Friday, May 14, 2010

The Great I AM

John 8:57 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.

57 εἶπον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι πρὸς αὐτόν· πεντήκοντα ἔτη οὔπω ἔχεις καὶ Ἀβραὰμ ἑώρακας; 58  εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί. 59  ἦραν οὖν λίθους ἵνα βάλωσιν ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν. Ἰησοῦς δὲ ἐκρύβη καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ.

This is one of Jesus' clearest identifications with His divinity.  This is the end of a rather contentious discussion with some Pharisees.  They thought they had Him in verse 57.  Then He hit them with an incredible statement in verse 58.  I love the phrase πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί.  There are two different verbs here, though the English doesn't bring this out very well.  You could be very wooden here and say something like, "...before Abraham came into being, I am."  Of course, when the Jews hear ἐγὼ εἰμί it takes them straight to Exodus 3:14.  Since this was blasphemous they decided to stone Him.

The New World Translation used by the Jehovah's Witnesses renders this as "I have been."  This is a terrible translation because that is not what the phrase ἐγὼ εἰμί means.  In fact, that puts this phrase in a tense that doesn't exist.  However, it is vital to translate it this way so as to sever the link with Exodus 3:14.  It is also interesting to note that all other uses of ἐγὼ εἰμί in John are translated as "I am."  But here they feel liberty to change it to suit their theological purposes.

This may seem unnecessarily harsh, but it is vital that we understand who Jesus is.  If you get Jesus wrong you get the gospel wrong.  I rejoice in both Jesus' divinity and His humanity.  He can relate to me as a man, but He is also worthy of worship as divine.

1 comment:

maybe said...

like ur writing's the real deal. just keep on writing...