"I AM" Sayings in the Fourth Gospel
compiled by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Overview:

JESUS HIMSELF says "I Am" ( Greek eimi) forty–five times in John's Gospel (including when other characters quote Jesus' words). Twenty–four of these are emphatic, explicitly including the pronoun "I" (Greek ego eimi bold references), which would not be necessary in Greek grammar. These emphatic references can also be sub-divided into "Absolute" or "Predicate" statements, as explained below.

John 4:26; 6:20; 6:35; 6:41; 6:48; 6:51; 7:28; 7:29; 7:33; 7:34; 7:36; 8:12; 8:16; 8:18; 8:23 (twice); 8:24; 8:28; 8:58; 9:5; 10:7; 10:9; 10:11; 10:14; 10:36; 11:25; 12:26; 13:13; 13:19; 13:33; 14:3; 14:6; 14:9; 15:1; 15:5; 16:32; 17:11; 17:14; 17:16; 17:24; 18:5; 18:6; 18:8; 18:37; 19:21
OTHER CHARACTERS in the Fourth Gospel only rarely say, "I am" or "I am (something)," mostly in the negative, "I am not":
John the Baptizer (1:20; 1:21; 1:27; 3:28–twice); The Man Born Blind (9:9); Simon Peter (18:17; 18:25); and Pontius Pilate (18:35).

In all other NEW TESTAMENT books, “I am” occurs a total of eighty–six times (in the present tense; not counting, "I was" or "I will be"), of which only twenty–four are emphatic (Matt 14:27; 22:32; 24:5; 26:22, 25; Mark 6:50; 13:6; 14:62; Luke 1:19; 21:8; 22:70; 24:39; Acts 9:5; 10:21; 18:10; 22:3, 8; 26:15, 29; Rev 1:8, 17; 2:23; 21:6; 22:16). See below for a list of these texts.

Rudolf Koch: The TetragrammatonIn the HEBREW BIBLE, the meaning of God's name (YHWH) is closely related to "I am" (see Exod 3:14; 6:2; Deut 32:39; Isa 43:25; 48:12; 51:12; etc.). In the LXX, most of these passages are translated with the Greek expression ego eimi:

Exod 3:14 – God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you."
Exod 6:2 – And God said to Moses, "I am the LORD."
Deut 32:39a – "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me;"
Isa 48:12 – "Hearken to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am He, I am the first, and I am the last."
Thus, many interpreters believe that the Johannine Jesus is making divine claims with at least some (or most?) of the following statements.

Absolute Emphatic "I AM" Statements of the Johannine Jesus:

There is no predicate in these sayings (John 4:26; 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8). Caution: the RSV and other English Bibles often translate this phrase, "I am he", but the pronoun "he" is not explicit in the Greek text.

To the Samaritan Woman at Jacob's well near the town of Sychar:
4:26 – Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am (he)." [lit. "I am, the one speaking with you."]

To his disciples in the boat while Jesus is walking on the Sea of Galilee:
6:20 – but he said to them, "It is I (lit. "I Am"); do not be afraid." (cf. Mark 6:50; Matt 14:27)

To "the Jews" in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles:
8:24 – "I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am (he)."

8:28 – So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am (he), and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me."

8:58 – Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."

To his disciples at the Last Supper in Jerusalem:
13:19 – "I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am (he)."

To the soldiers and guards who come to arrest Jesus in the Garden in the Kidron Valley (Gethsemane):
18:5 – They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am (he)." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.

18:6 – When he said to them, "I am (he)," they drew back and fell to the ground.

18:8 – Jesus answered, "I told you that I am (he); so, if you seek me, let these men go."


Predicate Emphatic "I Am" Statements of the Johannine Jesus:

In these sayings, a metaphorical image completes the thought: John 6:35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 23 (twice); 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5

To the crowds in Galilee after the Feeding of the 5000 (in the "Bread of Life Discourse"):
6:35 – Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst."

6:41 – The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven."

6:48 – "I am the bread of life."

6:51 –"I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."

To "the Jews" in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles:
8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (cf. 9:5 – "I am the light of the world", but grammatically unemphatic, without "ego"; see also John 1:4-5, 9; 12:46)

8:18 – "I bear witness to myself (lit. "I am the one bearing witness...") to myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness to me."

8:23 (twice) – He said to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world."

To "the Jews" just after Jesus gives sight to the Man Born Blind (the "Good Shepherd Discourse"):
10:7 – So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep."

10:9 – "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

10:11 –"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

10:14 –"I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,"

To Martha of Bethany, just before Jesus raises her brother Lazarus back to life:
11:25 – Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live," (cf. 5:24; 8:51

To his disciples at their last meal together (the "Last Supper Discourse"):
14:6 – Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." (cf. 8:32)

15:1 – "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser."

15:5 – "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

Most of the above images have their roots in the books of the Hebrew Bible, where they are used primary for God:


Non–Emphatic "I am" Statements of the Johannine Jesus:

Other passages of John's Gospel in which Jesus himself, or others quoting Jesus, say "I am" (Greek eimi, but without the explicit pronoun ego for "I").

To "the Jews" in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles:
7:28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, "You know me, and you know where I come from [lit. "from where I am"]? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know."

7:29 – "I know him, for I come from him (lit. "from him I am"), and he sent me."

7:33 – Jesus then said, "I shall be with you a little longer, and then I go to him who sent me;"

7:34 – "...you will seek me and you will not find me; where I am you cannot come."

7:36 – "What does he mean by saying, 'You will seek me and you will not find me,' and, 'Where I am you cannot come'?"

8:16 – "Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone that judge, but I and he who sent me."

To his disciples, just before Jesus gives sight to the Man Born Blind:
9:5 – "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

To "the Jews" in Jerusalem at the Feast of the Dedication:
10:36 "Do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?"

To some of his disciples while Jesus speaks of his coming "hour" of glorification:
12:26 – "If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him."

To his disciples just after Jesus washes their feet at the Last Supper:
13:13 – "You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am."

To his disciples at their last meal together (the "Last Supper Discourse"):
13:33 – "Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, Where I am going you cannot come."

14:3 – "And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."

14:9 – Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?"

16:32 – "The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me."

In the great prayer that Jesus addresses to the Father:
17:11 – "And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one."

17:14 – "I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

17:16 – "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

17:24 – "Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world."

To Pilate during the trial of Jesus:
18:37 – Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice."

Just after the crucifixion of Jesus:
19:21 – The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'"


"I am" Statements (often "I am not") spoken by Other Characters in the Fourth Gospel:

John the Baptist:

1:20 – He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."

1:21 – And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No."

1:27 – "...even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie."

3:28 (twice) – "You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent (lit. "I am the one sent") before him."

The Man Born Blind:

9:9 – Some said, "It is he"; others said, "No, but he is like him." He said, "I am (the man)."

Simon Peter:

18:17 – The maid who kept the door said to Peter, "Are not you also one of this man's disciples?" He said, "I am not."

18:25 – Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said to him, "Are not you also one of his disciples?" He denied it and said, "I am not."

Pontius Pilate:

18:35 – Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?"


"I am" Statements in the Rest of the New Testament:

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This page was last updated on July 11, 2012
Copyright © 1999--2012 by Felix Just, S.J.