Appendix 4. The "I Am" Passages in John's Gospel


Audio (2:31)

Edward Burne-Jones, 'Good Shepherd' stained glass window (1895), Harris Manchester College, Oxford.
Edward Burne-Jones, 'Good Shepherd' stained glass window (1895), Harris Manchester College, Oxford.
John's Gospel includes a number of passages that include two Greek words together, egō eimi, "I am.""[375] When these words are used emphatically, "I am" is a rather unveiled reference to the name by which God revealed himself to Moses as Yahweh -- "I AM THAT I AM" (Exodus 3:14). In saying "I am" in this way, Jesus is declaring his divinity and oneness with the Father.

Here are the "I AM" passages found in John that include a predicate:

  1. "I am the bread of life" (6:35, 48, 51).
  2. "I am the light of the world (8:12, cf. 9:5).
  3. "I am the gate for the sheep" (10:7, 9).
  4. "I am the good shepherd" (10:11, 14).
  5. "I am the resurrection and the life" (11:25).
  6. "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (14:6).
  7. "I am the vine" (15:1, 5)

Elsewhere in John we see "I am" in clauses structured a bit differently.

  • "I am [he]" -- Jesus of Nazareth (18:5, 6).
  • "I am [he]" (8:24) -- unless you believe you'll die in your sins.
  • "I am [he]" (8:28) -- the Son of Man.
  • "Before Abraham was, I am!" (8:58).
  • "I am he" (13:19) -- the one referred to in Psalm 41:9.
John's Gospel: A Discipleship Journey with Jesus, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Entire study is available in paperback, Kindle, and PDF formats.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, when the soldiers come looking for Jesus of Nazareth, he answers, "I am" (egō eimi) (18:5-6, 8).

It is no coincidence that John emphasizes Jesus' "I AM" statements. He wants his readers to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and have eternal life (20:31).

Endnotes

[375] There are more verses in John translated, "I am," but in most cases they don't include the pronoun egō, which can be implied by the verb eimi itself, since in Greek the distinctive inflection of the verb tells us gender, tense, and voice. When the pronoun appears with the verb, it is emphatic -- there to make a point.


Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

Sign up now!To be notified about future articles, stories, and Bible studies,why don't you subscribe to our free newsletter,The Joyful Heart, by placing your e-mail address in the box below. We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.
FirstLast
E-mail
Country(2-letter abbreviation, such as US)
Preferred FormatHTML (recommended) Plain text