Matthew 22:32 I am the God of Abraham,

Spoken to: 

The Sadducees

Context: 

Jesus is asked about the resurrection and a woman who was married to multiple brothers.

Greek : 

Matthew 22:32  Ἐγώ εἰμι θεὸς Ἀβραὰμ καὶ θεὸς Ἰσαὰκ καὶ θεὸς Ἰακώβ;” οὐκ ἔστιν [ὁ] θεὸς νεκρῶν ἀλλὰ ζώντων.

Exo 3:6 ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ θεὸς τοῦ πατρός σου θεὸς Αβρααμ καὶ θεὸς Ισαακ καὶ θεὸς Ιακωβ

Literal Verse: 

"I myself am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." He is not a god of dying rather of living.

My Takeaway: 

What we see as dead is not really dead.

KJV : 

Matthew 22:32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

NIV : 

Matthew 22:32 I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The first part of this verse is a quote of Exo 3:6. but, unusually, it is a paraphrase of the Greek of the Septuagint rather than a direct quote. Jesus leaves out the potentially confusing phrase "of thy father," which is addressed to Moses. He may have eliminated the "of thy father" phrase to clarify that the Divine's use of the present tense applied to the ancient patriarchs, who were long dead, rather than Moses's own father who could have been living.

Notice the emphasis that Jesus puts on the present tense of the Biblical quote spoken by God to Moses, but this verb tense is taken from the Greek Septuagint version, not the original Hebrew. In the original Hebrew, there is no verb, the pronoun "I" and "God" are equated by the construct form they share, which creates a combined word out of a series of words. Jesus is paraphrasing the Greek translation, where the tense of the verb "to be" is in the present tense. God does not say, "I was the God, of Abraham," despite the fact that the patriarchs died hundreds of years before Moses, but He is their God even though they seem dead from our perspective.

This paraphrasing is one more piece of evidence that Jesus taught in Greek (see article here), and the Greek of the synoptic Gospels are his actual recorded words. If Jesus's words always quoted the Septuagint exactly, as he does, for example, in Matthew 21:16 (Yes, haven't you read that out of the mouths), we might suspect that the Gospel writers corrected his quotes. But the fact that paraphrasing like this exists, shows that Jesus uses the phrasing of the Greek translation of the Old Testament as preachers today use their local translations.

See this article on the concept of Gods of Death and Life.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἐγώ [162 verses](pron 1st sg masc nom) "I" is from ego, which is the first person singular pronoun meaning "I." It also means "I at least," "for my part," "indeed," and for myself.

εἰμι [614 verses](verb 1st sg pres ind act) "Am" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

(article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

θεὸς [144 verses](noun sg masc nom) "The God" is from theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

Ἀβραὰμ [18 verses] "Abraham" is from Abraam, which is the Greek form of "Abraham."

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even," "also," and "just."

(article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

θεὸς [144 verses](noun sg masc nom) "The God" is from theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

Ἰσαὰκ [5 verses] (Hebrew name) "Isaac" is from Isaak.

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even," "also," and "just."

(article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

θεὸς [144 verses](noun sg masc nom) "The God" is from theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

Ἰακώβ; [5 verses] (Proper noun) "Jacob" is from Iakob.

οὐκ [269 verses](partic) "Not" is ou ( οὒ ) which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences.  The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἔστιν [614 verses]((verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

[ὁ] (article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

θεὸς [144 verses](noun sg masc nom) "The God" is from theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

νεκρῶν [21 verses]((adj pl masc gen) "The dead" is nekros, which specifically means "a corpse" as well as a "dying person," "the dead as dwellers in the nether world," "the inanimate," and "the inorganic"

ἀλλὰ [154 verses](conj) "But" is from alla, which means "otherwise," "but," "still," "at least," "except," "yet," nevertheless," "rather," "moreover," and "nay."

ζώντων. [15 verses](part pl pres act masc gen) "Living" is from zao, which means "to live," "the living," and "to be alive." It is a metaphor for "to be full of life," "to be strong," and "to be fresh."

KJV Analysis: 

- The pronoun "I" is used here explicitly. Since, as the subject of the sentence, it is part of the verb, its explicit use accentuates who is speaking "I." Saying "I myself" captures this feeling in English. This accentuation is from the Septuagint, not Christ.

missing "myself" -- (MW)  The subjective pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."

am -- The verb "am" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

God  - The word translated as "the God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." This too is from the Septuagint, but Jesus often refers to "God" as "the God"  though it is not always translated that way as in the previous verse, Matthew 22:31.

of -- This word "of"  assumes the genitive case of the following word but that word, Abraham, is a Hebrew proper name that does not have the Greek genitive word ending. "Abraham," "Isaac," and "Jacob" are all quoted in a Greek spelling of the Hebrew word, without the Greek ending for the possessive form. This follows the Septuagint version of Exodus, and lack of an ending was used in other verses such as Matthew 8:11, which is not an OT quote. When Jesus quotes Greek names (for example, "Caesar" in Matthew 22:21) they follow normal Greek word endings, but with Hebrew names, he may or may not add the Greek ending,

Abraham, -- This is from the Greek spelling of "Abraham."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

God  - The word translated as "the God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." This too is from the Septuagint, but Jesus often refers to "God" as "the God"  though it is not always translated that way as in the previous verse, Matthew 22:31.

of -- This word "of"  assumes the genitive case of the following word but that word, Abraham, is a Hebrew proper name that does not have the Greek genitive word ending.

Isaac,  - "Isaac" is from the Greek spelling of the patriarch's name.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

God  - The word translated as "the God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." This too is from the Septuagint, but Jesus often refers to "God" as "the God"  though it is not always translated that way as in the previous verse, Matthew 22:31.

of -- This word "of"  assumes the genitive case of the following word but that word, Abraham, is a Hebrew proper name that does not have the Greek genitive word ending.

Jacob?  - "Jacob" is from the Greek spelling of the patriarchs' name.

God -- (OS) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "God" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

not  - The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea.

the -The word for "God" that appears here only has the article ("the") in front of it in some sources. Without it, the sense becomes "a god" not "The God."

God  - The word translated as "the God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article only in some versions of the mGNT, so "the God" or "a god."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the - (IW) There is no article in the Greek that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

dead,  - The word translated as "the dead" means "corpse," "a dying man," and "inanimate, non-organic matter," but its form of that of an adjective, not a noun. Christ uses it in all three senses, referring to the actual dead, the spiritually dead, and inanimate matter. It is an adjective and has no article in front of it to make it act like a noun, so "dying" not "the dead."

but  - (CW) The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather." It is a from of the Greek word meaning "other" like we use "otherwise." It is not the common conjunction usually translated as "but."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the -- (IW) There is no article in the Greek that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

living.   - The Greek verb translated as "the living" is the particle form of the verb that means "to live," "to make a living," and "to be alive." It is a metaphor for "to be full of life," "to be strong," and "to be fresh." It is in the form of a verbal adjective  so "living"

KJV Translation Issues: 

5
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "God" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "dying" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "but" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "dying" doesn't exist in the source.

NIV Analysis: 

- The pronoun "I" is used here explicitly. Since, as the subject of the sentence, it is part of the verb, its explicit use accentuates who is speaking "I." Saying "I myself" captures this feeling in English. This accentuation is from the Septuagint, not Christ.

missing "myself" -- (MW)  The subjective pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."

am -- The verb "am" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

God  - The word translated as "the God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." This too is from the Septuagint, but Jesus often refers to "God" as "the God"  though it is not always translated that way as in the previous verse, Matthew 22:31.

of -- This word "of"  assumes the genitive case of the following word but that word, Abraham, is a Hebrew proper name that does not have the Greek genitive word ending. "Abraham," "Isaac," and "Jacob" are all quoted in a Greek spelling of the Hebrew word, without the Greek ending for the possessive form. This follows the Septuagint version of Exodus, and lack of an ending was used in other verses such as Matthew 8:11, which is not an OT quote. When Jesus quotes Greek names (for example, "Caesar" in Matthew 22:21) they follow normal Greek word endings, but with Hebrew names, he may or may not add the Greek ending,

Abraham, -- This is from the Greek spelling of "Abraham."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

God  - The word translated as "the God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." This too is from the Septuagint, but Jesus often refers to "God" as "the God"  though it is not always translated that way as in the previous verse, Matthew 22:31.

of -- This word "of"  assumes the genitive case of the following word but that word, Abraham, is a Hebrew proper name that does not have the Greek genitive word ending.

Isaac,  - "Isaac" is from the Greek spelling of the patriarch's name.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

God  - The word translated as "the God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." This too is from the Septuagint, but Jesus often refers to "God" as "the God"  though it is not always translated that way as in the previous verse, Matthew 22:31.

of -- This word "of"  assumes the genitive case of the following word but that word, Abraham, is a Hebrew proper name that does not have the Greek genitive word ending.

Jacob?  - "Jacob" is from the Greek spelling of the patriarchs' name.

He  -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

not  - The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea.

the -The word for "God" that appears here only has the article ("the") in front of it in some sources. Without it, the sense becomes "a god" not "The God."

God  - The word translated as "the God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article only in some versions of the mGNT, so "the God" or "a god."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the - (IW) There is no article in the Greek that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

dead,  - The word translated as "the dead" means "corpse," "a dying man," and "inanimate, non-organic matter," but its form of that of an adjective, not a noun. Christ uses it in all three senses, referring to the actual dead, the spiritually dead, and inanimate matter. It is an adjective and has no article in front of it to make it act like a noun, so "dying" not "the dead."

but  - (CW) The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather." It is a from of the Greek word meaning "other" like we use "otherwise." It is not the common conjunction usually translated as "but."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the -- (IW) There is no article in the Greek that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

living.   - The Greek verb translated as "the living" is the particle form of the verb that means "to live," "to make a living," and "to be alive." It is a metaphor for "to be full of life," "to be strong," and "to be fresh." It is in the form of a verbal adjective  so "living"

NIV Translation Issues: 

4
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "dying" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "but" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "dying" doesn't exist in the source.

Front Page Date: 

Jul 15 2021