F.L.E.E. — A Strategy for Pursuing Sexual Purity

From The Gospel Coalition

We’re supposed to flee from things that can kill us.

Active volcanoes, oncoming traffic, and snakes come to mind. So should sexual immorality. To Christians in a sexually confused culture, Paul issued this clear order: “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). That is, flee from the dangerous enjoyment of sexual pleasure outside of God’s wise design for its enjoyment in marriage.

So how are you doing at fleeing? Maybe you are fleeing into sexual immorality. Or maybe you’re just thinking about it . . . all the time. You’re already there, of course. Maybe you’re running, but in circles. Images are glued to the walls of your brain. Or maybe this whole subject just adds to the feeling of shame.

Thankfully, God is committed to our sexual purity. Scripture says, “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Christ died to purify our consciences and our very lives. What grace! When we see him we will be like him, but until then we flee sexual immorality.

What’s your plan for the next encounter with temptation? Or for the next conversation with a friend, child, or spouse who needs your counsel?

Here’s a strategy: F.L.E.E.

It’s biblical, it’s hard to forget, and it fits on a napkin.

First, fill yourself with Christ.

The seductress of Proverbs 9:17 says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” That’s the voice of the ancient serpent promising satisfaction to a hungry man passing by a pretty girl’s house, “but he does not know that the dead are there” (9:18).

This is why the first step in our flight is to fill ourselves with Jesus Christ, who says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Sexual pleasure can never do what only God can. But Christ, on the other hand, is satisfaction.

How, then, do we fill ourselves with Christ?

  • Believe he really is the bread of life: “whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life” (John 6:47-48).
  • Fill yourself with his Word: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 8:4).
  • Fill your life with his people: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16).

You get air out of a glass by filling it with something else, and you can shake that taste for stolen water by going to the One who offers “water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Second, lock out the lies.

Why do we run to instead of from sexual sin? Lies, I tell you!

If a koala so much as looks at me, I’m going to run. They’re cute, but they have large claws, sharp teeth, and I’ve heard they can destroy you. Sexual immorality is similar. Sure, it looks just good. But watch this guy:

She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him . . . “I have perfumed my bed. . . . Come, let us take our fill of love till morning.” . . . With much seductive speech she persuades him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter. (Proverbs 7:13-23)

Our flight from sexual immorality requires that we lock out the lies that give it power. Or, as Solomon said, “keep your way far from her” (5:8).

So what would that look like for you?

When and where are you hearing seductive speech? How can you get away? Whatever the cost—your smartphone, home internet, a relationship—if it helps you see God, it’s a net gain. After all, “it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire” (Matthew 18:9).

Seduction’s voice calls “to those who pass by” (Proverbs 9:15). Flee now! Better yet, don’t pass by.

Third, exchange lies for truth.

Unless we retreat from the world, we’re going to encounter seductive lies. Actually, we lie to ourselves. We are born exchanging the truth about God for a lie, along with everything else, including sex (Romans 1:25-26). For Christians, God reverses the exchange. While our old self was corrupt through deceitful desires, the new self is created after the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:22-24).

What, then, should you do when tempted? Unsheathe your sword and go on the offensive, rejecting lies and rehearsing truth:

Are you embracing lies, or exchanging them for the truth? Are you glorifying the body, or are you glorifying God with your body? When seductive speech calls out, remember, “all her slain are a mighty throng” (Proverbs 7:26).

Finally, expose yourself to the light.

If you fall to sexual sin you will be tempted to hide in the dark and pretend it didn’t happen. But remember: we are still sinners. So we confess sin.

Confession brings sin to the light and light to our eyes to see what we could never see in the dark: the holiness of God, the sinfulness of sin, and the glory of God’s grace. John weaves these themes together beautifully:

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Coming to Christ means coming out of hiding to be exposed by the light and covered with Christ’s blood. As Christians, the best thing to do, of course, is just stay in the light. But the best thing to do when we wander into the shadows is to run back. Confession is where that starts.

So, are you hiding? Confess your sins to God. He forgives! But don’t stop there. “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another” (James 5:16). That’s what Christian friends are for.

It is good news that we are not condemned in Christ, and it is good news that we are no longer slaves to sin. My friends, flee from sexual immorality.

 

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What does the Bible say about moderation?

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Question: “What does the Bible say about moderation?”

Answer: Moderation avoids extremes, exercises restraint, and is related to self-control. Moderation is a good thing, but living a life of moderation is an uphill battle in today’s world. Much of Western culture is saturated with excess. Restaurants serve “all you can eat” of our favorite foods. Advertisements constantly push things we “need” to buy because, of course, the things we have just aren’t good enough. The Bible teaches us that excess doesn’t work so well, and it helps us understand how and why we should live with moderation.

A great book in the Bible on the subject of moderation is Ecclesiastes. King Solomon was the wisest king to ever rule over Israel, and he experimented with excess. We can learn a lot from the conclusions of this wise king. In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon lists many different projects and pleasures he pursued: “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward of all my toil” (verse 10). Yet, in the end, he was left unsatisfied: “When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (verse11). Not only did Solomon test the limits of pleasure, he did the same with things we normally see as good, like wisdom (Ecclesiastes 1:12–18) and hard work (Ecclesiastes 2:17–23). Solomon’s conclusion was that every endeavor of his proved meaningless by itself. It is God’s gift to enjoy one’s life and His gifts (Ecclesiastes 5:19). But to value those things more than God leaves us still desiring what our hearts really need—Him.

Even good things can become a stumbling block to us, if used without moderation. Chocolate is good, but too much is unhealthy. Sleep is necessary, but the Bible says too much sleep leads to poverty (Proverbs 6:9–11). Children are naturally immoderate—they want to watch the same movie over and over, they want to eat too much of one thing, they lack restraint in expressing emotion. Part of maturity is learning to say “no” to oneself, i.e., to learn the value of moderation.

One of the most common topics in respect to moderation is that of drinking alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 commands, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” Balance that with the fact that Jesus Himself did not completely abstain from drinking (see Matthew 11:19) and Paul’s statement to Timothy, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illness” (1 Timothy 5:23). Taking these verses together, it’s clear the Bible permits the drinking of alcohol, but absolutely forbids drinking to the point of drunkenness, which is excess. Some people conclude it’s better not to drink at all, and that’s perfectly acceptable, too.

Practicing moderation is a good discipline. In fact, self-control is one of the qualities that the Holy Spirit produces in the life of a believer (Galatians 5:22–23). When we are not living in moderation—when we lack self-control in a certain area of our lives—it can indicate that we’re not allowing God fully into that area. We need not live in defeat. God does not condemn His children (Romans 8:1), and we have been granted the victory over every sin (Acts 13:39). Plus, the Spirit wants to give us self-control. When we surrender to God as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1), He will meet the needs that we’re trying to satisfy on our own (1 Timothy 6:17). The sheep that follow the Good Shepherd will “lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1).

The world appeals to the lust of the flesh and advances the lie that what we need is more pleasure, more stuff, more entertainment, etc. What we really need is God. God designed us to need and desire Him above all else (see Matthew 4:4). All other things must be in moderation.

The only area in which we don’t need to worry about moderation is God Himself. We are to love God without limits (Luke 10:27). We can never have too much of God, and we can never love Him too much. And the more we ask Him to fill us and invade our lives with His Holy Spirit, the easier it becomes to live in moderation in all other things.

Recommended Resources: The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies

Dig into this topic more with Logos Bible Software—get the free version now.

Source: Got Questions

Struggling with sexual purity: the idolatry of pornography

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Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has some powerful statements about sexual sin as “idolatry.”

How is pornography linked to idolatry and what does this have to do with marriage?

Porn = Self-Worship

Pornography is first and foremost about fantasy.Christian counselor Winston Smith addresses the subject of sexual fantasies with these questions, “How do the people populating my fantasies relate to me? What are their attitudes in my fantasies? How do they behave towards me in my fantasy world?”

When you sexually fantasize you cast your latest crush or dream girl as the leading lady in the movie of your mind. There she becomes the woman you want her to be. Most of the time, these fantasies are not as much about the dream girls; rather they are more about you. The plot and characters revolve around you. All the characters are you-centered and play to your desires for pleasure, power, or control. The fantasy women become your trophies: collectibles, existing to validate you as desirable, manly, irresistible, and attractive.

Sexual fantasy is really a form of self-worship. In our fantasies we are god because we can build an imaginary universe where the world revolves around us and we can populate that world with female worshippers who go to great lengths to show us the level of their devotion.

If this sounds really narcissistic…it’s because it is. This is one reason why porn is so enticing to some men. Porn is manufactured to feed this attitude of self-centeredness (i.e. self-worship).

Idolatry of Porn

You Become What You Worship

Why use worship language to describe our fascination with porn? We should label pornography this way not just because this is the Bible’s overarching term to describe our sinful condition, but because it helps us to see why porn is so destructive to ourselves and our marriages.

Psalm 115 denounces the idolatry of the nations, saying that their pantheons of gods are mute, blind, deaf, and motionless—dead to the core. Then the psalmist speaks a stinging comment: “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (v.8). We become like what we worship. When we worship hollow deities, we become just as hollow.

N.T. Wright accurately states, “You become what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship. Those who worship money become, eventually, human calculating machines. Those who worship sex become obsessed with their own attractiveness or prowess. Those who worship power become more and more ruthless.”

Transformed into a Christlike Husband

The gospel of Christ is meant not only for the forgiveness of our sins but our transformation as well. When a husband chooses to be fascinated by Christ instead of absorbing himself in pornography, a change begins to take place.

Paul writes that the message of the gospel is a message about “the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). This message about Christ acts as a light shining into our hearts, flooding us with “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (4:6). As we are “beholding the glory of the Lord,” it is then that we are “transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (3:18). We become like the One we worship.

Christ gave Himself up for the His bride, the church. When a man gazes in admiration at Christ, he will begin to display a Christlike love and tenderness, loving and cherishing his wife as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:25-33).

This is the question all porn-using husbands must ask: What kind of man do I want to be? Do I want to be more like one who would die for his bride, who would sacrifice for her betterment, who would endure hell for her? Or do I want to be self-absorbed, treating images of women as if they are disposable, using others for my personal satisfaction?

Who do you want to be? Who will you worship?

Photo credit: boellstiftung

David spares Saul again

English Standard Version (ESV)

26 Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding himself on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the east of Jeshimon?” So Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph with three thousand chosen men of Israel to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is beside the road on the east of Jeshimon. But David remained in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness, David sent out spies and learned that Saul had indeed come. Then David rose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him.

Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai the son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him. Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord‘s anointed and be guiltless?”10 And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. 11 The Lordforbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord‘s anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.

13 Then David went over to the other side and stood far off on the top of the hill, with a great space between them. 14 And David called to the army, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Will you not answer, Abner?” Then Abner answered, “Who are you who calls to the king?” 15 And David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord. 16 This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the Lord‘s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is and the jar of water that was at his head.”

17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18 And he said, “Why does my lord pursue after his servant? For what have I done? What evil is on my hands? 19 Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the Lord who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of the Lord, for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.” 22 And David answered and said, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and take it. 23 The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the Lord‘s anointed. 24 Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.

David’s kindness to Mephibosheth

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth

David asked, “Is there anyone remaining from the family of Saul I can show kindness to for Jonathan’s sake?” There was a servant of Saul’s family named Ziba. They summoned him to David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

“I am your servant,” he replied.

So the king asked, “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family that I can show the kindness of God to?”

Ziba said to the king, “There is still Jonathan’s son who was injured in both feet.”

The king asked him, “Where is he?”

Ziba answered the king, “You’ll find him in Lo-debar at the house of Machir son of Ammiel.” So King David had him brought from the house of Machir son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.

Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, fell facedown, and paid homage. David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“I am your servant, ” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “since I intend to show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all your grandfather Saul’s fields, and you will always eat meals at my table.”

Mephibosheth paid homage and said, “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?”

