Alpha & Omega

Jesus Christ is not the Alpha and an unknown x’; he’s the Alpha and the Omega.

The apostle John uses the title “Alpha and Omega” three times in the book of Revelation. He’s using the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet to talk of “the beginning and the end,” or the “first and the last” (Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13). And that makes me think he must surely have had in mind the Old Testament background for this: “This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies: ‘I am the First and the Last; there is no other God’” (Isa 44:6 NLT). In other words, John the revelator’s Christology builds on this reference to God’s eternal and monotheistic uniqueness.

Revelation 1:4–8 (esp. v. 8)

Alpha and Omega
The Greek letters alpha (Αα) and omega (Ωω)

In this first use of Alpha and Omega, John evokes the early Old Testament understanding of the divine name. When God commissioned Moses to go down into Egypt and set his people free…

Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they won’t believe me. They will ask, ‘Which god are you talking about? What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied, “I Am The One Who Always Is. Just tell them, ‘I Am has sent me to you.'” (Exod 3:13–14)

Look at the language surrounding John’s use of Alpha and Omega:

This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the commander of all the rulers of the world. All praise to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us his Kingdom and his priests who serve before God his Father. Give to him everlasting glory! He rules forever and ever! Amen! Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the earth will weep because of him. Yes! Amen! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the LORD God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One.”

The Almighty
Phillip Medhurst, “The Almighty”

John expands on Alpha and Omega, calling Jesus “the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come” (Rev 1:8). This isn’t  just an expression of timeless eternity; John speaks also of “timeless sovereignty.”1 He’s saying, “I, the Almighty LORD of hosts, the unchangeable God, will accomplish all My will, fulfill all My word, and execute all My judgments.”2

He’s not just the source of everything, not the Alpha of a sequence that then runs its autonomous chaotic course. He’s not the initial Alpha followed by an unknown quantity x, y, or z. He’s not the Alpha and a chaotic particle in a materialistic universe. He’s the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent—and good—Alpha and Omega.

Dwelling place of God
Logos verse art for Revelation 21:3

Revelation 21:1–8 (v. 6)

The second occurrence of the formula is in Revelation 21:6. Here is the context for that use of Alpha and Omega:

21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making all things new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge! All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. But cowards who turn away from me, and unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all liars—their doom is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.”

Wipe away all tears
Logos verse art for Revelation 21:4

Here the context is the consummation and the final contrast between eternal bliss in the new heavens and new earth versus eternal judgment, “the second death.” Jesus’s “It is finished!” here (vv. 5–6) reminds us of the final cry on the cross; only now he’s sitting upon a throne, and declaration “finished” is his shout over new creation. This indicates that he’s not only the initiator of creation, but he’s also the one who brings it to its telos as well. And in his hands lies the whole intermediary process, which he guides to its desired conclusion. So he’s not only the first point in time, but he’s the telos (“goal”) of creation, which is perfected in new creation. He’s certainly the preexistent architect of creation:

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (John 1:1–3, see also Prov 8:21–31)

He’s also the architect of new creation: John reports that he is “making all things new” (Rev 21:5–6). And his purpose is not “well maybe,… on the other hand,… perhaps,… or ‘only time will tell.'” His word is sure, good as done, signed and sealed—and it will be delivered.

Make all things new
Logos verse art for Revelation 21:5

So whatever lies between the Alpha and the Omega, we can know that it’s part of his larger plan. It’s not just Henry Ford’s “one damn thing after another.” Rather, it’s one divinely foreordained thing after another. As Paul notes, “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Rom 8:28).

Rev 22:13
Logos verse art for Revelation 22:13

Revelation 22:7, 10–17 (esp. v. 13)

The third occurrence is in Revelation 22:13, which is in the context of final judgment, final separation between the wicked and the blessed.

Rev 22:12
Logos verse art for Revelation 22:12

22:7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the prophecy written in this scroll.”… 10 Then he instructed me, “Do not seal up the prophetic words you have written, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who is doing wrong continue to do wrong; the one who is vile, continue to be vile; the one who is good, continue to do good; and the one who is holy, continue in holiness.” 12 “See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 14 blessed are those who wash their robes so they can enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let each one who hears them say, “Come.” Let the thirsty ones come—anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge.

Rev 22:17
Logos verse art for Revelation 22:17

Here Jesus speaks as judge of the whole world, claiming the title that the Lord God Almighty (see also Rev 1:8; 21:6). This implies that he’s not only the author, but also the finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). He’s not only the one who starts a good work, but one who completes it: Paul could tell the Philippian church, “I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again” (Phil 1:6).

Creation is not going to go wandering on without purpose or completion. There’s an Omega point, and his name is Jesus, the Christ, the Everlasting God Almighty. He’ll bring it to its finish. And when he does, he’ll hold up the finished product against his eternal purpose, judging everything according to that unchanging purpose. Of some he’ll say, “Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life” (v. 14). Others he’ll define as “outside” (v. 15).

That doesn’t imply that we who are his followers in these last days should begin our own feeble attempts to hold everyone accountable to our own mini-eschatological judicial forums. Now is not the time for judgment; it’s the time for invitation. And in following the mandate to invite, we follow a heavenly pattern just as solid as the heavenly promise of final judgment.

  • Those issuing the invitation: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let each one who hears them say, ‘Come'” (v. 17a). It’s a heavenly call issued throughout God’s earthly realm, sounded forth by the Spirit, but announced and incarnated by the church.
  • Those who receive the invitation: “Let the thirsty ones come—anyone who wants to” (v. 17b). It’s a summons to the needy—and to the unworthy. So we don’t do a mini-judgment upon anyone before we determine whether to hand out a precious invitation card.
  • The gift promised to those who respond to the call: “Let them come and drink the water of life without charge” (v. 17c).

Conclusion

The title ascribed to the Almighty Father God, belongs equally to the Son.

  • It speaks not only of God’s eternal nature, but of his eternal purpose.
  • This purpose is to make all things holy and full of life.
  • The divine invitation goes out now, inviting “anyone who wants to,” to “Come.”
  • The promise is “without charge” and gives “the water of life.”

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24–25, ESV).


  1. R. L. Thomas, Revelation 1–7 (Moody, 1995), 79.
  2. W. Hendrickson, More Than Conquerors (Tyndale, 1940), 55.

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