In John 8:58, Jesus said “I am” before Abraham existed. Does that make Jesus God?
In order for the Trinitarian view that Jesus’ “I am” statement in John 8:58 makes him God, his statement must be equivalent with God’s “I am” statement in Exodus 3:14. However, the two statements are very different. While the Greek phrase in John does mean “I am,” the Hebrew phrase in Exodus actually means “to be” or “to become.”
In other words God is saying, “I will be what I will be.” Or “I will become whatever God you need me to be” in reference to the pantheon of gods worshipped by neighboring pagans. The pagans had a different god for everything: A god of the harvest, god of the sun, god of the moon, god of the wind, god of the flies, etc.
Thus the “I am” statement in Exodus is actually a mistranslation of the Hebrew text, so the fact that Jesus said “I am” did not make him God. The phrase “I am” translated from the Greek “epi eimi” occurs many other times in the New Testament, and is often translated as “I am he” or some equivalent.
Other "I Am" Bible Verses of Jesus Christ
Mark 13:6 “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ;”
Luke 21:8 “…for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ;”
John 13:19 “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, you may believe that I am he.”
John 18:5 “They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said to them, I am he.” Jesus repeats the same statement “I am he” in John 18 verses 6 and 8.
“It is I” found in Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20. “I am the one I claim to be” found in John 8:24 and 28.
It is obvious that these translations are quite correct, and it is interesting that the phrase is translated as “I am” only in John 8:58 due to the translators' trinitarian bias. Trinitarians take this “I am” statement out of context from the entire account and therefore lose the truth and impact of what Jesus was conveying.
The fact that Jesus said “I am” did not make him God
Let’s back up a few verses for greater understanding:
54) Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’;
55) and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word.
56) “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
57) So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
58) Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
59) Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
Verse 56 is accurately translated in the King James Version, which says: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” This verse says that Abraham “saw” the Day of Christ, which is normally considered by theologians to be the day when the promised Messiah conquers the earth and sets up his kingdom.
In what sense could Abraham have seen something that was future? Abraham “saw” the Day of Christ because God told him it was coming, and Abraham “saw” it by faith.
That would fit with what the book of Hebrews says about Abraham: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). Abraham looked for a city that is still future, yet the Bible says Abraham “saw” it.
The only way Abraham was able to see the Day of Christ by faith is because that day existed in the mind of God. It actually existed long before Abraham. Thus, in the context of God’s plan existing from the beginning, Christ certainly was “before” Abraham. Christ was the plan of God for man’s redemption long before Abraham lived.
Jesus said in John 8:58 "I am" the Messiah Abraham Spoke of...
Not "I am God"
The phrase “I am” in John 8:58 should be literally translated an emphatic “I, it is I”. If it were translated “I am he” or “I am the one,” like all the other places this Geek phrase was used it would be easier to see that Christ was identifying himself as the Messiah spoken of by Abraham existing in God’s foreknowledge, not as God appearing as the third person of the trinity.
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About the Author, Pastor Daniel Sweet:
Daniel Sweet is the President and founder of God's Word First Christian Ministry. He is an ordained minister, biblical scholar, teacher of the holy spirit and an expert author on the subject of Leadership. He and his wife, Debbra Sweet have overseen the growth and development of multiple in home fellowships and have been instrumental in helping many people come to the knowledge and truth of God’s Word.
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