John 10:35 If he called them gods,

Spoken to: 

challengers

Context: 

Jesus is accused of blaspheme for saying he and the father are one. He quotes a psalm saying, "your are gods," in his defense.

KJV : 

John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

Literal Verse: 

Since those there he named "divines," for them, the message of the Divine came into being, and it doesn't have the power to be undone: this writing.

What is Lost in Translation: 

The translations' problems arise in three places: with the word translated as "if," with the phrase translated as "unto whom/to whom," and with the verb translated as "came." 

  • When the word translated as "if" cites a possibility,  the verb is in the form of possibility. When it cites a fact, as it does here with an indicative verb, its meaning is "since" or "as sure as."
  • The "to whom" sounds like it refers to the one calling people "gods." But it cannot refer to the singular speaker because it is a plural, referring to those being called "gods." The "to" is a proposition with many meanings. You can see the possibilities below, but the simplest is "for them."
  • The word translated as "came" means "to become," "to happen," or "to come into being." Its form is singular. Its subject is "the word." So the first sentence here is, "As sure as those he named 'gods,' for them, the message of the Divine came into being."

My Takeaway: 

Jesus saw potential divinity in everyone, not just himself.

Greek : 

Greek Vocabulary: 

εἰ [90 verses](conj) "If" is ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever," "in case," and "whenever." In citing a fact, it can mean "as sure as" or "since."  It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions. When appearing as εἰ δὲ (literally, "if however") the sense is "if this...then that".

ἐκείνους [107 verses](adj pl masc acc) "That" is ekeinos, which means "the person there," "that person," "that thing," and, in the form of an adverb, "in that case," "in that way," "at that place," and "in that manner."

εἶπεν [162 verses] (3rd sg aor ind act) "He called" is eipon, which means "to speak," "to say," "to recite," "to address," "to mention," "to name," "to proclaim," "to plead," "to promise," and "to offer." 

θεοὺς [144 verses](noun pl masc acc) "God" is theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

πρὸς [92 verses](prep)  "Unto" is from pros, which means "from (place)," "on the side of," "toward," "before," "in the presence of," "in the eyes of," "before (supplication, a judge, a witness)," "near" a time, "for" the moment, "proceeding from (for effects)," "dependent on," "derivable from," "agreeable," "in comparison with," "becoming," "like," "at the point of," "in addition to," "against," and "before."  It also means "dependent upon."

οὓς [294 verses](pron pl masc acc) "Whom" is hos, which means "this," "that," "he," "she," "which," "what," "who," "whosoever," "where," "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

[821 verses](article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

λόγος, [80 verses](noun sg masc nom) "Word" is logos, which means "word," "computation," "relation," "explanation," "law," "rule of conduct," "continuous statement," "tradition," "discussion," "reckoning," "reputation" (when applied to people), and "value."

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg masc gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

θεοῦ [144 verses](noun sg masc gen) "God" is theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

ἐγένετο, [117 verses] (3rd sg aor ind mid) "Came" is ginomai, which means "to become," "to come into being," "to happen," of things "to be produced," of events "happen," "take place," "come to pass," "to be engaged in," math "to be multiplied into," "become one of," "turn into."and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. When the participle takes a predicate, the sense is "coming into" something. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi) which indicates existence in the same state.

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "also." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even," "also," and "just."

οὐ [269 verses](partic) "Not" is ou , the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences.  The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

δύναται [61 verses](3rd sg pres ind mp) "Can" is the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities," "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

λυθῆναι   [10 verses] (aor inf pass) "Be broken" is lyo, (luo) which means "loosen," "unbind," "unfasten," "unyoke," "unharness," "release," "deliver," "give up," "dissolve," "break up," "undo," "destroy," "repeal," "annul," "break," "solve," "fulfill," "atone for," "fulfill," and "pay."

[821 verses](article sg fem nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

γραφή, [13 verses](noun sg fem nom) "Scripture" is graphe, which means "representing by means of lines," "a drawing," "writing," "the art of writing," and "that which is written."

KJV Analysis: 

If -- The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not. When citing a fact, as it does here, the sense is more "since" or "as sure as."

