I am


By New Christian Bible Study Staff

Moses sees a bush that burns but is not consumed.

In the Old Testament, Jehovah -- once -- calls Himself "I AM". In Hebrew, the word is אֶהְיֶה , which has the meaning of "being", or "coming into being". This naming occurs in Exodus, when God appears to Moses in a burning bush, in the wilderness of Mount Horeb. It is one of the main spiritual turning points in the Bible, and the source of one of its deepest statements about God.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were now slaves in Egypt. They were numerous, but their connection with their forebears and with the land of Canaan was tenuous. The Pharaoh of that time "knew not Joseph". Their spiritual progress had stalled out.

Jehovah chooses Moses, herding sheep in the desert, to go back to Egypt and lead his people to freedom.

"And Moses said to God, 'Behold, I come to the sons of Israel, and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them?' And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO is I AM'; and He said, 'Thus shalt thou say to the sons of Israel: I AM has sent me to you'." (Exodus 3:13, 14)

"I AM". It goes right to the very core of existence. Bigger than space, beyond time, uncreated.

Then, after many hundreds of years, with some people in Judea and its environs still waiting for the promised Messiah, Jesus says the same thing. People sit up and take notice.

When the disciples are in a storm-wracked sea in a small boat, Jesus comes to them, walking on the water:

"But straightway Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Have confidence; I am; be not afraid'." Matthew 14:27

In the Gospel of John, there are several of these statements:

When Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well:

The woman says to Him, "I know that Messiah comes, who is called Christ; when He has come, He will announce to us all things." Jesus says to her, "I am, who speaks to thee." John 4:25, 26

Then we find this conversation between Jesus and his disciples:

"I said then to you that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins. Therefore they said to Him, Who art thou? And Jesus said to them, The Beginning, who also am speaking to you. John 8:24, 25

Later, in the same chapter, Jesus said to the disciples,

"Amen, amen, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am." John 8:58

In chapter 13, again, Jesus is talking with the disciples at the Last Supper:

"From henceforth I tell you before it come to pass, that when it has come to pass, you may believe that I am." John 13:19

Finally, when Jesus is being arrested, there's this powerful scene:

"Judas then, having received a band of soldiers and attendants from the chief priests and Pharisees, comes thither with lanterns, and lamps, and weapons. Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that were coming on Him, went out and said to them, Whom do you seek? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus says to them, 'I am'.

And Judas also, who betrayed Him, stood with them. When therefore He had said to them, I am, they went away backward, and fell on the ground. Again, therefore, He asked them, Whom do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I told you that I am; if then you seek Me, let these go away, that the word which He said might be fulfilled, Of those whom Thou gavest Me I have lost none. John 18:3-9

These "I am" statements by Jesus are not the seven "I am" statements that are often listed; those are also very interesting, but on a different track. The ones listed above are places where Jesus is declaring that He is God, that he is "I AM".

This is hugely important. Isaiah prophesied that the Christ child would be God Himself, in human form:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6.

Jesus is saying the same thing. Internally, he is "I am". As he gradually puts off or purifies his more external human elements, the internal shines through more and more.

The Bible


John 18:3-9

Study the Inner Meaning


3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.

6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.

8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:

9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.


   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of John 18      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 18

Verse 18:1. That the Lord, as to his Humanity, having put off his first rational principle, enters into a state of his divine intelligence, from which he communicates with those who are principled in good and truth.

Verses 18:2, 3. Which state is known also to those who are in the knowledge of truth, but in evils of life, and who therefore seek to destroy it by all kinds of false persuasions both internal and external.

Verses 18:4, 5, 6. Yet they are checked for a time by inquisition in their own minds concerning their designs, and by the consequent notice that the Lord's Humanity was Divine.

Verses 18:7, and former part of 18:8. Which inquisition is again repeated together with the same notice.

Verses 18:8 (latter part) and 18:9. On which occasion intercession is made from the divine love in favour of those who are principled in good and truth,

Verses 18:10, 11. Yet they, who are principled in the faith of the church, seek protection in truth, rejecting obedience, until they are instructed, that the Lord as to his Humanity, was to suffer temptations, and thus to enter into his glory.

Verses 18:12, 13, 14. Accordingly the Lord suffers his Humanity to be delivered up and treated by the perverted church, as they had before treated his Word.

Verses 18:15, 16, 17, 18. But they, who are principled in faith alone, cannot enter into this process, and the re-fore deny the divinity of the Lord's Humanity, being influenced only by external loves.

Verses 18:19, 20, 21. That inquisition is made in the perverted church respecting the Lord's humanity, and answer is given, that nothing can be known concerning it, but through obedience to its precepts.

Verses 18:22, 23, 24. This answer, however, only excites greater outrage against that humanity, when yet it ought to have appeased all violence.

Verses 18:25, 26, 27. That in the end of the church there will remain no longer any faith, but a plenary denial of the Lord.

Verses 18:28, 29, 30. Therefore in the end of the church all truth divine is separated from those who are of the church, notwithstanding their external sanctity, and imparted to those who are in the falsities of ignorance, and who yet are inquisitive about truth, and especially about its rejection by those who are of the church, in consequence of separating it from its good.

Verses 18:31, 32. But they who are in the falsities of ignorance, cannot account for this separation, until they are instructed, that it is forbidden in the Word, and that nevertheless it had taken place amongst those of the perverted church who are in possession of the Word.

Verses 18:33, 34. They are therefore inquisitive about truth divine, but are admonished to explore in themselves the motive which leads them to such inquisition, so as to discover whether it be from the love of truth, or from other motives.

Verses 18:35, 36. They are further inquisitive about the work of redemption, and are instructed that it is a divine work, for the purpose of imparting to man, not natural and temporal dominion, but that which is spiritual and eternal.

Verse 18:37. They are again inquisitive about the divinity of the Lord's humanity, and are further instructed, that they have internal evidence in themselves of its divinity, because the sole reason why the humanity was conceived, and came into the world, was, that it might be made divine truth, and thus divine good, which doctrine is received by all who are principled in good.

Verses 18:38, 39. Lastly, they are inquisitive about divine truth, and by such inquisition are led to discover, and to make confession, that the Lord had integrity, and that thus his humanity was Divine Good, and therefore no violence ought to be done to it.

Verse 18:40. Nevertheless, the perverted church reject the divine truth, and cleave to the infernal false.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Doctrine of the Lord 11

True Christian Religion 262

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

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Psalms 27:2

Bible Word Meanings

chief priests
'The chief priests and scribes,' as in Matthew 20:18, signify the adulterations of good and the falsifications of truth.

'Officer' denotes doctrines or principles of interpretation.

The Pharisees were a sect of the Jewish church at the time of the New Testament. The name comes from a root that means "separate",...

all things
The Lord is life itself, is the Creator of the universe, and is the source of life on an ongoing basis. So in a literal...

Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

The words "ask" and "question" are used a number of different in natural language, and a number of different ways in the Bible. The spiritual...

The meaning of "to seek" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of nuance: Swedenborg tells us that in most cases...

In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

When the Lord said that all things which were written concerning him were fulfilled, he meant that all things were fulfilled in their inmost sense.

Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

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