Jesus made a statement:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
The disciples did keep his word and yet they died. Was Jesus lying or speaking in allegory?
The Jews obviously objected –
Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Joh 8:53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead?
Jesus makes a controversial statement “he shall never see death”. Now we can prove from history this statement is false. Jesus could have said it this way:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
This is important to keep in mind when Jesus claims – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Here again, Jesus is making a radical statement just like his earlier statement: “he shall never see death”.
The argument between Jesus and his opponents was heated. Let us feel the argument to understand why they eventually tried to stone Jesus.
Jesus throws these words at his opponents:
Ye are of your father the devil
, and “ye are not of God.”
His opponents replied with equal force:
Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan
, and hast a devil
Jesus objects and states:
Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
Jesus, states (as throughout the gospel of John) that his purpose was to teach people about the Father and lead them to HIM:
And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
Jesus distinguishes between himself the messenger of God from God:
I seek not mine own glory v/s there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
Jesus further states:
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Jesus states that Abraham foresaw the ‘future’ concerning the promised ‘seed’.
Paul explains this concept:
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made
. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Jesus’ opponents misunderstood and thought he meant this literally:
Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
Then Jesus makes the statement under consideration in response:
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am he
Jesus’ opponents now no longer want to exchange angry words, but stone him.
Jesus makes an infuriating statement – that he was greater than their “Father Abraham”.
Jesus first stated:
- People who keep his words will not die yet Abraham was dead. So He claims to be greater than Abraham
- Now he claims he is even before Abraham like he was a divine or mystical being, which to the Jews was not possible and hence they felt he was exalting himself above their patriarch and considered him worthy of stoning
When God gave the promise to Abraham, The christ was a mystery to the prophets but well thought through by God. God progressively revealed the Messiah in the Old testament and finally the prophecy was released in human flesh for men to behold. So Jesus as the Messiah and Saviour was no longer a mystery anymore. Jesus was destined to be over and above Abraham and Abraham himself would depend on his own offspring for his own salvation.
Allegorically understanding Jesus’ words, he was greater and before Abraham in the plan of God. That is why he is the promised seed to Abraham. Jesus was clear in God’s vision even before the foundation of the world!
1 Peter 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
This was the gospel message:
Gen 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
It is commonly argued that the phrase “I am” is a claim that Jesus is calling himself as ‘Jehowah’. If that were so then the Trinity doctrine fails the definition:
“The Father is not the Son and the Son not the Father.”
Trinitarians who claim the “I Am’ are no longer trinitarians but Oneness pentecostals.
Compare the translation “I am” with the one in John 9:9 in the context of the man born blind being healed:
Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I AM
[he] <— ‘He’ added by translators – Wonder Why?
Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, “I am
” <— Is the blind man claiming to be ‘Jehowah’?
‘I am’ seems to be a common phrase. If Jesus was claiming to be YHWH then the man born blind was also doing the same. Since the man blind is not claiming to be YHWH, so Jesus is also not doing the same.
To be born of Abraham was to the Jews a matter of pride. So, when Jesus claimed that Abraham himself rejoiced in himself was to tell them that they ought also to rejoice in him and that was a big NO!
Let us examine in detail the ‘I AM’ translation variations from Exodus:
“I am THE BEING”
When we look at the ABP or Brenton versions of the OT based Greek Septuagint then we can note the translation for ‘I AM’ appears very differently:
“And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:14 (Brenton)
“And God said to Moses, G* I am the one being. And he said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, G* The one being has sent me to you. ” Exodus 3:14 (ABP+)
“I will be that I will be”
The ‘Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges’ translated the phrase as “ I will be that I will be”
14. I will be that I will be (3rd marg.)] The words are evidently intended as an interpretation of the name Yahweh, the name,—which in form is the third pers. imperf. of a verb (just like Isaac, Jacob, Jephthah), meaning He is wont to be or He will be,—being interpreted, as Jehovah is Himself the speaker, in the first person. The rendering given appears to the present writer, as it appeared to W. R. Smith, and A. B. Davidson, to give the true meaning of the Heb. ’Ehyeh ’ăsher ’ehyeh: Jehovah promises that He will be, to Moses and His people, what He will be,—something which is undefined, but which, as His full nature is more and more completely unfolded by the lessons of history and the teaching of the prophets, will prove to be more than words can express. The explanation is thus of a character to reassure Moses. See further the separate note, p. 40. – http://biblehub.com/commentaries/cambridge/exodus/3.htm
Consider how ehyeh is 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”; New World Translation – “I SHALL PROVE TO BE.” In addition are 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.”
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).
Further let us consider KJV translation itself of the phrase else where:
Ex 3: 12And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
I will be “ Strong’s H1961— haw-yaw’
Since KJV also sometimes uses the phrase ‘I will be’ elsewhere, So, “I will be’ is a highly probable translation and has no connection with Jesus’ statement in John 8:58
What did he mean?
Jesus was responding to their question:
Joh 8:53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead?
The simple answer is:
Joh 8:24 I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM HE, you will die in your sins.” (KJV)
Now if you look at your bibles they do not capitalise here? Why? Translators are biased by their beliefs and not the truth.
‘I am he’, the prophesied and promised Messiah.
Act 4:12 There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!”
I.e. Abraham was not able to save though Jesus was a son of Abraham, but only in Jesus’ name is salvation.
Here is Jesus’ testimony to the woman at the well in more simple language:
The woman told him, “I know that the Anointed One is coming, who is being called ‘Messiah‘. When that person comes, he will explain everything.” “I am he,” Jesus replied, “the one who is speaking to you.” (Joh 4:25, 26 ISV)
i.e. Jesus claims to be the promised Messiah!