This is the second part of our rebuttal to this article. If you have not done so yet, please read Part One first.
The authors continue:
Analysis of 'B' Mark
LXX (the last part of Exodus 3:14):
|ho oon = o wn| I AM
|apestalken = apestalken| hath sent me
|metros umas = me proV umaV| unto you.
compare this with John 8:58:
|prin = prin| before
|Abraam = Abraam| Abraham
|genethai = genesQai| was (or 'came into being')
|egoo eimi = egw eimi| I AM.
It is clear that the Greek word that has been used by LXX for "I AM" in "I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:14) is 'ho oon' and not 'egoo eimi' as in John 8:58. So they are two different words and have two different meanings, and thus there is no connection between Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58.
As we have already conclusively demonstrated in Part One of our rebuttal, Exodus 3:14 refers to the Angel of Yahweh who is actually the preincarnate Christ. Therefore both Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58 have a direct bearing on the person and nature of Christ.
Furthermore, the authors are simply wrong by stating that the words ho on and ego eimi have different meanings, since the context shows that both phrases point to Gods timeless existence, as we shall shortly demonstrate.
'I Am What I Am' or 'I Am The Being'?
egw eimi o wn
(egoo eimi ho oon) which means "I AM THE BEING", or, "I AM THE
EXISTING ONE". The Greek word 'Oon' (wn)
is translated several times in the New Testament as 'being', refer to:
Exodus 3:14 (LXX) uses
And Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years of age,being (wn) the son.....
Nicodemus saith unto them (he that came to him before,being (wn) one of them)
...and because that thou,being (wn) a man, makest thyself God.
Soegw eimi o wn (egoo eimi ho oon) should be translated as "I AM THE BEING" not "I Am what I AM". This attempt (evidence of divinity of Jesus Christ) cannot be sustained because the expression in Exodus 3:14 is different from the expression in John 8:58. This is another proof that throughout the Christian Greek scriptures God and Jesus are never identified as being the same person.
It never seems to have dawned on the authors that just because the two expressions are different doesnt necessarily mean that they are different in meaning. As we shall shortly demonstrate, both expressions are basically synonymous in meaning since they point to the timeless existence of the Lord Jesus Christ. The authors themselves have noted that ego eimi ho on can be translated as "I AM THE EXISTING ONE."
The authors then make the following erroneous claim:
C) From the above conclusion we know that the expression at
John 8:58 is quite different from the one used in Exodus 3:14. That is why the various
translators of the New Testament had translated John 8:58 into many ways and had not stick
to merely translating it to "I AM":
1869: "From before Abraham was, I have been." The New Testament, by G. R. Noyes.
1935: "I existed before Abraham was born!" The Bible-An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed.
1965: "Before Abraham was born, I was already the one that I am." Das Neue Testament, by Jörg Zink.
1981: "I was alive before Abraham was born!" The Simple English Bible.
1984: "Before Abraham came into existence, I have been." New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
1999: "The truth is, I existed before Abraham was even born!" New Living Translation by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
This is the same with translations from the ancient New Testament manuscripts:
Fourth/Fifth Century (Syriac-Edition): "Before Abraham was born, I have been." A Translation of the Four Gospels From thesyriac of the Sinaitic Palimpsest, by Agnes Smith Lewis, London, 1894.
Fifth Century (Curetonian Syriac-Edition):"Before ever Abraham come to be, I was." The Curetonian Version of the Four Gospels, by F. Crawford Burkitt, Vol. 1, Cambridge, England, 1904.
Fifth Century (Syriac Peshitta-Edition):"Before Abraham existed, I was." The Syriac New Testament Translated Into English From the Peshitto Version, by James Murdock seventh ed., Boston and London, 1896.
Fifth Century (Georgian-Edition):"Before ever Abraham come to be, I was." The Old Georgian Version of the Gospel of John, by Robert P. Blake and Maurice Briere, published in "Patrologia Orientalis," Vol. XXVI, fascicle 4, Paris, 1950.
Sixth Century (Ethiopic-Edition):"Before Abraham was born, I was." Novum Testamentum... Aethiopice (The New Testament in Ethiopic), by Thomas Pell Platt, revised by F. Praetorius, Leipzig, 1899.
