I AM THAT I AM and John 8:58 - Greg
GregStffrd at aol.com
GregStffrd at aol.com
Wed Dec 30 10:12:41 EST 1998
In a message dated 12/29/98 11:48:01 PM Pacific Standard Time,
ronning at ilink.nis.za writes:
<< Dear Greg,
The reason I did not respond to every jot and tittle of your argument that
man/messiah" is the predicate of "I am he" in John 8:58 is because (as I
said), such a predicate is logically problematic. >>
Well, that is the question at hand, and to avoid it is to avoid the issue. My
argument and the points I made show that it is not all problematic, but quite
at home in this context.
<<Also, your insistence that because the predicate of "I am he" is "son of
man/messiah" therefore the predicate is not the
same as the "I am he" statements in Isaiah (i.e. Yhwh) begs the question, Who
is the messiah (not "who by name?" but "what is his nature?"). Is he just a
special man, a unique descendant of David? >>
Please demonstrate from the context of the Isaianic 'ani hu sayings how
"Messiah/Son of man" could possibly be the understood predicate. I gave a
couple examples, using your examples, of where the predicate is God, or YHWH.
For the identity of the Messiah, in relation to YHWH, one might carefully
consider Isaiah 11:1-11.
<< So John 8:58 adds something to what Jesus said previously - he existed
Abraham. He is now the son of man, but he could not exist AS the son of man
before he became the son of man/messiah/son of David (which requires human
There is no need for me to address your rejection of a point that I documented
with several sources, until you choose to interact with those sources, and
explain why such a view "could not" be so. Your have ignored the sense in
which the Bible and other Jewish literature presents Jesus as the Messiah
prior to his sojourn in the flesh.
<< What was he, then, before he became the son of man? What was he before
Abraham existed? A god, an angel, a mere name, or yet-to-be-realized decree?
It is at this point that I think the parallel construction of "before Abraham
was, I am he" to Isa 43:13 "from the day [i.e. in the past], I am he" is
Again, you assume a past for Isaiah 43:13 that is not necessary. Also, it
really does not matter, at this point, who Jesus was prior to the flesh, but
who is was prophesied to be! Go back to my last post, block off each point
made, like I am doing with your post, and respond. Then we might get
somewhere. Ignoring points that I have already made and then making assertions
about things that are covered by those points is a waste of my time, and
<<Let me mention a couple more parallels to the "I am he" (Yhwh) passages in
John 4:26 ego eimi ho lalwn soi is almost verbatim from Isa 52:6 My people
shall know my name; therefore in that day, 'ani hu' hammedabber hinneni.>>
Ron, you are missing the point. The point is the understood predicate. That
Jesus and Jehovah, in contexts where their identity is under discussion or
being made known, should use similar language is not at all surprising. The
real question is, Are they revealed as the same Being in the contexts in which
they are made known to their respective audiences? There is nothing in the
context of Isaiah 52:6 that would suggest that the one speaking is the
Messiah, and conversely there is nothing in the context of John 4:26 to
suggest that the speaker is Jehovah.
In the context of Isaiah 52:6 Jehovah reminds the Israelites that it is He,
"the Sovereign Lord Jehovah" (verse 4), that is speaking. This He does so they
are mindful of the seriousness of His words and the need to respond to them.
In John 4:26 Jesus' words are simply an affirmation of his identity, as the
one in whom the woman expressed faith, the Messiah. The Samaritan woman could
hardly have detected an identification between Jesus and Jehovah based on
Jesus' use of "I am he," for Samaritans did not accept Isaiah, or any other
writings except the Pentateuch, as canonical. Their Messianism was centered on
the prophet greater than Moses referred to in Deuteronomy 18; this figure was
not identified as Jehovah, but Jehovah would command him what to speak.-De
18:18; compare Joh 12:49-50. In John 4:26 there is no reason to read into the
rather common participle hO LALWN ("the one speaking") any identification
with Yahweh, as some suggests.
John uses ego eimi in the same way the LXX of Isaiah uses it: self-
identification. The use of hO LALWON is quite at home in both contexts, where
two different identities are being highlighted or revealed. Again, the fact
that Jesus and his Father should use the same language in similar contexts
(particularly where their identity is in question) should not surprise us.
(Joh 14:10; 12:49-50) But the identity revealed by their words, in these two
texts, is not the same.
<< John 13:19 "I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does
occur, you may believe that I am he" is a nice prose summary of Yhwh's
statements that his ability to predict the future (especially the deliverance
brought by Cyrus) should
cause Israel to acknowledge that "I am he" (Isa 41:2-4; 43:10-13; 44:26-45:6;
Ron, In verse 18 Jesus quotes a messianic prophecy from Psalm 41:9, which
reads, "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has
lifted up his heel against me." (NIV) Then in verse 19 he tells the disciples
that once this scripture has been fulfilled, they will know that it is he
about whom the scripture speaks, the Messiah! The disciples would naturally
have associated Jesus' statement in verse 20 ("he that receives me, receives
him that sent me") with an identification of who he claimed to be: the one
`sent by' the Father.-Joh 5:37; 8:18.
Brown (The Gospel According to John [xxiii-xxi], 555) acknowledges that "some
would supply an implicit predicate, `the Messiah,' based on the rabbinical
understanding of Ps xli."
In the context of Isaiah 43:10 Jehovah is bringing to the Israelites attention
facts that should remind them that He is the true God, as opposed to the gods
of the "national groups." (verse 9) But the context of John 13:19 in no way
supports a similar conclusion in relation to Jesus. In fact, it clearly
mitigates against it. (Joh 12:49-50; 13:3; 20) Also, in John 14:29 we see
roughly the same language as that used by Jesus in John 13:19. In John 14:29
Jesus tells those around him the things that would soon occur, and that they
should believe on account of the fact that he told them beforehand:
ajp * a[rti | levgw uJmi'n proV tou' genevsqai, | i at na pisteuvshte o at tan
o at ti ejgwv eijmi.
kaiV nu'n | ei[rhka uJmi'n priVn genevsqai, | i at na o at tan gevnhtai
Jn 13:19 (RSV)
I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you
may believe that I am he.
Jn 14:29 (RSV)
And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take
place, you may believe.
Yet, John 14:29 is uttered in a context where Jesus clearly denies being
Jehovah, for he asserts that he is going to One who is greater than he. (Joh
14:28) Can we imagine the God of Isaiah ever uttering such words? Also, Jesus'
words in 14:28 are not limited to his human nature. There is nothing in the
context of John 13:19 to support a connection between it and Isaiah 43:10.
<< For what it's worth, I quote the following concerning studies of the EGW
statements in John that do not have a predicate: >>
It really is not worth much, though both men do make some fine points, which I
think you have ignored.
Again, you need to revisit my last post, and this one, also, and consider each
argument I present. Otherwise it gives the impression that you are really not
listening to what I am saying, but instead simply trying to support a
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