Revelation 2:8 -To the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write: "The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things: " -- World English Bible translation
According to many trinitarians, the phrase "the first and the last" applied to Jesus in Revelation 1:17 and Revelation 2:8 offers proof that Jesus is Yahweh (Jehovah), since Yahweh speaks of himself as first and last. (Isaiah 44:1; 44:6; 48:12) In reality, the most straight-foward scriptural conclusion would not be that Jesus is Yahweh, but that both Jesus and his God are in some way respectively first and last. Nevertheless, many have claimed that there can only be one first and last, and thus they further claim this phrase shows that the one who is speaking in Revelation 2:8 is Yahweh, the Most High. Their reasoning is that when similar usage of used of Yahweh, it means that He is without beginning or end -- eternal past and eternal future. Thus, they claim is that it means the same thing when applied to Jesus, and therefore, they reason that Jesus is Yahweh. The point we should note is that most trinitarians would seem to read into the phrase "the first and the last" in Revelation 2:8 some meaning of eternity, which, to the trinitarian, would mean that Jesus either exists outside of all time, or that he has always existed from the infinite eternity past with an uninterrupted continued existence into the infinite future. And this is where the paradox of Revelation 2:8 comes in as the trinitarian seeks to apply such a thought to this verse.
When asked how the Eternal One who is from everlasting to everlasting was dead, the trinitarian almost always will state that it was not the "God" nature of Jesus that was dead, but rather that it was the "human nature" of Jesus. The claim is that Jesus is 100% God Almighty and at the same 100% human being. Many of them refer to this assumption as the "dual nature" or "hypostatic union" of Jesus. Thus, in order to apply this hypothesis to Revelation, the trinitarian or anyone who believes in the alleged "dual natures" of Christ, has to split the sentence stated by Jesus up into two parts so as to apply the phrase "the first and the last" to the idea of Jesus as God to that phrase, and then the latter part of the sentence, "who was dead", they would have to claim applies only to the human "nature" of Jesus, and not "the first and the last." The title "the frst and the last", they would claim, applies only to the "God" nature of Jesus, and most of the trinitarians do not believe that the God "nature" or "being" of Jesus died, but rather that it was only his human "nature" or "being" died. Thus, this idea, applied to this scripture, would have it that "the first and the last" did not die, but rather that it wa the human body into which "the first and the last" was "incarnated" that died.
We are sure that most trinitarians do not consciously reckon with this scripture as we have presented, but, in effect, this is what they have to do in order to get the sentence to appear to support their trinitarian dogma, and their "hypostatic union" assumption. However, it is also true that, in effect, such an application to Revelation 2:8 actually denies that it was "the first and the last" who died. In actuality, what Jesus said was: "The first and the last, who was dead." He declares that "the first and the last" was dead. He did not say, as the trinitarian would seem to have him say: "I am the first and the last who did not die, but who as a human being, was dead." In other words, the trinitarian, as well as any others who would see the dualistic view into this verse, actually end up denying what Jesus said, that the "first and the last" "was dead".
Jesus, of course, was the first and the last, the only one, whom God directly brought forth from death by means of His holy spirit, never to die again. (Acts 2:24,32,26; 3:15; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30,33,37; 17:31; Romans 4:24; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:15; Galatians 1:1; Colossians 2:11,12; 1 Thessalonians 1:9,10; 1 Peter 1:21; 3:18) All the rest who are brought forth to life in the last day will be brought forth through Jesus as the Agent of Yahweh. (John 5:21,22,25,27,28,29; 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24; 12:47,48; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:16) Jesus is thus, also, the first and the last of God's firstborn from the dead, for there will never be another who will be the firstborn of the dead. (Colossians 1:8; Revelation 1:5) Indeed, since, in the context, Jesus describes himself as the firstborn of the dead, then the most direct application of "the first and the last" as applied to he who "was dead and has come to life" is that Jesus is the first and the last of the firsborn of the dead.
There is nothing in any of this, however, to support the idea that Jesus is Yahweh, or the formulated dogma of dual "natures" of Jesus, hypostatic union, trinity, Jesus is Jehovah, oneness doctrine, etc. Like all of the scriptures presented to allegedly support the added-on doctrines, the dogma has to be assumed, added to, and read into what Jesus actually stated.Related Studies:
Alpha and Omega, First and Last
Revelation 22:13 - I am Alpha and Omega
Revelation 1:8 - The God of Jesus Speaks
Revelation 1:1,8 and the Unipersonal God
The Lord God, Who Was, Is, and Is to Come