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In most translations of John 8:58, we read that Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Matt Slick, in his “100 Truths About Jesus“, gives the scriptures John 8:56-59, cross-referenced with Exodus 3:14, as support for his assertion that “Jesus Claimed to be God.” Walter Martin states concerning John 8:58 that Jesus “is revealed as Jehovah God in human form” (Kingdom of the Cults, 2003 ed, page 107) and Did Jesus claim to be God Almighty by any of his words recorded in John 8:56-59? Was Jesus claiming to be Ehyeh (First person singular of the Hebrew verb Hayah) of Exodus 3:14? Actually, this idea has to be read into what Jesus said.
Nevertheless, 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.
All through the scriptures, Yahweh (Jehovah) is presented as the God of Jesus, the only true God. Jesus is presented as having this only true God as the Supreme Being over him; Jesus is never depicted as his Supreme Being whom he worships, prays to, and who sent him, and whose will he carried out in willful obedience. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 4:4 (Deuteronomy 8:3; Luke 4:4); Matthew 4:7 (Deuteronomy 6:16); Matthew 4:10 (Exodus 20:3-5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:13,14; 10:20; Luke 4:8); Matthew 22:29-40; Matthew 26:42; Matthew 27:46; Mark 10:6 (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7,20-23); Mark 14:36; 15:34; Luke 22:42; John 4:3; 5:30; 6:38; 17:1,3; 20:17; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3,17; Hebrews 1:9; 10:7; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 2:7; 3:2,12.
From Genesis to Revelation, what we find in the scriptures is that Jesus was sent by Yahweh, speaks for Yahweh, represents Yahweh, and was raised and glorified by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We do not find any where that Jesus ever claimed to be, nor do the scriptures present Jesus as, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom Jesus represents and speaks for. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 22:32; 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; 12:26; Luke 13:35; 20:37; John 3:2,17,32-35; 4:34; 5:19,30,36,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; 20:17; Acts 2:22,34-36; 3:13,22; 5:30; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 8:6; 11:31; Colossians 1:3,15; 2:9-12; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 1:1.
We do find in the scriptures that Jesus is son of the only Most High, Yahweh. Jesus is never spoken of as the “Most High”; he is never spoken of as the only Most High Yahweh of whom he is the son, nor does his being the son of the Most High mean that he shares the nature of being the Most High, as some of claimed for the expression “Son of God”. — Genesis 14:22; Psalm 7:17; 83:18; 92:1; Luke 1:32; John 13:16.
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, by his words, demonstrates that he was not the only true God who sent him — Yahweh, 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” (John 8:56), 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.
The assertion is often made that Jesus claimed to be “God the Son.” In reality, Jesus referred to himself as the Son of God, but NEVER once spoke of himself as “God the Son”. (Matthew 16:16,17; John 3:16-18; 5:25-27; 9:35-37; 10:36; 11:4) He is the Son of the Most High; he is never presented as the Most High of whom he is the Son. He frequently referred to the only true 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; 17:1,3) 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 a sinner (John 9:24) ‘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
Nevertheless, many claim that Jesus was referring to himself as the “I am” of Exodus 3:14. In reality, there is nothing in John 8:58 to warrant the conclusion that Jesus was claiming to be Ehyeh (or as some prefer, Ehyah) of Exodus. Jesus simply responded to the question: “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Thus, the real thought of the Greek used here is that God’s created “firstborn,” Jesus, had existed long before Abraham was born, and that he was still in existence. – Colossians 1:15; Proverbs 8:22, 23, 30; Revelation 3:14.
Nor did the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob refer to himself with the Greek words “Ego Eimi”. One has to look for this expression in the Septuagint translation, not in words actually spoken in Exodus 3:14. Even in the Septuagint, however, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh of Exodus 3:14 is translated as “ego eimi ho ohn” — I am the being (Brenton’s translation). In the latter part of Exodus 3:14, Ehyeh by itself is NOT rendered as “ego eimi” but rather as “ho ohn”, “The Being”. Therefore, since the Septuagint gives the expression “ego eimi” an object, and if Jesus was quoting this from the Septuagint, he left the sentence dangling without an object.
Looking up Exodus 3:14 in the LXX, what do we find?
