Revelation 1:8

8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

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Revelation 1:8 Meaning and Commentary

Revelation 1:8

I am Alpha and Omega
These are the words of Christ himself, appearing at once, and confirming what John had said of him, concerning his person, offices, and future coming: Alpha is the first letter, and Omega the last in the Greek alphabet, and signifies that Christ is the first and the last, as it is interpreted in ( Revelation 1:11 Revelation 1:17 ) , and is a character often given to the divine Being in prophetic writings; see ( Isaiah 41:4 ) ( 44:6 ) ( 48:12 ) ; and is no small proof of the proper deity of Christ. Alpha is used by the Jews for the chief of persons or things;

``Macmas and Mezonicha (names of places) are (tlol apla) , "Alpha for fine flour";''

that is, the best fine flour is there, they are the chief places for it: and again,

``Tekoah is (Nmvl apla) , "Alpha for oil",''

or the chief place for oil; the best oil was to be had there F19: so Christ, he is the Alpha, the chief as to his divine nature, being God over all, blessed for ever; and in his divine sonship, none, angels or men, are in such sense the Son of God as he is; and in all his offices, of prophet, priest, and King; he is the prophet, the great prophet of the church, never man spake like him, or taught as he did; he is the most excellent priest, that exceeds Aaron and all his sons, having an unchangeable priesthood; and he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords; he has the chief place in the church, he is the head of it, and has in all things the preeminence; he is the chief in honour and dignity, is at the right hand of God, and has a name above every name: he also in some sense may be said to be the Omega, the last and the lowest; as in his state of humiliation, he was not only made lower than the angels, but than man; he was despised and rejected of men, and scarcely reckoned a man, a worm, and no man; and he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Moreover, these letters, Alpha and Omega, being the first and the last in the alphabet, may stand for the whole; and it seems to be a proverbial expression taken from the Jews, who use the phrase, from Aleph to Tau, for the whole of any thing, which two letters in the Hebrew alphabet stand in the same place as these; accordingly the Syriac version renders it Olaph and Tau; and the Arabic version Aleph and Ye. It is said in ( Ezekiel 9:6 ) , "begin at my sanctuary";

``R. Joseph taught, do not read "my sanctuary", but "sanctified ones", these are the children of men who confirm "the whole law", (wyt dew Plam) , "from Aleph to Tau";''

the same as from Alpha to Omega, or from one end to the other: and a little after,

``says R. Levi, Tau is the end of the seal of the holy blessed God, for says R. Chanina, the seal of the holy blessed God is (tma) , "truth": says R. Samuel bar Nachmani, these are the children of men who confirm the whole law "from Aleph to Tau" F20.''

So Christ, he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the chief, the whole of things; as of the covenant of grace, he is the first and last of it, he is the Mediator, surety, and messenger of it, and the ratifier and confirmer of it, he is the covenant itself, all its blessings and promises are in him; he is the sum and substance of the Scriptures, both of the law and of the Gospel; he is the fulfilling end of the law, and he is the subject matter of the Gospel; he stands in the first verse in Genesis, and in the last of the Revelation; he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the whole and all in the business of salvation, in the affair of justification before God, in the sanctification of his people, in their adoption, and eternal glorification; he stands first and last in the book of God's purposes and decrees, in the book of the covenant, in the book of the creatures, or creation, being the first cause, and last end of all things, in the book of Providence, and in the book of the Scriptures: likewise, as these two letters include all the rest, this phrase may be expressive of the perfection of Christ, who as God has the fulness of the Godhead, all the perfections of the divine nature in him; and, as man, is in all things made like unto his brethren; and, as Mediator, has all fulness of power, wisdom, grace, and righteousness in him, in whom all the saints are complete; and this may also denote his eternity, he having none before him, nor any after him; and which also is signified by some other following expressions:

the beginning and the ending;
the Alexandrian copy, the Complutensian edition, the Syriac and Ethiopic versions, leave out this; which seems to be explanative of the former clause, Alpha being the beginning of the alphabet, and Omega the ending of it; and properly belongs to Christ, who knows no beginning, nor will he have any end with respect to time, being from everlasting to everlasting; and agrees with him as the first cause of all things, both of the old and new creation, and the last end to which they are all referred, being made for his pleasure, honour, and glory: these things now

saith the Lord;
that is, the Lord Jesus Christ; the Alexandrian copy, the Complutensian edition, and the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "the Lord God"; and the Ethiopic version only God:

which is, and which was, and which is to come;
who is God over all, "was" God from all eternity, and is to come as such; which he will show by: his omniscience and omnipotence, displayed in the judgment of the world: who "is" now a Saviour of all that come to God by him; "was" so under the Old Testament dispensation, being the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; and "is to come", as such, and shall appear a second time unto salvation to them that look for him: particularly this phrase is expressive of the eternity of Christ, who is, was, and ever will be; and of his immutability, who is the same he was, and will be for ever the same he is, and was, unchangeable in his person, in his love, and in the virtue of his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; he is the same today, yesterday, and for ever. This same phrase is used of God the Father in ( Revelation 1:4 ) ; and is a further proof of the deity of Christ; and which is still more confirmed by the following character,

the Almighty;
as he appears to be, by creating all things but of nothing; by upholding all creatures in their beings; by the miracles he wrought on earth; by the resurrection of himself from the dead; by obtaining eternal redemption for his people; and by his having the care and government of them upon him, whom he keeps, upholds, bears, and carries to the end, through all their infirmities, afflictions, temptations, and trials.


F19 Misn. Menachot, c. 8. sect. 1. 3. & Bartenora in ib. So Alpha penulatorum, "the chief of beggars", in Martial, l. 50. 2. Ep. 57.
F20 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 55. 1. & Avoda Zara, fol. 4. 1. Echa Rabbati, fol. 52. 1. Baal Hatturim in Deut. xxxiii. 21. & Raziel, fol. 9. & 12. & Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 70. 1, 2.

Revelation 1:8 In-Context

6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
9 I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet

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Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.