Commentary

 

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 8:58

Study the Inner Meaning

              

58 Jesus said unto them, Verily,verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of John 8      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 8

Verses 8:1, 2. That the Lord elevated himself into his divine love, and filling his humanity with that love, he excites mutual love in the church, and from that love imparts heavenly truth.

Verses 8:3, 4, 5. On which occasion he is questioned by those, who are principled in self-intelligence and self-love, concerning the punishment due to the perversion of the affection of good in the church, which punishment, according to the Word, was deprivation of the truths of faith.

Verses 8:6, 7. But this enquiry proceeds from a purpose of deceit and evil, and therefore the Lord pronounces them damned who make it, and when the enquiry is still persisted in, he announces from his divine love, that the punishment due to the perversion of good, does not come from good, but from the perverting evil.

Verse 8:8. And therefore they are damned, who are in the perverting evil.

Verse 8:9. And in consequence of that evil, they become mere external men, without mutual love, according to the several degrees in which they have confirmed themselves in evil, separating themselves from the Lord, and from the affection of good.

Verses 8:10, 11. That on this occasion the Lord's divine love to the church is excited, and from perception of the separation of those who were in evil, the church is led to enquire concerning the accusations of evil spirits, and the condemnation which they bring, and is thus taught, that no evil condemns, which is not seen to be sinful; but when it is seen to be sinful, then it must no longer be persisted in.

Verse 8:12. Instruction is also given, that the Lord in his Divine Humanity is the divine truth itself, and that whoever acknowledges his humanity to be divine, and does his precepts, shall be preserved from falsities, and shall be principled in divine truths, which teach man eternal life, and lead to heaven.

Verse 8:13. But this instruction is rejected, as contrary to the truth, by those who are principled in self-love, and who contend, that truth cannot be its own testimony.

Verse 8:14. They are therefore instructed further, that the truth carries its own testimony along with it, because it acknowledges its divine origin, and divine end, whereas they, who are principled in self-love, know neither the origin nor the end of truth.

Verse 8:15. Thus they are guided merely by their own self-derived intelligence, which condemns all that are opposed to itself, whereas divine truth united with divine good condemns no one.

Verse 8:16. Nevertheless divine truth exercises just judgement, but then it is a judgement not derived from truth alone, but from divine good in union with it.

Verse 8:17. Agreeable to what the Word teaches, in the internal sense, concerning the testimony of two men.

Verse 8:18. Thus the Lord's humanity, which is divine truth, and his divinity, which is divine good, bear united testimony to the truth.

Verse 8:19. That they of the perverted church, who are principled in self love, are hence led to enquire concerning the divine good, and are instructed that they are ignorant both of divine truth and divine good, and that had they been acquainted with divine truth, or the Lord's Divine Humanity, they would have been acquainted also with divine good, or his divinity.

Verse 8:20. That this instruction was from the knowledges of good and truth in the Lord's humanity, to which humanity no violence was as yet offered, because the period of its glorification was not yet arrived.

Verse 8:21. Therefore the Lord, in that humanity, testifies further concerning those who are principled in self-love, that he is about to leave the world, and that they will speculate concerning him, but still will destroy in themselves all heavenly life through their evils and falsities, and thus can have no communion with him.

Verses 8:22, 23. And when this testimony is misunderstood, he testifies yet further, that all, who are principled in self-love, are in connection with infernal spirits, and are also in worldly love, whereas his humanity is in connection with divinity, and thus undefiled by worldly love.

Verse 8:24. Therefore they, who are principled in self-love, separate themselves from the life of heaven, since such separation is a certain consequence of not acknowledging the Lord in his Divine Humanity to be Jehovah.

Verses 8:25, 26. That enquiry is hence excited amongst those who are of the perverted church, concerning the Lord's humanity, and they are instructed that it is the first and supreme of all principles, agreeable to its constant testimony, being in possession of all knowledge, by reason of its union with the divine good.

Verses 8:27, 28, 29. This however is not apprehended by them, and there fore they are instructed further, that when the humanity is glorified, or made divine, then it will be seen that it is essential life, and that all its operation and thought are from that life, and therefore the divinity is always present with the humanity, and the humanity never separated from divinity, since its operation is always in accord with the divine will.

Verses 8:30, 31, 32. That in consequence of this instruction, faith in the Lord's humanity is excited and prevails, and they, who receive it, are further taught, that if they continue to live according to his precepts, they will be taught of him, and will understand divine truth, and will thus be delivered from the bondage of sin.

Verse 8:33. This instruction however is rejected, and it is argued that since they are in possession of the Word, and were never in bondage to sin, it is to no purpose to speak to them about escaping that bondage.

Verses 8:34, 35. Therefore they are further instructed, that in the love of evil there is servitude, and that they who are in such servitude, cannot enter into heaven, which is open only to those who are in divine truth.

Verse 8:36. If then they are in divine truth, leading them to renounce evil love, then they will attain the true freedom, which consists in being led of the Lord.

Verses 8:37, 38. It is granted that they possess the Word, but inasmuch as they reject divine truth, it is a full proof that the truth of the Word is not received by them, since the truth of the Word is from the divine good, and therefore they, who reject it, cleave to what is false derived from infernal evil.

Verses 8:39, 40, and part of 41. Still they insist that they are regenerated of the Lord ; but they are again taught, that if they were regenerated of the Lord, they would love what the Lord loves, but that in rejecting divine truth, they oppose divine love, and by so doing prove themselves to be in infernal love.

