Revelation 1:8

I am
A trademark of the book of John which records the self-identification of Jesus using this phrase. Jesus said unless you believe “I am” (John John 8:24), you will die in your sins. He said that before Abraham “I am” (John John 8:58), an intentional reference to the self-existent One of Exodus (Ex. Ex. 3:6, Ex. 3:14) for which the Jews attempted to stone Him.1 It was before the power of this declaration of deity that those who came to arrest Jesus fell back: “Now when he said to them “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground” (John John 18:6).

the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End
This complete title is applied both to the Father (Rev. Rev. 21:6+) and to the Son (Rev. Rev. 22:13+). The phrase is also applied to the Son in two parts (Rev. Rev. 1:11+; Rev. 2:8+). It is clear that the title can apply to both Father and Son and is therefore yet another clear indication of the deity of the Son. The use of a very similar phrase by Isaiah underscores the uniqueness of God: Isa. 44:6). Alpha, being the first letter of the Greek alphabet (as our “A”) stands for the “beginning.” Omega, being the last letter of the Greek alphabet (as our “Z”) stands for the “end.” Because God existed from before all time and will exist beyond all time, there is no room for another God (Isa. Isa. 43:10). Throughout the Father’s preexistence, the Son was with Him (John John 1:1-3; John 8:54; Col. Col. 1:17).

the Lord
Designating someone as “Lord,” especially in John’s day, could have serious implications. It was a title which Christians did not use lightly: “ ‘Lord’ (kyrios) means that the bearer was worthy of divine recognition and honor. The apostolic writers and early believers were well aware of this meaning. Polycarp, for example, died as a martyr rather than call Caesar kyrios.”2

who is and who was and who is to come
See commentary on Revelation 1:4. Some see grammatical evidence identifying the speaker here as the Father.3 Yet the switch to the Father here after the Son has just been the subject (Rev. Rev. 1:7+) and prior to similar statements by the Son (Rev. Rev. 1:11+, Rev. 1:17+) seems too abrupt.4 Elsewhere we discuss the role of the Antichrist, empowered by Satan, as the Master Imitator. Pink notes the correlation between this phrase describing God’s self-existence and the phrase applied to Antichrist: Rev. 4:8+); the Antichrist is referred to as him that ‘was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit’ (Rev. Rev. 17:8+).”5

the Almighty
Ὁ παντοκράτωρ [Ho pantokratōr] (“the Almighty”) is derived from ὁ πάντων κρατῶν [ho pantōn kratōn] (“the one who holds all”) and is rendered in the LXX for שַׁדַּי [šadday] in the book of Job and צְבָאוֹת [eḇāʾôṯ] (“hosts”) elsewhere.6 It is a reference to God’s sovereignty and might, His command of powerful force.

Notes

1 It was the Angel of the Lord who met Moses in the burning bush (Ex. Ex. 3:2) and who made claims that no ordinary angel dare make (Ex. Ex. 3:14). Indeed, it was no ordinary Angel, but the preincarnate Messiah (John John 1:14, John 1:18).

2 Harold D. Foos, “Christology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 107.

3 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 11.

4 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), 40.

5 Arthur Walkington Pink, The Antichrist (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1999, 1923), s.v. “Comparisons between Christ and the Antichrist.”

6 Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 81.

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