How is Exodus 3:14 to be understood along with New Testament implications? By Jack Kettler


“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14)


Looking at the Strong's Lexicon:



אֱלֹהִים֙ (’ĕ·lō·hîm)

Noun - masculine plural

Strong's Hebrew 430: 1) (plural) 1a) rulers, judges 1b) divine ones 1c) angels 1d) gods 2) (plural intensive-singular meaning) 2a) god, goddess 2b) godlike one 2c) works or special possessions of God 2d) the (true) God 2e) God.”


The three occurrences of “I AM” in the passage are identical.



אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה (’eh·yeh)

Verb - Qal - Imperfect - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 1961: 1) to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out 1a) (Qal) 1a1) ----- 1a1a) to happen, fall out, occur, take place, come about, come to pass 1a1b) to come about, come to pass 1a2) to come into being, become 1a2a) to arise, appear, come 1a2b) to become 1a2b1) to become 1a2b2) to become like 1a2b3) to be instituted, be established 1a3) to be 1a3a) to exist, be in existence 1a3b) to abide, remain, continue (with word of place or time) 1a3c) to stand, lie, be in, be at, be situated (with word of locality) 1a3d) to accompany, be with 1b) (Niphal) 1b1) to occur, come to pass, be done, be brought about 1b2) to be done, be finished, be gone.”


Consulting Strong's Concordance, Hebrew 1961 for Exodus 3:14:


hayah: to fall out, come to pass, become, be

Original Word: הָיָה

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: hayah

Phonetic Spelling: (haw-yaw)

Definition: to fall out, come to pass, become, be.”


Regarding the Divine Name from Smith’s Bible Dictionary:


“The key to the meaning of the name is unquestionably given in Gods revelation of himself to Moses by the phrase “I AM THAT I AM,” (Exodus 3:14; 6:3) We must connect the name Jehovah with the Hebrew substantive verb to be, with the inference that it expresses the essential, eternal, unchangeable being of Jehovah. But more, it is not the expression only, or chiefly, of an absolute truth: it is a practical revelation of God, in his essential, unchangeable relation to this chosen people, the basis of his covenant.” (1)


What can be determined thus far? “I AM” (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה) means self-existent one or He who inhabits Eternity.   


The following Commentary entries provide additional insights:


Barnes' Notes on the Bible gets right to the point:


“I am that I am - That is, “I am what I am.” The words express absolute, and therefore unchanging and eternal Being. The name, which Moses was thus commissioned to use, was at once new and old; old in its connection with previous revelations; new in its full interpretation, and in its bearing upon the covenant of which Moses was the destined mediator.” (2)


Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible entry is more detailed than Barnes':


“And God said unto Moses, I am that I am.... This signifies the real being of God, his self-existence, and that he is the Being of beings; as also it denotes his eternity and immutability, and his constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, for it includes all time, past, present, and to come; and the sense is, not only I am what I am at present, but I am what I have been, and I am what I shall be, and shall be what I am. The Platonists and Pythagoreans seem to have borrowed their from hence, which expresses with them the eternal and invariable Being; and so the Septuagint version here is: it is said (z), that the temple of Minerva at Sais, a city of Egypt, had this inscription on it, “I am all that exists, is, and shall be.” And on the temple of Apollo at Delphos was written the contraction of "I am” (a). Our Lord seems to refer to this name, John 8:58, and indeed is the person that now appeared; and the words may be rendered, “I shall be what I shall be” (b) the incarnate God, God manifest in the flesh:”


“thus, shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you; or as the Targum of Jonathan has it, “I am he that is, and that shall be.” This is the name Ehjeh, or Jehovah, Moses is empowered to make use of, and to declare, as the name of the Great God by whom he was sent; and which might serve both to encourage him, and strengthen the faith of the Israelites, that they should be delivered by him.”


“(z) Phutarch. de Iside & Osir. (a) Plato in Timaeo. (b) “ero qui ero”, Pagninus, Montanus, Fagius, Vatablus.” (3)


Geneva Study Bible is apropos”


“And God said unto Moses, I {n} AM THAT I AM: and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”


“(n) The God who has always been, am, and shall be: The God almighty, by whom all things have their being, and the God of mercy, mindful of my promise.”


Relevant cross-reference passages and New Testament implications:


“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24)


“Then said Jesus unto them, when ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28)


“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)


The Strong’s Lexicon is important regarding John 8:58:



ἐγὼ (egō)

Personal / Possessive Pronoun - Nominative 1st Person Singular

Strong's Greek 1473: I, the first-person pronoun. A primary pronoun of the first-person I.”



εἰμί (eimi)

Verb - Present Indicative Active - 1st Person Singular

Strong's Greek 1510: I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.”


