Revelation 1:11

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last
God is said to be “everlasting” (Gen. Gen. 21:33). He “inhabits eternity” (Isa. Isa. 57:15) and is without beginning and without end: “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. Ps. 90:2). This appellation is especially reminiscent of that given by Isaiah: “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’ ” (Isa. Isa. 44:6). Whoever said Jesus never claimed to be God need look no further. For the next verse leaves absolutely no doubt that it is the Son Who is applying to Himself titles which are reserved exclusively for God (Isa. Isa. 41:4; Isa. 48:12; Rev. Rev. 21:6+; Rev. 22:13+)! This is consistent with the OT where the promised Son is referred to as “Everlasting Father” (Isa. Isa. 9:6). God is the unique “uncaused first cause,” “Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me” (Isa. Isa. 43:10). He is self-existent and outside of the limitations of time. This is why He alone can predict the future:

Tell and bring forth your case; yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. (Isa. Isa. 45:21)

God’s existence outside of time is a unique identifying feature of His character which God challenges any other to try and duplicate:

Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. (Isa. Isa. 41:22)

This is but one of many reasons why we choose to trust the text of Genesis over after-the-fact and error-prone interpretation of distant history by modern science. See commentary on Revelation 1:8.

write what you see
Literally, “what you are seeing [you] write!” The verb “see” (Βλέπεις [Blepeis] ) is in the present tense. John’s contribution will be as a moment-by-moment observer, recording the events and scenes which are brought before him while in the Spirit. This, no doubt, accounts in part for the lack of grammatical polish which has been observed in the Greek text. This is not a carefully crafted literary document containing sophisticated themes originating in John’s own mind. John is continually reminded to “write” as he experiences the various scenes of the Revelation (Rev. Rev. 1:11+, Rev. 1:19+; Rev. 2:1+, Rev. 2:8+, Rev. 2:12+, Rev. 2:18+; Rev. 3:1+, Rev. 3:7+, Rev. 3:12+, Rev. 3:14+; Rev. 10:4+; Rev. 14:13+; Rev. 19:9+; Rev. 21:5+). This would seem to support the view that John is making a moment-by-moment record of the scenes which he is being shown. As with other writers of Scripture, the Holy Spirit is superintending the process, but it seems unlikely that John is given the time or luxury of carefully analyzing and crafting that which he records.

to the seven churches
Tradition holds that John left Jerusalem in the late sixties of the first century, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. He went to Asia where he became the recognized leader of the Asian churches, following in the footsteps of Paul’s earlier missionary work which directly or indirectly founded many of the churches mentioned here.

The epistolary form of address immediately distinguishes this book from all other Jewish apocalyptic works . . . None of the pseudepigraphical works contains such epistolary addresses. John writes to actual, historical churches, addressing them in the same way the NT epistles are addressed.1

(See The Genre of the book of Revelation for more on the literary genre of apocalyptic.) The seven churches are listed in the same order as their respective letters appear in Revelation Rev. 2:1+ and Rev. 3:1+. It has been suggested that their order indicates the natural route messengers would take to deliver copies of the letter to the seven churches.2 See Seven Churches of Asia.

which are in Asia
This is neither Asia nor even Asia Minor, but what we would today know as the region of western Turkey.

In the New Testament, as generally in the language of men when the New Testament was written, Asia meant not what it now means for us, and had once meant for the Greeks, one namely of the three great continents of the old world. . ., nor yet even that region which geographers about the fourth century of our era began to call “Asia Minor;” but a strip of the western seaboard containing hardly a third portion of this . . . its limits being nearly identical with those of the kingdom which Attalus the Third bequeathed to the Roman people. Take “Asia” in this sense, and there will be little or no exaggeration in the words of the Ephesian silversmith, that “almost throughout all Asia” Paul had turned away much people from the service of idols (Acts Acts 19:26; cf. ver. Acts 19:10); word which must seem to exceed even the limits of an angry hyperbole to those not acquainted with this restricted use of the term.3

The “Asia” of which the Scriptures speak is not the great continent of Asia, or even of Asia Minor, but only the western part of Asia Minor, directly south of the Black Sea. The whole of it does not include a larger territory than the single state of Pennsylvania.4


1 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 23.

2 Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998, 1906), 14.

3 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 4.

4 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 56.

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