For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray Matthew 24:5

Who is the I referring to in I am? Is it referring to Jesus of Nazereth? Or is it refrring to the false Christs and false prophets coming in his name? Are the false christs and false prophets going to lead people astray by claiming they themselves are Christ of by acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ?

  • 1
    The best way for you to find an answer to your own question is by finding all biblical instances of the expressions saying I and saying we in both Testaments, and, for each individual case, trying to determine to which of the two speakers the pronoun in question refers to. A clear pattern will soon emerge.
    – Lucian
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 22:01
  • @Lucian I just saw this. Sorry I overlooked it. Excellent. Can you please post it as an answer? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 0:04
  • It is wrong to say "I am the Christ". If something to this effect needs to be said, it is better to say "I am one of the Christs", because Jesus is one of many brothers and sisters. (Rom 8:29) Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 0:48
  • Galatians 2:20 (KJV) "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 0:54
  • “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21) Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 0:58

4 Answers 4


Context is important here, but Greek not so much (i.e. it adds nothing semantically that isn't conveyed din the English in this instance, and is in any case subservient to context, which is explicit).

First, to make it clear from the beginning, Jesus has already claimed to be the Christ, so 'I am not the Christ' is not one of the valid interpretations open to anyone here:

Matthew 16:13-20 (DRB)

And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? 14 But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? 16 Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. 20 Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.

Here, God the Father revealed to Peter that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God." And notice that there is a play on the true divine-prerogative identity of Jesus and Peter here respectively. If Peter is "Peter" then Jesus is also "the Christ." They mutually confirm each other's true identity.

Not to mention the same author introduces his Gospel thus:

Matthew 1:1 (DRB) The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

(If we don't trust him here, we should be pretending he relates the true words of Jesus, either.)

So back to our passage, then:

Matthew 24:3-5, 23-28 (DRB)

And when he was sitting on mount Olivet, the disciples came to him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the world? 4 And Jesus answering, said to them: Take heed that no man seduce you: 5 For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many. ... Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. 24 For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. 25 Behold I have told it to you, beforehand. 26 If therefore they shall say to you: Behold he is in the desert, go ye not out: Behold he is in the closets, believe it not. 27 For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west: so shall the coming of the Son of man be. 28 Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together.

So you see it's the false Christs who are to come in His name, claiming to be the Christ, not Him, the Christ. His point is 'you'll know when I've come alright, just as when everyone sees lightening; everyone will be gathered before me like vultures at a carcass!' (Cf. 2 Cor 5:10).

  • The vultures may be gathered to eat the flesh of the Jerusalem Jews who were visited with divine judgment in 70AD: [Pro 30:17 KJV] 17 The eye [that] mocketh at [his] father, and despiseth to obey [his] mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. OR, the "eagles" might be a symbol for Rome (which brandished weaponry marked with an image of an eagle). It is a reference to the slaughter of 70ad.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 1:52
  • Good point about the context being the more compelling matter here. Had there been a hOTI it would have been significant but the absence not so much.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 1:53
  • @Ruminator I prefer to see the vultures around the carcass as Judgement Day, when the Son of Man will judge mankind. Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 17:50
  • I wasn't sure what image you were going for. Yes, it is an image of judgement: [Pro 30:17 KJV] 17 The eye [that] mocketh at [his] father, and despiseth to obey [his] mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. AND [Isa 66:24 KJV] 24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. This is 70ad.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 19:57
  • I concur. Heaven will rejoice over the just judgement of hell.. Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 20:09

There are many who read it "line upon line" and do not quite get it. It is saying, by the Spirit, both in one sentence as a warning of things to look out for.

I have seen both in my lifetime, more will follow, as well as the antichrist calling himself the messiah.

*1 There will be those that claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, but are deceived in their doctrines or they rely on a second book or a twisted translation to back their doctrine.Some will think that because they use the name of Christ their teachings must be from God, and they are deceived and led astray off of the true path.

*2 There has been in the past and will be in the future those that claim to be the Messiah, Jesus, or even the "Christ Spirit" and many were, and are, deceived.

There was a person of the "Black Hebrew Israelites" group this year who claimed to be The Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

They would deceive the very Elect... if it were possible.

That is why translators should not mess with sentence construction, it is made that way for a reason. It causes some to miss the things that God is trying to say in the Spirit.

This verse is worded the way it is to make you pause, and ask those questions to yourself.


Disclaimer: I have no formal education in Greek.

Here is the Greek:

mGNT Matthew 24:5 πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ Χριστός καὶ πολλοὺς πλανήσουσιν

In my experience, as in English so in Greek, one introduces dialogue with a simple, "saying..." followed by the first person. For example, "Joel introduced himself to Mary saying, "I'm happy to meet you"".

But if one wants to relate the content rather than the quote you say "saying that" and use third person:

"Joel introduced himself to Mary saying that he was glad to meet her".

The situation we have here is that of "saying" with the first person and so appears to me to be quoting the wannabe.

I found this link that gives much more nuance about quotations in the scriptures. It suggests that regardless of the usage of quotation marks in translation it really shouldn't be understood as a rigid citation. As it says, "Thus what we consider "quotes of Jesus" are perhaps something of a hybrid between his word-for-word quotes and the Holy Spirit inspired description of his quotes.".

I also note that "come in my name" and "saying I am the Christ" are in apposition meaning that saying "I am the Christ" is tantamount to "coming in my name".

  • I also have no formal education in Greek. I wonder if there is an example of 'saying that I am' in the Greek text (without the speech quotations), so it's possible to see the distinction? Did they have speech quotations in the original Greek text? Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 8:58
  • I added an update. Perhaps it is helpful.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 9:21
  • The disciples were sent out in the Name of Jesus but were not deceivers. The difference is that the disciples had a valid claim to go in Christ's name and false Christs do not. The disciples speak the truth while false Christs tell lies.
    – user25930
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 10:30
  • As I understand it, "going in Christ's name" is contrasted with "claiming to be the messiah oneself". So the disciples said "Jesus is the Christ" but the false messiah's claimed to BE the Messiah. We don't know their names but it isn't hard to believe that in the last days of Judaism in the final generation of covenant Israel that many would have jockeyed for the position as leader of the rebellion against Rome. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 10:46
  • Unfortunately, @Ruminator, it didn't help - without quotation marks, there appears to be no conclusive grammatical or syntactical evidence in the Greek text that the intention was 'saying, "I am the Christ,"' instead of 'saying that I am the Christ'. Even the commas vary between versions of the Greek text. It seems everyone is arguing purely from a 'faith' position, assuming quotation marks where there were none in the Greek. I'm yet to find a solid argument from the text that the added quotation marks are necessary. Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 11:50

Christ does not deceive. Matt 24:5 should not be separated from v4 which talks about people who would arise in order to deceive. Jesus immediately gives a prime example of this: "some will come in my name claiming, "I am the Christ"."

The grammar here is quite straight forward and every translation I checked had a reliable version. Therefore, the "I" is simply the deceivers attempting to masquerade as Christ. It is significant that in the parallel passages in Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8, Jesus predicts that some will come and claim to be "I am"!! (using a literal reading of the Greek.)

Thus, some of the claims of the deceivers are remarkable indeed!

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