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John 10:9 New International Version

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

I
ἐγώ (egō)
Personal / Possessive Pronoun - Nominative 1st Person Singular
Strong's Greek 1473: I, the first-person pronoun. A primary pronoun of the first person I.

am
εἰμι (eimi)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 1st Person Singular
Strong's Greek 1510: I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.

Some claim that the phrase “I am” (ἐγώ εἰμι, ego eimi) is a direct reference to the name of God in the Old Testament, YHWH. Grammatically, that is not true as we see in Luke 1:18

Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am [ego eimi] an old man and my wife is well along in years."

What is the big deal about ἐγώ εἰμι?

Let's assume that the unpredicated ἐγώ εἰμι is the code word for YHWH for the moment.

John 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

Jesus could have replied with a perfect ἐγώ εἰμι right here but he didn't. Yet previously, he had claimed a predicate in

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.

Jesus claimed to be the truth using a predicate but when a perfect opportunity for him to make this same claim unpredicated in front of Pilate, he didn't. Why not?

  • Related Jesus' 'I AM' statement. – Nigel J Oct 13 at 17:00
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    Your last point on Luke 1:18 seems unnecessary and possibly wrong. There is a substantial difference in meaning between a bare "I am" and a natural use as in "I am an old man". – Henry Oct 14 at 12:30
  • @Henry The main point is that ειμι itself, the bare inflection of the copulative verb, means 'I am'. The point at issue is the addition of εγο to εγο ειμι. In the case of the once-blind man it becomes (in English idiom) 'It is I' or 'I am he' . . . . . OR - it has a significance that must be noted : such as an allusion to I AM that I AM. – Nigel J Oct 14 at 18:10
  • “I am what I am” could mean that God’s name reflects what he is, like the names of Disney’s seven dwarfs reflected their personality. This name might be “Holy”, because in Isa 6:3 it says: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord”, According to Derek Prince, in demonology, spirits who gets driven out always call themselves after what they represent. Thus, “Legion”, a congregation of unclean spirits, called themselves “Legion” because their number one characteristic was their immense number – Constantthin Oct 14 at 23:27
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In the Old Testament, Jehovah’s self-proclaimed title of “I AM” is given special prominence in Ex 3:13-15. While we are told “I Am” was to be God’s name forever, there is no record in the Bible of it ever being used again (in Hebrew) unless we admit the grammatical connection between “I am” and the “Tetragrammaton” (which see), YHWH, commonly translated, “Jehovah”, “Yahweh”, “LORD”, or even “Eternal” in Moffatt’s version. However, the unpredicated phrase, “ego eimi” (= I am), occurs in the LXX in a number places (Deut 32:39, Isa 41:4, 43:10, 13, 25, 45:19, 46:4, 48:12, 51:12, 52:6) and always refers the One and Only Great Jehovah God Almighty.

Thus, the importance of "I am" depends on whether it is predicated or not.

“I am” in the Greek (NT) is, “ego eimi”. The verb, “eimi” occurs 2462 times in the New Testament in various forms, but in only about 67 of these cases is the first person nominative pronoun, “ego” used with it. Generally, the complete form, “ego eimi” only occurs when some emphasis is required.

This present continuous verb, “to be”, is the most common in almost all languages and has several syntactical functions in Greek (eg, see John 1:1 ):

  • Existence, “I am.”, ie, unpredicated (see below).
  • Identification, eg, Luke 1:19, “I am Gabriel”; John 9:9, “I am [that one]”; John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd”.
  • Relationship, eg, Acts 18:10, “I am with you”.
  • Predication, eg, Acts 22:3, “I am Jewish”.

The New Testament shows an interesting and (somewhat) unexpected pattern in the use of the Greek phrase, “ego eimi”, “I am”.

The exact phrase “ego eimi” occurs 48 times in the New Testament. It also occurs 11 times as “eimi ego” which has a very similar but still different construction and all are relational or predicative. It occurs in a few other forms such as “ego gar eimi”, “ego men eimi”, “ego ouk eimi” (I am not), etc, a total of 67 times (one or two are disputed). Of the 48 cases of the exact phrase “ego eimi”, “I am”, just 15 are unpredicated and have (with one exception) the syntactical form existence as opposed to identification, relationship or predication. All are listed below (my translation) unless preceded by “not”, eg, Matt 26:22, 25, plus one exception to be noted.

