Posts Tagged ‘Jehovah’ Witnesses’

ABOUT JOHN 8:58 – “I AM”

JOHN 8:58

NWT:   58 Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.”

TNIV: 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

KJV:    58Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

NASB:   58Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.


Many critics are spreading their derogation to NWT about this verse. Trinitarians are very eager to discredit the NWT and the Watchtower by throwing false accusation as tampering the Word of God. Since Jesus also used the word “I am” which Jehovah also said to Moses in Exodus 3:14, then they conclude that they are the same and coequal. However, when studying the name of God as to what it means, some scholars noticed the three letter “HWH” (hawah or havah) has a basic meaning of “to be” indicating of an action word or verb. Since the Hebrew Scriptures don’t use “be verbs” which we know as is, was, are, were, am, and will, the main verb “to be” in the Hebrew language means that it had became, it is (becoming) or will become. Thus, when a word is described as it had became or it is becoming or will become, all words pertaining to an action use Hebrew verbs that indicates “to be”. Therefore when someone states “he was a doctor, he is the father, or he will become king”, the word/s used to identify the becoming of such a person or thing has one meaning which is “to be”. Thus, when Jehovah spoke to Moses as to who is he and said “I am who I am”, he basically mean that “He is the one who was, who is and who will be.” This is the basic meaning of his name as he introduced his name to Moses as Jehovah (YHWH). The Watchtower believes on the meaning of the name of God (YHWH) thus in NWT they rendered it as “I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHATEVER I SHALL PROVE TO BE”. The word “prove” can mean to show but “prove” is deeper in its context. The word “prove” as used by God to identify himself indicates that he wanted to show to all his all-being with valid reasons. This includes his nature and qualities to be presented in public with proofs that can be perceived in many ways. Since God introduced himself to Moses as “Jehovah” and “I am who I am” we can say it as congruent but not equal. Not equal because the word “I am” is only the meaning of the name Jehovah. In dictionary the words may be the same in a certain use but not the same in its own definition. One word may use to substitute the other word based on how it is being used and so they are said to be congruent however, a word is not always possible to substitute to a certain word when it does not shows its concordance to the context of the sentence or statement. Words can be used alternately when it is possible to do so however, their own definition might vary for not all the definition of one word is the same as to other word and so they are not equal but can be congruent when use alternately to modify the meaning of the other word. Thus we cannot use the word “I am” as a name for God but rather it is a word that identifies him in another context. When an ordinary someone say “I am who I am”, he is basically saying that he is the one who himself really is, thus it means he is showing his real identity as to who he is before, now and then. He is admitting to himself and want to introduce to others that he prefer to show himself as to what he want for himself to be known by the others. That is the same when it comes to Jehovah. He wanted to show himself in his own way. Thus, the Watchtower believed and accepted the definition of Rotherham for the name of God. With regards to the said verse on how we will understand it by its context, we must consider the preceding words of Jesus as to what he is speaking about. When the person contradicts the words of Jesus as Jesus is not yet 50 but has seen Abraham, Jesus answered him on a figurative sense. Of course, Jesus will not say the words “I am” as his name because he is answering the question of the person as to his existence and not as to his name. The words “before Abraham was, I am” is the same as “before Abraham was born, I was born (literally created).” To make the word “I am” satisfy the answer of Jesus, we should map the possible meaning of the word “I am” to the original statement of Jesus. We will take all the meaning of the word “I am” as Jehovah (YHWH), Jesus, God and was (one of the be verbs).

1.      Before Abraham was, Jehovah.

2.      Before Abraham was, Jesus.

3.      Before Abraham was, God.

4.      Before Abraham was, I was.

The first three statements are not showing a thought. The second clause does not connect on the first statement. Only # 4 shows significance. Supposed we will attempt to show the implicit term after was. This will show as the following statements.

1.      Before Abraham was born, Jehovah.

2.      Before Abraham was born, Jesus.

3.      Before Abraham was born, God.

4.      Before Abraham was born, I was born.

It is only the last statement that shows validity and that is saying that he existed before Abraham. Since Jesus was not born literally but figuratively and since the word “born” means came into existence (brought into life) then NWT can render it as “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” The NWT shows that Jesus had been existed before Abraham came into existence which is parallel to any of the statement # 4 and which is in concordance to the implicit statement of Jesus. Actually the word “I am” in Hebrew is “ehyeh” which has a basic meaning of to be or become therefore all of these statements mention by Jesus and Jehovah means they become. “I am who I am” may be written as “I am who I become” and “Before Abraham was, I am” may be written as “Before Abraham was, I become” which shows implicit thought of had became, becoming and will become of his own identity. Please see the links below for a depth discussion about this subject. The word become (or to be) doesn’t only shows its meaning in present tense but also in past and future. Thus, I believe when someone in Hebrew is saying that someone had became, has become or will become they use the Hebrew characters that denotes “to be” even in different tenses i.e. whether past, present or future.