Jesus made many controversial statements in the Gospels, which were generally related to His lordship. In John 8, the Jews were in a debate with Jesus. They claimed that they were honoring God, and He said that they were not, because here He was, God in their midst, and they could not recognize it. Jesus told them: "'Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.' So the Jews said to him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am'" (John 8:56–58; see also John 13:19). Notice that while Jesus referred to Abraham in the past tense, He referred to Himself in the present tense, implying His preexistent and ongoing existence.
Jesus alluded to what God said to Moses at the burning bush: "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'" (Exodus 3:14; see also Isaiah 41:4). This is what caused the Jews in John 8:59 to become outraged and seek to stone Jesus; He claimed to be the same as God, which was forbidden by the Law and punishable by death (Leviticus 24:16). Jesus escaped the Jews by hiding during the commotion.
In Genesis 18, Abraham himself had an encounter with the Lord, alternately referred to as a "man" and the "LORD" (Genesis 18:2, 10, 13, 16, 17, 22). This pre-incarnate appearance of Christ is an example of an Old Testament Christophany, and the Lord was met with honor from Abraham (Genesis 18:2–5). This helps demonstrate that Jesus existed before Abraham, because he ate a meal with Abraham and Sarah in their tent and prophesied that Sarah would bear a child in her old age (Genesis 18:9–15).
Jesus made many statements proclaiming His divinity throughout the Gospels, and His resurrection from the dead made it clear that His claims to divinity were indeed truthful. He is "God over all" (Romans 9:5). Jesus is God, so therefore, He existed before Abraham. John 1:2 says that "He was in the beginning with God." He "became flesh and dwelt among us," implying that Jesus existed before He became flesh (John 1:14; see also Colossians 1:16–17; 1 John 4:14). Jesus is "I AM", the "Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 22:13).
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