3:14 kai eipen o qeoV proV mwushn egw eimi o wn kai eipen outwV ereiV toiV uioiV israhl o wn apestalken me proV umaV — LXX, transliterated
Notice the phrase “egw eimi o wn” — Literally meaning, I am the being.
Here is Exodus 3:14 with interlinear translation:
kai eipen o qeoV proV mwushn
And God said to Moses
egw eimi o wn
I am ‘The Being’
kai eipen outwV ereiV toiV uioiV israhl
And he said this is what you are to say to the sons of Israel
o wn apestalken me proV umaV
‘The Being’ has sent me to you.
If Jesus quoted the shortened form “Ehyeh” from Exodus 3:14 of the LXX, he would have said “ho ohn”, shown as “o wn” in the transliteration above, not “ego eimi.” In truth, Jesus was not at all saying that his name was Ehyeh, the first person form of Yahweh (Jehovah).
Please note that we do not necessarily agree with the Septuagint translation; we are only pointing out that Jesus was not quoting Exdous 3:14, either from the Hebrew or the Septuagint; Jesus was not saying that his name is Ehyeh.
Comparing Exodus 3:14, LXX, with John 8:58, we find the following construction:
EXODUS 3:14, LXX:
EGO EIMI HO OHN (subject) (copula [verb connector]) (predicate complement)
PRIN ABRAAM GENESTHAI EGO EIMI (adverbial/aorist (subject) (predicate verb present indicative) expression referring to past time)
Simply making the assertion that the name, “I AM,” used at Exodus 3:14, LXX, is what Jesus uses at John 8:58 also doesn’t make it so. IF Jesus is using a title at John 8:58, as supposedly quoted from the LXX, then we are left with the apostle John’s having written a sentence lacking a predicate, hence, an incomplete sentence.
In sum, if it can be proved that the words “I am” used by Jesus at John 8:58 are indeed a title — the same title applied to Almighty God himself at Exodus 3:14, LXX — then it must be admitted that what the Gospel writer writes as Jesus’ response is an incomplete thought, as it does not read with the completeness of the Septuagint (LXX) rendering of what Moses writes in Exodus, namely, “ego eimi ho ohn” (=I am the Being). The expression “I am the Being” makes a complete sentence, a complete thought, something we DO NOT HAVE at John 8:58 absent the words “ho ohn” (=the Being).
Nevertheless, reading John 8:58 within the context of the conversation between Jesus and the Jews, in which they questioned whether he had seen Abraham, and without application of the unsupported interpretation upon the words “I am” as a title or a name, it must also be admitted that we have a complete thought with Jesus saying, in effect, “I’ve been existing since before Abraham was born.”
The claim is made that Jesus uses the phrase EGO EIMI, as recorded by John, many times to designate himself as Yahweh. In reality, in many of these cases Jesus emphasized that he was the one sent by his Father, Yahweh, with the implication of being the promised Messiah, the bread of life sent by Yahweh, his Father. (John 4:26; 6:35,41,48,51; 8:18,24,28) In other instances, he was just saying, It is I. (John 6:20; 18:5,6,8) On another occasion he used it in the expression “I am the door to the sheep.” (John 10:7,9) He also uses it to designate himself as the good (fine, right) shepherd (as compared to the false shepherds). (John 10:11-14) And he used it to designate himself as the “resurrection and the life,” the way, the truth, the life, the only way to Yahweh, his Father. (John 11:25; 14:6) He further uses it do describe himself as the vine, and his God as the farmer. (John 15:1,5) In all this, there is nothing that implies that Jesus is using the name Ehyeh in Exodus, so as to make himself Yahweh, his own God that sent him. It is only in the imagination of men that one could see these scriptures as such.
As noted, our Savior used the phrase “ego eimi” many times, but it is also interesting to note that in only one instance did the Jews try to stone him after he used this phrase. (John.8:58) When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” to a large crowd, in John 6:35 & 48, no one opposed him. In verse 41, the Jews murmured because he said, “I am (ego eimi) the bread which came down from heaven.” But in verse 42, the Jews questioned only the phrase, “I came down from heaven” and ignored “ego eimi.” The same is true also of verses 51 & 52 — they questioned how Jesus could give his flesh as food, but not his usage of the phrase “ego eimi”. We can also note in John 8:12, 18, 24, & 28, Jesus used “ego eimi” with the Pharisees present (vs.13) and yet, on these occasions they did not seek to stone him. He further used it in John 10:7, 9, 11, & 14, and while some responded that he was insane, they did not seek to stone him for using the expression “ego eimi” or make any comment regarding his usage of it. And in John 11:25, when he uses this phrase, does Martha respond that Jesus is the God of Israel? No, she says that he is “the Christ [anointed one of Yahweh, his Father. (Psalm 2:2: 45:7; 61:1)], the Son of God.” (verse 27) It should be plain from this that Jesus was not using this phrase in some mysterious way to make himself Yahweh.
