The statement made by Jesus was stating the obvious. Jesus was being asked whether he was the Messiah or the Son of God. Jesus responds with the answer: “I am.” The translators decided to capitalize the words I AM in order to make it look like Jesus was saying he was the GOD from the Old Testament. (Remember, most Bible translators are Trinitarians who have certain bias; that is why it is hard for the average Christian to get the complete truth).
First of all, we need to look at all of the other ways the same phrase is translated in the New Testament.
- The man born blind in John 8:9 says: “I am the man.”
- Paul in Acts 26:29 says: “I am.”
Obviously, “I am” did not make Paul or the man born blind GOD. We know that Paul and the man born blind were not God, so how could Christ be God with the SAME phrase.
“I am” occurs many other times in the New Testament. This phrase is often translated as:
- “I am he,” for example: Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8; John 13:19; 18:5,6 and 8.
- “It is I,” for example: Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20.
- “I am the one I claim to be,” for example John 8:24 and 28.
At the Last Supper, Jesus said that one of the disciples would betray him. The disciples said literally: “Not I am, Lord” (Matthew 26:22,25). The disciples were not trying to deny that they were God because they used the phrase “Not I am.”
Conclusion: “I am” was a common way of designating oneself and it did not mean that you were claiming to be GOD.
Now, many will argue saying that Jesus was “before” Abraham, so Jesus must have been God. It is certain that Jesus figuratively “existed” in Abraham’s time. Jesus “existed” in the mind of God as God’s promise and will for mankind ( the Word of God) for the redemption of man. If we read carefully verse 56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad.” Abraham saw the Day of Christ when Christ conquerors the earth and sets up his kingdom, as in Hebrews 11:10: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (NIV) Abraham “saw” the Day of Christ; he saw the Day of Christ by faith, which was in God’s mind before the world was.
Conclusion: In the context of God’s plan, Christ was certainly “before” Abraham. God had a plan for our redemption long before Abraham lived.
A final point, the “I am” statement found in Exodus 3:14 is not the equivalent to the “I am” statement found in John 8:58b. The two statements are VERY different. The Greek of John 8:58b means “I am” however, the Hebrew phrase in Exodus actually means: “to be” or “to become”. Thus, Exodus 3:14 should read: “I will continue to be what I will continue to be.”
Conclusion: The “I AM” in the Hebrew text of Exodus 3:14 is actually a mistranslation. The “I AM” statement in John 8:58 did not make Jesus GOD.
The MacArthur Study Bible commentary on Exodus 3:14 says that "I AM WHO I AM" is the name of God which points to His self-existence and eternality; it denotes "I am the One who is/will be," which is the best and most contextually suitable option from a number of theories about its meaning and etymological source. The significance in relation to “God of your fathers” is immediately discernible: He’s the same God throughout the ages! The consonants from the Hebrew word YHWH, combined with vowels given by the Massoretes allow us to understand that the combination of consonants known as "tetragrammaton" should be pronounced as “Yehovah”.