The eighth chapter of John’s Gospel continues to develop the idea of the pre-human existence of the Son of God. In this chapter Jesus claimed to have come “from above,” the very place where He was about to return. He claimed to be “the Beginning,” the title given to “Wisdom” in Proverbs 8:22, and that He “issued forth out of God,” terminology which refers to the “begetting” of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:24-25. These statements reach a crescendo in verses 56-58 where Jesus claimed to be the one who interacted with Abraham face to face (Gen. 18), who promised that Sarah would conceive Isaac a year later (Gen. 17:21 & 18:10-14), and then returned to make that happen, and Abraham “rejoiced” and made a great feast (Gen. 21:1-8). The Jewish scholars to whom Jesus was speaking clearly understood what He was saying and took up stones to kill Him.
Trinitarians wrongly assert that the words “I am” in vs. 58 mean Jesus was claiming to be Yahweh. Biblical Unitarians violate the grammar, and wrongly assert that Jesus was only claiming to be the Messiah in vs. 58 and that His preexistence was in the mind of God and in name only. Neither of these explanations can account for the language in this chapter.
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