Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Revelation 1:8 - Is Jehovah or Jesus Being Quoted?

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come (ho erchomenos, W&H transliteration), the Almighty." -- Revelation 1:8, New American Standard Version

Many often refer to Revelation 1:8 and claim that this is Jesus referring to himself as "God Almighty". I do not believe that this is Jesus that is being quoted, and here I provide scriptural evidence regarding this.
The scripture directly says it was the "Lord God" (as it reads in most translations) speaking, thus we have no reason to believe that any other than Jehovah is speaking. From verse 1, we ascertain that it is actually the angel speaking, quoting Jesus, who in turn is quoting his Father, Jehovah.

The phrase "Lord God" is based on the later Septuagint tradition of substituting forms of the word transliterated as Kurios (meaning, Lord) or (Theos, meaning God) for the Holy Name, Jehovah. The Hebrew phrase (transliterated) is Jehovah Elohim (Jehovah God), or Adonai Jehovah (Lord Jehovah). In the extant NT Greek manuscripts Jehovah has been substituted with Kurios [Lord] and sometimes with Theos [God]. (This does not mean that the Greek KURIOS is actually a "translation" of the Holy Name, since the Holy Name is an active verb, not a noun.) Elohim is translated as "Theos". This can be seen by comparing Acts 3:22; 7:37 with the Hebrew of Deuteronomy 18:15. In all instances where the phrase occurs in the NT, it is in reference to Jehovah, the Father of our Lord Jesus. -- Luke 1:32; 1 Peter 3:10-15; Revelation 11:17,19; 15:3; 16:7; 18:8; 21:11; 22:6.

Likewise, with the phrases "the Lord our God" and "the Lord your God": These phrases are always used unipersonally in reference to Jehovah, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. -- Matthew 4:7 (Deuteronomy 6:16); Matthew 4:10 (Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20); Matthew 22:37 (Deuteronomy 6:5); Mark 12:29 (Deuteronomy 6:4); etc.

Additionally, we note that there are Christian translations into Hebrew that contain the divine name in this verse. While their purpose usually is to try to prove that Jesus is called "Jehovah", they nevertheless did recognize that this should be "Jehovah" in this verse. The following are some Hebrew translations that contain the holy name in Revelation 1:8: NT, by W. Robertson, 1661; NT, by J. C. Reichardt, 1846; NT, by J. C. Reichardt & J. H. R. Biesenthal, 1866; NT, by F. Delitzsch, 1981 edition; NT, by I. Salkinson & C. D. Ginsburg, 1891.

Of course, many claim that Jesus is Jehovah, and therefore that Jesus is here referring to himself as "Jehovah" in this verse. However, as we shall see, this does not fit the context. As we shall see, He who is, was, and is to come, is differentiated from Jesus, and is not being depicted as being Jesus.

Looking at Revelation 1:1, we note that the Revelation is from God who gave it to Jesus. (This should be enough to prove that Jesus is not God, and that "God" is not three persons, but one person.) The message is delivered through an angel to John. In Revelation 1:4 John says the message is from the Father, Jehovah, who is and who was and who is to come. Then in verse 5, John says: "*and* from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood." Thus John identifies two individuals which the messages are from, the Father, Jehovah, and Jesus, God's Son.

Then in verse 8 we find the quote: "'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End', says the Lord God, 'the being who was and who is to come -- the Almighty.'" -- World English.

Thus we conclude that the "The Lord" in this verse is Jehovah, not Jesus, as shown from Revelation 1:4.

Some claim that the phrase "who is to come", or "who is coming" in Revelation 1:8 refers to Jesus, since it is Jesus who is coming. This line of thought would prove self-contradictory if applied to Revelation 1:4,5, and it would not harmonize with the expressions "who is" and "who was" in Revelation Revelation 1:4,8; 4:8. It would have the Revelation being from Jesus who is to come in Revelation 1:4 and additionally from another Jesus in Revelation 1:5. It should be apparent, however, that in Revelation 1:4, it is not Jesus who is being spoken of as "who is to come"/"who is coming", but it is rather speaking of the Father of Jesus, from whom Jesus receives the revelation. -- Revelation 1:1.

