catholic: "Before Abraham existed, I was existing."
The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Noli: "I existed before Abraham was born."
The Concise Gospel and The acts, Christianson: "I existed even before Abraham was born."
A Translators Handbook to the Gospel of John, Nida: "Before Abraham existed, I existed, or.I have existed."
The Simple English Bible: "I was alive before Abraham was born."
The Original New Testament, Schonfield: "I tell you for a positive fact, I existed before Abraham was born."
The Complete Gospels Annotated Scholars Version, Miller: "I existed before there was an Abraham."

My attempt is not to see who can provide the most translations that agree with them, but rather I go into length in providing translations that agree with this rendering to show the errors of this line of proof. One or One Hundred Translations, the issue that needs to be addressed is the grammar. It's pure foolishness to reason that the most translations wins or establishes a point more than the other. Quoting someone when you aren’t fit to conclude if the information is accurate or not would not be a valid argument; you are disproving your witness, and not fit to quote them on any other grounds than your theological bias, and that’s circular reasoning in its purest form.

Very well, then; I'll take up your challenge. I have allowed you to go on and on about this on my website. Now it is my turn. Since I know nothing about either Greek or Hebrew grammar and linguistics, I will cite more people who do (if what I have already cited is not enough), and I will add some relevant exegetical arguments also. Christian apologist Sam Shamoun, in a superb Internet article responding to Muslim arguments against Jesus and trinitarianism, writes:

First, in the book of Revelation Christ identifies himself as "the Being" who has eternally existed, i.e. Yahweh:

"Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. 'I am the Alpha and Omega', says the Lord God,'The Being/The One (ho on) who is and who was and who is to come, the ALMIGHTY (pantokrator)’." Revelation 1:7-8

Jesus Christ, the coming pierced One, identifies himself as "The Being" (ho on) who eternally exists, the Almighty. The phrase "who is and who was" refers to the eternal nature of God, and hence implicitly affirms that Jesus is Yahweh:

"And the angels of the waters say, `You are just, O Holy One, who are and who were, for you have judged these things; because they shed the blood of saints and prophets, you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!' And I heard the altar respond, 'Yes, O Lord, the ALMIGHTY (pantokrator), your judgements are true and just!'" Rev. 16:5-7 NRSV

Therefore, Jesus in Revelation 1:8 is claiming to be the eternal God Yahweh.

Second, Jesus' "I AM" statements tie in with the Hebrew Ani Hu references of Isaiah:

"Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called: I AM HE (ani hu); I am the First, and I am the Last." Isaiah 48:12 NRSV

That the phrase "I AM" in Isaiah implies Deity can be clearly seen in the following verses:

"Now then, listen, you wanton creature (i.e. Babylon), lounging in your security and saying to yourself, 'I AM (Greek Septuagint- ego eimi), and there is none besides me’… You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, 'No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I AM, and there is none besides me.'" Isaiah 47:8, 10

God rebukes Babylon for claiming to be the "I AM", believing herself to be a God like Yahweh. Hence, the "I AM" is used to denote absolute Deity and sovereignty, being used as a synonym for Yahweh.

Compare Yahweh's words with Jesus:

"Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, 'Whom are you looking for?' They answered, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Jesus replied, 'I AM HE' (ego eimi)… When Jesus said to them, 'I am he,' they stepped back and fell to ground." John 18:4-6 NRSV

The fact that the soldiers fell to the ground when Jesus uttered the words "I AM" affirms that the phrase served to identify Christ as Yahweh God. Otherwise, there would be no reason for the soldiers' falling down to the ground.

Finally, Jesus applies the very title of Yahweh in Isaiah 48:12, "First and Last," to himself in Revelation 1:17-18:

"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, `Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, and the living one. I was dead, and see I am alive forever and ever, and I have the keys of Death and Hades'." NRSV

Hence, from no matter what angle we look at it, there is no escaping the fact that Jesus does identify himself as Yahweh God.

("I am or I was?," http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Ghounem/iam.htm )

Shamoun writes: "Greek scholars such as Daniel B. Wallace explain why John 8:58 cannot be classified as a historical present":

The text reads: prin 'Abraam genesthai ego eimi ("before Abraham was, I am"). On this text, Dennis Light wrote an article in defense of the New World Translation in the Bible Collector (July-December, 1971). In his article he discusses ego eimi which the New Word Translation renders, "I have been." Light defends this translation by saying, "The Greek verb eimi, literally present tense, must be viewed as a historical present, because of being preceded by the aorist infinitive clause referring to Abraham's past" (p. 8). This argument has several flaws in it: (1) The fact that the present tense follows an aoristinfinitive has nothing to do with how it should be rendered. In fact, historical presents are usually wedged in between aorist (or imperfect) indicatives, not infinitives. (2) If this is a historical present, it is apparently the only historical present in the NT that uses the equative verb eimi. The burden of proof, therefore, lies with the one who sees eimi as ever being used as a historical present. (3) If this is a historical present it is apparently the only historical present in the NT that is in other than the third person.