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

called - (CW) The word translated as "called" means "to say" and "to speak." It is one of the two most common words translated "speak," "say" and "tell," but it has more a sense of addressing and proclaiming. This is note the Greek word normally translated as "called." However, it can mean something like "named," which has the same sense.

them -- (CW) -- The word translated as "them," is an adjective that highlights its noun as being in a specific place or time from a word that means "there." Used a pronoun, the sense is "that one there" or "this one here." Used in the form of an adverb,  it means "in that case," "in that way," "at that place," and "in that manner." This is not the common pronoun translated as "them."

gods, -- The word translated as "gods" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

unto -- (CW) The word translated as "unto" means "towards," but this idea has a lot of different possible meanings. Referring, as it does here, to a group of people, its sense could be "for," "in the presence of," "in the eyes of,"  "agreeable," "in comparison with," and "against." This is not the "unto" that normally indicates an indirect object.

whom -- (CW) The word translated as "whom" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), and its form is plural matching the gender and case of "gods" and "them" above. Translating it as "whom" makes it seem like it refers to the singular speaker. It doesn't.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

word -- (CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means "calculation," or "reasoning," but it has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. However, when applied to people, it means "repute" or "reputation." More about this word in this article. In English, we would say "idea" to describe it but it also means the communication of various types, so "message" often works better.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

God -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

came, -- (WW) The word translated as "came" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. When applied to events, this word means "to happen," "to occur," or "take place." For things, it can be "to be produced." This is not the common word translated as "come."

and  -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is can be translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

scripture -- - (CW) "Scriptures" is a noun that means "writing", "the art of writing," and "that which is written," so, the "writings." It doesn't have the specific sense of religious writing that "scriptures" does. It might also be worth noting that the Greek word translated as "scriptures" literally means "a drawing." For the Greeks, both drawings and words created a "picture" or a man-made, artificial representation of reality.

can -- (CW) The word translated as "can" means having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. In Greek, it indicates ability or power. This is the active verb here, not a helper verb. It takes an infinitive as "have the ability" does in English.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

broken; -- (WF) The word translated as "broken" means to "unbind. "dissolve," "break up," "undo," "and means "to annul" a law. It is the same word Jesus uses to refer to "breaking" commandments. This is not an active verb, but an infinitive.

KJV Translation Issues: 

10
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "called" is not the common word usually translated as "called."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "them" is not the common word usually translated as "them."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "unto" is not the common word form usually translated as "unto."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "whom" is not singular, referring to the speaker, but plural, referring to the "gods."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "came" should be something more like "look."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "scripture" does not capture the general meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "can" is not a helper verb, but the active verb in the sentence.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "serve" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to server" or "to enslave oneself."

NIV : 

John 10:35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—

NIV Analysis: 

If -- The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not. It also means "if ever" and "whenever."

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

called - (CW) The word translated as "called" means "to say" and "to speak." It is one of the two most common words translated "speak," "say" and "tell," but it has more a sense of addressing and proclaiming. This is note the Greek word normally translated as "called."

them -- (CW) -- The word translated as "them," is an adjective that highlights its noun as being in a specific place or time from a word that means "there." Used a pronoun, the sense is "that one there" or "this one here." Used in the form of an adverb,  it means "in that case," "in that way," "at that place," and "in that manner." This is not the common pronoun translated as "them."

gods, -- The word translated as "gods" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

to -- (CW) The word translated as "to" means "towards," but this idea has a lot of different possible meanings. Referring, as it does here, to a group of people, its sense could be "for," "in the presence of," "in the eyes of,"  "agreeable," "in comparison with," and "against." This is not the "unto" that normally indicates an indirect object.

whom -- (CW) The word translated as "whom" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), and its form is plural matching the gender and case of "gods" and "them" above. Translating it as "whom" makes it seem like it refers to the singular speaker. It doesn't.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

word -- (CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means "calculation," or "reasoning," but it has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. However, when applied to people, it means "repute" or "reputation." More about this word in this article. In English, we would say "idea" to describe it but it also means the communication of various types, so "message" often works better.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

God -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

came, -- (WW) The word translated as "came" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. When applied to events, this word means "to happen," "to occur," or "take place." For things, it can be "to be produced." This is not the common word translated as "come."

and  -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is can be translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

scripture -- - (CW) "Scriptures" is a noun that means "writing", "the art of writing," and "that which is written," so, the "writings." It doesn't have the specific sense of religious writing that "scriptures" does. It might also be worth noting that the Greek word translated as "scriptures" literally means "a drawing." For the Greeks, both drawings and words created a "picture" or a man-made, artificial representation of reality.

can -- (CW) The word translated as "can" means having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. In Greek, it indicates ability or power. This is the active verb here, not a helper verb. It takes an infinitive as "have the ability" does in English.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

set aside; -- (WF) The word translated as "set aside" means to "unbind. "dissolve," "break up," "undo," "and means "to annul" a law. It is the same word Jesus uses to refer to "breaking" commandments. This is not an active verb, but an infinitive.

NIV Translation Issues: 

11
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "called" is not the common word usually translated as "called."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "them" is not the common word usually translated as "them."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "unto" is not the common word form usually translated as "unto."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "whom" is not singular, referring to the speaker, but plural, referring to the "gods."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "came" should be something more like "look."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "scripture" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "scripture" does not capture the general meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "can" is not a helper verb, but the active verb in the sentence.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "serve" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to server" or "to enslave oneself."

Related Verses: 

Front Page Date: 

Jul 21 2022