Summary: This series looks at the I am statements of Jesus in the book of John. Discover the character of Jesus
I am really excited as we start this new series. In the gospel of John, Jesus makes numerous I am statements throughout the book, as we go through this series, we will look at the meaning of each statement as we learn more about the character of our savior and Lord. In the Bible, both Old and New Testament, the phrase “I am” is used 1,036 times, 61 of these are highly significant passages. Most of the I am phrase is used in common language like we would use it, but 61 times, the phrase is used either to describe God from God’s own mouth or as the proper name of God.
In the New Testament, John uses the Greek phrase e?? e?µ? when Jesus says these “I am” statements. In Greek, like many other languages, the congregated verb does not need to have the definite pronoun attached to it to give the meaning. ??µ? is the first person verb form of the verb to be. It translates I am by itself, but when used with the word e?? translated as I. Together this phrase e?? e?µ? translates, I, I am. It is an emphatic since of the phrase and unique in John’s letters, but it was used long before John to describe in the character of God.
The first instance of an emphatic I am statement comes from God in Exodus 3; Moses is standing before the burning bush talking to God. God is calling him to lead the children of Israel out of bondage and slavery. Moses starts to question God’s choice in sending him. First in verse 11, Moses asks Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh,” but God told him that God would be with Moses and they would worship God at this very mountain. The second thing Moses asks is in Verse 13
13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord 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 forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’
God identifies himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM…I AM has sent you…” In Jewish tradition the phrase I AM becomes synonymous with the name of God. The Jews would never speak the Name of the Lord, Yahweh. The phrase I am, in Hebrew is ni hu, is then often used as a substitute for the phrase ni Yahweh, I am the Lord. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation for the Hebrew scriptures, translated in 70 BC translates the phrase ni hu to e?? e?µ?. Isaiah 43 uses this phrase exclusively it is translated to English as I, even, I am He…ni hu…e?? e?µ?. Turn with me to Isaiah 43…if you have a pen or highlighter, I want you to underline or highlight every time we read an I am statement….let’s start at verse 10…
10“You are My witnesses,” says the Lord,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He. (underline)
Before Me there was no God formed,
Nor shall there be after Me.
11I, even I, am the Lord,
And besides Me there is no savior.
12 I have declared and saved,
I have proclaimed,
And there was no foreign god among you;
Therefore you are My witnesses,”
Says the Lord, “that I am God.
13 Indeed before the day was, I am He;
And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand;
I work, and who will reverse it?”
14Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I will send to Babylon,
And bring them all down as fugitives—
The Chaldeans, who rejoice in their ships.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.” 16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse,
The army and the power
(They shall lie down together, they shall not rise;
They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick):
18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,