The Eighth “I am” statement in John’s Gospel

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me,of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. – John 8:48-59

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Statue of the exalted Jesus in the Co Cathedral in downtown Houston, Texas

There are seven or eight “I am” statements in John’s Gospel – depending on how you count them. The seven are:

  1. And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
  2. Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
  3. “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).
  4. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
  5. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).
  6. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
  7. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1).

The eighth “I am” statement is found here in John 8:58, and is the most profound of the bunch. Here Jesus makes two improbable claims that rocked the world of the Jews to whom he was speaking, and should give us pause. He said that he existed before Abraham who had died perhaps 2000 years prior to Jesus of Nazareth. He also equated himself to God, taking the holy name that God revealed to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14), and which was so holy that the people of Jesus’ day would not even utter it out loud.

Their reaction? They pick up stones to throw at Jesus, but are thwarted in that attempt for Jesus’ time had not yet come (cf. John 7:6). Instead, Jesus hid himself and left the temple.

Some say that the saddest verse in the Bible is Judges 2:10. Others might suggest, “Jesus wept.” Still others might suggest Genesis 3:6. I might say that the last part of John 8:59 is the saddest: Jesus leaves the temple. The Son of God, through whom the whole universe was made, comes to his own, should have been the object of their worship. He came to fulfill the whole Law. He came to be among God’s people, and he has no place in the Temple dedicated to the God who sent him.

But Jesus is the eternal I AM. He was and is and is to come. He will leave the temple, but he will be eternally present with his people – those who call upon him in faith. This eighth “I am” statement of Jesus establishes him as our Lord and God. He is our Redeemer and Friend, the source and center of all truth.

42 comments
  1. Very nice post. We we’re talking about this very topic in Gospels class yesterday.

    • dlbpandp said:

      Great to hear from you. Blessings!

  2. Surely there is at least one more: “Whom do you seek? They replied, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said to them, I am he.” (Jn 18:5)

  3. M. R. said:

    I think we could add another one. Actually the first of these “I AM” statements’ series.
    John 4:26, responding to the Samaritan woman mentioning the coming Messiah:, “Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He”

  4. iluvtheword said:

    What an awesome post, thank you for that.
    I am about to start preaching through the I AM statements of Jesus, and am starting with this passage.
    I was also wondering why we are told about the 7 I AM statements, when there are clearly 8, with this one being the most important?
    Very well written blog, thank you.
    Love and blessings to you from the north of Scotland.

    • Indeed… This is a good observation. Jesus claim to be the great I AM is profound! Thank you for your comment.

  5. William Wright said:

    I think there are Nine ” I AM”s stated by Christ in John if you include John 13:19 which ties it to Exodus 3:14.

    • John 13:19 is clearly also an I AM statement. The Greek is clear: ἐγώ εἰμι. That’s an emphatic “I AM” to be sure. Thanks for pointing me to that. Wonder if there are actually more!

  6. David said:

    Today in our church pastor Daniel preached this message

  7. A sinner said:

    It seems one could go on for hours finding new I AM’s in John’s Gospel, many of which emphasize his standing as the Son of God (and make a great study in themselves). But to me the profound thing about the “original” seven is what he was for the believers that would eventually believe on him. He is the “conduit” if you will…to God, the Father…our way into heaven. It’s only through Him that we have life, we have light for our path. Through this door, we can be guided by the good shepherd into a life eternal, having been resurrected through Him. Attached to him, we may bear fruit because of the life that’s in the vine. All because He is the Way, the Truth and the Light.

    • So thankful for these comments. All glory to God through Jesus Christ our Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit!

      • A sinner said:

        Amen and amen, Brother!

  8. RSDijamco said:

    Thank you. Very helpful in my studies.

  9. the Rev. Carl Stiglich said:

    One “I am” completely missed is found in 4:26. After the woman at the well mentions the Messiah, the Christ a translation of John 4:26 Jesus says “I am he” (i.e. – the Christ). The same emphatic Greek form of the “ego” “eimi” is used here as in other “I am” statements and also in the LXX, the ancient Greek translation of the OT) in Exodus 3:14. I would add this to the list of eight (or seven) I am statements….PoP

  10. John Polli said:

    Great word precious man of God!
    I was studying from John 5:43 and ran across your site. It states, “I am come in my fathers name and you did not receive me, if another comes in his own name him you will receive.”
    Of course this speaks to the antichrist which in Matthew he said there’d be many.
    What I was actually trying to find was the Greek meaning of the “I am” portion But haven’t found it yet and then of course ran across your site.
    Keep up the great work. God bless you brother!!!

  11. DDGraves said:

    I really enjoyed this Biblical teaching on the I Am’s of Jesus. He is all of those and so much more. Thank you for helping to increase my knowledge of His Word. God bless and keep you!

