I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Revelation 22:13
As a note, various manuscripts transpose the second and third clauses –
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (BSB)
These follow after Revelation 1:8 and Revelation 1:11 –
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” Revelation 1:11
As noted, when evaluating those verses, they are speaking of Jesus Christ. That is clearly confirmed here where all three clauses are found in one verse. A detailed description is given of them in those commentaries, and a briefer one will be found in the life application section below.
In short, however, by bringing all three of these titles into one verse, it is a way of clearly and unambiguously communicating to us that Jesus Christ is the full explanation of the unseen God (Alpha and Omega). As such, He is the Word of God. He is also Yehovah Elohim of the Old Testament Scriptures (the First and the Last) as is clearly stated in Isaiah 46 (and elsewhere). And He is also the Initiator and the Concluder of all things (the Beginning and the End). As such, nothing occurs apart from Him.
The reason for repeating this at the end of the book of Revelation is the same as stating them at the beginning of it. It is a note that Jesus Christ is in control of the entire redemptive narrative. Indeed, He is in control of everything from the moment of creation and as long as creation exists. He fashioned the word; He will bring the world to a state of perfection once again. He formed man; He will bring man to a good end in His presence. Everything will be as it should be, and for those who simply trust Him, there will be a good end. The eternal state will be one of blessing, abundance, and joy in His presence.
Life application: In verse 8, John erringly fell at the feet of the angel in worship. To understand why this probably occurred, a review was made of the verses which preceded it. In this verse, Jesus makes absolute claims about Himself. Likewise, to understand why He has done so, we should review what has transpired since verse 8.
But to understand the “why” we need to grasp the “what.” What are these claims He is making? First, He is the “Alpha and the Omega.” This is a repetition of His claim in Revelation 1:8, 1:11, and 21:6. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last. There must be a beginning to an alphabet in order for there to be an alphabet. Every alphabet has an end as well.
In other words, there is a logical sequence to how we grasp concepts. Without such, there is chaos. Jesus is the One who establishes the order of all things, and He is the One who completes the order as well. Within Him then is the perfection of all order, and there is in Him all knowledge that can be derived from all things, just as an alphabet is the basis for a language by which things are described, cataloged, analyzed, etc. Thus, Jesus is the Word, the explanation of all things – why they exist, how they exist, and what their purpose is.
His second claim is that He is the Beginning and the End. This is a repetition of His claim from Revelation 1:8 and 21:6, and it is a build upon the thought of Isaiah 46:9, 10 –
“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.”
If there is a temporal existence, then there must have been a beginning to that existence because an infinite regress is impossible. For one to state, for example, that the universe always existed is illogical. If there were no beginning, then there could be no present. An infinite regress of time is possible mathematically, but not actually.
The “line of books” argument explains this. Consider each book as an interval of time. If you have an infinite series of black books and between each black book there is a red book, you have one infinite series of books. If you take out all the red books and put them in a pile, you haven’t decreased the number in the line by even one, and yet you have an infinitely large pile of red books which would fill all the space in the universe. Time really had a beginning, and you could not reach “now” if it didn’t. But here we are, right now.
Because there must have been a beginning, there must have been a “Beginner.” The universe could not create itself because it would have had to exist before it existed; a logical contradiction. Thus, there must be a Beginner who is outside of time; this is God – the eternal one. Paul reveals this to us in 2 Timothy 1:8, 9. This is something that was postulated by scholars and philosophers for eons, but it wasn’t proven until Einstein penned the General Theory of Relativity in the early 20th century –
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” 2 Timothy 1:8, 9
Jesus claims to be the one who began all things, including time. He is also the End. He is the One who will bring everything to its consummation. He has made a promise to those who call on Him that they will live eternally. An eternal existence implies that each moment of eternity is new and unexplored. Therefore, each moment is an end in itself. He is that End because He is the fulfillment of every desire of the soul that longs for eternity. Therefore, as each new moment occurs, it is a new beginning. It is an endless stream of existence where we will explore the infinite glory of who He is.
His third claim is that He is the First and the Last. This concept is given three times by God in Isaiah, such as in Isaiah 44:6 –
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.’”
The claim is also stated in Revelation 1:11, 1:17, 2:8, and 2:19. In the Isaiah verse, God ties being the only God in with being the First and the Last. In other words, there is – and there can be – only one Creator. If there were more than one “God,” then each god would lack something the other god possessed. They then could not be God at all because the very nature of God is that He lacks nothing and is perfectly complete within Himself.
It is God, the One true God, that is the First and He is also the Last. Because He created time, He is outside of time. When we look back to the creation, He is there as the First, and when we look forward to the eternal state, He is there as the Last. He is “All in all.”
With this (albeit limited) understanding of Jesus’ claim, we can see why the claim is made based on the preceding verses. The first reason is the fact that John made the mistake of offering worship to (or simply before) a created being. In order to show why this was wrong, Jesus proclaims His nature. In this understanding, there is no excuse to ever offer worship to anything but God. And this is what the angel proclaimed in verse 9 – “Worship God.”
After this, John was told to not seal the words of the prophecy of the book. Why? It is because God has spoken, and they will come to pass. The people God has created must be ready. John was then given the explanation for this – “the time is at hand.” After this, he was told that each person will remain in the state they were in for eternity, and therefore it is the wise one who will ensure that he is ready for that eternal state. And finally, leading us to today’s verse is Jesus’ statement that He is coming quickly, that His reward is with Him, and that rewards will be meted out according to one’s work.
Because of all of these things, Jesus proclaims His nature and being. The logical progression of Revelation is astonishing and shows the wisdom of God and the care He has taken in proclaiming His beautiful word. We all stand at the threshold of eternity, and we all must be ready for the moment of Christ’s coming – either through our death, through rapture, or through His second advent. God has offered; now we must accept. Be ready and call out today for JESUS!
Oh God, how beautifully glorious You are. May we never stop pursuing the knowledge of You and of Your glory. Praises, honor, and majesty belong to You! Amen.