The translation of the New World Translation understand the implications of ego eimihere, for in their footnote to this text in the NWT, they reveal their motive for seeing this as a historical present: "It is not the same as… (ho ohn, meaning 'the Being' or 'The I Am') at Exodus 3:14, LXX." In effect, this is a negative admission that if ego eimiis not a historical present, then Jesus is here claiming to be the one who spoke to Moses at the burning bush, the I AM, the eternally existing one, Yahweh (cf. Exod. 3:14 in the LXX, ego eimi ho on).

(Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, 530-531)

Christian apologist Robert M. Bowman Jr., comments on a 1957 Watchtower article which asserted that John 8:58 involved the "historical present,":

The article in question was unable to cite any scholarly writings of any kind in support of their claim that John 8:58 was an historical present. Instead, they simply quoted definitions and illustrations of the idiom from two textbooks in Greek Grammar, Hadley and Allen's Greek Grammar and A. T. Robertson's massive Grammar. Ironically, these two sources themselves disprove that John 8:58 is an historical present, sometimes in the very words quoted by the Watchtower! The following points prove beyond reasonable doubt that the historical present is irrelevant to John 8:58.

1. The historical present is an idiom in which past events are narrated, story-telling fashion, in the present tense, as a vivid, dramatic way of projecting the reader or listener into the narrative. In John 8:58, on the other hand, Jesus' words do not tell a story or describe a past event, but instead simply state a comparison between Abraham and Jesus.

All of the Greek grammars agree on this understanding of the historical present. Hadley and Allen are cited by the Watchtower itself as stating that the idiom is used 'in vivid narration.' Robertson agrees. Some Grammars distinguish between the historical present used in records (sometimes called 'annalistic' use) and that used in narratives (usually called the 'dramatic'); a few divide the dramatic between the historical narratives and reports of dreams and visions. According to Robertson, the New Testament uses the dramatic form of the historical present; but in any case, Christ's words n John 8:58 do not fit any of these categories of historical presents.

This idiom is common in all languages, including English; Funk and Wagnal's Standard Desk Dictionary defines it as 'the present tense used to narrate a past event.' In English it is most common in conversation, not writing. Robert Funk gives the following sentence as an example: 'Then these guys come in see, and I say to them, "Where do you think you're going?"' In both Greek and English, then, the historical present is defined and used the same way. There is simply no valid way to define historical presents to include John 8:58.

(Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ, & the Gospel of John, Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Book House, 1995, 100-101)

Bowman continues his analysis of John 8:58:

What is it about this contrast between genesthai and eimi that has led to such a solid consensus throughout the centuries among biblical scholars that the words contrast created origin with uncreated eternal existence? By itself, of course, the word eimidoes not connote eternal preexistence. However, placed alongside genesthai and referring to a time anterior to that indicated by genesthai, the word eimi (or its related forms), because it denotes simple existence and is a durative form of the verb to be, stands in sharp contrast to the aorist genesthai which speaks of ‘coming into being.’ It is this sharp contrast between being and becoming which makes it clear that in a text like John 8:58 eimi connotes eternality, not merely temporal priority . . .

He (Jesus) chose the term that would most strongly contrast the created origin in time of Abraham with his own timeless eternality, the present tense verb eimi... Thus, had Jesus wished to say what JWs understand him to have said—that he merely existed for a long time before Abraham—he could have said so by saying, ‘Before Abraham came into existence, I was,’ using the imperfect tense emen instead of the present tenseeimi. (This point was made by Chrysostom and Augustine, and reaffirmed by such Reformers as Calvin, and is also a standard observation found in most exegetical commentaries on John and never, to this author’s knowledge, disputed in such works.) Such a statement would have left open the question of whether or not Jesus had always existed, or whether (like the angels) he had existed from the earliest days of the universe’s history. Or, had he wished to make it clear that (as JWs believe) he had himself come into existence some time prior to Abraham, he could have said so by stating, ‘Before Abraham came into existence, I came into existence’ (by using the first person aorist egenomen instead of eimi), or perhaps more simply, ‘I came into existence before Abraham.’ Having said neither of these things, but rather, having chosen terms which went beyond these formulations to draw a contrast between the created and the uncreated, Jesus’ words must be interpreted as a claim to eternality.