Vincent's Word Studies explains the New Testament implications for John 8:58: 


“Was, I am (γενέσθαι, ἐγώ εἰμι)”


“It is important to observe the distinction between the two verbs. Abraham's life was under the conditions of time, and therefore had a temporal beginning. Hence, Abraham came into being, or was born (γενέσθαι). Jesus' life was from and to eternity. Hence the formula for absolute, timeless existence, I am (ἐγώ εἰμι). See on John 1:3; see on John 7:34.” (4)


What was Jesus claiming in John (8:58)? The two following passages answer this question:


“Therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18)


“The Jews answered him, saying, for a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:33)


Jesus connects “I Am” (ἐγώ εἰμι) with “I Am” (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה)


Barnes' Notes on the Bible, like his previous entry cited, gets right to the point:


“For blasphemy - See the notes at Matthew 9:3.”


“Makest thyself God - See the notes at John 5:18. This shows how they understood what he had said.”


“Makest thyself - Dost claim to be God, or thy language implies this.” (5)


Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible in detail fashion explains the text:


“Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, .... Whether it will be believed or not, it is certainly fact:”


“before Abraham was, I am; which is to be understood, not of his being in the purpose and decree of God, foreordained to sufferings, and to glory; for so all the elect of God may be said to be before Abraham, being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world: or that Christ was man, before Abraham became the father of many nations; that is, before the calling of the Gentiles; for nothing is said in the text about his being the father of many nations; it is a bold and impudent addition to it: and besides, Abraham was made the father of many nations, as Ishmaelites, Israelites, Hagarenes, &c. long before the incarnation of Christ; yea, he was so from the very promise in Genesis 17:5, which so runs, “a father of many nations have I made thee”; so that this appears a false sense of the text, which is to be understood of the deity, eternity, and immutability of Christ, and refers to the passage in Exodus 3:14. "I am that I-am--I am hath sent me unto you", the true Jehovah; and so Christ was before Abraham was in being, the everlasting I am, the eternal God, which is, and was, and is to come: he appeared in an human form to our first parents before Abraham was, and was manifested as the Mediator, Saviour, and living Redeemer, to whom all the patriarchs before Abraham looked, and by whom they were saved: he was concerned in the creation of all things out of nothing, as the efficient cause thereof; he was set up from everlasting as Mediator; and the covenant of grace was made with him, and the blessings and promises of it were put into his hands before the world began; the eternal election of men to everlasting life was made in him before the foundation of the world; and he had a glory with his Father before the world was; yea, from all eternity he was the Son of God, of the same nature with him, and equal to him; and his being of the same nature proves his eternity, as well as deity, that he is from everlasting to everlasting God; and is what he ever was, and will be what he now is: he is immutable, the same today, yesterday, and forever; in his nature, love, grace, and fulness, he is the invariable and unchangeable I am.” (6)


If any doubt remains about whom Jesus was claiming to be, Scripture’s testimony is certain:


The Shema:


“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)


“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7)


This present writer is familiar with the questions surrounding 1 John 5:7.


Hence, the following:


Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible provides a positive presentation for the inclusion of the 1 John 5:7 text into the Canon:


“For there are three that bear record in heaven, .... That is, that Jesus is the Son of God. The genuineness of this text has been called in question by some, because it is wanting in the Syriac version, as it also is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; and because the old Latin interpreter has it not; and it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; nor cited by many of the ancient fathers, even by such who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them: to all which it may be replied, that as to the Syriac version, which is the most ancient, and of the greatest consequence, it is but a version, and a defective one. The history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelations, were formerly wanting in it, till restored from Bishop Usher's copy by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, and who also, from an eastern copy, has supplied this version with this text. As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters. And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens's, nine of them had it: and as to its not being cited by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no sufficient proof of the spuriousness of it, since it might be in the original copy, though not in the copies used by them, through the carelessness or unfaithfulness of transcribers; or it might be in their copies, and yet not cited by them, they having Scriptures enough without it, to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ: and yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius (z), in the beginning of the “sixth” century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerom, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the “fourth” century; and it is cited by Athanasius (a) about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian (b), in the middle, of the “third” century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian (c) about, the year 200; and which was within a “hundred” years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the, first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation. The heavenly witnesses of Christ's sonship are,” (underling and bolding emphasis mine)


