The Uncommon Christ: THE GREAT I AM (Part 1 of 3)

The Uncommon Christ series explores lesser-known scriptural names and titles for Jesus Christ.


When speaking with Moses from the burning bush, the premortal Jesus Christ identified His personal name to be, in Hebrew, 'Ehyeh asher 'ehyeh (Exodus 3:14). It can be translated the following ways:


HEBREW NAME

'Ehyeh

asher

'ehyeh

PRESENT

I am

who / that / which

I am

FUTURE

I will be

who / that / which

I will be

CAUSATIVE

I cause to be

who / that / which

I cause to be

On more than one occasion in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Savior described Himself as "The Great I AM" (1). When challenged by unbelieving Jewish leaders in Judea, He referred to this name to explain His divinity: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58).


The fact that this name is a sentence can be challenging! It might help to view “I AM” as a name of its own (“I am that Great I AM”) or as the verb instead of a name (“Before Abraham was, I existed”).


I’ve observed nearly two hundred unique ways the Savior employed the phrase “I am” in our Standard Works, such as:


I am the bread of life. (John 6:35)

I am the Lord that healeth thee. (Exodus 15:26)

I am in your midst. (D&C 138:1)

I am thy shield. (Genesis 15:1)



Many of the Savior's "I am..." phrases

“I am the Alpha and Omega,” He declared numerous times (2), using the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet—it's similar to saying “everything from A to Z”. Another way He expresses this idea is, “I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come” (D&C 68:6). This can mean several different things:


His existence is premortal, mortal, and eternal. He is ENDLESS (D&C 19:4).


He guides His people through all dispensations, beginning, middle, and end. He is UNCHANGING (3 Nephi 24:5).


He is involved in my life past, present, and future. He is CONSTANT and UNFAILING (D&C 24:8).


He exists, and all things on the earth exist because of Him.



“I am.” This is Jesus Christ’s self-declared name in first-person. What would t be in third person (“He is”)? Well, many consider it to be "Jehovah."


Continue to part two where we explore this title, which is arguably the most debated name in scripture!







REFERENCES

  1. Doctrine & Covenants 29:1; 38:1; 39:1

  2. Revelation 1:11; 21;6; 22:13; 3 Nephi 9:18; D&C 19:1 (35:1; 38:1; 45:7; 54:1; 61:1; 63:60; 68:35; 75:1; 81:7; 84:120; 95:17; 112:34; 132:66).