Monday, 10 November 2014

Does The “I Am” Statement Of Jesus In John 8:58 Prove That He Is God?

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

“I AM WHO I AM” or “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE” (Exodus 3:14)

Defenders of Christ-is-God theology cite John 8:58 as one of their biblical bases in proving their belief that Jesus Christ is God. Although there is no explicit statement from Christ in this verse that He is God, His statement is being understood by those who believe in His alleged deity as an indication and affirmation of His divinity. Why did they come up with this line of reasoning – that Jesus is God – simply because Christ uttered, “I AM”?

Because God also made the same statement in Exodus 3:14:

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

God declared “I AM” when He introduced Himself to Moses. Using the concept of parallelism, Trinitarians conclude that Jesus is God simply because Christ spoke the same terms uttered by God. This type of reasoning was utilized by Josh McDowell and Bart Larson, two defenders of the alleged divinity of Christ, in their book Jesus: A Biblical Defense Of His Deity, that Christ’s use of the term is a claim to deity:

“On several occasions Jesus used the term ego eimi of Himself as it can be used only of God. The clearest example is when the Jews said to Jesus, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, ‘I AM’ [Greek: εγω ειμι]. Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him (John 8:57-59). The Jews sought to kill Him for the presumption of that claim to deity” (p.22).

Josh McDowell and Bart Larson also proposed a concept that Jesus is the Almighty God. They claimed that:

“He took to himself the Old Testament names and titles for God and also allowed others to call Him by the same names and titles . . .  this Galilean teacher was claiming to be Almighty God” (ibid., p. 21).

Moreover, they maintained that,

“Jesus claimed for Himself the name of God which was most revered by the Jews, a name considered so sacred that the Jews would not even utter it: YHWH”  (ibid., p.22).

McDowell and Larson postulated a concept that Jesus is the Almighty God of the Old Testament. The same idea is shared by some Christian apologists who even went further in saying that Jesus was the Jehovah or the God who spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:14. Typical of these is Geisler’s reasoning in his book Christian Apologetics, wherein he alleges that:

“Perhaps the strongest and most direct claim of Jesus to be Jehovah occurs in John 8:58 where he said to the Jews, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am”. The Jews’ reaction left no doubt as to how they understood his claim. They knew he had claimed not only pre-existence before Abraham but also equality with God . . .  Jesus had clearly claimed to be the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14 that refers to Jehovah alone” (p. 331).

Is Jesus the God who said “I AM” in Exodus 3:14? The answer is NO! And when Jesus said “I AM” (Greek, εγω ειμι) in John 8:58, was He indicating His alleged divinity? Definitely not! What was He affirming in this verse? That He was before Abraham. How is He before Abraham when He was born later? It must be remembered that Abraham is His ancestor and therefore came into existence before He (Christ) was born. However, He is before Abraham because He was foreordained by God even before the foundation of the world (1 Pet 1:20). It is in this sense that He was before Abraham.

In the context of John 8 it should be noted that Jesus and the Jews were having an argument about Abraham and Jesus’ authority. There is nothing we can glean from the chapter that Jesus was claiming to be God. Rather, He told the Jews that He is “a man” telling them the truth which He heard from God (John 8:40). Jesus was not telling the Jews that His name is “I AM”. Likewise, He never told them, “I am God.” If Jesus were God, He would have plainly told them so. On the contrary, Jesus clarified to them that He came from and was sent by God (John 8:42).

It is true that Christ uttered the statement egō eimi, and God also spoke the equivalent of those words in Hebrew in Exodus 3:14. But does it prove that He is the same God who spoke in the Old Testament? No. Christ was not the only one who uttered these words. The truth is, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, there were others who used the same words. In fact, in Judges 13:11 of The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English by Sir Lancelot Brenton, it is stated:

“And Manoa arose and followed his wife, and came to the man, and said to him, Art thou the man that spoke to the woman? And the angel said, I am.”

The angel said to Manoa, “I am”. Now, would our Trinitarian friends accept that the angel is also the true God for the reason that he uttered the same statement? Aside from that angel, who else uttered the same terms? In John chapter 9 verse 9, the formerly blind man emphatically stated, egō eimi! Does that make him or qualify him also as the God of the Old Testament because he uttered what God declared in Exodus 3:14? Let our Trinitarian friends answer that question.