  • 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 because of the implied predicate.)
  • 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.]

Significantly, 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 (ie, unpredicated) 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.”

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    The presence of exactly 7 in John is itself a clue as to his intended interpretation. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Oct 14 at 4:52
  • The Oxford English Dictionary does not contain the word 'unpredicated'. Could you define how you are using the word 'predicated' as it is not clear from your answer. Do you mean the verb is intransitive and has no object ? – Nigel J Oct 14 at 8:43
  • @NigelJ - I mean that the verb has no predicate and so is unpredicated. "I am" is unpredicated. "I am Gabriel", or, "I am Jewish" are both predicated because the verb "am" has a predicate. The predicate is what is left in a sentence after the subject and verb are removed. – Dottard Oct 14 at 9:58
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    “I am” is not a divine name in the OT. The phrase "εγω ειμι" is found 47 times in the NT. It was a common phrase in everyday Greek language, similar to English. The background to John 5:58 is that the religious leaders were already seeking a reason to kill Jesus (v. 47). The culmination of the heated exchange —Jesus stated to preexist Abraham who they considered their father. Trinitarians side with those who wanted to kill Jesus. – Jesus Saves Oct 14 at 17:28
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    @JesusSaves - Your comment does not accord with the facts of Scripture in Ex 3:13-15, and Deut 32:39, Isa 41:4, 43:10, 13, 25, 45:19, 46:4, 48:12, 51:12, 52:6. Do you believe these verses are incorrect? – Dottard Oct 14 at 19:57
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It is not consistent to claim that the "εγω ειμι" in John 9:9 is "clearly identification rather than existence because of the implied predicate" and yet claim that John 8:24 is an instance of existence rather than identification, because according to John 8:18-29, the Jews who had heard him understood very well that he was claiming "I am the light of this world and the one whom his father sent", as shown by the question and his response in verse 25. Note that if the Jews had associated "εγω ειμι" with "YHWH", they would not be confused in verse 25, and verse 27 very clearly confirms that they did not think of any such association ("they did not know that he was speaking of the father").

Notice that those Jews took up stones to cast at him only after he made clear that he existed before Abraham. Later in John 10 they explicitly say that they want to stone him for making himself "θεον" (mighty one). Jesus responded saying that he was merely claiming to be an "υιος του θεου" (a son of God), not ο θεος (God) himself, and after all in Psa 82:6 God himself had called men "gods (mighty ones)" and "sons of the highest". So clearly it is an issue of Jesus claiming to be have more power and/or authority than the Jews thought he ought to have. The point is, they did not accept that God might delegate authority over life and death to the mere man in front of them.

And in John 8:58, "I am before Abraham came to be" is simply a claim of pre-existence, not of identity with YHWH. According to the NT, Jesus consistently claimed to be sent from God, and claimed to be superior to Moses and Abraham. But not once did he claim identity with his father. In fact, Jesus made clear that the father was greater than he (John 14:28), but that he came in the name (authority) of the father, and he would send out his disciples in his name as well. Delegated authority is not the same as identity (see Gen 41:39-44 and 1 Cor 15:27).

In fact, the only instance of "I am that which I am" ("ειμι ο ειμι") in the entire NT is not attributed to God or Jesus but to the author of 1 Cor 15:10! Evidently, this phrase is merely a descriptive phrase rather than one that is intended to reflect some identification with YHWH.

Look also at LXX 2 Sam 13:18, 15:26,28, 20:17, Jdg 6:18, Ruth 4:4, 2 Kg 10:9 where "εγω ειμι" has no predicate and is not identifying and yet means nothing more than "I am [here]".

So since neither the LXX translators nor the authors of the NT avoided bare "I am" type of statements, it is clear that these did not invoke association with YHWH's promise to Moses in Exodus. Why it does so now is a matter of theological bias. If you read the writings in their original languages, and do not let others influence your interpretation of them, you will find the truth, and it will set you free.

