8-1 Jesus Affirms His Divinity with the Greek Words I AM
An important feature of the Greek Gospels is the use of the Greek words ejgwv eijmiv, ego eimi, [see second-half of PDF] "I am." These words are used predominantly in John, but they also occur at significant moments in Matthew, Mark, and Luke as well.
When Moses asked God on Mount Sinai, "When they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?", the answer was "I am that I am" (Ex. 3:13-14). The Greek version of the Old Testament, widely used in Jesus' day, rendered this text "ejgwv eijmiv oj [Wn." A similar divine usage is found several places in the Hebrew Bible and in Jewish messianic literature. Thus, when Jesus repeatedly identified himself with these words, his audiences could well have understood that he was affirming his divine identity as the Lord God of Israel.
This chart lists the passages in the Greek that contain the words ejgwv eijmiv, most of which are in the Gospel of John. Interestingly, Matthew, Mark, and John record this phrase in connection with Jesus' miraculous walking on the water and stilling the storm. Mark emphasizes these words in the pointed answer of Jesus to his accusers who had asked, "Are you the Messiah" (Mk. 14:61), just as John preserves them in the open declaration of Jesus to the Samaritan woman at the well. Luke reserves it exclusively for Jesus' final announcement when he appeared to his apostles after his resurrection and Paul consistently testifies that Jesus identified himself this way on the road to Damascus.
Raymond E. Brown, trans., The Gospel According to John (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1966), 1:533-38.