"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"

John 8:58 (NIV)

Is this a grammatical error? Or is it because the Trinity does not experience time as we do, and are (is) everywhere; past, present, future?

  • 1
    A combination of the later (because God was, is, and will be), and also because "I Am" is the name God gave when Moses asked Him for identification. Jesus was being very deliberate (as evidenced by the crowd's reaction) in identifying Himself with the same name as the Jewish God. (Because both the Father and the Son are God.)
    – Matthew
    Mar 4 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


When Moses asked "who he should say sent him?" when he first met God in the Burning Bush on Mount Horeb in the beginning of Exodus, this is who God Himself said Moses says he should say sent him.

"I AM sent me" - Exodus 3:14

Later, in the John's Revelation, John uses the opposite terminology to describe the beast at the end of the world:

The beast that you saw—it was, and now is no more, but is about to come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. And those who dwell on the earth whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet will be.

Rev 17:8 - https://biblehub.com/revelation/

This moment in John's Gospel is one of the key turning points where Jesus really reveals Himself as God. So it's important to consider that. It's not about grammar , or understanding the Trinity, as much as it's about a clear understanding of who Jesus is and why He's about to get stoned in the next sentence.

  • Then "I am" Jesus's statement is one of the names of God? I mean, it would make no sense to me if you said, "I tell you the truth, before this happened, Peter Turner". So it is not a grammatical error, and neither is it an analogy to the the Trinity being every where, but a proper noun? Mar 4 at 19:39
  • 1
    yep, that would be pretty jarring. If it were just a grammatical error then you'd have to assume that all the people who picked up rocks to stone Him were overzealous English teachers.
    – Peter Turner
    Mar 4 at 19:48
  • 1
    @JohnCarter, the name "I Am" is also a declaration; to wit, God declares Himself as a brute fact (that is, uncaused). In a sense, Jesus is saying, "before Abraham was, I exist". The alteration of tense here isn't an error, but deliberate, to emphasize that said existence isn't merely in the past, but eternal and not bound to time. And "I Am" also serves as a proper noun. That the words work on both levels is almost certainly deliberate.
    – Matthew
    Mar 4 at 19:55
  • 1
    @Matthew good point, I didn't mean to say by my answer that John Carter was wrong in interpreting it that way - it's just that the words can mean something else too.
    – Peter Turner
    Mar 4 at 20:17
  • I think I understand now. Thanks PeterTurner and @Matthew. Mar 4 at 20:41

The Greek translates the "I AM" in Exodus 3:14 as ego eimi, same as John 8:58.

This means that Jesus reiterated what he said as the Angel of God in the Burning Bush.

Now, contrary to Trinitarian thought, Jesus' remark of "Before Abraham was, I AM" was not a declaration of himself being God, but instead a declaration that he was the only begotten Son of God who has God's Spirit indwelled inside of him fully, and who God has given his Holy Name, to manifest the fullness of His essence bodily in the presence of man.

The Spirit of God that abided in him was carrying out God's will on earth to work out the salvation of the chosen ones unto adoption as sons of God.

For Jesus said, "Holy Father, keep them in Your Name, the Name which you have given me, so that they may be one with you as I am one with you." (John 17:11)

Jesus Christ, the Chief Angel of God, is the viceroy of God's Presence on earth. (John 1:18)

  • 2
    Please take the time to carefully proof read your posts, so that you don't need to make 27 edits in the space of an hour or two.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 7 at 13:19
  • The question mentions the Trinity, so answers should ordinarily assume Trinitarian thought. To Trinitarian, your answer seems like little more than avoiding acknowledging the Trinity since you assert I AM doesn't mean Christ is God but that he's the Son of God but omits how that sentence is actually fitting for someone who is not God to say (indwelling Spirit, "fullness of essence bodily in the presence of man" notwithstanding) nor why the Jews clearly did understand it as a claim to divinity.
    – eques
    Mar 7 at 18:00
  • 1
    @menorahman. So just for clarification are you saying Jesus is an actual angel? And if he is, is his name Michael the arc angel? Also, it says at Exodus 3:2, "And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of the bush; and he looked and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. Mose turned aside etc. Vs4, The Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush. At vs6, God said, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So, who called from the midst of the bush? Was it an angel or was it God Almighty?
    – Mr. Bond
    Mar 7 at 22:19
  • 1
    @menorahman You are new here, so you may not get how this works. This is not a debate site and denominational debating is off-limits in questions/answers (chat is a separate case). So my comment is on the spot. You are free to ask questions and answer according to non-trinitarian theology (it happens quite readily) but you are not free to co-opt questions about Trinitarian theology to suit your own theology (although plenty of non-trinitarians do that).
    – eques
    Mar 7 at 23:17
  • 1
    @menorahman The rest of your comment is the repeating the same claims of your answer, which a) won't convince Trinitarians (non-trinitarians seem very surprised that Trinitarians actually do use the Bible to derive their theology). You may say Jesus is Michael (JWs?) but again, that's based upon a theological connection that other groups do not recognize and so will not accept. It's also far more tenuous that saying I AM in John 8 implies
    – eques
    Mar 7 at 23:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .