Search related sites

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"I AM" - Part 3

"I AM" - Part 3

                                  Exodus 3:14 (Hebrew Scriptures)

Now we need to examine the other half of the "I AM" equation: Exodus 3:14. Those Bible translators who follow the King James tradition translate Ex. 3:13-15 like this:

"(: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. (:15) And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." - ASV (compare JB; LB; and NEB)

First, we need to note that the original manuscripts (and all copies for many hundreds of years thereafter) had no punctuation and no capitalization (for both Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek). So the only reason "I AM" is capitalized in modern Bibles is that many modern translators believe it should be considered a title or name for God.

The two main points to be made about Exodus 3:14 in the original Hebrew are: (1) the word sometimes translated "I AM" in English is not the name of God but merely an explanation of the meaning of his only personal name ("Jehovah" - English form; "Yahweh" - possible Hebrew form), and (2) translating that Hebrew word (ehyeh) as "I Am" is probably incorrect.

You can see the truth of point #1 by carefully examining Ex. 3:13-15. Especially when you see a translation that honestly translates God's name in Ex. 3:15 as "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" (not "LORD"). Notice where God used the word "name" in Ex. 3:15 and what it refers to. (Compare Ps. 83:16, 18 - "fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD [mistranslation of "Jehovah" - see ASV] .... That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth." - King James Version.)

The New Bible Dictionary, Douglas (ed.), 1962, pp. 478, 479, published by Eerdmans, explains it well:

"Strictly speaking, Yahweh [or `Jehovah' in traditional English form] is the only `name' of God .... Elohim [the Hebrew word translated `God' in English] says, `this is my name for ever' (Ex. 3:15). Yahweh [Jehovah], therefore, in contrast with Elohim [`God'], is a proper noun, the name of a person .... He [Moses] inquires, `when ... the children of Israel ... shall say, what (mah [in Hebrew]) is his name? What shall I say unto them?' (Ex. 3:13). The normal way to ask a name is to use the [Hebrew] pronoun ; to use mah invites an answer which goes further, and gives the meaning (`what?') or substance of the name.    [[For an example of this, see Ex. 13:14 in the NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament. Mah, exactly as in Ex. 3:13, clearly has this meaning and is even translated in the NRSV; RSV; REB; NAB; NJB; JB; NIV as "what does this mean?" Perhaps an even better parallel is the use of mah at Ezekiel 37:18 where mah is rendered as "what you mean" in KJV; NASB; RSV; NRSV; REB; NAB; NJB; JB; NIV; etc. Also carefully examine the use of mah at Gen. 37:10; Ex. 12:26; Deut. 6:20; 29:24; Josh. 4:6, 21; 1 Sam. 4:6, 14; 15:14; Ezek. 17:12; 18:2]]

"This helps to explain the reply, namely, `I AM THAT I AM'; and He said, `Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM [ehyeh] hath sent me unto you' (Ex. 3:14). By this Moses would not think that God was announcing a new name, nor is it called a `name'; it is just the inner meaning of the name Moses [and the Israelites already] knew. We have here a play upon words; `Yahweh' is interpreted by ehyeh. M. Buber translates `I will be as I will be' and expounds it as a promise of God's power and enduring presence with them in the process of deliverance.[15] That something like this is the purport of these words, which in English sound enigmatical, is shown by what follows, `Yahweh [`Jehovah'] the God of your fathers .... this is my name for ever' (15). The full content [meaning] of the name comes first, the name itself follows." (The New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., Douglas, 1982, Tyndale House, p. 430, is nearly identical to the above quote also.) - [Material in brackets and emphasis added by me – RDB.]

“Nevertheless, Exod. 3 does not appear to give a new name for the first time but the explanation of a name known already but now identified as the saving God of Israel....” - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, p. 69, Vol. 2, Zondervan, 1986.

In its commentary to Exodus 3:14, the JPS Tanakh, Jewish Study Bible, Oxford Edition states:

"God's proper name disclosed in the next verse is YHVH (spelled yod-heh-vav-heh. In Heb., 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."

