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Is Jesus' "I am" statement in John 8:58 equivalent to God's "I am" in Exodus 3:14?

What is the meaning of "I am" in John 8:58 and what is the meaning of "I am" in Exodus 3:14?

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Note that John has Jesus say "Ego Eimi" (same as the name of God in Exodus 3:14 in the septuagint). He has him say it seven times.

John 4:26, 6:20, 8:24, 8:28, 8:58, 13:19, 18:5

Note that in 9:9, 18:6 and 18:8, Jesus does not say the statement. They are either from another character or (in 18) they are narrative exposition where the narrator says "when he said 'ego eimi'," etc. Jesus says it exactly seven times.

Note this is separate from the seven "I am the ..." statements (e.g. bread, way, truth, life, vine, etc). Those have Ego Eimi as well, but do not have it in a stand-alone manner.

The number 7 is a number of completeness to Jewish audiences and clearly of great importance to the author of the fourth gospel. A number of purification periods, the days of the week in creation, etc, are based on the number seven. Also see in John 19:14 that Jesus stands before Pilate at the sixth hour. I get the feeling that John is implying that Jesus died at exactly the seventh hour of the day (1pm).

That being said, when Jesus says "Ego Eimi" for the seventh time, the soldiers and priests in the mob collapse on the ground. This was an event in the gospel (Maybe THE event). I read this as Jesus completing his identification with the divine. Furthermore, I see it as Jesus completing his identity with the general principle of the self (which today we'd call the "Ego" or the "I am"). Then the soldiers dragged the ego to the cross and killed it.

This annihilation of self matches the early christian hymn in Philippians 2 (the Kenosis hymn) of self-emptying of the divine in Christ. It also matches the theme of John 1:12-13, where the author describes the primary thesis of the gospel. That you can't do it (achieve salvation). Not by any act of will of the flesh/self or an act of man/others. You can't do anything. The idea that your self plays a role in your salvation is actually the "diagnosis" of our suffering condition, according to John and one way of reading the Torah.

John is very careful to show that Jesus never expressed his own will. Where the other gospels have "if this cup could pass from me, but not my will but your will be done..." John has Jesus always saying simply, "I do not do my own will, but the will of the father." For John, there is no room for an independent will of Jesus as in the synoptics.

John 3:14-15 (leading up to the famous 3:16) compares Jesus to Moses's serpent in the wilderness which was an icon, not an idol. It was empty of substance... Transparent to God. There was nothing there. Jesus is empty, and as such, no Ego obscures God. He is the ideal conduit to the divine. It is hard to read the trinity into these takes on Jesus since there is really nothing there. He empties himself of self and that is why he is the son of God. And according to John 1:12-13, so can you (but through no will of your own).

John 1:12-13, "But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God."

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    The 'annihilation of self' is not Christian teaching. It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me. 'Me' is still alive. But 'I' am not the active party. To urge Christians to be 'annihilated' is - to my mind - a cruel and legal burden, if one be sincerely attempting to obey such a task. Christ is in union and this union is a union of two living parties. It is a marriage : a living bond.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 30 '20 at 19:49
  • @Gus L. This is a Hinduistic take on the Gospel which stands very very far from the Judaic and Christian traditions based on the Bible. This makes the Lord Jesus Christ no different from any other man and abolishes the very essence of Christianity with a doctrine of incarnation of God-Logos, whose incarnate name is Jesus and who was fully God already in the womb of Mary (that's why John the Baptist rejoiced at His closeness already while in the womb of Elisabeth (Luke 1:41) and for the reason of this rejoicing Elisabeth, filled with Holy Spirit, worshiped Him, the not-yet-born - as "my Lord". Aug 27 at 13:06
  • @LevanGigineishvili Sure... I think that the Hindus understood this TRUTH also... and that's why it appears in both places. But you can't ignore Ecclesiastes ha-qol hevel (the all is vanity/emptiness). This book clearly influencing John 3:8 as well as the larger theme of witnessing for something which the reader can't repeat (Qohelet's great wealth and for John, the life of Jesus). And hevel is literally the name of Abel, the first murdered empty shepherd in the entire book whose name also appears exactly 7 times in his story like the I am statements and the clear link to Abel in 1 john.
    – Gus L.
    Aug 28 at 14:47
  • And I get that you haven't really thought through this perspective much (most haven't). The conclusion from emptiness is that the world is full of relationships (God is love) and empty of objects. The result is in no way that "Jesus is like any other man," but it makes you and me "unlike any other man also." We are perfectly unique and without comparison. Monogenes, teliois, etc. It literally frees you from judgment and comparison (the knowledge of good and evil in eden). There is a long history of jewish theology of emptiness.. this is the core behind the non-idolatry laws.
    – Gus L.
    Aug 28 at 14:51
  • @GusL. It is always perilous to translate different intellectual cultures and concepts to each other. I do not say that it should not be done; on the contrary, in whatever cultures seeds of truth is discovered, it should be stored in the storehouse of humanity and linked to Christianity, for Christ is the Source of all truth. Yet, Hinduism, besides its merits, abolishes the uniqueness of the Lord, who is the only God-man, conceived by the virgin Mary as complete God and the only one exempt from original sin, doctrine absent in Hinduism. Hindus need conversion to Christianity, not vice versa. Aug 29 at 4:46
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The Statement in Historical Context
Based on the discussion leading up to Jesus' pronouncement, it is difficult, if not impossible to claim those who heard ἐγώ εἰμι connected it to Exodus 3:14:

