John 8:58


I realize that a common interpretation of John 8:58 is that Jesus claimed the divine name I AM to himself. Critics claim that Jesus was merely claiming to have pre-existed his human birth.

From what I have read from the Apostolic, Post-Apostolic, and Ante-Nicene Fathers, I have found some who point out this verse when arguing for Jesus’ pre existence but I have not found any who used it to argue Jesus’ divinity.

Does anybody have any quotes from the early Church, before the council of Nicaea, of somebody pointing out that Jesus was using the divine name? I’m wondering if John 8:58 was interpreted this way before the Arian controversy.


Though not interpreting it as Jesus invoking the divine name, there were a couple Church Fathers who interpreted it as a pre-existence that implied divinity.

Origen, , Book VIII, Chapter 12Against Celsus.

Novatian, , Chapter 15On the Trinity.


Thank you for your answer I appreciate it, this seems to be a reasonable interpretation.

I just see some people who are very adamant about this particular verse invoking the divine name and they act as if it is obvious but I never really understood why. It seems to me that, if none of the early fathers interpreted it this way, it seems to be a bit of a stretch


Justin Martyr
Second Apology before the Roman Senate

Chapter XLVIII.—Before the divinity of Christ is proved, he [Trypho] demands that it be settled that He is Christ.
And Trypho said, “We have heard what you think of these matters. Resume the discourse where you left off, and bring it to an end. For some of it appears to me to be paradoxical, and wholly incapable of proof. For when you say that this Christ existed as God before the ages, then that He submitted to be born and become man, yet that He is not man of man, this [assertion] appears to me to be not merely paradoxical, but also foolish.” And I replied to this, “I know that the statement does appear to be paradoxical, especially to those of your race, who are ever unwilling to understand or to perform the [requirements] of God, but [ready to perform] those of your teachers, as God Himself declares.2095 Now assuredly, Trypho,” I continued,” [the proof] that this man2096 is the Christ of God does not fail, though I be unable to prove that He existed formerly as Son of the Maker of all things, being God, and was born a man by the Virgin. But since I have certainly proved that this man is the Christ of God, whoever He be, even if I do not prove that He pre-existed, and submitted to be born a man of like passions with us, having a body, according to the Father’s will; in this last matter alone is it just to say that I have erred, and not to deny that He is the Christ, though it should appear that He was born man of men, and [nothing more] is proved [than this], that He has become Christ by election. For there are some, my friends,” I said, “of our race,2097 who admit that He is Christ, while holding Him to be man of men; with whom I do not agree, nor would I,2098 even though most of those who have [now] the same opinions as myself should say so; since we were enjoined by Christ Himself to put no faith in human doctrines,2099 but in those proclaimed by the blessed prophets and taught by Himself.”

not specific to the verse,



St. Gregory makes the link to the divine name, but he’s definitely post-Nicaea (see Catena Aurea)


Thanks for your answers guys, God bless :slight_smile:


How about the testimony of John the Baptist?

John 1:15-34

John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me: because he was before me. 16 And of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. 22 They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. 24 And they that were sent, were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? 26 John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. 27 The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. 28 These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he, of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me. 31 And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him. 33 And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.


Very good. :thumbsup:

John the Baptist who proclaimed the * one * whose sandal strap he not worthy to untie. The one he offered the title of Lamb of God


John the Baptist is good but he doesn’t mention anything about Jesus invoking the divine name as opposed to making a claim of pre-existence in John 8:58 :smiley: !


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