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  • How else could Jesus have pre-existed other than being Divine ? (Hebrews demolishes any argument that suggests angelic pre-existence.) – Nigel J Oct 14 at 17:52
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    @NigelJ: Many things existed before Abraham did, so it doesn't make sense to say that pre-existence implies divinity. Furthermore, I didn't say anything about whether or not Jesus was divine, nor anything about angels, so I frankly have no idea what you are trying to get at in your comment... – David Oct 15 at 10:26
  • If the Person of Christ, born (in humanity) of Mary, pre-existed (prior to human manifestation) before Abraham, then he must be Divine : is my point. This is unavoidable logic. – Nigel J Oct 15 at 12:05
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    @NigelJ: Sorry, but what you said is not logic, but theology. Please do not push your theology onto me or others. Thank you. – David Oct 15 at 13:25
  • You are most welcome. Regards. – Nigel J Oct 15 at 19:24
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What is so special about "ego eimi"?

Comparing the definitive "I am" (ἐγώ εἰμι) / (Anoki, אָֽנֹכִי֙) - vs. - The Indefinite "I will be what I will be" / "Ehyeh asher Ehyeh" (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה) :

"I am" (ἐγώ εἰμι) is a definitive declaration of being's status, like "Here I am" (Hineni, הִנֵּֽנִי) in Exodus 3:4.

"I am" (ἐγώ εἰμι) is often misrepresented as the reflective essence of YHVH stated in Exodus 3:14.

"Ehyeh asher Ehyeh" (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה)

The limitless status of "I-will-be what I-will-be" / "Ehyeh asher Ehyeh" (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה) in Exodus 3:14 reveals indefinite potential, while "I am" / "Anoki" (אָֽנֹכִי֙) found in Exodus 3:6 is specifically associating one Being with a definitive status.

Definite Exodus 3:6 [MT]

[6] And He said, " I am the God of your father, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitschaq, and the God of Yaqov " (וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אָֽנֹכִי֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י אָבִ֔יךָ אֱלֹהֵ֧י אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִצְחָ֖ק וֵֽאלֹהֵ֣י יַֽעֲקֹ֑ב)

Indefinite Exodus 3:14 [MT]

[14] "God said to Moshe, "I Will Be what I Will Be" and He said, "So shall you say to the children of Yisrael, 'I Will Be' has sent me to you." (וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֔ה אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה וַיֹּ֗אמֶר כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה שְׁלָחַ֥נִי אֲלֵיכֶֽם )

In regards to phrases like "I am the Gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture" found in John 10:9 [NIV]. - The definitive declaration of "I am the gate" reveals a significant status of Jesus (Yeshua, ישׁוּעָ) of Nazareth being "the Gate" [NIV] or "the Door" [KJV] to Salvation.

John 10:9 [KJV]

I am the Door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Yeshua's definitive declaration of being "The-Door" (ἡ-θύρα) in John 10:9 relates to Exodus 21:6 [MT].**

Exodus 21:6 [MT] :

[6]" his master shall bring him to the judges, and he shall bring him to the Door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever. " ( וְהִגִּישׁ֤וֹ אֲדֹנָיו֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ֙ אֶל־הַדֶּ֔לֶת א֖וֹ אֶל־הַמְּזוּזָ֑ה וְרָצַ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֤יו אֶת־אָזְנוֹ֙ בַּמַּרְצֵ֔עַ וַֽעֲבָד֖וֹ לְעֹלָֽם )

"Ha-Delet" (הַדֶּ֔לֶת) is synonymous with "The Door" / "He-Thyra" (ἡ-θύρα) in John 10:9. - A definitive status of Salvation.

What is so special about "ego eimi"? - It proves a Being's existence when written or spoken. It declares status & reveals presence.