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, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
(John 8) [ESV]

Those contending with Jesus wanted to know when He had seen Abraham. An answer which begins "before Abraham..." will focus attention on events before Abraham. In fact, history is a strong argument against the people understanding Jesus was making any reference to the Exodus since that was after Abraham. Any connection to events in Moses life must be discerned in retrospect (see Catrin Williams below) and this is at odds with the people's immediate response.

Historical Texts
In the Septuagint there is a textual connection to Exodus in what Jesus said:

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἰησοῦς ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί

And God said to Moyses, "I am The One Who Is." And he said, "Thus shall you say to the sons of Israel, 'The One Who Is has sent me to you.'" (LXX-Exodus 3:14)
καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς πρὸς Μωυσῆν ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν καὶ εἶπεν οὕτως ἐρεῗς τοῗς υἱοῗς Ισραηλ ὁ ὢν*ἀπέσταλκέν με πρὸς ὑ

However, this connection is not found in the Hebrew text:

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”[a] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה וַיֹּ֗אמֶר כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה שְׁלָחַ֥נִי אֲלֵיכֶֽם
[a] Exodus 3:14 Or I AM WHAT I AM, or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE

אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה ehyeh is not אֲנִ֤י ה֔וּא ’ănî hū' or אנכי הוא ’ānōḵî hū' which are typically "I am."

...Hebrew does not have a word for the present tense of the verb "to be." In other words, there is no Hebrew word for "am" or "is" or "are."...Importantly, this name "I am who I am" or "I will be who I will be," is never again mentioned in the Torah. This suggests God was giving an answer for Moses, not for the Israelites. Such an abstract name would have made no sense to the theologically primitive Israelites. Even though God tells Moses to tell the Israelites "Ehyeh" ("Am" or "Will Be") sent him, that name is really for Moses. Moses is not going to get the Israelites to follow him by telling them, "'I am' sent me to lead you" - as is made clear in the next verse, when God gives Moses a more relatable name to use.1

Those familiar with both languages would understand God is speaking and "ἐγώ εἰμι" is one way to accurately describe what takes place. Yet the Greek text treats what is said to Moses such that the name Moses is to say to the Israelites is ὁ ὤν: ἐγώ εἰμι is just for Moses. (This understanding of the exchange may shed light on Exodus 6:4, which as suggested here may allude to "I am.") In other words, the Greek text makes ἐγώ εἰμι something between God and Moses and ὁ ὤν the name Moses relates to Israelites.2

Jeffrey H. Tigay gives this explanation for the difference between the names in 3:14 and 15:

14 God's proper name, disclosed in the next verse YHVH (spelled "yod-heh-vav-heh" in Hebrew; in ancient times the "vav" was pronounced "w"). But here God first tells Moses its meaning: Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, probably best translated as "I Will Be What I Will Be," meaning "My nature will become evident from My actions." (Compare God's frequent declarations below, that from His future acts Israel and Egypt "shall know that I am the LORD [YHVH]," as in 7.5; 10.2; etc.) Then He answers Moses question about what to say to the people: "Tell them 'Ehyeh' ("I Will Be," a shorter form of explanation) sent me." This explanation derives God's name from the verb "h-v-h," a variant form of "h-y-h," "to be." Because God is the speaker, He uses the first person form of the verb.3

          For Moses         For Israelites         
Hebrew    ehyeh             ehyeh (to Moses v. 14) & YHVH (v. 3:15)
Greek     I am - ἐγώ εἰμι   The One Who Is - ὁ ὤν (3:14)

Another consideration is ἐγώ εἰμι is used in conversation where it does not elicit a reaction from others (cf. 8:24, 28; 9:9)4and so the phrase is not in itself a sacred expression. Nevertheless, those who heard before Abraham was, I am reacted immediately: they picked up stones to throw at him (8:59). They believed they heard blasphemy (cf. 10:33).

