Genesis 17:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 17:1, NIV: "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless."

Genesis 17:1, ESV: "When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless,"

Genesis 17:1, KJV: "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."

Genesis 17:1, NASB: "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless."

Genesis 17:1, NLT: "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, 'I am El-Shaddai--'God Almighty.' Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life."

Genesis 17:1, CSB: "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him, saying, "I am God Almighty. Live in my presence and be blameless."

What does Genesis 17:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Abram's story jumps ahead 13 years from the end of the previous chapter. As far as we know, Abram has not heard from God, at least in any special way, since the birth of his son Ishmael to Sarai's servant girl Hagar. The Lord now appears to a 99-year-old Abram who, in his waiting, has decided that perhaps Ishmael is the child of God's covenant promises, after all. God will make clear to Abram that is not the case.

For the first time in Scripture God refers to Himself as "God Almighty," as El Shaddai. This is a name meant to establish God's power on earth, even over nature, and in the life of Abram and Sarai. God begins this new contact with Abram with two commands: Walk before me faithfully, and be blameless. Literally, God commands Abram to walk in the Lord's presence and to be of such good character before God that no valid charge of wrongdoing could be brought against him.

This is unlike other times when God spelled out His promises to Abram. He begins this conversation by placing expectations on Abram to live a life worthy of this covenant relationship with God. We're not meant to understand that Abram was sinlessly perfect, or that he could become so. This only means that God expected Abram to center every aspect of his life around honoring the Lord.