“The name of God
“Israel’s ancestors knew God as ‘the LORD’, Yahweh (or Jehovah) (Genesis 2:4; Gen 12:1; Gen 26:2; Gen 28:21; Gen 49:18), but the name meant little to the Israelites of Moses’ time. God’s revelation to Moses in the ‘I am’ statement of Exodus 3:14 was an explanation of what the name Yahweh should have meant to God’s people.” - Bridgeway Bible Commentary.

“God had made Himself known to Abraham as Jehovah (Genesis 15:7). But here [Ex. 3:14] He gives the explanation of His name Jehovah. The patriarchs knew the name Jehovah, but the blessed significance of that name was not known to them.” - Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible.

NET Bible fn. for Ex, 3:14,15 - “First the verb “I AM” [ehyeh] was used (v. 14) in place of the name to indicate its meaning and to remind Moses of God’s promise to be with him (v. 12). Now in v. 15 the actual name is used for clear identification: “Yahweh…has sent me.” This is the name that the patriarchs invoked and proclaimed in the land of Canaan.” 

So we see that Moses is really asking at Ex. 3:13, "when the children of Israel shall say `what is the meaning [mah] of his name?' What shall I say to them?" Therefore, what is given in Ex. 3:14 is not his name at all (which they all knew already) but the meaning (or "explanation") of his personal name "Jehovah." That name (which even Moses knew at this time - his mother's name, in fact, at Ex. 6:20, means "Jehovah is glory" according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) is plainly stated in Ex. 3:15 and obviously is to be known and used as God's personal name forever by all his true worshipers. Contrast the 7000 times that "Jehovah" is clearly used as God's name in the scriptures with how many times "I AM" (or ehyeh) is clearly used for God's name (none)!

A further difficulty for this trinitarian “proof” comes from the high probability that ehyeh is mistranslated as “I am” (as was pointed out by M. Buber in the New Bible Dictionary quote above). I first suspected this when I saw how ehyeh was translated at Ex. 3:14 in the following Bibles: Moffatt’s translation - “I WILL BE”; Byington’s - “I WILL BE”; Rotherham’s - “I WILL BECOME”; Concordant Literal Version - “I-SHALL-COME-TO-BE”; Julia Smith’s - “I SHALL BE”; Leeser’s - “I WILL BE”; New World Translation - “I SHALL PROVE TO BE.”

In addition were the following alternate readings in footnotes: American Standard Version - "I WILL BE"; NIV Study Bible - "I WILL BE"; Revised Standard Version - "I WILL BE"; New Revised Standard Version - "I WILL BE"; New English Bible - "I WILL BE"; Revised English Bible - "I WILL BE"; Living Bible - "I WILL BE"; Good News Bible - "I WILL BE."

Notice how this respected Bible translates Ex, 3:14:

"And God said to Moses, `Ehyeh (hyh))-Asher-Ehyeh.' (a) He continues, `Thus shall you say to the Israelites, "Ehyeh (b) sent me to you."'" – Tanakh, JPS, 1985.

Tanakh Footnotes:

"(a) Meaning of Heb, uncertain; variously translated: "I Am That I Am; "I Am Who I AM; I Will Be What I Will Be; etc."

"(b) Others "I AM or "I Will Be."

And even one of the earliest English translations renders it:

14 God saide vnto Moses: I wyl be what I wyll be. And he sayde: Thus shalt thou saye vnto ye children of Israel: I wyl be hath sent me vnto you. - Miles Coverdale Bible (1535).

Notice too what the Encyclopedia Britannica had to say on this subject:

"The writer [of Exodus 3:14-15] ... explains it [the meaning of God's name] by the phrase EHYEH asher EHYEH (Ex. iii., 14); this can be translated `I am that I am' or more`exactly 'I am wont to be that which I am wont to be' or `I will be that which I will be .'" - p. 995, 14th ed., v. 12.

And, among the most important of the early translations of the Hebrew Bible are the Greek versions of the Jewish Aquila and Theodotion in the second century A.D. [100’s]

They both have translated the Hebrew ehyeh asher ehyeh of Exodus 3:14a and the ehyeh of 3:14b into Greek as "esomai hos esomai" and "esomai" respectively, which in turn translate into English as "I will be who I will be" and "I will be." -

Although it takes some effort to further check out the meaning of ehyeh, it is worth it. With a good Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible you can prove to yourself that ehyeh should be translated "I will be" (or a similar rendering) at Ex. 3:14.

In contrast to the paucity of evidence for an "I am" interpretation of ehyeh you will find that all of the books of Moses (the Pentateuch), including Exodus, of course, and the book of Joshua always use ehyeh to mean "I will be." The list of all uses of ehyeh in the entire OT can be found in this footnote.[16] Check out the various translations of these scriptures. A Hebrew interlinear will back up what I have listed.

2 Samuel 7:14 in the annotated list is quoted in the New Testament scriptures at Hebrews 1:5. Notice that when ehyeh (2 Sam. 7:14) was translated into the NT Greek by the inspired Bible writer at Heb. 1:5, he didn’t write ego eimi (“I am”) but ego esomai (“I will be”)! (Esomai is also used at 2 Sam. 7:14 in the Septuagint, the ancient Greek OT.)

Ezekiel 11:20 in the list is also quoted in the NT at Heb. 8:10. Ehyeh in Ezekiel 11:20 is translated as "I will be," of course, and the quoting of this word by the NT writer in Heb. 8:10 is esomai ("I will be") not ego eimi ("I am"). (Ego esomai is used at Ezek. 11:20 in the Septuagint also.)

Conversely, the trinitarian United Bible Societies and trinitarian scholar Delitzsch both translated the Greek "I will be" of Rev. 21:7 into the Hebrew ehyeh. - See their Hebrew New Testaments.

Not only is ehyeh overwhelmingly translated "I will be" instead of "I am," but in the vast majority of these instances you will find Jehovah speaking and declaring his "power and enduring presence with [his people]" precisely as was explained above in the New Bible Dictionary statement explaining ehyeh at Ex. 3:14 !

The trinitarian Today's Dictionary of the Bible, 1982, Bethany House, pp. 330-331, says of Ex. 3:14 -

"It has been rendered, `I WILL BE that I WILL BE' as an indication of God's sovereignty and immutability" and "the translation ... that probably comes closest to the intention of God at this point is, `I will be there'."

Also see the strongly trinitarian standard reference The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Eerdmans, 1984 printing, Vol. 2, p. 1254 (#3), p. 1266 (#5), and p. 1267 (#9), and the trinitarian A Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings, Vol. 2, pp. 199, 200, Hendrickson Publ., 1988 printing.

The clear testimony of the evidence shows that Ex. 3:14 incorrectly translates ehyeh as "I am" in some trinitarian Bible translations, and that it should be rendered as something closer to "I WILL BE."

Both the Hebrew New Testament by Franz Delitzsch, the famous Lutheran Bible scholar, published by the Trinitarian Bible Society, 1977 ed., and the Hebrew New Testament by the equally trinitarian United Bible Societies, 1983, use two Hebrew pronouns instead of the word ehyeh in translating John 8:58.

So, instead of "Before Abraham was, ehyeh" they both have "Before Abraham was, ani hu." Ani means "I," and hu means "he." (Just as hu can sometimes include an implied "be" verb such as "is" or "was" - see Gesenius, p. 218 - so ani can also include an implied verb such as "am" or "was" or "have been.")

John 8:58 in these two trinitarian translations, then, may be interpreted "I [am] he" or "I [was] he," etc.

Therefore, these two trinitarian translations, written by scholars who are truly experts in both Biblical Greek and Hebrew (like the Hebrew scholars who wrote the ancient Septuagint), make no attempt to correlate John 8:58 (ani hu) with Exodus 3:14 (ehyeh). This shows they recognize the impossibility of the ehyeh/ego eimi argument used by some trinitarians.

Furthermore they have both translated the NT "I will be" (esomai) as ehyeh:
John 8:55 (esomai/ehyeh); 1 Cor. 14:11 (esomai/ehyeh); Heb. 1:5 (esomai/ehyeh); Rev. 21:7(esomai/ehyeh).

Of course it's possible the trinitarian translators of these two publications could be trying to imply a connection between John 8:58 and Is. 43:10 ("I [am] he" or ani hu) or similar scriptures.[17] This, although certainly much better than the improper correlation of John 8:58 with Ex. 3:14 (ehyeh), would still be incredibly weak!

There is no reason whatsoever to consider ani hu as being a name (or even a title) for God. It is merely a common usage of pronouns (with an implied verb) in common use at that time. Context does not show the probability of ani hu being a name or title at Is. 43:10 any more than do the Hebrew translations by the above trinitarian sources at John 9:9 where the ex-blind man identifies himself by saying ani hu or "I [am] he." (Compare King David's use of ani hu for himself - 1 Chron. 21:17.)

Also notice that even trinitarian Bibles do not capitalize that phrase at Is. 43:10, 13. Of course, "I" is capitalized and "He" is often capitalized simply because it is a pronoun referring to God, but "am" is rarely, if ever, capitalized, even in trinitarian Bibles, thus showing it is not considered part of a title or name of God! (Note especially the Living Bible, GNB, NIV, JB, and KJV.)

Ex. 3:14 (Greek Septuagint)

Now, after examining the Hebrew of Ex. 3:14, we are ready to look at the ancient Greek translation of Ex. 3:14. This translation is known as the Septuagint.

The Septuagint was translated from the original Hebrew into Greek by Hebrew scholars around 200 years before Jesus was born on earth. The oldest New Testament manuscripts available today show Jesus sometimes quoting from that ancient translation.

Certain trinitarians will say that Jesus was quoting from the Septuagint (Ex. 3:14) when he said ego eimi at John 8:58. In this way, they say, Jesus revealed he was Jehovah by using the exact same exclusive "name" (ehyeh in Hebrew - ego eimi in Greek) to identify himself at John 8:58 as was used by God to identify himself at Ex. 3:14 (ego eimi in the Greek Septuagint, they say. Dr. Walter Martin has loudly and repeatedly proclaimed this for over 20 years - Kingdom of the Cults, p. 89, 1985 ed. and his commercial audio tapes "Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ and the Trinity" – 1975?).

But let's actually look at a copy of the Septuagint. The Septuagint Greek and English (Bagster ed.), published by the trinitarian Zondervan Publishing House, 1976, really says:

"And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING [Ho On; pronounced `Ha Own']; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING [Ho On] has sent me to you." - Ex. 3:14. [18] Yes, the Greek words used in the Septuagint here are not ego eimi, but HO ON [o Wn]! - See pp. 83, 84, Marshall.

No matter how you translate it into English Ho On is not the same as ego eimi !!
In other words, if Jesus believed that God had given his name (or even an exclusive title) as Ho On in the Septuagint, and if he were claiming that exclusive name for himself, he certainly would not have done it by saying ego eimi!

(You need to be aware, however, that trinitarian Charles Thomson in his translation of the Septuagint at Ex. 3:14 renders Ho On as "I AM" in English. It really doesn't matter that this is a clear mistranslation of Ho On. (I doubt that you will ever find Ho On translated as "I am" anywhere else in Old or New Testament.) And, after all, no matter how a modern trinitarian wishes to translate it, Ho On is still not the same "name" as ego eimi!)

We can see how the most famous trinitarian of all, St. Augustine (sometime between 413 and 426 A.D.), interpreted Ex. 3:14 (probably from the Septuagint also):

"I am HE WHO IS; and thou shalt say to the children of Israel, `HE WHO IS sent me unto you!'" - pp. 25, 46, On the Two Cities. (Also see p. 84, Marshall's New Testament Greek Primer.)

After all, if a person's name is "Robin Black," you would not (I hope) accuse another man who is named "Robert Dark" of impersonating him, in spite of any similarity of meanings in the two names. If "Robin Black" were an exclusive personal name, then anyone attempting to impersonate him would have to use that exact name, "Robin Black." No sane person would accuse Robert Dark of using Robin Black's exclusive name because of a similarity in meanings!

