I proceed from where I left off (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/25/even-more-proof-that-jesus-is-jehovah-god-most-high-pt-1/).
The I AM sayings of Christ
Another way in which the NT equates Christ with Yahweh God is through our Lord’s use of the phrase “I AM [He],” in Greek ego eimi.
All throughout the Hebrew Bible, particularly in the book of Isaiah, Yahweh employs the phrase “I [AM] He” (Heb. ani hu/anoki hu) to describe himself, which the Greek version of the OT (typically referred to as the Septuagint [LXX]) renders as ego eimi.
The most famous of these sayings is the account of the burning bush where the Angel of the Lord (who happens to be Christ in his prehuman existence) identifies himself as the I AM who comes to deliver his people:
“Then Moses said to God, ‘I am to go, then, to the sons of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” But if they ask me what his name is, what am I to tell them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I Am who I Am (ehyeh asher ehyeh [Gr. ego eimi ho on]). This,’ he added, ‘is what you must say to the sons of Israel: “I Am (ehyeh [Gr. ho on]) has sent me to you.”’ And God also said to Moses, ‘You are to say to the sons of Israel: “Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.’” Exodus 3:13-15 JB
Although the Hebrew and Greek words employed are not the same, their meanings are virtually synonymous since they speak to the nature of Yahweh, e.g., he is the God who simply is and will do all that he has decreed since there is none that can thwart his purposes:
“Yahweh thwarts the plans of nations, frustrates the intentions of peoples; but Yahweh’s plans hold good for ever, the intentions of his heart from age to age.” Psalm 33:10-11 JB
“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” Psalm 115:3 NIV
“The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” Psalm 135:6 NIV
“Thus says Yahweh, your redeemer, he who formed you in the womb: I, myself, Yahweh, made all things, I alone spread out the heavens. When I gave the earth shape, did anyone help me? I am he who foils the omens of wizards and makes fools of diviners, who makes sages recant and shows the nonsense of their knowledge, who confirms the word of my servant and makes the plans of my envoys succeed.” Isaiah 44:24-26 JB
“Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” Isaiah 55:10-11 JB
“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’ At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Daniel 4:34-37 NIV
With that said, I will highlight how similar Yahweh’s use of this phrase is with the way the Lord Jesus employed this expression.
As the I AM, Yahweh is the eternal One who gives life and foretells the future, and from whose hand or sovereign power none can deliver:
“See now that I, I am He ( [Gr. ego eimi]), and beside me there is no other god. It is I who deal death and life; when I have struck it is I who heal (and none can deliver from my hand).” Deuteronomy 32:39 JB
“You yourselves are my witnesses–it is Yahweh who speaks–my servants whom I have chosen, that men may know and believe me and understand that it is I. No god was formed before me, nor will be after me. I, I am Yahweh, there is no other savior but me. It is I who have spoken, have saved, have made the proclamation, not any strangers among you. You are my witnesses-it is Yahweh who speaks and I, I am your God, I am he from eternity. No one can deliver from my hand, I act and no one can reverse it.” Isaiah 43:10-13 JB
Now compare the Greek rendering of the following text,
“Be my witnesses, and I [too am] a witness, says the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen (exelexamen): that you may know, and believe, and understand that I am [he] (hina… pisteusete… hoti ego eimi): before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none.” Isaiah 43:10 LXX
With the words of our Lord:
“I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen (exelexamen); but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me. I tell you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe that I am He (hina pisteusete… hoti ego eimi).” John 13:18-19 JB
Like Yahweh, Jesus foretells the future so that when it comes to pass the disciples whom he has chosen will believe that he is the “I AM”.
And like Yahweh who has always existed, Jesus has been there even before Abraham came into being since, unlike Abraham, he is eternal, which explains how Abraham was able to meet with Christ and rejoice at the fact of seeing him:
“They repeated, ‘Our father is Abraham.’ Jesus said to them: ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do as Abraham did. As it is, you want to kill me when I tell you the truth as I have learned it from God; that is not what Abraham did. What you are doing is what your father does… I tell you most solemnly, whoever keeps my word will never see death.’ The Jews said, ‘Now we know for certain that you are possessed. Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, and yet you say, “Whoever keeps my word will never know the taste of death.” Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The prophets are dead too. Who are you claiming to be?’ Jesus answered: ‘If I were to seek my own glory that would be no glory at all; my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, “He is our God,” although you do not know him. But I know him, and if I were to say: I do not know him, I should be a liar, as you are liars yourselves. But I do know him, and I faithfully keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to think that he would see my Day; he saw it and was glad.’ The Jews then said, ‘You are not fifty yet, and you have seen Abraham!’ Jesus replied: ‘I tell you most solemnly, before Abraham ever was, I Am (prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi).’ At this they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.” John 8:39-40, 51-59 JB
Note the following renderings of the key text:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’” John 8:58
y. 8:58 Came to be, I AM: the Greek word used for “came to be” is the one used of all creation in the prologue, while the word used for “am” is the one reserved for the Logos. New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE)
“Jesus said to them, ‘For sure, I tell you, before Abraham was born, I was and am and always will be!’” New Life Version (NLV)
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!’”
k. 8:58 Or before Abraham was even born, I have always been alive; Greek reads before Abraham was, I am. See Exod 3:14. New Living Translation (NLT)
Our Lord’s contrast between Abraham’s creation and his timeless existence echoes the following Psalm, where a similar contrast is made between Yahweh’s existence and that of the created order:
“Lord, You hast been our refuge in all generations. Before (pro) the mountains existed (genethenai), and [before] the earth and the world were formed, even from age to age, you are (su ei).” Psalm 89:1-2 LXX
Hence, Jesus is like God in that he simply is, i.e. he is eternal and therefore pure existence:
“Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is (estin) and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/hebrews/11/#v58011006)
This explains why Jesus does what only Yahweh can do, namely, give immortal, incorruptible life, and why none can deliver out of his sovereign hand:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’ Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’” John 10:27-33
I.e. Jesus is Yahweh God in the flesh, being one with the Father in essence and glory.
Yahweh is also described as the I AM who forgives the sins of those who believe in him:
“I am he (ego eimi), the One blotting out your transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; and I will not remember [them].” Isaiah 43:25 LXX
Similarly, a person must believe that Jesus is the I AM since to deny that he is, is to die in one’s sins:
“He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.’… So Jesus said [to them], ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.’” John 8:23-24, 28-29
m.8:24, 28 I AM: an expression that late Jewish tradition understood as Yahweh’s own self-designation (Is 43:10); see note on Jn 4:26. Jesus is here placed on a par with Yahweh. NABRE
As the I AM, Yahweh is with his people all the days of their lives in order to give them comfort and protection:
“I am [he] (ego eimi); and until you shall have grown old, I am [he] (ego eimi): I bear you, I have made, and I will relieve, I will take up and save you.” Isaiah 46:4 LXX
“I am [the] I am (ego eimi ego eimi) that comforts you: consider who you are, that you were afraid of mortal man, and of the son of man, who are withered as grass.” Isaiah 51:12 LXX
Which is precisely what Jesus does, since he is the One who remains with all his people till the end of the age, giving rest to all who turn to him:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30 JB
“and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” Matthew 28:20 JB
Yahweh as the I AM is the Lord who is the First and the Last:
“I have not spoken in secret, nor in a dark place of the earth: I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek vanity: I am (ego eimi)! I am the Lord (ego eimi ho Kyrios), speaking righteousness, and proclaiming truth.” Isaiah 45:19 LXX
“Who has wrought and done these things? He has called it who called it from the generations of old; I God, the first and to [all] futurity, I AM (ego eimi).” Isaiah 41:4 LXX
“Listen to Me, O Jacob and Israel, whom I called: I am He; I am the First, and I am the Last.” Isaiah 48:12 Modern English Version (MEV)
Once again, Jesus claims to be that very Lord who exists as the First and the Last:
“You call me Master and Lord (ho kyrios), and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord (ho kyrios) and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet.” John 13:13-14
“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though I were dead. Then He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, though I was dead. Look! I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’” Revelation 1:17-18 MEV
Yahweh is also the I AM who speaks:
“Therefore shall my people know my name in that day, for I am he that speaks (ego eimi autos ho lalon): I am present,” Isaiah 52:6 LXX
As is the Lord Jesus!
“The isha says to him, I have da’as that Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach is coming, the one being called the Messiah. When Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach comes, he will proclaim to us everything. Yehoshua says to her, Ani Hu (I am He), the one speaking (ego eimi ho lalon) to you.” John 4:25-26 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
Now if this still doesn’t convince the readers that Christ equated himself with the I AM of the Hebrew Bible, then the following example should assuage such doubts:
“Then Jesus, knowing all the things that were going to happen to him, stepped forward and said to them: ‘Whom are you looking for?’ They answered him: ‘Jesus the Naz·a·reneʹ.’ He said to them: ‘I am he.’ Now Judas, his betrayer, was also standing with them. However, when Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” John 18:4-6 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/john/18/)
It is obvious that the reason the soldiers fell backward to the ground is because of the solemn power, which issued forth from our Lord’s declaration of the I AM phrase.
Christ’s use of the expression went beyond a mere affirmation that he was Jesus of Nazareth whom they were seeking. Rather, the utterance of these words and the soldiers’ reaction highlight the fact that the One standing before them was more than a mere human being. He is none other than the sovereign Lord of creation, the One who has complete power over life and death, and who voluntarily forfeits his life; otherwise, no creature would be able to lay a finger on him:
“The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father.” John 10:17-18 JB
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.'” John 11:23-27 NIV
“Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth AND THE LIFE. No one can come to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6
Now in case someone wants to argue that in most, if not all, of Jesus’ I AM sayings he was merely claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah, much like in the passage with the Samaritan women (cf. John 4:25-26), this still does nothing to undermine the clear implications of Deity associated with our Lord’s use of this phrase.
After all, the Messiah according to John is the unique divine Son of God, who is equal to the Father in essence, glory and honor, being the Son who can only do whatever the Father does in the exact same manner as the Father does it, such as give life and raise the dead both spiritually and physically:
“For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things during the Sabbath. But he answered them: ‘My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.’ This is why the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God. Therefore, in response Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, the Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son does also in like manner. For the Father has affection for the Son and shows him all the things he himself does, and he will show him works greater than these, so that you may marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead up and makes them alive, so the Son also makes alive whomever he wants to. For the Father judges no one at all, but he has entrusted all the judging to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Most truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes the One who sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life. Most truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to do judging, because he is the Son of man. Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [the Son’s] voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment. I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.’” John 5:16-30 NWT
This is why the unbelieving Jews sought to kill him,
“‘We have a Law,’ the Jews answered, ‘and according to that Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’” John 19:7 JB
Since they realized that Jesus was claiming to be the Son in such a way as to make himself essentially coequal to the Father, which they took to be blasphemy.
This also helps us appreciate Thomas’ confession to the risen Christ where he worships him as his Lord and his God,
“Next he said to Thomas: ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop doubting but believe.’ In answer Thomas said TO HIM: ‘My Lord and my God (ho Kyrios mou kai ho Theos mou)!’ Jesus said to him: ‘Because you have seen me, have you believed? Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ To be sure, Jesus also performed many other signs before the disciples, which are not written down in this scroll. But these have been written down so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and because of believing, you may have life by means of his name.” John 20:30-31 NWT
In a similar way to how David praised Jehovah,
“Awake, O Lord, and attend to my judgment, [even] to my cause, my God and my Lord (ho Theos mou kai ho Kyrios mou).” Psalm 34[Heb. 35]:23 LXX
And even how the heavenly host worships God:
“Every time the animals glorified and honored and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship the One who lives for ever and ever, and threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying, ‘You are our Lord and our God (Kyrios kai ho Theos hemon), you are worthy of glory and honor and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.”” Revelation 4:9-11 JB
Thomas realized that Jesus wasn’t God’s Son in the same sense that others were/are. Rather, Christ is the unique Son who is one with the Father in power, glory, and honor, and therefore worthy of the same worship that God alone is supposed to receive.
Simply put, Thomas recognized that the Man that now stood before him, the One who had conquered death by his glorious resurrection, was none other than God Almighty in the flesh, being the very great I AM who had come to save his people!
With that said I move on to the final part of the discussion.