Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

Exegetical Insight (Chapter 16)

One of the elements of Greek grammar that you will meet in this lesson is that if a sentence does not contain a word in the nominative, the subject is included in the verb itself; you can tell what pronoun to use as the subject by the ending on the verb. But if the Greek sentence has a pronoun in the nominative, the author is placing emphasis on the subject of the verb.

Numerous times in John’s gospel, beginning with John 6:35, Jesus uses the pronoun ejgwv with the verb “to be” in the expression ejgwv eijmi oJ ... (“I am the ...”; see also 6:41; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7,9,11,14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1,5). In each case, he is emphasizing who he is. For example, when Jesus says ejgwv eijmi oJ a[rtoV th:V zwhV" (6:35) he is, as it were, pointing a finger towards himself and saying, “If you want spiritual nourishment in your life, then look to me and me only, for I am the bread of life.” The other ejgwv eijmi verses have a similar emphasis. Anything that we want in our spiritual lives we can find by looking to our blessed Savior Jesus Christ.

There is more. Jesus’ use of ejgwv eijmi harks back to the Old Testament, to the story of Moses when he was approached by God at the burning bush (Exod 3). When Moses challenged the Lord to give his name, God replied by saying (in the Septuagint), ejgwv eijmi oJ w[n (“I am the one who is”). That is, Yahweh is the great “I AM” (Exod 3:14). Jesus taps into this famous title for God when he says to the Jews, “Before Abraham was, I am (ejgwv eijmi)” (John 8:58), ascribing to himself the very same name that Yahweh used in the Old Testament concerning himself. And this same name and expression underlie all of Jesus’ ejgwv eijmi statements in John’s Gospel.

Verlyn Verbrugge