"I am the Alpha" and
"The First and Last"
"Alpha and Omega" occurs four times
in Revelation in the KJ version: Revelation 1:8; 1:11; 21:6 and 22:13. However, Revelation
1:11 probably is not authentic, so that reduces it to three times.
Our position would be that it consistently applies to
Jesus. However, if some are drawn to a different conclusion, we can accept that. We are
not a lone voice crying in the wilderness with this interpretation.
Who does the Revelator identify as "I am Alpha
and Omega"? Let us follow "Alpha and Omega" in its four occurrences in
(1) Revelation 1:8: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,
saith the Lord [God], which is [alive], and which was [dead],
and which is to come, the Almighty."
This text is the difficult one because if we follow it through
applying the "Alpha and Omega" to Jesus as the "Lord God, which is, and
which was, and which is to come, the Almighty," we have Jesus as the "Lord God,
which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty," we have Jesus being
referred to as the "Lord God" and also as the "Almighty." However,
please note "the Lord God" and "the Almighty" are not used as a
complete title here. "The Lord God" is identified as "which is
[alive]," "and which was [dead]," while the "Almighty" is the one
which "is to come."
In every other usage of the word Almighty (pantokrator) in
Revelation applies to Jehovah. However, Revelation 1:8 may be the exception to this rule
and may indeed apply to Jesus, who says in Matthew 28:18: "All power is given unto me
in heaven and in earth." However, we face a problem no matter which decision we come
to. If we say the "Alpha and Omega" is God the Father, it would be the only
instance in Revelation to have that application. If we say it applies to Jesus, then we
are faced with the problem that Jesus here is the "Lord God" and is also
referred to as the "Almighty." This would be the only such application in
Revelation. We face a problem either way.
Some may not feel comfortable applying the word
"Almighty" to Jesus when every other usage applies to Jehovah. If anyone
feels consistency requires applying the "Almighty" of Revelation 1:8 to Jehovah,
in that event, we still may split this verse to read: "I am Alpha and Omega,
the beginning and the ending," as applying to Jesus. The rest of the verse may
apply to Jehovah who is making this assertion, "saith the Lord [Jehovah], which is,
and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." We would find this
application acceptable with some lingering problems.
Why not apply Revelation 1:8 in its entirety to Jehovah?
Because the Revelator gives us the meaning of what he means by being "Alpha and
Omega," the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In Revelation 1:17
and 18 we are told: "I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was
dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore." While the expression, "Alpha
and Omega" does not occur in Revelation 1:17,18, nonetheless, we know God cannot be
he "that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore."
Only Trinitarians think God died.
Revelation 1:18 helps us understand Revelation 1:8 because it
clarifies the meaning of "is, and which was, and which is to come" when
applied to Jesus. The sequence here is important. The "is" of
Revelation 1:8 synchronizes with "I am he that liveth" in Revelation 1:18.
Again Revelation 1:8 which says, "which was" synchronizes with Revelation
1:18 which states "was dead."
Jesus is unique in being "the first and last"—"The
Alpha and Omega" in Revelation. Only of him can it be said: "He that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." Jesus is alone in
having a human existence, dying and then being raised from the dead to divine glory
(2) Revelation 1:11: "Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and
Most authentic MSS. omit these words. If this is a true
reading, it would identify Jesus as the speaker as it is Jesus commanding John to write,
"What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in
Asia." This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ and he is the one conferring with
(3) Revelation 21:6: "And he said unto me, It is done. I
am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst
of the fountain of the water of life freely."
Clearly this applies to Jesus and confirms his
promise in Revelation 22:17: "And let him that is athirst come. And
whosoever will let him take the water of life freely."
(4) Revelation 22:12,13: "And, behold, I come quickly; and my
reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and
Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."
Revelation 22:16 defines the "I" in these
verses. It reads: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you
these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the
bright and morning star." The one coming quickly and who is the "Alpha and
Omega, the beginning and the end" is none other than our Lord Jesus here.
