Monday, April 1, 2019

The Divine Council Myth (Part 1)

Recently, The Bible Project started a series on spiritual beings. The third video in the series spoke of The Divine Council, a hypothesis that has been propagated, most notably, by Dr. Michael Heiser. In fact, Heiser was credited as a Script Consultant at the end of the video. It is my position that this theological perspective is not only incorrect, but also an affront to the splendor and glory of God. 

Due to the popularity of The Bible Project, and the fact that this video has accumulated over 250,000 views in just a couple of weeks, it seems necessary to offer a biblical response. In this four part series, I will present the key texts involved, the four main interpretive views, the challenges to each view, and my conclusion.

Passages in Question (KJV)

Psalm 82

1   God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
2   How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
3   Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4   Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5   They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6   I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
7   But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
8   Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

John 10

30   [Jesus said] “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.”
34   Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35   If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.”

Initial Response

The passages in question easily trip up the Christian as he seeks to understand their meaning. Does the Bible really teach that there was a council of multiple deities in the pre-existence? Does Jesus intend to teach that all men are children of God and can become deities themselves? To answer these questions, the text must first be clarified so that the original intent of the authors can be seen.

Original Language

1.      Psalm 82:1 is translated into English in many different ways, but each translation conveys the idea that God holds judgment among other rulers/judges.
2.      Psalm 82:1 says, “Elohim…judges in the midst of Elohim.” The word Elohim can mean God (as in Genesis 1:26, Deuteronomy 6:4, etc.); however, it also refers to other spiritual beings (see point 3 below). Furthermore, the word for “mighty” in this verse is El, which is the strictly singular word for “God” in Hebrew. Note Young’s Literal Translation of the verse: “God hath stood in the company of God, In the midst of God doth judge.”
3.      In the Hebrew Old Testament, Elohim is used to refer to a variety of subjects. The word is used over 2,600 times and there is debate as to whether the word always refers to spiritual beings who exist outside of the earthly realm. Yahweh, false gods, angels, demons, and even humans who have died are called Elohim. However, it is entirely possible that Elohim is used in reference to humans in Exodus 21:6, 22:8-9, and Deuteronomy 32:8.
4.      The New American Standard Bible (NASB) imposed its theological deduction on Psalm 82:1 when it rendered the verse, “He judges in the midst of the rulers,” (emphasis added). The understanding of the translation committee was that the gods referenced are earthly rulers/judges. (See the MacArthur/White view in part two.) 
5.      The term, “children of the Most High” in Psalm 82:6 (akin to “sons of God” in other parts of the Bible), is often used in reference to angels. C. Fred Dickason wrote, “This term (sons of God) does not reflect the holy nature of angels—because Satan, the evil one, is classed among them—but it does speak of their might.”[1]


1.      The context of Psalm 82 is relatively unknown, other than that it was authored by Asaph.
2.      In John 10, the Pharisees labeled Jesus as a mere man who was claiming deity, which they understood as blasphemy. In Jesus’ response, He offered an argument against their claim.
There are two ways to understand His response.
a.       He is proving His deity by appealing to Scripture that speaks of multiple deities. He quotes Psalm 82 in order to make the argument, “Scripture speaks of divine plurality; therefore, it is completely possible that I am divine.”
b.      He is softening their offense at His claim by appealing to Scripture that uses the word
Elohim in reference to men. He quotes Psalm 82 in order to make the argument, “Scripture speaks of human leaders (fallen men) also called gods and children of God; therefore, I can claim the title of god or son of God without blaspheming.” 

Additionally, it is worth noting that the Septuagint translates Elohim as Theos, which is, of course, the word Jesus was using in John 10.

Most of this analysis to follow is focused on Psalm 82, as its context and interpretation will lead to answers to the questions about John 10. 

[1] C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Elect and Evil, 63


  1. You're missing the whole point; read Michael's book, Unseen Realm.

  2. Nowhere is the bible project suggesting that "Jesus intend to teach that all men ... can become deities themselves."
    I don't understand where you are getting this idea?