(Bowman, ibid., 114-116)

Prominent biblical commentator D.A. Carson, writes about John 8:58 in his commentary on John (PNTC series):

Once more Jesus solemnly announces, I tell you the truth. If he had wanted to claim only that he existed before Abraham, it would have been simpler to say, 'before Abraham was, I was.' Instead, bringing forward the use of ego eimi found in vv. 24, 28, Jesus says, 'before Abraham was born, I am.' Whatever doubts may attach themselves to whether or not ego eimi should be taken absolutely in vv. 24, 28, here there can be none.

Kenneth S. Wuest, well-known Greek scholar and Bible translator himself, wrote in his article: "The Deity of Jesus in the Greek Texts of John and Paul," Bibliotheca Sacra, July 1962, 220-221:

The AV reports our Lord as saying to the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58 AV). "Was" is ginomai, the verb of "becoming," not eimi, the verb of being. It is ingressive aorist, signifying entrance into a new condition. Our Lord said, "Before Abraham came into existence, I am." He does not contrast Abraham's previous existence with His eternity of existence, but Abraham's coming into existence with His eternal being. There is a contrast between Abraham as a created being and our Lord as uncreated, the self-existent, eternal God.

The great Bible scholar C.H. Dodd concurs:

The implication is that Jesus does not stand within the temporal series of great men, beginning with Abraham and continuing through the succession of the prophets, so as to be compared with them. His claim is not that He is the greatest of the prophets, or even greater than Abraham himself. He belongs to a different order of being. The verbgenesthai is not applicable to the Son of God at all. He stands outside the range of temporal relations.

(C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1985 [1953], 261)

The late Catholic scholar Raymond E. Brown wrote:

Against this background the absolute use of ‘I AM’ by the Johannine Jesus becomes quite intelligible; he was speaking in the same manner in which Yahweh speaks in Deutero-Isaiah. For instance, in John 8:28 Jesus promises that when the Son of Man is lifted up (in return to the Father), ‘then you will know ego eimi’; in Isaiah 43:10 Yahweh has chosen Israel, ‘that you may know and believe me and understand ego eimi.’ The absolute Johannine use of ‘I AM’ has the effect of portraying Jesus as divine with (pre)existence as his identity, even as the Greek Old Testament understood the God of Israel.

(Raymond E. Brown, Introduction to New Testament Christology, Paulist Press; Mahwah, NJ 1994, 139)

For an extremely in-depth further treatment of these grammatical issues concerning John 8:58, see the helpful and informative article by Sam Shamoun, cited above (I have linked it). Further excellent articles delving into John 8:58, the "I AM" passages of the Old Testament, and related issues, by this same writer can be found at:


12) JOHN 10:30-33 I and {my} Father are one. (31) Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. (32) Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? (33) The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

I believe there is more to the surrounding context than what’s being presented within this verse. How can you just leave out Jesus' response to these very charges as if they are of no importance to the issue? I can only hope you may have done this in error, not by intentional dishonesty.

No need to become alarmed; I'm happy to deal with all your objections as you raise them. "I and my Father are one" is certainly a striking statement of equality with God the Father. One wonders what sort of language it takes if this is so easily dismissed as not meaning what it plainly means.

There are a few factors that must be examined from this context. First, we must take note of Jesus' reply.

Joh 10:34 Jesus answered them, Has it not been written in your Law, "I said, you are gods"? 35 If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken, 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, You blaspheme, because I said, I am Son of God?

Now the fact that Jesus quotes from Psalms 82:6 with the plural "gods" in his defense is of significant interest. This shows us that the QEOS that they said Jesus was making himself was not the definite Almighty God, but something else. After all, were he claiming to be the Almighty God, quoting this verse would be of no value in defense. And thus we find significance in the fact that QEOS is John 10:33 that QEOS is anarthrous, and can validly be translated as "a god." This really goes to show us that contextually, Jesus' claim was not to be God.

First of all, this argument doesn't work within the Arian framework of polytheism, because it would prove toomuch. You believe Jesus is "a god." To my knowledge you don't believe that all men are gods (like the Mormons) and like Jesus in that respect, for we were not all "God's first and greatest creation" and primary ambassador to mankind. We didn't all die on behalf of men's sins, etc. Jesus is unique. So if all Jesus was saying that He was "a god" merely in the sense that everyone is "a god," then we have massive polytheism, rather than the monotheism and condemnation of polytheism which is established from many biblical passages (see the section on monotheism and polytheism in my paper on the Holy Trinity for these proofs). Jesus claims that He is "one" with the Father: quite different from the rest of us.

First of all, You may find yourself not knowing as much as you thought about the beliefs and understandings of that of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and your above comments reveal that as truth, and this is not the first time we note this within this discussion's framework. We are not Arian and we are not polytheists.