Catrin H. Williams summarizes two issues in relating the Gospel to Exodus:

...it cannot be ruled out that ἐγώ εἰμι of v. 58 may represent John's favoured rendering of אהיה directly from Exodus 3:14, whereas another possibility is that many examples of אני הוא rendered as ἐγώ εἰμι in the Septuagint prompted the fourth evangelist to view this bipartite Greek expression, without ὁ ὤν, as also encapsulating the meaning of the divine name disclosed to Moses. Thus, rather than attempting to refute the possible influence on Exodus 3:14 on John 8:58, a more fruitful exercise would be to consider whether an understanding of ἐγώ εἰμι in the light of the divine self-declaration can provide explanation of Jesus words.5

As Williams' recognizes, if "before Abraham existed, I am" was not understood by others as the name spoken to Moses, the Gospel writer may have later come to that understanding:

  • How did the people understand ...before Abraham was, I am?
  • What is the evangelist's complete understanding of the expression I am?

The People's Reaction
The people understand blasphemy sanctions immediate stoning:

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10)

The response of stoning shows they took what Jesus said as a statement making Himself God. A claim to exist before Abraham might be understood as a general claim of pre-existence and by implication making oneself God. Yet, Jesus made this same statement earlier (cf. 8:24, 28) and it was not understood in that way.

The first time ἐγώ εἰμι is used in the LXX is at an important moment in Abraham's life:

Now Abram came to be ninety-nine years of age, and the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am your God; be well pleasing before me, and become blameless
(LXX-Genesis 17:1)
ἐγένετο δὲ Αβραμ ἐτῶν ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα καὶ ὤφθη κύριος τῷ Αβραμ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ θεός σου εὐαρέστει ἐναντίον ἐμοῦ καὶ γίνου ἄμεμπτος

This is a most important event in Judaism. Here is when the sign of circumcision is given; Abram's and Sarai's names are changed; the covenant reaffirmed, and the promise of a son from Sarah is made. This event is one which the people would more clearly take Jesus' statement as making Himself God. In addition, not only is ἐγώ εἰμι used by God, it is specifically, "I am your God" which is a departure from the Hebrew, I am God Almighty (El Shaddai)." Thus, the people might also understand Jesus was making Himself equal to God Almighty.

Conclusion
The meaning of ἐγώ εἰμι without predicates in the LXX has particular significance in the events where YHVH is described making Abraham and his descendants His people. The first use in the LXX is when YHVH gives Abram the sign of circumcision; changes the names of Abram and Sarai; reaffirms the promise of land and gives the promise of a son through Sarah (Genesis 17:1-21). It is more likely this is the event which the people connect to Before Abraham was, I am and not the one in Exodus 3:14.6

Given the Gospel writer's extensive use of ἐγώ εἰμι and ὁ ὤν, it is likely they agree "Before Abraham was, I am" is a claim to be Abraham's God and as such spoke to Moses (and all of the other prophets). This is something they came to understand later and likely a major reason and purpose for writing this Gospel.


Notes:

  1. Dennis Prager, Exodus: God, Slavery, and Freedom, Regnery Faith, 2018, pp. 44-45
  2. ὁ ὤν, which is absent in the Synoptics is used throughout the Gospel (1:18; 3:31; 6:46; 8:47; 12:17; 18:37). Some imply that name applies to Jesus which suggests the Gospel writer understood the Greek text of Exodus could be understood in that way and ensured both names from the Moses encounter were included in the Gospel.
  3. Jeffery H. Tigay, The Jewish Study Bible, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 111
  4. In addition, the use by the blind man more correctly means I was. "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?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am.” (9:8-9) In other words, I am (he) who was begging.
  5. Catrin H. Williams, I Am He: The Interpretation of A̓nî Hû in Jewish and Early Christian Literature, Mohr Siebeck, 2000, p. 277
  6. In the encounter with Moses, ἐγώ εἰμι is used in 3:6 where God says I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob... So a connection with Abraham is present but only serves to further distance 3:14 to the people's reaction.
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  • If they realized in the one who said to be "before Abraham" the latter's God, then they would have connected the Gospel's "I am" with the Exodus' "I am", as you also say in the end; not philologists were standing there, but agitated Jews who already suspected that He was a blasphemer and claimed a divine status for Himself (doing miracles on His own authority, forgiving sins, etc.). Thus, nobody can tell which text came first to their minds, Genesis or Exodus, yet since "I am" expression is closer to the Exodus expression, more likely that came a heartbeat earlier perhaps. Aug 27 at 14:00
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Is Jesus' "I am" statement in John 8:58 equivalent to God's "I am" in Exodus 3:14?

Well, no, here's a few reasons;

  1. The 'I am' is better translated as ' will be who I will be' in Ex 3:14
  2. Jesus' 'I am' is not even a title - he is simply referring to himself as others did in exactly the same way - why should we dismiss John 9:9 (the blind man) as an 'insignificant reference' when it disagrees with our presumption?
  3. Jesus says in John 15, 'I am the true vine' followed 'by my Father is the vinedresser'! We know the Father is God - if he is the vinedresser, how can Jesus be God too if he is but the vine?
  4. In the listed 'I am' statements that supposedly confirm a 'God status' for Jesus, he is always referring to himself as something, a vine, bread, door, light etc, the something that the Father has sent or provided through His son.

God isn't bread or a door or a vine! But Jesus WAS! He was and IS the means to the Father.

We join into God through Jesus being the bread - which we eat, the vine - we are attached to, the door - the way we go, etc

To pretend that these 'I am' snippets of Jesus speech are some loaded code is reading much into the text and regarding less the truth of what Jesus is telling us.

This is the Jesus who has the same God as we do and plainly tells us so. And what about John 8:58? Same deal...

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."

Jesus was the prophesied one that they looked forward to for millennia. He is confirming that he is the one - 'I am the one you are looking for', 'I am the one' who was the plan of God from before Abraham. Abraham was the father of the nation - but he was just a brick in the whole house.

Jesus, the word made flesh, is the cornerstone on which the whole construction relies - set in place well before Abraham! Jesus was far more important than Abraham who founded a physical nation. God, who foreknew Jesus was coming, was building a much grander spiritual nation through His son of epic proportions!

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The idea of Jesus being before Abraham in time is ruled out by Paul who, while fully grasping the nature of Jesus, knows he was the promised one to come, was now here, but was not before.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say “and to seeds” as of many but “and to your seed” as of One, who is Christ. Gal 3:16

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  • Even Jehowa witnessists agree about pre-existence of Jesus according to John 8:58 passage, even though they torture text and translate not like "before Abraham I am" but as "I was", but they at least do not go to your extreme as to deny Jesus' preexistence altogether but say that Jesus existed in pre-incarnate angelic state, often identified by them with the Archangel Michael. Problem with your Christology is that you disentangle the Father's eternal uncreated Logos from Jesus, but Jesus is the name of the Hypostasis of the Logos in His incarnation, the Logos-man, or God-man. Aug 27 at 15:17
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John 8:58... ya gotta love it.

I'm beginning to see it as an allusion to Exodus 3 and the angel of the LORD:

[Exo 3:1-18 NLT] (1) One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. (2) There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn't burn up. (3) "This is amazing," Moses said to himself. "Why isn't that bush burning up? I must go see it." (4) When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, "Moses! Moses!" "Here I am!" Moses replied. (5) "Do not come any closer," the LORD warned. "Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. (6) I am the God of your father--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. (7) Then the LORD told him, "I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. (8) So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey--the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. (9) Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. (10) Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt." (11) But Moses protested to God, "Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?" (12) God answered, "I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain." (13) But Moses protested, "If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' they will ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what should I tell them?" (14) God replied to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you." (15) God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob--has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations. (16) "Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, 'The LORD, the God of your ancestors--the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--has appeared to me. He told me, "I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you. (17) I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey--the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live."' (18) "The elders of Israel will accept your message. Then you and the elders must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So please let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD, our God.'

John 8:58 does not (certainly not explicitly) affirm that Jesus is YHVH himself but does link him to the angel OF the LORD in Exodus 3, who by all Christian accounts is the preexistent Messiah/Christ.