John 8:59 – Why Did the Jews Seek to Kill Jesus?
John 8:59 is often cited with the assertion that the Jews sought to kill Jesus because he claimed to be Jehovah (Yahweh). Actually, the assertion that Jews sought to kill Jesus because he claimed to be Jehovah has to be imagined, assumed, added to, and read into, what is stated in John 8:59, since the scripture does not say at all in that verse, or in the surrounding verses, why the Jews sought to kill Jesus. We have discussed this in more detail elsewhere. Please see:
“I am” in John 6:35,41,48,49,51.
John 6:35 Jesus said to them. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:41 The Jews therefore murmured concerning him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down out of heaven.”
John 6:48 I am the bread of life.
John 6:49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”
The claim is being made that since the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32,35) uses the expression, “Ego Eimi” (I am) in the above verses, that this therefore means that the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32,35) was declaring himself to be the Most High Yahweh. In reality, Jesus is here likening his flesh, which was to be sacrificed, to the manna that Yahweh gave to the children of Israel in the wilderness. If by Jesus’ declaration “I am the bread of life”, means that Jesus was declaring himself to be Yahweh, then, if one follows such reasoning through, this would mean Yahweh is the bread of life, the flesh of Jesus, which was sacrificed for sin. (Hebrews 10:10) The Bible makes no such absurd declaration.
Let us examine some of the context, and compare spiritual revealing with spiritual revealing.
John 6:37 All those who the Father gives me will come to me. Him who comes to me I will in no way throw out.
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.
John 6:39 This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise them up at the last day.
Jesus declares that his disciples have been given to him by someone who is superior. Jesus identifies that one person as “my God”, and the only true God. (John 20:17; 17:3) Thus, the one person who has given these sheep to Jesus is the Supreme Being over Jesus.
Jesus declared that he came to do, not his own will, but that of the one whom he declared to be “the only true God” (John 17:1,3) who had sent him. Rather than claiming to the Most High Yahweh, he was claiming that he had come from, was sent by, Yahweh, the only true God. — John 6:38.
We should also note that the Jewish response does not indicate that they thought Jesus had used God’s Holy Name in the above verses. They murmured amongst themselves regarding his claim to have come down from heaven (John 6:41), and they could not understand his statement concerning eating of his flesh (John 6:45) But nothing is said either by the Jews who opposed Jesus, nor by Jesus’ disciples, that gives us any reason to think that Jesus was claiming to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
What we do not find any place in the scriptures cited is any declaration of Jesus that he was indeed EHYEH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Exodus 3:14,15) In context, his claim was that he came from, was sent by Ehyeh/Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as Peter also demonstrated. — Deuteronomy 18:15-22; Acts 3:13-26.
“I am” in John 8:12
Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I [ego] am [eimi] the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” — John 8:12
It is being claimed that “Jesus was using language that only God could use”; the false reasoning often given to support this is that only “God” is the light.
Very evidently the reason for so much darkness is that, under Satan’s misleading (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9), those who see the true light to some extent are misled into following Popes, Councils, Presbyteries, Conferences, Creeds and Confessions of men, instead of following the Lord who is the True Light sent by God.
Again, we do not find even a hint in or around John 8:12 that Jesus is claiming that he is his God who sent him. Instead of claiming to be the only true God that sent him, Jesus said: “Even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me.” — John 8:16; 17:1,3.
Then Jesus tells us how it is that he is the light of the world: “He who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I say to the world.” — John 8:26.
Further on, Jesus said: “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” (John 9:5) This verse is rarely quoted by those who claim that “ego eimi” means that Jesus is Yahweh, since this expresses that this condition of being “light of world” is a temporary condition of itself. It was only while Jesus was in the days of his flesh that he brought life and incorruption (Greek transliterated as “Aphtharsia”, Strong’s #861) to light through his obedience to his God as a human. (2 Timothy 1:10) And yet, his life as a human continues to be a light for mankind, in the words that are recorded of his life while he was in “days of his flesh”. (Hebrews 5:7) It hardly sounds as though Jesus meant this to be an expression that he is God Almighty.