Arians believed that Jesus was not eternal but created by the Father in order to be an instrument to create the world. It is clear that Arianism is the historical precedent for Jehovah's Witness belief. You may think you are unique but you are not; it is just a recycling of a heresy which originated in the 4th century. There may be some minor differences (e.g., Arius believed that the Holy Spirit was a person), but in the essentials Arianism and Watchtower theology are the same.

We do not believe all men are gods (in the divine sense), nor do we believe that all become such.

And that is exactly why I wrote: "To my knowledge you don't believe that all men are gods (like the Mormons)."

But properly, God in Hebrew denotes one being mighty and strong, nothing more. Psalms 82:6 uses ELOHIYM in a sense of ones having authority, being mighty in their authority to pass judgment. These ones called gods are not worshipped or anything of the sort. They are mighty, and so ELOHIYM is applied to them. Mountains are even called EL, but they are certainly not alive. Yet, they are mighty in size. Your quoted comments also seem to validate our understanding.

You miss my point entirely. I suggest that you read it again, very carefully. You don't seem to grasp the implications of what you are arguing. Furst, you reduce Jesus from God to a mere man and creature (but still God's greatest creation). Now by the above incoherent argument, you make Him no different from the rest of us, by applying Ps 82:6 to Him in a way that applies to all men (as you argued earlier). That takes away any uniqueness that Jesus has even in Jehovah's Witness theology.

Since the Bible teaches monotheism, exactly what, then, did Jesus mean when He said "you are gods?" We must find a meaning which doesn't reduce to pantheism (everyone and everything is god), and which preserves Jesus' special, preeminent role and the utter uniqueness of God. Thus I will turn to the commentators and lexicons to provide a clear answer to our "dilemma". Robert M. Bowman, Jr., an expert on trinitarian theology, writes:

. . . there are a few passages in Scripture which seem to call men "god" or "gods" . . . In practice, the question of whether the Bible ever calls men "gods" in a positive sense focuses exclusively on Psalm 82:6 ("I said, 'you are gods'") and its citation by Jesus in John 10:34-35.

The usual view among biblical expositors for centuries is that Psalm 82 refers to Israelite judges by virtue of their position as judges representing God; it is, therefore, a figurative usage which applies only to those judges and does not apply to men or even believers in general . . .

As will be seen, Irenaeus applies this to believers.

An alternative interpretation agrees that the "gods" are Israelite judges, but sees the use of the term "gods" as an ironic figure of speech. Irony is a rhetorical device in which something is said to be the case in such a way as to make the assertion seem
ridiculous (compare Paul's ironic "you have become kings" in 1 Corinthians 4:8, where Paul's point is that they had 
not become kings). According to this interpretation, the parallel description of the "gods" as "sons of the Most High" (which, it is argued, is not in keeping with the Old Testament use of the term "sons" of God), the condemnation of the judges for their wicked judgment, and especially the statement, "Nevertheless, you will die as men," all point to the conclusion that the judges are called "gods" in irony.

This is amazing then, because this totally removes the historical usage of these verses, as will be seen.

If the former interpretation is correct, then in John 10:34-35 Jesus would be understood to mean that if God called wicked judges "gods" how much more appropriate is it for Him, Jesus, to be called God, or even the Son of God. If the ironic interpretation of Psalm 82:6 is correct, then in John 10:34-35 Jesus' point would still be basically the same. It is also possible that Jesus was implying that the Old Testament application of the term "gods" to wicked judges was fulfilled (taking "not to be broken" to mean "not to be unfulfilled," cf. John 7:23) in Himself as the true Judge (cf. John 5:22,27-30; 9:39). Those wicked men were, then, at best called "gods" and "sons of the Most High" in a special and figurative sense; and at worst they were pseudo-gods and pseudo-sons of God. Jesus, on the other hand, is truly God (cf. John 1:1,18; 20:28; 1 John 5:20) and the unique Son of God (John 10:36; 20:31; etc.)

If this were irony, as Rob argues, then it was no defense for Jesus. In that same line of thought, the Jews would have clearly identified Jesus, in their eyes, as continuing to be worthy of death. Robertson (RWP) accurately explains this though:

The judges of Israel abused their office and God is represented in Psa_82:6 as calling them “gods” (theoi, elohim) because they were God’s representatives. See the same use of elohim in Exo_21:6; Exo_22:9, Exo_22:28. Jesus meets the rabbis on their own ground in a thoroughly Jewish way.

Thus, in their representation they are called gods, not in irony.