Update

My own views have changed on this and I now see it as an allusion to Psalm 90:2 LXX:

Is John 8:58 an allusion to Psalm 90:2 LXX?

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  • John explicitly affirms the equality and the same divine dignity of the Father and the Son, and thus also the YHVH-ity of the Son. In the passage you adduce from the Exodus 3 it is absolutely clear that this Angel of Lord is also Lord God worshiped by Moses, unless you wish to follow some indecent (philologically at least) Rabbis who in their reckless impudence hazard that there were two of them speaking from the burning bush - Angel and God. But a Christian sober philology and theology interprets that the Angel of God was also God worshipped by Moses, the "one who is", the Son God. Aug 27 at 21:06
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It is better to understand this "I am" statement in a larger context. Let us examine the unpredicated use of the exact phrase ἐγώ εἰμι, in the NT.

  • Matt 14:27, Mark 6:50 – “Be encouraged. I am.” [To the frightened disciples in the boat.]
  • Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8 – “Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am’”.
  • Mark 14:62, Luke 22:70 – “Jesus replied, ‘I am’”. [He was then accused of blasphemy by the Jews and condemned.]
  • John 4:26 – “Then Jesus said, ‘I am.’” [To the Samaritan woman at the well. There is a reasonable case for this being identification, but that is a matter of taste.]
  • John 6:20 – “But then [Jesus] said to them, ‘I am. Fear not.’” [To the frightened disciples in the boat.]
  • John 8:24 – “If you do not trust/believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”
  • John 8:28 – “When you will lift up the Son of Man, then you will trust/know that I am.”
  • John 8:58 – “Truly, truly, I say to you; before Abraham existed, I am.” [The Jews then tried to stone Him for blasphemy.] Note that this and the previous two mean that Jesus, in the space of this chapter of John 8 uses the unpredicated “I am” idea in the present (v24), future (v28) and past sense (v58). V24 & 28 appears to be tied to believers’ salvation as well.
  • John 9:9 – “Some were saying that, ‘this is [that one]’, and others were saying ‘no, it is like him.’ But he was saying, ‘I am [that one].’” (This instance is clearly identification rather than existence.)
  • John 13:19 – “From now [on] I tell you before the occurrence, that you may believe when it occurs that, I am.”
  • John 18: 5, 6, 8 – “He said to them, ‘I am.’ …Therefore, when He told them, ‘I am’, they fell backward to the ground.” [This occurred when the Jews tried to arrest Jesus in the garden. It could be reasonably argued that this is a case of identification. However, the fact that the arresting mob fell backward suggests that much more is intended here.]

It is interesting that, according to Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8, one of the distinguishing characteristics of false christs is their claim to be “I AM”. Unfortunately, there has been a historical parade of charlatans making such false claims.

Thus, with the obvious and rather trivial exception of John 9:9 (and self-exclusory Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8), all of the “I am” existence statements in the New Testament, including the 7 in John, were spoken exclusively by Jesus, and all were either the basis for absolute trust/belief and reassurance in Jesus, or were a clear declaration of His claim to be the “I AM.”

These unpredicated "I am" claims of Jesus are clear allusions to the same phenomenon in the LXX of the OT, namely, Deut 32:39, Isa 41:4, 43:10, 13, 25, 45:19, 46:4, 48:12, 51:12, 52:6. In these cases, YHWH is using the name He specified in Gen 3:13-15 as,

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” … This is My name forever, and this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.

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Peace.

Yes, both "I AM" statements are related.

God said (n Exodus 3:14) unto Moses in response to the question about His Name: "I AM WHAT I AM".

What (in Hebrew: asher) is He? He is what He is…that is, Light. God is Light.

His Name speaks of His eternal characteristic of being Light….”I AM”: Light. God is Light. He was and is and always will be Light. This was stated from the very beginning.

We find in Genesis 1:3 the first statement that God is Light.

God is not saying “let there be light”….but rather that “He IS Light.”

It is an explanation of His being. This is the first message to mankind whose foolish heart was darkened (darkness was upon the face of the deep). This Light is eternal and not created as God is eternal.

Elohim is saying "He is Light".

From Interlinear Scripture Analyzer:

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That Light of God shines within our once darkened hearts (darkness was upon the face of the deep) when we hear His Son (the Beginning) give us the knowledge of God in the regeneration of mankind.

We are to respond to that Light with light as we become children of light…and “there was light”. We are to walk with Him in His Light.

