Thursday, 20 August 2020
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
Again, there is a difference in source texts. Placing them side by side will show this more clearly –
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (NASB et al)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (NKJV et al)
The differences, though obvious, do not change any overall theology because all of the titles are used together elsewhere. Understanding these variances, and using the NKJV as the basis for the evaluation, John cites the words of the Lord beginning with, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”
These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, comparable to saying “A to Z” in English or Aleph to Tav in Hebrew. It thus forms an all-inclusive statement. Everything that can be expressed by the language is contained within the letters of the language. This includes the concepts of time, space, and matter. If the concept is explainable by the language, then it is included in this thought because the first and last letters are representative of the whole. Albert Barnes notes –
“Among the Jewish rabbis it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end. Thus, it is said, ‘Adam transgressed the whole law, from Aleph (א) to Taw (תּ).’”
The Lord next provides an explanation of the meaning of the words, saying, “the Beginning and the End.” The reason this is considered an explanation of the previous words is that they were prefixed by definite articles, whereas in the original Greek the words “Beginning” and “End” are not –
“the Alpha and the Omega – Beginning and End.” (Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω ἀρχὴ καὶ τέλος).
The words carry the same general weight as those found several times in the book of Isaiah, such as –
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6
Further, the words carry the same general tone as those of Paul in Colossians 1. There Christ is described as the firstborn over all creation (signifying prior to creation), the Creator, the Sustainer, the head of the church, the firstborn from the dead, and etc. Paul’s words were given to show the preeminence of Christ in all things. The words now spoken by Jesus show the absolute existence of Christ – the “I AM THAT I AM.” Nothing exists in all of creation apart from Christ Jesus because the existence of all things is derived from His eternal, unchanging existence.
The proclamation continues with, “says the Lord.” As noted above, some texts say, “says the Lord God.” Whether the word “God” is in the original or not, the intent of the rest of the words speak of deity. They affirm that Jesus Christ is God. Because he is the Beginning and the End, He is also “the First and the Last” (see verse 1:17). As He is, then He is the Lord God of Isaiah 44 (above). He is Yehovah Sabaoth (the Lord of hosts).
However, because the words “Beginning and End” are used in this verse, while the words “First and Last” are used in verse 1:17, some try to say that this verse is speaking of God while verse 1:17 is speaking of Jesus (implying He is not God). This is an error in analysis because in Revelation 22, it says –
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Revelation 22:12, 13
When the Bible is taken as a whole – Old Testament and New – there is only the obvious conclusion that Jesus Christ is the Lord God. He is the incarnate word and the second member of the Trinity. A further confirmation of this comes with the next words of the verse, which say, “who is and who was and who is to come.”
The same phrase is used in verses 1:4, 1:8, 4:8, and 11:17. In them, there is no doubt that they are referring to the same being – God (1:4), the Lord (1:8), and the Lord God Almighty (4:8 & 11:17). But, because all of the other terms of this verse are referring to Jesus here and elsewhere, then Jesus must – by default – be the Lord God Almighty. If not, then the book of Revelation is a blasphemously compiled book of contradiction.
The term itself describes the eternal nature of Christ (who is God). There is no time that He did not exist. He exists now, and He will never cease to exist. The proclamation then finishes with, ὁ παντοκράτωρ, ho pantokratór, “the Almighty.”
It is a term used nine times in Revelation, and only elsewhere in 2 Corinthians 6:18. It is derived from two separate words signifying “all” and “rule.” Thus, He is the all-ruling God, absolutely sovereign over His creation. He is omnipotent and almighty. Ascribing such a title to Christ Jesus, if He were not God, would be the highest form of blasphemy. But in understanding who Jesus is – the incarnate Word of God – the title reveals another aspect of His majesty and glory.
Life application: As the titles found in Revelation are ascribed to both God and Jesus, it destroys the claims of those who deny the deity of Christ, including cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If the Bible is the word of God (which it is), either Jesus is God, or the book of Revelation is a confused document where God has allowed unbelievably sloppy work to be included in His word.
Jesus is the divine visitor found throughout the Old Testament – the Angel of the Lord who met Abraham at Alon Mamre, Moses at the Burning Bush, Joshua at Gilgal, Gideon at Ophrah, and numerous other visits throughout the Old Testament. He is the Lord of and above His creation, and He is the One who united with it in order to redeem fallen man. He is the image of the invisible God. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. He is Jesus.
Nothing could be clearer when the Bible is taken as a whole. God entered into the stream of human existence to restore that which was lost. It is in Jesus Christ that this came about. Let us never fail to bring glory to God by honoring the Son.
Glorious Almighty and ever-present Lord God – our minds cannot grasp the enormity of who You are. You are the Creator who loved us enough to participate in Your creation by uniting with it in human flesh. How can we grasp such an incredibly glorious thing? Surely You have done, are doing, and will continue to do great things for us. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Holy is His name! Amen.