Then the king summoned Saul’s attendant Ziba and said to him, “I have given to your master’s grandson all that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You, your sons, and your servants are to work the ground for him, and you are to bring in the crops so your master’s grandson will have food to eat. But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, is always to eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.

11 Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do all my lord the king commands.”

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s[a] table just like one of the king’s sons. 12 Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. All those living in Ziba’s house were Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 However, Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem because he always ate at the king’s table. His feet had been injured.

Footnotes:

  1. 9:11 LXX; Syr reads the king’s; Vg reads your; MT reads my

The 5 Love Languages of ANR

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, the 5 love languages are:

  • Gift giving
  • Quality time
  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service (devotion)
  • Physical touch

Obviously, by their very nature, ANRs fluently speak four of these five languages, and the fifth can easily be incorporated.

Both parties get to serve the other. Contrary to what most ANR skeptics think, the woman is also greatly served, and some women in ANRs say the gift/pleasure is all theirs:

“he allowed his mouth to slip from my breast, and he thanked me for what I had given him.

But the pleasure was mine.

To be the woman who is blessed to nurture and nourish this gracious and loving man is a gift beyond compare.

He completes me.

Without S, I am only half of a person.”

Married Milkmaid

David spares Saul’s life

English Standard Version (ESV)

David Spares Saul’s Life

24 [a] When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself.[b] Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lordforbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord‘s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord‘s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.

Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? 10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you.[c] I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord‘s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! 15 May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”

16 As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept.17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18 And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day.20 And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” 22 And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 24:1 Ch 24:2 in Hebrew
  2. 1 Samuel 24:3 Hebrew cover his feet
  3. 1 Samuel 24:10 Septuagint, Syriac, Targum; Hebrew it[my eye] spared you

Desiring God – How to Have intimacy with God

Intimacy with God is available to you. It is as accessible to you as God’s promises. And God’s invitation to you to enjoy intimate fellowship with him is that thing that is putting your faith to the test more than anything else (James 1:2–4).

The Heart of Intimacy

Intimacy is what we call the experience of really knowing and being known by another person. We frequently use spatial language when describing this experience. An intimate friend is someone we feel very close to; they know us at a deep level. If something happens that damages the intimacy with our friend, they feel distant from us. Or a person who doesn’t know us intimately knows us at a superficial level.

But of course intimacy is not spatial but relational. We all know what it’s like to be sitting right next to a person with whom we feel distant and we can feel close to a person who is four thousand miles away.

Biblical knowledge is far better than gold when it fuels our trust in God. Otherwise, it only fuels our pride.

What makes us feel intimate with another person? While there are many ingredients to intimacy and each intimate relationship we have has a different recipe, common to all of them is trust. We cannot be intimate with a person we don’t trust.

Trust is at the heart of intimacy. The more we trust someone, the closer we let them get to us. The degree to which trust is compromised in a relationship is the degree to which intimacy evaporates.

The Heart of Intimacy with God

This is as true in our relationship with God as it is in our relationships with other human beings. Our experience of God’s nearness or distance is not a description of his actual proximity to us, but of our experience of intimacy with him. Scripture shows us that God is intimate with those who trust him. The more we trust God, the more intimately we come to know him. A felt distance from God is often due to a disruption in trust, such as a sin or disappointment.

This reality is vitally important to understand. As Christians, we want to experience intimacy with God. With the psalmist we say, “for me it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28). And we want to heed James’s exhortation and realize its promise: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). But we can seek that nearness in ways that don’t produce it.

Intimacy Is More Than Knowledge

One common mistake is thinking that nearness to God can be achieved through knowledge accumulation. Now, of course, to intimately know God, we must know crucial things about God. Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32) and he pointed out that many worship what they do not know (John 4:22).

But never in the history of the Christian church has so much theological knowledge been available to so many people as it is today. The American church enjoys perhaps the greatest amount of this abundance. We are awash in Bible translations, good books, insightful articles, recorded sermons, interviews, movies, documentaries, music, and more. And much of it very good. It is right for us to be very thankful.

But America is not abounding in Enochs (or finding them frequently disappearing), saints who walk with God in a profoundly intimate way (Genesis 5:24Hebrews 11:5). Why? Because knowledge is not synonymous with trust. That’s why Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day, some who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture,

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39–40)

Biblical knowledge is far better than gold when it fuels our trust in God, because it fuels our intimacy with God (Psalm 19:10). But when biblical knowledge replaces our trust in God, it only fuels our pride (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Why Aesthetic Experiences Fail

Another common mistake is trying to achieve intimacy with God through subjective aesthetic experiences. We might call it a “Field of Dreams” approach: If we build the right environment, God will “come.”

Some pursue this in high liturgical environments designed to inspire an experience of transcendence and mystery. Others pursue it in contemporary worship events designed to inspire an experience of immanence. Others chase revivals, thinking that proximity to God’s power will result in proximity to God. If we truly trust God, such environments can encourage our intimacy with God. But none of them inherently possesses the power to conjure God’s nearness to us.

God is impressed with our faith, not our feats.

Think of it like this: A candlelit dinner with romantic music may encourage a sweet moment of relational intimacy between a husband and wife, but only to the degree that the environment encourages and deepens their mutual trust and love. If there’s relational distance between them due to a lack of trust, the aesthetics themselves have no power to bridge the distance. Only restoring the trust will do that.

How We Draw Near to God

The secret to drawing near to God and having him draw near to us is revealed clearly in the Bible: we draw near to God through faith in Christ who alone gives us access to him (Hebrews 4:14–167:25Philippians 3:9), and we put our trust in all of “his precious and very great promises” which find their Yes to us in Christ (2 Peter 1:42 Corinthians 1:20).

God is impressed with our faith, not our feats. Where faith is lacking, he is not pleased with the quantity of our knowledge or the quality of our aesthetic events.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

When God sees someone whose heart fully trusts his promises and lives by them, God comes to strongly support that saint (2 Chronicles 16:9) and manifests himself to him:

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)

God’s Invitation to Intimacy

What you must trust God most for right now is where he means for you to draw closer to him.

God wants intimacy with you. Christ has done all the hard work in the cross to make it possible. All he requires is that you believe in him (John 14:1). He wants you to trust him with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5).