Genesis 1:3 KJV (3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

This is the message that we have heard of Him (from the Beginning…from Jesus) and declare unto you that God is Light….and in Him is no darkness at all. God divided the light from darkness...the children of light from the children of darkness.

1 John 1:5 KJV (5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

“I am what I am”: Light.

He is a personal God of knowledge/light (Yahweh) that shines as the Light within our very own hearts when we hear His voice. We walk in the Light with Him within our hearts when we do His commandments.

He is also the mighty, powerful God (God Almighty, El Shaddai) whose power can be seen in the outward, visible creation.

We have an inward, in-the heart, personal God who is our Light (Yahweh) and the same God is an outward powerful God (God Almighty)who acts outwardly in this physical universe for all to see His divine nature. We personally know Him within our very own hearts while others only know Him by seeing the invisible attributes of God displayed in the visible creation.

“I AM WHAT I AM” = He is Light.

Exodus 3:13-14 KJV (13) And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? (14) And God 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.

Yahweh God is a “sun and shield”. Yahweh is the brilliant (sun) Light within us and God is the shield….an outward protector from those who would persecute us.

Psalms 84:11-12 KJV (11) For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (12) O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

Psalms 84:9 KJV (9) Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

Blessed is the man that trusts in Yahweh who is the Light. While we have the Light within us, we are to believe in the Light so that we may be the children of light.

John 12:35-36 KJV (35) Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. (36) While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

We are to hear His knowledge…His word of truth… and not speak evil towards it Sin is motivated within our unbelieving hearts. We are to be children of Light to the Father of lights.

James 1:14-18 KJV (14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (16) Do not err, my beloved brethren.

The Father of lights….as each of us has His Light shining within us….speaks His knowledge (the word of truth) to us so that should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.

(17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (18) Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

This is the “Word of life”….the Saying of life: God is Light. It was from the Beginning and we see this message originally in Genesis 1:3.

1 John 1:1 KJV (1) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

We have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (and all of the saints)when we walk together with them in His Light.

1 John 1:3 KJV (3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Joy comes in the “morning” when His Light arises in the darkness of our hearts.

Psalms 30:4-5 KJV (4) Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (5) For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

This powerful message (the Word of life) that He IS Light that was said in Genesis 1:3 and was in response to the earth becoming without form (without the form of His righteousness) and void of His knowledge….darkness was upon the face of the deep as mankind’s foolish heart was darkened.

Although they once knew God, they professed themselves as “wise” and became fools. They became vain in their reasoning and discussions and their foolish heart was darkened (Romans 1:21).

Darkness was upon the face of the deep (the heart of mankind) as man became without form (without His righteousness) void of the knowledge of God (God is Light). The earth BECAME without form and void…

Genesis 1:1-5 KJV (1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Since mankind’s collective heart has become darkened, the Lord Jesus Christ in the Spirit of God comes to give us an understanding so that we may know Him who is true. This is why Jesus stated that He is the Light of the world. Mankind needs to be regenerated in the regeneration by the hearing of the Word of Truth.

The first message we hear is in Genesis 1:3: God is Light. He IS Light. He is Yahweh.

That Light shines within our very own hearts when we hear His true and faithful words….the true and faithful interpretation of the Scriptures.

(3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

When we hear His Son’s voice giving us God’s knowledge, the Light shines within our once darkened hearts and it is God’s witness within us that this is His Son speaking to us…giving us the knowledge of God.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 KJV (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

It is the power of God within our very own hearts testifying that this is His Son whom we are to hear. The witness of God within us is greater. It is more personal as it is within us where the Light of God shines.

(7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

When we hear the true and faithful interpretation of His Son, the Light of God breaks forth within the once-darkened heart until the bright and morning star arises until it is midday so to speak. There will then be no more darkness within the heart as we enter into His full knowledge.

We shall know that this is His Son speaking (whom we are to hear) by the Light of God arising in our heart.

False prophets will not have this effect upon our hearts. They have to rely upon flattering words and their performance of outward carnal signs of supposed inward realities (behold, now He is within the secret chamber…the heart).

Do not believe the voices of the false prophets for God’s Light shall dawn within the darkness of our very own hearts when we hear the true voice of the Son when He gives us the true knowledge of God. There will be no mistaking who is talking to us if we believe.