Nevertheless, Revelation 1:8 is not referring to God as "coming" in the same manner that verse 7 speaks of Jesus as coming in the clouds, but rather he "is to come", and this in relation to God's being -- his existence -- in the past and the present. Most, if not all, scholars agree that when it speaks of he "who was" that it is referring to past existence, and when it says that he "who is", it is referring present existence. As far as we know, no one claims that when the Almighty says "who was", that this means that he was coming from somewhere. Likewise, we know of no one who claims that when he says "who is", that is means he is presently going somewhere. In other words, the Almighty was not speaking of coming or going somewhere in the past, or that he is coming or going somewhere in the present, and thus, He is likewise not saying that He will be coming from or to somewhere in the future; thus, "is to come" refers to God's being -- His existence -- in the future. Consequently, verse 8 speaks of God's being, his eternal existence, past, present and future.  It is similar to an expression we often use in English, as when we might say, "Who knows what is to come?"

In Revelation 1:8, it is the Almighty Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus who is speaking. He is the one who was, is and is to come. Jesus is not the one who was, is, and is to come. The peculiar phrase in Revelation 1:8 only belongs to Jehovah, not to Jesus. Jehovah has existed from all eternity past, he exists now, and he exists for all time to come. This is basically what Jehovah is saying in Revelation 1:8.

Additionally, although we do not believe that Revelation 1:8 speaks of this, Jehovah is also to come with judgment through the one whom He has ordained. (Malachi 3:1-6; Psalm 96:13; Micah 1:3; Revelation 1:1; 22:6. Psalm 96:98; 110:1; Matthew 22:43-45; 26:64; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44; Acts 2:34; 7:55: Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:13; 10:12,13; 1 Peter 3:22; John 5:22) This harmonizes with 1 Corinthians 8:6; only the God and Father of Jesus is the source; Jesus is the instrument.

In verses 9 and 10 John refers to himself when he heard a loud voice, as of a trumpet, (verse 11) saying, "Write what you see... This quote is from Jesus, not Jehovah, as described in the following verses. In verse 18 Jesus says: "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." Jesus was actually dead and not alive anywhere, if this is to make any sense at all, for he contrasts his being dead with being alive forevermore. Now we know that God cannot die, so Jesus is thus by this verse proved to not be God Almighty.

Some isolate the phrase "who is coming," and claim that this phrase designated the Messiah, since it is used of the Messiah many other scriptures. (The phrase ho erchomenos appears in the following scriptures, and sometimes it is applied to Jesus, and sometimes to others: Matthew 11:3; 21:9; Mark 11:9; Luke 6:47; 7:19; 7:20; 13:35; 19:38; John 6:14; 6:35; 12:31; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Hebrews 10:37; Revelation 1:4; 1:8; 4:8) Often this is coupled with the claim that entire phrase of Revelation 1:8 designates the holy name, Ehyeh, of Exodus 3:14, Yahweh/Jehovah of Exodus 3:15. (The holy name actually signifies action, and not just existence.) From this, then, they claim that Revelation 1:8 is Jesus speaking, and thus that Jesus is stating that he is the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have already seen that "ho erchomenos" in Revelation 1:4 is not speaking of Jesus, otherwise we would have the Revelation from one Jesus in Revelation 1:4, and then from another Jesus in Revelation 1:5. In reality, when "ho erchomenos" is used of the Messiah of Jehovah, it is used as depicting the Messiah of Jehovah as being sent by Jehovah, not as Jehovah Himself, and thus a distinction is made between the Messiah and the One who sent the Messiah. For instance, in Matthew 21:9, Mark 11:9, Luke 13:35, John 12:13, he who comes, ho erchomenos, is said to do that coming in the name of Jehovah (Psalm 118:26), thereby showing Jehovah to be distinctly one person, who is not the Messiah that comes in the name of Jehovah; thus the default reasoning is that Jesus is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not that Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, the phrase is used of others who are not the Messiah, thus the phrase is not a distinctive phrase unique to the Messiah. -- Luke 6:47; John 6:35; 2 Corinthians 11:4.

