Revelation 1:17-18:
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Four times this remarkable title occurs in the Book of Revelation. It is used of God, Jesus and an angel. However, regardless of whom it is used it always means the same thing, “the only one.”

Revelation 1:8: [Here “Alpha and Omega” refers to God.]
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending [not in mss], saith the Lord [title used of both God and Jesus], which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. [Title only always used of God as it is in the other seven places it occurs in Revelation.]

Revelation 1:11: [Here “Alpha and Omega” refers to Jesus.]
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. [Verses 17 and 18 clarify that it is Jesus and not God. See verse below.]

Revelation 21:6: [Here “Alpha and Omega” refers to God.]
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. [Verse seven clarifies it.]

Revelation 22:13: [Here “Alpha and Omega” refers to an angel.]
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. [Read Revelation 22:6-21.]

On the one occasion [1:11] this title was used of Jesus, it was announced with a clear and penetrating voice, “a great voice as of a trumpet (v 10)”; and the speaker was “one like unto the Son of Man (v 13),” — like him whom John had formerly known, at whose feet he had sat, in whose bosom he had lain — like him, but how changed! Invested now with glory insufferably daz­zling, when the Apostle saw him, he fell at his feet as dead (v 17). “I am ALPHA AND OMEGA,” said the voice, “the First and the Last.”

This is indeed a very interesting title. “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” Revelation 22:13 also adds “the beginning and the end.” We can understand the connection of all three titles. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They are also the beginning and the end of it.

These titles were commonly understood in the Bibles lands in Bible times. They are orientalisms. In Old Testament times, if a country in the East was about to be attacked, the king would send out messengers to all of the people. The messengers would warn the people of the coming danger. When the messengers came into town, as they were riding along on their horses (sort of like Paul Revere on his midnight ride), they had no time to stop and expound upon the matter with the people. They had only one message and a fleeting moment in which to say it. The king would not have time to send several groups of messengers to a town. Therefore this one messenger was very important because he was the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

In the East, when this messenger came riding through the town he would say, “I am the first and the last; take heed; take warning; prepare yourselves for the battle.” The messenger emphasized that “I am the first and the last.” This meant he was the only messenger. If you’re the first and the last to do something, then you are the only one; you are the only messenger. This is what this verse in Revelation refers to when it says Jesus Christ is “the first and the last” — the one and only.

Revelation 1:17, 18a:
And when I [John] saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen….

”I am he that liveth, and was dead.” Jesus Christ is “the first and the last,” who lives and was dead. He not only lives now, but he lives forevermore because God raised him from the dead. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one God ever raised from the dead. That is why he is “the first and the last.” That’s what sets Christianity apart from every religion that man has ever made, because nobody else but Jesus Christ was ever raised from the dead to the end that he is still alive. It is true that other people have been raised from the dead, but their rising was only temporary. Death was not completely defeated when they were brought back to life. Death still had dominion over them, and they all died again — all except Jesus.

Romans 6:9:
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

In his resurrection, Jesus Christ is as much alive today as he was the day that God raised him from the dead almost 2,000 years ago. It is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which sets Christianity apart from everything that man has ever thought about doing. It is what makes him so special. It is what God did that really made all the difference in the world.

By Wayne Clapp