2 Peter 1:19-21 KJV (19) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Now we find John 8:58 sandwiched between two references of Jesus being the “Light of the world”. When the real Jesus speaks, the Light of God shall shine within our hearts and that Light is the “Light of life”…eternal life. Those who truly follow Jesus will not walk in darkness….envy, strife, hatred, contentions, etc….towards what they hear Him saying.

John 8:12 KJV (12) Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus: “I AM”: the Light of the world.

John 9:5 KJV (5) As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

This “I am” is speaking of the Light also. God is Light and He is eternal. This Light is not created but has always been and will always be.

John 8:58 KJV (58) Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

God is mighty and powerful (God Almighty) showing this side of Him in this outward world.

Yet, In His Name (Yahweh) we see that He is also Light….a God of knowledge. This Light shines within our very own hearts.

Exodus 6:3 KJV (3) And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

God Almighty is powerful. Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit….that is, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (Yahweh …I am.. Light).

Zechariah 4:6 KJV (6) Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

May He give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.

Ephesians 1:16-19 KJV (16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

So that the “eyes of your understanding being enlightened….”

(18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

As Hannah prayed, Yahweh is a God of knowledge and by Him are our actions weighed…. toward the hearing of His knowledge. We either hear it and believe and do good unto the resurrection of life or we hear His knowledge and be found unbelieving and doing evil towards what we hear the Spirit saying.

1 Samuel 2:2-6 KJV (2) There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. (3) Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

Those who will resist His knowledge are broken….while those who humble themselves are girded with strength. The strong resisters of His knowledge will be humbled while the humble shall be lifted up.

(4) The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.

Those who are “barren” of words shall enter in to know all the knowledge of God while those who are of many words against what they hear will be waxed feeble.

(5) They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. (6) The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Not by might nor by power but by the powerful Spirit of God shall all high things and imaginations and strongholds and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God be cast down.

2 Corinthians 10:3-7 KJV (3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) (5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (6) And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Don’t look on things after the outward appearance for you shall know within your very own heart when you hear the true and faithful words of God as His Light shall shine within the heart.

(7) Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.

Those who look after the outward appearance of things shall not enter in to know His knowledge. Those who trust and look toward (esteeming) in man's phd's, bible colleges and learning shall not enter in.

But those who see the Light of God (Yahweh) within them when they hear His words and believe and become children of light shall enter in. Those who “see” (only looking after the outward appearance of things) shall not see (His knowledge) but those who will hear the Spirit shall understand.

John 9:39 KJV (39) And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

Yahweh my God shall light my candle. He will enlighten my darkness. Our hearts shall witness His Light. Those who humble themselves will be saved while those who trust in their pride of their own or carnal man's understanding of the Scriptures shall be brought down.

Psalms 18:27-28 KJV (27) For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. (28) For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

The Son of God's interpretation of the Scriptures is above all of man's learning.

The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Holy men of God speak to those as they are moved by the Spirit.

The first message: God IS Light. Yahweh: I AM….Light. We receive the testimony of men but the witness of God within our very own hearts is greater as this is where His Light shines in the darkness of our hearts when we hear the One who comes to give us an understanding. This testimony speaks to us that “this is His Son” speaking to us and we are to “hear Him” as He comes to give us an understanding.

1 John 5:9-12 KJV (9) If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. (10) He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (11) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

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Yes, definitely, for the Lord does not say the verb "to be" as a copula between two things, like "this [thing] is a cup" when "is" is a copula, connector between the "thing" and the "cup"; on the contrary, here the Lord says "I am" in an existential sense, "I exist", and how does He exist? - eternally, because to say that "before Abraham I am" and not "I was", means nothing but that His existence is not measured by time (that is an aspect of the created world and did not exist and cannot exist without it) but is infinite, changeless, un-began and unending.

The Lord clearly refers here to the Psalm 89(90):2 "πρὸ τοῦ ὄρη γενηθῆναι καὶ πλασθῆναι τὴν γῆν καὶ τὴν οἰκουμένην, καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος σὺ εἶ" ("Before the mountains existed, and [before] the earth and the world were formed, even from age to age, Thou art"), here also the σὺ εἶ (Thou art) has existential meaning and not that of a copula/connector.

Exactly that's why immediately the Jews listening this were roused to stone Him for, what they considered to be a blasphemy of a man claiming to be Eternal Being, i.e. God, as elsewhere they frankly reveal to Him the grounds for their murderous intent: "Not for good deeds we want to kill you, but because being a man you claim to be God" (John 10:33).

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