One could not notice immediately that Jesus and the formerly blind man had uttered the same statement egō eimi because most English translations rendered John 9:9 differently. Below are a few of the English translations of the Greek term egō eimi, spoken by the formerly blind man: 

·         “I am he” (King James Version)
·         “I am he” (New King James Version)
·         “I am the one” (New American Standard Bible)
·         “I am the man” (New International Version)
·         “I am the man” (New Revised Standard Version)
·         “I am the man” (Today’s English Version)
·         “I am the same one!” (New Living Translation)

The addition of the words “he” or “the man” in these translations somehow conceal the fact that Jesus and the formerly blind man spoke the same words in the Greek New Testament.

Is it true, as Geisler alleges, that Jesus is the Jehovah who spoke in Exodus 3:14? It must be noted that the term Jehovah is how others translate the Tetragrammaton – YHWH, one of God’s names in the Old Testament. If this allegation that Jesus were the same God who uttered the statement “I AM” in Exodus 3:14 were true, then our Trinitarian friends would have to accept that aside from having a Jesus who is Jehovah, there is another Jesus, the servant of Jehovah. Why? Going back to Exodus, chapter 3, Jehovah or YHWH, in English, Lord, introduced Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in verse 15. However, in the New Testament, the same God or Jehovah, was introduced by Peter as the One who glorified Jesus, His servant. This is his testimony as it is written in Acts 3:13:

“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.”

Now consider these scenarios: if Jesus were the God who spoke to Moses in the burning bush, then who would be His servant by the name of Jesus in Acts 3:13? Are we prepared to accept that there are two Jesuses, one who is the God of Abraham and one who is called the servant of the God of Abraham? Is there such a thing in the Bible as “Jesus who is the servant of Jesus”? There is none! The Jesus who is the servant of God is truly different from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus is not the Jehovah of the Old Testament as Geisler and his co-apologists avow.

Moreover, Apostle Paul teaches that Jesus is the seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16). How could Jesus be the seed of Abraham and at the same time His God (Matt 22:32)? Therefore, serious theological implications would result if we accept the Trinitarian’s view that Jesus was the YHWH or God who spoke to Abraham in Exodus 3:14.

The three-word name of God in Exodus 3:14: EHYEH-ASHER-EHYEH

Aside from the four-letter name of God, YHWH, technically called Tetragrammaton, which is commonly translated into English as “Yahweh” or “Lord” in some modern English versions and “Jehovah” in some older English versions of the Bible, the Hebrew Bible mentions of God’s various names such as “Elohim” (Gen 1:1), “El Elyon” (Gen 14:18), “El Shaddai” (Gen 17:1), and the three-word name of God “EHYEH-ASHER-EHYEH” in Exodus 3:14 is translated as “I AM WHO I AM” in most English versions of the Old Testament.

Although majority of the English versions of the Bible render the three-word name of God “EHYEH-ASHER-EHYEH” in Exodus 3:14 as “I AM WHO I AM, it must be noted also that this is how the translators perceived it as a translation of God’s name. However, is “I AM WHO I AM” the most precise English translation of the Hebrew name of God? Rabbi Joseph Telushkin answers:

“At one point, Moses says to God: “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’, and they ask me, What is His name? what shall I say to them? God answers: ‘Ehyeh-asher-ehyeh’. Thus you shall say to the Israelites, Ehyeh sent me to you.” The three-word name God gives Himself is not easy to translate. The most precise rendering is ‘I shall be what I shall be’, although it sometimes is translated as ‘I am that I am’. The 1962 Jewish Publication Society translation of the Torah despaired of coming up with an accurate rendition, and just left the words in their Hebrew original” (Jewish Literacy, pp. 47-48).

To a Jewish scholar like Telushkin, the most precise rendering of ehyeh-asher-ehyeh is “I shall be what I shall be.” And he is not alone in this view. Wayne Grudem, a Protestant theologian, translated God’s name similar to Telushkin’s understanding. He reasons:

“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”. It is also possible to translate this statement “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE” (Systematic Theology, p. 161).