We should also note that in Revelation 1:4,8; 4:8, the phrase "ho erchomenos" is referring to God's continuous existence into the future (in contrast to his existence in the past and present, from everlasting to everlasting), whereas "ho erchomenos" when applied to the Messiah in the Gospels does not refer to Jesus' eternal existence in the future, but rather to his coming into the world as one promised to be sent by Jehovah. -- Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 11:3; 21:9; Mark 11:9; Luke 7:19,20; Luke 13:35; 19:37,38; John 6:14; 12:13.

Jesus is anointed [made christ, the anointed one] by Jehovah (unipersonally). Again, the default reasoning is that Jesus is not Jehovah who thus anoints him. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is never identified in the Bible as more than one person, but He is ALWAYS identified as one person. -- Psalm 2:2; 45:7; Isaiah 61:1; Acts 2:36; 4:27; 10:38.

Someone writes: "There is only one Alpha and Omega, the father had no beginning and he has no ending; Jesus holds this title, no one else! Verse eight is about Jesus, not about the Father." This, at least admits that the phrase is Revelation 1:8 refers to no beginning and no ending, and would thus negate the argument that would connect "coming" in Revelation 1:8 to Jesus' coming as spoken of in Revelation 1:7 (although, in the Greek, two different forms are used, often transliterated as erchetai in Revelation 1:7 and ho erchomenos in Revelation 1:8 .)

We find the phrase "Alpha and Omega" in Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13; if one examines these verses closely, one will see that all three verse refer to Jehovah -- not Jesus -- as "Alpha and Omega". My conclusion is that this phrase is therefore not used of Jesus. Many translations have the words added in verse 11, before the word "Write": "I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last." However, this sentence does not appear in the oldest Greek manuscripts and therefore does not appear in many, if not most, Bible translations, and we therefore should regard it as spurious.

Revelation 22:12-16: "See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone's work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. "It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."

The angel delivering the message recorded in Revelation 22:13 is quoting Jehovah, the Father of Jesus, who comes to judge the world, not only with and by means of Jesus, but also with the saints. -- Malachi 3:1-6; Psalm 96:13; 98:9; Daniel 7:18,22; Micah 1:3; Zechariah 14:5; Acts 17:31; 2 Peter 3:7,8; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Psalm 90:4; Revelation 1:1; 20:4,11-13; 22:6.

Earlier, John says that the angel spoke these words, evidently quoting Jehovah. (Revelation 22:6) In verse 8 John is the one speaking, and the angel rebukes him in verse 9. In verse 10 John begins to quote the angel again, but in verse 12, the angel is delivering the words of Jehovah (see verse 6) -- it is evident that the angel is not referring to himself. In verse 16, it is evident that the angel is quoting Jesus, and then in verse 17 the angel is prophetically quoting the spirit and the bride. In verses 18-20, the angel again is quoting Jesus, while the last verse is John himself speaking.

In Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12 we find the expression "first and last" used of Jehovah. From Isaiah 44:6,7 this expression, "first and last" appears to mean that which is begun is carried through to completion, something which the false gods of the heathen cannot do. However, most of our trinitarian and oneness neighbors appear to read into this expression 'from eternity past to the eternal future,' although there is nothing in the scritpures to warrant this meaning. It certainly refers to uniqueness, as being the first and last of a kind. Jehovah is certainly the first and the last of all who are from "everlasting to everlasting"; He is also the first and the last of all who the Most High; additionally, He is the first and the last of those who is the source of the all (1 Corinthians 8:6); and, He is also the first and the last of those who have the final say regarding the destiny of His creation.

The Alpha and Omega symbolism only emphasizes the same thing, since Alpha is the first or start of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last or end of the Greek alphabet. "First and Last" is used of Jesus in Revelation 1:17 and Revelation 2:8, but it should be apparent that is not used in the same sense as it is used of Jehovah, since Jehovah does not die.

