John 8:58. Answering Critics

I’m only going to be doing this response once. If someone wants to raise an issue with what I say this time in response to the critics, then I invite them to come to theologyweb. The links on the side can get you there and you can find me. If you’re wanting to debate against the Trinity, unorthodox theology is the place to go, unless you’re in the Watchtower where we have a section just for discussing Watchtower doctrine.

The first post I will be responding to, and of course I won’t be responding to every point made, is here:

Our poster goes to John 14:28 and 1 Cor. 11:3. Do note that we will be coming to these texts in our look through the Scripture, but also keep in mind this. He is going right along with the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine as those two verses come straight out of “What Does The Bible Really Teach?” It’s a publication my roommate and I have about 6 copies of around here. We’ve had a lot of witnesses visit….

The speakers asks how Jesus could come in the name of YHWH and speak for YHWH if he were YHWH. Please remember readers what I said as we started this series on a fundamental mistake anti-Trinitarians make and it’s being made now. Throughout this piece, our critic assumes that God is one person. Thus, how can one person come in the name of his person and speak for his person? The answer is that that is not the Trinitarian claim. Our claim is that one person who has the full nature of God came and spoke on behalf of another person who does.

Our speaker says that some have said that if someone claims to speak in the name of YHWH then he must be YHWH. I do not know why someone would make a remark like that, but that our critic considers this a serious arguing point tells me the caliber of argumentation I am dealing with. However, he does say that when he says he came in the name of his Father YHWH, he is not YHWH. Again, the assumption of unipersonalism.

Our critic also thinks it counts as an argument to say Jesus is sitting at the right hand of YHWH. I want to ask “How?” Trinitarians believe that after all. How can it be an argument against Trinitarianism when Trinitarians affirm it?

Thus, according to our critic, since Jesus affirms he is not his God and Father who sent him, we need to look closer at John 8:58. The problem is no Trinitarian believes that Jesus is his Father who sent him. These are good arguments against modalism, but not against Trinitarianism and it is concerning that our critic does not have the basic concept down.

Our critic wants us to think that the “I AM” expresses a non-terminated existence. First off, being deity would not go against that. Second, the text is making a contrast in saying that Abraham came into existence, but Jesus is. The main difference is that Jesus never came into existence in his deity. He has always been.

Our critic wishes us to know that Jesus said he was the Son of God but never God the Son. First, is this supposed to surprise us? Trinitarians who have read their Bible know this. Second, what does this critic think Jesus meant when he said “Son of God?” I know what it means in other contexts, but what did Jesus mean by it?

Amusing also is the idea that when Jesus referred to Exodus 3:14, he left it dangling without an object. Somehow, I don’t think people have had a hard time realizing Jesus is the object of his claim. He simply had to say the term that would be connected with the divine name. Consider how in Luke 4, Jesus quotes part of Isaiah 61. Does that make that invalid?

The critic says that Jesus used “I am” several times and it did not mean in those cases deity. That’s fine. What did he mean in this case? You don’t know what he meant in this case by looking only to the other cases. You know what he meant by looking at this case.

He later says that if the Trinitarian conclusion is right on these passages, then that will mean there are several who are devoted to God supposedly but since they do not affirm the deity of Christ, that they are unjustified and not Christians at all.

Yeah…..The problem?

I place the deity of Christ as an essential. So do many Trinitarians. To say “I don’t like it,” is not an answer. Either someone like myself is guilty of blasphemy for proclaiming Jesus as deity when he isn’t, or someone like the Arian is guilty of denying the Son when he says he is not deity. These are quite different Jesuses and only a true one can save.

I wish there was more, but frankly, there isn’t. Many verses we will get to later. Frankly, the problem started with the assumption that God is one person.

Let’s go to the other critic.

John 8:58 – Did Jesus Use the Holy Name?

Our next critic is a bit more sophisticated, but still has the idea of Jesus speaking without an object. He claims there is no evidence Jesus was making a reference to the LXX. However, consider what A.T. Roberton says about this passage:

Before Abraham was (prin Abraam genesqai). Usual idiom with prin in positive sentence with infinitive (second aorist middle of ginomai) and the accusative of general reference, “before coming as to Abraham,” “before Abraham came into existence or was born.” I am (egw eimi). Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God. The contrast between genesqai (entrance into existence of Abraham) and eimi(timeless being) is complete. See the same contrast between en in Numbers 1:1 and egeneto in Numbers 1:14 . See the contrast also in Psalms 90:2between God (ei, art) and the mountains (genhqhnai). See the same use of eimi in John 6:20 ; John 9:9 ; John 8:24 John 8:28 ; John 18:6 .

The absolute phrase used of God? Where does he think he’s getting it from? It’s the LXX.  Our reader says that Jesus was using a past tense reference. If that is the case, then why did he not use one of the tenses in Greek that is used to describe the past? He didn’t. 

Our critic does wish to point to a historical present such as in Matthew 3:1 where it says that John came baptizing and points out that it is actually in the present tense and is a historical present. Robertson is aware of a historical present but sees no usage of it here. 

Consider also that translation teams have authorities on the English language working on them that smooth out the text and put it in ways an English reader can understand. When Jesus spoke in John 14:9, he used “eimi” which can be translated as “I am”, but there is no “ego” in this case. 

We are also told not all translators translate this as “I AM.” Good for them. I want to know why they don’t. Greg Koukl of STR would call this the “Rhodes Scholar” fallacy. It’s not enough to know that someone does or doesn’t believe X. It’s important to know why.

Our critic also points to Col. 1:15, which is a passage rest assured we will be getting to, but it leaves one wondering if indeed while the critic claims the Trinitarians are reading their idea into the text, if it isn’t the case that the Arian is actually doing such.

Once again, I wish there was more, but it seems it’s the same simplistic arguments.

Again, if my critics wish to find me, they know where to look. We move on tomorrow.  Of course, if anyone wishes to discuss it in the comments section, feel free.




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