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The covenant name of God is some form of the statement of existence: “I AM”, or “He is”. Embedded in this term is the unfathomable concept of aseity: self-existence.

For every creature, the words “I am” must be followed by a qualifying clause. I am because my parents existed. I am as a result of life on this earth. I am since history’s providences led up to my birth and life. With these clauses, we admit that our lives are contingent: we are alive because of a set of circumstances. We depended on something or someone else to exist. From a hypothetical standpoint, some other timeline could have taken place, and we might never have been. You and I could have not existed.

God’s name has no qualifying clauses. He does not call Himself “I AM because” or “I AM since” or “I AM as a result of”. His name is I AM. I AM THAT I AM. My existence is the ground of my existence. I AM the only reason for Myself. I am the cause of My being. There is no cause before the Now that is Me. I have derived nothing, received nothing, gained nothing from outside My being to exist. All that I AM is the sole explanation for my Being. A being who can state “I AM”, and such a statement be a full sentence needing no qualification, is necessarily the Supreme Being.

Self-existence is unimaginable to beings who can conceive only of existence as having a beginning, or being the effect of a cause. But God’s self-existence is necessary to all other existence. There must be One whose existence was not contingent, but absolutely necessary. God exists as the foundation of all other existence, the ground of all being. If anything with a beginning exists, it is because Someone with no beginning exists.

When God announces that He is I AM, He is answering the chid’s question, “Where did God come from?” The answer, though mysterious, is God. God came from God. His existence is assumed and prior to the act of creating everything else in Genesis 1:1. In the beginning, God and His Word and Spirit were existing.

Perhaps angels regard the human question “Does God exist?” as the most absurd question ever posed, like asking “Does existence exist?” When contingent beings ask if the Necessary Being exists, they must appear comical to heavenly observers.

Inextricably linked to self-existence is self-sufficiency. A being whose “origin”, to speak misleadingly, is grounded in Himself, continues to exist by the same principle. I EXIST BECAUSE I EXIST. God’s life finds its animating power in Himself. Jesus gestured at this in John 5:26: “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself”. He is existence in the fullest sense. He was, He is, and He is to come simultaneously, and His existence has never waned, suffered, or diminished in any way. Nothing outside of His being is necessary to sustain His existence.

Paul’s sermon to the Athenians sought to distance the true God from the Greek gods that had both a beginning and ongoing needs. “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24–25). Paul similarly points to all things proceeding from and returning to the great source of existence, who obtains nothing from outside of Himself: “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:34–36)

For a human being to say “I AM” without qualification is surely pride of the highest order. And yet, is that not the sin at the root of every sin? In sinning, do we not assert that our wills are our own, that we have independent existence, that we may be as gods knowing good and evil? We assert, “I AM THAT I AM”.

Conversely, Paul gives us the right version of these words: “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). By God’s loving intervention, I am what I am. What do we have that we did not receive? (1 Cor 4:7). Truly, “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

When a human repents of saying I AM THAT I AM, and grants that place to God in Christ, and takes his place as “I am what I am in Christ”, he has entered into life, and life in abundance. For there is only one I AM.

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  1. Avatar David

    Caleb Meyers

    The self-existence of God has fascinated me since I read Anslem’s ontological proof for His existence. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that proof is not only true, but is also the foundation for all logic and philosophy. Thanks for your work, and this post.

  2. Avatar David


    Something that we hear often today is “it is what it is.” Is this a parallel phrase to “I am that I am”? The phrase, of course, is usually an acquiescence to something inevitable, like saying, “that is just the way things are.” Or, “there is nothing we can try to do to change it. No reason to even try.” It speaks of something that we have to accept wether we like it or not.

  3. Avatar David


    Right. Maybe it contrasts the hope we have when the “I AM” calls and cares for us against the dispare of being tossed about senselessly and without purpose on the sea of destiny.

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