8:24 Thus I told you 4 that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am he, 5 you will die in your sins.”
8:58 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, 6 before Abraham came into existence, 7 I am!” 8
1 tn Grk “Then again Jesus spoke to them saying.”
2 sn The theory proposed by F. J. A. Hort (The New Testament in the Original Greek, vol. 2, Introduction; Appendix, 87-88), that the backdrop of 8:12 is the lighting of the candelabra in the court of women, may offer a plausible setting to the proclamation by Jesus that he is the light of the world. The last time that Jesus spoke in the narrative (assuming 7:53-8:11 is not part of the original text, as the textual evidence suggests) is in 7:38, where he was speaking to a crowd of pilgrims in the temple area. This is where he is found in the present verse, and he may be addressing the crowd again. Jesus’ remark has to be seen in view of both the prologue (John 1:4, 5) and the end of the discourse with Nicodemus (John 3:19-21). The coming of Jesus into the world provokes judgment: A choosing up of sides becomes necessary. The one who comes to the light, that is, who follows Jesus, will not walk in the darkness. The one who refuses to come, will walk in the darkness. In this contrast, there are only two alternatives. So it is with a person’s decision about Jesus. Furthermore, this serves as in implicit indictment of Jesus’ opponents, who still walk in the darkness, because they refuse to come to him. This sets up the contrast in chap. 9 between the man born blind, who receives both physical and spiritual sight, and the Pharisees (John 9:13, 15, 16) who have physical sight but remain in spiritual darkness.
3 tn The double negative οὐ μή (ou mh) is emphatic in 1st century Hellenistic Greek.
4 tn Grk “thus I said to you.”
5 tn Grk “unless you believe that I am.” In this context there is an implied predicate nominative (“he”) following the “I am” phrase. What Jesus’ hearers had to acknowledge is that he was who he claimed to be, i.e., the Messiah (cf. 20:31). This view is also reflected in English translations like NIV (“if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be”), NLT (“unless you believe that I am who I say I am”), and CEV (“if you don’t have faith in me for who I am”). For a different view that takes this “I am” and the one in 8:28 as nonpredicated (i.e., absolute), see R. E. Brown, John (AB), 1:533-38. Such a view refers sees the nonpredicated “I am” as a reference to the divine Name revealed in Exod 3:14, and is reflected in English translations like NAB (“if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins”) and TEV (“you will die in your sins if you do not believe that ‘I Am Who I Am’”).
sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.
6 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”
7 tn Grk “before Abraham was.”
8 sn I am! is an explicit claim to deity. Although each occurrence of the phrase “I am” in the Fourth Gospel needs to be examined individually in context to see if an association with Exod 3:14 is present, it seems clear that this is the case here (as the response of the Jewish authorities in the following verse shows).