Certainly Jesus and Isaiah should not be considered the same person because their names have the same meaning in Hebrew!

So, if we should insist that Ex. 3:14 in the Septuagint shows God's name, or exclusive title (rather than explaining the meaning of his name as we have seen), then that "name" (or title) is Ho On and not ego eimi. If Jesus were claiming someone's identity by saying ego eimi, it would more appropriately be that of Isaiah (Is. 6:8 - Septuagint) instead of God at Ex. 3:14 - Septuagint.

In fact, if a person persists (in spite of all the evidence to the contrary) in saying that someone who declares: "I AM WHO I AM" (Ex. 3:14 - RSV, NASB, NIV, JB) or "I AM WHAT I AM" (Ex. 3:14, Bible in Basic English [BBE], also RSV; NRSV; and LB footnotes) is God, then he should really be impressed by Paul's statement at 1 Cor. 15:10 (Acts 26:29 is interesting, also).

Paul says at 1 Cor. 15:10 in the literal NT Greek: "I AM WHAT I AM." This is much closer to what trinitarians want to believe God said at Ex. 3:14 than Jesus' saying ego eimi at John 8:58. It doesn't honestly fit with the Septuagint version at Exodus 3:14, but neither does John 8:58!

Can you imagine Paul saying (or even implying): "I am Jehovah God"? Obviously, then, saying "I am" was not understood as using the Most High God's exclusive name (or title). It certainly did not mean that the person using that common phrase was claiming to be God!

Isaiah (or the Hebrew scholars who translated the Septuagint) could not possibly understand it that way (Is. 6:8 - "Behold, I AM [ego eimi, Septuagint]. Send me."). King David certainly didn't understand it that way ("Behold, I AM [ego eimi]. Let him do to me according to that which is good in his eyes.") - Septuagint, 2 Ki. 15:26 (compare 2 Sam. 15:26 in modern Bibles). The disciple whom Jesus had healed of blindness obviously had no knowledge of such a meaning ("He said, `I AM [ego eimi]'.") - John 9:9, see interlinears. And even if he had made such a terrible, blasphemous slip of the tongue, the Jews who had come to question him would certainly not have ignored it as they did! And the Bible writer himself (the Apostle John) would not have written such an account without making it perfectly clear that this terrible "blasphemer" had paid dearly for his "evil" deed! And, again, the Apostle Paul would never make such a statement (Acts 26:29; 1 Cor. 15:10) if it could possibly be understood in such a blasphemous way! "I AM" simply could not have been understood by the Bible writers as a designation for God!


What we end up with, then, is Jesus saying in New Testament Greek, ego eimi. And if ego eimi is truly `absolute' at John 8:58, this means: "I have been," or "I have existed." But if ego eimi at John 8:58 (as nearly everywhere else in the NT) is not truly `absolute,' then it probably means: "I am the Christ" (or, possibly, even "I have come into existence") not "I AM." And the Septuagint Greek at Ex. 3:14 shows God saying Ho On (which probably means "THE BEING," but certainly not "I AM" nor "I have been," etc.). Also the ancient Hebrew manuscripts show God saying ehyeh at Ex. 3:14 (which a search of other uses of the term by God in Moses' writings shows that it actually means "I shall prove to be" or "I will be" but not "I AM").

And, finally, none of this really matters anyway, since God clearly said at Ex. 3:15 that his name for all time is "Jehovah" (or "Yahweh" in one possible Hebrew form - but see the PRONOUNCE study), and we can see that in Ex. 3:14 he was merely explaining the meaning (mah) of that name by saying "I will be" and thereby showing that his name, Jehovah, probably means something like "He will be" or "He shall prove to be." And Jesus obviously is not Jehovah as many scriptures clearly show: Ps. 110:1 (Acts 2:33-36); Ps. 2:7 (Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5); Micah 5:4; etc.

Truly, the great "I AM" trinitarian "proof" proves to be nothing but absolute deception! No wonder even so many trinitarian scholars disavow it!


A number of trinitarians couple John 8:58 with John 18: 1-6 where the officers and soldiers fell down when Jesus identified himself by saying ego eimi.

