Before Abraham was, I Am
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. – John 8:58
Many use this particular passage to support the Trinity doctrine, or to ‘prove that Christ is God. In the Greek, ‘I am,’ or ‘I am he’ is ‘ego eimi.’ What many fail to understand that this is a common phrase in Scripture. In John 8:58, Christ was stating that he was the promised Messiah that was foreordained and promised before the days of Abraham.
Trinitarians try to make Christ’s words, ‘I am’ to correlate with Exodus 3:14.
And God said unto 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. – Exodus 3:14
However, there are several ways one can translate this verse.
In the LXX (Septuagint), ‘I AM,’ or ‘ego eimi ho on’ means 'the self-existing one.'
In Hebrew it means, ‘ehyeh asher ehyeh,’ or 'I am who I am,' or 'I will be what I will be.'
What God spoke in Exodus is nowhere near the meaning of what Christ said. In John 8:58, Christ is not claiming to be the ‘self-existing one,’ ‘I am that I am’ or ‘I will be what I will be,’ but was claiming to be the Messiah.
Christ never said, ‘ego eimi ho on,’ but ‘ego eimi.’
For those that want to suppose that ‘ego eimi’ equates to YHWH, then they must be consistent in other passages in the New Testament.
The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. – John 7:8-9
In this passage, the blind man said, ‘ego eimi,’ or ‘I am he.’
Are we to deduce from this verse that the blind man is YHWH.
And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. – Acts 26:29
Does Paul by simply stating, ‘I am,’ claim to be YHWH. It should be obvious it doesn’t and would be imposing eisegesis into Scripture that is not there.
In the common English language people introduce themselves by saying, ‘I am’ followed by their given name. The ‘I am’ in the statement is not part of their actual name, just as ‘I am” in John 8:58 is not the name of Christ’s name. Neither is it part of Yahweh’s name in Exodus 3:14. ‘I am’ is simply the beginning of someone identifying who they are.
- I am the self-existing existing one is God.
- I am the Messiah.
- I am the blind man who can now see.
- I am Paul.
The ‘I am’ statement in John 8:58 was Christ conveying that he was the coming Messiah that was known long before the days of Abraham.
John 8:58 should not be put in isolation, but to be understand in its context. Christ's opponents in verse 51 countered his remark by saying that he was not greater than Abraham or the prophets in verse 53. The truth is that Christ was commissioned by God and his purpose was superior to Abraham. Abraham saw a spiritual vision of the coming Messiah that was not only known by Abraham, but before him all the way back to the Father. Christ was the foreordination and foresight of God’s plans and purposes.
Christ’s claim of ‘I am he,’ or ‘I am the one’ runs like a golden thread all through John’s gospel. Its basis is laid in the conversation with the woman at the well.
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah comes," (he who is called Christ). "When he has come, he will declare to us all things." Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who speaks to you." – John 4:25-26
Testing the other ‘I am’ Statements in Scripture
If Trinitarians are going to be consistent with their eisegeses, then let’s ask a few questions.
Did Gabriel identified himself as God in Luke 1:19 when he said, ‘I am [ego eimi] Gabriel?’
In Luke 22:33, when Peter said to Christ, ‘I am [ego eimi] prepared to go to prison with you and to death, is he claiming to be God?
When John said, ‘I am [ego eimi] not the Christ,’ are we expected to believe it really means John the Baptist was identifying himself as God who is not the Christ in John 1:20?
When the centurion said, "I am [ego eimi] a man under authority in Matthew 8:9, are we to believe that the centurion was claiming to be God?
When Christ said one of his disciples would betray him and Judas said, ‘Not I am [ego eimi] Lord?’ are we to believe this really meant Judas was claiming to be God and God was going to betray Christ in Matthew 26:25?
Why aren't Trinitrians being consistent?
Could they have an agenda of twisting Scripture in an attempt to ‘prove’ something that is not there?
In this light, it seems that their implications are disturbingly ridiculous.
No one should regard ‘ego eimi’ being two Greek words to mean the divine name of God. To turn a routine language expression into the divine name of God exposes Scripture twisters as being disingenuous to suit their doctrinal preferences.
The Promised Seed
In John 8, Christ promised that all who would keep his words would obtain eternal life. The Jews were angered since all the prophets including Abraham were dead, it seemed to them that Christ was claiming to be greater than all the prophets.
