I am Alpha and Omega - I am from eternity to eternity. This mode of speech is borrowed from the Jews, who express the whole compass of things by א aleph and ת tau, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet; but as St. John was writing in Greek, he accommodates the whole to the Greek alphabet, of which Α alpha and Ω omega are the first and last letters. With the rabbins ת ועד מא meeleph vead tau, "from aleph to tau," expressed the whole of a matter, from the beginning to the end. So in Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 17, 4: Adam transgressed the whole law from aleph to tau; i.e., from the beginning to the end.
Ibid., fol. 48, 4: Abraham observed the law, from aleph to tau; i.e., he kept it entirely, from beginning to end.
Ibid., fol. 128, 3: When the holy blessed God pronounced a blessing on the Israelites, he did it from aleph to tau; i.e., he did it perfectly.
The beginning and the ending - That is, as aleph or alpha is the beginning of the alphabet, so am I the author and cause of all things; as tau or omega is the end or last letter of the alphabet, so am I the end of all thinks, the destroyer as well as the establisher of all things. This clause is wanting in almost every MS. and version of importance. It appears to have been added first as an explanatory note, and in process of time crept into the text. Griesbach has left it out of the text. It is worthy of remark, that as the union of א aleph tau in Hebrew make את eth, which the rabbins interpret of the first matter out of which all things were formed, (see on Genesis 1:1; (note)); so the union of Α alpha and Ω omega, in Greek, makes the verb αω, I breathe, and may very properly, in such a symbolical book, point out Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being; for, having formed man out of the dust of the earth, he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul; and it is by the inspiration or inbreathing of his Spirit that the souls of men are quickened, made alive from the dead, and fitted for life eternal. He adds also that he is the Almighty, the all-powerful framer of the universe, and the inspirer of men.
I am Alpha and Omega - These are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, and denote properly the first and the last. So in Revelation 22:13, where the two expressions are united, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” So in Revelation 1:17, the speaker says of himself, “I am the first and the last.” Among the Jewish rabbis it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end. Thus, it is said, “Adam transgressed the whole law, from ‹Aleph (א ) to Taw (תּ ).” “Abraham kept the whole law, from ‹Aleph (א ) to Taw (תּ ).” The language here is what would properly denote “eternity” in the being to whom it is applied, and could be used in reference to no one but the true God. It means that he is the beginning and the end of all things; that he was at the commencement, and will be at the close; and it is thus equivalent to saying that he has always existed, and that he will always exist. Compare Isaiah 41:4, “I the Lord, the first, and with the last”; Isaiah 44:6, “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God”; Isaiah 48:12, “I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.” There can be no doubt that the language here would be naturally understood as implying divinity, and it could be properly applied to no one but the true God. The obvious interpretation here would be to apply this to the Lord Jesus; for:
(a)it is he who is spoken of in the verses preceding, and
(b)there can be no doubt that the same language is applied to him in Revelation 1:11.
As there is, however, a difference of reading in this place in the Greek text, and as it can. not be absolutely certain that the writer meant to refer to the Lord Jesus specifically here, this cannot be adduced with propriety as a proof-text to demonstrate his divinity. Many mss., instead of “Lord,” κυρίος kuriosread “God,” Θεὸς Theosand this reading is adopted by Griesbach, Tittman, and Hahn, and is now regarded as the correct reading. There is no real incongruity in supposing, also, that the writer here meant to refer to God as such, since the introduction of a reference to him would not be inappropriate to his manifest design. Besides, a portion of the language used here, “which is, and was, and is to come,” is what would more naturally suggest a reference to God as such, than to the Lord Jesus Christ. See Revelation 1:4. The object for which this passage referring to the “first and the last - to him who was, and is, and is to come,” is introduced here evidently is, to show that as he was clothed with omnipotence, and would continue to exist through all ages to come as he had existed in all ages past, there could be no doubt about his ability to execute all which it is said he would execute.
Saith the Lord - Or, saith God, according to what is now regarded as the correct reading.
Which is, and which was, - See the notes on Revelation 1:4.
The Almighty - An appellation often applied to God, meaning that he has all power, and used here to denote that he is able to accomplish what is disclosed in this book.
Here another speaker is introduced. Previous to this, John has been the speaker. But this verse has no connection with what precedes nor with what follows. Who it is who here speaks must be determined, therefore, by the terms used. Here we again have the expression, “Which is, and which was, and which is to come,” which has already been noticed as referring exclusively to God. But it may be asked, Does not the word Lord denote that it was Christ? On this point Barnes has the following note: “Many MSS. instead of ‘Lord,’ ??????, read ‘God,’ ????, and this reading is adopted by Griesbach, Tittman, and Hahn, and is now regarded as the correct reading.” Bloomfield supplies the word God, and marks the words “the beginning and the ending” as an interpolation. Thus appropriately closes the first principal division of this chapter, with a revelation of himself by the great God as a being of an eternity of existence, past and future, and of almighty power, and hence able to perform all his threatenings and his promises, which he has given us in this book.DAR 335.2
6. Sacred Facts Immortalized—After His resurrection, Christ did not show Himself to any save His followers, but testimony in regard to His resurrection was not wanting. It came from various sources, from the five hundred who assembled in Galilee to see their risen Lord. This testimony could not be quenched. The sacred facts of Christ's resurrection were immortalized (Manuscript 115, 1897). 6BC 1092.1
Countenance as the Face of God—After His resurrection, Christ met with His disciples in Galilee. At the time appointed, about five hundred disciples were assembled on the mountainside. Suddenly Jesus stood among them. No one could tell whence or how He came. Many who were present had never before seen Him; but in His hands and feet they beheld the marks of the crucifixion; His countenance was as the face of God, and when they saw Him they worshiped Him (Letter 115, 1904). 6BC 1092.2
20 (Leviticus 23:10, 11). Christ the Antitypical Wave-Sheaf—It was to the glory of God that the Prince of life should be the first fruits, the antitype of the typical wavesheaf. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” ... 6BC 1092.4
Christ was the first fruits of them that slept. This very scene, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, was observed in type by the Jews at one of their sacred feasts.... They came up to the Temple when the first fruits had been gathered in, and held a feast of thanksgiving. The first fruits of the harvest crop were sacredly dedicated to the Lord. That crop was not to be appropriated for the benefit of man. The first ripe fruit was dedicated as a thank offering to God. He was acknowledged as the Lord of the harvest. When the first heads of grain ripened in the field, they were carefully gathered, and when the people went up to Jerusalem, they were presented to the Lord, waving the ripened sheaf before Him as a thank offering. After this ceremony the sickle could be put to the wheat, and it could be gathered into sheaves (Manuscript 115, 1897). 6BC 1092.5
20, 42-52 (ch. 13:12; Romans 8:11). A Sample of the Final Resurrection—The resurrection of Jesus was a sample of the final resurrection of all who sleep in Him. The risen body of the Saviour, His deportment, the accents of His speech, were all familiar to His followers. In like manner will those who sleep in Jesus rise again. We shall know our friends even as the disciples knew Jesus. Though they may have been deformed, diseased, or disfigured in this mortal life, yet in their resurrected and glorified body their individual identity will be perfectly preserved, and we shall recognize, in the face radiant with the light shining from the face of Jesus, the lineaments of those we love (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:219). 6BC 1092.6
22, 45 (Romans 5:12-19; see EGW on John 1:1-3, 14). Sinner Given a Second Trial—As representative of the fallen race, Christ passed over the same ground on which Adam stumbled and fell. By a life of perfect obedience to God's law, Christ redeemed man from the penalty of Adam's disgraceful fall. Man has violated God's law. Only for those who return to their allegiance to God, only for those who obey the law that they have violated, will the blood of Christ avail. Christ will never become a party to sin. Bearing the penalty of the law, He gives the sinner another chance, a second trial. He opens a way whereby the sinner can be reinstated in God's favor. Christ bears the penalty of man's past transgressions, and by imparting to man His righteousness, makes it possible for man to keep God's holy law (Manuscript 126, 1901). 6BC 1092.7
