Answering Additional Arguments against the Deity
This addition to
my original article
on the meaning of John 8:58 was added to address an attempt to
refute the points made regarding the Greek word contrast between
the "genesthai" Jesus applied to Abraham and the "eimi"
Jesus applied to Himself.
The argument, quoted in its entirety,
goes as follows:
"It has been argued that
if a non-Trintarian position were possible of Jesus' words, he
would have simply said GINOMAI, as he did of Abraham, but since
he did not, his use of EIMI denotes eternal existence. Yet those
raising this arguement continue to fail in understanding the PPA
construction. The PPA denotes a state of being in progress from
the moment it commenced up until the point it is stated. If Jesus
had said GINOMAI, that would mean he was continually in a state
of "coming into being" instead of simply existing. His
use of EIMI indicates that he has been in the state of EIMI (existence)
from when that existence began (eternal or not), up until his
point of saying it. Thus, this arguement is found to be invalid."
Now I'm going to try to ignore
the fact that the author of this view forgets that great scholars
and grammarians, as quoted in my original article, have dismissed
his view for centuries. I have some knowledge of this person's
comprehension of New Testament Greek, and I know for a fact that
it is barely beyond the beginners stage. He is simply unqualified
to make the claims above, and it is the height of arrogance and
pride to assume that all of the scholars quoted on this passage
"fail to understand the PPA construction." But let's
examine the three main flaws in the argument.
First, as I stated previously,
it is not clear or conclusive that John 8:58 is an example of
a PPA (present of past action still in progress). Second, it is
clear that it cannot be a PPA in the traditional sense because
it would not make sense in context. Jesus didn't have to tell
the people in front of Him that He was in existence up to the
point He spoke. That was obvious. So Jesus could not have been
saying the obvious. They knew He existed. What they may not have
known, and what we need to know, is the kind of existence
Jesus was referring to. This was laid out in painstaking detail
in my original article.
Third, and finally, the argument
that if Jesus had used the Greek verb "ginomai" of Himself
it would have somehow meant that He was "continually in a
state of 'coming into being' instead of simply existing"
is simply an example of an argument from weak Greek knowledge.
There are ways in Greek to make a verb have a "continual"
sense, but the aorist tense that is used of "ginomai"
applied to Abraham is not one of them. For that you may
use the perfect, the present participle, the present infinitive,
the imperfect, or the participle form in general. You can change
the form of "ginomai" so that there is no necessary
"continual" state of coming into being. Thus the arguer
displays, once again, that he simply is unqualified to make statements
about advanced Greek grammatical principles. It is not our arguments
that are "invalid."
What's even more interesting
is the fact that the same Greek verb (ginomai) used in John 8:58
of how Abraham came into being (or was created), is also used
to show how "all things" and the "world" were
both "made" (ginomai, came to be) in John 1:3,10. Is
it any wonder that Jesus did not apply "ginomai" to
Himself in 8:58? Depending on the context, the verb "ginomai"
implies created existence, and if Jesus had not been created,
it would have been wrong for Him to use that verb in the context
of John 8:58 of Himself. To drive this point home even more, let's
look at what the great scholar of old, John Calvin, had to say
about John 8:58:
"...But he uses different
verbs. Before Abraham was, or, Before Abraham was born, I am.
But by these words he excludes himself from the ordinary rank
of men, and claims for himself a power more than human, a power
heavenly and divine...the perception of which reached from the
beginning of the world through all ages. Yet these words may be
explained in two ways. Some think that this applies simply to
the eternal Divinity of Christ, and compare it with that passage
in the writings of Moses, I am what I am, (Exodus 3:14.) But I
extend it much farther, because the power and grace of Christ,
so far as he is the Redeemer of the world, was common to all ages.
It agrees therefore with that saying of the apostle, Christ yesterday,
and to-day, and for ever, (Hebrews 13:8.)...So that this saying
of Christ contains a remarkable testimony of his Divine essence...Nor
do I disapprove of the opinion of Chrysostom, that the present
tense of the verb is emphatic; for he does not say, I was, but
I am; by which he denotes a condition uniformly the same from
the beginning to the end. And he does not say, Before Abraham
was, but, Before Abraham was made; which implies that Abraham
had a beginning."
As a Jehovah's Witness, his interpretations are colored by his
ties to the Watchtower organization. That is why the assumption
of an existence for Jesus that "began" must be injected
into the quoted argument above. If Jesus is eternal like the Father,
then it is obvious that He could not also have a beginning like
a created being. All that I've said above can be confirmed by
basic Greek grammars, whether done by trinitarians or not, as
long as the non-trinitarians are not overly biased against the
Let us be more diligent and thorough
in our study of the Scriptures and their true meaning. That way,
we can know the truth, and the truth can make us free; whether
it is from our sins or organizations that bind us with half-truths
and falsehoods in the name of God. More on this as the need arises.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send
an email. God bless. :-)