IS JESUS CHRIST GOD
Jesus told them, “Truly, I tell all of you emphatically, before there was an Abraham, I AM!”
According to ‘trinity teachers,’ they say only God uses the above expression ‘I am’ and they cite Exodus 3:14 where God was speaking to Moses. As a result, they believe and teach the above verse to be a proof that Jesus is God.
As clearly explained in previous parts, folks must always bear in mind that the Bible wasn’t written in English. This consciousness is quite important in Bible study (to avoid being bemused by some English versions/translations).
Hebrew/Aramaic and the Greek language were the languages the old testament and the new were written in respectively. The Hebrew language has no lower or upper case (small and capital letters). The earliest Greek manuscripts were all written in the same case (this is said because some translators/versions, perhaps out of their trinity bias, decided to capitalise the ‘I AM’ expression to create the impression in the hearts of readers that Jesus is emphatic about his being God). Since the Greek manuscripts from which the English translators translated from were in the same case, why did some of them begin this particular verse with lower cases and ended with ‘I AM’ in upper case? This is most likely a confirmation of the trinity bias in their minds.
The new testament was written around 2000 years ago. English versions of the Bible only came into existence around 500 years ago.
So, there exists about 1,500 years between when the new testament scriptures were written and when they were translated into English (definitely not by the writers but by interpreters, translators, bible scholars, etc). In between these years (before English versions came into existence), the church experienced major hurdles like global persecution, infiltration of erroneous teachings, imposition of paganism on Christianity, politicisation of the church, etc. All of these influenced church doctrines, thus influencing the doctrinal stand of those who would become translators. This is why a bias such as that of the trinity could come to play in translation. To truly understand the bible, believers must go beyond being average church goers, since we have Bibles/manuscripts in the original languages the scriptures were written in.
With all these said, let’s forge ahead to the bone of contention; the expression ‘I am,’ whether in lower or upper case. What did Jesus mean? Refresh your minds with the scripture.
John 8:58 (KJV)
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
The word ‘Am’ in the above verse was translated from the Greek word ‘eimi.’ It means ‘to be,’ ‘to exist,’ ‘am,’ ‘have been,’ ‘was,’ and the likes. So, it can be translated ‘am,’ and also can be translated as ‘have been’ or ‘was.’ Naturally then (in bible interpretation), the context must be used to determine what should be there.
John chapter 8 is our immediate context here.From verses 16-59, Jesus repeatedly said he’s from God. He said he was sent by God. He also talked about carrying out the will of God, his father. So clearly, the context shows that Jesus wasn’t claiming to be God. Rightly translated, John 8:58 should read “I was” or “I have been,” where it reads “I am.”
Few English versions translate this scripture rightly. The George M Lamsa’s translation (1933) translated “eimi” as “was.” The New World Translation (1961) reads “I have been,” not the popular “I am.” The New Simplified Bible (2003) reads “I existed before Abraham was born,” and some other versions.
So, Jesus never claimed to be the ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ He was only trying to imply that he has been before Abraham (not as a person who is God or who was operating with God in heaven, but as God’s plan for humanity; his word). John 1:1 expresses this. The word was there from the very beginning with God (long before Abraham was born). This is why Jesus said he existed before Abraham. He existed from the beginning as God’s word (logos, which means God’s plan, thought, idea).
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For by him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether they are kings, lords, rulers, or powers. All things have been created through him and for him.
He himself existed before anything else did, and he holds all things together.
Jesus is the firstborn (the prototokos) over all creation (including Abraham). God had Jesus in mind as the model/blueprint for all creation. When fashioning humanity, Jesus Christ was what God had in mind. Jesus Christ was/is God’s plan for humanity. God fashioned all things for humanity, through their representative (Jesus Christ). This is what is meant when the scriptures say all things were made for him.
Through him (as God’s thought and plan which would later on be made manifest as flesh), all things were created. This word of God (that became Jesus Christ when he manifested as flesh) existed before any other creation in God’s mind. This divine plan determined how God created all he created.
This was what Jesus meant in John 8:58 when he said he existed before Abraham. This doesn’t by any chance imply that he was calling himself God. Jesus never made such claim.
Some folks also believe and teach that since Jesus claimed to have been existing before Abraham, it either means he is God or he has been a high profile person with God in heaven long before Abraham was born. The above explanation(s) proves that such isn’t true scripturally. If it is, then Revelations 13:8 should be interpreted in the same manner.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
If Jesus meant that he has been a person in heaven before Abraham was born, then we should also be free to interpret the above scripture that Jesus died for our sins before the world was created, and not in this world around 2000 years ago.
However, it isn’t so. Revelations 13:8 is only saying that God purposed Jesus to be slain for humanity’s sin right from the very beginning. Although it had not happened yet, it was already a done deal in God’s mind. John 8:58 is similar. John 1:1 and Col. 1:15-17 agrees. Jesus existed from the very beginning with God but he existed as God’s thought; his plan, and not as God himself or a person in heaven prior to his earthly manifestation.
Finally, let’s consider something in John 9:8-9
The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am (“ego eimi,” which were the same words Jesus spoke in John 8:58) he.
The above is the account of a blind man healed by Jesus. People doubted if he was the same man who was blind. To clear their skepticism, he replied, “I AM he.” In Greek, he said “ego eimi” and these were the exact words Jesus said in John 8:58 that some teach to be the proof that Jesus is God.
So, why isn’t this formerly blind man God too? Why wasn’t his words, “ego eimi” all placed in upper cases too like some versions do for the same expression made by Jesus in John 8:58?
How can some say only God uses those words to describe himself when a common man (and even others in the Bible) used them?
Think about these things.
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Agaga Fredrick Abangji is a writer, reporter, content writer, believer in Jesus Christ, and a creator of religious literature. A student of Bingham university – Nasarawa state, studying mass communication.