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    Perhaps a concluding statement would be in order, with specific ref to the Q. – user48152 Oct 13 at 19:24
  • Concluding Statement : What is so special about "ego eimi"? - It proves a Being's existence when written or spoken. It declares status & reveals presence. – חִידָה Oct 13 at 20:01
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    so when the blind man said it, what was he saying? John 9:9 we all agree he 'existed' too. Or the disciples in Matt 26:22 what was their status? – user48152 Oct 13 at 20:51
  • @user48152 - that last question is a manifestly silly one. The question in Matt 26:22 contains a "not" and so does not count. The reply of the man in John 9:9 is in answer to a question and so is grammatically identification not existence. Stop trying to twist people's words. – Dottard Oct 15 at 19:46
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    Ironic, with such desperation you twist entire scripture to make Jesus God. – user48152 Oct 15 at 20:13
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It demonstrates both:

A. The Deity of Christ

B. The Divine Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures

Part A. The Deity of Christ

The Christological significance of the words ‘I AM’ is seen in the Old Testament in Exodus 3:14.

Exodus Three (Septuagint)

11 And Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that I should bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt? 12 And God spoke to Moses, saying, I will be with thee, and this shall be the sign to thee that I shall send thee forth,-- when thou bringest out My people out of Egypt, then ye shall serve God in this mountain. 13 And Moses said to God, Behold, I shall go forth to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of our fathers has sent me to you; and they will ask me, What is His Name? What shall I say to them? 14 And God spoke to Moses, saying, I - AM - THE - BEING (EGO - EIMI - O - ON); and He said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING has sent me to you. 15 And God said again to Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the sons of Israel, The Lord God of our fathers, [The] God of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, has sent me to you: this is My Name for ever, and My memorial to generations of generations.

Our point of reference is always Greek - the language of the New Testament Scriptures and that of the Church’s Old Testament Scriptures (Septuagint). The words ‘THE BEING’ is to be understood in the context of ‘THE ONE WHO IS’ : Thus I – AM - THE – ONE WHO IS or I – AM - THE – ONE WHO IS BEING

Exodus 3:14 (Greek) corresponds to Revelation 1:8.

The same four words : EGO EIMI O ON appear in both verses.

εγω ειμι (EGO EIMI) το α και το ω λεγει κυριος ο θεος ο ων (O ON) και ο ην και ο ερχομενος ο παντοκρατωρ. - Apocalypse 1:8.

EGO - EIMI to alpha kai to omega legei kurios o theos O - ON kai o en kai o erchomenos o pantokrator

I - AM The Alpha and The Omega, saith The Lord God, THE – ONE WHO IS, and Which Was, and Which Is To Come, The Almighty. – Apocalypse 1:8

Some particularly interesting instances of ‘I AM’ which are found only in the Gospel of John and exemplify their Theological and Christological significance are as follows:

'Before Abraham was, I AM' – John 8:58

‘Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I AM’. John 13:19

'I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins.' John 8:24

'Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up The Son of man, then shall ye know that I AM ..’ John 8:28

'As soon then as He had said unto them, I AM, they went backward, and fell to the ground.' John 18:6

We may compare these with the following verses which are also unique to John’s corpus where Christ says I AM :

The Door – John 10:7, John 10:9

The Good Shepherd – John 10:11, John 10:14

The Resurrection, the Life – John 11:25

The Way, The Truth, The Life – John 14:6

The True Vine – John 15:1

The Alpha and Omega, The Beginning and The Ending - Apocalypse 1:8

The First and The Last - Apocalypse 1:17

The Root and The Offspring of David, and The Bright and Morning Star -Apocalypse 22:16

Part B. The Divine Inspiration of The Holy Scriptures

There are exactly 40 times in the Greek New Testament Scriptures where God speaks the words 'EGO EIMI' (I AM).

