Jesus the I AM

Perhaps the boldest claim Jesus made about His identity was the statement, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58). Translated into English, His statement may appear or sound confusing. But in the Aramaic or Hebrew language in which He spoke, He was making a claim that immediately led the people to try to stone Him for blasphemy.

What was going on here? Jesus was revealing His identity as the actual One whom the Jews knew as God in the Old Testament. He was saying in one breath that He existed before Abraham and that He was the same Being as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Anciently when the great God first revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14, Moses asked Him what His name was. "IAM WHO

IAM," was the awesome reply. 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'IAM has sent me to you."'

Jesus clearly claimed to be this same Being—the "IAM" of Exodus 3:14, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (verse 15).

"IAM" is related to the personal name for God in the Old Testament, the Hebrew name YHWH. When this name appears in our English Bibles, it is commonly rendered using small capital letters as Lord. It is transliterated as "Jehovah" in some Bible versions.

When Jesus made this startling statement, the Jews knew exactly what He meant. They picked up stones to kill Him because they thought He was guilty of blasphemy.

"IAM" and the related YHWH are the names of God that infer absolute timeless self-existence. Although impossible to translate accurately and directly into English, YHWH conveys meanings of "The Eternal One;' "The One Who Always Exists" or "The One Who Was, Is and Always Will Be." These distinctions can apply only to God, whose existence is eternal and everlasting.

In Isaiah 42:8 this same Being says, "I am the Lord [YHWH],

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