I received a comment from a reader which claimed that Jesus Christ knew who He was, namely “the Almighty,” for that is exactly how He identified Himself, and as the Alpha and the Omega.
I had a similar comment in the past and thought that it might be wise to respond by means of a short article. The purpose of this article is, therefore, to determine whether the Bible applies titles “the Almighty” and “the Alpha and the Omega” to Jesus, and the implications thereof.
Introduction to Revelation
The phrase “the Alpha and the Omega” is found only in the book of Revelation. Furthermore, of the ten times that the title “Almighty” appears in the New Testament, nine are in Revelation. For this reason, this article commences with a discussion of Revelation’s introduction.
Jesus is distinct from God.
Revelation begins with the words:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him” (1:1).
This immediately sets a distinction between God and Jesus. This distinction is repeated in the next verse:
“John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
The point is not that Jesus is distinct from the Father, for that all agree, but that Jesus is distinct from God, which implies that Jesus is not God.
The same John who wrote Revelation also wrote the gospel of John. The opening verse of that gospel reads,
(a) In the beginning was the Word,
(b) and the Word was with God,
(c) and the Word was God.
Part (b) makes a distinction between God and the Word, but part (c) informs us that “the Word was God.” A series of articles on the website discusses this and shows that part (c) has a special grammatical construct which should be translated “the Word was like God.” This is, therefore, similar to Philippians 2, which says that, before His incarnation, that Jesus “existed in the form of God.” For is a discussion of these two passages, see:
Him who is and who was and who is to come
Revelation 1:4-5 refers to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as follows:
“Him who is and who was and who is to come;”
“The seven Spirits who are before His throne;” and
“Him who is and who was and who is to come” is, therefore, a title for the Father. The Father is also identified by this title is 4:8 (cf. 11:17). It is possible that this title is an interpretation of God’s title in Exodus 3:14, where “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’”.
Since “the seven Spirits … are before His throne,” the Father is the One who is often mentioned in Revelation as “sitting on the throne” (4:2, 9, 10; 5:1, 7, 13), and who is identified as “our Lord and our God” (4:11) and as “God” (5:9, 10; 6:16; 7:10, 15; 19:4). Jesus said, “I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (3:21). This confirms that it is the Father’s throne.
Jesus has a God.
1:5-6 continues as follows:
“To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.”
The Father is therefore also Jesus’ God. In 3:2 and 3:12 Jesus similarly refers to the Father as “My God:”
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God“
The key verse
The purpose of the analysis above is to explain the first verse in Revelation that refers to the “Almighty,” namely 1:8, which reads as follows:
“’ I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’.”
For the following reasons, this is the Father speaking:
(1) This is the One “who is and who was and who is to come,” who has been identified above as the Father.
(2) He is described as “Lord God,” and the previous verses three times made a distinction between God and Jesus, and once even said that the Father is Jesus’ God.
This distinction between God and Jesus is a consistent pattern in the New Testament and in Revelation. See the articles:
The important conclusion is as follows: Since this is the Father speaking in 1:8, it is implied that the phrases, “the Alpha and the Omega” and “the Almighty” do not refer to Jesus, but to the Father.
As stated, the title “the Almighty” is used 10 times in the New Testament, but only once outside Revelation. In 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 Paul quotes from the Old Testament and identifies “God” as “the Lord Almighty.” In Revelation “the Almighty” is used as follows:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (1:8).
“The Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come” (4:8)
“Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were” (11:17)
“Those who had been victorious over the beast” sang, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty.” (15:2-3)
The altar says, “O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments” (Rev. 16:7)
The “spirits of demons … go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 16:14)
“A great multitude,” says, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come’” (Rev. 19:6).
“The Word of God … treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 19:13-15).
“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22)
In all nine instances, “the Almighty” is God. The last three instances make an explicit distinction between the Almighty and the Son (the Word of God and the Lamb). In other words, “the Almighty” is always the Father. This title is never applied to Jesus.
Alpha and the Omega
On the other hand, Jesus said, “I am the first and the last” (1:17; 2:8). This phrase “the Alpha and the Omega” describes the Father in 1:8, and appears twice more in Revelation. 21:5-6 reads:
“He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ … Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’.”
“He who sits on the throne” is the Father. In 22:12-13 an unidentified Person says:
“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.”
This could be Jesus, for:
(1) Jesus in 3:11 similarly said, “I am coming quickly.”
(2) Jesus is “the first and the last” in 1:17 and 2:8, and this title is never used for the Father.
Whether 22:12-13 refers to the Father or to Jesus does not really matter, for Jesus is already explicitly called “the first and the last,” and this probably has the same meaning as “the Alpha and the Omega.”
The question is then, how could Jesus be “the Alpha and the Omega” if He is not “the Almighty?” This is explained as follows:
Firstly, God created all things through Jesus.
John, who wrote the Revelation, also wrote, “All things came into being through Him (the Word = pre-incarnate Jesus), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3; cf. Col. 1:16). The term “through” implies that God created all things “through” the Word. This is explicit in Hebrews 1:1-2:
“God … in these last days has spoken to us in His Son … through whom also He made the world.”
The different roles of God and the Word make a distinction between Jesus and the Almighty Creator. We need to recognize and respect the distinction which Revelation. and the rest of the New Testament consistently make between God and Jesus.
Secondly, Jesus is the Beginning.
The Person or Persons in 22:13 and 21:6 are also called, “the beginning and the end.” Jesus is similarly “the Beginning of the creation of God” (3:14). This is not understood as to mean that He is a created being, for He has been begotten. In fact, He is “the only begotten” (John 1:14, 18; 3:16). “Begotten” is human language for a mystery which beyond human understanding, and which describes the origin of the Son.
If God created all things through the Word, then the Word already existed in the beginning. But the point here is that He Himself is “the Beginning:”
“He is the beginning” (Col. 1:18).
He is “the Beginning of the creation of God” (3:14).
Justin Martyr also described Him as “a Beginning.”
It is therefore proposed that God created all things by begetting Him.
Thirdly, the Word upholds the universe.
A number of times we read that “in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17; cf. Heb. 1:3). This concept should not be separated from the concept that God created all things through Him: It is the same thing. It is therefore proposed that God upholds the universe through the Word. (The term “Word” is here used for the pre-incarnate Jesus, for that is how John described Him, not only in His pre-incarnate state (John 1:1-3) but also when He returns to earth (Rev. 19:13).
Therefore, He is the Alpha and the Omega.
To conclude; God exists beyond time and He created time. Jesus Himself is the Beginning of time and of everything else. And since “in Him all things hold together,” He is the entire existence of the Creation. He is, therefore, the “Alpha and the Omega” of the creation.
But that does not make Him “Almighty” or equal to “the Almighty,” for it is still God who created and upholds all things “through” Him. Both the Father and the Son are eternal, for both existed as long as time existed. Therefore both are the “Alpha and the Omega.” But they are not co-equal and co-eternal, as in the Athanasian Creed, for in the incomprehensible infinity beyond time, the Father is the Great Source that begat the Son.