John: The Ego Eimi
John: The Ego Eimi
The ego eimi (I am) is not entirely exclusive to John’s Gospel, but is very prominently emphasized by John.
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Bible Passages

Exodus 3:14

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Isaiah 52:6, KJV

Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.

John 4:25–26

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he
comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you – I am he.”

John 8:58–59

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At
this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

John 6:35

Then Jesus declared, ”I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

John 10:11

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

John 13:19

“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.”

John 18:4–6

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.


The ego eimi is not entirely exclusive to John’s Gospel, but is very prominently emphasized by John, occurring twenty-four times. Jesus says “eimi” (the usual form of “I am”) forty-five times in this Gospel, but of these twenty-four are the ego eimi, giving the deliberate addition of the ego (“I”), unnecessary in Greek grammar, which alerts us to something special being said. Of these twenty-four times, seven (8:24; 8:28; 8:58; 13:19; 18:5; 18:6; and 18:8) are absolute emphatic statements of self-identification with the Father, the I Am that I Am. These are moments of epiphany, when the power of Jesus shines out dramatically. In one case those to whom he speaks fall to the ground as if stunned (John 18:6). In another case, faith in him is the result (John 4:26).

By using this form, Jesus is claiming to be God, for only God is the I Am that
I Am. That’s why he roused such anger in his hearers in 8:58–59. It is clear that, in his use of the phrase, Jesus is making an intentional link to its use in the Old Testament as the name of God. This “name” is no mere label, a random identifying moniker; it is like a compressed file in which is contained all the power and glory of the being of God himself, only waiting to be unzipped into our lives by personal encounter.



Most glorious God, we praise and exalt your holy name, the quintessential expression of who you are – Ancient of Days, most mighty, the Mystery we can know and love as a fellow traveller in Jesus. Wrap the power and light of your name around us, we pray, so that, whatever happens to us in this world, our faith will hold firm in Jesus, in whose holy name we pray; Amen.