BEHOLD! He comes with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him, and they will beat their breasts with grief over Him, all the peoples of the earth. Yes! Amen!
“I AM the Alpha and the Omega,” the Lord is saying, “The God Who is, and Who was and Who is now coming, the Omnipotent.”Revelation 1:7-8
High View of Christ
Who is Jesus?
It was a huge question for the early church, one of the first questions the church councils sought to answer. Was Jesus a human being? Was Jesus divine? And if divine, equal to God—the YHWH of the Hebrew Scriptures? Or was Jesus some lesser divine being, as were the Seraphim and Cherubim?
The later documents in the Greek Testament, which is to say the Gospel of John, the Book of Hebrews and the Book of Revelation (among others), spent time at the very beginning of their texts to establish the high view of Christ—Jesus is fully human, and also fully God.
The Nicene Creed
—the first creed adopted by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth];
Who for us [people], and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man;
He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE
Christ Introduced in Revelation
So far, John named Jesus as
- The faithful witness
- The firstborn of the dead
- The ruler of the kings of earth
Jesus loves us.
Jesus freed us from our sins by his blood.
Jesus has made us into a kingdom.
Jesus has also appointed and anointed us all to be priests serving God.
And it is to both God the Son and God the Father that glory and dominion are given forever.
Then John delivered his first prophecy, Jesus is coming in the clouds. This is both a promise delivered by God’s messengers, as Jesus ascended into heaven, rising on the glory of God’s Shekinah, and is understood spiritually as an ongoing truth. Jesus is Immanuel, God With Us.
When Jesus physically returns, the entire earth will see Who Jesus is, they will recognize the crucified Christ, and they will be convicted to their core.
This is Who Jesus is.
Alpha and Omega
But then, in a sentence equally as blockbuster as the first three verses of John’s Gospel, John brings together a number of Hebrew references to YHWH and applies them to Jesus in a fresh way.
“I AM the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”Revelation 1:8
The manner in which John wrote this prologue, there is little doubt the person speaking is Jesus (rather than God the Father).
John’s opening words were about this revelation having been given to Jesus to deliver to John. Now the revelation has begun—Jesus is being unveiled for Who He is in physical and spiritual reality.
Immediately recalling to mind both Moses’s burning bush encounter and Jesus’s seven I AM declarations in John’s Gospel, this is an unmistakable reference to the holy name of God.
Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”
He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:
This is my name forever,Exodus 3:13-15 (NRSV)
and this my title for all generations.
Alpha and Omega
The alpha, Α is the first letter in the Greek alphabet. As you have probably already intuited, the omega, Ω is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. Arranged together as a phrase, they mean the beginning and the end.
As John wrote at the beginning of his Gospel,
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God was the Word.
This One was in the beginning with God.
Everything came into being through him, and apart from him not a single thing came into being.John 1:1-3
As Matthew wrote at the end of his Gospel,
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Jesus, Matthew 28:20 (NRSV)
But there is more.
A little farther down, Jesus expands on the Alpha and Omega, saying,
“Do not be afraid; I AM the First and the Last.”Revelation 1:17
There is no question, now, that Jesus’s words are meant as a reference to YHWH’s identity in the Book of Isaiah.
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,Isaiah 44:6 (NRSV)
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the first, and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
The Lord God
In Greek, this phrase is κύριος, ὁ θεός Kurios ho Theos, literally, Lord the God.
And just a brief word search for this phrase in the Hebrew Scriptures reveals how often God was spoken of as God the Lord, and the Lord God. In Hebrew, these words carried a particular significance.
יְהוָה YHWH, The Lord | אֱלֹהִים Elohim, God
Perhaps the most famous place this combination is found is in the Shema
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Deuteronomy 6:4 (NRSV)
Who Is and Who Was and Who Is to Come
Earlier, John had referenced God the Father with this phrase, but now he identifies Jesus as also eternal—in agreement with the writer of Hebrews, who said,
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 13:8 (NRSV)
John’s final appellation for Jesus in Hebrew would be אֵל שַׁדַּי El Shaddai, God Almighty, the title God spoke in revelation to Abraham.
the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you.”Genesis 17:1-2 (NRSV)
No Other Name
The early church knew from the beginning that Jesus is Lord, He is Almighty God.
He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.Hebrews 1:3 (NRSV)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.
He himself is before all things, and in[j] him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,Colossians 1:15-19 (NRSV)
But the Council of Nicaea added a clause to the end of the original Nicene Creed as a warning that no other but this highest view of Christ would be considered Christian.
But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.First Council of Nicaea, 325 CE