Which means his invitation to you to enjoy intimacy with him is the providences in your life that are testing your faith more than anything else. What you must trust God most for right now is where he means for you to draw closer to him.

It is likely an invitation that your flesh wants to decline. But as you read your Bible, do not the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) all agree with James and Peter that the greatest testing of faith is the path to the greatest joy (James 1:2–41 Peter 1:8–9)? And do they not agree with Paul that it is not worth comparing to the joy of knowing Christ and the coming glory (Philippians 3:8Romans 8:18)?

Intimacy with God often occurs in the places where we must trust him most. Heaven on earth is the inexpressible joy and the peace that surpasses understanding that comes from trusting God wholly (Philippians 4:6–7). For, as the old hymn writer said, “they who trust him wholly find him wholly true.”

Grace to you – intimacy with Christ

Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time


Intimacy with Christ

Isaiah 64:6Hosea 6:6Matthew 5:10-12Matthew 6:6John 15:14Acts 10:362 Corinthians 12:7-9Philippians 3:4-10Hebrews 1:1James 4:41 Peter 1:8

The apostle Paul perfectly expresses the most earnest desire of every true follower of Christ: “That I may know him” (Philippians 3:10).

“Knowing Christ,” in the Pauline sense is not the sort of mystical relationship many people imagine. Paul wasn’t longing for some secret knowledge of Christ beyond what is revealed in Scripture. He wasn’t asking that private messages from Christ be whispered into his ear.

In fact, the knowledge of Christ Paul sought was anything but mystical. What he longed to know was the power of Christ’s resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, and conformity to His death.

We err greatly if we think of intimacy with Christ as some lofty level of mysterious, feelings-based communion with the Divine—as if it involved some knowledge of God that goes beyond what Scripture has revealed. That idea is the very heart of the gnostic heresy. It has nothing in common with true Christianity.

Just what do we mean, then, when we speak of intimacy with Christ? How can we pursue knowing Christ the way Paul had in mind in Philippians 3:10? Scripture suggests at least five aspects of true intimacy with Christ:

The Intimacy of Faith

Notice what prompts Paul’s comment about knowing Christ in Philippians 3:10. He had already spent several verses describing his life before Christ (Philippians 3:4-6). He cited all the spiritual advantages he enjoyed as a Pharisaic Jew. But then he declared that he had discarded all those spiritual advantages for Christ’s sake: “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

As a Pharisee, Paul had sought to earn God’s favor by legal obedience. But he came to realize that the law sets a standard he could never meet. And so he scrapped all his own works of righteousness as if they were filthy rags (cf. Isaiah 64:6). This does not mean that he ceased doing good works, of course, but that he gave up trusting in those works for his salvation. Instead, he put all his faith in Christ—and was clothed in Christ’s perfect righteousness instead of his own imperfect works.

This is the doctrine known as justification by faith. Scripture teaches that our sins were imputed to Christ, and He paid the full penalty for them in His death. Now Christ’s own righteousness is imputed to us, and we receive the full merit of it. Without this reality we could enjoy no relationship whatsoever with a holy God.

Moreover, justification by faith—because it means we are clothed in Christ’s own righteousness—establishes the most intimate imaginable relationship between the believer and his Lord. It is an inviolable spiritual union. That’s why Paul often described believers as those who are “in Christ.”

In other words, all true intimacy with Christ has its basis in faith. In fact, no relationship with Him whatsoever is possible apart from faith (Hebrews 1:1). As the apostle Peter points out, we love Him by faith, even though we have not seen Him (1 Peter 1:8).

The Intimacy of True Worship

In Hosea 6:6 the Lord says, “I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

That verse means we should not imagine that worship consists of rote acts of religious ritual—like sacrifices, burnt offerings, and other ceremonies. Instead, we need to realize that real worship is grounded in the true knowledge of God.

If we want God to delight in our worship, we must think rightly about Him. The very essence of idolatry consists in wrong thoughts about God. And conversely, true knowledge of God means knowing Him as He is revealed in Scripture.

To put it another way, sound doctrine, not liturgy and ritual, is the litmus test of whether our worship is acceptable.

Right thinking about God is therefore essential to true intimacy with Him. Anyone who would know Him intimately must know what He has revealed about Himself. And again, this does not mean we should seek some mystical knowledge about God. All we can know with any certainty about God is what is revealed in Scripture. Those who would know the true God in the true way must therefore seek to be thoroughly familiar with His Word.

The Intimacy of Prayer

Jesus himself taught us to seek intimacy with God through private prayer. Prayer is where the worshiper pours out his heart to God. And Jesus Himself stressed the importance of private prayer: “when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret” (Matthew 6:6).

He was confronting the practice of the Pharisees, who loved to pray publicly, for show. Jesus was not teaching that prayers should never be offered publicly, for there are obviously times when Scripture calls us to corporate prayer.

But the true Christian seeking intimacy with God will pray most often, and most fervently, in private. The true audience of all our prayers is God Himself. And if we understood what an incomprehensible privilege it is to be invited to come boldly before His throne of grace, we would surely spend more time there, pouring out our most intimate thoughts, fears, desires, and expressions of love to Him.

The Intimacy of Obedience

Jesus said to the disciples, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). Thus Christ Himself made obedience to Him an absolute requirement for true spiritual intimacy.

Let no one claim intimacy with Christ whose life is marked by disobedience rather than submission to Him. Those who refuse to obey Christ as Lord cannot claim to know Him as a friend. Scripture plainly declares that He is Lord of all (Acts 10:36), and He is therefore entitled to demand our allegiance to His Lordship.

As a matter of fact, those who withhold that allegiance are His enemies, not His intimates (cf. James 4:4). That’s why true intimacy with Him is utterly impossible without unconditional surrender to His divine authority.

Again, this takes the matter of intimacy with Christ out of the realm of the mystical and defines it in terms that are intensely practical.

The Intimacy of Suffering

Returning to Philippians 3:10, we note once again what kind of intimacy with Christ Paul was seeking: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

Of course, we easily understand why Paul wanted a share in the power of Christ’s resurrection. But why did the apostle desire to know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferingsand be conformed to His death?

We can be certain that Paul had no perverse love of pain and suffering. Elsewhere he testified how he repeatedly besought the Lord to deliver him from a “messenger of Satan” that was like a thorn under his skin (2 Corinthians 12:7).

In the midst of that experience Paul discovered that God’s grace is sufficient to see us through all our sufferings. Moreover, God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God gives a special measure of grace to those whom He calls to endure suffering. In a familiar passage in the Beatitudes, Jesus said this about suffering:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).

There is a special blessedness known only to those who suffer for Christ’s sake. Those who would desire true intimacy with Him must be willing to endure what He endured.

Add all those things together to get the full picture: True intimacy with Christ involves suffering, obedience, much prayer, a good knowledge of God’s Word, and a life of faith.

Notice that those are not advanced skills for second-level Christians. They are the most elementary issues of the Christian life. That underscores the truth that intimacy with Christ is not some sort of mystical secret. It is the whole point of our life in Christ. Indeed, it is the chief end for which we were created: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A183
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Purpose and Meaning of “Ego Eimi” in the Gospel of John In Reference to the Deity of Christ

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by James White

The Gospel of John has come under great fire in recent centuries for its incredibly high Christology. On this basis alone certain form-critics have rejected the book as having any historical authenticity whatsoever, assuming (without foundation) that such a high Christology could only have evolved after quite some time of “theological formulation” and hence placing its writing well into the second century. Fortunately, not all scholars share the same unfounded presuppositions.

The person of Christ as presented in John’s Gospel is indeed of an exceptionally high character – John asserts that Jesus is “the Word become flesh” (John 1:14). He says that this Word is eternal, has always been “with” God (pros ton theon) and indeed shares the very being of God (John 1:1). John describes Jesus as the unique God (monogenes theos) in John 1:18. He portrays Jesus saying that He is the way, the truth, and the life – that man’s very life and salvation is dependent upon his relationship with Him (a claim nothing short of blasphemy for a mere created being!), and the Gospel climaxes in Thomas’ confession of Jesus as his “Lord and God”.

Though the evidences of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ are numerous in this book, one set of these evidences has always fascinated theologians. Jesus utilizes the specific phrase ego eimi of Himself frequently in John’s Gospel, and a number of times He does so in a pregnant way, not providing any immediately identifiable predicate. John’s recording of these sayings is also significant, as he provides rather obvious settings for these sayings, emphasizing their importance. Is there a significance to this phrase? What is it’s purpose and meaning? Does this phrase present yet another aspect of the Deity of Christ? This shall be the topic of the following investigation.

Usage of ego eimi in the Gospel of John

The specific phrase ego eimi occurs 24 times in the Gospel of John. Seventeen of these times it is followed by a clear predicate. 1 Some of these instances would be John 6:35, “I am the living bread” (ego eimi ho artos tes zoes) or John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd” (ego eimi ho poimen ho kalos). 3 times the usage does not fall into a clear category – these would be 4:26, 6:20, and 9:9. In 4:26 Jesus says to the woman at the well, “I am, the one speaking to you” (ego eimi, ho lalon soi) which is strangely reminiscent of the LXX rendering of Isaiah 52:6 (ego eimi autos ho lalon). In 6:20 it seems to be a rather straight-forward self-identification to the frightened disciples in the boat. 2 And in 9:9 we find the man who had been healed of his blindness insisting that he was indeed the man of whom they spoke. This last instance is similar to the sayings as Jesus utters them, in that the phrase comes at the end of the clause and looks elsewhere for its predicate.

Given the above usages, we are left with 7 usages that have been described as “absolute”. 3 These would be John 8:24, 8:28, 8:58, 13:19, 18:5, 18:6, and 18:8. It is these seven passages that make up the bulk of the discussion concerning the use of ego eimi by John. For the sake of accurate examination, the transliterations of these phrases are provided below:

  • John 8:24: ean gar me pistuesete hoti ego eimi
  • John 8:28: tote gnosesthe hoti ego eimi
  • John 8:58: prin Abraam genethai ego eimi
  • John 13:19: hina pisteusete hotan genetai ego eimi
  • John 18:5: legei autois Ego eimi
  • John 18:6: hos oun eipen autois Ego eimi
  • John 18:8: eipon humin hoti ego eimi

John uses this phrase of Jesus more than any other writer. The phrase does occur in Mark 14:62-64 as well, however. It is to be noted that in the above list, the phrase itself comes at the end of the clause in each instance. This will have significance when the Septuagint background of John’s usage is examined.

The main verses that will undergo examination here are 8:24, 8:58, 13:19, and 18:5-6. In the author’s translation these passages read as follows:

  • John 8:24: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
  • John 13:19: “From now on I tell you before it comes to pass in order that when it does happen, you may believe that I am.”
  • John 18:5-6: “They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am.” And Judas also, the one who betrayed Him, was standing with them. Therefore when He said to them, “I am,” they went backwards and fell upon the ground.”

Translation of ego eimi

Before the exact meaning or significance of ego eimi in John’s gospel can be adequately addressed, the proper translation of the phrase must be determined. There are a very small number of translations that avoid a direct translation of the present indicative ego eimi. Moffat renders it, “I have existed before Abraham was born!” The Twentieth Century New Testament has, “before Abraham existed I was.” Kleist and Lilly have “I am here–and I was before Abraham!” C. B. Williams gives “I existed before Abraham was born.” Schonfield renders the last clause “I existed before Abraham was born.” And the spiritist Johannes Greber (who claimed to get his translation through a spirit medium!) has, “I am older than Abraham.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ own translation, the New World Translation, renders ego eimi as “I have been”.

Allegedly many of these translations are viewing the phrase as what Robertson calls a “progressive present”. Robertson writes,

This is a poor name in lieu of a better one for the  present of past action still in progress.  Usually an adverb of time (or  adjunct)  accompanies  the verb…Often it  has  to  be translated  into English by a sort of “progressive  perfect” (‘have  been’),  though,  of course, that is  the  fault  of English…”The  durative present in such cases  gathers  up past  and present time into one phrase” (Moulton, Prol.,  p. 119)…It is a common idiom in the N.T.  In Jo. 8:58 eimi is really absolute.”4

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. John 15:27 would be a good example: “because you have been with me from the beginning.” The verb, este, is in the present tense, but the context makes it clear that it is in reference to both the past and the present, or, as Moulton said above, it “gathers up past and present time into one phrase.” Robertson correctly 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 5). 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 in this way would be in error.

So why should John 8:58 not be rendered in this way? Why do so few translations follow this path? Because to so translate is to miss the entire context and content of what is being said! The vast majority of translators see, as many commentators do, that there is a clear differentiation being made here between the derivative existence of Abraham and the eternal existence of the Lord Christ. That this is understood by the translators of our modern editions can be seen from a look at the translations that render this phrase either as “I am” or “I Am” or “I AM”:

King James, New King James, New American Standard Bible, New International  Version, Philips Modern English, Revised Standard Version, Today’s English Version, Jerusalem  Bible, New English Bible, American Standard Version, New American Bible, Douay, Young’s Literal Translation, Berkeley Version, Norlie’s Simplified New Testament, New Testament in  Modern English (Montgomery), New Testament in  Modern Speech (Weymouth),  Wuest’s Expanded Translation, Amplified New Testament, New Testament (Swann), Aldine Bible, Four Gospels (C. C. Torrey), Confraternity Version, Four Gospels (Rieu), New  Testament (Knox), Concordant Literal New Testament, Anchor Bible, Rotherham, Holy Bible in Modern English (Fenton), Bible in BASIC English, Better Version (Estes), Sacred Writings (A. Campbell), New Easy-to-Read Version, New Testament for the New World.

This writer is not aware of a single version, produced by a team or group of scholars, that renders ego eimi at John 8:58 in a perfect tense. Even those who do not see here a reference to the Deity of Christ (such as Barrett 6) do not change the translation to something else. Rather, many scholars rightly point out the same contrasting of verbs as seen in the prologue of John (between the aorist ginomai and the imperfect en) as well as the same kind of differentiation found in the LXX rendering of Psalm 90:2. 7 They also recognize that the response of the Jews would be rather strong if this was simply a claim of bald pre-existence. The oft-repeated charge of blasphemy as found in John makes this clear. Rather, the usage of a term used of God Himself (as will be shown later) would be sufficient to bring the response of verse 59.

The phrase was so understood by the early church as well. Irenaeus showed familiarity with it as “I am” 8 as did Origen 9 and Novatian. 10 Chrysostom wrote, “As the Father used this expression, “I Am,” so also doth Christ; for it signifieth continuous Being, irrespective of time. On which account the expression seemed to them to be blasphemous.” 11 The context of this passage is far too strong to allow this to be rendered as a simple historical narrative, resulting in the conversion of the present indicative into a perfect tense. Alford added,

“As Lucke remarks, all unbiassed (sic) explanation of  these words must recognize in them a declaration of the  essential pre-existence  of  Christ. All such interpretations as ‘before Abraham became Abraham’ i.e., father of many nations (Socinus and others), and as ‘I was predetermined, promised by God’ (Grotius and the Socinian interpreters), are little better than dishonest quibbles. The distinction between was made (or was born) and am is important.  The present, I am, expresses essential existence, see Col. 1:17, and was  often used by our Lord to assert His divine Being.  In this verse the Godhead of Christ is involved; and this the Jews clearly understood, by their conduct to Him.”12

Old Testament Background of ego eimi

An extensive discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this paper. 13 Suffice it to say that the position taken by this writer reflects a consensus opinion of many scholars, that being that the closest and most logical connection between John’s usage of ego eimi and the Old Testament is to be found in the Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew phrase ani hu in the writings (primarily) of Isaiah. 14 It is true that many go directly to Exodus 3:14 for the background, but it is felt that unless one first establishes the connection with the direct quotation of ego eimi in the Septuagint, the connection with Exodus 3:14 will be somewhat tenuous.

The Septuagint translates the Hebrew phrase ani hu as ego eimi in Isaiah 41:4, 43:10 and 46:4. In each of these instances the phrase ani hu appears at the end of the clause, and is so rendered (or punctuated) in the LXX (just as in these seven examples in John). The phrase ego eimi appears as the translation of a few other phrases in Isaiah as well that are significant to this discussion. It translates the Hebrew anoki anoki hu as ego eimi in 43:25 and 51:12. Once (52:6) ani hu is translated as ego eimi autos (basically an even more emphasized form). And once (45:18) we find ego eimi kurios for ani Yahweh! This last passage is provocative in that it is in the context of creation, an act ascribed to Jesus by John (John 1:3) and other New Testament writers (Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:2-3).

The usage of ani hu by Isaiah is as a euphemism for the very name of God Himself. Some see a connection between ani hu and Yahweh as both referring to being. 15 That it carried great weight with the Jews is seen in 8:59 and their reaction to the Lord’s usage of the phrase. If one wishes to say that Jesus was not speaking Greek, but Aramaic, the difficulty is not removed, for the identification would have been just that much clearer!

There seems to be a direct connection between the Septuagint and Jesus’ usage of ego eimi. In Isaiah 43:10 we read, “that you may know, and believe, and understand, that I am He” (personal translation). In the LXX this is rendered thus: hina gnote kai pisteusete kai sunete hoti ego eimi. In John 13:19, Jesus says to the disciples, “from now on I tell you before it comes to pass in order that when it does happen, you may believe that I am.” (personal translation). In Greek the last phrase is hina pisteusete hotan genetai hoti ego eimi. When one removes the extraneous words (such as hotan genetai which connects the last clause to the first) and compares these two passages, this is the result:

  • Is. 43:10: hina pisteusete … hoti ego eimi
  • Jn. 13:19: hina pisteusete … hoti ego eimi

Even if one were to theorize that Jesus Himself did not attempt to make such an obvious connection between Himself and Yahweh (which would be difficult enough to do!) one must answer the question of why John, being obviously familiar with the LXX, would so intentionally insert this kind of parallelism.