The theory of divinity of Jesus through the word "I Am" has not been supported by convincing evidence, so it cannot stand to the scrutiny. Even many of the Gospels as well as the most ancient manuscripts did not use "I AM" in John 8:58, and therefore the word "I AM" in John 8:58 cannot be used as a proof of divinity for Jesus, it is without foundation and a very shaky one at best.
First, the reason why different translations of John 8:58 have different renderings has nothing to do with the Septuagints rendering of Exodus 3:14. Rather, it has to do with the context of John 8:58. Scholars have noted that the use of ego eimi in the context of John 8:58 is to highlight past existence that continues to the present moment. This is known as PPA, or present of past action still in progress, or simply as EP, extension from past idiom.
The Lord Jesus was claiming to have been in existence prior to the creation of Abraham, and that this existence was continuous.
The different renderings of John 8:58 are attempts to best express the force of the Greek construction in the target language. Yet herein lies the problem, namely the problem of the limitations of the English language. Reformed Christian Scholar and Apologist, Dr. James R. White comments on this problem:
"Allegedly many of these translations are viewing the phrase as what Dr. A. T. Robertson called a progressive present. There are many instances in historical narrative or conversation where the Greek will use a present tense verb that is best rendered in English by the perfect tense. John 15:27 would be a good example: because you have been with me from the beginning. The verb is in the present tense, but the context makes it clear that it is in reference to both the past and the present. Robertson notes that this is a common idiom in the New Testament, though he also adds the fact that, in his opinion, John 8:58 is absolute and should be rendered as such (which he always does in his works). It should also be noted that it is the deficiency of the English that is to blame for the rendering-to place weight on the meaning of the English perfect tense when rendering the Greek present tense in this way would be in error." (White, The Forgotten Trinity- Recovering the Heart of Christi an Belief [Minneapolis MN; Bethany House Publishers, 1998], p. 97; bold emphasis ours)
We therefore see that the authors claim that the different readings, both ancient and modern, somehow prove their point to be simply erroneous. The Greek MSS are unanimous that ego eimi is the original rendering. The different translations are simply trying to best explain the meaning of ego eimi in the target language in which Johns Gospel has been translated.
Furthermore, in their haste to try and disprove any connection between Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58 the authors overlooked two essential points. First, the authors overlooked the fact that in the context of John 8:58 Jesus was contrasting Abrahams creation with his timelessness. In other words, the Lord Jesus was claiming that the reason why Abraham was able to see Jesus is because, unlike Abraham, Jesus was not created and therefore has always existed. Note the context:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death. Then the Jews said to Him, Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, "If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death. Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. WHO DO YOU MAKE YOURSELF OUT TO BE? Jesus answered, If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. IT IS MY FATHER WHO HONORS ME, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, "I do not know Him," I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad. Then the Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was (genesthai- came into being), I AM. Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." John 8:51-59 NKJV
Notice here that Abraham is said to have come into existence (genesthai) whereas Jesus simply is (ego eimi). Noted Christian scholar and apologist Robert M. Bowman Jr., in his response to Jehovahs Witnesses, notes:
"What is it about this contrast between genesthai and eimi that has led to such a solid consensus throughout the centuries among biblical scholars that the words contrast created origin with uncreated eternal existence? BY ITSELF, of course, the word eimi does not connote eternal preexistence. However, placed alongside genesthai and referring to a time anterior to that indicated by genesthai, the word eimi (or its related forms), because it denotes simple existence and is a durative form of the verb to be, stands in sharp contrast to the aorist genesthai which speaks of coming into being. It is this sharp contrast between being and becoming which makes it clear that in a text like John 8:58 eimi connotes eternality, not merely temporal priority. (Bowman, Jehovah's Witnesses Jesus Christ &The Gospel of John [Baker Book House; Grand Rapids, MI, 1995], p. 114; bold and capital emphasis ours)
"He (Jesus) chose the term THAT WOULD MOST STRONGLY CONTRAST the created origin in time of Abraham with his own timeless eternality, the present tense verb eimi... Thus, had Jesus wished to say what JWs understand him to have saidthat he merely existed for a long time before Abrahamhe could have said so by saying, Before Abraham came into existence, I was, using the imperfect tense emen instead of the present tense eimi. (This point was made by Chrysostom and Augustine, and reaffirmed by such Reformers as Calvin, and is also a standard observation found in most exegetical commentaries on John and never, to this authors knowledge, disputed in such works.) Such a statement would have left open the question of whether or not Jesus had always existed, or whether (like the angels) he had existed from the earliest days of the universes history. Or, had he wished to make it clear that (as JWs believe) he had himself come into existence some time prior to Abraham, he could have said so by stating, Before Abraham came into existence, I came into existence (by using the first person aorist egenomen instead of eimi), or perhaps more simply, I came into existence before Abraham. Having said neither of these things, but rather, having chosen terms which went beyond these formulations to draw a contrast between the created and the uncreated, Jesus words must be interpreted as a claim to eternality." (Ibid., pp. 115-116; bold and capital emphasis ours)
(NOTE- For a listing of scholarly reference works endorsing Bowmans conclusions we recommend our earlier article.)
In light of the preceding considerations, for Christ to claim to be timeless essentially means that he is eternal. Yet for Christ to be eternal means that he is Yahweh God, since only Yahweh is eternal. In other words, Christ being eternal makes him the Existing One (ho on) of Exodus 3:14!
Second, the authors failed to note the connection between Jesus I AM sayings with the I AM sayings of Yahweh as recorded in the OT. Note the following verses:
"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." Deuteronomy 32:39
Behold, behold that I AM he (ego eimi), and there is no god beside me: I kill, and I will make alive: I will smite, and I will heal; and there is none who shall deliver out of my hands. Deuteronomy 32:39 LXX
"All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, It is true. You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimedI, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, that I am God. Yes, AND FROM ANCIENT DAYS I AM HE. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?" Isaiah 43:9-13
All the nations are gathered together, and princes shall be gathered out of them: who will declare these things? Or who will declare to you things from the beginning? Let them bring forth their witnesses, and be justified; and let them hear, and declare the truth. Be ye my witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe (hina gnote kai pisteuseete), and understand that I AM he (ego eimi): before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none. I am God; and beside me there is no Savior. I have declared and have said; I have reproached, and there was no strange god among you: ye are my witnesses that I am the Lord God, even from the beginning; and there is none that can deliver out of my hands: I will work, and who shall turn it back? LXX
"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." Isaiah 43:25
I, even I, am he (ego eimi ego eimi - I AM I AM) that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; I will not remember them. LXX
"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?" Isaiah 46:4-5
I AM he (ego eimi); and until ye shall have grown old, I AM he (ego eimi): I bear you, I have made, and I will relieve, I will take up and save you. To whom have ye compared me? see, consider, ye that go astray. LXX
"I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass," Isaiah 51:12
I, even I, am he (ego eimi ego eimi - I AM I AM) that comforts thee: consider who thou art, that thou wast afraid of mortal man, and of the son of man, who are withered as grass. LXX
"Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I." Isaiah 52:6
Therefore shall my people know my name in that day, for I AM he (ego eimi) that speaks. LXX
In this last passage, the Greek can be read, "that ego eimi is the one who speaks," so that ego eimi functions as the name by which God will be known on the day of the Lord.
According to these passages Yahweh can say that he is the I AM because:
Compare Yahwehs claims with the claims of the Lord Jesus:
"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself... Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear HIS VOICE and come outthose who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." John 5:21, 25-26, 28-29
"And when evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,and having entered into the boat, they were going over the sea to Capernaum, and darkness had already come, and Jesus had not come unto them,the sea also - a great wind blowing - was being raised, having pushed onwards, therefore, about twenty-five or thirty furlongs, they behold Jesus walking on the sea, and coming nigh to the boat, and they were afraid;and he saith to them, I am [he] (ego eimi), be not afraid;they were willing then to receive him into the boat, and immediately the boat came unto the land to which they were going. John 6:16-21 Youngs Literal Translation
Compare this with the OT portrait of Yahweh:
"He ALONE stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea." Job 9:8
"They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits' end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven." Psalm 107:24-30
"Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen." Psalm 77:19
"You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations." Psalm 65:5-7
"O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them." Psalm 89:8-9
"You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters." Habakkuk 3:15 NKJV
The late Catholic NT scholar Raymond E. Brown comments on the usage of I AM in both John and the Synoptic Gospels in relation to Yahwehs use of the title in the Septuagint:
"Against this background the absolute use of I AM by the Johannine Jesus becomes quite intelligible; he was speaking in the same manner in which Yahweh speaks in Deutero-Isaiah. For instance, in John 8:28 Jesus promises that when the Son of Man is lifted up (in return to the Father), then you will know ego eimi; in Isaiah 43:10 Yahweh has chosen Israel, that you may know and believe me and understand ego eimi. The absolute Johannine use of I AM has the effect of portraying Jesus AS DIVINE WITH (PRE)EXISTENCE AS HIS IDENTITY, EVEN AS THE GREEK OT UNDERSTOOD THE GOD OF ISRAEL.
"John did not invent this usage, for there are examples that verge on the absolute use of ego eimi in the Synoptics even though one can argue that a predicate is assumed. For instance, in Matt 14:27 (Mark 6:50): as Jesus comes walking across the water, he says to the disciples in the boat, Ego eimi; do not be afraid. This is the same use we saw in John 6:20 (footnote 202). That in this scene Matthew intends more than a simple It is I is suggested by the profession of faith elicited by the disciples (Matt 14:33), Truly you are Gods Son! Or again, when speaking of the signs of the last days Jesus warns, Many will come in my name, saying ego eimi (Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8). The context does not clearly suggest a predicate (even though Matts 24:5: I am the Messiah); and the juxtaposition of ego eimi and my name brings us close to Johannine usage..." (Brown, Introduction to New Testament Christology [Paulist Press; Mahwah, NJ 1994], p. 139; bold and capital emphasis ours)
"I would add two other texts. The first is 6:20 where the disciples in the boat are frightened because they see someone coming to them on the water, and Jesus assures them, I AM; do not be afraid. The second is 18:5: The soldiers and police who have come to the garden across the Kidron to arrest Jesus announce that they are seeking Jesus of Nazareth, and he answers, I AM. Some would tell us that the first means simply, It is I, i.e. someone whom you know and not a supernatural being or ghost. And they would tell us that the second means simply, I am he, i.e. the one you are looking for. A better solution is to recognize a play on the expression I AM as having a twofold meaning: While it has a simpler story-line import (as just exemplified), it also has a higher connotation. In the first example, the sacral comes from the context that involved Jesus walking on the water and a dangerous storm from which they are immediately brought to land: in the second example it comes from those who, hearing Jesus response, fall back to ground. Both, then, would be instances of a theophany or DIVINE APPEARANCE OF ONE WHO, LIKE THE GOD OF ISRAEL, is master of storms and the sea and at the mention of whose name every knee must bend." (Ibid., p. 137, f. 202; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Jesus as the I AM is from above, from the heavenly realm:
"And He said to them, You are from beneath; I AM FROM ABOVE. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM He (ego eimi), you will die in your sins." John 8:23-24
Compare Jesus claim that he is from above with the following verses:
"Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Sir, they said, from now on give us this bread. Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I HAVE COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Fathers will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, I am the bread that came down from heaven. They said, Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I came down from heaven"?" John 6:32-42
"But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:50-51
"Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me." John 8:42 NKJV
"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God," John 13:3
"No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father." John 16:27-28
"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." John 17:5
Not only does Jesus claim to have existed in heaven prior to his coming to the earth, he also claims to be able to both save and sustain his followers for all eternity.
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE, and they shall never perish; NO ONE CAN SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30
"Jesus said to her, I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? Yes, Lord, she told him, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." John 11:25-27
"I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I AM (hina hotan geneetai pisteuseete ego eimi)." John 13:19
Jesus is also portrayed as the Savior of the World and the One who forgives sins:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18
"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, He told me everything I ever did. So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." John 4:39-42
"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." John 12:47
"Again Jesus said, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." John 20:21-23
In this passage, Christ breathes on the disciples the gift of life, namely the Holy Spirit, and grants them the authority to forgive sins. This is reminiscent of God breathing life into Adam, making him a living soul. (Cf. Genesis 2:7)
This demonstrates that Christ has the breath of life within himself since he is Life itself, and can grant others the authority to forgive sins.
Compare this to the Synoptic Gospels:
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven. Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone? Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. He said to the paralytic, I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, We have never seen anything like this!" Mark 2:5-12
"Then Jesus said to her, Your sins are forgiven. The other guests began to say among themselves, Who is this who even forgives sins? Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:48-50
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10
Jesus as the I AM:
We therefore see Jesus using the I AM statements in precisely the same manner that Yahweh uses them in the OT.
Interestingly, we find God being angry at Assyria and Babylon for using the phrase "I AM":
"Now then, listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, I AM (LXX- ego eimi), and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, No one sees me. Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, I AM (LXX- ego eimi), and there is none besides me." Isaiah 47:8, 10
"This is the carefree city that lived in safety. She said to herself, I AM (LXX- ego eimi), and there is none besides me. What a ruin she has become, a lair for wild beasts! All who pass by her scoff and shake their fists." Zephaniah 2:15
That Jesus could use the I AM statements to affirm his eternal preexistence and absolute Deity without the Fathers disapproval proves that Jesus is the one true God Yahweh. Add the fact that Jesus is not the Father or the Holy Spirit and we end up with the conclusion that the one true God Yahweh exists as three Persons.
Moreover, existing before existence cannot make somebody to be God. The Bible tell us that not only Jesus was in existence before his time, but also Jeremiah as well:
God said: "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and I appointed you as my spokesmen to the world.(Jeremiah 1:5)
So the verse "Before Abraham was I am" could not make someone to be God (including Jesus), otherwise Jeremiah was also God since he had existed before God had formed him in his mother's womb. As for the existence of Jesus before his birth, we should remember that Jesus was anointed by God even before he was born. Hence, he was called the Christ (Messiah).
Here the authors are guilty of a false analogy and for badly misinterpreting the text of Jeremiah 1:5. There is no parallel between Jeremiah and John 8. The text does not say that Jeremiah existed with God before his formation in his mothers womb, but simply points out the fact that God had appointed Jeremiah as his prophet.
The word "knew" in Hebrew is yada. Depending on the context yada can refer to intimate relations or personal choices. Note the following examples:
"Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, I have acquired a man from the LORD... And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed." Genesis 4:1, 25 NKJV
It is obvious from the context that yada means that Adam knew his wife intimately through sexual union.
"Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Amos 3:1-2 NKJV
The word "known" here simply means that from all the nations God chose Israel to be his people. This is precisely how other versions translate the word yada here:
"You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth..." NASB
"You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth..." NIV
"You only have I known (chosen, sympathized with, and loved) of all the families of the earth..." Amplified
In light of these preceding examples, and in light of the context of Jeremiah itself, Jeremiah is simply stating that God had personally chosen to love him and appoint him as his spokesperson. As we have already documented above this is far different from John 8:58 since Jesus doesnt say that before Abraham was born God knew Christ. Rather, Christ explicitly points out that he already existed even before Abraham ever came into being.
We would like to ask the missionary how they would explain this ensuing statement?
Jesus said to Jews; "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad.(John 8:56)
The authors again commit the fallacy of false analogy. Abraham being told the future is not equivalent to Jesus claim that he existed before Abraham ever came into being. So the authors are simply attacking a straw man here.
Furthermore, the authors assume that Abraham only knew of Christ through revelation, i.e. that God told Abraham that the Messiah would come. Although this is true, that is only part of the picture. As we have shown in Part One, the Lord Jesus personally appeared in visible form to the patriarchs and the prophets, as well as to the nation of Israel. Here are some examples where the preincarnate Christ appears to Abraham:
"And Jehovah appeareth unto him among the oaks of Mamre, and he is sitting at the opening of the tent, about the heat of the day;and he lifteth up his eyes and looketh, and lo, three men standing by him, and he seeth, and runneth to meet them from the opening of the tent, and boweth himself towards the earth, And he saith, My Lord, if, I pray thee, I have found grace in thine eyes, do not, I pray thee, pass on from thy servant; let, I pray thee, a little water be accepted, and wash your feet, and recline under the tree; and I bring a piece of bread, and support ye your heart; afterwards pass on, for therefore have ye passed over unto your servant; and they say, So mayest thou do as thou has spoken. And Abraham hasteth towards the tent, unto Sarah, and saith, Hasten three measures of flour-meal, knead, and make cakes; and Abraham ran unto the herd, and taketh a son of the herd, tender and good, and giveth unto the young man, and he hasteth to prepare it;and he taketh butter and milk, and the son of the herd which he hath prepared, and setteth before them; and he is standing by them under the tree, AND THEY DO EAT. And they say unto him, Where [is] Sarah thy wife? and he saith, Lo-in the tent;and he saith, returning I return unto thee, about the time of life, and lo, to Sarah thy wife a son.And Sarah is hearkening at the opening of the tent, which is behind him; and Abraham and Sarah [are] aged, entering into days-the way of women hath ceased to be to Sarah;and Sarah laugheth in her heart, saying, After I have waxed old I have had pleasure!- my lord also [is] old!AND JEHOVAH SAITH UNTO ABRAHAM, Why [is] this? Sarah hath laughed, saying, Is it true really - I bear -and I am aged? Is any thing too wonderful for JEHOVAH? at the appointed time I return unto thee, about the time of life, and Sarah hath a son. And Sarah denieth, saying, I did not laugh; for she hath been afraid; and He saith, Nay, but thou didst laugh. And the men rise from thence, and look on the face of Sodom, and Abraham is going with them to send them away; AND JEHOVAH SAID, Am I concealing from Abraham that which I am doing,and Abraham certainly becometh a nation great and mighty, and blessed in him have been all nations of the earth? for I have known him, that he commandeth his children, and his house after him (and they have kept the way of JEHOVAH), to do righteousness and judgment, that JEHOVAH may bring on Abraham that which He hath spoken concerning him. AND JEHOVAH SAITH, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah - because great; and their sin - because exceeding grievous: I GO DOWN NOW, and see whether according to its cry which is coming unto Me they have done completely - and if not - I know; and the men turn from thence, and go towards Sodom; AND ABRAHAM IS YET STANDING BEFORE JEHOVAH. And Abraham draweth nigh and saith, Dost Thou also consume righteous with wicked? peradventure there are fifty righteous in the midst of the city; dost Thou also consume, and not bear with the place for the sake of the fifty -- the righteous who [are] in its midst? Far be it from Thee to do according to this thing, to put to death the righteous with the wicked; that it hath been - as the righteous so the wicked - far be it from Thee; DOTH THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH NOT DO JUSTICE? AND JEHOVAH SAITH, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous in the midst of the city, then have I borne with all the place for their sake.And Abraham answereth and saith, Lo, I pray thee, I have willed to speak unto the Lord, and I - dust and ashes; peradventure there are lacking five of the fifty righteous - dost Thou destroy for five the whole of the city? and He saith, I destroy [it] not, if I find there forty and five. And he addeth again to speak unto Him and saith, Peradventure there are found there forty? and He saith, :I do [it] not, because of the forty. And he saith, Let it not be, I Pray thee, displeasing to the Lord, and I speak: peradventure there are found there thirty? and He saith, I do [it] not, if I find there thirty. And he saith, :Lo, I pray thee, I have willed to speak unto the Lord: peradventure there are found there twenty? and He saith, I do not destroy [it], because of the twenty. And he saith, Let it not be, I pray Thee, displeasing to the Lord, and I speak only this time: peradventure there are found there ten? and He saith, I do not destroy [it], because of the ten.AND JEHOVAH GOETH ON, WHEN HE HATH FINISHED SPEAKING UNTO ABRAHAM, and Abraham hath turned back to his place." Genesis 18:1-33 Youngs Literal Translation
"and JEHOVAH hath rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire FROM JEHOVAH, from the heavens;" Genesis 19:24 Youngs Literal Translation
Yahweh who spoke to Abraham, and who had told the latter that he was going down to Sodom and Gomorrah, is said to have brought fire upon the cities from Yahweh in the heavens. This clearly identifies two persons as Yahweh, one on earth and the other in heaven.
In our appendix we will include the discussion of second century Christian Apologist Justin Martyr in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew where he sets out to prove that this was the Lord Jesus who appeared to Abraham, destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.
Suffice it for now, this passage unambiguously states that Yahweh appeared in the form of a man alongside two men, sat down to eat the food offered to him and conversed with Abraham. This passage clearly shows that the god of Islam is not the true God Yahweh, since Yahweh God of the OT often assumed visible form allowing his servants to see him face to face. This is something that orthodox Islam does not allow for.
"When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But THE ANGEL OF THE LORD called out to him from heaven, Abraham! Abraham! Here I am, he replied. Do not lay a hand on the boy, he said. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld FROM ME your son, your only son. Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." Genesis 22:9-13
The Angel of Yahweh blesses Abraham for displaying an amazing and outstanding act of unconditional love towards his God. As we have demonstrated already, this Angel is none other than our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What is more amazing is that this very same Angel would later become man in order to demonstrate the greatest display of infinite and unconditional love the world has ever seen or known; namely that God sent his eternal beloved Son to die in the place of lost sinners. (Cf. John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10)
This concludes this section. Continue with Part Three.
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