  12. Collin said:

    👍 for your summary, especially the 8th one which i did not previously consider. 🙏🔥

  13. Abraham Davis said:

    Very excited to understand how I am, was used by Jesus Christ!

  14. Jesuslove Hardemola said:

    More Unction to Function

  15. cyndy Tiley said:

    Wonderful and true answer. He is the answer Jesus Christ.
    Thank you for your explanation.

  16. I’ve greatly enjoyed reading all the insightful commentary! What joy I’ve felt as the excitement over Jesus being the Great I AM mounted with each new thought! Just electricity flowing forth! A perfect read or reread for the Advent season as we anticipate the coming of I AM, GOD WITH US. All praise and honor to Him.
    Thank you for writing, Pastor Bahn and followers!
    Christmas Blessings!

  17. Pingback: Jesus CHRIST's

  18. Klein Maravasto Mtsundano said:

    It has opened my eyes

  19. TWF said:

    Judges 13:11 is another.

    • The pre-incarnate Christ perhaps. Haven’t looked closely at it, but certainly of interest. Thanks

      • M.R. said:

        There are several places in the Hebrew Bible with the phrase [ANI HU] (I am He) – Det 32:39, Isa 41:4, 43:10, 13, 25, 46:4, 48:12, 51:12 and 52:16. All referring to Him.
        Judges 13:11 is not one of them.

  20. Lonzie Range III said:

    Thank you for your work and providing the short commentary about Jesus The I am.

  21. Kim Miller said:

    The Judges scripture near end is incorrect. John 11:35 is where it states that Jesus wept for his friend who had died. It showed his humanity.

    • I welcome all constructive and respectful comments here. Thanks for your thoughts. I will consider them carefully. Blessings!

    • Maybe I don’t understand what you are saying. I agree that John 11:35 shows Jesus’ humanity. But it still stands that “some say that Judges 2:10 is the saddest verse in the Bible.” “Jesus wept” shows Jesus’ humanity and love and how cruel and evil death is. It’s no friend. Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  22. Andy Smith said:

    I am just preparing a short reflection on John 8:48-59 and, being Jewish and a believer in Jesus for many years, I was immediately struck by Jesus’ words that, “before Abraham was, I AM” with its instant claim to being God, who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush of Exodus 3. No wonder these leaders picked up stones (so they could stone Him for blasphemy) because they knew the claim that He was making to be God Himself, a fact that is not understood by most Gentile believers today..
    Similarly the shocking nature of the Judean leaders calling Him a Samaritan is also not understood. To help you understand the level of offence, it is similar to someone today calling a Jewish person a Nazi (as some activists do, to their eternal shame). The Samaritans were the descendants of those who rebelled against Solomon’s son Rehoboam and created what is often referred to as the Northern Kingdom or Israel, as opposed to what is called the Southern Kingdom or Judah. While those in Judah still worshipped in the Temple, those in Israel worshipped at a new man-made shrine set up by Jereboam, the son of Nebat. It is therefore no wonder that anyone who worships the true God would be appalled at being compared to those who worship at a man-made altar.
    Finally, in the Temple, the place where God dwells, the Judean leaders accused Jesus of having a demon. Now, in this very holy place, these leaders are accusing the only holy and sinless man who ever lived of having a demon. It is amazing that his reply is simply to say that He honours His Father and that they dishonour Him. How many of us would have been so restrained?
    Thank you for drawing the attention of the largely non-Jewish group of believers in Jesus to this, the greatest “I AM” statement in John’s gospel.

    • Thank you for your insightful comments. Your point about the racial slur of calling someone a Samaritan is especially insightful, and your modern comparison makes it even more clear. I had a friend at seminary who called himself a “complete Jew” when I said, wrongly, “You used to be Jewish, didn’t you?” That was helpful to me, and I hope you would approve of that manner of speech. Blessings to you.

  23. clarity29 said:

    Thank you for this post. I’d just like to add John 6:41, John 6:48 and John 6:51, which are points of emphasis regarding the fact that Jesus is the bread of life as you listed in John 6:35

    6:41 The Jews then murmured at him because he said I am the bread of life
    6:48 I am that bread of life
    6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

    Thanks again for your post.

  24. Kbarnabas Kbarnabas said:

    Praise the Lord brother Good morning

  25. James shikomena said:

    Amen!! God bless you

  26. Deano said:

    In French ‘I am’ is ‘Je suis’. Coincidence?? I don’t think so.

    • I don’t know what to do with this. The name of Jesus in Hebrew would have been Joshua or Yeshua. Jesus’ name in Greek would have been Ιησούς (IĀSOUS). French for Jesus is Jésus. So while interesting, I’m not certain there is a connection.

      • Deano said:

        Even if there is no connection, it’s still quite remarkable.

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