Articles open and close. Books begin and end. Nations rise and fall. Businesses start up and fizzle out. People are born and then they die. No one lives outside these boundaries except the One who began all beginnings. Only He can be named, “The Alpha and the Omega.”
But, who is He?
John opens his inspired writing by sitting us on a heavenly porch swing with a perfect view of Creation. There we see that, “In the beginning was the Word,” and the “Word” was “Jesus Christ” (John 1:1,16). Before any beginning began, Jesus was (John 8:58).
Then John ends his inspired writing by again sitting us on that heavenly porch swing, this time with a perfect view of how things will end. Once again we see Jesus and we hear Him say, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Rev. 22:12-13). After every ending ends, Jesus will be. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.
Jesus is God
This title declares the unity of the godhead and the deity of Jesus, because John uses this title to describe both Jesus and God, the Father.
For example, John opens the book of Revelation with a prayer for “grace and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come,” this eternal One identifies Himself in verse 8 saying, ““I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:4,8). In between these two statements John writes about the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ (1:4,5), but the title, “The Alpha and the Omega” is a title God, the Father takes to Himself.
At the end of Revelation God again identifies Himself as “The Alpha and the Omega.” The first heaven and earth pass away and a new heavens and earth take their place. A New Jerusalem descends from heaven, and all sorrow and death are removed. The One who does these things is God (Rev. 21:2, 3). Seated on the throne God says, “Behold, I am making all things new…It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:5-6).
But then, in a wonderful twist, this title which has exclusively referred to God, the Father, is ultimately given to Jesus Christ. Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13, see 22:12-17, 20). This title clearly identifies Jesus as God.
But, what does this interesting title mean?
The Title in Revelation
“Alpha” and “Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The expression, “The Alpha and the Omega” carries the idea of completeness (like knowing something from “A to Z” does in English). However, in Revelation, this term is always used in parallel with other phrases that give the phrase clearer meaning.
- For example, in Revelation 1 God calls Himself, “The Alpha and the Omega,” a term of completeness, but then He ties that to His eternal nature, as the one “who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev. 1:4,8).
- In addition, this phrase is used in Revelation to show God is in complete control of history; He “begins” and he “ends” things (Rev. 1:8; 21:6).
- Finally, the phrase is used in Revelation to show Jesus is the judge of every person; “The Alpha and the Omega” is “coming quickly,” and He says, “My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” (Rev. 22:12-13).
When you put this together the phrase “The Alpha and the Omega” is used in Revelation to say, “No one is eternal like God who is in complete control of history and will thoroughly judge every person.”
The Root of the Title in Isaiah
The title “The Alpha and the Omega” is used in Revelation with another phrase “the First and the Last.” These terms are basically synonymous. The phrase, “The First and the Last” is used by God to describe Himself in the prophecy of Isaiah. Understanding how Isaiah uses this phrase will give the student a deeper appreciation of how the phrase, “The Alpha and The Omega” is used in Revelation, because the original recipients faced similar circumstances.
The first time the phrase “The First and the Last” appears in Isaiah it describes God’s control over the nations. God is the one who can start nations up and take others out, because He is “the first and with the last.” God says,
Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, the first,
and with the last; I am he. (Isa. 41:4)
The next time the phrase is used it describes God’s unique ability to know the future. At times it may appear that God’s people are oppressed with no way out, but God can do what no idol can: He can know the future. The future He sees is one where His people are redeemed and blessed. God knows the future because he is “the first and the last.” God says,
6 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.
7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. (Isa. 44:6-7)
The last time the phrase is used in Isaiah it binds together God’s ability to know the future and control the nations for the benefit of His people.
12 “Listen to me, O Jacob,
and Israel, whom I called!
I am he; I am the first,
and I am the last. (Isa. 48:12)
God goes on to describe how He will deliver His people from their bondage, give them peace, and bring them back into the land.
You see, Isaiah wrote for a people who lived under the oppression of Babylon. They could not envision a time when they would be free. But God says to them, “Don’t fret. I haven’t written the end of the story yet! I am the first and the last.”
Similarly, the church in Revelation is under the oppression of a new “Babylon” who is persecuting the church (Rev. 14:8; 18:1-24). Believers couldn’t envision how they could overcome such a powerful force. But God says to them, “Don’t fret. I haven’t written the end of the story yet! I am the Alpha and the Omega.” When God finished their story the early church survived and the powerful forces of the world crumbled to dust.
Since Jesus is “The Alpha and the Omega” we know that no circumstance is hopeless, because He hasn’t written the end of the story yet and when He does, it ends gloriously for the people of God.
Jesus Carries His People Through
One of the wonderful truths about Jesus being “The Alpha and the Omega,” is not just that He begins all things and ends all things, but that He carries His people through the endings!
- For example, The Great Alpha created a world that sin destroyed in the generations from Adam to Noah. As a result the Great Omega ended the era with a flood. Yet, He safely preserved Noah and his family through the end.
- Similarly, the Great Alpha created the nation Israel which sin destroyed in the era of the kings. As a result the Great Omega ended their era with an exile. Yet, He safely preserved a remnant through the end.
- Genesis tells of how the Great Alpha created a perfect garden which sin destroyed. Revelation show us how the Great Omega ends this fallen world. Yet, He will make all things new, and restore us to a garden fellowship with Him.
Today, the world still goes through its seasons, but God has the power to carry His people through one era into the next and make them even more glorious in the process. What God does for His people in general He also does for each believer individually. Paul wrote, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). “The Alpha and the Omega” finishes what He starts and makes it much more glorious.
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)
This post ends our Fall Focus about “The Pictures of Jesus in John.” You might take a moment and think back through the wonderful names Jesus wears in John’s writings. You might remember that just hours before Jesus was crucified Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father,” and Jesus replied, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9). One reason Jesus came into the flesh was to make the unseen God visible (John 1:14-18). Through Jesus we can know what God is like. One of the best ways to know the heart of God look at the titles Jesus took to Himself in the writings of John. Take a moment to look at what these titles say about our God, then take another moment to worship Him.
Jesus is the Word, who communicates God to us
Jesus is the Lamb of God, who took my sins on Himself
Jesus is the King, who is worthy of my service
Jesus is the Savior of the World, and every soul needs Him
Jesus is the Bread of Life, who satisfies and sustains my life
Jesus is the Light of the World, who guides my life
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who cares when I stray
Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, who gives me eternal life
Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life, who provides the way to my Father
Jesus is the True Vine, who makes my life truly productive
Jesus is My Lord and My God, who I joyfully worship
Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, who will write the end of my story