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John 8:58 - Before Abraham was I am


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The Gospel of John

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John 8:58

"Before Abraham was I am."

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The Trinitarian Claim

Claims made by the come back kids known as the Trinitarians is that Jesus was intentionally employing special language to identify himself as Yahweh/Jehovah (YHWH), the God of Israel. They claim he, Jesus, was using God's divine name to identify himself as Yahweh/Jehovah, and as Yahweh/Jehovah, they claim Jesus himself was saying that he pre-existed as a self-conscious divine person (God the Son) before Abraham existed and for that reason the Jews clearly understood he was identifying himself as their God and wanted to stone him for blasphemy. Trinitarians are actually attempting to make three different claims at once with respect to this verse:

  • [1.] Jesus was using the Greek version of the divine name (ego eimi) given to Moses at Exodus 3:14 and was therefore identifying himself as Yahweh/Jehovah their God.
  • [2.] Jesus was claiming to have existed as a self conscious living divine person/being before Abraham existed.
  • [3.] The Jews knew Jesus was identifying himself as their God and therefore wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy.

Claim vs. The Facts

The facts that we will see will tell us that Jesus is referring to what he initially stated: he is the light of the world (John 8:12). That Light existed long before Abraham.

The Problems with the Claims

1. Impossibility of the Trinitarian Interpretation

The Trinitarian interpretation directly contradicts Jesus' own words in at least 4 explicitly obvious ways:

  • (1) Jesus had just said that if he testified about himself, his testimony is not true (John 5:31; 8:17-18). But that is precisely what Trinitarians have Jesus doing at John 8:58 in direct contradiction to what he said.

 

  • (2) Jesus also had just said that if he glorified himself concerning who he is, his glory would mean absolutely nothing (John 8:54). But Trinitarians contradict Jesus again insisting that he did indeed glorify himself at John 8:58 and he did so in the highest way possible, and instead of meaning nothing as Jesus insisted, Trinitarians contradict him and insist it means everything. Trinitarians talk about of both sides of their mouth concerning Jesus. On one hand, they will admit that Philippians 2:5-9 says that Jesus made himself nothing and humbled himself. On the other hand, they have Jesus glorifying himself as God Almighty.

 

  • (3) Trinitarians also say the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because they knew exactly what he was saying at John 8:58. But yet again, Trinitarians directly contradict Jesus who had just said these Jesus could not understand what he was saying because they were not of God and were children of the devil (John 8:43-47).

 

  • (4) Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone he was God's Anointed One (Matthew 16:20; Luke 9:20-21). But we are expected to believe that Jesus was going around Israel declaring himself to be Yahweh/Jehovah their God. It's a ridiculously absurd contradiction. Jesus' own testimony in this selfsame dialogue decisively demonstrates to us that the Trinitarian interpretation of John 8 is absolutely impossible since their interpretation violently contradicts what Jesus had just said. Trinitarians are effectively demonstrating that they do not hear Jesus anymore than the Jews did in this dialogue nor do they even care. They care far more about promoting their false doctrine than hearing Jesus.

2. Ego Eimi (??? ????)

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Trinitarians say that when Jesus used the words ego eimi, the Jews knew he was using the divine name of their God. However, this claim is ridiculous for several reasons.

  

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Trinitarians typically suggest that ego eimi was a Greek way of saying God's name,  ????, "Yahweh/Jehovah" (YHWH). But this is utterly absurd on several levels. If that is the case then Jesus effectively said, "Before Abraham was, Yahweh/Jehovah." This is absurd nonsense. And are we also to believe Gabriel identified himself as Yahweh/Jehovah as seen at Luke 1:19 when he said, "I am (ego eimi) Gabriel."

  • And the angel answered him, “I am <ego eimi> Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
  • ??? ?????????? ? ??????? ????? ???? ??? ???? ??????? ? ?????????? ??????? ??? ????, ??? ????????? ??????? ???? ?? ??? ?????????????? ??? ?????·

 

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Or perhaps Luke 22:33, when Peter said to Jesus, "I am (ego eimi) prepared to go to prison with you and to death,"

  • Peter said to him, “Lord, I am <ego eimi> ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”
  • ? ?? ????? ???? ?????, ???? ??? ??????? ???? ??? ??? ??????? ??? ??? ??????? ??????????.

Are we then say, perhaps think, that he, Peter, had used the words ego eimi to say to Jesus, "Yahweh/Jehovah is prepared to go to prison with you and to death?" Clearly such is very silly. By using ego eimi was Peter also claiming to be Yahweh/Jehovah?