(Revelation 1:8; 22:13.) The Alpha and Omega—When the students of prophecy shall set their hearts to know the truths of Revelation, they will realize what an importance is attached to this search. Christ Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Genesis of the Old Testament, and the Revelation of the New. Both meet together in Christ. Adam and God are reconciled by the obedience of the second Adam, who accomplished the work of overcoming the temptations of Satan and redeeming Adam's disgraceful failure and fall. 6BC 1092.8Read in context »
The Spirit of God will answer the cry of every penitent heart; for repentance is the gift of God, and an evidence that Christ is drawing the soul to Himself. We can no more repent of sin without Christ, than we can be pardoned without Christ, and yet it is a humiliation to man with his human passion and pride to go to Jesus straightway, believing and trusting Him for everything which he needs.... 1SM 381.1
Let no man present the idea that man has little or nothing to do in the great work of overcoming; for God does nothing for man without his cooperation. Neither say that after you have done all you can on your part, Jesus will help you. Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). From first to last man is to be a laborer together with God. Unless the Holy Spirit works upon the human heart, at every step we shall stumble and fall. Man's efforts alone are nothing but worthlessness; but cooperation with Christ means a victory. Of ourselves we have no power to repent of sin. Unless we accept divine aid we cannot take the first step toward the Saviour. He says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6) in the salvation of every soul. 1SM 381.2
But though Christ is everything, we are to inspire every man to unwearied diligence. We are to strive, wrestle, agonize, watch, pray, lest we shall be overcome by the wily foe. For the power and grace with which we can do this comes from God, and all the while we are to trust in Him, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. Never leave the impression on the mind that there is little or nothing to do on the part of man; but rather teach man to cooperate with God, that he may be successful in overcoming. 1SM 381.3Read in context »
In His teachings while personally among men Jesus directed the minds of the people to the Old Testament. He said to the Jews, “Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me.” John 5:39, R.V. At this time the books of the Old Testament were the only part of the Bible in existence. Again the Son of God declared, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And He added, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:29, 31. PP 367.1
The ceremonial law was given by Christ. Even after it was no longer to be observed, Paul presented it before the Jews in its true position and value, showing its place in the plan of redemption and its relation to the work of Christ; and the great apostle pronounces this law glorious, worthy of its divine Originator. The solemn service of the sanctuary typified the grand truths that were to be revealed through successive generations. The cloud of incense ascending with the prayers of Israel represents His righteousness that alone can make the sinner's prayer acceptable to God; the bleeding victim on the altar of sacrifice testified of a Redeemer to come; and from the holy of holies the visible token of the divine Presence shone forth. Thus through age after age of darkness and apostasy faith was kept alive in the hearts of men until the time came for the advent of the promised Messiah. PP 367.2
Jesus was the light of His people—the Light of the world—before He came to earth in the form of humanity. The first gleam of light that pierced the gloom in which sin had wrapped the world, came from Christ. And from Him has come every ray of heaven's brightness that has fallen upon the inhabitants of the earth. In the plan of redemption Christ is the Alpha and the Omega—the First and the Last. PP 367.3
Since the Saviour shed His blood for the remission of sins, and ascended to heaven “to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24), light has been streaming from the cross of Calvary and from the holy places of the sanctuary above. But the clearer light granted us should not cause us to despise that which in earlier times was received through the types pointing to the coming Saviour. The gospel of Christ sheds light upon the Jewish economy and gives significance to the ceremonial law. As new truths are revealed, and that which has been known from the beginning is brought into clearer light, the character and purposes of God are made manifest in His dealings with His chosen people. Every additional ray of light that we receive gives us a clearer understanding of the plan of redemption, which is the working out of the divine will in the salvation of man. We see new beauty and force in the inspired word, and we study its pages with a deeper and more absorbing interest. PP 367.4Read in context »