On another occasion, addressing his disciples, Jesus said: “You are [humeis este] the light of the world….let your light shine before men.” (Matthew 5:14-16.) He tells them to do this, that men “may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Here Jesus uses verb “este”, which is the second person plural present indicative of “eimi”. Jesus followers are reckoned righteous (Acts 13:39; Romans 3:24; 8:1), counted as being without sin, as new creatures in Christ, and as such can also be “the light of the world”. If Jesus’ being the light of the world in John 8:12 is a statement that would mean that Jesus was claiming to be God Almighty, then we would think the same would be true in Matthew 5:14, where we find the plural of the same verb following by the same expression “light of the world”. Of course, in reality, the whole idea of trying to make “ego eimi” (in the instances where Jesus spoke of himself) into Yahweh is in a forced eisegesis, as is also the idea his usage of the expression “the light of world” would mean that he was claiming to be Yahweh. Indeed, if the words of Jesus in John 8:12 are words expressing that Jesus is Yahweh, then Jesus, by his words in Matthew 5:14,15, was proclaiming his disciples to be Yahweh.
“I am” in John 8:24
This is another scripture that Matt Slick cites to support the assertion that Jesus claimed to be God.
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 (see above discussion on John 8:12) — the Son of God — the Messiah. (John 8:12,14,16,18,23) 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, and given the context of most English translations of Exodus 3:14, 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, and this based, not on what Jesus actually said, but what is being imagined, assumed, and added to what Jesus said in John 8:24.
To determine what should be understood 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, who sent me (Isaiah 63:1), 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 — there is no reason to imagine and assume that in saying this that Jesus was saying that they must accept that he is Yahweh who he claimed sent him. – 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/savior of Yah”. 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.
Regarding this scripture the argument is put forth: Jesus said “I am,” and verse 6 says that upon saying “I am”, they WENT BACKWARD and FELL to the ground. The claim is that Jesus’ identifying Himself as “I am” sent them falling. In other words, they claim that there was power there in His words since, according to this claim, Jesus was calling himself by the holy name.
The implication of the above is that it was a name, “Ego Eimi”, that caused the soldiers to fall to the ground by the power in the words.
Exactly what caused them to go backward and fall to the ground, the scriptures do not say. So to say it was Jesus’ use of some Greek words, supposedly having power to knock them down, is an assumption and pure speculation.
However, since speculating, our theory regarding this is that they could have been taken aback and fell to ground as the result of a power our Lord exercised over them (which power he had received from the only true Supreme Being, his Father), a power by which he might have resisted them entirely had he been so disposed. Such a display of power would demonstrate to them that Jesus could not be taken except that he go willingly. What Jesus did was sufficient to show them and his apostles that his surrender was not a necessity, but that the Father’s will might be done. He knew he could have all the protection he needed. — Matthew 26:53.
While we find this following speculation highly unlikely, it has also been suggested that they could have been astonished at what they found. They did not expect to find a meek, humble person who would come right out and say that he was the one they were looking for. In there astonishment, according to this theory, they withdrew and fell to the ground.
As to Jesus’ saying “I am” in John 18:5, Jesus was simply saying that he was the one they were looking for. But to conclude, as many do, that John 8:58 is a case where Jesus admits to being God Almighty IGNORES THE CONTEXT OF THAT VERSE.
Jesus did not say “I am who I am.” Nor did Jesus say that his name is “I am.” He was not talking about his name at all, nor was he saying that his name was that expressed by Yahweh in Exodus 3:14. Once one thinks this matter through, it can be seen that this is one of the most silliest arguments that many trinitarians (and some others) make.
Due to this, many trinitarians have come up with other methods of trying to hold onto the idea that Jesus was saying that he was God Almighty in John 8:58. Some say that the Jesus words were “close enough” to the LXX, that it was recognized by his opponents that he was claiming to be Ehyeh of Exodus 3:14. Such a line of reasoning depends on an assumption of what the lying, deceiving Jewish leaders “thought.” Others claim that Jesus was not quoting Exodus, but some scriptures elsewhere, such as in Isaiah. Still others claim that Jesus was saying that he was Eternal, that is, according to trinitarian definition of this term, never created. But these are other topics, that we may deal with later, but for now, we am trying to make the point that Jesus was not quoting Exodus 3:14 of the LXX, as many assume.
