By Tom L. Ballinger

One-hundred-sixty-three times in the King James Version of the Bible, God says, “I am the LORD;” LORD  being the translation of Yahweh. One-hundred-sixty-three times, God says of Himself—I AM THE LORD. As it was pointed out in our last study, Joseph Rotherham, in his Emphasized Bible, always translates LORD as “Yahweh.”

 The last of the Old Testament references of “I AM The LORD” is found in Malachi 3:6; “For I am the LORD, I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are consumed.” This is the definitive comment on Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

 Malachi 3:6 could be rendered; “For I Am Yahweh, I change not: …” Hebrews 13:8 would be correct by saying, “Jesus Christ changes not.” Our Lord Jesus Christ named Himself, Yahweh, in the Old Testament. He also selected His name for the New Testament times. He sent His angel to Joseph, who was espoused to Mary, and told him, “…for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). A superficial reading of this fact would indicate that Jesus is the name of the baby ― “Baby Jesus.” The Name, JESUS, is the English rendering of the Greek, “Iesous,” which comes from “Jehovah,” or “Jehoshua,” and they all are derived from Yahweh. (I’ll not get into that study). But, the Name, JESUS, is the New Testament equivalent of YAHWEH.

 I also noticed in Matthew 1:23 that a messenger (i.e. angel) further informed Joseph that the child is to be born of a virgin, and “they shall call His name Emmanuel which, being interpreted, is God with us.”  

Here is what I’ve learned: (1) One-hundred-sixty-three times, God is identified in the Old Testament as—I AM YAHWEH. (2) Yahweh never changes. He is always God.   (3) When the language of the Bible changes from Hebrew to Greek, only the spelling and pronunciation changes; that’s all. Yahweh/Jesus is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” An example of this can be that my Christian name, in English, is Thomas. It’s pronounced as Thomas. In Spanish, my first name is spelled Tomas. It is pronounced Tow-mas. However, I remain the same person, whether it is Thomas or Tomas. 

When I consider the one-hundred-sixty-three references of “I AM YAHWEH,” I am overwhelmed with the significance of the “I AM.” Over-and-over, again, the emphasis is on “I AM Yahweh,” i.e. LORD. Check out the occurrences; you, too, will perceive the significance and import of   “I AM.” [ i ] 

In Isaiah 43, notice the “I AMs.”

 “For I AM the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour:” (v.3).

 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I AM He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, AM the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I AM God” (vs. 10-12).

 “I AM the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King” (v. 15).

 “I, even I, AM He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (v. 25).

 The “I AM,” in these passages, is instructing us that “I AM” is Yahweh. I AM the LORD. As it was pointed out, previously, in the study “Jesus Christ Is God,” the Pharisees understood exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

 There is currently a growing movement within a certain sect of Christendom proclaiming that Jesus Christ was a supernatural human being—but He was not God, nor even divine. They claim, “Jesus never once said he was God.” This group is headed up by an ex-Englishman now out of Morrow, Georgia. He calls himself, “Sir Anthony Buzzard.” Two things to notice; in America we do not, by law, have titles such as “Sir,” or “Lord,” or “Duke,” and etc. The man’s last name, Buzzard, isn’t very flattering. You know what buzzards eat? But of course, we cannot choose our family name. The point is, “Sir” Buzzard denies that Jesus Christ is God. [ ii ]  It was surprising, and alarming, to learn how broad a range this movement covers within the Christian religion.

 Let’s carry the idea of I AM YAHWEH, or I AM the LORD, over into the Gospel of John and see if we can appreciate the full impact of “I AM.”

 “As long as I AM in the world, I AM the light of the world” (John 9:5).

 “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I AM the door of the sheep” (John 10:7-8).

 “I AM the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

 “I AM the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14).

 “Jesus said unto her, I AM the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live’ (John 11:25).

 “Jesus saith unto him, I AM the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

 “I AM the true vine” (John 15:1).

 “I AM the vine (John 15:5).

I want to use a phrase that adequately defines what the Lord Jesus was communicating when He said, “I AM,” but I am at a loss to do so. Therefore, I’ll say the following for wont of a more proper phrase; the subtle nuance of Jesus saying, “I AM,” is that He was stating He was God.

 God is the light of the world; God is the door; God is the good Shepherd; God is the resurrection; God is the way, the truth, and the life; God is the true vine. This is what our Lord and Savior meant when He said, “I AM.” 

The Gospel of John also describes the event in the Garden, as did Matthew, when Judas and the others came for Jesus.

 “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I AM He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them. As soon then as He had said unto them, I AM He, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I AM He: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way” (John 18:4-8).

 Three times in these four verses, He said He was I AM. He was not just saying, “I’m the guy you’re looking for.” Nor was He just saying, “I’m the man you want.” It was His way of identifying Himself as “Jesus of Nazareth,” Who was the Great I AM of the Old Testament.

 When Christ said, “I AM He,”  “they went backward, and fell to the ground,” this demonstrated the power in the spoken Name of ― I AM. If you or I were to say, “I am he,” there would be no great significance in it as it was when our Lord Jesus Christ replied, “I AM He.”

 Yahweh (i.e. LORD) of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ of the New “is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). “For I AM the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).




            [ i ] In this study, “I AM” is capitalized in order to emphasize the importance of the phrase which is also His Name.

             [ ii ] Anthony Buzzard heads-up what is called, “The Restoration Fellowship” at the Atlanta Bible College, Morrow, Georgia. He is either affiliated with the Assemblies of God, or the Church of God. This fellowship speaks of themselves as the “Minority Church.”