“the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. The “Father” is the first Person, so called, not in, reference to the creatures, angels, or men, he is the Creator, and so the Father of; for this is common to the other two Persons; but in reference to his Son Jesus Christ, of whose sonship he bore witness at his baptism and transfiguration upon the mount. The “Word” is the second Person, who said and it was done; who spoke all things out of nothing in the first creation; who was in the beginning with God the Father, and was God, and by whom all things were created; he declared himself to be the Son of God, and proved himself to be so by his works and miracles; see Mark 14:61, &c. and his witness of himself was good and valid; see John 8:13; and because it is his sonship that is, here testified of, therefore the phrase, “the Word”, and not “the Son”, is here used. “The Holy Ghost” is the third Person, who proceeds from the Father, and is also called the Spirit of the Son, who testified of, Christ's sonship also at his baptism, by descending on him as a dove, which was the signal given to John the Baptist, by which he knew him, and bare record of him, that he was the Son of God. Now the number of these witnesses was three, there being so many persons in the Godhead; and such a number being sufficient, according to law, for the establishing of any point: to which may be added, that they were witnesses in heaven, not to the heavenly inhabitants, but to men on earth; they were so called, because they were in heaven, and from thence gave out their testimony; and which shows the firmness and excellency of it, it being not from earth, but from heaven, and not human, but divine; to which may be applied the words of Job, in Job 16:19; it follows,”


“and these three are one; which is to be understood, not only of their unity and agreement in their testimony, they testifying of the same thing, the sonship of Christ; but of their unity in essence or nature, they being the one God. So that, this passage holds forth and asserts the unity of God, a trinity of persons in the Godhead, the proper deity of each person, and their distinct personality, the unity of essence in that they are one; a trinity of persons in that they are three, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and are neither more nor fewer; the deity of each person, for otherwise their testimony would not be the testimony of God, as in 1 John 5:9; and their distinct personality; for were they not three distinct persons, they could not be three testifiers, or three that bare record. This being a proper place, I shall insert the faith of the ancient Jews concerning the doctrine of the Trinity; and the rather, as it agrees with the apostle's doctrine in words and language, as well as in matter. They call the three Persons in the Godhead three degrees: they say (d),”


“Jehovah, Elohenu (our God), Jehovah, Deuteronomy 6:4; these are the three degrees with respect to this sublime mystery, in the beginning Elohim, or God, created, Genesis 1:1, &c.”'


“And these three, they say, though they are distinct, yet are one, as appears by what follows (e):”


“come see the mystery of the word; there are three degrees, and every degree is by itself, yet they are all one, and are bound together in one, and one is not separated from the other.”'


“Again, it is said (f),”


“this is the unity of Jehovah the first, Elohenu, Jehovah, lo, all of them are one, and therefore: called one; lo, the three names are as if they were one, and therefore are called one, and they are one; but by the revelation of the Holy Spirit it is made known, and they by the sight of the eye may be known, , “that these three are one”: and this is the mystery of the voice which is heard; the voice is one, and there are three things, fire, and Spirit, and water, and all of them are one in the mystery of the voice, and they are but one: so here, Jehovah, Elohenu, Jehovah, they are one, the three, forms, modes, or things, which are one.”


“Once more (g),”


“there are two, and one is joined unto them, and they are three; and when the three are one, he says to them, these are the two names which Israel heard, Jehovah, Jehovah, and Elohenu is joined unto them, and it is the seal of the ring of truth; and when they are joined as one, they are one in one unity.”'


“And this they illustrate by the three names of the soul of man (h);”


“the three powers are all of them one, the soul, spirit, and breath, they are joined as one, and they are one; and all is according to the mode of the sublime mystery,”'


“meaning the Trinity.”


“Says R. Isaac (i) worthy are the righteous in this world, and in the world to come, for lo, the whole of them is holy, their body is holy, their soul is holy, their Spirit is holy, their breath is holy, holy are these three degrees “according to the form above”. - Come see these three degrees cleave together as one, the soul, Spirit, and breath.” (7)


In closing:


When LORD appears in all capital letters, it indicates that the word Yahweh is used in the Old Testament. When using lowercase letters, the translator indicates that the word Adonai is found in the Hebrew Bible. Adonai means “sovereign one.”


God identified himself as the great “I AM” in Exodus 3:14


“I Am” means that He is immutable. The ‘I am’ means that He is self-existent and unchanging in His Being. The name also describes His self-existence or aseity.


New Testament Implications:


Jesus identified himself as the great “I AM.” Therefore, Jesus is God, and He and the Father are one, along with the Holy Spirit.  


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)




1.      Smith, William, Dr. “Entry for 'God,’” (Smith's Bible Dictionary, 1901).

2.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Exodus, Vol. 2 p. 17.

3.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Exodus, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 37.

4.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, John, (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 181.

5.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, John, Vol. 5 p.1199.

6.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, John, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 317.

7.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 1 John, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 101-104.


Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at: