The Divine Name – Part 2

…Grace to you and peace, from Him who is (ὁ ὢν) and who was and who is to come… (Rev 1:4-5 NAS)

The word translated ‘him who is’  (ὁ ὢν) is not proper Greek, but is the exact word used in the Septuagint to translate the Divine Name revealed  in Exodus 3:14. (1)   The Apostle John is clearly making a connection between the two.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Grk. – ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν) And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM (ὁ ὢν) has sent me to you.'” (Exo 3:14 ESV)

There has been some debate about what is the best translation of the phrase I AM WHO I AM.   The form of the verb is in the imperfect (Heb. – ‘ahieh asher ahieh’), and so some think it is better to translate the phrase ‘I will be what I will be’ or “I will cause to be what I will cause to be’ .   However, the traditional translation – ‘I AM WHO I AM’ – receives strong support from the Septuagint where both the participle and the verb used in the translation of ‘I am that I am‘ are in the present tense.   This translation is further bolstered by the apostle John who, as we have seen, interprets the clause ‘I AM WHO I AM’ to be the totality of existence.

‘from him who is and who was and who is to come…’

‘I am that I am…’


(1) The NET Bible notes point out that the antecedent of the preposition ‘apo’ is usually in the genitive and never the nominative. But here in Rev. 1:4 and again in Rev. 1:8, the antecedent of the preposition ‘apo’ is in the nominative form  (ὁ ὢν). If one looks at this from a purely grammatical perspective, then the author seems to have made a grammatical mistake but when one looks at the context, it is clear that John intends to connect his use of the word with the Divine Name revealed in Exo. 3:14.

Leave a Comment