of the Spirit
1 John 4:3
- John 8:58
- ". . . Before Abraham was, I am."
- This passage is connected with Exod. 3:14 where God says to Moses, "I am that I am". From these references two conclusions are drawn:
- Since Christ was before Abraham, Christ must have existed prior to his birth on earth.
- Since Christ says, "I am" he is alluding to the divine name, thereby in effect telling the Jews that he is "Very God".
- Christ's reference to Abraham is to affirm his (Christ's) pre-eminence, not pre-existence. The Jews had claimed that Abraham was their father (vs. 39) and so Christ establishes his pre-eminence in the divine purpose by stating that before Abraham was, "I am". He did not say "before Abraham was, I was" as it is frequently misread. But the Jews, like modern-day trinitarians, misunderstood Jesus. He was not claiming to be literally older in years than Abraham. This is indicated by his prior remark: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." (vs. 56). Abraham, to whom the gospel was preached (Gal. 3:8), "saw" the day of Christ through the eye of faith. Christ was "foreordained before the foundation of the world, but manifest in these last times". (1 Peter 1:20). He was foreordained in the divine purpose, but not formed. Similarly in the divine purpose he was the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8) but literally he was not slain until his crucifixion in the time of Pilate.
- There is no proof that Christ alludes to the divine name (imperfectly rendered by the A.V., "I am that I am"). Jesus simply uses the present tense of the verb "to be". Even if this verse were intended to be read as an allusion to the divine name, this is not proof that Christ was claiming to be "Very God". The divine name declared, "I will be what I will be". (Exod. 3:14 R.S.V. mg.). The name was a prophetic declaration of the divine purpose. Jesus Christ was "God manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16), "the word" (Greek: logos) "made flesh." (John 1:14). As such, he was the expression of the divine character, "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14 cf. Exod. 33:19), and became the "firstborn among many brethren". (Rom. 8:29). Christ was the result of the word made flesh, not the originator of the divine plan. As he himself said, "I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." (John 8:42).
[PK added]: The words found in the Greek for "I am" are "ego eimi." If one examines the Greek text for Exodus 3:14 as found in the Septuagint, you will not find a direct match. The Septuagint translates the divine name as found in Exodus 3:14 as "ego eimi ho ohn". These words translated into English mean "I am the Being".
These words are not found in the Greek New Testament for John 8:58, however. Instead, we find "prin abraam genesthai ego eimi" or "before Abraham was, I AM" in John 8:58. For more details, click here.