Verses: part of 8:41, 42, 43. Still they insist that they are not principled in evils and falsities, but in divine truth; and therefore they are further instructed, that if they were principled in divine truth, they would love the Lord's humanity, because that humanity was from the divine truth, and is the divine truth; and the reason why they do not understand this, is, because they are not rightly affected towards the internal sense of the Word.

Verse 8:44. Therefore they are in the false of faith, and are thus in the cravings of evil, and destroyers of all intellectual truth, cherishing evil in the will, and the false principles thence derived in the understanding.

Verses 8:45, 46. On which account they reject the Lord in his humanity, although in his humanity he was essential purity, and ought to be believed in as essential truth.

Verse 8:47. For every one, who is principled in divine truth, lives in obedience to divine truth, and if any are disobedient, it is because they are not principled in divine truth.

Verses 8:48, 49. That the perverted church reject this instruction, as proceeding from ignorance of the Word, and from infernal agency, therefore they are further taught, that the Lord's humanity is not under infernal control, but under divine government, and is therefore rejected.

Verses 8:50, 51. And that it does not exalt itself, but is exalted and instructed by the essential divinity, and therefore whoever lives according to the Lord's precepts is delivered from damnation.

Verses 8:52, 53, 54. But this instruction is also rejected by the perverted church, through misinterpretation, and regarded as a further proof of infernal agency, and as exalting the Lord's humanity in an undue measure; therefore they are again taught, that if the humanity exalted itself, its exaltation is no exaltation, but that it is exalted by the Supreme Divinity, who is regarded in the church as the supreme teacher of truth.

Verse 8:55. Who yet is unknown in the church, and known only to the assumed humanity; therefore the humanity must testify to such knowledge, because it is the truth; thus it testifies that both in understanding and in will it is one with the Supreme Divinity.

Verse 8:56. And was accordingly seen in the representative church under a human form, exciting the affections both of truth and good.

Verses 8:57, 58. And notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, arising from its being born in time, is yet the Eternal Jehovah.

Verse 8:59. That this instruction is opposed by the false persuasions originating in the natural mind, which darken the truth in such a manner, that it is no longer seen, and therefore is unnoticed, though it is the central life of all men.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1607, 1990, 3704, 7456, 9315, 10579

Apocalypse Revealed 23

Doctrine of the Lord 30

True Christian Religion 109


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 228, 808, 1116

On the Athanasian Creed 81

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 49

De Domino 44

Marriage 109

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 14

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Micah 5:1

Bible Word Meanings

said
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...

say
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...

Abraham
Abraham (or Abram, as he is named in the beginning of his story) was the ancestor of all the Children of Israel, through his son...

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.


 Discipleship at Easter
The final events in Jesus' life unfolded quickly. The disciples responded to the changes in different ways. The twelve disciples picture qualities in us that follow the Lord. How do we respond when our faith is challenged?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Disciples of the Lord Bookmarks
Here are bookmarks that you can print, cut out, and use to help you remember some of the keys to becoming a disciple of the Lord.
Project | Ages over 7

 Follow Me
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Go and Sin No More
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 How the Word Enlightens
The Lord wants to help everyone see spiritual things more clearly but the quality and extent of an individual’s enlightenment depends on his or her own spiritual development. Enlightenment is affected by the questions we ask the Lord and the reasons we are seeking answers.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 I Am the Light of the World
Start out sitting in darkness and light candles one by one as you read (or repeat) a quote from the Word. The room will grow brighter and brighter with the sharing of each quote.
Activity | Ages over 11

 I Am: The Lord’s Divine Presence with Us
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Jesus Predicts His Departure
Jesus said, "I AM the light of the world." When is He the light of our world--when He teaches true ideas, or when we act on them?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Light of the World
Use light colored crayons or pastels on dark paper to illustrate light in the darkness.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Disciples of the Lord
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Providence and Evil
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Overview of Sunday School Projects and Activities to accompany the Journey program Practicing Forgiveness
Overview of a book of Activities and Projects to accompany the Journey program Practicing Forgiveness. Includes activities for five stories on forgiveness for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Prayers for Adults: Being Disciples of the Lord
Activity | Ages over 18

 Prayers for Teens: Being Disciples of the Lord
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Quotes: Disciples of the Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Spiritual Freedom
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord's Names
The Lord's names reveal aspects of His qualities. We can be linked to Him through baptism in His name.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Oneness of God
Lesson and activities looking at the oneness of God and the way his many names help us reflect on what He does for us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 The Truth Shall Make You Free
Will truth make us free whether or not we are following the Lord?
Activity | Ages over 15

 The Woman Taken in Adultery
A woman accused of committing adultery was brought to Jesus by a mob armed with stones and threatening her life. When do we arm ourselves with true ideas from the Word of God with the intention of using them to judge others?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Word of the Lord
Lesson and activities looking at how the Word can helps us and the angels in heaven.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Tolerance and Judgment
Loving the neighbor is intending and doing good to all, but wisely loving others takes a variety of forms depending on others' actions.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 True Freedom
"It is the freedom to enjoy such things - the freedom to love the Lord above all, the freedom to love the truth of His Word, and the freedom to love the good in our fellow human beings - it is this which is freedom itself."
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Wings of Truth
Lesson and activities exploring how truth can uplift, protect, and free us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 You Shall Not Bear False Witness
Worship Talk | Ages over 18


Translate: