"Before Abraham was, I Am"
"Before Abraham was, I Am".
These words, spoken by our Savior in Jn.8:58, have led to much controversy and confusion. Some use this verse to prove the Messiah's pre-existence. Others use it to prove the trinity doctrine. And then there are those who use it to prove Yahshua is the great "I AM" of Ex.3:14. So, is Yahshua is also Yahweh the Father??.
The phrase "I am" is "ego eimi" in Greek. Since the Greek New Testament records Yahshua using "ego eimi" many times, Christian theologians term these sayings, "The I Am's of Jesus". It is believed that each of these occurrences implies Yahshua's identity as the "I AM" of Ex.3:14. Can this be true? Can our Savior, the Son of Yahweh, actually be the "I AM," can he also be Yahweh?
Ex.3:14-15 reads, "And Elohim 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. And Elohim said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh, Elohim of your fathers, Elohim of Abraham, Elohim of Isaac, and Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." Therefore, the "I AM" in this passage, is identified as "Yahweh," or rather, is representing Yahweh. Through this representative authority, this messenger to Moses is able to use the Name of the Divine Creator of all, Yahweh.
One thing which must be clearly understood at this point of our discussion, is that The Father Creator Elohom called Yahweh, is "Spirit," as Yahshua clearly taught us in Jn. 4:24. And, He is the only one "who only has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or is able to see, to whom be respect and everlasting might." 1 Tim. 6:16. "No one has ever seen Elohim," (Yahweh) Jn. 1:18. All Scripture then being correctly understood, would have to lead us to the conclusion, that all apparent communications between "Yahweh" and man, is through a Messenger (angel) Representative speaking with the full authority and power of Yahweh, and is thereby able to use the Divine Name in the "first" person.
And what does Yahweh say in Ps.2:7? "I will declare the decree: Yahweh hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Yahweh is the Father of Yahshua. Yahshua is the Son of Yahweh. Yahshua is not Yahweh (the Son is not the Father). Therefore, it stands, that Yahshua (the Son of Yahweh) cannot be the "I AM" who is (Yahweh). That alone should be sufficient to discredit the belief that Yahshua was claiming to be the "I AM." But let's look into the matter a little farther.
It is believed that Jn.8:59 further supports the position that Yahshua is the "I AM." Why else would the Yahudain try to stone him? He obviously blasphemed in the eyes of the Yahudain, a stone-able offense. Or did he? Is the mere utterance of "ego eimi" a blasphemy? Does the use of "ego eimi" automatically identify the speaker as Yahweh, the I AM, and thereby trigger a stone-able offense?
Several individuals aside from Yahshua used "ego eimi" as well. In Lu.1:19, the angel Gabriel said, "Ego eimi Gabriel." In Jn.9: 9, the blind man whose sight was restored by Yahshua said, "Ego eimi." In Acts 10:21, Peter said, "Behold, ego eimi (I am) he whom ye seek." Obviously, the mere use of "ego eimi" does not equate one to the "I Am" of Ex.3:14. But perhaps the Savior's use of it was somehow different.
If, in fact, Yahshua spoke Greek to the Yahudain (which is doubtful), he used the phrase "ego eimi" at least twenty times and yet, in only one instance did the Yahudain seek to stone him (Jn.8: 58). Yahshua said, "I am the bread of life" to a large crowd in Jn.6: 35 & 48, yet no one opposed him. In verse 41, the Yahudain murmured because he said, "I am (ego eimi) the bread which came down from heaven." But in verse 42, the Yahudain questioned only the phrase, "I came down from heaven" and ignored "ego eimi." The same is true of verses 51; 52.
In Jn.8: 12, 18, 24, & 28, Yahshua used "ego eimi" with Pharisees present (vs.13) and yet, no stoning. He, again, used it four times in Jn.10:7, 9, 11, & 14 with no stoning. Yahshua said to his disciples, "...that...ye may believe that I am (ego eimi)" in Jn.13:19 without them batting an eye.
An interesting account occurs in Jn.18 when the Yahudain came to arrest Yahshua in the Garden of Gethsemane. When the chief priests and Pharisees said they were seeking Yahshua of Nazareth, Yahshua said to them, "Ego eimi." At that they fell backward to the ground, surprised and startled, that the one they were seeking, had the fortitude to confront them face to face. What followed will make it clear that Yahshua was not claiming to be the "I AM."
After Yahshua's arrest, the Yahudain took him to Annas first (vs.13). Then they took him to Caiaphas (vs.24) and eventually to Pilate (vss.28, 29). A parallel account is found in Mt.26: 57-68. Notice, in particular, verse 59. The same men that had fallen backward to the ground were in attendance when the council sought false witnesses against Yahshua to put him to death. Verse 60 says they couldn't find any. Eventually two came forward. Interestingly, they didn't bear false witness about what Yahshua said in Jn.8:58, but about his reference to destroying the temple and building it again in three days. Where were all those witnesses from Jn.8: 58?
The point about Mt.26 is, why would false witnesses be sought if they had true witnesses in attendance? The arresting officers heard Yahshua say "Ego eimi." They could have stoned him right there in the garden for blasphemy, but they didn't. They could have reported the supposed blasphemy to the council, but they didn't. Why not? Because it wasn't blasphemy, nor was it a stone-able offense. He was merely identifying himself as Yahshua of Nazareth. The fact of the matter is, the Greek phrase "Ego eimi", simply means "I am the one", or "I am He."