Another parallel between the usage of ego eimi in John 13:19 and its usage in Isaiah has to do with the fact that in 13:19 Jesus is telling them the future – one of the very challenges to the false gods thrown down by Yahweh in the passages from Isaiah under consideration (the so-called “trial of the false gods) This connection is direct in Isaiah 41:4, “Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, – with the first of them and with the last – I am He.” Here the “calling forth” of the generations – time itself – is part of the usage of ani hu. The same is true in John 13:19. In the same chapter of the book of Isaiah references above, in verse 22 we read, “Bring in your idols, to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come…” That this reference to knowledge of the future would appear in the same section that uses ani hu as the name for God, and that this would be introduced by the Lord Himself in the same context in John 13:19, is significant indeed.

Hence, though some would easily dismiss the ani hu/ego eimi connection, 16 or ignore it altogether, 17 the data seems strong that this connection is intended by John himself by his usage.

Johannine Usage of ego eimi – Interpretation

It is not hard to understand why there have been many who have not wished to make the connection that John makes between Jesus and Yahweh. One cannot make this identification outside of a trinitarian understanding of the Gospel itself, as one can certainly not identify Jesus as the Father in John’s Gospel, hence, if Jesus is identified as ego eimi in the sense of the Old Testament ani hu, then one is left with two persons sharing the one nature that is God, and this, when it encounters John’s discussion of the Holy Spirit, becomes the basis of the doctrine of the Trinity! Indeed, many of the denials of the rather clear usage of ego eimi in John 8:24, 8:58, 13:19 and 18:5-6 find their origin in preconceived theologies 18 that are nearly unitarian, subordinationist, or so enamored with naturalistic rationalism as to be antisuper-natural. An interpreter who is unwilling to dismiss the words of Scripture as simply “tradition” (and hence non-authoritative) or to interpret Scripture in contradiction with itself (as in a violation of strict monotheism in the positing of a being who is quasi-god, mighty, but not “almighty”) will be hard pressed to avoid the obvious conclusions of John’s presentation. Lest one should find it hard to believe that John would identify the carpenter from Galilee as Yahweh Himself, it might be pointed out that he did just that in John 12:39-41 by quoting from Isaiah’s temple vision of Yahweh in Isaiah 6 and then concluding by saying, “These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory and he spoke about Him.” The only “Him” in the context is Jesus; hence, for John, Isaiah, when he saw Yahweh on His throne, was in reality seeing the Lord Jesus. John 1:18 says as much as well.

It is self-evident that such a far-reaching and in reality astounding claim as is made by the Lord Jesus in John 8:24, 58 is hard to accept outside of the highest estimation of His person. Indeed, Augustine wrote,

“…the whole unhappiness of the Jews was not that they had sin, but to die in sins…In these words, ‘Except ye believe that  I am,’ Jesus meant nothing short of this,  ‘Except ye believe  that I am God, ye shall die in your sins.’  It is well for us, thank God, that He said except ye believe, and not except ye understand.”19

But can the usage of ego eimi withstand that much weight? Though being a “scholar” does not guarantee infallibility in judgment, it should at least provide assurance of factual understanding. Given this, the scholars seem to feel that it can.

Leon Morris has written,

” ‘I am’ must have the fullest significance it can bear.  It is, as we have already had occasion to notice…in the style of deity.”  (in a footnote on same page:)  “ego eimi in LXX renders  the Hebrew ani hu which is the way God speaks (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4, 43:10, 46:4, etc.).  The Hebrew may carry a reference to the meaning of the divine name Yahweh (cf. Exod. 3:14).  We should almost certainly understand John’s use of the term to reflect that in the LXX.  It is the style of deity, and it points to the eternity of God according to the strictest understanding of the continuous nature of the present eimi.  He continually IS.  Cf. Abbott:  “taken here, along with other declarations about what Jesus IS, it seems to call upon the Pharisees to believe that the Son of man is not only the Deliverer but also one with the Father in the unity of the Godhead” (2228).”20

Warfield has written concerning this,

“…and again, as the most impressive language possible,  He declares…: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am,” where He claims for Himself the timeless present of eternity as His mode of existence.”21

The great expositor J. C. Ryle noted,

         “Let us carefully note what a strong proof we have here of the pre-existence and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He applies to Himself the very name by which God made Himself known when He undertook to redeem Israel.  It was “I AM” who brought them out of the land of Egypt.  It was “I AM” who died for us upon the cross.  The amazing strength of the foundation of a sinner’s hope appears here.   Believing on Jesus we rest on divinity, on One who is God as well as man.
There is a difference in the Greek verbs here employed which we should carefully notice.  The Greek for “was” is quite different from the Greek for “am.”  It is as if our Lord said, “Before Abraham has born, I have an existence individual and eternal.” “22

Luther, like Augustine before him, wrote in no uncertain terms:

“The Lord Christ is angry below the surface and says:  “Do you want to know who I am?  I am God, and that in the fullest sense.  Do as you please.  If you do not believe that I am He, then you are nothing, and you must die in your sin.”  No prophet, apostle, or evangelist may proclaim and say:  “Believe in God, and also believe that I am God; otherwise you are damned.” “23

A.T. Robertson certainly did not see any linguistic problems here:

I am (ego eimi).  Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God.   The contrast between genesthai (entrance into existence of Abraham) and eimi (timeless being) is complete.  See the same contrast between en in 1:1 and egeneto in 1:14.  See the contrast also in Psa. 90:2 between God (ei, art) and the mountains (genethenai).”24

And finally, William Hendrickson put it rather bluntly:

“The “I am” here (8:58) reminds one of the “I am” in  8:24.  Basically, the same thought is expressed in both passages; namely, that Jesus is God!”25

This writer feels that there is no way that John could have been any more obvious in his intention to invest in ego eimi a significance far beyond the simple function of identification that it can, and does at times, perform. In 8:58 the Jews pick up stones to stone Jesus. The other two times this occurs are right on the heels of claims to deity as well – first in John 5 where Jesus has just claimed equality with the Father both by calling God His own Father in very special terms as well as claiming the same right to work on the Sabbath as the Jews understood to be God’s in upholding the universe; secondly in John 10 after Jesus claims that He and the Father are one in their role of bringing salvation to God’s elect – His “sheep”. In both instances John spells it out clearly that these claims were understood to be claims to equality with God – can 8:58 then be different?

