Alpha and Omega - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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Jesus - Alpha and Omega



Rev.22:13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."


The Alpha and the Omega

Three times over in the Book of Isaiah the Lord God describes himself as the First and the Last.

The first time he did this was in response to a question as to who determined what the nations did. The LORD replied:

Is.41:4 "Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he."

Just a few chapters later the LORD contrasted himself with the idols of man-made religion and declared that there was no comparison:

Is.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."

Again a few chapters later and we find the LORD addressing his people as their Redeemer:

Is.48:12 "Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last."

Thus the OT vision of the uniqueness of God includes this idea that he was before all others and will be there at the end as well – none but God could do this.

Turning to the NT we find the same idea is picked up, in the Book of Revelation. In this Book it is not always that easy to determine whether John is attributing this quality of being first and last to God or to Jesus. This fact is in itself remarkable. We are not to think that John’s writing skills somehow let him down so that he left with an unclear text, instead he wants us to know that you simply can’t drive a wedge between God and Jesus.

In the Book of Revelation John records three divine self-descriptions which are different yet underscoring the same truth.

Here they are:

  • Alpha and omega

Rev.1:8 ""I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

  • First and Last

Rev.1:17 "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last,"

Rev.2:8 "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life."

  • Beginning and End

Rev.21:6 "And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end."

Finally they are all combined in a crescendo moment in

Rev.22:13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

So that is the basic data we are going to be taking account of this evening and now we must turn to consider what it all means.

What does it all mean?
Now you know, I think, that alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and that omega is the last. If the NT had been written in English we would more likely read Jesus declaring "I am the A and the Z"!

When Jesus declared himself to be the "alpha and the omega etc. he was presenting himself to us as:

  • Being pre-eminent

  • Having authority

  • Exercising sovereignty

Each of these aspects is characterised by a completeness and a fullness.

While alpha and omega, and a and z, draw our attention to the outer, bracketing limits of the alphabet (the beginning and the end) we are by no means meant to forget what lies between. If you went to London and bought an A to Z Street map you’d be disappointed if it only listed the roads that began with A or with Z! The atlas is designed to be comprehensive and to include every street there is.

An expert might be described as understanding his particular subject "from A to Z" and we mean that he knows not just where it begins and ends but everything about it. His knowledge would be comprehensive.

Similarly the online store Amazon doesn’t just sell books it wants to sell everything there is to sell. If you look carefully at the logo of Amazon you’ll see there is an arrow linking the A to the Z – it’s exactly the same idea of comprehensiveness.

When we say that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega we are not simply saying that he was there at the start and he’ll be there at the end we equally mean that he is there all the way and all the time in between! What a marvellous person is our Lord Jesus Christ! A real man but oh so much more as well!

Indeed if Jesus were just an ordinary man then this description of him would be patently nonsense. We know that by the time Jesus was born men and women had been living on the earth for centuries. He wasn’t the first man on earth – that was Adam and then in the intervening years all those famous heroes of the OT lived and died before Jesus walked onto the scene.

The NT however consistently maintains that Jesus can’t be summed up or limited to just that brief spell of thirty or so years that he spent living in Palestine. The Bible speaks of him coming into the world – in other words he had an existence prior to his birth – and again the Bible declares that he was very active before his incarnation. It insists that he was not only around at the beginning but the active agent that brought everything into being at the beginning!

Jn.1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."

And Jesus was this Word!

Paul writing to the church at Colosse confirmed this:

Col.1:16-17 "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

The One who became Jesus in time was and is God in all eternity. He was there at the beginning exercising his powers of wonderfully rich and diverse creativity. When he was born a man at Bethlehem he did not cease being what he had always been, God, though he did choose to limit the exhibition and use of his divine powers. But he still had those powers and all his divine authority – our Saviour was no weakling but the Almighty who humbled himself to death even death on a cross.

The writer to the Hebrews developed this idea of "alpha and omega" in a somewhat different though comparable manner. This is how he put it:

Heb.12:2 "Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,"

The Constancy of the Saviour
When the writer to the Hebrews penned his letter he had to write to Christians from a Jewish background who were beginning to wonder whether they had been right to turn from the familiarity of Jewish rituals to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and him alone. They were in danger of forgetting that their old rituals were only designed as temporary visual aids until the reality that is found in Jesus Christ came. They were being tempted to go back to those rituals which had served their purpose and were destined to soon pass away completely (something that occurred in AD70 with the utter destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem).

One of the ways in which he sought to encourage these Hebrew Christians to keep their trust firmly in the Lord Jesus was to highlight the ongoing nature of all he had accomplished. Again and again the author uses the word "forever" thus filling the gap between the beginning and the end, all the other letters of the alphabet if you like!

Heb.1:8 "But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the sceptre of your kingdom."

Heb.5:6  "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."

Heb.7:24 "he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever."

Heb.7:28 "For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever."

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

What encouragement that last sentence especially continues to bring to followers of the Saviour!

Having been made perfect the efficacy of his work is untouched and untouchable – the believer can have full confidence that the Saviour will never fail him!

This One who is God from the beginning and God to the end is unchangeable now and there are significant implications for us in this – he is sufficient to meet all our needs. All we need is to be found in him absolutely everything!

Because he is ours now by grace and through faith we can face the future with a genuine and solid confidence. The all-sufficient Alpha and Omega meets our every need and we are made complete by virtue of our relationship with him. This is exactly how the apostle Paul encourages the Christians in Colosse:

Col.2:10 "you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority."

Paul put the same truth in a slightly different form to the church at Philippi:

Phil.4:19 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

Having already told them that our God does not start a good work unless he intends to complete it:

Phil.1:6 "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews summed up and applied his teaching with a call not just to realise who Christ is and what he has done for us but with a clarion call to take him very seriously indeed and in practice to make sure that we live lives dominated by him as we focus our attention upon him:

Heb.12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted."

Our Saviour doesn’t change: he was there at the beginning even causing the beginning to take place.

He will be there at the end waiting to take us safely home – we will never out live the Saviour and his saving abilities.

And in the meanwhile our Saviour continues with us: he knows all things; he has all authority in his hands be that in heaven or on earth; he is the fountainhead of all good and is able to provide all that we stand in need of.

Let us not forget that our Saviour is truly "am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." He is God and there is none to compare with our Saviour.


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