As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
John 18:6 (KJV)
I am – I know what we’ve been taught. Yeshua is evoking the term “I am” as a representation of His divinity, and as the Trinitarians preach, establishing Himself as God in the flesh. I get it. And in the English translations, it can be justified. But this wasn’t written in English. It was written in Greek, so it has to line up in the Greek as well. Have you ever bothered to investigate it? Let’s do that now.
The term used in the Greek is Ego eimi ( ἐγώ εἰμί ), which does literally mean, “I am.” It’s actually a common expression for identifying one’s self despite what others may have said about it’s rare form of use reserved solely for God himself. To show how common it is, let’s take a look at three other examples of it’s use in the New Testament.
First by Judas
Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I [ἐγώ εἰμι]? He said unto him, Thou hast said. (Matthew 26:25)
Next by John the Baptist
He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am [ἐγώ εἰμι] not worthy to unloose. (John 1:27)
And also by Paul
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am [ἐγώ εἰμι] chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)
Okay, so now that there’s proof of it’s use beyond its reference to God, we need to compare this statement to what was actually said by God Himself in the Old Testament. Do they align?
And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:14)
Let’s take a look at the LXX (the Greek version of the Old Testament also known as the Septuagint) to see how the translators translated this statement by God.
They use the Greek wording, Ego eimi ho on ( ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν ). You’ll see some familiar words there. This phrase literally means “I am the one.” It’s very close to Yeshua’s statement in John, but not the same. The translators felt it was important to add ho on to the phrase to distinguish the commonly used “I am” statement in Greek to identify God as “I am the one.”
That’s super interesting! The Septuagint translators felt it necessary to translate that common phrase when identifying God as Ego eimi ho on but when the gospel of John was written, the need to make that assertion wasn’t there. John recorded that Yeshua simply expressed the common statement of self identification — I am, or I am he.
This shows that despite what you may have been taught, this phrase can’t be used to support the Trinitarian doctrine. And if you believe it does support this, then how do you justify the use by Judas, John, and Paul who must be claiming that very same thing when they use it for themselves. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You have to follow your theology through to the end. When we do that, it helps us understand whether or not it holds true.