“The Word”—Who Is He? According to JohnThe Watchtower—1962 | October 1
19. (a) In what language did Jesus say that to the Jews? (b) How does the Hebrew rendering of his words by modern translators prove that Jesus was not pretending to be the great “I AM”?
19 We must remember, also, that when Jesus spoke to those Jews, he spoke to them in the Hebrew of his day, not in Greek. How Jesus said John 8:58 to the Jews is therefore presented to us in the modern translations by Hebrew scholars who translated the Greek into the Bible Hebrew, as follows: Dr. Franz Delitzsch: “Before Abraham was, I have been.”f Isaac Salkinson and David Ginsburg: “I have been when there had as yet been no Abraham.”g In both of these Hebrew translations the translators use for the expression “I have been” two Hebrew words, both a pronoun and a verb, namely, aní hayíthi; they do not use the one Hebrew word: Ehyéh. So they do not make out that in John 8:58 Jesus was trying to imitate Jehovah God and give us the impression that he himself was Jehovah, the I AM.
20. (a) What can be said about the occurrence of the Greek expression Egó eimí in chapter 8 of John? (b) Why do many Bible translations not render this expression in John 8:58 the same as they do in those other verses?
20 In what language did John write his life account of Jesus Christ? In the Greek language, not in Hebrew; and in the Greek text the controversial expression is Egó eimí. Just by itself, without any introductory material ahead of it, Egó eimí means “I am.” Now this expression Egó eimí occurs also in John 8:24, 28; and in those verses the Authorized or King James Version and the Douay Version and others render the expression into English as “I am he,” the pronoun he being put in italics to indicate that the pronoun he is added or inserted. (AV; AS; Yg) But here, in John 8:58, those versions do not render this same expression as “I am he,” but only as “I am.” They evidently want to give us the idea that Jesus was not simply referring to his existence but also giving himself a title that belongs to Jehovah God,h in imitation of Exodus 3:14.
21. (a) Does the Septuagint Greek translation of Exodus 3:14 use “Egó eimí” for God’s name? (b) Hence what cannot the trinitarians interpret John 8:58 to mean?
21 When writing John 8:58, the apostle was not quoting from the Greek Septuagint Version, a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures made by Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, Egypt, before the birth of Christ. Let anyone who reads Greek compare John 8:58 in Greek and Exodus 3:14 in the Greek Septuagint, and he will find that the Septuagint reading of Exodus 3:14 does not use the expression Egó eimí for God’s name, when God says to Moses: “I AM hath sent me unto you.” The Greek Septuagint uses the expression ho Ōn, which means “The Being,” or, “The One who is.” This fact is clearly presented to us in Bagster’s translation of the Greek Septuagint, at Exodus 3:14, which reads: “And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING [ho Ōn]; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING [ho Ōn] has sent me to you.” According to Charles Thomson’s translation of the Greek Septuagint, Exodus 3:14 reads: “God spoke to Moses saying, I am The I Am [ho Ōn]. Moreover he said, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, The I Am [ho Ōn] hath sent me to you.”i Thus this comparison of the two Greek texts, that of the Septuagint and that of John 8:58, removes all basis for trinitarians to argue that Jesus, in John 8:58, was trying to fit Exodus 3:14 to himself, as if he was Jehovah God.
22, 23. (a) How is the expression ho ōn used and applied elsewhere in John’s writings? (b) What, then, was Jesus merely saying in John 8:58?
22 O yes, the Greek expression ho Ōn does occur in the apostle John’s writings. It occurs in the Greek text of John 1:18; 3:13 (AV; Yg), Joh 3:31; 6:40; 8:47; 12:17; 18:37, but not as a title or name. So in four of those verses it applies, not to Jesus, but to other persons. However, in the Revelation or Apocalypse the apostle John does use the expression ho Ōn as a title or designation five times, namely, in Revelation 1:4, 8; 4:8; 11:17; 16:5. But in all five cases the expression ho Ōn is applied to Jehovah God the Almighty, and not to the Lamb of God, the Word of God.
“The Word”—Who Is He? According to JohnThe Watchtower—1962 | October 1
26 Hence Jesus said to the Jews: “The Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” (John 5:37, AV) But those Jews did see Jesus’ shape and hear his voice. Also, Jesus told them that if they had believed the prophet Moses they would also have believed him; and Jesus knew from Moses’ writings that God had said to Moses up in the mountain: “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Ex. 33:20, AV) But those Jews did see Jesus and live, which proved that Jesus was not God. Consequently John 14:9 also fails to prove that Jesus is God.
27. How did Jesus liken himself to a pupil, and so in what position did he put himself toward God?
27 So again we note that Jesus never spoke of himself as God or called himself God. He always put himself below God rather than on an equality with God. He put himself in the position of a disciple of God, when Jesus said: “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28, AV) God was the Teacher of Jesus, and Jesus as a pupil was not above his Teacher, God, nor the equal of Him. Jesus thus classed himself with the other children of God’s organization Zion, concerning whom Jesus said: “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:45, AV; Isa. 54:13) As a disciple or pupil of his Father, Jesus learned things from him continually.
28. Hence, as a learner, what did Jesus speak of himself as doing respecting the Father?
28 To this effect John 8:25-27 (AV) reads: “Jesus saith unto them, . . . he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.” Later Jesus said to those Jews: “Ye seek to kill me, a man [Greek: ánthropos] that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God [ho Theós].” To his faithful apostles he said: “I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”—John 8:40; 15:15, AV.
29. Hence what action did Jesus say that the Father took toward him, and what does this prove regarding Jesus in comparison with God?
29 As one who heard, as one who was taught, Jesus repeatedly spoke of himself as being sent by his heavenly Father. For example, John 12:44, 45, 49, 50 (AV) says: “Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” The very fact that he was sent proves he was not equal with God but was less than God his Father.
30. How did Jesus, by his own stated rule, show whether he was as great as his Father?
30 This results from Jesus’ own rule as stated to his apostles: “The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” (John 13:16, AV) As God was greater than Jesus in sending him, so Jesus was greater than his disciples in sending them. Jesus made this comparison when he said to them: “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:21, AV) So the Greater One sends the one who is less.
31. Hence what was food for him, though physically hungry?
31 Jesus, because of being sent on an errand, did not come to do his own will or to please himself according to the flesh. He came to do the will of the Greater One who sent him. He did God’s will even though he was hungry bodily, saying: “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”—John 4:34, AV.
32. From where was Jesus sent, and hence where was he lower than God?
32 It was not first when he was in the flesh on earth that Jesus was sent, but he was sent from heaven. In proof of that he said: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing.” (John 6:38, 39, AV) So even in heaven Jesus was less than his Father. During what time he had for it Jesus kept constantly at the work of his Father, his Sender. He said: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4, AV) All this gives added proof that Jesus was not God whose will was to be done, but was lower than God, doing God’s will.