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Now, let's turn to John the Baptist, specifically John 1:20, for when John himself had said said, "I am (ego eimi) not the Christ," are we expected to believe it really means John the Baptist was saying that Yahweh/Jehovah is not the Christ?

  • He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am <ego eimi> not the Christ.”
  • ??? ?????????? ??? ??? ????????, ??? ?????????? ??? ??? ??? ???? ? ???????.

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Now let us see The Centurion said, "I am (ego eimi) a man under authority"  as seen in Matthew 8:9, are we to believe this really meant, "Yahweh/Jehovah is a man under authority" and The Centurion was claiming to be God?

  • For I [too] am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,Â’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,Â’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,Â’ and he does it.”
  • ??? ??? ??? ???????? ???? ??? ???????? ??????????, ???? ??' ??????? ??????????, ??? ???? ????? ?????????, ??? ?????????, ??? ???? ?????, ??? ???????, ??? ?? ????? ??? ??????? ?????, ??? ?????.

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When Jesus said one of his disciples would betray him and Judas Iscariot literally said, "Not I am (ego eimi) Lord?" are we to believe this really meant Judas was claiming to be Yahweh/Jehovah and Yahweh/Jehovah was going to betray Jesus? seen in Matthew 26:25. Why aren't Trinitrians being consistent with the term ego eimi in many other passages? The implications of the these Trinitarian claims are disturbingly ridiculous.

  • Judas, who would betray him, answered, “[not] Is it I [am] <ego eimi>, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
  • ?????????? ?? ?????? ? ?????????? ????? ????? ???? ??? ????, ??????; ????? ???? ?? ?????.

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Or maybe perhaps the Blind man as seen in John 9:9, who had said "I am the man" surely we cannot think of him as Yahweh/Jehovah.

  • Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am <ego eimi> the man.”
  • ????? ?????? ??? ????? ?????· ????? ?????? ????, ???? ?????? ???? ?????. ??????? ?????? ??? ??? ????.

In the Greek Septuagint, the actual divine name revealed to Moses was not, "ego eimi" as Trinitarians are suggesting to everyone. God's divine name in this Greek translation was "ego eimi ho ?n" which means "I am the being", "I choose to become",  "I am the existence", "I am the existent one", or perhaps the following "I am that I am" or some similar idea. In plain and common English, some translations which read as, "I AM sent me to you" are not translating "ego eimi sent me to you" from the Greek. The Greek actually reads "ho ?n sent me to you." (Exodus 3:14). In other words, it does not say, "Ego eimi sent me to you." This Trinitarian claim is precariously perched upon a farce that God's divine name in Greek is simply ego eimi. But it isn't.

NOTE: ego eimi ho ?n in Hebrew is Eyeh Asher Eyeh (??????? ?????? ???????? | ’ehyeh ’?šer ’ehyeh)

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It also seems that people manage to get two different questions confused right about here. The words ego eimi are used many times in the New Testament by several people. These words were part of their common everyday vocabulary. The expression ego eimi was common to everyday language for Greeks just as the words "I am" are common to our everyday language in English. Nobody regarded ego eimi as two Greek words uniquely reserved as the divine name of their God. A blind man, as mentioned above in the next chapter, 9 verse 9, identifies himself by saying, "I am" (ego eimi). Trinitarians are essentially trying to turn a routine language expression into the divine name of God to disingenuously suit their doctrinal purposes.

Now, let us observe how these two men identify themselves by saying, "ego eimi."

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  • 2 Samuel 2:19-20  - (19) And Asahel pursued Abner, and as he went, he turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner. (20) Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Is it you, Asahel?” And he answered, “It is I.” [(i.e I am.]
  • John 9:8-9 - (8) The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” (9) Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”

This Trinitarian claim is usually presented as if Jesus suddenly broke out the words ego eimi which no man ever used, in order to identify himself in a shock and awe manner which provoked the Jews to anger since they would automatically recognize ego eimi  to be the divine name of their God. However, the contextual facts demonstrate this is absurd and just the opposite is true. During this very same dialogue with the Jews in John chapter 8, Jesus used the term ego eimi several times before he used it at verse 8:58 (8:12,16,18,23,24,28). And through those many utterances of ego eimi by Jesus during this selfsame dialogue, not one of these Jews at any time ever supposed Jesus was referring to their God. The use of the term ego eimi  never even caused them to raise an eyebrow. The Jews had been asking Jesus who he claimed to be. In that context, Jesus had used the term ego eimi twice before in a very similar manner and they never even blinked. This fact alone clearly demonstrates that the Jews did not think the use of this term was a reference to the divine name of their God.

  • Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am (ego eimi), you will die in your sins.” Then the Jews said to him, “Who are you?” (8:24-25).
  • Jesus said, “When you lift up the son of man, then you will know that I am (ego eimi) and I do nothing from myself, but I speak these things as the Father taught me. And He who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As he spoke these things, many came to believe in him. (8:28-30).

Did these Jews think Jesus was using their God's divine name? No, it never even occurred to them.

Another false premise that those among Trinitarian camp expect people to accept is that if Jesus did somehow pre-exist before Abraham then this somehow makes the conclusion that he was a so called divine 2nd person of the Trinity, hanging out with God in high up in heaven way before creation, as well as after. The problem here for the Trinitarians is that Non-Trinitarians such as Jehovah's Witnesses and others, believe Jesus existed before Abraham without believing he, Jesus, is God, for such ones know that the only God is the true God. To suppose Jesus pre-existed does not amount to a pre-existent hypostases of a 3 person God (Triune God). Pre-existence is a not a license to resort to imaginations and absurdities.

Furthermore, in the Jewish mindset, if something had been predestined by God at the foundation of the world, it was already a reality. For example, let's look at John's Revelation,

  • Revelations 13:8 - and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

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A Jewish son of David, bounded to death (dying), was a reality long before 30 A.D. When God predestines, the reality begins. Moreover, He fixes the times and seasons things will be manifested and fulfilled in the time and space of our creation. God is not a part of our creation and our time and space. For God dwells in timelessness and is not subject to time, so although everything God has predestined to occur is already a reality, it doesn't mean we have seen it yet.

For it is known, that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah, the Christ. God promised this Messiah/Christ even before Abraham was. When God makes a promise it is always fulfilled; it is a coming reality, a reality that is a reality even if it has not arrived here yet. And that is what Jesus was talking about. He is the promised one, The Messiah, The Christ, the flesh, the very man who God has put his Word in this Prophet's mouth, the very Word of which is spoken to the people by this chosen one of God.

5. Blasphemy: The Alleged Jewish Motivation for Picking up Stones

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Trinitarian apologists also have an unwarranted interpretation this verse John 8:59, which reads:

  • So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

They claim the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because he was claiming to be Yahweh/Jehovah and so under their Law they thought he deserved stoning. Many Trinitarians will even make the absurd claim that these Jews would not have attempted to stone Jesus unless he was claiming to be God by suggesting that the only way Jesus could have possibly blasphemed God by claiming to be God Himself. But that is completely untrue, utterly false. The Bible shows us that one could blaspheme the name of God in many ways (Romans 2:24, Isaiah 52:5, Ezekiel 36:20,+). Moreover, the Jews stoned Stephen to death and he was not claiming to be God.

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But it doesn't stop here, for the situation for Trinitarian Christians is even worse. They need everyone to accept the premise that the Jews would never have stoned Jesus unless he had broken the Mosaic Law as if to say these men were upright, righteous law-keepers and would never have stoned Jesus unless they thought he had somehow transgressed the Law. Trinitarians suggest that if they attempted to stone him, it necessary means that the Jews thought they had a lawful reason to do. But again, Trinitarians will indeed deny the plain facts and the testimony of Jesus himself to make this claim. For Jesus had testified to the contrary in this selfsame dialogue.

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Stating that these men were lawless hypocrites

  • Matthew 23:28 - So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Moreover, Jesus, again, here testified that they wanted to kill him

  • John 8:37,40 - (37) I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. (40) but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.

Such being said long before his statement found in John 8:58.

Jesus also tells us why they wanted to kill him, we find this out in John 8:44

  • You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

In the Gospel accounts, Jesus identified these men not as law-keepers but as lawless hypocrites, thieves, liars, murderers, serpents, and sons of Satan. It should be quite clear that the Trinitarian suggestion that these men would never transgress the Mosaic Law is pitifully ridiculous in light of Jesus' testimony concerning their lawlessness. Trinitarians deny the words of Jesus who tells us in this selfsame dialogue WHY these men desired to kill him. They wanted to kill Jesus and stone him because they did the desires of their father: the devil (John 8:43-47). Moreover, the Trinitarian claim says that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because they clearly understood what he was saying at John 8:58. However, this directly contradicts what Jesus had just said about the Jews. In addition, He said they could not understand what he was saying because they were not of God but of the devil (John 8:43-47). That is the testimony of Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah/Christ who has been sent by the Father. And if we actually hear Jesus in The Gospel of John, chapter 8, it is the testimony of God the Father since Jesus' words were not his own but the Father's who sent him. Why then do Trinitarians not hear or believe God? Most certainly, they keep their ears covered, their eyes shielded, and their mouths closed.

