Mar 2, 2011

22 Did Jesus call himself God in John 8?

Believer says: Jesus declares he is God in the Gospel of John 8.

But skeptic says: Christians may say that Jesus says so in John, which text reads as follows ...

57 Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”

What's the difference? Well, Yahweh calls himself "I Am” in Exodus 3:14. "I Am" is God's name! So "before Abraham was God (I Am)."  

Of course, it only stands to reason that God existed before Abraham (the man who was the father of the Hebrew nation about 1600 BC).  

Thus Jesus says God--I Am--was before Abraham was. 

Further, I infer that Jesus claims that God tells him things, too. God told him that Abraham prophesied, saw Jesus' day coming ... 

56 Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” 

John 8 needn’t be saying that Jesus calls himself God, knowing

By the way, Christians may state that Exodus 3 says “I will be” in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, not “I am”--as if to say that Christ did not denote God's name in John 8. Yes, "I will be" is okay, too. But Jesus and his disciples often quoted lines from the Greek language version of the Old Testament, and it says “I am” in Exodus 3. Thus I say that “I am” is as legitimate as "I will be” is. They're exchangeable, that's all. So what's the sense in pressing the argument about whether "I am" or "I will be" is God's name. They really both are.

Recap: It merely looks as if Jesus declared himself to be God in the Gospel of John. Mainly, it's thanks to the insertion of the English comma.

Related post:
21 Was Jesus the "mighty God” in Isaiah 9?


  1. The eternal God the Son, was in the beginning with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. While in fleshly form, Immanuel, "God with Us", humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. See Philippians 2:1-8. The entire Bible is actually a Him book, in that it's all about Him, Jesus Christ. Friend, I've certainly not responded to engage in a debate. There are extremely intelligent atheists, agnostics and Christians who happen to disagree on the deity of Christ, and all can point to examples to make their point as you have in John 8:58. I actually believe that John 8:58 is just one of many of Jesus' self-proclaimed "I AM" statements in which He simply states that He is God. I actually wanted to let you know that I'm in prayer for you that God, by His grace, might reveal Himself to you in the person of Jesus Christ, the infinite God/Man. If any of us truly search for God, He will reveal Himself to us. I do enjoy reading your posts and I pray a great week for you, or at least wish you a pleasant one.

  2. can you explain why the Jewish leaders at the temple wanted to stone him for his answer using this logic? if Christ indeed just declared the post creation of Abraham by God, why would the men at the temple get so angry about a statement they would have agreed with?

    p.s. For the purpose of even taking your argument seriously, we'll forget that Jesus already said that he had saw and rejoiced with Abraham (v56), even though there is no way that Abraham's life overlapped Christs earthly visit there by declaring Christ's eternal nature and divinity.

    1. Commentaries say a few things:

      1) Jesus was claiming his pre-existence, not his Godhood.

      2) or Jesus was claiming to be God.

      3) or Jesus was claiming to be mediator between men and God, and God talked with him. Further, he was claiming that old scripture talked about his coming.

      As a commentary says from ...
      "Looking at the context of the entire gospel of John, Jesus consistently draws a separation between himself and God. He refers to God as "Father" and shows that he is subordinate to the Father (John 14:28) and was sent at his Father's direction (John 3:16; 17:3)."

      Thus, me again, Jesus doesn't say he's God. Of course, it doesn't bring closer to the question. It can only offer a perspective on it.

      4) or the Jewish teachers mistrusted Jesus because they misunderstood him, so they went gunning for him. That is, Jesus was claiming, or hinting, to be the messiah, but the Jewish teachers didn't expect a messiah like him. Thus they had reason to infer that Jesus was claiming a God status, a blasphemy, thanks to Jesus' ambiguity.

      5) or, I say, the Jewish teachers were hotheads. That is, they weren't in the market to see Jesus from a more balanced perspective (to see that he was a sage and more religious than they). Rather, they preferred to shoot first and ask questions later out of jealousy or intolerance.

      6) I say, too, it may be odd that the Jewish teachers were ready to stone Jesus to death, since it was illegal to put anyone to death without obtaining Roman permission. So, by fair means or foul, the Jewish teachers sought to eliminate perceived opposition to their doctrine. (They believed the scripture permitted or encouraged them to take extreme measures to do so.) Perhaps, however, they only sought to pelt him with stones?

      Sorry for offering various possibilities instead of saying just one thing. But the Gospels are written with a measure of ambiguity, and so there are various views on many of its passages. And that's my take on it.


    2. More on John 8: Jesus vs Angry Jewish teachers

      In the story, Jesus' aggressive words confront the Jewish teachers, riling them.

      John 8:43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. ... 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.

      Somehow I doubt the Jewish teachers wished to thank Jesus for the admonitions. I'd expect the criticism made them hot under the collar.

      Then the Jewish teachers seem to reveal how misinformed they were even about the whereabouts of Jesus' hometown:

      48 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

      And what's more, they indict him of demon possession. This is how they handle the matter at hand, by getting angry and spreading a rumor.

      He keeps scolding the Jewish teachers, by saying they don't know their God. Of course, such words won't win a popularity contest:
      54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word.

      So whatever Jesus says to them, it appears they're bound to take it the wrong way. At that juncture, I myself doubt that Jesus announces such a thing as "By the way, I'm God" (if he were God) to the ears of a non-receptive group.

      Whether he makes the God claim at that point is, however, a matter of inference of the readers. I say, as other readers do, the indications point away from the idea that Jesus says he's God--thus no claim to be God.