The Bible’s View
Who Is “the Alpha and the Omega”?
IN THE most ancient Greek manuscripts of the book of Revelation, the expression “the Alpha and the Omega” appears three times. Does this designation, as many believe, apply both to the Almighty God, Jehovah, and to his Son Jesus Christ? Just what is the significance of the title “the Alpha and the Omega”?
The word “alpha” is the name for the first letter of the Greek alphabet, whereas the term “omega” designates the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Hence, in itself, the title “the Alpha and the Omega” conveys the idea of the start and the finish or completion of a thing. The personage who is so designated would, therefore, be viewed as the beginner of certain things and the one who brings these things to a successful conclusion.
Based on what is revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures, the title “the Alpha and the Omega” would certainly fit Jehovah God. At Isaiah 55:10, 11, for example, we are told: “Just as the pouring rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens and does not return to that place, unless it actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout, and seed is actually given to the sower and bread to the eater, so my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”
How forcefully this emphasizes that whatever Jehovah God expresses will be brought to a successful finish! Water falling in the form of rain or snow eventually filters down into the soil, there to combine with nutrients. In this way the precipitation furnishes what is needed for plant growth. In the case of grain, some of the seed may be set aside for sowing in the next season, and a far larger portion may be ground into flour for making bread. Thus the ultimate purpose of the precipitation is realized—seed is given to the sower and bread to the eater. Likewise, whatever Jehovah God, as the Beginner, sets in motion by his word always is brought to a successful end.
But does the title “the Alpha and the Omega” apply exclusively to Jehovah God? To answer this question, we must examine the context in which this designation appears.
Revelation 1:8 states: “The Lord God says, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty!’” (The New American Bible) Clearly, the reference here is to the Most High God Jehovah.
While Jesus Christ is referred to in the previous verse as “coming with the clouds,” the words of Revelation 1:8 and the surrounding verses show that he could not be “the Alpha and the Omega.” In the Scriptures, only the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of as “the Lord God” and as the “Almighty.” Jesus Christ even refers to his Father as “my God.” (John 20:17; Rev. 3:12) According to Revelation 1:1, the revelation was given to Jesus Christ by God. Hence, we should expect the words of the Almighty God to be quoted in the account. The first reference to “the Alpha and the Omega” is manifestly an example of this. Moreover, in the very next verse, the writer of the book of Revelation, the apostle John, says: “I . . . came to be in the isle that is called Patmos for speaking about God and bearing witness to Jesus.” (Rev. 1:9) This provides additional confirmation that John understood God to be the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In what sense is Jehovah God “the One who is and who was and who is to come”? Being the eternal God, Jehovah has at all times been the Almighty. (Ps. 90:2) So, in the indefinite past, he was the Most High. Furthermore, he continues to be the Almighty God and will come in that capacity to execute his judgment. As shown in other parts of the book of Revelation, Jehovah God will display his all-powerfulness at the time that his Son destroys all opposers of his sovereignty.—Rev. 16:14; 19:13-16.
The next occurrence of the title “the Alpha and the Omega” is found at Revelation 21:6. In the following verse, the One who applies this title to himself says: “Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.” Since Jesus Christ speaks of himself as a “brother” of these conquerors, it is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who is referring to himself as “the Alpha and the Omega.”—Compare Matthew 25:40; Hebrews 2:10-12.
Finally, at Revelation 22:12, 13, we read: “Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to render to each one as his work is. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” This quotation appears among others that are ascribed to an angel and to Jesus Christ. Before these words are quoted in the book of Revelation, the angel who was instrumental in presenting the revelation to the apostle John spoke. (Rev. 22:8, 9) Then, after the quotation that begins with Revelation 22:12 and ends with the words of verse 15, we find the statement: “I, Jesus, sent my angel.” (Rev. 22:16) Since the context does not necessitate our attributing the words of Revelation 22:12, 13 either to the angel or to Jesus, they could have originated with another speaker. Consistent with the rest of the book of Revelation, “the Alpha and the Omega” must be the Almighty God. He is the One who comes in the capacity of a judge to reward and to punish individuals according to their works.
The thought expressed at Revelation 22:12 also harmonizes with what the apostle Paul wrote. He stated: “According to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath and of the revealing of God’s righteous judgment. And he will render to each one according to his works: everlasting life to those who are seeking glory and honor and incorruptibleness by endurance in work that is good; however, for those who are contentious and who disobey the truth but obey unrighteousness there will be wrath and anger, tribulation and distress, upon the soul of every man who works what is injurious, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace for everyone who works what is good, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Rom. 2:5-10) Of course, the judgment will be expressed by Jehovah God through his Son, for the apostle also says: “This will be in the day when God through Christ Jesus judges the secret things of mankind.”—Rom. 2:16.
The fact that Jehovah God speaks of himself as “the Alpha and the Omega” gives us the assurance that what he has purposed will come to a successful realization. This should prompt us to do our utmost to be found approved by him. Our reward will then be certain, for the Bible tells us: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.”—Heb. 6:10.