Understanding John 8-58
John 8-58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, i am
Is Jesus actually claiming to actually be God in this verse?
This verse is probably one of if not the most used verse by Trinitarians to show that Jesus proclaimed himself to be God, although some are realising no that it doesn’t in fact prove what so many assert it does. They claim that Jesus used the words I am as a direct reference to the I AM statement of God in Exodus 3-14 and bestowed this title on himself and therefore stating that he was in fact God.
On face value like many of the verses used to show Jesus is God it would appear that Jesus here was claiming deity. The caveat to that being IF we understand that Jesus was using the I am statement as a reference to the I AM statement in Exodus. But if we put the verse back into its context, with actual understanding and if we remove the preconceived idea that Jesus is God, letting the verse speak for itself we will see that it doesn’t offer as much evidence as is supposed.
Interestingly Moses also would “appear” to refer himself as the LORD YHWH in Deuteronomy
We have God commanding Moses to speak to the children of Israel.
Deuteronomy 29 – 1 These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.
And we see that Moses is speaking the words of the LORD as commanded. Moses talks about the miracles and signs that the LORD did that they saw.
Deuteronomy 29 -2And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; 3The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: 4Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. 5And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.
But then Moses changes and although it is Moses talking he speaks as God in the FIRST person.
Deuteronomy 29 -6Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.
Before returning back to speaking as himself.
Deuteronomy 29- 7And when ye came unto this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us unto battle, and we smote them: 8And we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance unto the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh. 9Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.
Clearly showing that a person can speak as God in the first person and yet not be referring to themselves as God.
But back to John 8-58.
There are 2 main points to be understood that disprove the reference to I am meaning Jesus was saying that he was God.
Point 1) I AM is not Gods name
Firstly unlike what most Christians like to claim, the I AM in Exodus is not actually God stating a name for himself by which he would be known.
Exodus 3-14 is the ONLY place that I AM is used in the entire Bible (excluding the supposed usage in John 8-58).
God had already introduced himself to Moses by calling himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Exodus 3- 6 Moreover he said, I amthe God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Moses asks God when he comes to Israel and says the God of your fathers has sent him what name shall he tell them when they ask Gods name?
Exodus 3- 13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
God had not yet revealed his name and was known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Then God states to Moses I AM That I AM tell them I AM sent you.
Exodus 3- 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
This is NOT saying my name is I AM in any way shape or form. To understand that God declared his name to be I AM is to not understand this statement at all.
The Hebrew word translated as I AM is אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה ey-yeh. It is NOT a name but a VERB. It means to be, to exist, to become.
It is used throughout the Genesis creation where the heavens the earth, plants, animals and man became, they started to exist they were.
This word is used just 2 verses earlier in Exodus 3-12 where it is translated as I will be.
Exodus 3-12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
This is often ignored or unknown by most christians who claim I AM is a name.
God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and bring God’s people, Israel, out of Egypt
Exodus 3-10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Moses replied who am I (who is Moses ) to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go. After all Pharaoh was at the time the most powerful man in the world.
Exodus 3-11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
God replied in his use of Ey-yeh that I will be with you.
So when God said I AM that I AM he was not saying this is my name I AM, he used the same word that he had just used to tell Moses that he was with him. God simply telling Moses to tell them the one with them is the one with them. The one who exists, exists, sent you
His name (as it was known at the time) is reconfirmed in the very next verse where God says that The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This will be his name forever.
Exodus 3-15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
It isn’t until later in Exodus that God revealed his actual name. God told Moses that he appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but that they had not known his name JEHOVAH
Exodus 6- 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name ofGod Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
JEHOVAH being a translation of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton יְהוָ֔ה yhwh
So God was known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the time he came to Moses, this was in essence his “name” at the time, but his actual name is יְהוָ֔ה YHWH which he had not revealed unto anyone before he did so to Moses.
Jesus could not be using I am as a reference to the name of God as it is not the name of God.
YHWH is the name of God not I AM which is a reference to his being not is name.
The Exodus 3-14 usage of I AM is not God’s name but God declaring that he was with his people and that this is what Moses should declare unto them.
Point 2) I AM v i am
Secondly the I am in John 8-58 is not capitalized as it is in Exodus 3-14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
This is NOT the same as in john 8-58
Now Obviously in can be stated that the English translation had translators and therefore it was the translators choice to capitalise Exodus 3-14 and not John 8-58 and so can be argued that Jesus is still claiming to be the I AM.
We must note that Exodus 3-14 was written in Hebrew
The words translated as I AM are אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה
’eh-yeh ’ă-šer ’eh-yeh; we have already seen the actual meaning.
And John was written in Greek
The words used in the Greek for I am in John 8-58 are
Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi
And literally just means i am
So there is no direct comparison between the 2 uses. However, interestingly “the” Greek Septuagint (which is often used by Christians) renders the use of I AM WHO I AM as
ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν and NOT as Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi as used in John
Exodus 3-14 Septuagint
καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς πρὸς Μωυσῆν ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν καὶ εἶπεν οὕτως ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ ὁ ὢν ἀπέσταλκέν με πρὸς ὑμᾶς
This more correctly would be translated as I am the one who is..or I be what i be.
It also translates the absolute I AM as ὁ ὢν “ho on” the one who is/ what i be
Although I Am is perfectly acceptable translation there is a difference between the 2 uses and I AM capitalized in Exodus rather than the i am of John 8-58 shows that distinction in the English.
To state that the use of i am in John 8-58 is a direct reference to Exodus 3-14 is an assumption read into the texts based on the English translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts and not actually supported by those texts themselves.
Jesus did not claim he was the I AM which would more logically read i am the I AM, he simply said i am.
It is also frequently argued by Trinitarians that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus instantly for his statement, claiming that the Jews knew exactly what Jesus meant by his usage of the words, that he was indeed using them to proclaim he was God.
John 8-59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
But when Jesus used these exact words earlier in John 8 there is no mention of the Jews wanting to stone him for his apparently blasphemous statement
John 8-24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi translated here as I am he.
The first use of the words are found in John 4-26 where a Samaritan woman says to Jesus that she knew that the MESSIAH was to come who was called the Christ. Jesus answers her.
John 4- 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
The Greek words used here but not translated as simply I am are Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi
Jesus here is literally confirming that he is the Messiah that the woman had just stated was to come. His answer is in direct response to the woman’s statement. I am the Messiah that is speaking to you.
If we are to take it that Jesus is saying I am God with the words then the reply of Jesus would make no sense whatsoever. The Samaritan woman told Jesus that she knew the Messiah was to come the Christ and Jesus’ reply would be I am God. A totally nonsensical response and one that would at least demand a reaction from the woman which if she did respond to is claim to be God is not recorded. Jesus has just told her that he is God. However the woman went and told her city about a MAN, and asked is this not the Christ.
John 4-28The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
The woman makes NO mention of the man being God or that Jesus had claimed to have been God. A fact supported by the woman’s use of come see a man and her question is he not the Christ? The woman understood his claim to be the Christ.
Other people are also recorded by John as using the words.Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi
Jesus healed a blind man who had been blind from birth.
John 9-1And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
After Jesus had healed him the man was asked are you not the blind man that we knew. His reply was to say i am he
John 9- 8The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.
The Greek words used here again are Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi
Is the man who was once blind claiming that he is God also? Obviously not.
Jesus is again recorded using the words in John 6 when he walked on water
John 6- 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
Translated as it is I in this verse.
Now i have heard it argued that Jesus was walking on water (a superhuman feat) while stating the words Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi
Clearly showing Jesus proclaimed to be God while doing a supernatural feat.
It must at least be noted that Jesus wasn’t the only one who performed this miracle and walked on water at that time, Peter also walked on the water, even if it was for just a short period of time and this in no way would be indicating that Peter was God.
Matthew 14- 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Jesus said that one of his disciples would betray him during the last supper
Matthew 26-21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
The disciples used the words in the negative to ask if it was them.
Matthew 26-22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
The words is it I literally are Μήτι ἐγώ εἰμι not i is it?
Obviously it should not be understood that the disciples were denying their own divinity by saying I am not the I AM (I am not God) when they were in fact what they were actually doing was asking if it was them that he had spoke of.
If we go back to John 8-24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins
Jesus in this verse makes a very important claim. If we do not believe that Jesus is Who he is Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi then we shall die in our sins. Understanding who Jesus is then would appear to be a matter for salvation. For such an important matter it would stand to reason that if we must believe that Jesus is God there would be at least one verse that clearly stated Jesus is God. Jesus using the words I am God or I am God the son with no need of interpretation.Of course there is not any verse that says this in direct words John 8-58 is about as close as we get.
So who is Jesus? This was the very question that the pharisees asked Jesus right after he proclaimed that they must know who he is and Jesus answered them, the one he told them he was at the beginning.
John 8-25 25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
If Jesus had just told them he was God then the question WHO art thou? is a rather odd question in response to such a statement.
Jesus had never told them that he was God so why would they conclude that was what he was meaning now.
Jesus told Nicodemus exactly who he was
John 3- 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
He claimed to be the son of God.
Jesus claimed to be the Messiah the one who fulfilled the scriptures of the coming Messiah.
Mark 1-114Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
As we already saw In his response to the Samaritan woman’s comment about the coming Messiah he stated he was that Messiah
John 4-25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
And it was this question, was Jesus the Messiah or not, that the Jews were debating NOT was Jesus God.
John 7- 25Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? 26But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? 27Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. 28Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. 29But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me. 30Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. 31And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this manhath done?
There was division amongst the people about Jesus being the Christ, the Messiah.
John 7- 40Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. 41Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? 42Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? 43So there was a division among the people because of him.
Never do the Jews debate whether or not Jesus is God, only if he was the Christ that should come.
We are clearly told exactly who we must believe Jesus is many times in the Bible
Philippians 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1John 4-15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
1 John 5-5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
John states the reason for writing his Gospel is so that we will know that Jesus is the Christ the son of God…not God.
John 20- 31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Never are we told that we must believe that Jesus is God despite Jesus’ own claim about the importance of knowing who he is.
Those listening did not understand who Jesus was claiming to be (the Messiah)
John 8- 25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. 26I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
The Bible then states that they didn’t understand that Jesus meant that the father had sent him.
John 8-27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
Again the Greek Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi
.is used as Jesus again claims to be the one sent from God the Messiah in John 8-28
John 8-28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him
No attempted stoning for the blasphemous use of Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi here either.
Jesus again states I am Ἐγὼ εἰμί. Egō eimi when predicting his death in John 13
John 13-19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
To understand the passage in John 8-58 meaning Jesus was claiming to be God is to look only at face value and read into the English translation and totally misunderstand its meaning in the same way Nicodemus misunderstood what Jesus was saying when he said a man must be born again.
John 3-1There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
We see after this event, when it came to the trial of Jesus not once did the Jewish authorities actually accuse him of saying he was God. They asked him if he was the CHRIST, the son of God. The VERY thing that they had been debating over.
Mark 14- 60And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 61But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
Matthew 26-63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus yet again responded that he was and again used i am ego eimi, to the questions are you the Christ and the son of God
Mark 14- 62And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven
The Jews certainly saw this as a blasphemous statement
Mark 14- 63Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? 64Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death
Proclaiming he was the Messiah was blasphemous.
So when Jesus said that they must believe I am he, he was saying that they must believe that he was the Messiah, the Christ, the son of God and NOT that he was God.
Now we must remember that these were Jews. They already believed in God. It isn’t their disbelief in God that is in reference. It is their disbelief in Jesus being the Messiah.
John had already stated earlier in his gospel that those that believe on him (Jesus) were not condemned but those that did not believe were condemned already, because they had not believed in the name of the only begotten SON OF GOD.
John 3-18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Jesus told his disciples, when he told them that he was going to be betrayed, that he told them this before it happened so that they might know that Jesus was the messiah ( I am he)
John 13- 18I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. 19Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
If we put John 8-58 back into context we will see that it wasn’t the statement i am that the the Jews wanted to stone him for at all. They wanted to stone him for saying he was greater than their father Abraham and that he was going to “be” before Abraham.
Jesus was talking to the Pharisees about eternal life, claiming that those that that follow him would never see death.
John 8- 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
The Jews asked Jesus if he was greater than Abraham
John 8- 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?-
To which Jesus answered.
John 8 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying
Jesus is proclaiming that they did not know God which in itself would have been a rather strong condemnation to the Jewish Pharisees , but also that he KNEW God and kept his saying. Jesus claimed to KNOW God not to be God.
Jesus then proclaims that Abraham had seen his his day,
John 8-56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
This is a reference to the the day of the kingdom. Abraham saw the day of the kingdom in faith not literally.
Hebrews 11-10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Abraham did not receive the promises made by God personally but by faith he did see the promises. Jesus is the fulfilment of those promises therefore Abraham “saw” the day of Jesus, the day Jesus would set up his kingdom
Hebrews 11- 8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The day of Christ being his second coming when he will establish his kingdom on earth. Abraham didn’t actually “see” that day, he had died a long time before Jesus was even brought into existence but he believed God and so saw it by faith.
To understand that Jesus was saying he literally existed before Abraham is to misunderstand this just as the Pharisees did when they thought he meant literally by referring to his physical age.
John 8- 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
Jesus was claiming that he was before Abraham in the kingdom which would be established at the resurrection. He was going to be before Abraham in the resurrection and was therefore greater than Abraham.
Colossians 1-18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
The word translated as was in before Abraham was is γίνομαι ginomai which means to be or to come into being.
This is the same word that is used in John 1-14 where we see the word was MADE flesh.
John 1-14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 1-14 is referring to after the resurrection. We know this because it very clearly states we beheld his glory, the glory if the only begotten son.
Jesus was begotten at his resurrection (see my writing when did God begat Jesus ?)
Acts 13-33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
Jesus received his glory at his resurrection.
Jesus wasn’t claiming to have physically been before Abraham he was claiming that God was and that he was the Messiah that God had planned from the foundation of the world.
1 Peter 1-20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
The Bible is clear that what is in the plan of God, God perceives it as if it already is even before it actually is in reality.
Romans 4-17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were
The Messiah did not physically exist from the foundation of the earth but the concept Gods plan did. Figuratively Jesus existed.
Matthew 25-34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Acts 2-23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Ephesians 1-4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love
Ephesians 2-10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Romans 8-29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Just as Jesus wasn’t literally slain from the foundation of the world but in the plan of God he was.
Revelation 13-8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
In the prior verses Jesus is explaining to them that he is from God and if they knew God like they claimed they did that they would know that he is the Messiah promised.
Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah the seed promised to Abraham.
Galatians 3-16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
1 corinthians 3-23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
Jesus said i am who i told you i was in the beginning, Jesus claimed to be the one sent from God (the Messiah) To now say that he was God would be confusing as he had never claimed to be God before even if John 8-58 was in fact a proclamation that he was.
Furthermore when Jesus was on the cross being crucified the Jewish authorities stated that Jesus had trusted in God, let God come and save him and he said he was the son of God. They didn’t say that he said he was God and so should be able to save himself. Or he was God so let himself come down off the cross.
Matthew 27- 40And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
Mark 15- 31Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
Mark 15- 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
And it was this claim, that he was the promised Messiah and was going to be resurrected before Abraham that the Jews considered to be blasphemy in John 8.
When John 8-58 is put into context with understanding the verse has a completely different meaning than Jesus claiming to be God. Only if taken on its own , out of context with no understanding and with a huge unsupported assumption can this verse actually be used to prove the divinity of Jesus.