By Ronald Day
"I am" in John 8:58
Was Jesus here claiming to be Ehyeh (First person of the Hebrew word Yahweh) of Exodus 3:14? Instead of claiming equality Jesus humbly and plainly said: "My Father is greater than I am" (John 14:28). The apostles taught similarly, e.g., Paul plainly states that "the head of Christ is God [the Supreme, or Mightiest One]." --1 Corinthians 11:3.
How could Jesus come in the name of Yahweh if he were Yahweh? (Psalm 118:26; Matthew 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; 19:38; John 5:25. Some have replied that this proves that Jesus is Yahweh, claiming that to "come in the name of Yahweh" means that Jesus was saying that he was Yahweh. But it is important to stay by God's Word in this matter. If one is the person in whose name he comes, then this would make every true prophet who came in the name of Yahweh to be Yahweh. (Deuteronomy 18:22; 1 Chronicles 21:19; James 5:10) This would also make the ten men who spoke in the name of David to be David himself. (1 Samuel 25:5) This would make the Levites Yahweh. (Deuteronomy 10:8; 18:5,7) Additionally, this would make David Yahweh, since he came in the name of Yahweh. (1 Samuel 17:45; 2 Samuel 6:18; 1 Chronicles 16:2) This would make Jeremiah the same being as Yahweh, since Jeremiah spoke in his name. (Jeremiah 20:9) Likewise this would make the church Jesus, for they are to gather in his name. (Matthew 18:20) Similarly with other scriptures that speak of Jesus' followers doing their works in the name of Jesus -- does this make them Jesus? (Matthew 18:5; Mark 9:37,39,41; 16:17; Luke 9:48) From all of these examples it should be clear that to come in the name of someone does not mean that you are that being; indeed the scriptures listed above show that when one comes in the name of a person, he comes as representative of that person. Thus when Jesus says he came in the name of Yahweh, his Father, he shows that he is not Yahweh.
How could Jesus sit at the right hand of the person of Yahweh if he were Yahweh, yet another person? -- Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:43-45; 26:64; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44; Acts 2:34; 7:55: 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20-22; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3,13; 8:1; 10:12,13; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22. That it is Yahweh who is identified as the Father can be seen from reading Ephesians 1:17-22. Thus the above scriptures give proof that the Father=Yahweh as well as that Jesus is Not Yahweh. The Father (Yahweh) is the only true God [Supreme, or Mightiest One] and Jesus is the only Lord [Master] over the church as he was made so by his Father, Yahweh, who sent him. -- John 17:1,3; Acts 2:36; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 4:4; John 8:42.
Since Jesus plainly declared that he was not the Father, Yahweh, who sent him, we need to look closely at John 8:58 to see what Jesus was saying. In the scriptures just before we read that the Jews were emphasizing, after Jesus told them they needed to be set free from the bondage of sin, that they never were in bondage, that Abraham was their great patriarch. In reply Jesus told them that therefore they should do the works of Abraham. When Jesus told them: "Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad," they replied that He was not yet 50 years old, and how therefore could he have seen Abraham (who died over 2,000 years previously)? He then let them know that his existence was not limited to the years he was spending on earth. Jesus told them that his existence was unbroken from eons before Abraham's day, and was unbroken thereafter. Hence he could truly say: "Before Abraham was, I am." Now if he had said he "was", he would have implied that he existed, but no longer exists.
Regarding this, Paul Johnson [a Hebrew and Greek scholar] states in his book Creation: "Please notice the expression, `I am' -- present tense. Why this? The expression is a Hebrew idiom and is used to express a non-terminated existence, i.e., the existence that Jesus as the Logos had before Abraham lived had never up to the time of His speaking in this text come to an end." -- page 45.
Jesus referred to himself as the Son of God, but NEVER as God the Son (Matthew 16:16,17; John 3:16-18; 5:25-27; 9:35-37; 10:36; 11:4) He frequently referred to God [the Supreme, or Mightiest One] as his Father. (Matthew 12:50; 16:17; 18:10,19; 20:23; 26:39,42; John 5:17; 6:32) The Jews objected to this -- though some of them expressed the same thought for themselves (John 8:41) -- and wrongly claimed that by saying God was his Father he was 'making himself equal with the Supreme Being.' -- John 5:18.
Regarding why the Jews wanted to stone Jesus, the Jews had been seeking to kill him for a long time. (Matthew 12:14; Mark 3:6; Luke 6:11; John 5:18; 7:1,19) Jesus said this was because he exposed their works as evil. (John 7:7). He further indicated that they were jealous of him when he asks them for which good work were they seeking to kill him. -- John 10:32 There is nothing in John 8:58 to warrant the conclusion that Jesus was claiming to be Ehyeh (or as some perfer, Ehyah) of Exodus. In the immediate context nobody asked Jesus WHO he was, but rather his age was being questioned. So WHY should Jesus take occasion to tell someone that he was the "I AM" when the CONTEXT of the verse indicates that the discussion had to do with the passage of time? Thus, the real thought of the Greek used here is that God's created "firstborn," Jesus, had existed long before Abraham was born. - Colossians 1:15; Proverbs 8:22, 23, 30; Revelation 3:14.
"I am" in John 8:24
In John 8:24 all Jesus was saying is he was the one sent by his Father from above as the light of the world -- the Son of God -- the Messiah. (John 8:12,14,18,23) Unless one believes in him as the one he claimed to be one will die in his sins. Many translations add the word "he" after "I am" here and in other verses. Other translators do not want anything after "I am". This, taken out of context, could give the false impression that any who do not believe that Jesus was the great Ehyeh of Exodus 3:14 will die in their sins. However, the result of this erroneous view is that it brings an unscriptural and somewhat unloving division (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3: 11;18) between those claiming to be Christians. It would have one believe that individuals who have accepted Jesus as their savior (John 3:16; Acts 4:12; 16:31) and that they have dedicated their lives to God (Matthew 16:24: Romans 12:1), but who do not believe that Jesus is Ehyeh of Exodus 3:14, will die in their sins. In other words, the erroneous view would lead one to assume that those who believe that Jesus is not Ehyeh of Exodus 3:14 are still unjustified despite sincere belief in Jesus as savior, and are not really Christians at all!
To determine whether the word "he" or other term should be supplied in English at John 8:24, we must take into consideration what the context and other scriptures show. In the previous context, Jesus first confounded the Scribes and Pharisees in the case of the woman taken in adultery (vs. 1-11). Then he said: "I am [ego eimi] the light of the world." He also said: "I am [ego eimi] from above." (vs. 23) He also used the same phrase with a negative when he said "I am not from this world." Thus it is evident from what Jesus was talking about in the previous context that in vs. 24 when he said "I am [ego eimi]" it would be understood to be associated with the context -- I am "from above", that is, I am from my Father, Yahweh, not "I am Yahweh." Since in English we do not usually go around stating "I am" and leaving the predicate understood from the context, it is proper for translators to supply the understood thought, thus, "I am he" -- the one I claim to be. It is obvious that Jesus was telling his hearers that unless they believed in him as the light of the world sent by his Father from heaven to be their savior, the Messiah, they would indeed die in their sins -- not if they did not accept Jesus as the great Ehyeh (Yahweh) of Exodus 3:14.-- See John 8:24 in ASV, RSV, NRSV, Darby, BBE, NIV, Young's, Webster's and Rotherham's translations, all of which are trinitarian translations.
This conclusion is confirmed also by Jesus' words in John 13:19: "Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he [ego eimi]." In the preceding context (vs. 14) Jesus told them: "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." So after the words "I am [ego eimi]" in verse 19 the words "he" (that is, "your Lord and Master"] can properly be supplied.
Likewise, In Acts 10:21 Peter said: "I am he [ego eimi] whom ye seek." It is true that the translators added the word "he" to the text to make it read more clearly. But if it is true that Jesus' statement, "I am," is a quote from the OT (Exodus 3:14--"I AM THAT I AM" -- KJV), meaning that he was God, then one could conclude that the man whose blindness Jesus healed in John chap. 9 was God, too. -- See John 9:9.
In John 9, people wondered if the man whose sight Jesus had restored was indeed the same man they had only known as a blind man, but the former blind man tells them, at verse 9, that he is indeed the same one. Is there any reason why more weight should be given to Jesus' statements at John 8:24,58 than to this other man's statement at John 9:9 ("I am [he])? Most will certainly not think that the man who was healed by Jesus was claiming to be Yahweh.
The word "Jesus" is taken from the Hebrew "Yahoshua", meaning "Yah is savior" or "Yah's savior". Jesus is the savior sent by Yahweh. Other scriptures of course make it very plain that it is faith in Jesus as the savior sent by Yahweh (the Father) that brings justification, so that those who thus loyally believe in him have the forgiveness of sins and will not die in their sins (Matthew 1:21; John 3:16,17; Acts 5:31; 13:38,39; Romans 3:24,25; Ephesians 1:5-8; 1 John 1:9) Nothing whatever is said about it being necessary also to believe that Jesus is Yahweh, Ehyeh mentioned in Exodus 3:14.
Continued at Part 2 >>>>