Nathaniel Wall
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Why is Jesus called the “I Am”?

What does it mean in scripture that Jesus is called the “I am”? In the book of John, John centers the theme of his book around this phrase, the “I am”. This “I am” is used at least eight times within scripture, starting in chapter 8 all the way to chapter 16.

Jesus refers to himself as the light. “I am the light. I am the life. I am The Good Shepherd. I am the door. I am the bread of life. I am The Vine. I am the way, the truth, and the life. Before Abraham was, I am.” All of those claims are claims of deity. In fact, if you were to go back to the Exodus 3:14, you’ll see when Moses ask for the name of God, he is told his name is, “I am.”

The word means, “the self-existent one.” It’s pointing to His eternality. It’s the word for where we get the name Yahweh. Later on that name Yahweh is translated Jehovah through through Germanic language tradition. The “y” turned into a “j”, through German language. the “w” turn into “v”. So rather than Yahweh you had Jehovah, but it’s the same name and it points to the I am. Jesus is referring to himself as the great I am, I am God.

In fact, if you read it in John 18:58, what you find as the Jews asking Jesus within that chapter. He says, “before Abraham was, I am.” He could have said, “I was” but he said, “I am.” He’s pointing to his eternality—the existent one. And the Jews said, “How can you, being a mere man, be older than Abraham? How is that possible?”  Jesus says to them, “It’s because I am. I am God.” And it tells us within that passage in John 8:38 that the Jews pick up stones to stone him. Why? Because he’s making a claim of deity. The Jews were monotheistic—they only believed in one God, and for Jesus to call himself God means he is claiming to be deity.

Jesus is God in the flesh and that’s what it means when Christ says, “I am.”