“Ehyeh” is the first person singular of the Hebrew verb hayah (to be or become). The third person singular is “Yahweh.” In Exodus 3:14 Yahweh states: “I will be what I will be (Ehyeh asher ehyeh).” Revised Standard Version – footnote) Many translations render this “I AM THAT I AM.” However, according some authorities, the Hebrew word hayah, as used in this verse, means more than just to exist. It also carries with it the thought of coming into existence, or causing to exist. Thus it would mean “I cause to be what I cause to be.” The third person would mean: “He will cause to be,” or “He causes to be.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 14, page 1065, after discussing the usual meanings given to God’s name, states: “All these explanations, however, overlook the fact that in Ex 3:14 a merely folk etymology of the name, based on the qal form of the verb to be, is given. Grammatically, because of its vocalization, Yahweh can only be a hiphil or causative form of this verb, with the meaning He causes to be, He brings into being..”
Whether this view is correct or not, ‘EHYEH and YAHWEH are verbs forms used in active terms. The “active” sense of these Hebrew verbal forms do not actually mean the expressions as we might interpret them into English in the phrases give above, since these phrases are only an approximation of the active sense of the verbal forms. Many of the suggested renderings, we believe, although they try to express the active sense of the verbal forms, and probably express the best as possible in English, still they all probably fall short of the fuller sense as such expressed in the Old Testament times.
One should observe the indicated meaning of Yahweh in Exodus 6:2,3 from the context. In verse 15 of Exodus 3 we read: “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, The Lord [Hebrew, Yahweh] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” In Exodus 6:2,3 (New Jerusalem Bible), we read: “God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am Yahweh. To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob I appeared as El Shaddai, [God Almighty] but I did not make my name Yahweh known to them.”
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew and called upon the Creator as “Yahweh” long before Moses was ever born. To Abraham, Yahweh said: “I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land as a possession.” Abraham replied: “O Yahweh God, how am I to know that I will possess it?” (Genesis 15:7,8) Isaac referred to Yahweh as recorded at Genesis 23:22. Likewise, when Jacob was at Bethel, after wrestling with an angel, he stated: “Surely Yahweh is in this place.” (Genesis 28:16) In prayer to Yahweh, Jacob calls him by name as recorded in Genesis 32:9. Thus it is very apparent that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were familiar with the name “Yahweh.”
So what did Yahweh mean by the statement he made to Moses to the effect that he had not made his name known to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Rather than just referring to the word itself, Yahweh had to be referring to the meaning of his name (as the one who is who he is — which he cannot deny – 2 Timothy 2:13, or the one who causes to be). In verse four Yahweh calls attention to the covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them the land of Canaan. They never saw Yahweh cause the fulfillment of that promise. They never saw Yahweh demonstrate that “he is” faithful to his word regarding the promises. (2 Timothy 2:13) It is in this manner that Yahweh says that he did not make his name known to them. However, now, Yahweh is saying that “he is” going to cause a fulfillment of that promise. “He is” about to bring the Israelites out of Egypt into the land that he had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, demonstrating that “HE IS” faithful to who “HE IS”. – see Exodus 6:6-8.
Thus the name Yahweh [or Ehyeh] signifies the one who accomplishes what he desires – as denoting that we can fully trust that His magnificent plan for man will be completely accomplished. – See Isaiah 55:11; 45:21; 2 Timothy 2:13.
Some time ago, in connection with John 8:58, someone used Psalm 118:26 and the scriptures Matthew 21:9; 23:39; Matthew 21:19; 23:39; Mark 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; 19:38 as proof that Jesus was claiming the name Yahweh as his name.. The claim was being made that since he came in the name of Yahweh, this means that Jesus’ name is Yahweh, and therefore that Jesus is Yahweh. In truth, the scriptures actually show that Jesus is not Yahweh. A comparison of scriptures, however, does show that Yahweh of the Old Testament is Jesus’ father. (John 5:43; 10:25) How could Jesus come in the name of Yahweh and speak for Yahweh if he were Yahweh? If one speaks in the name of another, we do not generally think that he is the other in whose name he speaks. — Deuteronomy 18:15,18,19 [See Acts 3:22; 7:37; John 8:28; 12:49,50; 17:8].
Some have replied that when the prophecy states that he would speak in the name of Yahweh, that this proves that Jesus is Yahweh. This line of reasoning would also make Jesus his own Father, since Jesus said he came in his Father’s name. (John 5:43) Most trinitarians deny that Jesus is his Father, while many oneness and modalists declare Jesus to be his Father. But it is important to stay by God’s Word in this matter. If one is the one 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. If one speaks in the name of another, we do not generally think that he is the other in whose name he speaks. That is simply a fact.
In one of the forums, Psalm 110:1 was presented to bolster the claim that in John 8:58 was claiming that he is Yahweh. What is to be found in that verse to support the trinity was not explained, except to say that it is one person of the trinity sitting a the right hand of another person of the trinity. Nevertheless, the verse actually disproves the trinity. Jesus sits at the right hand of his God, Yahweh. We have no reason to add to the scriptures that Jesus is one person of Yahweh sitting that right hand of another person of Yahweh. — 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.
Some introduce John 1:1,2 in their discussion in an effort to bolster the idea that Jesus is Yahweh (Jehovah), and that, in effect, that Jesus is a person of Yahweh whom the Bible declares had sent Jesus. CLICK HERE for a list of links to some of our discussions regarding John 1:1,2.
Isaiah 46:4 – Evidently the thought is that since in many translations Yahweh refers to himself as “I am” in this verse, so Jesus is Yahweh because of using “I am” in John 8:58 and some other scriptures. In reality, there is no verb in the Hebrew for the word “am” in Isaiah 46:4; the word is supplied by the translators. Yahweh is here simply identifying himself as continuing to be same toward Israel.
Douay: Even to your old age I am the same, and to your grey hairs I will carry you: I have made you, and I will bear: I will carry and will save.
Complete Jewish Bible: Till your old age I will be the same – I will carry you until your hair is white. I have made you, and I will bear you; yes, I will carry and save you.
What we do not find in Isaiah 46:4 is anything that gives any proof that Jesus is Yahweh.
Our Response to Deeper Waters
One criticizes our usage of John 14:28 and 1 Corinthians 11:3, with the claim that these two verses are right out of the Watchtower publication, ““What Does The Bible Really Teach?”. However, the scriptures are indeed right out of the Bible, not out that publication, which publication we never consulted. Of course, we are aware that the trinitarian can add more and more to the scriptures until they have the scriptures appear to agree with their added-on trinitarian dogma.
The Deeper Waters writer disregards the point of the argument concerning our response to one who claimed that for one to come in the name of Yahweh means that such is Yahweh by sidetracking the issue with the claim that we were claiming that the idea that the trinitarian claims that “that God is one person.” We presented the scriptural idea, and that since the scriptures present Yahweh all the way through the Bible as one person, then anyone who comes in the name of that one person is not that one person in whose name he comes. We never stated that the trinitarian believes that Jesus and Yawheh is one person, so the Deeper Waters response is irrelevant to what we present. Jesus, one sentient being who come in the name of another sentient being (Yahweh), is not the sentient being whose name he comes. There being two sentient beings means that only one of these sentient beings could be claimed to be the one ominiscient being. It is a valid argument, since no where in the Bible is God ever presented as more than one person. No where does the Bible authorize to imagine, assume, and add to the scriptures that God is more than one person. No where in the Bible are will be find that there are two separate and distinct sentient beings both of whom would be one sentient being, if they both shared the same sentiency as the one omniscient being.
The Deeper Waters site seeks to mocks our concern over one who said that for one to speak in the name of Yahweh means that he is Yahweh as alllegedly being representative of the “caliber” of our arguments. Actually, it is representative of the caliber of the argument of those trinitarians who argue that for Jesus to come in the name Yahweh means that Jesus is Yahweh. The Deeper Waters writer is evidently seeking what is assumed to be something can be easily attacked in order to discourage anyone from actually taking the rest of the arguments seriously. Nevertheless, the trinitarian’s argument (that for Jesus to come in the name of Yahweh would mean that Jesus is Yahweh) is our concern only because this statement has been made to us several times, especially by trinitarians, and thus it is obviously of concern to those who make this claim in order to make it appear that Jesus is Yahweh. Nevertheless, since the Deeper Waters writer is obviously a trinitarian, and that writer complains about the “caliber”of this argument, we can only say that this argument is an example of the “caliber” of all the arguments wherein one seeks to claim that Jesus is Yahweh. However, as we stated, evidently the Deeper Waters writer is seeking something that he can address while actually ignoring the real arguments presented. Although what we stated had nothing to do with any false assumption upon trinitarian belief concerning unipersonalism, the trinitarian seems to reason that the trinitarian assumption of more than on person as the default, and that any who disagrees need to prove otherswise, when, in fact, the assumption of unipersonalism is the default Biblical assumption, since not once is Yahweh presented as more than one person, and thus, it is the trinitarian who must imagine argument to assume and add to the scriptures to make it appear that Yahweh is more than one person.
The Deeper Waters writer criticizes us for counting it an argument to say that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of Yahweh, and thus that Jesus is not Yahweh at whose right hand Jesus sits. The trinitarian idea that is presumed and added upon the scriptures is that there are three persons in Yahweh, and thus that one person of Yahweh can sit at the right hand of another person of Yahweh. Of course, what the trinitarian usually does with Psalm 110:1 is to use his imagination, and assume, and add his assumptions to the verse, that Yahweh must here mean, not three persons, but that it is unipersonal: one of their alleged three persons, their “first person” of the trinity, and they imagine, assume and add to the verse “my lord” that David refers is their second person of the trinity, and then want us to accept their imaginations and assumptions as though such were the truth, and as proof of their doctrine which is no where to be found in the Bible. In infect, they indeed end up in saying that in this verse “Yahweh” is unipersonal. In reality, we have no reason to accept their added one imaginations and assumptions that the verse is in harmony withe added-on trinitarian dogma.
We are next criticized for our claim that Jesus is not his God and Father who sent, since the trinitarian does not claim that Jesus is his Father, and then evidently, this is evidently considered a reason not to take our arguments serious. Of course, our treatment of this is simply from the scriptural viewpoint, and we were not simply addressing the trinitarian viewpoint, and yes, the fact that the scriptures do distinguish Jesus from the only true God who sent Jesus (John 17:3) is indeed proof that Jesus is not the only true God who sent Jesus, which point is sidetracked by the manner of response. Rather than actually addressing the issues, the Deeper Waters writer continues to misrepresent us as not distinguishing between trinitarianism and modalism, and evidently using this as a basis not to accept our arguments. In reality, it was not the aim of our arguments to try to distinguish between trinitarian arguments and modalist arguments, but simply to present the Biblical truth.
Son of God
We are criticized because we state that the Bible nowhere presents Jesus as “God the Son.” We are asked what we think he meant when he spoke of himself as the “Son of God.” Our reply: he meant that he was the “Son of God”, one given life by his God and Father. What “Son of God” does not mean is that the Son is “God” of whom he is the Son. On the other hand, what the trinitarian (and some others) has to do is use his imagination, and assume that Son of God means that he is God, and then add to that it further means that he is a person of God, and then the trinitarian wishes us to accept what he has assumed and added to the scriptures as proof that that “Son of God” means that Jesus is a person of God. In actuality, “God” in the expression, “Son of God,” refers to one person: the God and Father of Jesus. No where do the scriptures say that Yahweh cannot have a son who is not Himself; no where do the scriptures say that any son that Yahweh has to be equal to Himself; no where do the scriptures say Yahweh creative powers in giving life to son should be reduced down to the law of procreation that Yahweh placed upon the life here on the earth. All these trinitarian arguments have to assumed and added to the scriptures, so that what the trinitarian actually presents as proof that “Son of God” means that Jesus is God is what they have imagined, assumed and added to the scriptures.
The Deeper Waters writer next addresses what we wrote at:
Evidently the Deeper Waters writer is assuming that this was written by someone else. What is written there, however, is basically the same thing that is written here, only more concisely.
The Deeper Waters writer, instead of addressing the purpose of why we stated the statement, criticizes us for presenting the “the idea of Jesus speaking without an object.” It appears to us that the Deeper Waters writer is stating this so as to again sidetrack his readers, since the writer never addresses the real issues presented, but rather presents a quote from Robertson, which also does not address the issues.