Doesn't Isaiah speak of God as the "first and last"?
Yes, but the context of that usage is quite different from Revelation, as we shall
Isaiah 45:18 lays this groundwork for God, saying: "I
am the Lord [Jehovah]: and there is none else." God's
position is unique. There is none to compare with Him. While there are three
instances in Isaiah where God speaks of Himself as the first and last, as we shall see,
they apply to God in relation to people or to Israel. The three texts in Isaiah are:
Isaiah 41:4: "Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations
from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last, I am he." Rotherham reads: "I, Yahweh, [who am] First,
and with them who are last, I am the Same!"
This is a somewhat different thought than being the first and
last. It is dealing with "generations" of people in relation to God.
Here God is defined as being first, but with the last. The context implies
God is in charge of earthly affairs and is at the forefront and rear of events. All
are under His sovereignty.
Isaiah 44:6: "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his
redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no
Here God is describing His relationship with Israel
as the Lord and King of that nation. There was no other living God with Israel, he
was indeed the "First" and "Last." The context determines the
Isaiah 48:12: "Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am
he; I am the first, I also am the last." Rotherham gives this verse
an alternate reading: "I in advance, yea, I in the rear."
Clearly this must be understood in God's relationship with Israel.
These three verses in Isaiah, while they speak of God as "being first and
last" are qualified by the context as pertaining to earth's affairs or to Israel.
None of these references have to do with God's relationship with time or eternity
or to be alive and then dead and alive again.
Revelation 2:8 does not mention the "Alpha
and Omega," but reads: "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna
write: These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive."
The speaker clearly is our Lord Jesus. Only
Jesus may be described as "was dead" and "is alive." He is the
"first" and "last" here. There is no way around this
interpretation. Please notice what this text establishes for us. The
"first" is defined as he who "was dead." The "last" as
he who "is alive." That is the Revelator's own definition of "first
and last" as it pertains to Christ.
Revelation 4:8 referring to Jehovah reads: "And the
four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and
they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and
is, and is to come."
Here the one identified is the Lord God Almighty.
Notice, God is referred to as He who "was" and "is." This
language is reversed in Revelation 1:4, where God is referred to as "which is, and
which was." With Jehovah either expression is proper in explaining God's
relationship to time.
However, when referring to Jesus as the one who
"is" and "was" as defined in Revelation 1:8, we read: "Which
is [alive], and
which was [dead],
and which is to come." When we
synchronize Revelation 1:8 with Revelation 1:18, it helps us define what is meant.
We notice a different construction in the title
"Lord God Almighty." Revelation 4:8, which refers to Jehovah, uses the
expression: "the Lord God Almighty," as one uninterrupted title, which
always applies to God the Father. The reading in Revelation 1:8 is quite different. It speaks of "the Lord God." We know that Jesus is Lord and soon
every tongue shall confess "Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father" (Philippians 2:11).
If Satan is referred to as "the god of
this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), we certainly cannot fault Jesus being referred to as
"the Lord God." It is possible that Thomas referred to Jesus thus when he
greeted him saying: "My [the] Lord and my [the] God" (John 20:28).
The reversal of language, putting the fact that he "is [alive]" first
seems to strongly hint it is Jesus.
If "the Almighty" expression causes
eyebrows to rise, remember Jesus said in Matthew 28:18: "All power is given
unto me in heaven and in earth." That is unqualified "almighty" power
that has come to Jesus. It is logical to apply Revelation 1:8 to Jesus.
Our second reading would be "Alpha and Omega,
the beginning and ending" may apply to Jesus and the last part of this verse could be
applied to Jehovah who proclaims Himself to be "the Lord, which is, and which was,
and which is to come, the Almighty." Joseph, who pictures Christ, is referred
to "even as Pharaoh" and "hath made a father to
Pharaoh, and lord of all
his house" (Genesis 44:18; 45:8).
It seems the preferred reading of "Alpha and
Omega" would apply this title to Jesus.
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