This brings us back to Jn.8: 58. Why did the Yahudeans seek to stone him on that occasion? The context of Jn.8 shows that Yahshua;
1) accused the Yahudain of "judging after the flesh" (vs.15).
2) said they would die in their sins (vss.21,24).
3) implied they were in bondage (vss.32,33).
4) said they were servants of sin (vs.34).
5) said they were out to kill him (vss. 37,40).
6) implied they were spiritually deaf (vs.43,47).
7) said their father was the devil (vs.44).
8) said they were not of Elohim (vs.47).
9) accused them of dishonoring him (vs.49).
10) accused them of not knowing Yahweh (vs.55).
11) accused them of lying (vs.55).
Aside from that, the Yahudain misunderstood Yahshua's words leading them to believe;1) that he accused them of being born of fornication (vs.41).
2) Yahshua had a devil (vs.52).
3) that he was exalting himself above Abraham (vs.53).
4) that he saw Abraham (vs.56).
Yahshua's words in verse 58 were the culmination of an encounter that was so offensive to the Yahudain that they couldn't restrain themselves anymore. They simply couldn't take it anymore so they sought to stone him, not because of two simple words, "ego eimi," but because he was making himself out to be greater than their beloved father Abraham. They sought to stone him illegally.
So what does Jn. 8: 58 really mean?
Let's look at the context of Yahshua's statement. It begins in verse 51 with the thought of eternal life; "If a man keeps my saying, he shall never see death." The Yahudain thought since Abraham and the prophets were dead, Yahshua must have a demonic teaching. The context is eternal life. Then in verse 56 Yahshua says Abraham "rejoiced to see my day." He did not say he saw Abraham as the Yahudain misunderstood. How did Abraham see Yahshua's day? Heb.11:13 says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." He saw Yahshua's day by faith.
Yahshua then resumed the context of his initial conversation by saying, "Before Abraham was, I am the 'coming' one." "was" is from the Greek "ginomai" meaning, "to come into being, to be born,... to arise." In the Greek, the tense of the word is NOT pure "past" tense. It is 2 Aorist, middle voice, infinitive, meaning past tense action without any indication that the act was completed. What Yahshua actually said 'literally' was, "Before Abraham "comes" to be born, I am he. In other words, before Abraham comes to be born (at his resurrection into eternal life), I am he, (the "coming" one)." Yahshua was the eternal coming one (the Messiah, deliverer) in the plan of Yahweh from the beginning. Confirmation of this understanding comes to us from Figures of Speech used in the Bible by E.W. Bullinger, pgs. 521,522. Under the heading "Heterosis (Of Tenses)," sub-heading "The Present for the Future," he writes "This is put when the design is to show that some thing will certainly come to pass, and is spoken of as though it were already present." He then lists some examples such as Mt.3: 10b, "therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is [shall be] hewn down;" and Mk.9:31a, "For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is [shall be] delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day." Included among this list of examples of Heterosis is Jn.8: 58. In other words, although properly written, "Before Abraham comes into being, I am (the one)" with "I am the one" in the simple present tense, the meaning points to the future, "Before Abraham comes to be born, I am the one."
Some translators believe this verse should be translated, "Before Abraham existed, I existed." However, neither Greek verb is in the perfect past tense. "was" is in the aorist 'infinitive' (or imperfect past) tense and "am" is in the present first person indicative tense. Let's look a little closer at "was." Concerning the aorist tense, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament by Dana and Mantey says, "It has time relations only in the indicative, where it is past and hence augmented." The verb ginomai 'was' (to have been born) is in the Greek aorist (infinitive) tense, not the indicative. Therefore it should not be understood as being in the past tense. This same reference says of the infinitive, "The aorist infinitive denotes that which is eventual or particular, ..." Abraham will eventually resurrect (to have been born) which is why the Greek uses the aorist infinitive. The meaning is, "Before Abraham comes to be born" not "Before Abraham was (or 'existed')."
In conclusion, Yahshua was not declaring that he is the great "I AM" of Ex.3:14. There are many occurrences in the Greek, which proves that the term "I am" is a very common phrase, a verb of existence, meaning "I am He" or "I am the one." This phrase by it's self is not a 'stone-able' offense, for it is used many times. As we have already shown, there were a lot of implications in this chapter which ground into the minds and heart of the Yahudain leaders. All the offenses combined, culminated at this point, into the prophesied path (end result) for Yahshua.
Yahshua was not declaring himself to be Yahweh, or the eternal self existing one, and Yahshua was not declaring his pre-existence. He was, from the beginning of Yahweh's plan, to be the Messiah, the deliverer, the King of Israel, the Son of Yahweh, the Son of the great "I Am." The son had an eternal purpose (as do all of us) in the plan of the Father, but the son did not have a pre-existing life, or "life in himself" as a "Mighty One" or a deity from eternity past, for the Father Yahweh gave the son to have life in himself. (John 5:26).
Author of the original Document is John Cordaro. Visit his Web-site at:
The everlasting Good News of Yahweh to read the Document.
This Edition contains Revisions and Additions made by A.O.Y.,Cascade
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