Furthermore, in the footnotes of several English translations of the Bible, we could find their difficulty in translating God’s name. Below are several examples: 

·         “Since it seems related to the word translated ‘I am’, it may mean ‘I am the one who is’ or ‘I will be what I will be’ or ‘I am the one who brings into being’ ” (CEV).
·         “Or I will be what I will be” (NIV).
·         “I am: or I will be what I will be” (New Revised English Bible).
·         “Or I am what I am or I will be what I will be” (NRSV).

One could notice that the translators had a difficult time getting a possible translation into English of God’s name in Exodus 3:14. Nobody for sure is certain as to how God’s three-word name should be translated into English.

In view of these things, there is no parallelism between John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14. Although Jesus uttered the Greek terms egō eimi, there is no concrete proof that He is the same God who said this term in the Hebrew Bible. We can say that there is a deception involved on the part of some Christ-is-God apologists when they tried to equate Jesus’ words in John 8:58 with God’s statements in Exodus 3:14.

In the final analysis, there is no parallelism between God’s statement in Exodus 3:14 and Jesus’ statement in John 8:58. His utterance of the Greek term egō eimi is not a proof of His alleged divinity.


Brenton, Lancelot Cd., The Septuagint With Apocrypha: Greek and English. Peabody, Maryland, USA: Hendrickson Publishers, n.d.

Geisler, Norman L., Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA: Baker Book House, 1976.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter- Varsity Press; Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.

Joseph, Telushkin. Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History. New York, USA: Wiliam Morrow and Company, Inc., 1991.

McDowell, Josh and Bart Larson. Jesus: A Biblical Defense of His Deity. San Bernardino, California, USA: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1983.



  1. Hi Bro. Aerial, it's been awhile since your last post and I think the long wait for your next post is over. Glad to read a new post from your blog. Btw, I have this question from my friend that I need a concrete answer to, of course with right explanation. Please let me give you my email address and I hope you may find time to email me and there I shall ask you THAT question. Thank you and more power, beloved brother!
    Your brother in Christ from Metro Manila North

    1. Search me in Facebook by my email..

      So that we can chat also if I'm online...

      Thank you and God bless brother.

  2. Jesus version of "I am" was in reference to this phrase "before Abraham was, I am"

    how can we deny his remark which is in reference to his existence
    way back to the time of Abraham?

    u made a numerous false assertions about this phrase.

    There was only one voice being heard in the time of Abraham and that voice came from God.

    however, the word God in hebrew is Elohim, a collective noun for Eloah which is in singular form.

    Moses chose to write Elohim to allay proof that God is not a one individual God as ur trying to assert here.

    John, the disciple had it to describe the very exact position that Jesus had assume.

    -In the beginning was the Word,
    and the Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.

    the title word can be translated as Speaker or a Spokesman of the family of God.
    the role of this speaker can liken to the congress where a group of lawmakers voted a one speaker who can speak on behalf of their group.

    so we can exactly know what was the title "word" mean to us according to the bible.
    Jesus was made a speaker by God the father to deliver his purpose to mankind.

    "And the Father who sent me has himself testified
    concerning me. You have never heard his voice
    nor seen his form "

    if the father has not been heard ever since then who was this a lone voice in the time of Abraham?
    the answer is:

    “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

    1. BY the way. I am sure you remember me. you were the one who was going to SEEK me out and tell the locale my wife and I were How did that work out?

      I am so happy to tell you that my dear loving wife saw the "LIGHT" and left the INC.
      And now even better news is that her sister is leaving too.
      You know why?

      They began reading the bible for the first time and saw how INC manipulates scripture.. How CHRIST is GOD in the flesh.

      And under the radar which INC would NEVER publish is the many more who are leaving this CULT. Yes CULT is a strong word but no doubt about it is that INC is a RELIGIOUS cult!

      And it could not have come at a better time as all this turmoil within the SUPPOSED One TRUE church.

      BUT for me the turning point for my wife and her sister was when the church was trying to lure her back in and on 2 different times sent a minister to our home
      The question was posed to each of them by my wife

      " If there was NO TRUE church for 1900 years until Felix

      1. Did GOD show MERCY to anyone who lived during this time and saved them?
      2. If YES ;; then WHO paid for their sins?

      The first minister who came said:

      They will pay for their own sins by whats on their hearts
      To see the look on my wife;s face with this RIDICULOUS answer..
      I knew right then she was seeing the ERROR of INC teaching

      The second minister said

      " NO one was saved as there was NO TRUE CHURCH during this time , thus no God-sent ministers to teach the TRUE WORD as all had become CATHOLICS"

      Thanks to GOD that both my wife and I know that the answer to this simple question

      **** JESUS **

      " NO one can come to the FATHER
      says the LORD

      That mean when anyone that is SAVED from ETERNAL separation from GOD

      had to be of the BODY of CHRIST

      so that their souls could be IMMERSED in HIS blood to be WASHED of SIN

    2. well i don't remember who u are. can u enlighten me about ur personality?

    3. u can add me on ur facebook as Winston James. thank u

    4. "They began reading the bible for the first time and saw how INC manipulates scripture.. How CHRIST is GOD in the flesh."

      well thank God for it. unfortunately i don't belong to any religion of this world. but it won't stop me seeking God until now. it's a feeling of freeing from the lie of these religions. a real genuine FREEDOM!
      i feel like Jesus is with me all the time.

      do the thing like i did and u will feel the same freedom that i felt.

    5. sorry my replies are to the owner of this blog Aerial
      I used to post here until he rudely blocked me

      MY wife used to be in this religious CULT and this Aerial did NOT like me exposing them for all their false doctrines

      Back then in 2011 I do believe he even posted a pic of the locale church where my wife attended and told anyone on here to search for

      AS you can see from what he writes INC has no clue as to who JESUS is

    6. yeah! they created their own Christ as prophesied.
      The true Christ must be literate and obedience to the laws of God,
      such as the Sabbath keeping. Because the Sabbath identifies the true creator. they lost it that's why they don't know Christ who claimed he was the Lord of the Sabbath.
      Lording over his subject is a proof of being a creator.

  3. Well your opinion on "I AM" has many flaws with regards to the verses you cited

    1. WORD is a TITLE for CHRIST like LAMB etc

    John 1:1 in the Greek WORD was with GOD means that the SON was in a "FACE to FACE" relationship with the FATHER

    2.. You say that the FATHER " SENT" CHRIST ?

    This is TRUE. However INC denies the existence of CHRIST before the world was created
    So how can the FATHER "SEND" HIM if HE doesn't exist yet?

    JESUS said " For I came DOWN from heaven SENT by the FATHER"
    3. John 17:5

    " Father RETURN to me that GLORY

    I HAD with you from BEFORE the world was created"

    How can HE have HAD GLORY from PRIOR to creation

    if INC insists HE did NOT exist yet?

    Where did that GLORY go to that JESUS asks for it BACK?

    The bible is clear as to the DEITY of CHRIST

    INC denies it by taking the simple meaning of words used and twisting scripture to agree with their man-made FALSE doctrines.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Well Mr. ERIC, it is just too simple. Why Christ said that he came from God? It is because He was created by God.
    According to the Bible, there is only one God (I Timothy 2:5), Christ is a man and a mediator between man and the God. And according to Christ himself HE IS A MAN TELLING THE TRUTH (John 8:39-40). He is the head of the Church (Eph. 5:23) and the Saviour of the body.

    Thus, if we are going to ACCEPT YOUR CONCLUSION, the who is this ANOTHER CHRIST WITH OTHER GOD MENTIONED IN John 20:17 "that he will descend to his father, our father, his God and our God"? If you will insist that CHRIST IS GOD then you are BEING AGAINST OF WHAT APOSTLE TIMOTHY SAID THAT there is one God.

    Which of the two of you do you think I will believe in, APOSTLE TIMOTHY OR YOU?

  6. And I would like to ask you if how do you INTERPRET THE WORD ONLY THERE would be ANOTHER ONE? there is ONLY ONE GOD, then There would be another God aside from the ONLY GOD?


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