Alpha And Omega, In The Isaianic & Revelation Texts
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
Since a date around the last decade of the first century, [about A.D. 95], is the traditional time assigned to the publishing of the Apocalyptic text. We will consider that when approaching this exposition to have some sort of significance to our exegesis. The prophetic and epistolary tradition this book picks up will also be considered.
Exegesis and Exposition: The opening verses of Revelation (1:1-3) fill the all-important role of directing the audience’s psyche to the roles that is established in the prologue. 1) The channels used to communicate the books intent (John and Jesus] 2) That the time of fulfillment is said to be near (v. 1). The (Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”). How much clearer the author would have been if he was to stamp his introduction with an emphatic statement such as Ἀποκάλυψις τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω (The Revelation of the Alpha and Omega)?. If we are told that Christ was already understood to be the eternal λόγος (John 1:1) without beginning who shares the ontological status of God Almighty then there shouldn't have been many difficulties for the author to use that type of language as a introductory statement. If the Orthodox Christological view is the correct view, then we must chalk this up as an opportunity missed by the Revelator.
Instead, the author identifies the one who ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ (gave him) the revelation and described ὁθεός to that one. Then it proceeds to record the words of the source of the revelation saying Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω (I am the Alpha and the Omega). The author waste little time to let his audience know that God the Father is the lone antecedent of the declaration ‘τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω’ in the ultimate sense. Any references to "ἀπὸ τοῦ ὁὢν καὶ ὁἦν καὶ ὁἐρχόμενος, “from the one who is and who was and who is coming” is a prerequisite to Jesus is immediately eliminated by ‘His’ being named as the third part of the source in 1:5. Interestingly, "Who is and who was and who is to come” is sometimes regarded as an undeclinable proper name. The writer again wanting to articulate the Fathers sovereignty included His eternal and continuing existence prior to the present moment. And the imperfect indicative (ὁ ἦν) was the only linguistic instrument for doing so. So in doing so, this is the author's way of distinguishing the way τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω is applied to God and the way it will be applied to Christ.
An argument has been made against the notion that “the Alpha and the Omega” is attached to God the Father because of the rhetorical question (s) about “which is, and which was, and which is to come”. We have substantial evidence that God The Father "comes" to earth, he is often operating through another person. See Rev. 1:4,5 where the string of logical conjunctions distinguishes the one to come from other subjects.
“Grace to you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits that are before his throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ”
Additionally, the argument is also rather insufficient because the expression λέγει Κύριος ὁ Θεός (saith the Lord God) junctioned together is just simply never spoken by the Son. Likewise, the emphatic ὁ παντοκράτωρ is also absent from Jesus’s title repertoire.
This is a simple example of a false syllogism. If we were to get the context of what Jesus says when he announced he was the alpha and omega [22:13] then we can successfully eliminate the confusion. A careful biblical overview would lead us to conclude Jesus is the First and the Last of the “New Creation”, the alpha & omega because he is the τὸ Α of the new creation, the firstborn out of the dead [ho prōtotokos tōn nekrōn]. All things are created anew in him, the risen son, the unrepeatable sacrificial firstborn out of the dead and this is precisely why Paul speaks about how we are new creations in him. [2 Corinthians 5:17…also see Isaiah 65:17,Ezekiel 36:26]
Verse 8 keeps a common theme all the way back from the Old Testament, that the Father is indeed the τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω, “the Alpha and the Omega” in the ultimate sense. As briefly expound upon earlier, there is an ongoing debate in current Revelation scholarship as to whom the title is reserved for in the relevant text. However, the weight of evidence that the Father is the only antecedent to the unique declaration in the introductory passage is impressive. Other reasons being are because of the following. First, the fact that Κυριος ο θεός, “the Lord God”) alone is a designation for God the Father throughout the OT, beginning in Genesis 2. Not to mention, ὁ παντοκράτωρ, (another title only applied to God the Father) “the Almighty”) is used eight other times in the same apocalyptic book as it is pinned to the Father (4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22).
Another objection is proposed that only God or a divine being can utter "I am Alpha and Omega" and "I am the First and Last". Well likewise only a created being can say he was dead. Jesus declared in Revelation 1:17 that "I am the first and the last and the living one. I was dead and behold I am alive to the ages of the ages.”
He also says In Revelation 2:8. "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last who was dead, and has come to life, says this..."
Parallelisms in the Isaianic literature?: When we survey the Tanakh and its linguistic similarities we find that, again contextually, the Father was clearly stating his supremacy over his competitors. I.e. Isaiah 44:6. says "Thus says YHWH, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, YHWH of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. The Hebrew reads רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹ. When zoomed in, there is a huge variation from how God the Father says it and how Christ says it.
Indeed the Isaianic text (like most of them) are emphasizing YHWH’s domination and supremacy over other nations’ patron deities. We see amplified qualifications such as "and besides me, there is no God.", rhetorical questions like "Is there a God besides me?", emphatic expressions such as "I am Jehovah etc etc. These are predications that never exuded from Jesus’s mouth in the Greek New Testament. I would add that Mere shared titles and imagery doesn't necessarily correspond to shared or same identity. Which leads us to-
Reasons why shared titles can lead to false syllogisms and negative inductive reasoning.
The syllogism fallacy -Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory;(Dan 2:37)-Nebakanezer is called “king of kings” which God will bring about in his own time--God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,(1 Tim 6:15)- God is called the king of kings (also see Ezekiel 26:7). Additionally, JESUS, the Lamb, is given the title king of kings & Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14 & Rev. 19) So the danger of making a title irrevocably tied to one person is to make a trinity of king-of-kings for they all share the same title. I will note that when it comes to the title Α καὶ τὸ Ω, the Orthodox view doesn't seem to consider the surrounding context i.e "apart from me there is no God” or “Is there a God, then, apart from me?”, instead, there is a narrow focus on the phrase itself. In turn, if consistency were to be maintained with the “Orthodox” view, then we must abandon the context surrounding Nebakanezer sharing the title βασιλεὺς βασιλέων (King of Kings) with God Almighty. Thus, resulting in the erroneous view that Nebakanezer is God.
The NT text on the other hand highlights the exaltation of YHWH‘s messiah. à la post-resurrection and ascension. Indeed, this seems to me to be insinuating Jesus is the first and last of his kind. That is, the first to have died for the remission of his people’s sin, and the Last to have been raised, exalted to the right hand of God.
In the grand scheme of things, the title just fits the supreme God of the Bible. That is, God the Father. Coupled with the fact that Jesus nor the Holy Spirit was ever identified as ό πανηοκράηφρ. Compare contemporary works of neighboring cultures and how their Supreme deity is defined.
“Zeus was, Zeus is,
Zeus shall be”
[Pausanias, Description of Greece, [10:12:10]
Finally, when this verse is utilized in the OT, the very fabric of the expression "first and the last-רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן, Α καὶ τὸ Ω ἀρχὴ" is absolutely relegated only to God Almighty. It applies dignity and the authority of the divine office itself. Under no circumstances does He intend to ration or abdicate this office of superiority to anyone.
Note: OGIO apologetics bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of any external website that is linked or cited, or for that of subsequent links.