6. The Confusion of the Jews = Confusion of the Trinitarians

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Jesus had said that Abraham rejoiced to see his day. The Jews respond by changing what Jesus had said, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?" But Jesus didn't say he had seen Abraham. It was the other way around. He said Abraham rejoiced to see his day.

Analysis of the Evidence

1. Two Required Witnesses

At John 8:12-58, the entire dialogue between Jesus and the Jews concerns who he claimed to be and that two witnesses were required concerning this matter. Two witnesses were required under the Law and Jesus himself said that if he testified about himself, his testimony would not be true. He clarifies this matter by explaining he spoke the words of the Father. Hence, the Father Himself was the second witness testifying about Jesus. In the same way, Jesus said that if he glorified himself, his glory would mean nothing. Two witnesses are required and the two witnesses were Jesus and God the Father.

2. Jesus spoke the words of the Father

Jesus said that he did not come to do his own will but to do only the will of the Father. For this reason, he tells us many times in the Gospel of John that he did not teach his own teaching or speak his own words. He only spoke what the Father gave him to say. He also said his words were not his own but the Father's who sent him. Once we understand that Jesus spoke the Father's words, it is clear how the Father was the second witness concerning who Jesus was. Not only so, one we realize Jesus spoke the words of the Father, his words, "Before Abraham was I am" are words the Father was expressing to these Jews.

3. I am the light of the world

The dialogue between Jesus and the Jews began when Jesus declared, "I am the light of the world." God the Father is Light (1 John 1:5) and the Father abiding in Jesus did the works (John 1:10). Now let's remember that when Jesus said, "I am the light of the world," he spoke the words of the Father as he reminds the Jews in this discourse (John 8:26,28,47). Therefore, whoever receives the testimony of Jesus has certified that God is true (John 3:33, see 14:24). The Father was the True Light which was coming into the world and John the Baptist was testifying about that Light (John 1:6-9). In this way, Jesus declared the Father (John 1:18) in terms of all the things he said and all the things he did. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify of me (John 10:25, see 5:36). The Father abiding in Jesus did the works (John 14:10-11).

Jesus declared the Father who is Light by doing his Father's will, saying what the Father gave him to say, doing what the Father gave him to do. The Father who is Light was explained/expressed through Jesus and for that reason Jesus could say, "I am the Light of the world," that is, he explained/expressed the Father who is that true Light which was coming into the world as John the Baptist witnessed about that Light. The Father existed before Abraham and his will for the work of the Messiah existed before Abraham. Now that will of the Father was being manifested, fulfilled.

4. The Light before Abraham

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Abraham rejoiced to see Jesus' day. Jesus is the Lamb who had been slain before the foundation of the world (Revelations 13:8). God had predestined the Lamb to be slain on when the Lamb had been crucified. Jesus was the promised seed which God had promised to Abraham:

  • Galatians 3:8 - And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

By faith, Abraham was "looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:9). In faith, Abraham believed in a better home, a heavenly home (John 11:16-21). Abraham's seed had been promised (John 3:16-18) and Jesus was the fulfillment of this promise. The man Jesus was a reality from the time God promised him to Abraham and that is true because it was God who made the promise. Indeed, this was a reality before Abraham came to be. He is the Lamb who had been slain from the foundation of the world.

The Jews had asked Jesus if he was greater than Abraham. In their eyes, no man could be greater than Abraham and none of them would say they were greater than Abraham. But before is greater and Jesus' answer was a Yes. He had been predestined from the foundation of the world and Abraham rejoiced to see his Day, the Light of God. He was greater than Abraham and then meant Jesus was greater than these Jewish leaders and that was something which made their blood boil.

Conclusion

God the Father is Light and that Light existed long before Abraham. That flesh named Jesus declared the Father. The Father abiding in Jesus did the works and in this way that body of flesh was the Light of the world, the Light of the Father shining through a human being. Because the Father abiding in him did the works, and this body of flesh declared the Father to the world in terms of all the things Jesus was doing, this flesh was shining that Light of God the Father who is that Light. This flesh, Jesus, was that Light of the Father, that Light which existed long before Abraham.

I am the Light of the world.

Abraham was glad to see my Day; He saw it and was glad.

Before Abraham was, I am.

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