γινομαι & ειμι

“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.'” (John 8:58)

The burning bush scene and Isaiah’s “I am” statement’s are often proposed as the background for this, and rightly so. But I think there may also be a contrast present here that has already appeared in John’s Gospel. John sets up a distinction here between γινομαι and ειμι: Before Abraham was (πριν Αβρααμ γενεσθαι) I am (εγω ειμι). This may be an allusion to John’s Prologue:

In the beginning was (ην, from ειμι) the Word (v. 1).
All things were made (εγενετο, from γινομαι) through him (v. 3).

John seems to contrast the preexistent, eternal character of the Word (using ειμι) with the temporal, created nature of everything else (γινομαι). So when we get to chapter 8, Jesus locates Abraham in the realm of created and temporal (γινομαι), and himself as preexistent and divine (ειμι).

I haven’t checked any commentaries on this, so I’m probably just late to the game here. But it stuck out to me for the first time today.

Advertisements

About Evan May

Evan May is a student at Reformed Theological Seminary and a pastor at Lakeview Christian Center in New Orleans.
This entry was posted in Κοινη. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s