Significance to the salvation


This paper is to briefly examine the seven "I AM" statements of Jesus and their significance to the salvation. John is the only gospel that uses the "I AM" statements of Jesus as a framework for representing the Gospel.

The Gospel of John is an extraordinary unique account in the New Testament. The Greek expression ego eimi means and denotes "self-identity in self-sufficiency." When Jesus declared, "Before Abraham was born, I am," presents a claim to be the eternal God of redemption, Yahweh, I AM who I AM. (Exodus 3:14) He states His eternal pre-existence and His absolute deity (John 8:58). Abraham, as with all mortals, came into existence at one point in time. The Son of God does not have a beginning: He is eternal; and He is God. This observed in Jesus' use of the words "I AM" for Himself. The Greek translation of (Exodus 3:6, 14) in which God unveiled His identity to Moses as the "I AM." Thus, Jesus was claiming to be the ever-existing, self existent God.

Jesus claimed to be God Himself in human form. The Jews did not respond with words but picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy. This is a vivid picture of a mob ready to kill Jesus already from the beginning."[1] No other religion in all of history has made such claims to deity. The Gospel of John records other "I AM" statements that and then continues to express a deep theological thought in terms of metaphorical statements. The "I AM" statements found in the Gospel of John Jesus made these statements beginning with the words "I AM" and then continued to express deep theological thought in terms of metaphorical statements. The "I AM" statements of the Gospel of John are: the Bread of life or the living bread (John 6:35, 48 51), the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5), the gate (John 10:7, 9), the good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), the way the truth and the life (John 14:6), and the vine (John 15:1, 5).[2]

This is the first of seven such emphatic statements in this Gospel. Jesus removes the misconception of the bread of which He speaks of is not like the manna, something they could pick up and eat. It is nothing less than Himself His "I AM the bread of life" is another way of linking life in the closest fashion with Jesus. He Himself is the food, the sustainer and nourishes of Spiritual life. From this bread we really obtain life.[3] As He seeks to elicit their faith in Himself, He is met with a challenge to demonstrate His credentials they inquired what sign do you do that they may see and believe to add on our forefathers ate manna in the desert, as it is written, He gave them bread to eat (v.31) they were implying that Moses gave them the manna for Jesus goes on to correct their misunderstanding. He states "I tell you the truth it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it was my Father (v.32) to that He states, "My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven (v.33) By this Jesus was not only implying that God gave "bread from heaven" in the past and continues to do so in the immediate present, but was also implying that He Himself is "the bread of God come down from heaven" (v.33). In apparent expression of some stirring of spiritual desire they ask for this bread from heaven, though how earth-bound their understanding remains will emerge as the conversation continues" in response to their request that Jesus makes the astounding claim, "I AM the bread of life he who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty (v.35). This saying actually enshrines the essence of Jesus' message. He is the answer to all human needs.[4]

Jesus affirms to a crowd of Jewish people, "I AM the light of the world." John informed us in the prologue that the Incarnate Word was the life and the life was the light of men. Jesus is the only light and that people must respond to the coming of the light by believing in Him apart from that they are lost eternally. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it" (v.4-5) the light metaphor elaborates what he has previously said. John states that Jesus made the claim about being "the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). In the subsequent interaction between Jesus and the crowd, the Gospel of John makes it clear that these Jewish people (who did not believe in Jesus) were still walking in darkness. John has Jesus saying to them, "You are from your father the devil and you choose to do your father's desires" (John 8:44).

The healing of the blind man shows the truth of Jesus' statement as "I AM the light of the world" (John 8:12; 9:5) the significance of this miracle is that those who reject Him and refuse the light of His truth are spiritually blind (John 9:41) when the Pharisees questioned the blind man they were in unbelief of the miracle, because they were ignorant and thus they were spiritual blind themselves. So they were divided in their conclusion saying that Jesus is not from God (John 9:16), they questioned the miracle (v.18), they speak of Jesus as a sinner (v.24), they show their disbelief by questioning who Jesus is (v.29), and Jesus pronounces them that they are "blind sinners" (v.41). Jesus is the light of the whole world and that the people's eternal destiny depends on their reaction to Him[5]

"I AM the door for the sheep" (John 10: 7) Jesus is the only entrance into the family of God. He used this parable to express His role as the door to the kingdom of God. Shepherds regulate the coming and going of sheep between the sheep pen and the pastures. As the door, Jesus decides who enters the family of God. It is He who gives salvation, security and satisfaction to all who come into the family of God through Him. The parable about the contrast between a thief or robber who does not use the door of the sheepfold and a shepherd; the doorkeeper and the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd and to him the doorkeeper opens; calling the sheep by name, the shepherd leads out them to pasture. This form of a "figure of speech (v.6), which consists of some metaphors for example, "sheep pen (John 10:1), shepherd (v.2), "watchmen" (v.3) and "door" (v.3) the Pharisees did not grasp. Jesus, seeking to explain His message and enlarge its meaning, now claims I AM the door by which the sheep of the sheep pen enter (v.7) to be helpful to remind ourselves that a sheep pen normally has one doorway and that the shepherds of the description of an ancient Eastern sheepfold often slept in the doorway, acting as the door itself. In order for the sheep to enter the pen they would obviously have to enter through the doorway and metaphorically speaking through the shepherd Jesus is saying He Himself, and no other is the means by which the sheep may enter into the promised fullness of life (v.9-10). Jesus He is "the" door. He is saying that the way into life goes through him and him alone He is the door this emphasized when Jesus says, "The thief only comes to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." This is security we have in Jesus alone" Jesus said "If anyone enters through me, he will be saved and go in and go out and find pasture (v.9) we can take it as meaning having "eternal life." For we find the two concepts of being "saved" and having "eternal life" linked in (John 3:16-17).[6]

The next I am sayings of Jesus is closely related to that metaphor that has been used in the same figure of speech used as in the parable of I am the door in chapter 10 verse 1. Jesus speaks of the Shepherd of the sheep, the one who protects, leads, guides and nourishes the sheep. And the sheep is totally depended on the Shepherd as you can see in (Psalm 23), where the Lord is the Shepherd, who protects, leads, guides and nourishes His sheep. Jesus is referring to His mission He speaks of laying down His life for the sheep (John 10:15, 17, 18). The Shepherd who protects, the sheep, now protects them to the point of death and the Shepherd now reveals that He is the sacrificial Lamb of God (John1:29, 35) who willingly lays down His life for the sheep. The death of Jesus is a divine appointed so that salvation may be brought to those who trust Him (John 14). It was not just for the lost sheep of the house of Israel that He was to lie down His life but also for the sheep of another pen (John10:10) the Gentiles. Jesus comments on the healing blind man (a sheep) is not the work of a demon. "I AM the good shepherd" (John 10:11, 14) Jesus' point of mentioning this to the Jews was to make clear about the spiritual principles that govern His ministry and to contrast His ministry and theirs. Therefore a good shepherd has personal concern for the sheep and lay down His life for the sheep. Knowing their shepherd's voice, the sheep follows Him. As the good shepherd, Jesus mentioned that there are other sheep who will listen to His voice known by His kindness and the favorable response of the sheep, as in the story of the blind man and Jesus will one day be brought into the fold. More than likely what He had in mind were the Gentiles who would come to believe in Christ and be part His flock (v.16). The "other sheep" that he must bring into the one flock, is the undivided church of true believers. The idea is not that of many shepherds with many flocks but of one shepherd joining together one flock (John 10:16; Eph. 2:16). Jesus was not forced into being the Good Shepherd; He willingly took the role upon Himself and for this He is loved by God (John 10:17-18). I AM the good shepherd Jesus is contrasting Himself with religious leaders whom He is speaking to who are not good shepherd retaining the metaphor in the passage, "the hired hand" (v. 12-13). That He is referring to the Pharisees, as the "hired hand", is evident in verse 13 for there He speaks of the hired hand as "not caring for the sheep." This is an obvious referral to their harsh treatment of the former blind man.[7]

These "I AM" statements are often linked with Jesus' miracles. The statements and miracles each contribute to the understanding of each other. The I AM statement was made to Martha before Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead nowhere mentioned in the synoptic, obviously the raising of Lazarus would have been considered one of the greatest miracles of Jesus by all who knew about it, Jesus tells Martha that He is the resurrection and the life. He is "the life" It is He alone whose life is unique, self-existent like of the Father (John5:16) He is the life and the source of life to others. The raising of Lazarus is intended to show Jesus' power to give life now and to demonstrate His power to do what He proclaimed He declared that He was the living bread that came down from heaven. The miracle of raising Lazarus (John11) from the dead is made observant from the beginning. The symbolic significance of this miracle is that the sick will not end up in death because Jesus will bring back their physical life again that is the importance of His gift of eternal life to those who believe in Him. Each of these miracles is interpreted by the "I AM" statement. All in all, the "I AM" statements in John's Gospel help us identify Jesus as divine. He is the ever- existing God.

"I AM the way and the truth and the life" (John 10:6). "No one comes to the Father except through me." He confidently states that He is not one of many ways to God but 'the' only way. He disintegrates to the lost sinner who is ignorant and spiritually dead, that in order to come to God the Father and asserts His uniqueness as Him being the only way, the truth and the life. Jesus responded that a life given in belief and faith in Him would pave the way to eternal fellowship with Him. As Jesus' claim to be the way, the truth and life is of great importance that there are not many ways to God but the only way that Jesus embodies and proclaims the truth is a major theme throughout John's Gospel He also offers life itself, life through God the Father, The creator and give of all life. Jesus states He is "the life" as the saying "I AM the resurrection and the life." Again we observe Jesus associating very closely with life. "It is He alone whose life is unique, self- existent like the life of the Father (5:16). He is life and the source of life to others (3:16).

One of the most enduring metaphors of the Gospel of John is the allegory of "I AM the vine," my Father is the gardener or "vinedresser", we are the branches." Within the context of Jesus' discourse, this metaphor illustrates the interconnectedness between the disciples and him. The vitality of the disciples' lives directly depends upon him. In His elaboration of the metaphor, Jesus reveals its multi-faceted meanings. The dual images of vine and branches along with explicit references to fruit which emphasizes the growth, nourishment and fecundity apart from me you can do nothing. Along with the rest of the discourse of chapters 15-17, Jesus' explication of the vine and branches strives to create a sense of unity and belonging among the disciples and to provide encouragement to the hearers of the Gospel. The metaphor concurrently brings death into view some branches inevitably wither away because they break from the vine; others are forcibly removed. The double aspects of growth and decay fit well with the dualistic tendencies of the Gospel. As anyone who has cultivated a vine knows such plants tend toward entanglement and wilderness. Vines grow haphazardly and without clear define patterns; to make them grow in a particular pattern or to confine them to a limited area it takes great care. Thus comes the necessity of the vine grower, a role that is played by God in (John15). Without such care the branches have little control over the direction of the tendrils of the plant that will grow. Furthermore when a vine has fully grown, the branches are often undistinguishable from the vine itself. The pruning of branches that do not bear fruit represents the cleansing of true believers, the ongoing cleansing after an initial cleansing at conversion, just as did Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet in relation to the disciples' having been bathed already (Jesus 13:10). [8]


John's Gospel does not speak its contention, but brings the picture of God as He has all power, all wisdom and the life through His beloved son Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and to enhance life. The story begins as Jesus was prior Abraham. He is described as the good shepherd and His followers are the sheep. He is the gate of the sheep only through Him we can enter the kingdom of heaven. John makes clear the people who do not believe walk in darkness for Jesus is the light and His followers walk in the light. Jesus as the miracle worker, John drew on the 'signs' source to construct the major part of his portrayal of Jesus' public ministry then later he blended in with the narratives of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. John submerged the entire narrative with his exalted Christology thus eventually giving the gospel its present basic shape and character, thus bringing Christ to the level of human understanding with the help of the Holy Spirit. God's word suggests He can reveal Himself in numerous ways, but His ultimate revelation to man was through His very own Son, Jesus Christ. God's salvation to the ends of the earth and the transformation of the believers is only available by the work of Holy Spirit and one's important contact with Him therefore we can see that the I AM sayings indicates His deity. In both Jesus is saying that it is important that those addressed come to trust Him as the "I AM" which looks very much like a claim to sharing the nature of deity. In conclusion the "I AM" sayings prove the deity of Jesus the Christ. And that when Jesus expresses these words, He requires to convey the astounding of His divine nature.


  • A. T. Robertson "The Fourth Gospel word pictures in the New Testament," Vol. 5 London: SCM., 1985.
  • Brown, Raymond E. The Gospel According to John I-XII. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966.
  • Kyle Keefer, The Branches of the Gospel of John: The Reception of the Early Church. NY: T & T Clark 2006.
  • M. W. G. Stibbe John's Gospel London: Routledge, 1994.
  • Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.
  • Morris Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1971.
  • R. Bultmann The Gospel of John. Eng. Tr.; Oxford: Blackwell, 1971.
  • Robert H. Gundry, A survey of the New Testament 4th ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.
  • Ronald J. Allen, The life of Jesus for Today. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
  • William Barclay, The Gospel of John on the 'I am' of Jesus. Louisville Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press 2001.
  1. A. T. Robertson "The Fourth Gospel word pictures in the New Testament," Vol. 5 London: SCM., 1985, 159.
  2. William Barclay, The Gospel of John on the 'I am' of Jesus. Louisville Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press 2001, 20.
  3. Barrett, c. K. The Gospel According to St. John. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, Second Edition, 1978, 33.
  4. Brown, Raymond E. The Gospel According to John I-XII. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966, 12.
  5. Ronald J. Allen, The life of Jesus for Today. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, 88.
  6. Morris Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971, 324.
  7. Robert H. Gundry, A survey of the New Testament 4th ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003, 278.
  8. Kyle Keefer, The Branches of the Gospel of John: The Reception of the Early Church. NY: T & T Clark 2006, 1.

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