The Alpha and the Omega

by William J. Stewart

A few weeks ago, we focused on the terms “Mighty” and “Almighty” and their use in Scripture. This week, we focus on another statement of the divine nature,”The Alpha and the Omega.” The reasoning of some in the religious world is expressed in the words of a man with whom I have had an ongoing e-mail discussion on the topic of the deity of Christ. He writes, “The Alpha and the Omega cannot refer both to the Father and the Son. It refers to the Father.” Let us consider in our study what the Bible says.

The phrase “the Alpha and the Omega” appears four times in Scripture, all four occurrences in the book of Revelation. The first of these is in Revelation 1:8, which we will not deal with in this article. For a discussion of whom the speaker of Revelation 1:8 is, see the article on “Mighty and Almighty.” Therein, it was established from the context of Revelation 1 that Jesus is the speaker, and thus, Jesus calls Himself both “Almighty” and “the Alpha and the Omega.” Likewise, Revelation 1:11, the second occurrence of the phrase will not be dealt with in this discussion, as it is part of the aforementioned context and article.

The third appearance of “the Alpha and the Omega” is in Revelation 21:6. Of this text, my friend has sent on several occasions an quote from the Jehovah’s Witnesses (though no source has been provided). They have said, “…the following verse identifies the speaker by saying: ‘Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.’ Inasmuch as Jesus referred to those who are joint heirs with him in his Kingdom as ‘brothers’, not ‘sons’, the speaker must be Jesus’ heavenly Father, Jehovah God. — Mt 25:40; compare Heb 2:10-12.”

Perhaps this is the Father who is spoken of. I’m not fully convinced one way or the other. The text reads, “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:5-7).

Who is sitting on the throne in this context? Backing up in the context to the previous mention of a throne, we find “…a great white throne…” (20:11) on which the Judge of all is seated. This is no doubt Christ, as the Father has committed all judgment to the Son. It is before the judgment seat of Christ that all shall appear (John 5:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The throne mentioned here in 21:5 is now a throne of victory. It is the throne upon which the Lord reigns in the new heavens and new earth. It is noteworthy that in Revelation 22:1, we read of “…the throne of God and of the Lamb”, indicating that both the Father and the Son reign and are enthroned. Notice then, in 21:6, the speaker says, “…I will give of the fountain of the water of life…” In Revelation 7:17, Jesus is described with these words, “…the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of water…” We might also note the parallel in this text with Revelation 22:17, where Jesus is the person under consideration who provides the water of life freely. Recall also, in John 4, Jesus while at the well said to the Samaritan woman, “…If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10, cf. 14).

Certainly, the fact that the speaker says, “…I will be his God and he shall be My son…” might cause the reader to conclude that it is the Father speaking. However, I believe to conclude “…the speaker must be Jesus’ heavenly Father…”(emphasis mine) is to jump to a conclusion. True, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus refer to an heir of the kingdom as “My son”, however, one must weight the evidence of the context against this. Jesus is certainly our God (John 1:1; John 20:28). Perhaps the Lord says here that we are to Him as sons. Since Christ indeed sits on His throne (Matthew 19:28; Matthew 25:31; Acts 2:30; Hebrews 1:8) and is the keeper and disperser of living water (see above), it makes sense not to automatically conclude on account of the statement in verse 7 that this “…must be Jesus’ heavenly Father…” It is possibly the Father, but the context does not necessitate such an understanding.

The fourth of the appearances of this phrase is in Revelation 22:13. Below is supplied a verse by verse analysis of Revelation 22, to demonstrate that Jesus is the speaker in verse 13. Notice

  • v 1 – describes the city which was shown him

  • v 2 – describes the city which was shown him

  • v 3 – proclaims the presence of “…the throne of God and of the Lamb…”

  • v 4 – describes the union between worshipers and God

  • v 5 – further description of the city

  • v 6 – the angel who revealed these things to John was sent by “…the Lord God…” It was Jesus who sent the angel (1:1; 22:16)

  • v 7 – “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (speaker not identified)

  • v 8 – John worshipped before the angel

  • v 9 – the angel quickly rebuked John for his actions

  • v 10 – the prophecy was not to be sealed, as these things would shortly take place

  • v 11 – warning is given regarding the judgment and the consequences of one’s manner of life

  • v 12 – “Behold, I am coming quickly” (speaker not identified, though He brings a reward with Him – see Mt 16:27)

  • v 13 – “…Alpha and the Omega…Beginning and the End…First and the Last…”

  • v 14 – blessedness of those who keep the commandments

  • v 15 – description of those outside the kingdom

  • v 16 – Jesus has sent the angel to reveal these things (compare v 6, 1:1)

  • v 17 – the Spirit and bride call for Jesus to “Come”

  • v 18 – copyright statement for the book

  • v 19 – copyright statement for the book

  • v 20 – “…I am coming quickly…” John calls for the Lord Jesus to come

Who is “the Alpha and the Omega”? In at least three of the four occurrences of the phrase, the context illustrates that Jesus is the one who speaks and calls Himself by this name. The Bible speaks of Jesus as being of the divine nature, an eternal being, God (Colossians 2:9; John 8:58; Romans 9:5, etc.). Jesus claimed these very things for Himself in His use of the phrase, “the Alpha and the Omega.”

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