The Meaning of John 18:6 Explained

John 18:6

KJV: As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

YLT: when, therefore, he said to them -- 'I am he,' they went away backward, and fell to the ground.

Darby: When therefore he said to them, I am he, they went away backward and fell to the ground.

ASV: When therefore he said unto them, I am he , they went backward, and fell to the ground.

KJV Reverse Interlinear

As soon  then  as he had said  unto them,  I  am  [he], they went  backward,  and  fell  to the ground. 

What does John 18:6 Mean?

Context Summary

John 18:1-11 - Jesus Accepts His Suffering
Our Lord went forth from the city and across the brook Cedron to Gethsemane, but not for the purpose of concealment, as John 18:2 clearly shows. How characteristic it was that He should meet the band and ask that He should be taken, while the disciples should be permitted to escape! Was not this what He was ever doing-meeting peril, temptation, and death, that the great company whom He was bringing to glory might be saved? What meekness and majesty are here! Meekness-that He should subject Himself to the binding thong; majesty-that He should be able to use the unspeakable name of God-I AM, for the word "He"is not in the Greek.
The cup probably referred to the anguish caused to His holy nature in being numbered with the transgressors, and bearing the sin of many. There was much in it from which His spirit recoiled, but He chose to do the will of God, however the flesh might start and shrink. Let us ever take the cups of life's pain and sorrow direct from the hand of God, not seeing Judas, but the Father.
Joseph told his brethren that it was not they who had sent him to Egypt, but God. David would not have Shimei silenced, because he felt that God had allowed him to utter his anathema. Here our Lord reposes absolutely on the Father, who loved Him before the world was made. [source]

Chapter Summary: John 18

1  Judas betrays Jesus
6  The officers fall to the ground
10  Peter cuts off Malchus' ear
12  Jesus is taken, and led unto Annas and Caiaphas
15  Peter's denial
19  Jesus examined before Caiaphas
25  Peter's second and third denial
28  Jesus arraigned before Pilate
36  His kingdom
40  The Jews prefer Barabbas

Greek Commentary for John 18:6

Fell to the ground [επεσαν χαμαι]
Second aorist active indicative of πιπτω — piptō with first aorist ending (-αν — an). This recoil made them stumble. But why did they step back? Was it the former claim of Jesus (I am, εγω ειμι — egō eimi) to be on an equality with God (John 8:58; John 13:19) or mere embarrassment and confusion or supernatural power exerted by Jesus? B adds Ιησους — Iēsous which must mean simply: “I am Jesus.” [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 18:6

John 9:6 On the ground [χαμαὶ]
Only here and John 18:6. [source]
John 1:35 Stood [εἱστήκει]
Rev., more correctly, was standing, since the imperfect tense denotes something in progress. Here, therefore, with the idea of waiting; was standing in expectation. Compare John 7:37; John 18:5, John 18:6, John 18:18. [source]
John 20:14 She turned herself back [εστραπη εις τα οπισω]
Second aorist passive indicative of στρεπω — strephō in an intransitive and almost reflective sense. In the disappearance of the aorist middle before the aorist passive see Robertson, Grammar, p.817. See also στραπεισα — strapheisa (second aorist passive participle) in John 20:16. On εις τα οπισω — eis ta opisō see John 6:66; John 18:6. Standing Second perfect active (intransitive) of ιστημι — histēmi Instinctively Mary felt the presence of some one behind her. Was Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse after ηιδει — ēidei (knew). [source]
John 6:66 Upon this [εκ τουτου]
Same idiom in John 19:12. “Out of this saying or circumstance.” Jesus drew the line of cleavage between the true and the false believers. Went back Aorist (ingressive) active indicative of απερχομαι — aperchomai with εις τα οπισω — eis ta opisō “to the rear” (the behind things) as in John 18:6. Walked no more with him Imperfect active of περιπατεω — peripateō The crisis had come. These half-hearted seekers after the loaves and fishes and political power turned abruptly from Jesus, walked out of the synagogue with a deal of bluster and were walking with Jesus no more. Jesus had completely disillusioned these hungry camp-followers who did not care for spiritual manna that consisted in intimate appropriation of the life of Jesus as God‘s Son. [source]
John 8:58 Before Abraham was [πριν Αβρααμ γενεσται]
Usual idiom with πριν — prin in positive sentence with infinitive (second aorist middle of γινομαι — ginomai) and the accusative of general reference, “before coming as to Abraham,” “before Abraham came into existence or was born.” I am Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God. The contrast between γενεσται — genesthai (entrance into existence of Abraham) and ειμι — eimi (timeless being) is complete. See the same contrast between εν — en in John 1:1 and εγενετο — egeneto in John 1:14. See the contrast also in Psalm 90:2 between God See the same use of ειμι — eimi in John 6:20; John 9:9; John 8:24, John 8:28; John 18:6. [source]
John 9:6 He spat on the ground [επτυσεν χαμαι]
First aorist active indicative of the old verb πτυω — ptuō for which see Mark 7:33. Χαμαι — Chamai is an old adverb either in the dative or locative (sense suits locative), in N.T. only here and John 18:6. Jesus was not asked to cure this man. The curative effects of saliva are held in many places. The Jews held saliva efficacious for eye-trouble, but it was forbidden on the Sabbath. “That Jesus supposed some virtue lay in the application of the clay is contradicted by the fact that in other cases of blindness He did not use it” (Dods). Cf. Mark 8:23. Why he here accommodated himself to current belief we do not know unless it was to encourage the man to believe. He made clay Only use of πηλος — pēlos old word for clay, in N.T. in this chapter and Romans 9:21. The kneading of the clay and spittle added another offense against the Sabbath rules of the rabbis. Anointed his eyes with the clay First aorist active indicative of επιχριω — epichriō old verb, to spread on, anoint, here only and John 9:11 in N.T. “He spread the clay upon his eyes.” B C read επετηκεν — epethēken (first aorist active indicative of επιτιτημι — epitithēmi to put on). [source]

What do the individual words in John 18:6 mean?

When therefore He said to them I am [He] they drew toward the back and fell to [the] ground
ὡς οὖν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἐγώ εἰμι ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω καὶ ἔπεσαν χαμαί

εἶπεν  He  said 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω  
Sense: to speak, say.
αὐτοῖς  to  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
εἰμι  am  [He] 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: εἰμί  
Sense: to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.
ἀπῆλθον  they  drew 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἀπέρχομαι  
Sense: to go away, depart.
εἰς  toward 
Parse: Preposition
Root: εἰς  
Sense: into, unto, to, towards, for, among.
ὀπίσω  back 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ὀπίσω 
Sense: back, behind, after, afterwards.
ἔπεσαν  fell 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: πίπτω 
Sense: to descend from a higher place to a lower.
χαμαί  to  [the]  ground 
Parse: Adverb
Root: χαμαί  
Sense: on the ground, on the earth.