Thus seen, however, Alpha and Omega could be applied both to Jehovah as originator of His divine plan and the one who sees it to the completed end, and to the Son as the one who carries out the divine plan by means of his death, resurrection and the coming day of judgment. The Father is uniquely the source, while the Son is uniquely the appointed Lord through whom God's works are accomplished. (1 Corinthians 8:6) Some have noted that Jesus is the first human to be raised to life without end by Jehovah his Father, thus he is called the "firstborn of the dead". (Colossians 1:18) Jesus is therefore "the first and last" of this kind: the firstborn of the dead. He is also the first and last to be so resurrected directly by Jehovah since all others who eventually receive such a resurrection will be through Jesus, not by Jehovah directly. (John 5:21,22; 6:39,44; 11:25) Thus there appears to be a connection between his statements that he who became dead was now alive forever and ever. His holding the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18) shows the authority given to him by his God of releasing all who are in death and hades. -- John 5:27-29 (New American Standard); Revelation 20:11-13.

With this in mind, however, we can see that each -- both Jesus and Jehovah -- is uniquely the first and the last of his peculiar kind: Jehovah is the first and the last of his peculiar kind, in that he is the first and the last one to be increate, that is, never to have been created. No one was before Jehovah in this sense and no one will be after him in this sense. The Son is the first and the last of his peculiar kind, in that he is the first and the last to have been directly created by God, all other creatures having been indirectly created by God, that is, through the agency of the Logos. Thus the Father and the Son are both unique -- which is the meaning of these three expressions -- but each of them is unique in a different sense: The Father is unique in that he is the only -- the first and the last -- being never created; the Son is unique in that he is the only -- the first and the last -- being ever directly created by Jehovah without the assistance of an agent, which creative assistance by the Logos occurred in the case of all the rest of creation -- the Logos himself being excepted. (John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:27) Thus Jehovah is the first and the last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of increation -- the only being who never was created. The Logos is the first and the last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of God's direct creation. These terms used with reference to the Son are equivalent to his being called: "the only begotten of the Father." (John 1:14,18; 3:16,18; 1 John 4:9) Their use with reference to the Father implies that he is from eternity, though not directly teaching it, the direct teaching being his uniqueness in that he never was created or begotten, as was the Son.

One, evidently under the belief that Revelation 1:8 is quoting Jesus as being "Almighty", has stated:

Again the question to ask would be how he received this power, Did Jesus drain all the power of God, was God in heaven powerless. This does not make sense as God cannot lose his power. Thus the only rational explanation would be that God was in Christ hence incarnated in his Son making him all powerful. All the early Christians believed this, it is not a trinitarian doctrine. Please refer to the doctrines of the early church fathers. Paul further attest to this truth by stating that God was manifested in the flesh, how else would this be possible except if God was incarnated in Jesus Christ.
My Reply: The very fact that Jesus is given power shows that he is not Jehovah, the source of all power and mightiness. (1 Corinthians 8:6) As Paul tells us, it should be evident that all the power that Jesus is given does not include that of being the Almighty Jehovah. — 1 Corinthians 15:27.

There is no evidence at all the the New Testament writers believed that Jesus was Jehovah incarnated, or that Jesus was Jehovah in the flesh. I see no reason at all to conclude that since Jesus was given power from the source of all power that the only way that this would be possible would be that God Almighty was incarnated in Jesus Christ.

Some of My Other Studies Related to the above:

See also: Paul S. L. Johnson's book, Creation, pages 51-53; the link is to a PDF of this book.
Many Bible Students note that Charles Taze Russell applied alpha and omega of Revelation 1:8 to Jesus, not Jehovah, and continue in this tradition. While we see no need to apply this term to Jesus, we present links below to works by various Bible Students that offer an explanation differently than our own (You may wish to download PDFs first in order to better search through them without using your browser.):
Notes on The Revelation of Jesus Christ by Anton Frey (PDF Format)
New Albany Notebook and Study Records in Revelation - New Albany, IN Bible Students Ecclesia (PDF Format)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ by R. E. Streeter (PDF Format)
The Great Debate (pdf format -- it may take a few minutes to load), by Robert A. Wagoner. Click Here for information on the book and where to order a copy.
Some references that present matters similar to our study above are (we do not necessarily agree with all that is stated on the pages):
Southern Wisconsin Bible Students Revelation Notes - We have not found this book online, but it is included in the Bible Students Library CD-ROM

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