We’re going to go back to our study of the Trinity but first, a thanks to Ashley Spencer for her comment. I do appreciate it and I hope to visit your blog. Second, thanks to Michelle for her comment last night and I want to be sure I haven’t given the wrong impression. My mother can sometimes bug me to no end and she knows that, but I love her dearly and I have been willing to stand up when I believed my mother was being treated unfairly and delight in putting a smile on her face on Mother’s Day and April Fool’s.
Tonight, we’re going to be looking at John 8:58-59. Last time, we had the Jews confronting Jesus about his age and saying that he was not even fifty years old and yet he has seen Abraham? Tonight, we’re going to see his response.
58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
I happen to own a copy of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation. For those who do not know, this is the translation that the Watchtower came out with that has the Greek text and an English translation underneath. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes the Watchtower ever made.
If you have a New World Translation, you can look in John 8:58 and it will have Jesus saying “I have been” instead of “I AM.” Yet their own interlinear shows that that is not the proper translation. The reason they do this is because they know that Jesus saying “I AM” is pointing back to Exodus 3:14 and Jesus is taking that name upon himself. That’s why the Jews picked up stones to stone him. Ironically, the liberties the NWT takes with the text I take to be strong indications that the Bible does teach the deity of Christ. After all, if it was so clearly taught in the Scripture that Jesus is not deity, there would be no need to change the text.
The Watchtower said for a time that this was in the perfect indefinite tense. The problem is that in the Greek language there is no perfect indefinite tense. There is such a tense in English, but it does not exist in the Greek and would then be foreign to the Greek way of thinking.
What is going on is that Jesus is making the claim and the claim is understood. One of the crimes that one could receive the death penalty for in the culture was blasphemy. Apparently, the Jews were ready at that time to stone him immediately. This wasn’t some slip-up on Jesus’s part. He knew what he was saying. There is no sense of correction on his part either. He never tries to explain what he meant. The reason is that the Jews were right. They were right, that is, in understanding what he meant. They were wrong in thinking it was untrue.
When the Jehovah’s Witnesses come, John 8:58 is one of the most explicit verses that can be used on the deity of Jesus Christ. Make sure you understand it well.