In John 13:19 the introduction of the phrase in correlation with the revelation of future events just as is found in Isaiah, even to the point of nearly quoting the LXX rendering, is far too specific to be overlooked. And in 18:5-6, John repeats the phrase in verse six to make sure that the reader understands the reason for the soldiers’ falling backwards. And why would the soldiers fall backwards if not for the awesomeness of the words of Jesus? Some of the naturalistic explanations brought forward for this incident are so ludicrous as to be absurd. John’s meaning cannot be mistaken.

If each of these instances were examined solely in a vacuum, separated from the others, without any thought of the entire book of John, one might see how their collective significance could be missed. But this is not the way of scholarly interpretation. These statements are not made in a vacuum – they are placed in a book that is rich with meaning and purpose. It has been well said that John intends the entire Gospel to be read through the “interpretive window” of the Prologue of 1:1-18. Given the teachings of that passage, can one seriously doubt the meaning of ego eimi in the above examined passages? It would seem not.


Conclusion

It could fairly be admitted that an immediate and unqualified jump from the ego eimi of John 8:58 to Exodus 3:14 is unwise. The connection that is much more properly traced is the one given here, that of ego eimi/ani hu as found in Isaiah. The connection between Isaiah and Exodus 3:14 is so obvious as to be undeniable.

We have seen that John uses ego eimi in more than one way – the majority of the time providing a predicate. Even these are astounding in their majesty in regards to the person of Christ. Here Jesus is said to be the way, the truth, and the life; the light of the world; the bread of life; and the good shepherd, each of which it should be noted, has parallels to statements made by Yahweh in the Old Testament. But the bulk of this paper has been devoted to those passages where the phrase is used in a specific sense – in an “absolute” sense.

Upon examining these we have seen that they find their origin and background in the book of Isaiah’s usage of the Hebrew term ani hu and its translation as ego eimi in the LXX. We have seen the close parallel between Isaiah 43:10 and John 13:19, both in form as well as thought content.

We have also seen how the context of the passages themselves – the setting and teaching of the entire book of John – makes the identification of ego eimi and its resultant presentation of the deity of Christ inevitable. We have seen how John purposefully emphasizes these phrases, helping us to grasp their significance.

In closing, we might do well to look, then, with this understanding in mind, at Jesus’ words at John 8:24: “unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” Jesus here gives us the content and object of saving faith – faith, real faith is that which comes to the real Jesus. A faith that demands a change in Jesus before a commitment is made is not real faith at all. The Jews standing about Him during this conversation most assuredly would not have denied that He was a man – but that was not sufficient for faith. Some had just recently proclaimed Him as Messiah – but that was not sufficient for faith. Some might hail Him as a prophet or a miracle worker, blessed by God – but that was not sufficient for faith. Some today say He was a great moral teacher and philosopher – but that is not sufficient for faith. Some call Him “a god” or a great angel – but that is not sufficient for faith. No, Jesus Himself laid down the line – unless one believes Him for whom He says He is – the ego eimi – one will die in one’s sins. There is no salvation in a false Christ. If we are to be united with Christ to have eternal life, then we must be united with the true Christ, not a false representation. It is out of love that Christ uttered John 8:24. We would do well to heed His words.


1. These are: John 6:35, 6:41, 6:51, 8:12, 8:18, 10:7, 10:9, 10:11, 10:14, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1, 15:5.
2. See F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1983) pg. 193.
3. Philip Harner, The “I Am” of the Fourth Gospel, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970) pg. 4.
4. A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934) pp. 879-880.
5. See A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1932) 5:158-159.
6. C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978) pg. 342.
7. See J. C. Ryle, Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, n.d.) pg. 573 as well as A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament 5:159.
8. “Irenaeus Against Heresies” in Philip Schaff, The Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers, 14 volumes. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1983), 1:478.
9. “Origen Against Celsus” in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 volumes. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1981) 4:463.
10. “A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity” in Roberts and Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 5:624-625.
11. Chrysostom, “Homilies on St. John” in Schaff, The Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers, 14:199.
12. Henry Alford, New Testament for English Readers, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1983) 2:547.
13. See Harner, The “I Am” of the Fourth Gospel, pp. 6-36.
14. This connection is either directly made or alluded to by Leon Morris, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel According to John, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1971) pp. 447, 473; by Merrill C. Tenney, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1981) pg. 99; and by F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1983) pp. 193, 288.
15. Morris, The Gospel According to John, pg. 473.
16. M. James Penton, “The “I Am” Of John 8:58″ in The Christian Quest, Winter, 1988, pg. 64.
17. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of John’s Gospel, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943) pp. 614-615.
18. A good example is given by C. K. Barrett: “It is not however correct to infer either for the present passage or for the others in which ego eimi occurs that John wishes to equate Jesus with the supreme God of the Old Testament…Note that in v. 28 it is followed by ‘I do nothing of myself, but as the Father taught me I speak these things…I always do the things that are pleasing to him’, and in 13:19 by ‘He who receives me receives him who sent me’ (13:20). Jesus is the obedient servant of the Father, and for this reason perfectly reveals him. ego eimi does not identify Jesus with God, but it does draw attention to him in the strongest possible terms.” The assumption of the unipersonality of God as well as the ontological subordination of the Son that underlies Barrett’s comments and clouds his normally clear exegesis, is striking.
19. As quoted by Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, pp. 531-532.
20. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, pg. 473.
21. B. B. Warfield, The Person and Work of Christ, (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1950), pg. 60.
22. Ryle, Expository Thoughts, pg. 573.
23. Martin Luther, “Sermons on the Gospel of John Chapters 6- 8” in Luther’s Works, Jerislav Pelikan, editor, (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959) pg. 365.
24. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:158-159.

25. William Hendrickson, New Testament Commentary: The Gospel of John, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953) pg. 67.