BibleAsk Team

What is the meaning of “I AM WHO I AM”?

“I Am Who I Am”

The phrase “I Am Who I Am” is mentioned in the book of Exodus. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and commanded him to go to Egypt and guide His people out of bondage. Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13). Moses asked God what he was to say if the Israelites asked him for his divine credentials.

The name by which God had revealed Himself to Israel could not have fully forgotten by them. However, the character and strength of the One who called Moses would be revealed in that name, and since names had meanings in the Semite mentality, it was necessary for Moses to give his people the true nature of their God, who was now eager and also able to save them from slavery.

God answered Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). God explained to Moses, the name by which He had made Himself known to Abraham at the making of the covenant (Genesis 15:7).

From the Hebrew word translated as “I Am” comes the derived form Yahweh. Yahweh is translated “LORD,” by the KJV, with the whole word in capital and small capital letters as it appears here. The ASV of 1901 transliterates Yahweh as “Jehovah.” To the Jews, this has always been the Holy name by which the true God is differentiated from all pagan gods.

In Hebrew as in English, this name is a form of the verb “to be,” and means that its owner is the eternal, self-existing One. The name’s all-embracing universality prohibited any comparison of the God of the Israelites to the gods of the Egyptians and other pagan nations. It was given to provide Moses and his nation with solid affirmation, in their bondage, that God will certainly save them.

Afterwards, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may [a]hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:1–2). Pharaoh felt himself superior to any foreign God. Eventually, his pride led to his utter defeat and the deliverance of Israel.

Jesus – “I Am”

During His ministry, Jesus claimed the same OT title “I Am” for Himself. He declared, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). This statement was most solemn, and filled with eternal significance. And it was understood by the Jews as a claim to divinity. Consequently, “they took up stones to throw at Him” but Jesus left the temple (John 8: 59). And few months later, the Jews made another attempt to stone Jesus because He again claimed divinity (John 10:30–33).

After His ascension, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:13). Here, He affirmed that He is Creator of all things and the beginning and final revelation of God to men (Revelation 1:8). All things find their end in relation to Him (Colossians 1:16, 17). In fact, the unfolding out of God’s plan of salvation from first to last is bound up in Him. The three titles of this verse sum up the mission of Christ for the redemption of mankind (Revelation 1:17).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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