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Joel Hemphill

Jesus and His “I am” Statements

Excerpt from Glory to God in the Highest - pp 69, 70

by Joel Hemphill




Those who try to force a trinitarian view into the Holy Scriptures often go to the several occasions where Jesus said “I am” to try and prove that he is God. This is a ridiculous attempt which violates not only the biblical truth but grammar as well.


I am the bread of life” (John 6:35).

I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

I am the good shepherd” (John 10:14).


Compare these statements with the statements of others in the New Testament and you will see that Jesus’ use of “I am” is in no way a claim to deity. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness” [John the Baptist speaking] (John 1:23).


“But he said, I am he” [the man who was healed of blindness speaking] (John 9:9).

I am what I am [Paul speaking] (I Cor. 15:10).


Trinitarian Millard Erickson tries in every way to prove the doctrine of the Trinity in his book, God In Three Persons, but he condemns the misuse of Jesus’ “I am” statements to try to prove his divinity. He quotes Jesus’ statements, “I am the Good Shepherd” and “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” then says:


On this basis, the argument is constructed that these are references back to God’s statement in Exodus 3, where he answered Moses’question about his name by saying, ‘I am,’ or ‘I will be.’ In my judgement, this argument as a whole is invalid and should not be utilized. It fails to recognize distinctions among the four uses of the Copula, ‘to be.’ This is confusing the ‘is of predication for the ‘is of existence.’ Even Hebrews certainly knew the difference between describing something as having a particular quality and declaring its existence.” [Emphasis mine.]


Interpreting the Bible in this manner is what Erickson calls forcing the doctrine of the Trinity into the Scriptures by using verses “under the greatest strain.” It is what I call trying to force a triangular peg into a round hole!


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