Neither the representative nor the ironic interpretation of Psalm 82 allows it (or John 10:34-35) to be understood to teach that men were created or redeemed to be gods. Nor is there any other legitimate interpretation which would allow for such a
conclusion. The Israelite judges were wicked men condemned to death by the true God, and therefore were not by any definition of deification candidates for godhood.

If, then, the deification of man is to be found in Scripture, it will have to be on the basis of other biblical texts or themes, as Scripture gives men the title of "gods" only in a figurative or condemnatory sense.

("'Ye Are Gods?' Orthodox and Heretical Views on the Deification of Man," Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1987, page 18)

The deification of man is not being argued for, but simply the fact that men are indeed called gods. That is the entire point.

Jimmy Williams, founder of Probe Ministries, offers a similar analysis:

The contexts in both John 10 and the Old Testament Psalm which Jesus quoted (Psalm 82:6) are very important in understanding our Lord's answer to the Jews which were about to stone Him . . .

. . . let us look at Psalm 82 to determine its context and the theme/purpose of the Psalm. The entire psalm is a scathing rebuke aimed at unjust judges in contrast to the just Judge of all the earth. In reality, Asaph, the author of the psalm, is crying out for God to do something about the corrupt judges of his day; they show partiality, they neglect caring for the downtrodden, the weak, the afflicted, etc. Then in verse 6, God Himself speaks, and says:

"I said, 'You are gods (Elohim),
And all of you are the sons of the Most High."

Some observations:

1. The words, "Elohim" (God)," and "Yahweh" (Lord), are the two major names of God in the Old Testament. It is Elohim that is used here in verse 6.

IF you think the divine name or YHWH means lord you are grossly in error. Have you confused the definition with adon. (Strong's H113) ? Men are called lord in the Hebrew scriptures; if what you assume is true, where is a example of YHWH being applied to man? ELOHIYM is not a name, but a title. It is used for men (Psa. 82), angels (Psa. 8:5), Moses (Ex. 7:1) and false gods such as Dagon (Jdg. 16:2), whereas YHWH is a personal name, only applied to the FATHER.

2. Its meaning in Psalm 82:6 does not imply that men are gods. It rather refers specifically to the fact that God has appointed judges to act in a dignified, God-like manner in the discharge of their God-appointed responsibilities.

Whatever the meaning, the point remains that these men are called gods, as are angels and others.

3. Actually, the word "Elohim" is also used in verse 1 of both God and men:

"Elohim (God) takes His stand in His own congregation; He (God) judges in the midst of the Elohim (corrupt judges who are acting like Gods--said in sarcasm)."

Notice in John 10 that Jesus reminds these accusers from the first half of Psalm 82:6 that God is the one who appoints the human judges with their awesome responsibility: "Ye are gods." He goes on in the second half of the verse to remind them that sons are supposed to resemble their Fathers: "And all of you are the sons of the Most High." Neither the judges in the psalm nor the Jewish leaders confront Him were reflecting this.

4. In jurisprudence there are two types of authority: de facto and de jure. The Most High God (Elohim Himself) has de facto authority. It is an un-derived authority. He has it because He is God. De jure authority, on the other hand, is derived, or delegated authority. And delegated authority makes one responsible to the one who did the delegating! The second half of verse 6 is a solemn reminder that these judges are called "Sons" of God, because they are to represent faithfully a justice which reflects their "Father," the Judge of all the earth.

5. Now the words of Jesus in John 10 make a lot more sense. If you or I had come to earth as the Messiah, we would probably have been moving about and taking every opportunity possible with people to verbally emphasize who we really were: Elohim. But Jesus didn't do that. He chose rather to imply His identity through the miracles, through the Parables, through His actions. It was as if He was careful that a person came to the conclusion that He was Elohim solely of their own accord, and with no pressure or persuasion on His part, though He was eager for them to come to this very conclusion.

6. Notice that in the dialogue in John 10 with these angry Jews, Jesus could have taken the "bait" and said, "I am Elohim!" But He doesn't. He claims identity with the second half of Psalm 82:6, the one that models a relationship to His Father exactly like what God is desiring from the judges in Psalm 82. Even though Christ is Elohim, He functions during the Incarnation in a de jure capacity to the Father and faithfully carries forth His responsibilities to His Father: accomplishing His mission to redeem the human race (John 3:16).

("What Did Jesus Mean When He Quoted the Scripture 'You Are Gods'?")

All this is filled with priori assumptions that Jesus is in fact God, importing this viewpoint unto this passage. Only by doing that can one’s conclusions even remotely begin to try match with what you would like to be found. Please see the above comments Circular Reasoning.

The arguments by Bowman and Williams are quite sufficient in themselves and require no additional comment from me. I am confident that the reader will see that you have not answered them, but basically have dismissed them without serious counter-reply. This will not do.

