The Alpha and Omega
Yahweh in the Old Testament
Isaiah 41:4 – “Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.”
- The context is the Assyrian invasion.
- The Significance of “the First and the Last” is clear:
- He is sovereign: “Who has wrought and done it?” He rules IN time.
- He is transcendent: “calling generations from the beginning.” He rules OVER time.
Isaiah 44:6 – “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.”
- The context is hope for Jacob in the midst of trouble.
- Significance: to be first and last is to have no legitimate rival. Idols had a beginning, and judgment brought them to swift destruction.
Isaiah 48:9-13 – “For the sake of My name I delay My wrath. . . Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver. . . For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. Surely My hand founded the earth.”
- The context is God’s promises to Israel in their despair.
- God is sovereign over Israel’s future. He, as First and Last, oversees and has established a plan for them.
- God is exclusive in spite of Israel’s idolatry. As First and Last, He sees to it that His glory will prevail.
- God is strong in creatorial might. He is First in that He originated all things.
Jesus in the New Testament
- Alpha and Omega: Communication. Christ is the sum of God’s total revelation.
- Beginning and End: Time. Christ is the essence of God’s purposes.
- First and Last: Events. Christ is the center of God’s dealings.
- In that there is nothing before Alpha or after Omega, any plan or purpose happens within the Person of Christ. He is the sphere of all dispensations and revelations.
- It is precious that this aspect translates into our salvation journey as well, for “He is the Author and Perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2).
- With the background of Old Testament texts, Jesus is clearly portrayed as Yahweh in Revelation. Jesus is THE God.
Revelation 1:17. “I am the Alpha and the Omega. . . who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. . . And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.”
- The IVP Bible Background Commentary says on this, “Some Jewish teachers similarly came to call Him the Aleph and the Tav, the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. They further called God ‘truth,’ Hebrew emet, spelled aleph-mem-tav, which they said were the first, middle, and last letters of the alphabet, showing that God was eternal and ruled over time.”
- In context of prophecy, this is quite appropriate. Revelation at one point says, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Thus, He both originates the testimony and fulfills it.
- My response: worship. His response: “Fear not.” Even in glorified manhood, He offers grace to His own. He offers boldness. We should feel unworthy in His presence but not unwelcome. Oh, the grace of the risen Man!
Revelation 21:6. “It is done: I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”
- “It is done” shows the fulfillment of His sovereign purposes from the beginning. He, in a sense, has given a textual foretaste of His name’s being shown in its true glory. What a wonderful thing that at the consummation of His purposes, He sees His will fulfilled in free fountains of living water to those who love Him. We can see ourselves before the foundation of the world, and we can see ourselves at its consummation – all according to no merit of our own. Oh, it is all of grace!
Revelation 22:12-13. “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
- Remember that this reward is associated with the transcendence of time. Surely our reward is no light thing to look forward to if it is in the mind of the eternal God. And surely we are blessed to do His commandments as we anticipate His coming and His rewarding. God has begun His purposes in eternity, and so He will finish them. This gives great weight to all incentives of godly living. Why would we give this world one iota of our motivation and investment? Those who tamper with worldly rewards obviously know nothing of the divine investment in their souls.
Other Related Passages
- Isaiah 57:15 – “The lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” (Darby)
- Psalm 41:13 – “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
- Psalm 90:2 – “From everlasting to everlasting You are God.”
- Psalm 93:2 – “Your throne is established from of old: You are from everlasting.”
- Hebrews 12:2 – “The Author and Perfecter of faith.”
- Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the Same yesterday and today and forever.”