see http://www.bibleproofs.org/ia.html

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  • Fascinating! So are you saying Jesus is God? – user48152 Oct 13 at 23:08
  • @user48152 yes, Jesus is God. not merely because of this "proof" (and there are many others as well), but because this is what Eastern Orthodox Christians believe. We believe in The Holy Trinity : Father, Son, Holy Spirit - Three Persons (HYPOSTASES) Who Are One in Essence (OUSIA). The Son is Consubstantial (Homoousios) with the Father and The Holy Spirit. bibleproofs.org/wr.html – Silouan Mathew Oct 14 at 0:37
  • @user48152 this is actually a very good theological question. First the Eastern Orthodox understanding of the Holy Trinity differs in quite a number of ways from that of the west {roman catholicism and protestanitsm}. The words 'One God' is understood in Orthodoxy as a Title for The Father. The words 'One Lord' is understood as a Title for The Son. Just as the words Lord (KYRIOS) apply equally to The Father and The Holy Spirit, the word God (THEOS) applies equally to The Son and The Holy Spirit. – Silouan Mathew Oct 14 at 2:17
  • @user48152 The Father is the SOURCE (outside of time) of the Hypostasis (person) of the Son and the Hypostasis (person) of The Holy Spirit. Note that the word 'person' here is not the same as the English word 'person' but it is as close as we can get to the Greek. The Son is BEGOTTEN of The Father before all ages. The Holy Spirit eternally PROCEEDS from The Father. Thus, the Father is the God of the Son in the sense that the Father is the Source of the Person of The Son. This is an entirely different context than which we refer to the Father as God - that is as our Creator. – Silouan Mathew Oct 14 at 2:39
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    @SilouanMathew What matters is what the Bible teaches. Not what Orthodoxy teaches. Those within Orthodoxy can't even agree among themselves. It's not what one or more councils decided --but what God's Word says. Trinitarianism was developed over centuries after the NT was written. The truth is the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). – Jesus Saves Oct 15 at 16:24
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"I am" (Gk. Ego eimi/Ho on, Heb. Eyheh/Yahweh) is the first person form of the name of God according to the Old Testament.

Exodus 3:13-15 And Moses said to God, Behold if I shall go to the children of Israel, and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, What is his name? what shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, I am who am. And he said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: I am [ego eimi] has sent me to you. And God said further to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, Yahweh the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent me to you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial for all generations.

Ehyeh means "I am" and Asher is largely synonymous with the English relative pronoun "which/who" although it really depends on context. Here it is a divine identity - his name, in fact. Yahweh is the name form of his name - the 'third person' form of his identity. I would suggest his name is best translated "He who is" (cf. Exodus 3:14 LXX/Wisdom 13:1).

This follows the standard rule for Hebrew names. A verb which is made into a name.

Genesis 4:1 And the man knew his wife Eve and she conceived and bore Cain [Qayyin] (saying, I have acquired [Qaniti] a man from the Lord).

From this we gather that Cain is named Cain because he is one Acquired.

Genesis 3:20 And the man called his wife Eve [Hawah], for she was the mother of the all the living [kol hayy].

Again, Eve is Life or Life-giver because she bears all the sons of Adam - all the living.

This is a pattern in Hebrew names - names are often given as epithetical reminders of the circumstances of the birth or the (expected) characteristics of the child.

In the case of Yahweh, it naturally refers to "I am," and thus means "He who is." Although, for obvious reasons, "I am" and "Yahweh" are synonymous (just as third person and first person forms of verbs are synonymous).

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  • I thought the whole point of the Q was the significance in the NT... you haven't addressed this - We know who God is in the OT - Yahweh etc – user48152 Oct 15 at 0:29
  • The question asks what is so important, and asserted that it is not the name of God, which I showed was false. The answer is it's important because it's God's name - and no one claims that normal people can't say, 'I am' in a sentence without claiming to be God. – Sola Gratia Oct 15 at 10:49
  • Good effort in your answer. Try researching the Ivri conjugation of "Liheyot" (לִהְיוֹת). --- Eheyeh (אֶהְיֶה) means "I will be". --- Anoki (אָֽנֹכִ֨י) means "I am". – חִידָה Oct 20 at 13:27
  • Anoki is a pronoun, not a verb; and ehyeh is simply the imperfect form of to be, so it means both [I] am and [I] will be. But when God is describing his name to Moses, we must assume he's not going to state a promise about the future (I am going to do or be x, y or z), but about his eternal identity at least in the present, but also from eternity past: "I am asher [I] am" ('I am the I am,' essentially - which is backed up by the Greek Old Testament rendering, Ego eimi ho on - "I am [the one] who is"). – Sola Gratia Oct 20 at 18:43

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