Robertson, of course, being a trinitarian, uses his weight as an alleged “authority” to present “eimi” as meaning “timeless being”, which he seems to interpret to mean an “eternal [past] existence.” Of course, “timeless being” does not of itself mean eternal, but rather that the time limits are not being expressly set by the word itself, and this is established by the usage of “eimi” all through the New Testament. It would seem that it is only in reference to a few usages of this word in reference to Jesus, and especially in John 8:58, that the idea of “eternal existence” is attached to the word “eimi”.
It is claimed that ego eimi in John 8:58 is the “absolute phrase used of God”, and that this phrase is from the LXX (Septuagint). And yet, when we read the LXX, it is not “ego eimi” that is used, but rather “ho on.” It should be obvious that Jesus did not get this from Exodus 3:14 of the LXX, which is ridiculous, since Jesus was not saying in John 8:58 that his name was Ehyeh, as Yahweh claimed in Exodus 3:14, but rather he was speaking of his existence in the past, before Abraham. Actually, the short expression in Exodus 3:14 is not a phrase, but rather one word, usually transliterated as EHYEH, usually rendered as “I am” or “I will be.” This word is the first person singular of the verb HAYAH, and active form of “to be”. The third person form is often rendered as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” (“He is” or “He will be'”), as used in Exodus 3:15.
The Deeper Waters writer asks: “If that is the case, then why did he not use one of the tenses in Greek that is used to describe the past?” Our response is, why should he; if he had he would not have gotten the point across of Jesus’ having been in existence long before Abraham. Jesus did, however, place the verb in a past setting by use of the preposition “prin” (before), which does place the present tense usage that follows in the past, thus forming a “historical present” usage.
The statement is made that “Robertson is aware of a historical present but sees no usage of it here,” evidently referring to John 8:58. Of course, what Robertson may “see” or not “see” is not what is actually important; Robertson, believing that the trinity is true, more than likely, like all staunch trinitarians, will use the coloring of the trinitarian dogman to “see” the trinity in many scriptures, and thus present those scriptures with that trinitarian gloss. Having already concluded the trinitarian assumption on the verse, why would he look to that which would seem to indicate otherwise?
Jesus said to him, “Have I been [eimi] with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?'” — World English
The Deeper Waters writer tells us: “When Jesus spoke in John 14:9, he used ‘eimi’ which can be translated as ‘I am’, but there is no ‘ego’ in this case.” We are not sure why this is being stated; evidently the writer seems to think this important, but nothing is given as to ‘why’ such would be important.
All the instances where we find the phrase ego eimi: Matthew 14:27; 22:32; 26:22,25; Mark 6:50; 13:5; 14:62; Luke 1:19; John 4:26; 6:20,35,41,48,51; 8:18,24,28,58; 9:9; 10:7,9,11,14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1,5; 18:5,6,8; Acts 9:5; 10:21; 18:10; 22:3,8; 26:29; Revelation 1:8,17; 2:23; 22:16. All instances of the word “eimi” may be found at:
The Deeper Waters writer states regarding the translations that do not render ego eimi in John 8:58 as “I am,” but with some form of a past tense: “It’s not enough to know that someone does or doesn’t believe X. It’s important to know why.” We gave the reasons why, and those reasons are still not actually addressed, but are simply glossed over as being “simplistic arguments.”
Studies Related to the Claims of Walter Martin
Matt Slick’s 100 Facts About Jesus
Is Jesus the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
John 8:58 – Was Jesus Quoting From Exodus 3:14?
John 8:58 – Was Jesus Saying that He is Ehyeh of Exodus 3:14?
“I am” in John 8:58
Did Jesus Use the Holy Name in John 8:58?
“I am” = Eternal?
Does the Holy Name Mean “The Eternal”?
The Jewish Leaders’ “Cause” to Kill Jesus
The Real Reason the Jews Sought to Kill Jesus
Search the RL site for “John 8:58”
Search the RL site for “ego eimi”
The God of Jesus — The Only Most High
Past Tense Translations of “Ego Eimi” in John 8:58
Other Information on the Web
While we believe the following links provide some good information, we do not necessarily agree with all conclusions presented by the authors. Some of these links are to sites owned by “Jehovah’s Witnesses“; please note that we are not associated with that organization, nor do we agree with all the views presented by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Before Abraham was, I am — Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 3
John 8:58, & — Mitchell Andrews
The following numbers represent links to sites that we believe are misrepresenting what Jesus said in John 8:58: