Before Abraham Was, I Am

Jesus had several interactions with the religious leaders of the Jews. They hated Him because He challenged their authority and often taught contrary to their own teachings. Sometimes, Jesus said things which they thought were simply blasphemous. The passage below is one of these instances.

Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:52-59)

To understand what made the Jews so angry that they wanted to stone Jesus, we need to look to the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). When Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses basically asked God who He was.

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:13-14)

So when Jesus, in John 8:58, stated “Before Abraham was, I am”, the Jews knew exactly what He was saying. Jesus was stating, in no uncertain terms, that He is the same God who spoke to Moses–the great I AM. This infuriated the Jews because they understood that as blasphemy and deserving of death. This was further reinforced by Jesus’ conveying that He existed before Abraham.

Jesus was very clear. He is God because He is the I AM.

I and My Father Are One

Sometimes the Scriptures state directly Jesus’ divinity, “The Word was God.” (John 1:1) Other times Jesus Himself alludes to the fact, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father”. (John 14:9) The latter is the case in this article. See how Jesus’ words incensed the religious leaders around Him.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one. 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (John 10:27-33)

There are at least three important points to make from this passage with regards to Jesus’ divinity. First, Jesus states that He gives the sheep eternal life and secures them. (vs. 28) This is a divine act. No human being has the power to give another human being eternal life. That’s just not something that a person can have control over. However, God does. So by this very statement, Jesus is already affirming His divine nature.

Second, Jesus states that He is equal with God. (vs. 30) Interestingly, the preceding verse emphasizes a distinction between Jesus and the Father. However, Jesus states that They are one. This is the orthodox view. Jesus is equal in essence, quality, and character, with the Father, but distinct in person. This is something which we cannot understand, yet is true nonetheless. The fact that we are not God is reason enough for our inability to comprehend this.

Third, the Jews recognized that Jesus was stating that He was God. (vs. 33) This is a devastating point. There are some who say that Jesus never said that He was God. This is completely incorrect, unless they are looking for Him to have said the exact words, “I am God.” As this series will demonstrate, Jesus affirmed His divinity on a number of occasions. This is one of them. The Jews heard, “I and my Father are one” and they were ready to put him to death for blasphemy because Jesus made Himself God. (vs. 33)

We need to be like those in the verse at the end of this chapter, “And many believed on him there.” (John 10:42)

Usury: Does the Bible Explicitly Prohibit It?

One of my pet peeves is politicians misusing Scripture.  I don’t care what letter they have after their name or what their political persuasion is.  Here the topic is usury in the Bible as it relates to U.S. interest rates.  (Relating these two things is a stretch anyway, since the biblical text’s statements about usury were between individuals, but here we go.)

usury interest


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