Jerome H. Neyrey, S.J., a learned Catholic Bible scholar, goes into extreme and fascinating depth in his treatment of this passage:

Unless Psalm 82 is used in a purely extrinsic manner in John 10:34-36, then we must investigate how it functions as an apology to a specific charge in the forensic dynamics of John 10. The starting place is 10:30, where Jesus claims "I and the Father are one (or equal)." The crowds correctly interpret this to mean that Jesus in some way claims "equality with God." His claim leads them to a judgment, "blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God" (10:33). Several questions arise: In what respect are Jesus and God "one" (or equal)? Is it true that Jesus "makes himself" God? This means that we must examine both the earlier part of John 10 to see in what sense Jesus and God are "equal" and the subsequent apology in 10:34-38 to see how Psalm 82 relates to the claims of equality . . .

First, it nowhere states here that Jesus is equal with God, as Neyrey imports into the text. Further, he overlooks the possible translation of "making yourself a god."

In 10:28-30 Jesus makes newer and bolder claims Although formerly this Gospel claimed that believers by their own judgment come to life and pass beyond death (3:16-19; 5:24), now Jesus asserts that he himself is the giver of eternal life: "I give them eternal life and they never perish" (10:28a). He asserts that "no one shall snatch them out of my hand" (10:28b). Thus, Jesus now functions as the active agent of life, as giver of eternal life and as protector of his sheep even in death. Yet these claims would put him on a par with the all-powerful God.

But does this put him on par with God? No, because God gave him the ability to do this (John 3:35).

10:29 states two things about God. First, God is "greater than all" in virtue of God's ruling or executive power . . . Second, of God it is said, "My Father…has given them [the sheep] to me and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand" (10:29). Concerning the latter remark, then, Jesus and God are alike, even equal.

Jesus (10:28) The Father (10:29)

I give them eternal life My Father…has given
and they shall not perish them to me
and no one shall snatch and no one is able to snatch
them out of my hand. them out of the Fathers hand.

Again, this does not make them alike or equal. How so?

Joh 17:6 "I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have observed your word.

So these ones are given to Christ by God. Christ did not have them, but now he does.

Joh 17:9 I make request concerning them; I make request, not concerning the world, but concerning those you have given me; because they are yours, 10 and all my things are yours and yours are mine, and I have been glorified among them.

Now while they are given to Jesus, we see that they are still God's as well. They now belonging to both, so truly they are in the hands of both. Does this make Jesus God though? Not even remotely, because God always had them, but he had to give them to Jesus.

I've already dealt at length with distinctions between the Persons of the Trinity and how this doesn't make them less than equal in essence and glory. You are again choosing not to seriously interact with the specific argument presented. You merely interject your own thoughts, which is what I call "mutual monologue", not "dialogue." So I need not spend time on it, given the already-excessive length of this exchange. When particular arguments are deliberately avoided, the weakness of one's case is shown.

I would only note in passing (again) that the attribute of "having all things that are God's" can only be an attribute of God. This is such an obvious and simple point that it can easily be overlooked (exactly what you seem to have done).

[Neyrey continues]

To underscore the boldness of Jesus' claims, the text emphasizes that "God is greaterthan all” (10:29b), thus raising God above all other creatures, be they of no power or great power. Yet Jesus claims that he is "equal to" God who is "greater than all," when he draws the conclusion in 10:30, "I and the Father are hen."

Literally hen means "one." But the context suggests that this adjective be translated as "equal to" or "on a par with." Jesus claims far more than mere moral unity with God, which was the aim of every Israelite; such moral unity would never mean that mortals had become “god;” as Jesus' remark is understood in 10:31-33. The very argument in John, then, understands hen to mean more than moral unity, that is, "equality with God." By way of confirmation, 1 Cor 3:7 indicates that hen can mean "equality." In virtue of the comparison noted above, Jesus claims equality with God, who is "greater than all," because there is “no snatching out of their hands.” To what does this refer?

First of all, hEN cannot be translated as "equal to" or "on part with." hEN is a numeral, it means one. It does not mean "equal to" or anything of the sort. Rather, John 17 disproves this theory completely. Consider

John 17:21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.

Here we see that we are to be one, as the Father is in Christ and Christ is in the Father. But the key here is that we are to be one in them! If hEN is denoting equality, or being one in them would mean that we in fact, as Christians, are equal to God! Would we ever claim such? No, not at all.
Rather, 1 Co 3:7 does not denote equality, but it denotes a unity of thought towards a single goal, here in the sense of growing seeds, bringing people to the truth.

In the context of 10:28, Jesus claims both the power to give eternal life so that his sheep do not perish and the power to guard them from being snatched. “Being snatched,” then, has to do with life and death, such that Death has no ultimate power over Jesus' sheep. Conversely, this implies that Jesus has such power from God so that he is the one who gives eternal life and rescues the dead from the snares of Death (see John 5:25, 28-29; 6:39, 44, 54; 8:51; 11:25). Since God alone holds the keys of life and death, Jesus claims an extraordinary power which belongs exclusively to God. There is substance, then, to the claim that Jesus and the Father are "equal" (10:30).

Again, where does scripture say that this is something that belongs exclusively to God? It does not, but rather the Bible clearly tells us that God gave Jesus the ability to do this (John 3:35).

I have shown at great length that the Fourth Gospel clearly and formally argues that Jesus is "equal to God" (5:18; 10:33) because God has given him full eschatological power (5:21-29). God gave him power (1) to give eternal life (5:21; 10:28), (2) to judge (5:22, 27; 8:21-30), (3) to be honored as Lawmaker and Judge (5:23), (4) to have life in himself (5:26; 10:17-18), and (5) to raise the dead and judge them (5:28-29). In fact, 5:21-29, a summary of Jesus' eschatological power, functions as a topic statement which the Gospel subsequently develops in chaps, 8, 10, and 11. The claims in 10:28-30, then, continue the exposition of Jesus' full eschatological power.

The key word in all of this is that "God gave him..." Jesus did not possess the power and ability in and of himself, as God always has.

. . . Our focus necessarily turns to the apology in 10:34-36. How does the Fourth Gospel understand and use Psalm 82, and does this usage have any relationship to the claims made in 10:28-30? As we begin, let us pay special attention to the form of the charge in 10:33. Jesus is accused of "making himself" equal to God, a charge that dominates the many forensic proceedings against him:

5:18 "…making himself God"
10:33 "you, a man, 
make yourself God"
19:7 "he 
made himself the son of God"
19:12 "who 
makes himself king…"

The evangelist distinguishes two elements of the judgment against Jesus: (1) Does Jesus make himself God or equal to God? (2) In what sense is Jesus equal to God or “god”? The distinction is important, for the Johannine Gospel denies the former half, that is, that Jesus makes himself anything, but carefully explains and defends the assertion of his equality with God.

In response to the charge of blasphemy, Jesus advances an argument from scripture using Psalm 82. When he cites Ps 82:6 in 10:34, he establishes the mode of argument by comparing two things: if scripture was not in error calling mortals "gods" (Ps 82:6), then neither is there error in calling the one whom God consecrated and sent into the world "the Son of God" (10:35-36).

Jesus' reference to "Son of God" in 10:36 does not weaken the argument by reducing the claim from “god” to “son of God,” because if one continues reading Ps 82:6, the two terms are considered parallel and equivalent there ("I said, 'You are gods, all of you, sons of the Most High'"). In claiming to be the consecrated "Son of God," he does not claim less than what is claimed by being "god" according to Ps 82:6. On the contrary, he claims more.

. . . The Fourth Gospel always criticizes people who take things literally, either Jesus' word or the scriptures. Regularly we find a pattern where Jesus makes a statement, which his hearers misunderstand because they take it on a literal level, which leads Jesus to issue a clarification which exposes the spiritual or inner meaning of his words . . .

In summary, John 10:34-36 can be said to understand Ps 82:6 and use it in specific ways.

(1) According to 10:34-35, Ps 82:6 (“I said, ‘You are gods’”) is understood to refer to Israel at Sinai when it received the Torah (“to whom the word of God came,” 10:35).

(2) Implied in this understanding is the intimate link between holiness :: deathlessness :: godlikeness. The Fourth Gospel cites only an abbreviated form of this, holiness :: godlikeness

(3) Ps 82:6b (“sons of the Most High”) is cited by Jesus when he calls himself “Son of God” (10:36), and it refers to his godlikeness in terms of holiness (see “consecrated and sent”).

(4) Ps 82:6 does not touch the substance of the claims made in 10:28-30 which precipitated the forensic process in 10:31-39. It functions as an adequate refutation of the erroneous judgment of Jesus’ judges, who charged that he, “a man, makes himselfequal to God,” This judgment is false because God makes him “Son of God.”

(5) According to the apology in 10:34-36, holiness is linked with godlikeness in ways that are appropriate to human beings, first Adam, then Israel. Jesus would be a mere human being even if acclaimed “god/Son of God,” as was Israel. But the forensic argument in John 10 claims much more. No mere human being, Jesus is a heavenly figure who is “equal to God.” His equality rests not on holiness but on divine powers intrinsic to him, that is, full eschatological power.

(6) Jesus’ claims in regard to power over death always remain important in John 10. In this Gospel, his deathlessness does not formally derive from sinlessness/holiness as in the case of the midrash on Ps 82:6, but from full eschatological power which God gave him over death (5:21-29; 10:17-18). In 5:18 and 10:30, Jesus may be called “equal to God” for a much greater reason than ever justified calling Israel god, namely, because of powers intrinsic to him. Power over death is the specific content of “equal to God.”

(7) If we are correct that Ps 82:6 is understood in 10:34-36 in line with its basic midrashic interpretation, then the remark in 10:28-29 that “no one shall snatch them out of my hand” probably echoes what the midrash discusses in terms of the Angel of Death whose power over God’s people was restrained. The Angel of Death will not snatch Jesus’ followers/sheep either from his hand or God’s hand.

("I Said: You Are Gods": Psalm 82:6 And John 10," [much more in the article],
Journal of Biblical Literature 108 [1989]:647-63
http://www.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/Gods.html )

Clearly, all this commentary, while interesting to read, does not really provide any proof. These are the simply facts:

1) Men and others are called gods
2) Jesus was accused of making himself "a god" not hO QEOS (the Almighty God, Jehovah). "A god" is clearly the most accurate translation here, as Jesus uses the plural QEOI (gods).
3) Jesus defends himself in doing such, showing that men are called gods, so he can be called such too.

Further though, commenting on John 10:34, Albert Barnes clearly concurs with this, stating:

This was said of magistrates on account of the dignity and honor of their office, and it shows that the Hebrew word translated “god,” `elohiym, in that place might be applied to man. Such a use of the word is, however, rare. See instances in Exo_7:1; Exo_4:16.

John Gill further agrees with this as well:

which is spoken to civil magistrates, so called, because of their authority and power; and because they do, in some sort, represent the divine majesty, in the government of nations and kingdoms. Many of the Jewish writers, by "gods", understand "the angels". The Targum paraphrases the words thus:

"I said ye are accounted as angels, as the angels on high, all of you;''

Clearly, these commentaries understand these verses correctly and in that men with a God-given authority are called gods.

Further, note what Irenaeus writes:

And again: "God stood in the congregation of the gods, He judges among the gods." He [here] refers to the Father and the Son, and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church. For she is the synagogue of God, which God-that is, the Son Himself-has gathered by Himself. Of whom He again speaks: "The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken, and hath called the earth." Who is meant by God? He of whom He has said, "God shall come openly, our God, and shall not keep silence; " that is, the Son, who came manifested to men who said, "I have openly appeared to those who seek Me not." But of what gods [does he speak]? [Of those] to whom He says, "I have said, Ye are gods, and all sons of the Most High." To those, no doubt, who have received the grace of the "adoption, by which we cry, Abba Father."

Again, you have chosen largely not to interact with the specific arguments given, so there is no need for me to further elaborate. As far as I am concerned, the arguments I have cited have triumphed.

The fact remains that the Hebrew Elohim can be used in the sense of judges. We see this, in, e.g., Exodus 21:6 and 22:9 (KJV: "judges"). William Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, reprinted 1979 from 1847edition, p. 49), differentiates its usages, which vary according to context:

1) "of the true God" (Dan 11:38, Hab 1:11, Deut 32:15, Ps 50:22; 40 times in Job)
2) "
of any god" (Dan 11:37-39, 2 Chron 32:15, Neh 9:17)
3) "of 
gods or deities in general, whether true or false" (Ex 12:12, 18:11, 22:19, Gen 35:2,4. Deut 29:18, 32:17, Ps 86:8, Is 44:6, 45:5,14,21, 46:9, 2 Chron 13:9)
4) "once applied to 
kings" (Ps 82:1, especially verse 6)
5) "Not a few interpreters . . . have regarded 
Elohim as also denoting angels (see Ps 8:6, 82:1, 97:7, 138:1) and judges (Ex 21:6, 22:7-8) . . . Hebrews 1:6 and 2:7,9 show plainly that this word sometimes means angels, and the authority of the NT decides the matter"
6) "of an 
idol, a god of the Gentiles" (Ex 32:1, 1 Sam 5:7, 2 Kings 1:2-3,6,16, 1 King 11:5

This entirely supports the point being made. Men are called gods, angels are called gods, judges are called gods, kings are called gods, etc. So to call Jesus "a god" is not polytheism, it is not unscriptural. It is entirely accurate within the historical context of scripture and you have thus entirely proven our point by this reference.

Readers can determine who has made a better and more biblical, cogent, coherent case.


Continue to Part 3