Most certainly, I tell you, if a person keeps my word, he will never see death." Then the Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets; and you say, 'If a man keeps my word, he will never taste of death.' Are you greater than our father, Abraham, who died? The prophets died. Who do you make yourself out to be?" – John 8:51-53
The question the Jews were asking Christ was, ‘Who do you make yourself out to be.’
However, Christ denied making himself out to be anyone or anything. He did not claim to be God or to honour himself.
Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is our God. You have not known him, but I know him. If I said, 'I don't know him,' I would be like you, a liar. But I know him, and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it, and was glad." – John 8:54-56
Christ said he does not honour himself.
If Christ were claiming to be God, then he would be honouring himself would he not?
Either Christ is not God, or he was lying when he said he does not honour himself. He told the Jews that he knows God, the one they call their God.
If Christ was their God, why would he say that he knows their God and keeps His word?
The Jews therefore said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" – John 8:57
Christ said that Abraham ‘saw’ his day and rejoiced. He did not say that he saw Abraham, but the Jews twisted his words to make it say that he had known Abraham. However, the author of Hebrews puts Christ’s words in context.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. – Hebrews 11:13
Abraham had ‘seen’ Christ’s day. He awaited the promise that he would be the ‘seed’ of Christ.
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He doesn't say, "To seeds," as of many, but as of one, "To your seed," which is Christ. – Galatians 3:16
The Jews did not understand that Christ was the promised seed and that he was the Messiah.
This is the context of the famous declaration, ‘before Abraham was, I am.’ He was not stating that he was God. He did not say, ‘before Abraham, I AM that I AM.’ Yet, this is the Trinitarian tries to claim that he is YHWH. This is a lie because they ignore Christ’s words and impose their own eisegesis on a cherry-picked text. His response in John 8 is the opposite of what they are claiming because he made it clear that he was not God of the Jews because he knows the God of the Jews.
If we were to still go with the notion that Christ was claiming to be the great ‘I AM,’ we must remember that Christ stated that his words were not his own.
Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. – John 14:10
Christ did not speak of himself, but of the Father. Both the Jews of Christ’s time on earth and Trinitarians today do not understand this. Trinitarians use the error, lies and false testimony of the Jews to support their doctrine. In John, they use the reaction of the Jews as supposed evidence that their doctrine is correct siding with those who sought to stone him empathizing with them.
When the woman from Samaria met Christ at the well, she knew that he was the Messiah.
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah comes," (he who is called Christ). "When he has come, he will declare to us all things." Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who speaks to you." - John 4:25-26
A Declaration of Who and What You Are
Christ said that many would come in his name declaring that they are the one.
For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will lead many astray. - Mathew 24:5
He said, "Watch out that you don't get led astray, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is at hand.' Therefore don't follow them. - Luke 21:8
'Ego eimi' is the first person singular present tense (now) of 'to be' in the Greek. Christ used the 'I am' statements to declare who and what he was.
'I am' Statements
I am the Bread of Life
I am the light of the world
I am the door
I am the Resurrection
I am the way, the truth and the life
I am the root of the vine
With all the evidence, it should be evident in the 'I am' statements of Christ that he was not claiming to be God by quoting from Exodus 3:14 Rather, when he was asked what was the greatest of all commandments, he quoted the Shema.
Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one: 5and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. - Deuteronomy 6:4-5
One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the greatest of all?" Jesus answered, "The greatest is, 'Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. - Mark 12:28-30
Christ knew that there was only one God to be worshipped who was his Father, Yahweh.
We must be careful of those who impose their own eisegesis upon Scripture to make it say something that is not there. It is important to belive who Christ said he was, not what others suppose he is. Christ warned that people will die in their sins unless they believed in who he was.
I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins." - John 8:24
Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me. - John 12:44
To believe in Christ is to understand who he is and who is the one true God. It is a grave error to proclaim him to be something he is not.
This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. - John 17:3
In light of the evidence, do you believe "I am' stated by Christ in John 8:58 is a claim that he is God.
- A Closer look at Isaiah 9:6 without Dogmatic Presuppositions
The purpose of this article will be to explore in more detail Isaiah 9:6 by looking closer at alternative renderings of this verse in an attempt to refute some of the popular notions concerning it.
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