English blog

have seen Abraham?

18-03-2012 - Posted by Andre Piet

One of the intriguing questions that will be addressed, at the Seminar this coming Sunday, is: in what sense did the Son of God exist before his birth and how are we to understand that? One of the texts that appears to play a role in this is John 8:58.

Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (KJV)

At a first glance, it could be that Jesus here refers to the fact that He already existed before His birth as logos (= Word), (John 1:1-14). However, when we zoom in on the exact text, then we are pointed in another direction. The rendering “ere Abraham was” does not match with the verb (Gr. genestai) that John used here. The verb in this specific form is used 37 times in the NT and is exclusively here translated as “was” … Usually, the translators chose “become” or a word that closely means the same. Let me confine myself to how John used that word.

1:12 … to them He gives the right to become children of God… 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 5:6 … is saying to him, “Do you want to become sound?” 9:27 … Not you also are wanting to become His disciples?” 13:19 … whenever it may be occurring… 14:29 And now I have declared it to you ere it is occurring

Would the translators have been consistent, then they would have translated John 8:58 as, “ere Abraham becomes, I am”. Jesus is not referring to Abrahams past, but to something that still has to take place! That also fits in the context. Abraham would partake of the resurrection (8:51-53) and welcomed the day of the Messiah and has seen it (8:56). But the Jews twisted Jesus’ statement and made it that He had seen Abraham. And Jesus responds to this with: ere Abraham becomes, I am”. That is, before Abraham will be resurrected, I am already resurrected.   ——————————— translation: Peter Feddema

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