Noted trinitarian A.T. Robertson asks what caused these hundreds of officers and soldiers to fall. One suggestion was "supernatural power exerted by Jesus" (which seems most likely). He continues by admitting that one of the very oldest complete manuscripts (300's A.D.), Uncial Manuscript B, "adds Iesous which must mean simply: 'I am Jesus.'" - Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 284, vol. v.

In addition, the very trinitarian United Bible Societies notes for the use of ego eimi at John 18:5:

"In considering the variant readings of this verse it must be recalled that normally scribes contracted the name 'Iesous' [Jesus] to IC. On the one hand, it is possible that, if ho Iesous ['the Jesus' or OIC in contracted form] stood originally after AUTOIC [as found in manuscript B], the words may have been accidentally omitted through an oversight in transcription (AUTOICOIC)"

This is the reason that the UBS assigned an accuracy rating (how likely the term they chose as the one to use in their text is to be the original term) of "C."  This means, according to their rating system, that using ego eimi as what was originally written by the inspired writer has "considerable degree of doubt." - p. 251, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, UBS, 1971.

Dr. William Barclay, famed trinitarian NT scholar and translator, also tells us about this incident:

"The officers, therefore, were the Jewish police force. But there was a band of Roman soldiers there too." He continues by telling us that even if we take the smallest number of Roman soldiers indicated by the NT Greek words used, it would still amount to two hundred men. - p. 222, The Gospel of John, vol. 2, The Daily Study Bible Series, Westminster Press, 1975.

Barclay explains the event: "(ii) It shows us his [Jesus'] authority. There he was, one single, lonely, unarmed figure; there they were, hundreds of them, armed and equipped. Yet face to face with him, they retreated and fell to the ground. There flowed from Jesus an authority which in all his loneliness made him stronger than the might of his enemies. (iii) It shows us that Jesus chose to die. Here again it is clear that he could have escaped death if he so wished." - p. 223.

There is this to be recognized from Barclay's information:

Two hundred (at least) Roman soldiers were there who probably didn't understand Jesus' language. And even if they did understand, they surely wouldn't understand that a mistranslation of a Jewish OT word (ehyeh, Heb. or ho own, Sept.) meant that Jesus was claiming to be God (nor would they even care if he really did claim to be that Jewish God).

And yet, these, 200 Roman soldiers were tumbled over along with the others. It could not be because they recognized ego eimi as meaning Jesus was really the true God of the universe! These were Roman soldiers!

It must be, as suggested, that Jesus (or the Father in heaven) applied an actual force to knock them down to show that Jesus could escape them if he so wished.

Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research and conclusions to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian `proof' being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the information in this paper, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian "proofs," may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah's Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. – RDB.

(Click here for part 4)


Anonymous said...

I posted this on as a comment on a trinitarian-moderated blog who was making wild claims about John 8:58, for some reason it never got through;)

Exo. 3:14 LXX: ‘ego eimi ho on’… ‘ho on’ has sent you.

John 8:58: prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi

the emphatic words used by Jesus in the passages referred to above [ie. the 'I am' sayings of Jesus] are perfectly natural in their contexts, and ***they do not echo the words of Exodus 3:14 in the normally quoted Greek version. Thus they are quite unlikely to have been used in the New Testament to convey that significance,*** however much the modern English versions of the relevant passages, following the form of the Hebrew words, may suggest it.- Kenneth McKay “‘I am’ in John’s Gospel” pg. 302

According to Athanasius himself [ADD: or maybe somebody writing in his name, authorship is debated]: For, says Scripture, Jesus said to them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, *ego eimi*’ (John 8:58.) And is it not absurd to say, as they do, that one who came of the seed of Abraham after two and forty generations , should exist before Abraham came to be? Discourse IV against the Arians (a little past halfway on the page)

Its more likely that eimi functions as an extending-from-past-present as Athanasius evidently understood it, and should be translated “Before Abraham came to be, I was and I am” [OR: I have been in existence (since) before Abraham was born]

ForJah said...

Hey Elijah! IN reference to your last point about the guards reactions. Do you know where I could find MORE on that subject since my friend seems to be using it as the crux of his argument now. He just doesn't accept the evidence until there is enough i guess.

Elijah said...

I have exhausted the resources of my personal library already.

The simple fact that such noted TRINITARIAN scholars as Dr. William Barclay and Dr. A. T. Robertson have rejected a trinitarian explanation for John 18:6 (and all the many other trinitarian scholars who have translated this verse into English in their Bible translations as “I am he” and similar statements) should be enough to nullify the opinions of those who so very much WANT this to be a trinitarian statement.

Nevertheless I have gone to a trinitarian Bible site ( to find more trinitarian comments concerning this scripture:

John 18:6

“They went backward … - The cause of their retiring in this manner is not mentioned. Various things might have produced it. The frank, open, and fearless manner in which Jesus addressed them may have convinced them of his innocence, and deterred them from prosecuting their wicked attempt. His disclosure of himself was sudden and unexpected; and while they perhaps anticipated that he would make an effort to escape, they were amazed at his open and bold profession. Their consciences reproved them for their crimes, and probably the firm, decided, and yet mild manner in which Jesus addressed them, the expression of his unequalled power in knowing how to find the way to the consciences of men, made them feel that they were in the presence of more than mortal man. There is no proof that there was here any miraculous power, any mere physical force, and to suppose that there was greatly detracts from the moral sublimity of the scene.” - Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible.

Verse 5

5. It is I. He replies mildly that he is the person whom they seek, and yet, as if they had been struck down by a violent tempest, or rather by a thunderbolt, he lays them prostrate on the ground. There was no want of power in him, therefore, to restrain their hands, if he had thought proper; but he wished to obey his Father, by whose decree he knew that he was called to die. - Calvin's Commentary on the Bible.

Elijah said...

Verse 6
When therefore he said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
This remarkable outflashing of Jesus' power explains why the arresting party so readily consented to permit the apostles to leave without being arrested. It was perfectly clear to that entire company that Jesus could do anything, and therefore they allowed his arrest upon his own terms, not theirs. Can there be any other possible explanation of why the whole group was not arrested? It will be further noted that Jesus referred to his prevention of their arrest as a fulfillment of his prophetic words in the great prayer (John 17:12); and from this the deduction stands that if the apostles had been arrested they might have been killed also. - Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible.

Verse 6

“John 18:6. They went backward, and fell to the ground.— As there were scribes and priests among them, they must have read of the destruction of those companies, which came to seize the prophet Elijah, 2 Kings 1:10; 2 Kings 1:12. —a fact, which bore so great a resemblance to the present, that it is an amazing instance of the most obdurate wickedness, that they should venture to renew the assault on Christ after so sensible an experience both of his power and mercy. ….” Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible.


Verse 6
“As soon then as he said unto them, I am He, they went backward — recoiled.
and fell to the ground — struck down by a power such as that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Acts 26:14). It was the glorious effulgence of the majesty of Christ which overpowered them. ‘This, occurring before His surrender, would show His power over His enemies, and so the freedom with which He gave Himself up’ [Meyer].” - Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

6. “Fell to the ground] To show that He could not be arrested against His will (John 10:18), Jesus, before giving Himself up, showed His preternatural power; or perhaps the falling was an effect of superstitious fear.” - John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible.


Verse 6
“For a further evidence to the world that Christ was the Son of the Everlasting Father, it pleased God in all the periods of his life to show forth by him some acts of the Divine power. What had Christ said or done here to prostrate his armed adversaries? He had only asked them whom they looked for; and hearing that it was for him, told them he was the man: they are struck with a terror, and instead of apprehending him, start from him, and fall down to the ground. If there were so much majesty in and such an effect of the voice of Christ in one of the lowest acts of his humiliation, what will the voice of a glorified Christ be to sinners, when he shall return as a Judge to condemn the world!” - Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible.

Notice that numerous trinitarian scholars have refused to interpret this verse as showing Jesus claiming to be God by saying ego eimi!

There should be no doubt that they WOULD have used this as trinity evidence had they believed it could be so used.