Feeling the force of the Greek like the early church did.
Something that I have really appreciated since using my GNT for my devotions, is being able to read the bible how the early church read it.
During my devotions, I am seeing things in the Greek that I have studied before, but this time I am reading them in the natural flow of the passage, rather than pulling a verse out to exegete it. Obviously I've looked at the context before, but usually in English, and then only switching into Greek for the particular verse I want to exegete.
Today, by reading the Greek devotionally, I was affected by a verse in a way I have never experienced before:
I've studied the ego eimi's in John's gospel before (if you're not familiar with this, you can read a bit about this here).
But today for the first time in my life I was hit by the force of how these are introduced in John's Gospel:
It started with John 8:12 ego eimi to fos tou kosmou. "I am the light of the world".
Now wait for it, this is not the main point I wanna make!
The ego eimi obviously stands out because the ego is not that necessary. Although this is not blatantly clear because it is still reasonable to use it (cf. Acts 10:21). So I saw this, and then looked up the cross reference (which the UBS readers edition does not have, but the standard UBS GNT does), and I saw Is 49:6 as a reference, and looked this up, and that was good. But I had no idea of the shock I was in for later.
Later when I got to verse 23 I noticed an interesting style that flows better in the Greek than English, and I thought about how creative Jesus was, and the Holy Spirit, and John in their use of words. Now at this stage I've forgotten about Jesus' ego eimi stuff earlier, and then in v.24 Jesus suddenly says, "ean gar me pisteusate hoti ego eimi, apothaneisthe en tais harmatiais humon." - "For unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins."
It hit me like a knockout punch!
One minute I was reading about the Jews discussing where this man Jesus comes from, and Jesus the man is discussing this with them. I've forgotten by now about Jesus' not so clear claim to deity in v.12, and then pow! Jesus suddenly says EGO EIMI!
Suddenly I feel face to face with God, the great I AM.
Although I cognitively know that Jesus is both fully God, and fully man, this truth hit me in a powerful way through the literary device that Jesus and John used.
At that moment I had to stop, and think about Jesus as the I AM. I had to think about his power, his amazing power and might, and how amazingly that power and might was contained within a human body.
It got me thinking of how powerful Jesus is, and how weak I am.
But then it also got me thinking of how much I can identify with Jesus, because he came and humbled himself as a man.
Then I realised how this fits in with the prologue of John's gospel.
I have studied the eqo eimi's before, but I have never been hit by them in such a powerful way as today. I think this was because I was reading the bible devotionally, paragraph by paragraph, so that God's breathed words were able to hit me with the full effect he has intended back in the first century. I'd like to think that the early church would have been shocked in a similar way when they came to that verse.
What a mighty God we serve!
P.S. None of my English translations translate this in a way that would have the same effect:
ESV John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."
NET John 8:24 Thus I told you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins." - this is footnoted, but a footnote does not have the same literary effect!
NAU John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
NIV John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins."
KJV 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.
NKJ John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
NRS John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he."